Updated: Feb 6
It is Veganuary, where in January people devote a month to ‘ try vegan’ and to promote continuing this throughout the year. This is to inspire people to give it a shot and to make people aware of the vegan options available. What’s great about this? Well companies are also jumping on the fast movement of veganism and starting to provide great alternatives to their typical choices. Today, me and my partner decided to go around the fast food franchises and try all the recent vegan options available and rate them on what we though tasted best.
Why should you eat Vegan?
Essentially, it comes down to the two main aspects, which is the ethical reasons (thinking of the animals) and the environmental reason to further help to reduce our negative impact on the world. Veganism is proven to use less resources (food & water), land, and obviously prevents the numerous suffering of animals that often live in horrendous conditions that also add to the greenhouse gases. Even going vegan once a week can have a tremendous impact on the environment, so please do consider it. Anyway, here is our fast food experience in Veganuary 2020:
1. Greggs Vegan Steak Bake
Greggs have done it again. First, they knocked it out the park with the vegan sausage roll and we believe they have done it again. After trying the vegan steak bake, it quickly became our favourite on the list. At only £1.50, it is the cheapest too, so it is defiantly worth giving it a try.
2. Pizza Hut Vegan Pepperphoni Pizza
The most expensive on the list but also the largest. We tried Pizza Huts vegan option with half vegan cheese and half standard mozzarella, as believe most people will ask for real cheese. Surprisingly we thought the vegan side actually tasted better than the side with real cheese but either way it tasted great. Another reason we liked this one is because we feel it is one that vegans and vegetarians really want but never get. This is for companies to simply replace the previous meat item with a plant based alternative that is already out there, in this case Pepperoni. Pizza Hut are often doing deals, so if you want a meal out, why not go to there.
3. Subway Meatless Marinara
In our opinion this was a large improvement from Subway’s previous vegan option of a dried vegetable patty. This meatless meatball subway comes with their rich tomato sauce toasted with cheese with subways typical subway roll. As you would expect it smells great and taste great too.
4. Costa Vegan Smoky Ham & Cheeze Toastie and Vegan All Day Breakfast Panini
Another option that cropped up in Veganuary was Costas Vegan options for either a ham & cheese toastie or an all-day breakfast panini. Well, we tried both and instantly thought both tasted great. Whether you want a quick bit with your coffee or a nice lunch we would quickly recommend either depending on what you feel like having.
5. KFC Vegan Chicken Burger
We are always on the lookout for alternatives that replace chicken or burgers in the fast food restaurants and finally we have got what we have asked for. We thought that this was a great tasting chicken burger, however, a little dry, so does need some work. Also, another large issue was the mistakes the staff keep making. This is accidentally giving a real chicken fillet instead of the vegan alternative. This was something my partner experience and another person in the store, whilst we were there. It seems to happening regularly, as we have seen reports of it happening in many locations according to many news sites. This obviously defeats the purpose of providing a vegan option and is a disastrous mistake to make.
6. McDonald’s Vegan Dippers
I am not sure how the fast food giant absolutely missed the ball with this one. Now, in fairness the dippers do taste nice. However, many people want something that taste or represents the fast foods signature meal, so we feel like this didn’t fully promote veganism. Never the less it is still nice to get another option at the fast food franchise.
These are the vegan options we tried this month and listed in order of our favourite. However, whatever you liked the best it does not matter we are just ecstatic to see more vegan options available. The fact is we are getting more and more options to meet the fast growing vegan movement, which is desperately needed. Even for vegetarians such as myself and my partner it is hard to find a different quick meal other than a typical vegetable patty, so we are ecstatic to have that choice. Finally and most importantly, by choosing a vegan option you are doing better for the environment, as well as being assured no animals were harmed in the making of some delicious food, so why not give it a go?
Updated: Feb 6
‘Plastic free July’ has just finished but your eco-friendly sustainable habits don't have to. Although, plastic is a major issue it is important to know that it is not just plastic that wreaks havoc on our planet. Essentially, anything you use can become waste and therefore you should look for long-term alternatives that can be reused or is biodegradable. The effects that waste and plastic have on the world is devastating, it ruins the environment and leads to many innocent animals death. If you have decided you want to prevent this and start your zero waste journey, I applaud you and want to help you achieve this. Here, I decided to make a list on my opinion of the first items you should pick up to achieve this goal. All the prices are from Amazon at the time of writing this article but prices can vary and there can be other cheaper options. Here are 10 of the first zero waste items that I recommend:
These have been designed to replace cling film, which is the thin sheet of plastic that is used to wrap up fresh food. Instead, you can use beeswax wraps, which is made from organic cotton and beeswax that can be compostable at the end of its life. They last for about a year and can be used to cover and wrap your rolls, sandwiches, cut fruit and more to keep your food fresh for longer.
Pack of 3: £18
These are great, especially now that many counties have included a bag tax for each one you take. Bags are toxic for the environment and lead to the suffocation of many animals and therefore should be avoided at all costs. Pick up a number of bags from a general tote bag to a thermal one to keep your frozen food cold until you get home. Additionally, you can avoid being caught out by getting a pocket bag that can fold up to a small size, whilst not in use.
Pocket bag (Pack of 3): £7
Reusable bottle & Cups:
Plastic bottles, plastic lined single use coffee cups and straws all use plastic that takes hundreds of years to biodegrade (essentially, they are not biodegradable) and harm the wildlife. Look for eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives that can be used repeatedly. Get one that is made from recycled material and one that can also be recycled at the end of its life. Bonus: Additionally, look for some reusable straws to further reduce your beverage waste.
Reusable Bottle: £8
Reusable Coffee Cup: £11
Reusable Straws (Pack of 4): £3
Razor can be incredibly wasteful without people realizing it. The heads that are often quickly replaced have plastic, which leads to the plastic issue we have today. A great alternative is going back in time a little bit to use a safety razor. The only waste is the single blades, which can be recycled (However, check with your local authority first). Additionally, make sure to get a package free shaving soap and shaving brush to apply it to further prevent needless waste.
Safety Razor Kit: £23
Usually, a washing up sponge, cloth or scourer is made from plastic mesh that again is not good. However, there are organic alternatives that clean your dishes just as well, can be machine washed and are biodegradable at the end of their life. Two key items to pick up are an organic loofah sponge and coconut fibre brushes / scrubs. Both are organic, biodegradable and get the job done.
Loofa sponge (Pack of 6): £9
Coconut fibre Brush: £2.50
Another daily plastic item that often ends up floating in our ocean is our toothbrushes. A great alternative that can be sustainably sourced and is completely biodegradable, which is a bamboo toothbrush. Bonus: Also look at getting eco-friendly biodegradable dental floss and a glass container to hold it in.
Pack of 5: £8
Single dental floss: £5.90
To go along with your bees wax wraps get a reusable lunchbox. I have seen a variety of reusable lunch holding utensils. They can be made from reusable paper bag, steel tins to a simple fabric bag. All do the job great but try to avoid plastic to be even greener.
Stainless Steel tin: £20
Bars of Soap / Shampoo:
Bottled shampoo, conditioners and shower gels all lead to plastic waste at the end of their life. However, there is a variety of bar soaps, shampoo and conditioners that can come in eco-friendly packaging.
Solid Bar of Soap (multi-pack): £12
Solid Shampoo Bar (2 packs): £8
Solid Bar of Conditioner: £6
Reusable Kitchen Towels
Paper towels are a must have in the kitchen for whenever you spill a drink or just want to wipe a dirty surface. Yet these lead to additional waste. Instead look for reusable cloths that can be washed. Make sure to get a few to ensure you don’t run out.
Pack of cloths: £10
Whatever you already have:
This can be anything and everything. Essentially, the best way not to create any more waste is to use whatever you have now. Whether it is an old lunch box, some old cloths at the back of your wardrobe or something you can uplift yourself. The goal is to not create any more waste in any way.
Here is just a small list of items that you can begin to integrate into your life in a bid to rid our world of waste. These are all just suggestions that are some of the items I think you should pick up first to help you achieve zero waste. However, you should aim to get reusable items that can have the biggest impact to your lifestyle. Additionally, there is so much more you can do to help combat waste and importantly plastic, through proper recycling, litter picking and refusing to use certain items can all help to reduce the waste littering many areas and make a change. These are all generic suggestions of what I believe are everyday items that can stop their wasteful counterparts. However, there are many variations of these that may be better suited you but aim to make sure that they are eco-friendly, ethical and prevent additional waste harming our planet.
Updated: Feb 6
I am sure as kids most of you would have grown sunflowers, usually amongst your friends or siblings to see who gets the biggest or tallest one in a fun, friendly and environmental competition. Sunflowers are easy to grow plants that can easily dwarf most people by growing on average 6 to 10 feet. Here I will go into facts about sunflower, how to grow them, why you should grow them and my experience with growing them. So whether you want an interesting and unique plant to grow, an environment friendly hobby or just a healthy competition, then please read on.
What is a Sunflower?
Sunflowers botanical name is Helianthus, which has nearly 70 species within it, the most common of which is called Helianthus Annuus that is grown for edible oil and seeds. However, for the back garden as you are probably growing them for their enormous size you might want to pick up sunflowers with the names ‘American Giant’ or ‘Skyscraper’. Getting your hands on sunflower seed is easy and you can obtain some at most garden centre and many other stores also sell them in the spring. As I mentioned above there is a variety of different types, so get one that you like the look of.
Reason to grow sunflowers:
There are many reason why you should grow sunflowers but if you need a little inspiration, here are the most common reasons:
Bees – Sunflowers are a hot spot of nectar and pollen, both crucial in helping the bees.
Ease of growing – They are incredibly easy to get them to sprout and grow making you feel like a successful gardener.
Looks – I think everyone agrees that sunflowers look magnificent & spectacular.
Seeds – Sunflower seeds are a healthy tasty snack, very nutritious and many of your local animals and wildlife will eat them too.
Environmental – Alongside all other plants, sunflower help to reduce the carbon dioxide we omit.
Competition – It can be an incredibly fun competition!
How to grow sunflowers?
Here are the key things you need to know to grow your sunflowers:
When should you plant sunflowers? You should always check your sunflower packet but most are often sown mid-April to end of May. However, this can be started earlier in a green house.
How often should you water your sunflower? These are watered more often than other plants. The soil should be constantly moist. In the height of summer they should be watered daily. However, you may be able to get away with less than this if it rains and remains cool.
How long do sunflowers take to sprout? Usually, they will sprout in 7 to 10 days.
When do you plant sunflowers in the ground? You should plant your sunflower when the first true leaves appear (these are the second set of leaves).
How long do sunflowers take to reach maturity? They can reach maturity in 80 to 120 days.
What conditions do sunflowers need? They need to be put in full sun and well-draining soil, which can be Improved through manure and compost to ensure good growth. As mentioned above ensure they are watered regularly.
Here is my sunflower experience!
I decided to plant some sunflower for a bit of healthy competition with my partner and to see how easy it is to grow them (spoiler: It is incredibly easy) by following the key guide above. Here is my timeline from planting the seeds to a whopping 7 foot sunflower.
25th May: I planted the seeds into small pots with a small amount of stones at the bottom to help with drainage and your standard multi-purpose compost.
1st June: In just 7 days they had already begun to Sprout.
17th June: Even though they are small the sunflower true leaves (Second set) had emerged. This meant they could be repotted but I decided to wait until they were slightly bigger and better established.
23rd June: The sunflowers continued to grow at a rapid rate and their true leaves had fully come in. I then re-potted them into individual larger pots.
2nd July: I dug a large trench at the back of my garden, which was in full sun and put the sunflowers in. Whilst digging up the soil I got rid of as many foreign object as I could and mixed in a bit of multi-purpose compose. Although it is recommended to plant them two feet apart I was a little short of this, due to space and only separated them about a foot apart (Don’t worry they still grew). I then staked them in place with bamboo and twine.
20th July: As the sunflower continued to grow and summer fully came in I de-weeded the area and twined higher up the sunflower and bamboo to ensure they would not collapse.
28th July: The spectacular heads of the sunflowers had started to emerge with one completely flowering. I also continued to de-weeded the area to ensure maximum growth.
10th August: All the sunflowers were flowering.
20th August: All the sunflowers had completely flowered and seemed to reach the end of their life. I decided to leave them for another week to let the bees collect the pollen and nectar.
28th August: The beautiful sunflowers lasted for a little bit longer but today I harvested their heads. I picked of the seed and laid them on the bird table for the birds of course. However, I have seen many people just leave out the whole sunflowers heads or pin it to a wall or post for the birds to peck at. Alternatively, you can dry them out to make a snack for yourself.
Overall, as you can see the sunflowers from seed to harvest was around 90 days, which isn’t that long at all. The reasons you should grow sunflowers are to help the environment, because it is a beautiful plant and provides a fun competition. They grow at considerable speed for plants making growing them visually exciting. The benefits to the bees are tremendous and the seeds are an added bonus for a healthy snack or to feed your local birds. I hope my recommendation and method for growing my sunflowers worked for you and you decide to grow a few of your own. Anyway, I would love to see how tall your sunflowers got, so make sure to send me a picture on my social medias with #growthesun or #sunflowercompetition and tag me in it.