My Vegan Pledge


I’ve taken a vegan pledge this March with the guys from EFFA – Exeter Friends for Animals. I’ve been vegetarian for about 27 years now and I have had a lot of vegan friends over the years, and often wondered what it would be like to live a vegan lifestyle. I was asked to do this month long pledge by Wendy at EFFA and I said yes, I’d give it a try. I’m now a third of a way through my month and it has not been an easy start I must admit. You’d think the transition from veggie to vegan would be fairly painless but I’ve found it…interesting, a learning curve, a new experience – but hey – life would be boring otherwise wouldn’t it !!

Apparently between 1% of UK households contain a vegan whereas 4-12% of households have a vegetarian person living there. Most vegans have lower BMI’s, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Vegans eat less calories, less confectionary, less fat and less cakes – one of my reasons to give veganism a try and I’ll give you the results at the the end of the month (says she who has just made a fabulous vegan chocolate cake – pictured below)


So what am I finding difficult so far – not being able to have a cup of tea or coffee at a friend or relatives house, or at most cafe’s or even at the town council where I spend many an evening! I had some issues with curdling coffee at the start of the month but now I’m only using Alpro soya and microwaving a cup of half water/half soya milk then adding coffee seems to do the trick. I’m drinking other things now – more water and fruit juices which can’t be bad.


I miss cheese – I realised I must usually eat some form of cheese most days even if it is sprinkled on top of pasta bolognaise. I can’t bear the thought of not having a lasagne or cauliflower cheese again, two of my favourite things. Or cottage cheese and a baked potato, a cheese sandwich, cheese on toast or creamy goats cheese and cranberry sauce! Apparently there are vegan cheeses but they look so strange I’ve not tried them yet. I also love Stilton and Brie so these things are hard to contemplate not having ever again…but it is only a month, isn’t it…

So apart from possibly losing weight (due to not being such a cheese monster) I am doing this to think a bit more about how being veggie does still involve the killing of animals in order to produce what I’m eating. I’m not really into eggs much these days but it’s amazing how many things contain eggs – eg Quorn which our family eats a lot of. But I know that for every female chick born – male chicks are being killed at a day old every day….then of course how are those female chickens housed and when are they killed for being too old to lay?

Conveyor belts of male chicks on their way to the gas chamber or a giant shredding machine
Conveyor belts of male chicks on their way to the gas chamber or a giant shredding machine

As for milk – I sometimes see poorly cared for herds of cows literally staggering from their fields to the milking parlour, staggering along pot-holed country lanes laden with udders of milk which are there for the calves which were taken from them and…fattened for meat then killed at a young age. Of course not all cows are kept in poor conditions, some live lives of Riley on delightful organic farms but at the end of the day this is farming – and these creatures are killed when the farmer decides their time is up. THE reason I became a vegetarian is because I do not believe that humans have any right whatsoever to kill animals, for any reason*

Both my children are vegetarian and I tell my 10 year old daughter that it is part of evolution. We’ve worked out, like slavery or the death penalty or other brutal acts of violence carried out by humans, that killing animals is quite simply wrong. What gives us the right to murder a living creature and then eat it or wear it or rub it on our skin in a cream or potion? Let’s just hope the rest of the human race realise soon that they have no right to stop a beating heart and no right or need to eat flesh. And as far as religion goes – a god who tells people (in the bible) “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you” is no god I believe in.


* I do believe in euthanasia if an animal (or a person) is in extreme pain however and in my younger days working as a vet nurse, I have helped suffering animals to die a calm, dignified death. I also helped many animals to live too! People should have the right to euthanasia as well – but that’s another blog….

South West Green Party Cookbook

I’m extremely pleased to be able to announce that after many months of preparation – the South West Green Party cookbook is now available! Hot off the press from the lovely people at Axminster Printing, our book features over 60 vegetarian and vegan recipes contributed by Green Party members in the region.

The front & back cover of the book is one photo I took at the recent Embercombe apple day
The front & back cover of the book is one photo I took at the recent Embercombe apple day

You should be able to order the  book from your local Green Party here in the South West. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find your nearest group

Or contact the South West Green Party – see

As lovely as it is the turks turban squash is not included with the cookbook!
As lovely as it is the turks turban squash is not included with the cookbook!

Printed on 100% recycled paper, there are wonderful homemade soups, stews, salads, starters, main courses, cakes, biscuits, breads and more! And Caroline Lucas has contributed her delicious Christmas cake. It’s a great gift idea.


A huge thank you to Green Party member Cherry Puddicombe who did all the design work for free! Check out Cherry’s website The book includes a chapter on ‘Green Eateries’ – a useful list of veggie and vegan restaurants and cafe’s in the South West.

There are photos of Green Party members throughout the book
There are some friendly familiar faces dotted throughout the book


South West Greens Cookbook

Calling all masterchefs out there!! I’m compiling a cookbook/recipe book for the green party here in the south west. It’s a bit of fun, as we all know us greens like our nosh and lots of us are culinary whizzkids behind that kitchen door. We can also raise a few quid from it too if we all chip in and make it happen. We can split the profits between the regional committee (funds for the European Elections in 2014) and your own local parties. Hope you can help, it’s really quite simple, all you do is…

Think of your favourite recipe, perhaps an old favourite, something you (or a friend/relative has) invented or a delicious recipe passed down through the family. (Please do not copy from a cookbook as we could be in all sorts of trouble with copyright!)

Email me the recipe to as a word document.

Please make sure you include:

Your name

Your local green party in the south west

Add a few lines about the recipe – where it came from, why you enjoy it, how it’s best served etc. Any funny anecdotes are great too. Recipes from around the world would be great.

Title of recipe

Ingredients list


Optional – photo of you making it, or you and your family eating it.

There you go, easy as pie. If you have a favourite local veggie/vegan cafe or eatery you can recommend, please email me their details as we will be looking for sponsorship for the cookbooks.

Sharon Pavey – Coordinator for the east devon greens & south west regional fundraiser

Click here for the south west green party site

British Supermarkets at root of vegetable supply problem

Interesting article by Felicity Lawrence in The Guardian last week – British Supermarkets at root of vegetable supply problem.

Apparently demand for carrots shoots up due to panic buying as Downing Street warned about crop shortage…

On Monday morning root veg took its place alongside the prime minister’s presentation of his election campaign team. Carrots and some green vegetables might run out because of the snow, Downing street was warned. There were also problems with the national supply of milk.

Just a week after the publication of the government’s report on UK food security, the record cold snap brought the fragility of our hi-tech food system into sharp focus. By today, as the ice continued its rapid thaw, it was clear that the system had held – just – but the cracks bad weather could cause had been exposed and the disputes about whether the powerful retailers or the farmers at the bottom of the chain should pick up the bill were beginning.

About 80% of all supermarket supplies of carrots now come from just 10 major packers in East Anglia, Scotland and the north of England. At this time of year, more than half the carrots the UK eats have to make their way from north-east Scotland, where the fields over the past fortnight have been frozen, to centralised distribution depots and back out again to stores.

The UK’s milk supply has become very concentrated too: some 60% of our fresh milk has to travel from farms around the country to six locations for processing before being trucked back hundreds of miles up and down icy motorways to customers.

In Inverness-shire this week, one of the largest suppliers of organic carrots to the big retailers and a key Tesco contractor, Tio Ltd, battled the elements to get each day’s supermarket orders out “by the skin of our teeth”, according to senior manager Stephen Ryan.

Whereas in the recent past the carrot harvest would have been lifted at the end of the autumn and stored, now the carrots are kept in the fields through the winter, covered with thick layers of straw and dug up just in time to meet supermarket orders day by day, Ryan said.

“They’ve got 2ft of snow on top of them and it’s taking twice as long to harvest them,” Ryan said. “It’s a challenge to keep the water in the factory flowing to wash them with temperatures of minus 12 degrees. We’ve had lots of breakdowns.”

A mixture of panic buying and demand for warming meals saw orders double just when conditions were harshest. The company brought in 25 agency workers and ran extra night and weekend shifts to cope.

“We’ve managed to get all the deliveries to the depots, though some have been running hours late. There’s not as much slack in the system as there used to be, especially from Scotland, because the distances things have to travel are so big,” Ryan said. The thaw promises to bring just as many problems with harvesting as fields become waterlogged.

In East Anglia, growers have also had to throw labour at the problems to keep up. Sarah Pettitt, chair of the National Farmers’ Union board of horticultural growers, estimates that her brassica company has seen a 100% increase in its costs in the cold weather, like most other vegetable growers she knows.

For two weeks, Pettitt’s broccoli could not be lifted. Extra workers, mainly Lithuanian and Bulgarian migrants, have been needed across East Anglia to harvest in snow-covered fields where mechanical harvesters have been unable to work, and to run thawing lines in packhouses. Extra shifts have been on grading machines to pick out damaged and rotten vegetables.

Asda’s main carrot supplier, MH Poskitt, in Yorkshire, also reported “huge operational difficulties”. It managed to keep up, but with a 40% increase in labour costs, most of which it expected to absorb itself. “You have to take the rough with the smooth – it’s a long-term, very good relationship with the retailers,” Guy Poskitt said. “Transport has been very tough,” he added. “We’ve all become a bit complacent because we haven’t seen weather like this for a long time.”

For the dairy sector, which has seen many farmers giving up their herds in the face of persistently low supermarket prices, losses resulting from the weather have been a particularly hard blow.

The structure of today’s milk industry has made it more vulnerable to bad weather. The milk travels further to fewer, larger processors, which use larger articulated lorries that are less able to cope with even a slight deterioration in weather than the smaller tankers the Milk Marketing Board used to operate. “It can be mayhem even when conditions aren’t really that bad,” Tyler said.

Huw Bowles, director of the organic co-operative OMSCO, agrees. “Forty years ago milk was processed closer to where it was produced and delivered back to the same area.” The drive to make industry logistics as economically efficient as possible has also removed any slack. OMSCO has cut the cost of collection by 30% in recent years with these efficiencies but at the price of less resilience. “There are no spare vehicles any more. If the driving speeds are reduced by just 10mph on a nine-hour shift because of snow, they just can’t get round the whole collection; the whole route is affected,” Bowles explained.

The lack of collection has hit Liz and Chris Best, organic dairy farmers in the Cotswolds: “The yard’s been freezing, you start at 5.30am and go right through to 8pm at night before you’ve finished, checking water for the cows, defrosting machinery. You clear your driveway so the tanker can get to you and then you wait. Then you get a call saying, sorry he can’t come, and you’ve got to throw everything away before you start milking again in the afternoon. It doesn’t feel right,” Liz Best said.

Sir Don Curry, formerly the government’s top adviser on ­sustainable farming and now the chair of the Better Regulation Executive, hopes that the strain a couple of weeks of cold weather can inflict on the food system will give greater urgency to calls to make it more sustainable.

“Most retailers have adopted a just-in-time supply chain, so there is not a lot of slack,” he said. “They allow for some variation, but three to four weeks of difficult weather, and suddenly supplies are under threat. That ought to be an early warning for government and the industry. Disruptions to supply are a serious risk and they need to build a cushion.”

This week the government finally announced its delayed decision to set up an ombudsman to tackle abuses of power in the supermarket chain. However, the structure and scope of the new ombudsman’s office is to be the subject of further consultation.

Let’s Stop Wasting Food in Devon!

Watching Countryfile tonight – which is raising the issue about the food which is thrown away BEFORE it even reaches the supermarkets!  This reminded me of someone I was chatting with on twitter a couple of weeks ago who gave me a couple of links to sites about food waste. Thanks @DottyTeakettle !

Tips and recipes to reduce food waste - Love Food Hate WasteThe Love Food, Hate Waste campaign says  – Every year in the UK we throw away £12 billion worth of food which could have been eaten. Love Food Hate Waste is a campaign from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) which shows that by doing easy practical everyday things in the home we can all waste less food, which ultimately benefits our purses and the environment too.

wasted-food-300x200If we all stopped wasting food that could have been eaten, it would have the same environmental impact as taking 1 in 4 cars off UK roads. has lots of delicious recipes to use up leftovers, handy hints and tips for storing food to make it last longer, a portion calculator to help you cook the right amount, and information on what food date labels mean. There is something for everyone, whether you are a keen cook, or simply want to reduce the amount of food which you throw away.

The WRAP website tell us that “Every tonne of food waste prevented has the potential to save 4.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.”

Apparently Sustain (the alliance for better food and farming) kicked off interest in local food years ago when they published a paper called Eating Oil advocating local food networks. This is an amazing website – which I know I will be reading again and again. The Sustain charity advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level.

The last website I was advised to look at is Tristram Stuart’s site. This young chappie (pictured below) was on Countryfile tonight, really interesting bloke! For the past ten years, he has reclaimed most of his food from the bins of supermarkets and other shops as a protest against the scale and gratuitous causes of food waste.

His new book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal (Penguin, 2009), reveals that modern Western countries waste more food than they consume, and that tackling this problem is one of the simplest ways of reducing pressure on the environment and on global food supplies.

Please add your comments below – I think we’ve just lifted the lid off the jar on this one – excuse the pun !!! More to come on this issue. Good news in my area of East Devon though that they’re starting waste food collection in a few weeks, not something we need at the moment though as our food scraps go to the chickens and vegetable peelings, tea bags, eggshells etc to the compost heap.

Farm Animal Cruelty Shock in Devon

An article on reports that Animal Aid has announced it has obtained further footage of alleged cruelty, this time against birds in an organic and free-range poultry farm in Devon. The animal rights organisation filmed secret footage on two occasions in November and December 2009 at Otter Valley Poultry where it has alleged cruelty towards chickens.

A statement read: “The condition of the chickens was especially worrying. Several of the birds were so badly crippled that they were unable to stand. In addition, three dead turkeys were found in a shed with live birds, and three dead pigs were so badly decomposed that their original forms were barely recognisable.”

Animal Aid head of campaigns Kate Fowler said: “We believe that the gap between public expectations for organic poultry and what we filmed at this Devon farm and slaughterhouse is immense. The footage is distressing in terms of animal welfare and it also raises public health questions.”

This latest animal abuse revelation comes only a few days after three slaughter workers were suspended following a similar investigation of the slaughter of larger animals at another Soil Association approved abattoir, this time in Ashburton.

The This is Devon site reported on December 17th saying “An Ashburton abattoir could face prosecution and has had three of its slaughtermen suspended after an undercover investigation by an animal rights pressure group. The three employees were recorded on film by a covert camera at Tom Lang Ltd, Gages Farm, Buckfastleigh Road, by Animal Aid between October 19 and November 3 slaughtering sheep and pigs.”

The national campaign group claims its film shows livestock being ‘kicked, slapped, thrown and improperly stunned at the Soil Association-approved abattoir’. Steve McGrath, chief executive of the Meat Hygiene Service, said the Government body had ‘acted quickly’ when Animal Aid provided them with footage filmed at the slaughterhouse.

“We suspended three slaughterers immediately and evidence to support a potential prosecution of the slaughterhouse operator and slaughterers is being collated,” added Mr McGrath. The hygiene inspectors have installed a raft of measures since. Senior vets have visited the abattoir and additional staff have been installed on a temporary basis in the slaughterhouse to ‘ensure standards of slaughtering are acceptable’.

Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, said: “Just because pigs and sheep aren’t kept as pets, it doesn’t mean they don’t suffer like dogs and cats. The slaughterhouse environment they can sense is a very bad place for them to be. If, in addition, they are treated callously in the process of being killed, it is a nightmare for them. You can see the distress in the footage. I think it is for people who do eat meat to take a look at this footage and make a judgement as to whether it is fair that animals should be treated in this fashion. We think it is thoroughly immoral.”

Image above by Michael Timney | Slaughterhouse The Task of Blood (2005)

Sidmouth Community Market backs “Meat-Free Monday” campaign

On Saturday 16 January, the Vision Group for Sidmouth will be holding a Community Market with a difference! This time the event will have a “meat-free” theme, to raise awareness of the climate-changing impact of meat production and consumption and provide information on the wide variety of alternatives to meat-based meals.

Many people are unaware that livestock production is responsible for at least 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions – that’s more than the entire transport sector. According to the head of the UN climate change panel, Rajendra Pachauri, “People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming.”

In May 2009, Ghent City Council in Belgium attracted worldwide media and public attention when it announced that it would promote one meat-free day a week for environmental and health reasons. Meanwhile, the “Meat-Free Monday” campaign continues to snowball around the world, led by high-profile chefs and celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney.

Now Sidmouth too is doing its bit to support this important initiative. According to the market organisers, “Going meat-free one day a week is an easy step we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint – and it’s good for your health, too!”

The market takes place as usual from 10 am – 12.30 pm at St John’s Ambulance Hall. In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables and the other usual stalls, shoppers will find a vegetarian food stall, information on meat-free alternatives, recipes and free food samples.

For further information on the “Meat-Free Monday” campaign including weekly recipes, see

Aleck making bread

Here’s a little video clip of my four year old Aleck making bread yesterday (click play!).

We’re snowed in and have now run out of fresh bread so what better way to channel one little boy’s extra energy! The children have been off school for two days and it’s looking likely they may be off for some or all of next week so activities like this are great – and we all get a delicious loaf of wholemeal bread too (and it was scrummy, thanks Aleck). Please see my other blog over at Tish Tash Toys if you can suggest anymore ‘things to do at home on a snowy day’ with the kids.

Tetrapak Recycling in East Devon

My little boy finished off the orange juice this morning, showed me the carton and said “Can we recycle this Mummy?” What a clever 4 year old!!! Now I know our kerbside collection doesn’t include juice cartons so I used to look up how and where we could recycle drinks cartons here in East Devon. Cartons are now collected by over 370 local authorities across the country, which equates to 86 per cent of UK and Guernsey local authority areas.

Recyclenow advised me to use I used the Where Can I Recycle button at the top of their site to look up where cartons are collected in my area and found this info below:

Picture 1The nearest place for us is Honiton so we’ve started a collection of tetrapaks. Now we just need to work out what to do with the plastic milk bottles!! Anyone?

Susan’s Vegetarian Hotpot

I’m making veggie hotpot for dinner – and my little sister often asks for my recipes, so I’m adding it on here for Susan and anyone else interested in a delicious wholesome vegetarian or vegan dinner, to warm you up on a cold winters day like today. If you eat meat and want to know how having a veggie meal once a week can help reduce global warming – click here to find out more about Meat Free Mondays.

So here you go…

Get a casserole dish (with a lid) and fill it with the following:

One or two onions – sliced, chopped, chunky or fine – however you like your onion (my children prefer onion chopped up small so they don’t even notice it but it still adds essential flavour)

I use at least three big garlic cloves – more if anyone in the family is ill as garlic is sooooo good for you, chop them up finely and stick them in the pot

One parsnip sliced

Two carrots sliced

One red pepper, sliced or chopped

One bag of quorn pieces fried, or a packet of quorn or other veggie/vegan sausages fried or oven baked first then sliced and in the pot (this part is not essential – you could just have a vegetable dish)

Tin chopped tomatoes

2-3 potatoes fairly thinly sliced

Half a tin of chick peas

Then add some stock – I use one veggie stock cube (Oxo or Knorr) in about 300mls boiling water. I add a teaspoon or two of marmite to the stock as it’s so good for you and adds to the taste.

Add herbs & spices – the ones I like in my hotpot (at the moment – as it changes from year to year) are fenugreek, thyme, basil, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin and salt & pepper. Experiment with the  flavours you like and please add suggestions in the comment box at the bottom if you find some tasty flavours.

Mix it all round a bit and stick the lid on and put your casserole dish in the oven on medium for about 2 hours or high for an hour, prod with a fork to see if the veggies are cooked enough for you.

This makes enough for my family of four – usually with some left over for lunch the next day! The great thing about hotpot is you can stick anything in it really – especially left over veggies in the fridge like a leek, green beans, swede or bit of cauliflower or broccoli. Sweet potato is tasty in hot pot too.

I serve my hotpot with some crusty bread and/or couscous, bulgar wheat or Quinoa

Don’t forget to put all your veggie peelings into your compost bin or boil them up to make a lovely layers mash for your chickens like I do (thanks to Holly for this idea!)

I’ve found some other Vegetarian Hotpot recipes if you fancy getting adventurous…

Great BBC article on Simon Rimmer’s veggie restaurant including a recipe for Vegetarian Lancashire Hotpot

Vegetarian Society recipe for Spanish Vegetable Hotpot

Spicy Veggie Hotpot from Asda