Why I made this website
When I was a child, I decided to make a guide book of the local playgrounds. I would draw a picture and my Mum would write a caption. Several years later, and expecting my first child, the idea returned to me. This is how the Islington and Hackney playground map, was born. You could call it my life's work... I also thought it would be helpful to share my more recent research about local children's activities, which you can find in the listing section of the page.
I met my husband at a vegan event, and together we held three vegan supper clubs and one vegan wedding. We are now preparing to raise our baby vegan. The idea to make a vegan family website arrived while we were on holiday. We took a direct Eurostar train to a town which turned out to have a vegan cafe with high chairs. It was so simple. My husband remarked that we could plan our future holidays around easy journeys and eating options. This got me thinking. I had been surprised how long I already spent finding the best places to buy: vegan formula milk, and vegan children's shoes, joining vegan parent groups, and so on. I thought to myself, wouldn't it have been easier if all the information for both daily essentials and nice outings could be together as a one stop ethical shop; and so this is the place I am trying to create.
Another topic we have been interested in as a couple is the practicality of raising a 'mixed race' child. We have been thinking about how to make sure he doesn't only see white people represented in the toys, books and other media around him. We also want him to have nonviolent male role models, and feel confident being himself, whatever that turns out to be.
My interest in veganism
Apparently, when I first learnt what meat was, I suggested to my parents that rather than killing the animal we should 'just shave a bit off their bum'. My ideas developed over time, and my parents weren't so surprised when I went veggie. I may have been influenced by a vegetarian aunt and a Hindu friend at school. Later again, I developed a serious illness called M.E. Many things helped me to slowly recover, one of which was when I stopped consuming dairy products (this also helped my husband's eczema). Once well enough, I studied A Level Politics. The student teacher took me to visit Animal Aid, where I learnt about the egg industry; and in time became a vegan as a result. I went on to work for my friend at Kent Vegan Events. I tend to think that being vegan is a commitment to grow in compassion toward other human and non-human animals, and that this journey doesn't end.
My interest in the environmental and social issues
As a child, my Mum took me to a demonstration about climate change. I listened to a talk by someone who lived on a vanishing pacific island, which must have affected me as I can still remember it. Mum was a member of Friends of the Earth and Action Aid, and also read the Guardian. While growing up, I would find these materials lying around the house and read them. I went on to study a BSc, A Level, and short course in ethical issues, visit several ecovillages, work in Fairtrade and social enterprise, and volunteer in various places. Mum and Dad retired and became community activists.
My interest in childcare
I really enjoyed going to school, and considered myself a good student. This was until I moved school and was told otherwise. The experience taught me that there are many different ways to parent and educate children. I worked with children in after school and holiday clubs, creches, nurseries and family learning; and in further and adult education. In my free time, I visited and volunteered in various types of alternative learning settings. I can't wait to learn more about learning and self awareness from our child. I made the strap-line of this website #mumsolidarity, as I believe in sisterly understanding. Women should not criticise one another for the choices they make in birth or feeding, or feeling like they need to speak out.
Reasons to be Vegan
Farmed animals are contained in a life which was not of their choosing, and then die young. Female cows only make milk when they have recently had babies. However, since humans want the milk it is not profitable to keep the calves. As such, 100,000 male calves are shot by the dairy industry annually. Similarly, 30 million surplus male chicks are gassed or shredded. The conditions on farms are such that 12% of pigs die before they can be slaughtered. Law breaking is common in slaughterhouses.
Slaughterhouses are difficult places to work, with low (and decreasing) wages. The rate of non-fatal injury in the meat industry is two times higher than in all other manufacturing. Workers also experience high rates of: fatality, repetitive strain disorder, problems relating to fume inhalation, illnesses from contract with ill animals, somatization, anxiety, anger, hostility and psychoticism. Imagine the life of the poor person who kills your food.
Cultural change- content warning- violence again women and and children
Abattoir staff must desensitise themselves to violence in order to cope with the stress. In turn, this desensitisation towards non-human animals can translate into violence toward human animals. For example, it has been found that when slaughter houses are introduced to communities as a source of employment, domestic abuse and child abuse increase. The same effects are not observed when a different factory is introduced. Communities surrounding slaughter houses have shown a 166% higher rate of arrests for rape, when other factors are controlled for. Likewise, it has been argued that the period of history when humans first started to kill animals on mass coincided with the period we started institutions to kill one another. Meat free week might also be called nonviolence week.
Reduced consumption of animal products has benefits for both global food security and the environment. Animal farms use more land than arable farms. This is because 80-96% of the protein an animal eats does not remain in their body to be eaten by humans. The outcome of this waste is high land requirements- globally animals are kept on 70% of agricultural land, and a further 33% of arable land is used to grow feed crops. On average, 6kg of plant protein could have been produced for every 1kg of animal flesh.
Land use for cattle ranching in the Amazon rainforest- the primary cause of deforestation.
If UK citizens switched to vegetarian and vegan diets, then Greenhouse gas savings would be equivalent to taking half of the cars in the UK off the road. As well as climate change, atmospheric pollution resulting from animal farming can cause respiration problems, and acid rain. These are caused by emissions of the greenhouse gases methane, oxides of nitrogen, and not fully combusted carbon. Furthermore, run-off from agro-chemicals and excrement can unbalance aquatic ecosystems, and the farming of animals depletes soil more than farming crops, due to problems such as compaction and desertification.
There are a variety of health benefits to being vegan. For example, a couple of raw vegans in their 60s made the news by running a marathon every day for a year. Nowadays we consume almost twice as much meat as in the 1960s, and so the health consequences may not yet be fully understood. It has been found that eating processed red meat increases a person’s risk of mortality by 20%, and eating non-processed meat increases it by 13%. Rates of physical and mental illness have been found to be higher among people living near factory farms, and the presence of a factory farm can decrease the value of houses by up to 40%. Animal farms have also been sources of human diseases which mutated from animal diseases, and spread easily due to the crowding of animals.
Meat-free lifestyle links:
Mind Body Green: Sources of protein
NHS: The Vegan Diet advice about nutrition
Viva: L Plate Vegan lists of vegan products you can easily buy
Animal Aid: Going Vegan website where you can sign up for a veganism trial, speak with others in a forum, ask questions of an agony aunt, and enter a prize draw
Going Vegan leaflet with recipes, nutrition advice, vegan products and shopping guide
Going Dairy Free guide to dairy alternatives, and how to give up dairy at your own pace
Meat Free for Under a Fiver affordable recipes
Vegan Society: Vegan Pledge sign up to receive regular advice and recipes, and someone you can to ask questions
Many towns now have vegetarian and vegan groups, where experienced veggies are keen to help out people new to the lifestyle, or just interested. You can usually find these with Facebook, or through the Vegan Society.