Thursday, 28 February 2008


So today I thought I would continue with bringing you interesting things I have found on the net. It seems to work well with the blog that I mix snippets from my daily life with things that I think you might like to read about. Today's theme is cheese. Cheese....hum, there was a time when if I had to choose one food I could not live without then this would be it. I was a huge fan of cheese, when I lived in the UK my favourite choices were mature cheddar, red leicester, bavarian, brie, camenbert, feta, mozzerella and don't mention philadelphia... I must have eaten cheese daily as a vegetarian (or as I thought I was), cheese sandwiches, cheese on toast, cheese on pizza, lasagne, sprinked on spaghetti bolognese, cheese and crackers, cheese flavoured crisps, cheese and onion, cheese slices, greek salad...and on moving to Norway of course Jarlsberg was added to the list of most purchased items.....well I think you get the point.

So, you might ask, what on earth is wrong with cheese? It's only cheese after all! So for all of you who want to know why I turned my back on all this deliciousness, see the below article. I will add that after I realized what was in a lot of cheese I started to research how milk was obtained, more on that later, and it just became the right thing to do for me personally.

I guess it is fair to say I had a cheese addiction. It is also fair too say that without cheese I feel a different person - a person living in a body with a lot less fat for starters (I used to have cellulite - not any more - could cheese be the main culprit? All I know is those little bumps of fat I had under the skin - thank you and goodbye!). Can not eating cheese really make such a difference to the way you feel? I am convinced of it. Why not give it a try? Eliminate cheese for a week and see how you feel, chances are you'll feel goooood!

I guess if you cannot let go of cheese at least research which cheeses contain dead animal parts and avoid them, at least then you are limiting the suffering. You can see my earlier blog entry on dairy cows to see why avoidance is the best option but you make your own choices in life! Here's the article, it is only short but to the point, courtesy of

Many cheeses contain animal rennet, which is an enzyme often made from the stomach of calves and lambs. For example, some cheddar and traditional parmesan cheeses contain animal rennet.
However, rennet is also obtained from vegetables, such as cardoons. In the UK more cheddar cheeses are being made using vegetable derived rennet (but check the labelling to make sure). There is absolutely no difference in the taste between cheeses that are made with either animal or vegetable rennet. Animal rennet is a cheap by-product of animal slaughter.
The other thing to watch out with cheeses is if "pepsin" has been used in the making process. Pepsin is an enzyme from the stomach lining of pigs and is also used in preparation of some other foods containing
protein. The problem is that "pepsin" may not show up on a cheese ingredients listing, even if the cheese doesn't contain rennet.
ALWAYS look on the label when buying cheese to make sure it's suitable for veggies. Remember, if you eat cheeses that contain dead animals you are NOT vegetarian.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Aqua massage and snow therapy

It is snowing like you would not believe here today. We had a thaw last week and the roads cleared. We had a feeling it was a bit early and we were right! Each time I go out to get some wood or let the dogs out the snow falls into the porch and we get sweeping! I don't think I can be bothered going out today, clearing the car, warming it up, wading out in my boots with a child on each hip so am in the process of making soup and bread so I can be lazy and stay indoors. I do love this weather actually but today I am a little tired after two and a half hours teaching yoga last night and a full day at Bark (our arts centre) working on scripts and second life collaborations.

Today I wanted to share with you an experience from last week. One of my yoga girls in the next town works in a natural therapy clinic ( . It is a gorgeous place and I took up an offer of trying the new aqua massage and floatation tanks. What a lovely experience that was. First the aqua massage, 15 minutes of pure bliss, especially after an advanced yoga session, you can choose your level, soft, medium, hard or a combination and just let it do its job..and it is good, really good, if you get the opportunity give one a try, chances are you will be hooked! The floatation tanks are very unusual, you get into a pod which is filled like a large bath with warm water and epsom salts. You have to be careful not to get the salt in your eyes and seal any cuts you may have but that's beside the point. You then just let the water hold you, lie back and relax, relax, relax. I stayed in for 20 minute and that was enough for me but you can be in for longer if you wish. It takes a few minutes to actually get used to the idea of being still, if you are anything like me you want to push gently off the sides and imagine you are in space but then again, maybe I'm just strange.

So, what a 'time out'. Highly recommended. What is not recommended is what I did immediately afterwards. So relaxed was I that after being in my car for just 3 minutes after leaving the clinic I encountered a snow drift, decided it was no problem and 1 minute later drove the car off the road, down a ditch and got stuck, had to get out of the car, knee deep in snow which soaked my trousers and went into my boots, walk to the petrol station without gloves as I had forgotten them and wait an hour for someone to come an tow me out!

What I also failed to mention was that I had offered to make a late supper for Matthew and I and had all the ingredients in the car with me so Matthew was sat at home with an empty stomach waiting for me to finish off my silly antics!

I got home at nearly 11pm, cold and a bit shaken with a fading memory of how great I felt not that long before! So we ate and went to bed and fortunately I didn't do much damage to the car, just a wheel wobble which I think is due to some ice stuck somewhere! I did bury the car so no surprize there!

Isn't it nice to know that even vegans can be complete idiots!

Bye x

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Tesco Chicken

Tesco chicken

Today is my first day at the studio without the children. They are both in kindergarden today and it feels so quiet, verging on peaceful, without sounding mean! So, I have made a cup of tea, am listening to Colleens latest podcast ( and was reading the news online when I came upon the below article. So before I get on with my artistic plans for the day - looking at rough cuts of the shots my colleague did at the weekend for the childrens tv teaser and working on business plans to try and get some money so we don't have to work for free for much longer! Anyway...waffling again... the following article is courtesy of the BBC. I thought it was interesting to share with you.

Anger over £1.99 Tesco chickens
Tesco says the price has been lowered, not the welfare standards

Animal welfare and farming groups have criticised the supermarket giant Tesco for cutting the retail price of its standard whole chicken to £1.99.

The store says bringing down the price of a bird from £3.30 will benefit "shoppers on a budget".

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) says the move is "extremely ill-judged and short sighted".

Tesco has also increased orders for free range birds, which it says makes up 30% of its total chicken sales.

The supermarket's media director, Jonathan Church, said: "We have been working hard for a while to increase the amount of higher-welfare chicken we sell."

Reflecting on recent media coverage of chicken production by celebrity chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver, Mr Church added that the debate "has helped raise awareness of the choice available to customers".

But an NFU spokesman said the decision to cut the cost of standard, intensively-reared chicken was "completely the wrong thing" to do.

A spokesman told the BBC: "It's extremely ill judged and short sighted.

No-one should feel guilty buying a chicken just because it is good value
Jonathan Church, Tesco

"They're devaluing the product and doing it at a time when, overall, the market is strengthening and chicken prices are rising.

"They're sucking value out of the supply chain and unless Tesco is going to subsidise this, it is not a sustainable price," he said.

'Highest welfare'

Tesco insists it has doubled the amount of free-range and organic chicken it is buying, and has seen a 70% rise in sales of premium birds compared to a year ago.

"No-one should feel guilty buying a chicken just because it is good value," Mr Church said.

"The only reduction we make is in the price - not the welfare."

Consumers can be "safe in the knowledge" its birds have been "raised in the highest welfare environment", he said.

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), which praised the chain in its latest supermarket survey for improving the environment for indoor-reared birds, believes that Tesco have taken the wrong approach.

Director for research and food policy, Dr Lesley Lambert, said: "If Tesco is prepared to drop their prices in this way, why don't they decrease it on the higher welfare chickens and make that more accessible to poorer consumers."

CIWF wants to see all supermarkets move away from buying intensively-reared chickens, and provide greater welfare for birds produced indoors.

Store promotions

The RSPCA, which oversees the "Freedom Food" programme for livestock welfare, said low-price chicken "was not the answer".

A spokeswoman said: "The consumer has the clout to change supermarket policy and we strongly encourage shoppers to buy higher welfare chicken and not be tempted by the discount."

The British Poultry Council, which represents chicken producers, was measured in its response to the Tesco announcement.

"The price at which Tesco choose to sell birds is a matter for Tesco," its chief executive Peter Bradnock told BBC News.

"The price is no indicator of the conditions they are kept in.

"Producers have no knowledge of what promotions might be on, you can't rear birds for certain promotions, they are all reared to the same, independent standards," he said.

Mr Bradnock believes the Tesco move raises another issue - whether consumers see the link between the supermarket price and the cost of production.

"We do need to get to the position where consumers realise the true costs of the food they are buying and are satisfied with the standards in that production," he added.

'Poor locomotion'

Meanwhile, research funded by Defra suggests more than a quarter of broiler chickens have difficulty walking as result of their high growth rates.

The Defra-funded study involved five major UK chicken producers

The study of 51,000 of the chickens, intensively bred specifically for their meat, found that at about 40 days old 27.6% exhibited "poor locomotion" and 3.3% could almost not walk at all.

Researchers from the University of Bristol said in the publication Public Library of Science there was evidence some of the birds could be in pain.

Dr Toby Knowles said: "Our research shows that the primary risk factors associated with impaired locomotion and poor leg health are those specifically associated with the rate of growth.

"The welfare implications of this study are profound. Worldwide approximately 20 billion broilers are reared within similar husbandry systems that are biased towards economics of production and detrimental to poultry welfare."

The research involved 176 flocks belonging to five major chicken producers in the UK.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Hurrah for the health food store!

Pic: Heidi & Sooty the cat (At Grandads House during our trip)

Thank you Storsteinnes Health and Play store. Yesterday they received their newest order - probably made to make me shut up but I am so grateful - it is not a lot but it will mean I can get some lovely things without driving an hour following the desire of a bar of dark chocolate! So, what is now in the store? From memory they had dark orange fairtrade chocolate, vegetarian and vegan pates, vegetarian sausages (still in tins as no refrigerator but I am certainly not complaining, I know they are not so healthy but I quite like them), earl grey tea (yes I know tea is vegan anyway but I believe it was ordered for the English folk in the village - all 4 of us), organic salsa (yes I can make my own but 2 children, 2 dogs and freelance jobs do sometimes leave me with time lacking), brown pasta, rice pasta, ecological brown rice, chick peas and I think on the way more lentils, vegetarian gravy powder to compliment the small array that way already there such as linseed (flax) oil, red kidney beans, organic apple puree, soya flakes and the biggest selection of fruit teas you can find in the area! So, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Back to us, Matthew has his first day back at work after his illness and he has recovered well. He is tired and run down but as long as he takes it easy he should have a full recovery. Heidi is really beginning to use her languages now, some phrases are in Norwegian, some in English. It is great to see she is having no trouble understanding Norwegian. She is very musical and sings all the time. If she is not singing she is dancing. She is home with me today and plan to make a bit playdo mess when Miller goes for a sleep. Miller is growing so fast, he has been on the verge of walking for a few weeks but still won't let go! Maybe one day soon he will be attacked by a surge of bravery and go for it!

More vegan news and info in the next entry!

Have a productive day x

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

From one thing to the next!

Just as things were starting to regain a sense of normality! Last Sunday Matthew was taken ill and had to be taken by ambulance to hospital for tests. It seems likely he has an infection in his gall bladder, maybe accompanied by gall stones. He is home with us now after 5 days and very weak. However, all being well he will have a full recovery and we must return for more tests in two weeks to check everything has now been resolved. So what a few weeks!

It has been difficult looking after the two children alone. It can be tough not having any family around to call on. The people I do know have been really supportive, offering to get shopping and walk the dogs which was great. It's a different matter asking people to come and look after two children they do not really know, one aged 2, the other just 10 months. So I tried to get the the hospital (and hour and a half drive) when the children were in kindergarten - Miller had a swift introduction and spent 3 days there! Thankfully he really enjoyed it and didn't want to come away! I even borrowed a car one day (thanks Kirsti!) as Matthew had the keys to our old bangor (the only one that currently runs - but not in snow!) in his pocket, he was so out of it that he forgot to leave them when he went in to hospital so I had to borrow a car to go and get the keys!

I think every person I know has asked if his illness was connected to being vegan. The answer is no. Doctors words, not mine!

I now hope we have had enough excitement and am looking forward to a normal life again! Not to mention I had to cancel my work (that took care of most of January - I think I clocked up 3 hours) and being freelance don't get any pay so beans on toast for a few weeks for us! Stay positive, isn't that what I'm supposed to do?!

Til next time!

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