Archive for November, 2012

Vegan Quiche

Vegan Quiche

I made this tasty homemade vegan quiche (recipe here) with chickpea flour. I added broccoli, mushroom, tomatoes and carrots to the quiche, but next time I won’t be using broccoli, as I found it overcooked in the oven and not very tasty. I will also be using a veggie stock cube next time.



Read Full Post »

Unsustainable fishing practices indiscriminately capture marine creatures that are not intended for human consumption (known as bycatch), consequently injuring or killing them.

This Good Fish Guide allows individuals to identify fish that are ‘caught using methods that minimise damage to marine wildlife and habitats’. Mankind’s voracious appetite for fish is depleting fish stocks globally due to unsustainable fishing practices, resulting in what can only be described as marine ecocide (the mass destruction of ecosystems). Unsustainable fishing practices are those that produce bycatch, which are marine creatures that are captured in the fishing process that are not intended for human consumption. Subsequently, these creatures are tossed overboard, most of which are dead or injured. WWF says that ‘bycatch is a conservation problem of staggering global and regional significance’ because it is:

WWF campaign highlighting the plight of marine creatures caught that are not intended for human consumption

Fishing methods that produce high levels of bycatch include trawling and dredging, both of which involve scraping nets along the seabed floor, destroying complex communities of seabed creatures, leaving behind the equivalent of a wasteland.

Seabirds, dolphins, rays, porpoises, sharks, turtles… you name it, it’s bycatch.

The Good Fish Guide is a great resource because it rates fish depending on how environmentally sound they are. They are as follows:

 The only fish and seafood that are rated 1 are mussels, native and Pacific oysters and tilapia (a fish). The website also gives you full details as to why they have been rated 1, e.g. ‘there are no chemicals produced in mussel farming [making it an environmentally friendly process]’.

N.B. Although I don’t personally eat fish or seafood, I think it is a good idea to consult the Good Fish Guide to see how your favourite fish fares, and as such I am recommending it on my blog.

Do you find the Good Fish Guide a useful source of information?
Did you know about the depletion of fish stocks worldwide? 

Read Full Post »

The Municipal Gallery of Athens is a small gallery that houses around 50 paintings, mostly by 20th century Greek artists. The collection rotates every few months, since there are over 3000 works of art in total.  The exhibition was free. The gallery’s security guard said that on average, the gallery receives 6-7 visitors a day, which is sad because there were some really great pieces. The nearest metro station is Metaxourgeio.

Cactus, below (interesting subject choice).

Cactus by Georgios Prokopiou (1876-1940)

This painting, below, was my favourite – it was colourful and large.

The Painter’s Studio, 1990 by Ifigenia Lagana (1915-2002)

A lovely watercolour, below.

Channel in Dieppe, 1930 by Georgios Bouzianis (1885-1959)

Do you make a habit of exploring local art galleries/museums when you are on holiday, or even in your home country? 

Read Full Post »

The industry isn’t fussy about what kind of animals they test on, be it dogs, cats, mice, rats, rabbits… Dogs and cats are either specifically bred for tests, or are pets that have been abandoned

A sale and marketing ban of new animal tested cosmetics is due to come into effect sometime in 2013 in the EU, a move that campaign groups have been passionately promoting for decades. However, thanks to the lobbying power of the cosmetics industry, there is a strong possibility of an exemption, allowing companies to continue to use animal-tested ingredients in their products. How can the industry get away with this? It is because we, the consumer, have made them rich enough to challenge laws that should have been passed and implemented long ago. We let these products into our homes and embraced them. Who didn’t grow up with Colgate? Who didn’t use Johnson’s baby shampoo as an infant? Click here for a comprehensive list of companies that test on animals.

N.B. This ban applies to the EU only – the USA and Asia have no restrictions on animal testing for cosmetics.

A fraction of companies that test on animals

Did you know that until the EU ban is fully implemented, cosmetics companies can claim that their product was not tested on animals if the final product (e.g. shampoo) was not tested on animals, though the ingredients of the product were? So be very weary when you come across ‘not tested on animals’ text on any cosmetic product. Instead, look out for the leaping bunny logo (below). This logo ‘is the only internationally recognized logo guaranteeing consumers that no animal tests were used in the development/production of any product carrying the Logo as of a fixed cut-off date’.

Leaping bunny logo on a product

As for animal testing on household products (such as bleach, washing up liquid, drain cleaners), the situation is even more dire – there is no imminent ban in the EU (although the UK government has pledged to introduce one).

The tests carried out on animals in the name of cosmetics and household products are painful and inhumane. These include tests for skin and eye irritation, where the product or ingredients in the product will be directly applied to the animal’s eye and skin, often in higher concentrations than what would be. I don’t want to go into the specifics of how horrific these tests can be – it is something that anyone who is interested can google. But consider this quote by Albert Schweitzer: ‘Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the thought’.

Are rats & mice worthless? Does the cosmetics industry and the household products industry have the right to exploit them in the name of profits?

Importantly, animal testing for cosmetics and household products is not required by law in the US and Europe. There are non-animal testing methods that these companies can use to test the safety of their products. Alternatively, the industry could use ingredients that are known to be safe on humans, instead of pursuing novel ingredients that scientists don’t know much about in terms of safety.

What can you do about this issue?

1. Replace the cosmetics and household products that test on animals with cruelty-free ones. It’s not easy. That Lynx (aka Axe) deodorant that your boyfriend/brother loves? That Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue perfume that I once loved? Herbal Essencesa shampoo you just can’t live without? You can. There are a multitude of reasons to boycott such products in any case (I hope to cover the negative environmental impact and human health impact that these products have in a future post). Replacing your cosmetics & household products requires is a bit of research and searching around supermarkets and/or health shops. If you live in the UK, you can download this list of cruelty-free approved companies for free. In my opinion, you can approach this issue by:

a) Making your own cosmetics/household products e.g. homemade toothpaste. This is my preferred method, because it is almost always cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying ‘speciality’ cosmetics/household products. Additionally, it is quite difficult to determine if a company tests on animals – quite a lot of googling is required (this informative post outlines how to tell if a company tests on animals); as such I save myself the hassle and try to make my own cosmetics and household products.


b) Buying cosmetics and household products that haven’t been tested on animals. I buy Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap which is pricy, but it is not tested on animals (leaping bunny logo), it is organic, fairtrade, vegan, and eco (it’s ingredients are: Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Lavandin Extract, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Citric Acid, Tocopherol). I use this liquid soap as a hand soap (diluted in water), shower gel, shampoo, and I’ve even used it to hand wash clothes. I would like to make my own soap one day though!

2. Look out for petitions to sign about this issue. Lobby your MP if you are in the UK. Sign this petition where ever you are in the world to ensure that the EU sticks to its 2013 ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Petitioning can work if enough people get involved; see here and here.

Most of the text in this post comes from here.

Do you think you can stop using conventional cosmetics & household products that test on animals and replace them with cruelty free ones?

What products do you think you would find particularly hard to replace?

Please feel free to ask questions if need be. I would love to help anyone considering the switch. 
(N.B. Feel free to ask questions anonymously if you prefer).

Read Full Post »