The G7 Summit: What You Need To Know

Today marks the beginning of this year’s G7 summit, where world leaders meet to discuss shared macroeconomic initiatives.  Hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Biarritz, all leaders have now arrived:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italy’s caretaker Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  These countries make the foundation of the summit, as they have the seven largest IMF-described advanced economies in the world, and some of the most powerful democracies.  The Egyptian President, Abdel Fatteh el-Sissi and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera are also invited to the two-day summit as guest countries.

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk has stated it will be an ‘unusually difficult’ meeting of the leaders.  He warns against trade wars, which he believes could lead to a global recession, and the advancement of technology that is developing more quickly than the ability to regulate it.  Tusk summarized by stating that this summit could be the last moment to restore unity among the G7 countries.

The issue at the top of the agenda is climate change.  Tusk has supported Macron’s decision to prioritize the Amazon wildfires, despite Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promising to take a tough action approach by sending in the military to tackle the flames.  In an introductory speech, Macron stated, ‘we need to help Brazil and other countries put down these fires, and then we need to reinvest in reforestation.’

The discussions continue.

Vegan Sweet Potato Brownies

Don’t worry – these brownies are fudgy, gooey and don’t taste like a root vegetable!

 

To make 16 chocolate-y squares, you’ll need:

IMG_2955

400g sweet potato

140g dark chocolate

80g coconut oil

100g self-raising flour

160g caster sugar

a pinch of salt

 

Boil the sweet potato until it’s soft, then mash together.

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil, then pour into the mash.

Add the flour, sugar and salt, and mix together.

Pour into a lined baking tray and bake at 180°C for 40 minutes.

IMG_2959

 

I also like adding more chocolate, fruit or nuts into the mixture!

Squirrel-eating men fined £600

The two men who ate raw squirrel at a vegan food stall have been fined £600.

 

Deonisy Khlebnikov, 22, and Gatis Lagzdins, 29 ate the furry animals at the Vegan Soho Market in Rupert Streey, London on 30 March.

 

Onlookers were upset as they witnessed Khlebnikov and Lagzdins disturbing protest against veganism.  Lagzdins wore a t-shirt saying “Veganism = Malnutrition.”

 

The pair were convicted of public order offences, but denied the disorderly behaviour when on trial at City of London Magistrates’ Court in June.

 

They were found guilty on Monday 22 July 2019.

 

Khlebnikov was fined £200. Lagzdins, who did not attend the hearing, was fined £400.

 

This protest shocked so many onlookers, as squirrels are not generally seen as a normal meat to eat.

 

Andrew Rowan, Director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University stated: “the only consistency in the way humans think about animals is inconsistency.”

 

Although justice was served in this case, the protest wouldn’t have had as great of an effect, or gained as much media attention if the pair ate raw bacon, for example.

Restaurant Review: Blanche Bakery – Roath, Cardiff

Oh, bb…

 

Blanche is undoubtedly my favourite vegan hang out in Cardiff, and I’ve visited more times than I can count.

 

Founded by Amy-Rose Hopkins and Remed Aran, Blanche is situated on Mackintosh Place – an area made busy by student life.  Vegan donuts, cakes and plant-based meals are freshly made every morning, and the menu changes depending on the season and ingredients available.

 

Some of my favourite donuts include the Earl Grey Tea, the Peppermint Candy Cane, and the Cereal and Mylk. Prices range from about £2.50 to £3.50, and for an independent business who bake them freshly, I think this is very reasonable.

 

The oat milk flat whites are also exceptional – a light, creamy roast that I could happily sip all day.

 

Blanche is a must-visit for anyone who loves an Instagram-opportunity.  It boasts a neon sign that reads ‘but first coffee’, marble tables, and a scandi-chic aesthetic.

 

Top-tip: check the opening hours on their website, you’ll be disappointed if you miss their dough!

Plant-based milk – who’s drinking it?

I’ve always loved an oat milk flat white, and it turns out a quarter of Britons also favour plant-based milk alternatives too.

 

A study by Mintel, a market research firm has discovered that 16-24 year olds are popularising the plant milk demand more than any other age demographic.

 

From almond to soy to coconut, 33% of 16-24 year olds are drinking and buying them.

 

Of this age group, 37% stated that they chose plant-based milks for their health, while 36% explained that dairy farming isn’t good for the environment.

 

And when you do actually think about where cow’s milk comes from, humans are the only species to drink another animal’s breast milk.

 

However, cow’s milk still dominates the milk market, securing 96% of the sales in 2018.

Vegan children classed as ‘healthy’

The headline of today’s ‘i’ newspaper (18/07/19) reads: ‘Vegan parents told to see their GP over children’s diets.’

This has been due to the increase in popularity of vegan diets.  The Vegan Society now claims that there are 600,000 vegans in the UK, which has quadrupled from 150,000 in four years.  This surge has prompted nutritionists to issue updates guidance on what young children should be fed.  The verdict: it’s about time a comprehensive vegan guide was made.

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) have released an updated 5532 guide.  They state that ‘vegan diets can be healthy for young children’ although they advise seeking supplementation advice from your GP.

A report conducted by Waitrose stated that 18-34 year olds are the most likely age demographic to turn towards a vegan diet – so it makes sense that they’d raise their children to follow the diet too.

The BNF’s updated guide will undoubtedly become a valuable resource for parents and nutritionists alike. It provides them with solid evidence that a vegan diet does not restrict or harm a child’s development.

Despite whether children are raised to follow a vegan diet or not, the BNF state that it’s imperative for it to be nutritious.  If your child does develop a deficiency or illness, seek your GP’s advice immediately.

Being a woman; doubly impacted by the climate injustice

By 2050, there are expected to be 300 million climate refugees worldwide.  When we look at who is disproportionately impacted by climate change, women are the biggest group effected.  This is because they are usually at home when climate crises happen; looking after children and dependent relatives, which make it harder for them to escape.  Women in third world countries typically have less access to critical emergency information.  Therefore, empowering women is a key part of winning the fight against climate change.

 

The book ‘Why Women will Save the Planet’[1], gives advice about empowering societies through empowering the women, therefore, making it easier to tackle climate change.  For example, in Bangladesh, women are working to strengthen the land to reduce the effects of flooding and cyclones.

 

The difficulty of discussing climate change, is that it can be an abstract subject to talk about.  By finding out more about women; their names, faces and stories, it can humanise the stark reality.  ‘Hands on: Women, Climate, Change’,[2] shows the profiles of five women who are protesting and educating other women and societies about climate change, through education and innovation.  Their website also shows a documentary, detailing their perspectives and experiences.  It’s worth a watch.

 

What can we do?

 

The UK Government need to take ambitious steps in order to meet the 1.5°C goal that they agreed to in the Paris Agreement.  However, they are currently endorsing the Heathrow expansion and fracking.  Richer countries also need to pay their climate debts.  They can do this by supporting other countries’ resilience and infrastructure, therefore stopping the people that climate change would affect the most.  The Western world needs to stop supporting the big businesses that contribute the most pollution and waste.

 

As a woman living in a Western society, it is important to take individual steps against climate change, and also aim to help other women across the world.  Make sure that whenever you’re campaigning, you have the voices of those who are affected the most.  Work hard to be genuinely and meaningfully inclusive, because that’s the only way we can tackle global crises; if our own micro-movements are as diverse and as collaborative as they can be.  Let’s amplify our sisters’ voices.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Women-Will-Save-Planet/dp/1786993147/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541708890&sr=8-1&keywords=why+women+will+save+the+planet

 

[2] http://redlizardmedia.com/climateandgender/

Paris (Dis)Agreement

A recent climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes that we must take drastic action in order to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. [1]

 

The article highlights the seriousness of this rise in temperature, and its effects on the planet; severe heat waves, extinction of coral reefs, and ice-free summers in the Arctic, to name a few.  The Paris 2015 Climate Agreement aimed to limit global temperature increase to between 1.5 and 2°C.  We are currently progressing to a 3°C rise by the turn of the century.  These conditions would make be extremely difficult for human survival.

 

The primary example the IPCC have suggested to combat these figures, is to eat less meat.  The Guardian agrees with this initiative.  Damian Carrington, Environment editor, wrote earlier this year that consumers should avoid meat and dairy in order to reduce our impact on the Earth.[2]

 

Carrington cites that a vegan diet helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions, global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.  Rather than choosing not to fly, or buying an electric car, veganism can be the simplest and easiest lifestyle change.  To summarise, Carrington’s most poignant statement was that it is more environmentally beneficial to avoid all animal consumption, rather than purchasing ‘sustainable’ meat and dairy sources.

 

Meat and dairy products linked to the significance of climate impact are becoming more publicised.  More people are speaking about their boycotting.  But the system needs to be scrutinized further.  In order to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets, veganism needs to be promoted on a more global, and specifically political level.

 

Government officials’ reluctance to identify meat consumption as a link to climate change needs to be addressed.[3]  Animal Welfare Acts, the Agriculture and Trade Policy, and food taxation laws need to be discussed by politicians, and an action plan created.  I believe we require a sustainable food revolution, to work towards the Paris Agreement, and meet tomorrow’s growing demand.

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06876-2

 

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

 

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/30/meat-and-fish-protein-multinationals-jeopardising-paris-climate-goals

 

THE FOOD IS THE EASY PART

I became vegan almost two years ago.  I decided I wanted to make a small difference to our world, and now everyday, I make important choices that are directly saving the lives of animals; helping to reduce the supply and demand economics of animal-based industry and commerce (therefore not relying on multinational companies as often); and supporting local businesses, who are battling the inequalities of both killing animals, and the Zero Waste movement.

 

But for 18 years of my life, I ate meat.  For 19 years I was not vegan, and I know (alongside a couple of my best friends, who are an incredible support system for me, as they became vegan too) how hard transitioning to veganism can be.  The food is the easy part.  The difficulty is linked to your upbringing.  Childhood books lie to us about what dairy farming is like; there are stories depicting happy farms with happy animals and happy people.  We are taught that we are supposed to eat 5 fruit or vegetables a day, but when that’s the only thing we choose to eat, it’s ‘not good for us,’ and we ‘need’ the meat.  Our culture and the discourse surrounding food and its advertisement (‘milk will make your bones strong’) is how we are fundamentally socialised into believing that animals are ours to consume, use, and watch in circuses.  How can animal lovers love animals if they eat them?  Of course, because so many people are not vegan (and I do not want to vilify non-vegans, as I once ate meat, and have many friends who do so) the answers that veganism provides, in regards to how eating animal products make us ‘stronger’ or ‘healthier’, falls on deaf ears.

 

Some people don’t want to know.  But with consistency and kindness, you can explain how veganism benefits the individual and the masses.  Think about when you were not a vegan (or are on the cusp of transitioning).  What would you want to hear?  What would make you want to become vegan?  For me, the answer is how synonymous veganism is with environmental impact.  Everyday I feel like I am accomplishing a goal; lowering my carbon footprint, reducing water wastage and preventing needless suffering.  I am not a vegan to be better than anyone else, I am a vegan to be the best (still trying!) version of myself.

 

Other people (including some of my previous housemates, who I have discussed this topic with at length) are interested in veganism’s arguments, and can understand its moral positionality, but have decided that the La Vie Vegan is not for them.  They have got their own routines, their own likes and dislikes, or their own cuisine.  That’s okay.  Social conditioning is strong, and some people do not want to draw attention to themselves, or seem different in today’s society.  At social gatherings or parties or restaurants, people often target, mock or extensively question me about my dietary choices; people try to catch vegans out.  Therefore, as much as I enjoy my friends’ company, it is also important to surround yourself with people that do not think factory farming is an acceptable lifestyle to contribute to.

 

We are almost 30 years away from 2050 (is a vegan future possible?), and social media is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to connect with other like-minded people.  Since I decided to cut my dependence on animal products, social media and the internet has allowed me to educate myself, and deepen my interest and awareness of the inequality, injustice, and unjust social movements; such as sexism, racism and ableism, that exist within the power structures that daily control our lives.  Seeing other people, of other nationalities, and cultures, and also similar ones to yourself, signifies how uniting veganism is, and how unnerving it can be against the people who see animals as money.  By watching protests, activists, and documentaries, I am continually inspired by what other vegans are doing to protect animals’ rights.  By 2050, there will be a rise of activists are celebrities and children using social media to present their own views on veganism and disseminating their understanding, and it is crucial that we listen; we need to elevate vegan voices.