Going Vegan: 3 Month Update & My Top 5 Documentaries

It's been 3 months since my last blog post "I Went Vegan For One Week and This Is What I Learned" and yes, I'm still eating plant based... 99% of the time.

99% Vegan?

I say 99% because eating items that are meat free is easy but dairy/ egg free is a whole different story. Sometimes it's hidden in packaged products you thought were vegan, sometimes you're given a plate in a restaurant you didn't know contained dairy or egg. Then there's pushing it upon other people as I don't expect anyone to cater separately for me. I can't physically eat meat after being educated but if someone hands me a Quorn dish (for example - which isn't always vegan) or the bread around my plant based filling contains milk, it's okay. It's okay because it's a small quantity and I know that the rest of the time I don't consume meat or dairy and there for I'm making an impact. Not only to the environment, not only to my personal heath but to the BIGGEST impact... the lives of animals. 

Hypocritical Animal Lover?
I previously favored the life of a cow or a pig over a dog or a cat. Why? Pigs are equally (if not more) intelligent than dogs, they know what's going on when they're going to slaughter, they can hear it, see it, smell it, feel it. Do we choose to eat pigs over dogs because they're cuter? Pigs can be domesticated pets too? As a BIG lover of animals I turned a blind eye to farmed animals as society says 'this is how it's meant to be' and I'm disappointed in myself for doing so. But since going vegan it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer feel like a hypocritical or guilty.

Veganism Isn't A Religion
Funny thing is, I still cringe when I have to use the term 'vegan' and I'm continuously trying to find different terms to use. Meat and dairy free? Plant based? Herbivore? Cruelty free?

It's because when I mention the term 'vegan' people immediately treat it likes it's either a strict religion or a 'diet'. And quite frankly it's neither. Veganism simply acts on the idea that we should not exploit and harm animals. I didn't convert to anything, it's common sense for someone who loves animals not to want to intentionally take part in unnecessary animal cruelty and that includes eating it.

Society Is Fooling Us 
As a previous meat eater I never associated the plastic wrapped decaying flesh in my fridge with previously being a living, breathing animal. I would block out the cruelty (I imagined) went on in slaughter houses and I was forced (like we all are) by society into thinking 'free-range' meant animals could roam in open fields (this is far from the truth) so I guess it cleared my conscience into believing it was kinder and therefor eating meat was still okay.

However, after reading more into the meat and dairy industry, educating myself on how much society puts a blanket of bullsh*t over things to cover the truth and watching a handful of documentaries on why it's better for the environment, our health and the lives of animals, It all makes sense.

I'll hold my hands up now because I'm not one to preach that everyone needs to adopt the vegan lifestyle however I do like to educate the people who ask questions like "Where do you get your protein?", "What do you even eat?", "Aren't we supposed to eat meat otherwise the word will be over run?". Funny enough I was one of those people 3 months ago. I just wish people would accept that I have my views and you have yours.

Cows Eat Plants To Get Protein
I've noticed that a lot of people (those who he meat in particular) turn into professional nutritionists and get deep into conversation about protein, I mean where the f**k did the craze about getting protein even come from?! Yes animal tissue contains protein but do animals make it from thin air? Nope, they take it from the amino acids (the building block of protein) from plants. Plants are the only living thing that can create their own essential protein from scratch. Think about it, the biggest and strongest mammals on this earth are herbivores; elephants and gorillas. 

Don't get me wrong I was happily filling my gut with animal produce, unaware of the true reality because the nutritional society has made it seem 'normal' and thought of to be a ' healthy necessity' to consume meat for protein and dairy for calcium (calcium? Hah). And before you even blink I know what you're thinking; "We've eaten meat and dairy for years and years, veganism is a new diet...". Veganism has been around for years and years too it's just taken people to shout loud enough about it and for there to be evidential studies that prove why we shouldn't be consuming animal produce.

Top 5 Documentaries To Watch
But I'm not going to tell you what to believe in and what to eat. Instead I've rounded up my Top 5 videos, NOT to push you to become vegan but to educate yourself on what you're actually eating because we need to start giving a f*ck about what we eat:

Beki Xo
Rose Gin Fizz Cocktail ft House of Elrick Gin

House of Elrick gin is a spirit that originates from Aberdeenshire in the Scottish Highlands.
Being the only spirit made with the freshest water from the Lock Ness it contains 8 handpicked botanicals to create a fresh and floral yet earthy profile.

Botanicals such as; juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, citrus peel, built around a core of heather, pink peppercorns, sweet fennel and rose petals.

The creators of House of Elrick gin believe quality over quantity and there for the gin is distilled by hand in batches of 600 bottles per run which means they can maintain the control of every bottle that leaves their distillery.

When creating a cocktail for this gin I wanted something that would complement the aromatic and fresh profile and embrace those bold infusions of flavours.
After tasting the gin neat and testing numerous garnishes to see which would work best to create a summer cocktail I instantly fell for a floral and fresh taste creating… the Rose Gin Fizz cocktail.

Rose Gin Fizz Cocktail Recipe

50ml House of Elrick gin
25ml Rose Syrup
2 Ice cubes
1 Lemon (garnish)
Top with Prosecco or Champagne

Add 50ml of House of Elrick Gin and 25ml of rose syrup into a cocktail shaker

Pop in 2 ice cubes and shake until the cocktail shaker turns misty

Pour into a flute glass and top with prosecco or champagne

Add lemon peel to garnish and serve

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this review I was gifted the Colombo Gin however all opinions and the recipe itself are my own
Does activated charcoal really whiten teeth? 

I’ve always known activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon) is more porous than normal charcoal and is there for heavily used to aid in the removal of materials. More commonly it’s used to absorb poisons and other substances from the body that have been consumed, poisons that are organic chemicals such as the chemical created from food poisoning. However it’s more recently become very popular in the beauty industry and is being used as an ingredient that can draw out impurities (from the skin) and help remove unwanted particles and stains (from the teeth).

There are so many varieties of tooth whitening charcoal but the Laila London Activated Teeth Whitening Powder interested me the most with it's added ingredients, packaging and high reviews (I picked it up off of Amazon.co.uk) as well as the fact it is available in Boots!

The coconut based charcoal tooth whitening powder has added ingredients that change the PH levels in the mouth used to kill bacterial and prevent decay. It contains peppermint and lemon to soothe gums, cloves and cinnamon to not only add taste but also contain natural antibacterial properties as well as calcium carbonate to help strengthen sensitive teeth. 

But does it really work?

I’ve used the Laila London Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Powder for a week now and have noticed that it has made a difference. Although my teeth weren’t particularly stained beforehand and did appear quite white I had noticed they weren’t as ‘bright’ as usual and realised that’s probably due to those pesky coffee stains.

The product itself can be a little messy. It does advise to use purely the charcoal and no other toothpaste as apparently the glycerine in your average toothpaste can help prevent the natural process of strengthening and whitening your teeth (but you’d have to search that one!). I did try their recommended way of applying the powder to the toothbrush but preferred adding it to my toothpaste by dipping the toothbrush into the powder with a pea sized amount of paste attached. This made the application a little less messy.

The taste of the powder itself is like a sweet, fresh and very slightly spiced flavour which means you don’t get that usual chalky, mud like taste you get from plain old activated charcoal. The powder doesn’t foam up (if you’re using it alone) and you don’t get that satisfying feeling that your teeth have been cleaned to the core (even though they are!). This is another reason why I chose to add it to my toothpaste however it’s really just something that will take some getting used to. 

Another slight negative about the charcoal powder is that although it only suggested brushing your teeth with just water for the last part of your routine (to rid the powder fully) some particles do still stick around and I preferred to use mouth wash to rid those away.

However after using this for 1 week I was surprised to notice a difference. My teeth where whiter and brighter (especially between teeth) but you need to bear in mind that it’s a natural product and not a bleach, so it will only make your teeth as white as they can naturally be. Another positive to it being a natural whitening product is that it’s less harmful than strips, so it won’t strip the enamel or create sensitivity.

Will I continue to use this? Hell yeah. I tend to use it every other day as it’s really helping to rid those coffee stains that can build up daily in between teeth.  

Beki Xo

Strawberry & Basil Gin Punch Cocktail

Bulldog gin is a London dry gin. It is made from 12 botanicals that are distilled 4 times (3 times in neutral grain spirit and the fourth time with the added unique botanicals) to create an ultra-smooth and balanced gin with a citrus base. Those botanicals are; juniper, coriander, lemon, orris, liquorice, angelica, cassia, almond, French lavender, Chinese lotus leaves, Turkish white poppy and dragon eye (longan berries).

When creating this cocktail I wanted something that would complement the roundness of the gin but also add a summer punch feel for the up and coming warmer months.

After testing a couple garnishes to see which worked best with the flavours of the gin I loved the smooth taste of strawberry with the herbal hit of basil at it screamed summer cocktail!

Strawberry & Basil Gin Punch Cocktail Recipe:

50ml Bulldog Gin
1 Sprig of Basil (preferably fresh unlike mine!)
1 Handful of Strawberries
2 cubes of Ice
Fever Tree Tonic

Add the basil and strawberries to a cocktail shaker and muddle together to release the flavour.

Pour in 50ml of Bulldog Gin and 2 cubes of ice

Shake until the cocktail shaker becomes misty

Pop in 3-4 small chopped up strawberries into a balloon glass and pour in the gin

Top with Fevertree Tonic and garnish with a sprig of basil and 1 strawberry

The perfect summer punch cocktail that could be easily made into a larger quantity to serve at a BBQ!

Beki Xo

(Thai Red Chickpea Curry)
(Vegetable Moroccan Tagine with Giant Cous Cous)
(Sweetcorn Fritters with Sweet Potatoe Fries and Hummus)

(Avocado Red Onion Breakfast Quesadilla with Hummus) 
(Perkier Breakfast Bar with Hummus and Vege Dippers)
(Red Pepper Pasta With Olives and Vegan Cheese)
(Vegan Brownie Mix)
I Went Vegan For 1 Week And This Is What I Learned

Okay I know what some of you are thinking, 'oh here goes another one jumping on the band wagon' because honestly I used to think the same. 

I'll be the first person to hold my hands up and admit I used to think that Veganism has simply become a term to describe health trend and in some ways I still think it has but I'd never overshadow those that have their reasons and opinions for doing so.

Many people want to go vegan for the health benefits of consuming more plant based foods and that's okay but there's also more reasons for going vegan than just believing the slaughter and farming of produce from animals is inhumane and cruel. 

Now, I've always eaten meat and dairy but I'm particular about where it has come from. It has to be free range and it has to of had a long enough life (I won't eat a young animal) but something recently completed changed my opinion on an economic activity that's essentially bullshitting us... the meat and dairy industry. 

Last weekend I watched a presentation on YouTube from the Humane Educator of The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, James Wildman. The video is titled '101 Reasons to Go Vegan'. I watched it just out of interest and was completely surprised by my reaction and feelings at the end of the 1 hour 11 minute video.

I won't push for you to just watch it but just give it a chance because you'll completely rethink your own opinions and realise how gullible you've been. I personally thought I'd need to see the extreme slaughter or mistreatment of animals to rethink eating meat or dairy but in that whole 71 minute video there's only a 3 minute insight into the animal industry and there's no blood in sight. Just facts. Facts that make you question how we look at animals we consume to those we keep as pets, why we're farming them, what it's doing to our health and how the meat and dairy industry is painting a picture to make us feel like we need it.

But aside from it completely opening my eyes to a fabricated trade, it's also changed a lot more than that...

What I learned from going vegan for 1 week... 

I fell in love with cooking again
Taking meat and dairy out of my diet meant that I become more experimental in the kitchen. My previous diet was the usual commercial influenced plate of protein (meat), vegetables and carbohydrates which lead me to eat the same combination of foods and meal times had gotten incredibly boring.

I ate more
Because my consumption was mainly vegetables, lentils, legumes, grains and seeds I was able to eat high quantities of these or spread them out and snack more throughout the day without any worry.

I didn't need condiments
My fridge was previously stocked with every condiment under the sun and I'd always have more than one with my meals. But James Wildman's point has stuck with me; "I'd got to McDonalds and get a slab of meat, that meat would have herbs and spices...then it came with a bun, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard and onions and a pickle. We put those on the meat to make it taste better, what would meat be without plants? It would just be a dead animal"...

I stopped counting calories
I never counted calories by writing them down but I know the average calories in certain foods and therefor know how much I should eat. When I dropped meat and dairy and started cooking more with vegetables I never gave calories a second thought.

I felt lighter 
Meat is a heavy form of protein. You can consume a steak and instantly feel twice as heavy. By cutting that out and getting my protein from greens, quinoa, lentils, beans, nut butters, soy milk (which contains the same amount of protein as milk without the cholesterol) and bananas, you instantly feel lighter.   

I had a clear conscious 
I love animals and the way in which James Wildman describes and questions the way we look at a pig compared to the way we look at a dog made me completely rethink my view.

My food shop was cheaper 
I was surprised that my food shop came in 1/3 cheaper than normal with 1/4 more meals and food purchased. Some vegan foods like vegan cheese, vegan mayo  aren't as cheap as the animal based alternatives however if you're no longer picking up that £4 pack of chicken then than £3 jar of vegan mayo is still cheaper...

My meals became more varied 
I try to eat as healthy and possible but that usually means that I get stuck in the same old boring circle of salad, fruit, chicken and vegetables. By taking meat and dairy out of my diet I've become more creative with food and my meals have become incredible varied.

I never felt restricted 
I previously thought the vegan lifestyle was too fussy. "What do they even eat?!" I used to ask myself. I'm such an idiot. There are so many alternatives to your usual meat based meals that throughout the 7 days I've actually felt like my mind has been opened to more foods than it was when I ate meat and diary... weird right?

I had more energy 
I noticed that even though I'm still mentally tired when I get up in the morning I had more physical energy throughout the day. I also noticed that my usual afternoon brain slump happened later on in the day.

My meals where tastier 
I started to use more ingredients in my meals, put together different varieties of food that brought out the flavour and made my meals tastier. In the whole 7 days I've never once wanted to eat meat or missed eating anything dairy. I've had milk alternatives in my tea (soy, almond and oats milk) and actually preferred the oats milk in particular to cows milk.

After watching that YouTube video there's no way I can go back to tucking into a beef burger or gulping down a large cow's milk latte but on the other hand I won't box myself off under a dietary term. By not consuming large portions of meat and dairy I feel healthier, I enjoy my food more but I'm also not fuelling a cruel industry and therefor feel as though I have a clear conscious. 

I may tuck into a bag of crisps (that contains milk), nibble on some milk chocolate or have a cheese pizza, but by being aware of what I'm consuming, knowing what's happened to produce it, and considerably reducing consumption on the whole, I'm being less of a contributor and feel better about it.

Beki Xo

"I think I'll take this, yes thank you"... 😂

A post shared by @digitdax on

What I've Learned About Owning A Miniature Dachshund (*)
Bed - Apple Crates, Feeding bowl - Bryher Timber, Toys & Treats - Monster Pet Supplies

We had been planning to get a puppy for around 5 years but wanted to wait until we had a house with a garden and our lives were a little less hectic. We went back and fourth between about 3 different breeds before we finally did our research and ultimately found the perfect fit, a long haired miniature dachshund... AKA our little puppy 'Digit'.

Miniature dachshunds have a bold and independent temperament, They're intelligent, faithful and good tempered which means the breed would fit perfectly into our 'coffee shop crawling' lifestyle. But the breed is also very head strong so that does mean they can be incredibly stubborn and sensitive however, having easily trained my family dog I'm up for a challenge and to be honest I think it gives them more personality!

The breed is also incredibly loyal and will attach him or herself to one person in the family in particular which means that they may not like being left alone. We're very keen to eventually have two (this number will increase) dogs for companionship so this wasn't a problem for us at all.

So what have I learned about owning a miniature dachshund?

I ain't saying you're a gold digger...
They love to dig and by digging that doesn't just mean in the garden. Cushions, carpets, throws, walls, chairs... nothing is off limits.

What are you eating?
Their diet is incredibly important for their backs. Dachshunds have long backs and can put on weight easily. Since their backs are like a suspension bridge you need to keep it strong. I feed Digit a BARF (raw) diet that not only keeps her happy but provides her with all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients she needs.

There's no point in shouting...
Dachshunds are sensitive so they don't take well to aggressive tones. They do however love praise, so cheerful tones for all the little things do really count.

Why are you ignoring me?
Dachshunds are independent thinkers which also means that if they want to they will ignore you repeating their name over and over to get their attention.

That was quick! 
They're incredibly bright and clever, Digit learnt to 'shake a paw' within 10 minutes and the 'sit' command within 5 minutes which is great for getting her to be patient when waiting for her dinner.

You should be a comedian! 
Their unpredictable and lively nature along with those random bursts of energy and running around the kitchen island 10 times faster than the speed of light will set you into a fit of giggles. They get themselves into the stupidest predicaments and their little sausage like appearance just makes things even more funnier. 

You've left the baby gate open!

Dachshunds love to jump, bounce around and run up and down stairs but this isn't healthy for their backs as it puts strain on their spine. 1 in 4 dachshunds are prone to IVDD (Intervertebral disk disease) and so for prevention it's not only about diet and exercise it's also about the stairs being off limits and NO jumping off of the couch.

Watch your step! 
Of course miniature dachshunds are low to the ground and can sneak up on you easily which does mean that they can easily get under your feet. We've had to pop a little cat bell onto her collar so we can hear when she's near.

Pick me up please, I'm tired...
Dachshunds don't need a lot of exercise, in fact too much exercise can be bad for them. The Dachshund Breed Council recommends their daily exercise should be between 5-10 minutes walk until they're 4 months old then it's 15-20 minutes until they're 6 months then 30 minutes until they're a year which it can then increase to 45-50 minutes a day. If they're tired they will jump up to be picked up so a dog bag is recommended!

Sleeping beauty... 

Long haired miniature dachshunds in particular are laid back and sweet-natured. They love to snooze, snuggle up to you on the couch and have the most adorable sleeping positions ever.

Beki Xo 

(*) As part of this blog post I was gifted the toys and treats from Monster Pet Supplies however all opinions and reviews are my own 
Top 3 Winter Fashion Trends That Made 2016 (*)

Every year there are certain winter trends that make their way out from the back of the wardrobe: the oversized fur coats, the leather boots and of course the array of tartan patterns. This year, there were three looks that really caught my eye, and now that we’re into spring, I still find myself turning to them when the weather is still frightful outside. Let me know what you think about these top three wintry trends that are making waves into 2017…

1.     Cape coats

I am loving the caped coat look right now, especially now that the evenings are a little warmer and it’s all you need on a night out. They’re a welcome alternative to the usual over-sized trench coats and military jackets that we see each and every year, but from a practical point of view, they’re also incredibly good at locking in heat!

Plus, you can get caped shawls which are perfect for occasion wear. If you have a Spring wedding on the horizon, I’d recommend leaving behind your standard shawl and opting for a blush pink fur-lined cape instead. It will be far better for keeping out the cold, but also help you achieve a look that screams opulence.

2.     Gemstone Jewellery

Gemstones have always been a favourite for pendants and charms, but they were given a new look towards the end of last year. For 2017, it’s all about incorporating their rough-cut forms into large pieces of statement jewellery. It could be a cuff-style bracelet with a large stone set into the centre, or a collection of gems strung together in a necklace that looks like something straight out of an Aztec warrior’s wardrobe.

This trend may remind us of ancient cultures past, but it makes a beautiful addition to plain outfits that are in need of an edge. Of course, you’ll still be able to find plenty of elegant gemstone designs too, as ChloBo, the luxury jewellery retailer, have recently launched their Gypsy Dreamer and Luna Soul collections. With plenty of Labradorite greys and the pink hues of Aventurine to hand, you can add a touch of sophistication to your festive outfits.

3.     V is for velvet

Up until now, the main focus of evening dresses has been the Great-Gatsby-inspired look. Although I love the heavily beaded and sequined dresses, everyone seems to have one now, so I was thrilled to see this new velvet trend start to trickle into the shops.

Think sleek, slimming and seductive; these simplistic velvet dresses will be perfectly complemented by a retro choker necklace and some black heels for a throwback to the 90s that people will love. If you’re still making the most of the sales looking for evening outfits, opt for darker colours like forest green or sapphire blue for a more expensive look. Then add a glittering clutch and you’re good to go.

You can find more top trends from 2016 here. What are your top spring combinations? 

(*) Collaborative Post

Pink Grapefruit and Peppercorn Cocktail ft Colombo Gin (*)

Colombo Gin is a dry gin created by a young Asian distiller inspired by the history of Ceylon and handcrafted in the UK.

Back when Sri Lanka was Ceylon, British Excise Officers didn’t believe that a good London Gin could be produced outside of the UK. However a young Asian distiller thought otherwise and fought until he could create a gin using local botanicals. His successes lead to creating the regulations of Ceylon Made Foreign Liquor as well as Indian Made Foreign Liquor laws that stand to this day.

The gin itself contains 7 native lead botanicals that create its war time recipe; Ginger root, coriander seeds, angelica root, juniper, liquorice root and Sri Lankan cinnamon bark and curry leaves.

Tasted neat the profile is distinctive and complex. Juniper leads the way with a burst of citrus and coriander followed by warming notes of cinnamon and the peppery heat of ginger. However when you add tonic the profile seems to become a lot smoother, juniper still maintaining its strength but with the other botanicals coming together to create a sweet, fresh and warming notes.

When creating a cocktail I wanted something that would keep those fresh and spicy notes. The gin compliments Asian cooking incredibly well so I was researching ingredients that would refresh the palette but maintain that peppery taste to embrace the gin.

So I created the...

Pink Grapefruit & Peppercorn Gin Cocktail 

50ml Colombo Gin
½ Fresh grapefruit juice
2 Cubes of ice
3-5 Peppercorns
Top with Fevertree tonic

Squeeze the juice of half a fresh grapefruit into a cocktail shaker

Add two cubes of ice and 50 ml of Colombo Gin

Shake until cocktail shaker becomes misty and pour into a couple glass (or a short glass)

Top with Fevertree tonic and add 3-5 black peppercorns

The perfect fresh and simple cocktail that could be enjoyed before or after a meal to cleanse the palette and give you that 'pick me up' taste with it's crisp flavour.

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this review I was gifted the Colombo Gin however all opinions and the recipe itself are my own
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