Category Archives: Food

30 Days of being vegan

Today is the last day of my VIVA! 30 day vegan challenge. For the last 30 days I’ve eaten no animal products: meat, fish, milk, eggs or dairy. Why on earth would I do that? Well, for two reasons. First, I want to see if I can feel healthier eating a vegan diet – since I don’t need to lose any weight, this means feeling more energetic and focused during the day, and sleeping better at night. And secondly, I want to try new foods – something other than fish and chips, spaghetti bolognese and curry.

I decided to give this ago after I learnt that a few celebrities who cross my radar are vegan or vegetarian. John Bishop’s recent BBC documentary where he visits Australia shows him going to a crocodile ‘conservation centre’ where they kill the animals they are conserving to make purses and shoes and call it ‘conservation through commerce’. This made me think – do I want to be supporting that kind of business? He then later visits a ranch where the owner thinks less of him because he doesn’t eat beef. Why is it considered ‘not manly’ to be vegetarian?

Russell Brand talked about the horrible state of the food industry, summed up by the horse meat scandal last year. Do I know what is in my food, and is it an industry I can trust?

Jason Mraz has been another huge motivator for me. He has his own avocado ranch for heavens sake! He only eats raw plant-based foods and he seems to be doing all right.

The simple fact is that I was curious about a vegan diet and wanted a free ticket to vegfest so I didn’t have to pay £6 to go with my girlfriend. So I did it. And in true Instagram-style, here’s a selection of things I ate:

salad sandwich and home-made garlic bread
baked potato with baked beans and chips
avocado cake courtesy of @pippatollow!
amazing salad with croutons
@emilyreacts made cupcakes. Om nom nom!
One thing I didn’t know is that a lot of breweries use isinglass, which is basically fish bladders, to gather up the yeast and make it sink to the bottom of the cask quicker. This means a lot of beers are not vegan by default. Scrumpy, however, is! Good times!
grilled peppers, tomato and cucumber roll
sweet potato filled with 5 bean chilli and home-made guacamole
tomato pasta and salad made by @zanmatoer
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falafel wrap (my new favourite food!) with couscous loving made by @emilyreacts – candidate for best meal of the 30 days
yasai itame in Wagamamas with @sophiedean90
another amazing salad
potato curry and some fancy bread that I can’t remember the name of
yup… it’s vegan.
first time trying polenta, like potato but softer, with vegan burgers and fake cheese
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vegan scones! @emilyreacts is a culinary wizard!
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chickpeas, mayo and pasta. @emilyreacts calls it ‘tuna pasta’, and it’s just as good if not better
fake bacon sandwiches. Not as good as the real thing, but certainly tasty. I have to say I’m not a massive fan of this fake meat stuff, I think I’d rather just stick to using plant stuff instead. Especially if you want to use the mantra about knowing what’s in your food… I mean, what is in it?!
cous cous and sweet potato
tofu curry from Young’s Kitchen on campus

So what have I learnt? Well, I’ve learnt that most of the time other people seem to cook for me!

But seriously, I don’t see the point in cooking a meal for one, so I love to cook with other people, and when that happens I usually end up doing the washing up and letting them get on with the cooking. But, over the last month I have made some very successful potato curries and lunch wraps/sandwiches (I hope Emily would agree). I’ve also learnt how to make guacamole recently, a skill that I use as much as possible because avocados are amazing!

So now it’s the end of the challenge I need to decide if I’m going to return to my meaty past or not. And the conclusion I’ve come to is that I will continue not to buy meat or dairy products for my home cooking, but still occasionally eat meat at restaurants if I’m out with friends. I’ve never been a big fan of milk, and soy milk in tea, on cereal and in mash is just as good as milk, cheaper and has a longer life.

Very few restaurants cater for vegans or vegetarians very well, despite the fact that there are thousands of things they could make with just minor changes to the ingredients they use in other dishes – use egg free mayo, soya butter, soy milk. Emily and I visited a vegan afternoon tea place in London and it was honestly better than a traditional afternoon tea. Simple changes to recipes make them vegan, it’s not hard.

In terms of beer and other alcohol, that is something I’ve found too difficult to follow. It’s too hard to know for sure if a drink is vegan or not that I won’t be sticking to that side of vegan-ism just yet. Even with the Barnivore app, local ales and ciders aren’t listed, and it’s an industry I want to support and continue to explore.

As for chocolate – bourbons are vegan, and so is dark chocolate; and now I have my free Vegfest ticket, I’m sure they’ll be some sweet stalls there just waiting for my taste-buds approval…

until next week,

Charles x

Dinner is served

On Sunday my parents came round for Xmas dinner cooked by my housemates and I. Complete with turkey and all the trimmings, mulled wine, champagne, Christmas pudding and charades…

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Bring on Christmas!

  • Happiness. 8.5 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 2 out of 5
  • Workload. 8 out of 10
  • Last Meal. Mississippi mud pie 
  • Song of the day. Parachute – She Is Love
  • Thought for the day. If you don’t have any shadows, you’re not standing in the light
  • What I’m Doing Now. Still procrastinating.

BBRRAAAGHHHHHHHHHHMMMM!!

We left off with an imminent trip to Weymouth. It was such a relaxing weekend, especially going to Chesil beach a watching the waves come crashing in. From the photos you’ll also notice which one is the dancer…

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It was quite surreal how high the waves were, and the perfect sound of them breaking onto the seemingly infinite shoreline. It kind of reminded me of the beach in Inception; powerful, but beautiful.

The last few weeks have also seen the start of a new tradition: “Friday Pints”. After a long week working, a few of us down tools for a couple hours and go to to pub for a few bevvies. Get’s the weekend veins working and has already, on a couple occasions, resulted in carnage. Not that long left of university now, but that’s no excuse not to still be students!

Last Friday for example when we went to Rubix and must’ve had one of the best nights I’ve ever had in there. The downstairs bar (called HRB to those of us who started uni before it was renamed to The Living Room) was playing MUCH better music than the main dance floor, Pendulum and Queen among others…

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This week I’ve made some good progress with my project work and started on a couple of essays that have to be in around exam season… which is only a month away now!! I can see lots of coursework and revision in the crystal ball over Christmas…

  • Happiness. 8 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 1 out of 5
  • Workload. 7 out of 10
  • Last Meal. Cereal. In-joke? 
  • Song of the day. Athlete – Beautiful
  • Thought for the day. “Chance favours the prepared mind” 
  • What I’m Doing Now. Procrastinating.

Special Post #45: Accommodation Series #15: The Hall Theorem

part two of the longest awaited post in the history of this blog. In this post I start the story in the same way any good teacher would, with the theory.

#3: Pizza & Planning

Sophie, Julie and I had been talking about getting a house together for a while, but it was awkward to organise house viewings when none of us lived in Guildford (ok, technically I do, but it’s kind of become my second home to Switzerland in the last 7 months).

We organised a few international Skype chats to talk about places we’d like to live, which usually involved me getting a takeaway from the local pizzeria (no shortage of choice!) but it was all a bit slow moving…

#4: Meanwhile… 2 Forces Meet

While this was all happening, a couple of my other friends were getting a house group together. Katherine (who I know from MADTV) and her 2 housemates needed another person (or 2) and came to me. Since I had already paired up with Julie and Soph at the time, I put them in touch with Mike Frazer (also of MADTV fame).

Mike Frazer, of Mike Frazer fame

^ Mike Fazer, also called: the lazer, eyebrows, “that man off the telly” and many more…

#5: The Wheely Bin

Back with Sophie and Julie, we were still struggling to agree on houses, and decided that we’d really need a 4th person for this whole thing to work. So we started looking for a 4th person… to no avail. We were alll a bit stuck with what to do, then Sophie made the decision for us.

Because she is on an un-paid placement, she decided that since living on campus would be the cheaper option in long run, that she’d settle for that. So she essentially abandoned Julie and I to fend for ourselves! (I’m going to make as big a deal out of this as I can because I know Sophie reads this blog :P) She screwed us both over for her own selfish gain! Ok, I’m only joking… It all works out in the end, just keep reading.

Julie and I briefly toyed with the idea of finding 2 other housemates before we realised we both are massively short of any friends who want to live with us… So we decided on the next best thing…

wheely bin

Guildford council wheely-bins are surprisingly spacious, and come in two different sizes. They offer location-flexibility in a waterproof, easy to access package. Sorted.

But, just as Julie and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were without a paddle, I got an offer…

coming soon: part six “proposition 101”

Charlie and the Swiss chocolate factory

Work in the Alps is going very well. The project is pretty much there and it’s been a brilliant experience. Just one week to go!

On Sunday we got another opportunity to have a day off… so we woke to to find the wonderful view from our hotel room….

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…had vanished and been replaced with a thick layer of snow and cloud. So what do you do when outside isn’t really an option? Well I had a good idea… chocolate factory anyone? :P

But more on that later. After the chocolate factory we went for a bit of a drive and accidentally ended up in Italy! How embarrassing :S It’s actually shockingly easy since there is a small bridge only 20 minutes drive from our hotel and it takes you straight there. We got some great snowy views from “the other side”:

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After our minor excursion, we did the only other thing any salient tourist would do on a foggy day: go up the nearest mountain! Back up to the top of Mont Bré (which is the same place we went to a couple weeks before on the FUNicular railway…) however, this time the view was … different.

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And for completeness here is the same photo of Xav and I “senza vista e con la barba

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So that rounded off the day nicely :) But back to the matter at hand, which is always chocolate.

We went to Alprose, a chocolate factory in Lugano which makes some pretty good Swiss chocolate it has to be said. And no chocolate visit is complete without buying a few “samples” to “take home”:

I see it as an investment in my future :D

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I may have to leave behind all my clothes, but I think it’s a worthy sacrifice.

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And on that Chocólately bombshell, I shall say auf wiedersehen chow grazie mille

  • Happiness. 8 out of 10 (seeing my sister soon!!!!!!)
  • Tiredness. 3 out of 5
  • Free Time. 0.5 out of 5
  • Last Meal. Piadina tonno con maionese
  • Song of the day. Misheard Lyrics: Oh Four Tuna
  • Thought for the day. Movember is almost over :( but I like my moustache :(
  • What I’m Doing Now. Collating cultural learnings of Switzerland for make benefit glorious nation of UK

Best Weekend Ever?

Last weekend I went to Devon to visit Phil for his birthday. In reality, it was his birthday a couple of weeks before, but who’s counting?

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Heather, Lauren and Sophie J didn’t disappoint either, it was a brilliant weekend with lots of laughs!

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left to right: Sophie Jones (one of my new housemates), Heather, Lauren (first year housemate)

On Saturday we went swimming in the sea and played rounders on the beach. You know, genuine good times. Phil provided a conveyor belt of food: cookies, meringues, burgers and Phil English to name but a few.

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I wish every weekend was that much fun!

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This week is going to be a bit “wait and see what happens”, but this weekend I’m going to a BBQ at Heather’s house, let the good times roll.

  • Happiness. 9 out of 10 (why not?)
  • Tiredness. 1 out of 5
  • Free Time. 1 out of 5 (so much to do it’s not even funny)
  • Last Meal. Tuna pasta, again. That doesn’t look good :S
  • Song of the day. Travie McCoy – Billionaire
  • Thought for the day. "Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." – Gilda Radner
  • What I’m Doing Now. Disappointed that I won’t get to do what I wanted to do tomorrow, but excited that I might be going to Amsterdam on my birthday :P (a tale for another day)