Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Back in the UK and the vegan class struggle!

Happy New Year!

I hope you all enjoyed seeing in 2008. We are in Wales visiting Matthew's mum and it is the first time I have had time to write a post. It has been a hectic trip with mixed experiences and emotions. It is dificult coming from a slow pace of life to an accelerated one and daiy tensions here are high compared to what we are used to. However, the children are loving spending time with their grandparents and it has been great to catch up with friends here.

Since turning vegan I believed Norway offered limited food choices for us and I was convinced that the UK would have a better selection of vegan options. However, our experience has not backed up this view. The supermarkets we have visited here have little choice for us, especially considering thier size. I called in to one the other day, bearing in mind with two young childen you are on limited time on a supermarket visit, and could not find anything to have with bread as we were on the run and needed convenience, so I asked a shop assistant if they had a vegetarian section (this store was huge) and he said 'no, things are just scattered about'. We eventually found a bruschetta topping we could eat and that was that. I looked around the local town centre twice for a health food shop and all I found were two stores selling a range of alternative medicines and vitamins etc with not a food item in sight. In Norway, there is a heath food shop in every town I have visited and although the selection is limited, you can at least get what you need.

One highlight to our visit so far was a trip to see Manchester United on New Years Day. The football match was a little boring but the experience was fabulous. Matthew's uncle has executive seats and we were treated to lunch in the bar. Out of four dishes available at the buffet, two were vegetarian and one was vegan. We were so pleased that this was now considered normal. It sparked a conversation between Matthew and I on the way out as we were walking back to the car. We were walking past row on row of cheap mobile food outlets selling all sorts of disgusting meat produce. Burgers, hot dogs (one boasting a 2 foot long hot dog), nuggets, pies, lamb pittas, chicken curry, steak and kidney puddings...... The stench of cooked animals was so foul it nearly made me sick at one point yet there people were, stuffing their faces with this rubbish. We on the other hand had enjoyed a lovely vegan lunch in the executive box. We felt there was a class difference here somewhere. I'm not very good at wording arguments but I will try and phrase this in a way I know...

Those people living in what would have previously been called the lower class are likely to be less well educated about a variety of things including food choices. People who may not be aware of what is in their food quite happily consume cheap meat options like those mentioned above. These folk may not be aware that they could be eating a selecton of things that no butcher wants, that are the dregs of the meat processing industry, may not be aware that the slab of meat might contain a whole host of bacteria, might lead to their life being shortened if this eating pattern is repeated day after day. I believe that food choice and knowledge about it is a class struggle and I would like to see more education about food and lifestyle across the board.

Not the most profound thing ever said but worth mentioning I think. So back to the trip. We found a small health shop in Pwllheli where we are staying now, funnily enough a small place like this has the options the large town we just came from did not, and we have a selection of new items to try. I am looking forward to tasting 'sheeese' which I have read is excellent, we chose a mozzerella alternative so might try pizza and we also picked up some organic dark chocolate and some firm favourites like tofutti spread. Matthews mum has a cupboard full of vegan options for us and the children and my mum did well with a few things but got lost in labelling with other things which means they now have a lot to eat in the fridge!

Heidi and Miller have coped well with the change of pace, better than we have actually, and I fear they will be bored on our return to the Arctic. Still, nothing could keep me from returning to the home we love!

I don't know when I will next get time to post but wishing you all the best for 2008!


half pint pixie said...

It's often struck me that we spend a small fortune on vegan food. For example if we eat out in town for lunch, it's 10 euro each. You could feed an entire family in a well known fast food joint for that! Not that you'd want to but you know wht I mean :)

I know you can eat vegan cheaply, but when you develop the taste for exotic veggies, tofu & health store goodies, it quickly becomes an expensive habit, but a yummy one at that!

Happy new year!

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