2,782,608 Pigs

I want to take some time to talk about Meat-Free Monday.

When I first heard about it through a vegan friend, my thoughts were pretty mundane. What was the point in promoting something that felt so half-assed? If people only go meat free for one day a week – how does that really make a difference?

See, it’s a struggle to be optimistic – and with Borderline as my witness! (And believe me, I’m an all or nothing kinda girl) I have to say it took me a lot of introspection to really get behind the idea.

It’s pretty simple when you think about it, and once you start to run some figures it’s surprising how much impact something that seemed so insignificant could make.

When I got some time alone to ponder the ‘point’ of such a venture, my first thoughts drifted to my Dad and his girlfriend. The both of them have been terribly supportive of my decision to go vegan, even if my Dad does very often use phrases like ‘can’t I tempt you to have a malteaser’ and ‘do you want milk in your coffee’, but I think – like so many things it’s down to habit.

Anyway, I thought about them. I thought about what they would have for dinner first, and I realised that all this time I’d only been thinking about that one meal of the day. My Dad’s a traditional kind of guy, and anything with vegetables, potatoes and meat at the end of a busy day sounds perfect to him. What if he found a meat-free alternative that he liked the taste of and swapped out his meat for that?

I’ll tell you what it means. It means that for one night he doesn’t need to buy that ASDA (Tesco/Sainsbury/Morrison/Whatever) £3 pack of pork chops.

Okay. Wow. Two people. Four chops. Whoop de doo.

No, no.

In 2011 the estimated population of Lincoln was 130,000. Assuming that each person would have just ONE pork chop for their dinner on a Monday night, that’s 130,000 pork chops that Lincolnites don’t eat.

According to the internet, one pig will provide 23 pork chops (and a host of other cuts, but for the point I’m making we’re sticking to chops. Deal with it.)

That means, (with some help from a calculator) that in Lincoln alone approximately 5,652 pigs would not be required.

I’m already in a statistics kind of mood, so lets ramp up the numbers a few more steps, shall we?

A quick internet search suggests that in 2015 the population of the UK sat at just over 64million people.

ASSUMING, that 64,000,000 people ate ONE pork chop on a Monday night – the approximate number of pigs needed to provide those chops would be a whopping. 2,782,608 pigs.

Okay, I can already hear the critics, but hear me out.

If you told me that in a YEAR we, as a country were culling this many pigs just so that we could get our pork fix I would have difficulty coming to terms with this as a truth.

Suddenly, the notion of Meat-Free Monday has taken on a far more important meaning to me, and I’ll be doing my best to try and encourage my friends, family and acquaintances to consider taking one day off from meat in a week and maybe, just maybe people will be begin to see just how much difference this tiny sacrifice can make.

http://www.meatfreemondays.co.uk/ – Get some great Meat-Free ideas for next Monday.

http://www.animalaid.org.uk – Find out more about adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle.

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Changing your life

There are so many things that I feel I could write about right now. A lot of things have happened recently, and trying to pin down my thoughts for long enough to process these changes properly feels like something I’ve been incredibly bad at.

The biggest change is probably one that would shock all those people who know me. I met someone who explained to me that he was vegan. At first, I thought literally nothing of it. My attitudes toward other people have shifted radically over the last few years, and it’s hardly going to bother me that someone has chosen not to eat certain foods. Of course, my understanding of being a vegan was actually pretty limited. I have a close friend back home who I now know to still live a vegan lifestyle but for the longest time it was simply easier to ignorant about it. Every day there are countless numbers of things that happen that are unjust, unnecessary and if they happened to me I would be doing my best to shout out about them.

I was introduced to a few discussions and videos about only a handful of these things that happen every day, things that without knowing, I was a keen supporter of. It sounds ridiculous even as I type it, but this is an incredibly new concept for me – and I’m not the best at explaining my thought processes at the best of times, but after I watched a very interesting talk by a man named Gary Yourovsky my thinking changed drastically.

I’ve often been the type of person to do things on a whim. I can be quick to make up my mind about something, and I’m the first person to admit that sometimes my ideas and understanding about things can changed at the drop of a hat. It’s easy to listen to one conversation, and then listen to another and change my mind right after. This feels like something that I may well struggle with, but I have a determination about it that I’ve not felt before. This guy, Gary, made me question the reasons why we do the things we do, and helped me to understand very clearly that I wanted to do everything I can to try and stop the things that go on behind closed doors.

Quoting the talk is pointless, if anyone is interested enough to watch the video they will learn everything I know now, and he can definitely talk far better than I can argue  the topic. I can never properly process my thoughts, never mind trying to translate those into actual words.

Either way, after I listened – I acted. Luckily, I don’t have half as much food as I used to have – and where the day before I’d decided I would take the slow route, eat the food I still had and only buy new food that is vegan, I ditched everything. The milk, the nutella, the eggs, butter, honey. It’s all gone. To a good home, I’m sure. The free shelves here in the hostel have been my saviour enough times that it was probably about time I repaid the favour!

Only two days in, I’m not exactly in a position to claim success – but I am committed and prepared for a change! One I’ve orchestrated, and one I hope I can stick to.

When things are steady

Yesterday was the busiest day for me in weeks, and I didn’t actually ‘accomplish’ anything that I’d set out for myself.

A friend from Brisbane was in the city, and along with two other mutual friends of ours from Melbourne, we spent the day together. Despite the huge amount of things on offer in Melbourne we ended up doing the very thing that I think Melbourne should probably be most famous for.

‘Brunch’ was an instant requirement. Melbourne Central has a really convenient food hall, so that was where we headed first. I think I’ve had food from most of the food establishments that have set up shop there, but I tried out Oporto. I try to avoid burgers, mostly because unless you go somewhere like Grill’d you have no choice but to have their wheat-full bread buns. I’m not a coeliac, but I’m intolerant and usually I pay for it for the rest of the day but it was a risk I took. (I think I’m paying for it now it’s ‘the next day’ actually, which is unusual, but I suppose that’s just how your body works sometimes.) I actually really enjoyed it, but I could have quite easily just done with the burger rather than the chips and drink I added. Why am I always hooked in by meal deals??

After that we went to look at the Little Library. There were far fewer books than normal, which made me wonder if the school holidays had anything to do with diminishing numbers of books. I wish there were an easy way to count how many books there are there… or maybe I ought to start a book counting project. I love numbers, but without a regular count it’s just figures without any pattern. (Still, it might be fun!)

After that we went for Froyo. This is easily one of my favourite things. I love the stuff, and even though I have the same thing every time (with the singular difference in what kind of yoghurt I choose) I still really enjoyed it. There’s something about strawberries and white chocolate chips that I really love, and despite trying to recreate this at home, there’s something about frozen yogurt that sets it apart from yoghurt out of the fridge. It’s a rather expensive habit, to be honest. I rarely manage to pay under A$10!

We debated for a long time what to do with the rest of our day. The weather wasn’t particularly awesome, and we were hoping to avoid anywhere that was terribly expensive. Walking was quickly knocked off our list of top-ten things to do after finding out what one of our number had kicked a thing and hurt her toe so we went to EB Games. This, was unfortunately, a disappointment. I love the Nintendo Experience in EB Games on Swanston St, mostly because it’s the only place I can get free wifi for my 3DS automatically, which means my gaming experience is vastly improved! We attempted to play on one of the Wii U units they had on display – but the two old Wii controllers severely lacked battery power and with no obvious method of recharging them we were left sitting around discussing the state of our friend’s food, whether one of our friends who was clearly incredibly tired was asleep or not, and occasionally talking about a few games we played and what we liked about them.

Inevitably, our stay didn’t last long.

In the hope of inspiration we took a trip on the Number 35 tram. It’s a free ‘circle’ tram that takes you right the way around the CBD in a loop. We spent a bit of time looking at the map whilst we were on our way and talking about which buildings were which and whether we ought to go to them. Most of the things we’d like to have done involved either a lot of walking, or breaking our vows to boycott certain places (Not naming any names, SeaWorld and MelbourneZoo. Sorry not Sorry.)

We ended up in a coffee shop on Flinders Street an hour later.

It was so nice to be able to spend an entire day with like minded friends, to talk about ridiculous things that we were all interested in, to debate the validity of every single chapter that possibly existed after Naruto 699. (It’s all fake. :\) To talk about games, and jobs, and careers and families with absolutely no pressure.

One of our number left us, and we were joined by a friend of mine that I’ve known for well over 13 years. The fact that I’d known him for 13 years was a point of discussion and two of my friends were quite happy to remind us both how old they’d been at the time we’d started talking. What amused me was the fact that I’d met them all through the same medium. Roleplaying online has been a hobby of mine for well over a decade, and I’m not sure when I’m going to give it up. It always, of course, relates back to writing so I can’t see me giving it up any time soon no matter how much I’ve tried in recent years.

Dinner was a joint affair, at a Japanese Restaurant attached to the QV building. I had ‘gyu don’ or beef with rice, and although it was nice, it was full of other things that weren’t rice and I didn’t REALLY enjoy it which made me sad, and also made me miss Wagamama’s back home.

My two friends from much, much earlier left us after dinner – leaving myself and one of my dearest friends to catch up after what must have been a month. It’s always so good to see him, and I’m going to hate it when I have to leave Australia. We chatted, caught up and he finally asked me about my mood.

I talked. Openly. He commented, honestly and I wish I could say that I found accepting his advice easy but it wasn’t. Again, the difference between knowing something intellectually and accepting it as relational to yourself is huge.

One of the biggest things that I feel I need to take away from my chat with him is that Depression is a valid illness. There are such huge differences in the way some people struggle and cope with depression, and I think that hearing about some people with depression who maintain a steady job, relationship and do all kinds of other things makes me feel like I’m a failure for not being able to manage it.

I was very easily able to understand what he was saying to me about trying to hunt for something else to label myself with. I have friends with bipolar and I know, without a doubt that I do not have it, but I questioned myself despite that. I’m terrible with money, and incredibly impulsive about the things I do, buy and say. This is often classed as a trait of bipolar, and an example I used with him yesterday but he suggested that perhaps that’s just a ‘normal’ trait of mine. He’s right, and I think that my impulsiveness goes hand in hand with my compassion. Just today I turned a corner in the local Coles and I saw a man who was bleeding. I didn’t stop to ask myself whether he was a danger, or who he was, or whether he was of sound state of mind – I just went over and instantly asked him if he was okay.

I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the person I am and I know I need to focus far more intensely on the things that I am, and what makes me, me. Rather than looking for something that I need to slot myself into. Yes, I’m impulsive, yes – I use instinct before I use knowledge and wisdom. Yes, I tend to look for the negative before I hunt for positives.

I’m Ollie, with depression. I will never not be.