Meet the veggies *uh!* we're the veggies *uh!* oh, they grow here in my nursery...
My CBeebies posse will have sung that in their heads but for those of you who don't regularly watch Mr Bloom and his crew of tasty chums, (what are you doing with your life?) I apologise.
This week is National Vegetarian Week! A thing I never knew existed until today, which is quite funny to me as two weeks ago, completely oblivious as to what was coming up, I decided to start eating a vegetarian diet.
Why choose veggie?
Personally, the choice to stop eating meat came from many different pathways leading to the same end. I had already started to cut down on meat consumption for a good 4 or so months previous to my big decision. I have a number of systematic conditions that affect how my body react to stuff such as food and digestion and I'd definitely noticed a correlation between feeling ill with gastric issues and syncope and eating a meat-heavy meal. Alongside this I'd recently been reading into the meat trade and feeling more and more like I wanted to really reduce my consumption for ethical and environmental reasons. On top of all of this though, I just wasn't enjoying eating meat any more. It became the part of the meal I looked forward to least or would often throw away entirely, which made me feel even worse as I try to avoid waste as much as possible.
What is there to eat?
I'm lucky enough to enjoy a wide range of non-meat based foods. I love fresh fruit and veg, I still eat dairy products (although this too is something I have cut right down on due to health reactions and ethical reasons) so there are a ton of options available to me. It's a jokey stereotype to think of Linda McCartney foods when thinking of vegetarian meals but they are actually extremely tasty, well balanced meals when you want something quick and easy. This mushroom and spinach burger from the frozen range was amazing. I actually enjoyed a burger with no stomach ache or fainting spells and it was delicious (brioche bun, fillings and sweet potato chips made separately). I have also yet to be disappointed by any meat substitute products - Quorn's Turkey Stuffing Style Slices for example are perfect for a quick sarnie lunch. I can taste no difference at all.
Why don't you go vegan?
This is a question I ask myself a lot. I don't like a lot of things about the dairy trade but I'm not educated enough on the topic to start a debate. I don't like the mentality that drinking cow's milk is completely normal yet breastfeeding is still such a taboo subject. I don't like how the animals are treated not just for their consumables and wearables but for their whole being, things like captive zoos etc. I just know what I feel, and it makes me feel uncomfortable and sad. Dairy also negatively impacts my health through gallbladder issues, so as I said further up I have made a conscious effort to really reduce my dairy consumption. It feels too big of a step for me at the moment mentally to try a full vegan lifestyle but I would never say never. Five years ago I would have never have considered I'd be vegetarian.
Will your children be vegetarian?
It is entirely their choice. I have spoken to both my sons about mine and my husband's decision to eat a vegetarian diet and they are age appropriately aware of why we are doing what we're doing. They have both decided to carry on eating meat for the time being and I will continue to support them in their personal choices. My five year old has been curious and tried a few new things which has been amazing (veggie pasta and meatballs was a roaring success!), anything that gets more veggies into our kids and get them talking about healthy food has got to be a good thing.
Are you partaking in National Vegetarian Week 2017? Do you have a favourite meat-free meal you'd like to share? Drop me a comment below!
Do I really need to say more? It wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't though!
If you're a parent, chances are you've heard of YouTube and the likes of slime, surprise eggs. the finger family, Stampy, DanTDM and more. So much more. So... much...
My littlest, Sullivan, has autism and one of his calming techniques and deep interests is YouTube. He loves watching his favourite content creators, often watching the same videos each day to the point he can re-create and build on them in his own imaginative play away from screen time. He loves finding new interests and exploring related videos and ideas that sit alongside his favourites. When he's feeling super stressed, these guys online - as repetitive and loud as they can be sometimes - really help my little guy when he's feeling tired or super anxious and also fill him with ideas, conversation starters and positivity.
I suppose it was always going to be a natural progression for him to then want his own channel and to create his own videos. "Sure poppet!" I exclaimed in response to him asking to create a "Let's Play" type video, with an excited enthusiasm that would soon fade and be replaced with exhaustion and desperation.
First came the realisation I had to actually get my crap together to do this. I needed to *gasp* tidy the living room, as no matter where I put Sully and pointed the camera, there was junk. After about 5739275 hours (probs like, 30 minutes) of rearranging I finally found an angle that would work. I then realised, like the good parent I am, that it probably wasn't such a good idea to film him in his pants and put it out for the whole world to see, so I had to convince him into an outfit (Sully wears basic white leggings and a gorgeous hand-made mono cactus t-shirt by the wonderful Molly over at Hey!Moko).
Filming wasn't actually too bad. Our first attempt was scrapped as Sully decided to read every single instruction and text painfully slowly and detailed that came up on screen whilst he was playing. We'd hit 10 minutes of footage and he hasn't even started.
So along came version 2. We had a quick chat about thinking about what others would like to watch, what his audience would find useful and entertaining and what he'd like to see if he were watching. He understood the concepts really well and decided he wanted to complete the Minecraft tutorial level, which meant he could teach people and have fun too.
Filming him as a silent observer and just letting him do what he wanted to do was really eye-opening. He had no worries, no insecurities holding him back like I would do if I were vlogging for the first time, he was just having a complete blast. I decided to let him do exactly what he wanted and then step in to edit the piece into a somewhat watchable video suitable in length and content for YouTube afterwards. This is where the exhaustion and desperation comes in!
Honestly, all props to the content creators who do this every day or even just a few times a month. The dedication, funding and time/energy that goes into creating a basic video is pretty immense. I'm a perfectionist so it erks me how wobbly the video is, the fact I can't fix the cracks in sound where I accidentally move a finger over the mic, that I can't for the life of me make an animated intro or outro without signing my cash and life away to a monthly subscription I'm not even sure I'd use, not to mention the lengthy rendering and upload times. I'm pretty computer literate and was able to make original images myself with my graphic design knowledge and it was STILL all really hard.
I was determined to do it though, as tucked up in bed was my little 5 year old who's dream it has been for about a year now to have his very own YouTube channel. He really wanted to be a part of the thing that has helped him so much in so many ways and I was going to make that happen for him. And boy am I glad he was tucked up in bed by this point, as sitting in a sweaty heap with a migraine in head, Gin in hand desperately willing my movie maker animation to work with my free dubstep-style sting was definitely not one of my highlights as a parent or role model.
We did it though and you know what? I think we might do more! YouTube gets a ton of negative press with screen time being blanket labelled as bad for kids and sadly some content creators abusing their position and making inappropriate videos tailored directly to children filled with their favourite characters being violent or sexual. There's no condoning that at all but with parental guidance and protection, it can be such a creative place to help flourish and grow young minds.
If you have a YouTube account and like his video or channel, a 'thumbs up' or subscribe would mean the world to him. Let us know if there's anything specifically you'd like to see us create!
Who is Julie?
30 something, mother of two gorgeous boys, lover of one gorgeous husband, perpetually living in a dream world full of wine, chocolate and artsy crafty things.