Wednesday, 30 March 2011

5 surprising things that are not vegan

Cows, the most used & abused animal on the planet.

1. Condoms. The majority of condoms contain casein, which is a protein from animal milk. Vegan friendly ones exist that use cocoa powder instead. Brands include Glyde, Fusion and  Condomi.

 2. Candles. Some candles use cochineal as a colorant. Cochineal is not vegan or vegetarian friendly and is the equivalent of having meat in your candles.

3. Margarines, butters and spreads. Most contain milk, but there are vegan alternatives available.

4. Vegetable soup/broth. Not all vegetable soup is suitable for vegetarians never mind vegans. Some soups like Campbell's in the UK are made with beef broth. Always check the label and assume nothing. As Dwight says in The Office (US), assume makes an ass out of you and me.

5.Crisps, or potato chips as they are called in America. Quite often they have milk added, especially in the store's own versions. Cheese flavoring may be made with animal rennet and meat flavours like beef and bacon may use animal flavourings.

Note - Chips/fries can also be made in animal fat.

For advice on whether things are vegan, why not check out


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Dark Places

When I first started writing my Cruelty Free book, I had no idea of all the dark places I would have to re-visit.

Places where animals are caged and treated appallingly before, terrified out of their wits and knowing what's coming (nobody can tell me different), they are killed by someone not fit to live on the same planet as them.

Places where animals are given poison just so some vacuous person can be wrinkle free and look like a freak. Who looks good with an ironed face?

Places where someone would rather wear the carcass of a dead animal than see the beautiful animal it belongs to in the wild.

I read all these things and I think I am in the middle of a nightmare. This cannot be real, but it is.

How can we call this humanity?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The things celebrities do to promote animal welfare

Today, I read an interesting piece about Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton donning a dress made completely out of lettuce to promote PETA's starter vegetarian and vegn kits.

Read the full article here -

She looks much better than Lady Gaga (or should it be Lady Gagag) did in that meat dress. What do you think?

Lady Gaga

The ugly truth about Botox

I'm writing a chapter for my book on things that can never be cruelty free.

This is the shocking truth about Botox, much loved be celebrities  -

  1. The increased popularity of Botox (Botulinium) injections has led to a sharp increase in the number of LD50 (LD stands for lethal dose) tests being carried out on mice. In these tests, mice are injected with Botox, which is a toxin and causes paralysis and eventually death by suffocation.
  2. For each batch, a hundred mice are poisoned and observed for days. The test is carried out to see how much of the toxin it takes to kill half of the mice.
  3. There are non-animal tests that are considered to be more reliable, but until they come into widespread usage, Botox is not cruelty free. This is because when licenses are given for botox toxicity testing, no distinction is made between batches intended for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sector (Botox does have medical uses). This way, even when it’s used for cosmetic (non-medical reasons) companies manage to completely bypass the ban on testing cosmetics on animals.
  4. Fact – Following a legal challenge from the BUAV (the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) in 1999, the UK government announced that LD50 tests would no longer be licensed except on 'exceptional scientific grounds.’ It is for you as an individual to decide whether having a wrinkle free forehead is worth the animal suffering.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Lazy Vegan’s Store Cupboard

Unfortunately I can’t cook like Vegan Dad This is for a number of reasons –
1- My kitchen is so small, it should be in Lilliput (land where Gulliver’s Travels is set)
2- Anything I cook from scratch is either inedible, burnt or both.

Here are the things I could not do without –

1. Soya Mince. Extremely versatile, it can be used in a multitude of ways. My personal favourite is Shepherd’s Pie.

Here's a great recipe on YouTube -

Tip – If it’s the dry kind, try soaking it in vegetable stock first.

It can also be used as just mince – add some carrots, onions, mashed potato and turnip to give it a great taste. In fact, add any root vegetables you want.

You can also add sausages and mash and turn it into my favourite dish vegetarian stovies (also suitable for vegans).
2. Jacket potatoes/loaded potato skins/filled potatoes.  What could be quicker that popping a potato in the oven/microwave and then adding whatever you fancy?

Daiya Cheese is used
 Go to for details of what this baked potato contains. There's mre great recipes on the site.

I love grated carrot and onion on mine, but there are fillings to suit everyone. Also great for children. Don’t forget the smiley face with the salad.

3. Pasta (check it contains no eggs, because if it does it might not be vegetarian never mind vegan as battery hen eggs may have been used). Like soya mince, you can add anything to the pasta that you fancy. How about boiled potatoes and freshly chopped tomatoes with a sprig of parsley?

4. Soya Protein Chunks or Textured Soya Protein (TVP). Great in stews (it’s about the only thing I don’t burn, not for the want of trying though), lasagne or, how about having a curry?

Found this simple recipe at the South African Vegan Directory
Vegan Dad also has some fantastic recipes. Here’s one of the best -

5. Tofu. Scramble it, fry it, stir fry it, bake it, marinate it, grill it, but just don’t do what I did and forget about it until it turns into a brick wall.

It can be used in soups and stews if you freeze it and then let it thaw. If you have silken tofu, you can even use it in desserts to replace dairy things like cream.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Pimp My Tofu

I can't cook the stuff, but this lady certainly can.

For more videos, visit YouTube.

Thanks to iquiteatingmeat on Twitter for the link.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

I tried… Superdrug Restoring Skin Care Oil

The first thing you notice about this oil is the smell. Think a summer’s garden. When you use it you feel instantly calm and refreshed. And, unlike most facial oils it’s not greasy and absorbs quickly.
Packaging front view
It leaves my skin feeling smooth and moisturized.

It says on the label that it’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans and is to help the appearance of scars, stretch marks, ageing and dehydrated skin. Well, I don’t have the first two, but I can vouch for this oil making your skin both leak and feel younger and hydrated.

For more details, visit

And, remember if you buy this and not some nasty animal tested brand, you are saving the bunnies.

Sorry, but this is available in the UK only at the moment.

Note - This is the first in a regular series of reviews.

It can be so difficult to get cosmetics and toiletries that are genuinely cruelty free. In other words, they are -
NOT Tested on animals – this includes the ingredients and the finished product. Nor do they commission testing on their behalf.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

My lovely rescue dog Benjy

This is a picture of my wonderful rescue dog Benjy on the day we got him -

We are his third home and he came to us when he was just 17-months-oldl. His first owners got their home repossesed and couldn't keep him, then he was in a dog home for months, then someone adopted him and after a few days took him back because he had an ear infection, then it was back to the dog home and finally he came to us his forever home.

This is how Benjy looks toay -

He will be 3 on May 1st and will have lived with us for 2 years on September 8th. It feels as though we've had him forever.

4 Top Cruelty free cosmetics companies

1. Liz Earle

Animal testing? They never do it. Animal products in their cosmetics? ‘None of our ingredients are of animal origin (except beeswax, propolis and manuka honey). All products are suitable for vegetarians,’ says their website

2. Beauty Without Cruelty

When I first became vegetarian 25 years ago in Scotland, this was the cosmetics brand to trust at a time when other companies didn’t give a monkeys, well about the monkeys, rats, bunnies, cats and dogs they tested their products on.

Their products are Vegan Society Approved and as such suitable for vegetarians too.

3. Jason Natural Cosmetics

They’re listed on the  site for good reason.  They don’t test products or ingredients on animals and the only animal product they use is beeswax in a couple of their lip balms. That makes them not only vegetarian, but vegan (if you can without those lip balms).

They even have a handy tool on their website where you can find out where your nearest stockist of their products is Now that’s what you call customer orientated.
4. Neal’s Yard
They promise never to test either their products or the ingredients on animals. And, they have a list of vegan products. Lots of them – 54 pages of them, in fact. I’m in love. Why can’t all companies be this fabulous?

Note – You will notice that I have not included The Body Shop. This is because it’s a contentious one as although they are completely cruelty free they are owned by a company who are definitely not, animal testing L’Oreal. 

It’s also come to my attention that they use animal by-products that you wouldn’t expect in their products, like lanolin (comes from sheep’s wool and therefore definitely not vegan) and someone suggested that make up brushes they sell contain pig’s hair. Not sure if that is true or not.
For more companies who are cruelty free, visit
Or click on this for a downloaded document on cruelty free companies in the UK

Nasty animal by-products in cosmetics

You don’t want animal stuff in your cosmetics, right? Here’s some of the nasty stuff to look out for in the list of ingredients –
2- Carmine/Cochineal – wee insects boiled and crushed to make a colorant.
3-Tallow – from bones. Yuck. Me too.
4. Elastin (from cows).
5. Beeswax/pollen/other bee products. Down to choice for veggies. A no, no for vegans.
6. Collagen – usually comes from fish. Was given something from Maybelline recently, thinking the company was okay only to discover this muck was in it. End result? In the bin. Maybe it’s blooming not Maybelline.
7.Glycerine (glycerin in the USA) can come from animal and vegetable sources. Unless it says a product is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, assume its animal glycerin.

Note - L'Occitane have been removed from my original list after I was advised that they have lost their Humane Society accreditation.
A statement on the company's site reads - 'L'OCCITANE has long been committed to associations such as One Voice or PETA. Also it was one of the first companies to be admitted to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) list in 1997. Yet, this association has decided in December 2011 to remove from its list companies operating in China because Chinese authorities may carry out limited tests when registering products for the local market. At no time has L'OCCITANE practiced these type of tests, but nevertheless has been subjected to this position because L'OCCITANE cannot bring formal evidence that these tests are not carried out by Chinese authorities at any time.'

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Top Bananas a.k.a the celebrities standing up for animal rights

Awards for top services to animals

1. Forest Whitaker. Fine actor, fine man. He’s been a vegetarian for 25 years and his son is a vegan.

Reason he’s a top banana – He’s a Hollywood top hitter and an unlikely vegetarian.
He and his daughter did a short film for PETA  promoting a vegetarian diet.

2. Leona Lewis. Great singer, great gal. A vegetarian herself, she speaks out about everything from fur to the industrial farming of dairy cows in Britain in mega dairies where cows would be treated like battery hens.

Reason she’s a top banana – Shunned a whopping £1million the opening of Harrods because they sell fur -
Lewis also has her own vegan friendly clothing range -
She made sure that the cruelest food on the planet, foie gras, was taken off the menu at the Brits -

3. Joaquin Phoenix. Quite possibly the sexist vegan on the planet. Phoenix is so strict about his beliefs that he insists that for all his movies all ‘leather’ garments are synthetic.

Reason he’s a top banana – He’s a spokesman for PETA and in a photo shoot for Prada, he refused to wear shoes because they were made out of leather.
He has fronted a number of PETA campaigns, including one highlighting the trade in exotic skins -

4. Alicia Silverstone. The beautiful actress looks so healthy and is a great advert for veganism. She’s been vegan for over ten years.

Reason she’s a top banana – A staunch supporter of PETA, see this link
she wrote a book about her diet aptly called The Kind Diet, that was crammed full of recipes.

5. Paul McCartney. Animals have a friend in the Beatle.

Reason he’s a top banana – What could be better for animals that having such a high profile advocate? This is an example of a man using his power for the tight reasons. Other stars take note.
Macca helped publicize the use of cat and dog fur in clothing -

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

5 Reasons Not to Eat Free Range Eggs

We keep on being told that free range eggs are cruelty free. The research I did found differently.

1-Many hens die even before they make it to farms on conveyor belts where they are roughly handled and thrown about.

2-Whether the birds go into cages or not they have their beaks cut off.

3-Being free range does not mean birds live the perfect life. The spaces they occupy may be outdoors, but they are often cramped.

4- The male chicks are killed because they don’t lay eggs. They are usually gassed or put in a mincer and killed in a method called IMD (Instantaneous Mechanical Destruction). Eating free range eggs or any eggs means more hens and chickens and therefore more chicks that are killed.

5-Free range in America does not mean the same as in the UK. In the US, eggs can be described as free range when the birds have been given as little as five minutes in the sun each day. 

As a result of the disturbing facts I found, I have stopped eating eggs.

Footnote – Viva (the Vegetarians International Voice for Animals) filmed undercover in two hatcheries. Here’s the footage (be warned it contains highly disturbing images) -

5 Reasons to go Milk Free

1-Milk is a by product of the beef industry.

2-The only milk humans are meant to drink is from their own mothers.

3-Almost half of the population is lactose intolerant. Lactose is in milk, and an intolerance to it can cause stomach cramps.

4-Milk can be very fattening as people have a tendency not to realise how much they are drinking.

5-Milk contains hormones and antibiotics that are passed onto humans when they drink it.

5 reasons to go vegetarian

1-You are saving animals from a miserable existence where they are caged, abused and then killed usually in a less than humane way.

2-Being meat free is better for the environment as the Rain Forests are being chopped down to make more way for animals to graze that will be killed for food. 

3-Meat production is uneconomical. You get a lot less food from animals than you need to put into them.

4- Meat takes much longer to digest than any other foodstuff. This is one of the reasons vegetarians and vegans get less meat related cancers like cancer of the bowels.

5-Once you make that step towards thinking it’s acceptable to bring animals into the world to kill and eat, it’s much easier to make the step towards thinking all animal cruelty is okay.

5 Simple ways to go Cruelty Free

There are things we can all do to make this world a kinder place.

Here are just five of them -

1- Don't buy a dog, adopt one. The more people who buy dogs the more unwanted dogs there are.

2- Buy only cosmetics that are NOT tested on animals and check that applies to the ingredients too. This is important, because many companies might not test the finished products on animals, but they will test the ingredients. 

See the Leaping Bunny site for details - and

3- Never ever, under any circumstances buy fur.There is no such thing as cruelty free fur.

4- Buy Fair Trade products as much as you can. Fair Trade, means the producer and workers have been given a fair price.

5- Use humane rat or mouse traps. These will get pests out of your home alive without harming them.

The cruellest things on the planet

I'm currently doing the research for my cruelty free book for a chapter on things that can never be cruelty free. Even if you're not veggie or vegan, simply by avoiding the filthy five you can be kinder to animals.

Here's my top five of particularly cruel foods -

1- Foie gras - force feed a goose or duck eat until it's liver gets several times its natural size. Then kill it to eat.

2- Veal - Put a baby calf in a crate and deprive him or her of sunlight and a mother and don't ever let this baby go outside.

3- Fur - Furry animals in cages. Some, if they're lucky, will be dead when they are skinned. Others will be skinned alive.

4- Lobster - How would you like to be tossed alive into a burning pot and cooked alive? If you did that to a pet the cops would cart you off.

5- Down (sometimes called feather down, duck down or goose down) – It may be well known that fur production is cruel but what many people don’t know is that goose and duck down involves animal cruelty. Many birds have their feathers plucked whilst their still alive, especially in China the major down manufacturers in the world.