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Bristol’s Big Green Week Director Went Vegan With VegfestUK for 2 Weeks….. How Did It All Go?

Bristol’s Big Green Week Director Went Vegan With VegfestUK for 2 Weeks….. How Did It All Go?

| by Karin Ridgers

When I invited Shanks to come on an exciting vegan adventure as an experiment I was impressed and pleased that without hesitation or even planning she said yes and from that moment on her two week vegan adventure began.



The Director of Bristol’s Big Green Week and self-confessed “heavy duty meat eater” is passionate about the environment and I do feel a super vegan in the making… even if she doesn’t realise it herself quite yet”


Shanks had a night in with friends where they all brought vegan dishes to enjoy and even spoke about her vegan experiment while giving a talk with local famers.


So moving forward Shanks what will you be eating…?

“A lot less meat... I am not even sure if I will like the taste of it anymore.”

Great words from the former “heavy duty meat eater”!


Karin Ridgers 

VegfestUK PR



Quote from Tim Barford, manager of VegfestUK:

‘’It was fascinating watching Shanks go vegan as she was posting regularly on Facebook about her thoughts and experiences. One thing that struck me is the vegan thing went deep….and that the concept of non-violence at the heart of the vegan philosophy was far-reaching.

“We had a super lunch together at The Vittoria on The Whiteladies, which has an excellent vegan menu – and we chatted about a whole scope of vegan and ethical topics, including the upcoming pro intersectional conference in London this October.

“From the level of knowledge that the vegan experience has brought, it would be little surprise to see Shanks stay vegan after she completes the 2 weeks challenge she originally set herself. Some profound changes have occurred.’’



2 Weeks are up: on going Vegan

Well that was a rather transformative journey on the consumption of food entering my body.


I MADE IT!!! ...I didn't get tempted by the juicy blood filled venison at my mates 40th banquet or free chunky organic burgers at the food and farming awards or even the perils of a bank holiday weekend in London. 

I'm out the other side and it wasn't something I ever thought I would consider. I gave up all the meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and butter. Everything animal based for two weeks.


And if you can't be bothered to read on. I would say I truly highly recommend each and everyone of you doing it and writing about it. It takes what you put in your mouth from unconscious functionality to a conscious thought provoking act when you force yourself to write about your inner experience.


This strange form of detoxing your body from animal products affects you physically, mentally and makes you see our systems of behaviour and consumption of food differently.


Peoples motivations for going vegan vary from: 

A) Allergies
B) Animal welfare
C) Health benefits
D) ...and the environment


My reasoning started with item (D) wanting to lower my carbon footprint through consuming less food products with high embodied energy. However, the learning didn't end there. By throwing myself into this challenge I began to interact with all sorts of different people fore and against the cause. People are surprisingly vocal; Especially after a few pints down the pub.


Foodie friends held a vegan, bring a dish dinner party at my house, I had lunch with the founder of VegfestUK, I debated with local farmers, whilst sat on straw bales in a concrete paved square in town about milk production for Cape Farewell, Milk Parlour, I hung out at Vx Bristol (the vegan junk food shop on North Street, yes that's what it's called!), I got help and advice from Matter organic, Bristol... you get the gist. I went from a meat and two veg girl to delving into our food habits through taking what some might call the extreme route of going vegan.


What it taught me was that: 

1. Vegan junk food was really not the answer! Processed fake cheese and sausages were not the way to go. 

2. The stress put under animals packed into some farms and the way they are slaughtered, for us to eat, produces a whole host of negative energy in those animals that was potentially transferring into our bodies due to this animal based food system. Sounds traumatising, right? 

3. That a lot more energy was being wasted through eating meat and it is a clear way of reducing our individual carbon emissions.


What I discovered about making Veganism easier was:

A) Get organised (take the time to prepare)

B) Get creative with new types of food (coconut oil, hemp milk, aubergine, avocado, beetroot, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, cacao are my new best friends) 

C) Get use to reading labels (what the hell is in what you put into you) 

D) Be prepared to be difficult when out with carnivores (restaurants and cafes, even in London are surprisingly accommodating, if you ask nicely all of the chefs made me up something special). 

E) Once you've done it for two weeks you realise it isn't daunting and actually it's about changing habits and doing some learning. It truly opens your eyes!


What's missing? Our food producing friends please put more vegan dishes on the menu and label them. Make it easier for us all to have choices. We need to make the choice of reducing our animal based intake easier for the masses or no one will bother.


To preserve our natural resources and to create a societal shift from the impact that global corporations have on us. We must all: 

1. Shop local 
2. Shop independent
3. Shop organic
4. Consume less


The last two weeks have been a real journey of learning, taste, creativity and experience and I really hope that some of you might try it and write about it in the future.


So the question remains... Will I go back to eating meat tomorrow... Part-time yes I will. More because Veganism isn't accommodating in some social scenarios. You have to at times be firm with yourself and miss out on events because you are guided by some stringent principles. These principles don't quite fit with my foot loose, at times spontaneous, free spirit. It has at times felt confining but I am fully aware now that it is an important cause that we should be fighting for. A cause which I now much better understand. One in which we can all do our bit in some way through our individual purchasing power!


I will never ever see animal products in the same way. And I will certainly be cutting down to 2 (smaller portioned) organic animal meals a week max. And treating these as a luxury and not a necessity!


Thanks for following me on my little journey and helping and guiding me along the way. All you secret vegans have been an amazing support. Little did I know what was going on with this food revolution you had started. 

Shout out to Jon at Matter Organic, Easton, Bristol, Tim at VegfestUK and Karin at VeggieVisionTV.

Shanks signing out. x
Go vegan for @biggreenweek
11th to 19th June


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