VEGAN TASTING

Veganism has skyrocketed in recent years, with more people than ever before choosing to enjoy a plant-based life. According to The Vegan Society there are 600,000 vegans in the UK, which represents a four-fold rise in four years. Celebrity vegans include Ellie Goulding, Lewis Hamilton and David Haye, Mo Farrah, Beyonce, Benedict Cumberbatch.

What does going vegan mean? Vegans, similar to vegetarians, voluntarily restrict their diet. However, while vegetarians don’t eat any animals, vegans go a step further and don’t eat any animal products. That includes staples like milk and eggs.

The Vegan Society lists three key reasons as to why people would choose to keep a vegan diet. Firstly, people often choose to eat vegan as they believe that using animal products as food is cruel.  Secondly, people choose to turn to vegan foods as it is perceived as a healthy diet, as it has been linked with lower blood pressure, cholesterol, rates of heart disease and other health issues. Lastly, the environment is a key reason why people choose to keep a vegan diet, as a means of limiting their carbon footprint. The meat industry has been related to heavy transportation, deforestation and other issues that negatively impact on the environment.

‘Veganuary’ started in Britain in 2014. Many regard 2018 as the year that veganism moved out of the realms of counter-culture and into the mainstream. Now around 300,000 people worldwide are expected to make the ‘Veganuary’ pledge in 2019. According to the supermarket chain Waitrose, a third of UK consumers say they have deliberately reduced the amount of meat they eat or removed it from their diet entirely.  One in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan, and a further 21% say they are flexitarian – where a largely vegetable-based diet is supplemented occasionally with meat.

Do The Right Thing will be taking to the streets to see if the good people of Chiswick can tell which of our taste test products is the vegan option. Products will include mayonnaise, cheese slices, sausage rolls, yoghurts, jam tarts, milk chocolate.

If you’d like to find out more about Veganuary, visit: veganuary.com/

If you would like to find out more about The Vegan Society, visit: www.vegansociety.com

If you would like to find out more about the vegan diet, visit: www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-vegan-diet/

TUI

 

At the beginning of each year, we start looking to the summer and holidays begin to be booked. Often, we use travel companies as a means of organising our trip and to save some cash. These travel companies offer a realm of different packages, varying from traditional family holidays to more specific trips abroad such as honeymoons, parties and weddings.

TUI Group is the largest travel company in the world and boasted an impressive turnover of €19.5 billion in 2018. Although popular with British tourists, TUI has faced a deluge of complaints from customers who feel their holiday packages were misrepresented to them.

Eamonn and Ruth spoke to Danielle and Adam Barton-Cottrell, who felt that what they experienced was far from what was advertised and was ultimately. In July 2018 they entrusted TUI with what was supposed to be the most special day of their lives together: their wedding.

Their bath was covered in paint and their mattresses were covered with what appeared to be mold. Moreover, their wedding was barely decorated, with dirty chairs. The aisle runner had sunk in to the sand and blew into the wind. Their ‘semi-private meal’ was surrounded by the other hotel guests, and their wedding cake was vanilla instead of their chosen chocolate.

In 2015 and 2016, TUI were fined an astonishing 48 times for having breached Association of British Travel Agents’s (ABTA) code of conduct. The terms of the breaches included inaccurate advertising and customers unknowingly being sent to resorts that were undergoing building work. Clearly, despite the fine, TUI are continuing to breach ABTA’s code of conduct.

When contacted about the matter, TUI responded:

We are very sorry to hear that Mrs Barton-Cottrell was unhappy with her holiday, and we are fully investigating her complaints with the resort.  

Which? advises the following regarding weddings abroad:

  • Booking a package deal always makes it easier to claim if things go wrong because you can simply point to the package deal and state things that you did not receive
  • Purchase significant travel insurance from the day you book, not the day you are leaving for the holiday – something could go wrong before that
  • If a deal appears to be too good to be true, nine times out of ten it is
  • Avoid using local tour operators. Much better to book with a company which has a UK base
  • Always complain on site to give the operator the opportunity to resolve the issue
  • Record all evidence and note down important details of complaints procedure when on the holiday
  • Do your research – don’t take what is being advertised to you at face value. Always read reviews

If you would like to find out more about ABTA, visit: www.abta.com

If you would like to find out more about Holiday Travel Watch, visit: www.holidaytravelwatch.com

If you would like to find out more about Which?, visit: www.which.co.uk/

THE BRAIN TUMOUR CHARITY

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and young people, and early diagnosis can be vital for survival. With their Headsmart campaign, The Brain Tumour Charity has been working to reduce diagnosis times in children and teenagers. Since the campaign was launched, diagnosis times in children have halved but teenager diagnosis rates have proved much harder to tackle; they still stand at an average of almost ten weeks. This is partly because symptoms can seem like a normal part of being a teenager.

Aged 13, Chelsea Yeomans started experiencing symptoms including severe migraine-like headaches and nausea in the morning. For five and a half years, as Chelsea struggled to maintain a normal life, she was repeatedly diagnosed with teenage-related issues such as hormonal change and GCSE stress. It wasn’t until Chelsea was 19 that a scan finally revealed the terrifying truth; a 5-6cm mass growing in her brain. By this point, the tumour was so developed that it was pressing on her spinal cord and Chelsea was at immediate risk of paralysis. With time running out, Chelsea had no chance to process the news; just 48 hours after receiving her diagnosis Chelsea underwent emergency brain surgery.

Chelsea is now 23 and still has regular MRI scans to check on the tumour, as 10% could not be removed as it lay near a dangerous part of her brain. Chelsea supports the Brain Tumour Charity’s HeadSmart campaign, aiming to raise awareness about the symptoms and to reduce diagnosis time.

Sarah Lindsell, The Brain Tumour Charity’s Chief Executive joined Chelsea on the sofa to tell Ruth and Eamonn which symptoms parents should be looking out for and answer the question, ‘When do I need to be worried?’

For more information on Headsmart and symptoms to look out for, visit The Brain Tumour Charity’s Headsmart site: www.headsmart.org.uk/

To find out more about The Brain Cancer Charity, visit: www.thebraintumourcharity.org

To find out more about the NHS’s information on brain tumours, visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/brain-tumours/

To find out more about Brains Trust, visit: brainstrust.org.uk

To find out more about The Brain and Spine Foundation, visit: brainandspine.org.uk

To find out more about McMillan Cancer Support, visit: macmillan.org.uk

To find out more about Cancer Help UK, visit: cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org

ISLINGTON BIKES

Cycling has been linked to better health, environmental sustainability and reduced traffic congestion. It’s a great way to get around, and the Department for Transport has actively been encouraging it, across the UK. Cycle UK found that 12% of the British population cycle at least once a week, which accounts for nearly 8 million people. Despite the popularity of cycling, Islington Council have been charging their residents more for bike parking than car parking, ultimately deterring cycling in the already congested and polluted borough.

Bike hangars are a popular method of on-street bike parking. As well as being used across London, bike hangars are also used across the UK, including Bristol, Salford and Edinburgh. It costs Islington residents an annual fee of £104 if they choose to use a bike hangar. By comparison, the borough’s cheapest petrol car parking permit costs £18.20 a year, and for an electric car there is no charge. The next three bands of car prices are also all less than £104 a year. And, by comparison, neighbouring borough Hackney subsidises their residents bike parking hanger costs charging just £30 per bike.

Eamonn spoke to Caroline Russell, Green Party Councillor, and local cyclists to find what they thought of Islington’s pricing, as well as Claudia Webbe, Islington’s Councillor and Executive Member for Environment and Transport to hear the council’s justification for charging £104 per bike.

If you’d like to find out more about cycling in Islington, visit cycleislington.uk

If you’d like to find out about cycling across the UK, visit www.britishcycling.org.uk

If you’d like to find out about cycling events across the UK, visit www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk

BRAVEHOUND

Most veterans leave the Armed Forces and adapt well to civilian life, but some face real difficulties, in particular those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As owning a dog can improve companionship, promote exercise and encourage good food routines, they can be the perfect way to help ex-soldiers transition into civilian life.

Someone who recognised this was Bravehound’s founder and CEO Fiona MacDonald. She set up the Scottish Charity Bravehound in 2016 to help former servicemen, women and their families by providing them with trained companion dogs.

Ruth and Eamonn spoke to Fiona about Bravehound’s committed team go to great lengths to match veterans with suitable dogs. They are supported, every step of the way and the charity provides continuing help throughout the dog’s lifetime. As well as training and supporting the veterans from before they get the dog, Bravehound also helps them with pet insurance, feeding and equipment throughout the dog’s life.

So far, the charity has paired 17 dogs with veterans and there are currently 15 puppies in training getting ready to go to their new homes.  They have weekly meets and dog shows that the dog’s and their owners can take part in, which helps the ex-servicemen and women to re-engage with social events.

Thanks to Fiona’s vision, Bravehound has transformed the lives of many ex-service men and women, many of whom say that they would not be here if it were not for their dogs.

If you’d like to find out more about Bravehound, visit www.bravehound.co.uk

If you’d like to find out about the work that Mind does for PTSD, visit www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd

If you’d like to find out more about PTSD UK, visit  www.ptsduk.org

If you’d like to find out more about PTSD Resolutions, visit http://www.ptsdresolution.org

If you’d like to find out more about Combat Stress, visit www.combatstress.org.uk

If you’d like to find out more about Stand Easy, visit www.standeasy.org.uk

GIZMO’S LEGACY

The British are a nation of animal lovers- there’s nearly 9 million dogs and over 11 million cats. However, although it’s compulsory for dogs to be microchipped in case they get lost or are involved in an accident, there is no such requirement for cats. Moreover, the Road Traffic Act requires drivers who hit a dog to report the incident but again, there’s no similar obligation on those who run over a cat.

Eamonn and Ruth spoke to Helena Abrahams about her beloved cat Gizmo. In March 2016, Gizmo went missing. She searched for Gizmo for weeks but was eventually was told that Gizmo had been put down after a road traffic accident. She never got to say goodbye or lay him to rest, there was no closure for Helena.

Helena set up a Facebook page reuniting cats owner with their deceased cats and in doing this, found out that some councils don’t scan for microchips and cats can be disposed of on landfill – sadly many cat owners never find out what happened to their cats.

Helena is seeking to change the law on this and set up a petition in her cat’s name, called Gizmo’s Legacy. She is calling for local authorities to scan dead cats for microchips and inform their owners of their fate. Her petition has nearly 40,000 signatures.

Eamonn and Ruth also spoke to Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham about his Cats Bill which is calling for drivers who hit a cat to stop and report the incident. He’s also seeking compulsory microchipping for cats.

Eamonn then spoke to Jackie Baxter, Environmental Officer from Bromley Council, about their best practice around scanning deceased cats. He also spoke with Susan Knox, Blue Cross Chief Vet at Hammersmith Blue Cross hospital, about how important it is – and easy and cheap – to get your cat microchipped.

The campaign group Cats Matter agree that the law must be changed and are lobbying on this. They’ve been working with The London Assembly, who recently voted unanimously in favour of London councils scanning.

The Government have responded to Helena’s petition:

Cats and dogs become members of the family and it is a great source of worry and uncertainty when they are injured or lost. Therefore, it is the Government’s position that it is best practice for veterinary practices and rehoming centres to scan cats and dogs brought to their premises. In the case of road traffic accidents, some local authorities do endeavour to identify the owners if the pet has a collar or microchip and we encourage others to adopt the same practice.

They go onto say: The Government would advise any owner to get their cat microchipped and keep the relevant records up to date. We would regard this to be an informed and sensible choice for individual owners to make, rather than a compulsory one.

To find out more about Helena’s petition, visit: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/229004

To report a deceased cat, visit Helens’ website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/209892012761768

If you’d like to find out more about Cats Matter, visit: www.catsmatter.org

If you’d like to find out more about Rehman Chishti MP Cat’s Bill: www.rehmanchishti.com/news/rehman-presents-bill-cats

If you need advice of having a cat as a pet visit The Cat’s Protection: www.cats.org.uk/

If your pet is missing or died, The Blue Cross have pet bereavement support service – www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss