I was asked an interesting question at West Midlands VegFest on Sunday. Are you a vegan? While you might think that would be a question you'd know the answer to instantly, I hesitated for a moment before saying no.
I do eat a predominantly plant-based diet. So that's vegetables, fruit, beans, rice, but no meat, fish, eggs or dairy. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the food is delicious, and it makes me more careful about what I'm eating. So rather than transferring something from the freezer to the oven, I'm following recipes and making things from scratch - like these delicious deep fried "chicken" wings!
Secondly, eating a plant based diet has a hugely positive effect on the environment. In fact, factory agriculture accounts for roughly the same amount of carbon emissions as the whole of the global transport sector combined.
And of course there is animal welfare. With plans currently on the table for another factory chicken farm in Clyro, I couldn't in all good conscience enjoy my KFC.
At Eighteen Rabbit we sell a cool selection of different vegan items - from wallets to chocolate to skincare.
But - I'm not a vegan. Every now and then I'll get a pizza from Dominos, cheese and all. When we're in Mexico I'll be enjoying some delicious chorizo. When I'm at relatives' houses I'll eat whatever my host has prepared for me. It may seem like a hopeless contradiction. But actually my "sustainable journey" which started at Seventeen Events and continues at Eighteen Rabbit, has taught me that perfection is rarely possible. What matters is doing your best, as often as you can, and not giving up altogether when you choose a less than optimal path.
So I couldn't genuinely call myself a vegan - though I may well one day. For now, I am a proud member of the Vegan Society and enjoying doing whatever I can to promote a plant based lifestyle.
There's an old joke:
Q: How do you know if someone's a vegan?
A: Don't worry, they'll tell you!
So apologies if I've fallen into that trap. But I do have a sense of humour about it! Happy World Vegan Day anyway :)
We love Mexico - as anyone who has been in the shop will testify! It's an incredibly friendly country with amazing food, jaw-dropping scenery and just slightly better weather than here in the UK. Of course, it has its problems - corruption, issues with drugs, and levels of poverty we're not used to here in the UK. But it's a place we have visited again and again and never grown tired of. November sees one of our favourite Mexican festivals - the Day of the Dead.
Day of the Dead takes place on the 1st and 2nd November, and all over Mexico families will go to clean up graveyards, tidy up memorials to their ancestors, and generally celebrate the lives of their forefathers. It's a hugely upbeat festival - without any of the morbidity or sadness we associate with death or funerals. It's also very moving to see people who feel connected to the past - not shutting off their feelings or emotions. We think it's a healthy thing!
Every year we get a selection of skulls from Mexico, and I have to say this year's batch are the best yet. Our contact Alberto runs a project called Mexican Fine Arts, and he hand-picks the items from artisans across the country. This year he was in Cuernavaca, a city we lived in for a while on 2005, and where Malcolm Lowry set his masterpiece "Under the Volcano." The skulls capture the colour, passion and humour of Mexico perfectly.
We've taken the difficult decision not to sell the skulls online this year - they are difficult to post, and to be honest sell so quickly in the shop that by the time we've done the photography they'd be gone! But if you simply must have one - drop us a line and we can discuss :)
We also have a fantastic "Day of the Dead" party coming up in Hay - Friday 4th November at Hay Castle!
Sounds like a bad joke, doesn't it? Sadly, Hay is now having to steel itself for yet another fight with our local County Council who are trying to impose cuts on our library services. Their ultimatum is that the town has to come forward with a plan for taking over the running of the services, or the County Council will begin consultation on the closure of Hay Library. The internationally famous town of books, closing its library. Insert your own punchline here!
We sell a wide range of books of course, but a library has so many other benefits - a resource to use the internet, browse the papers, meet people - it's the heart of a community.
We are aware that Powys CC are to some extent between a rock and a hard place - the cuts are an indirect result of austerity imposed from Westminster - but Powys are the face of the cuts, so it's Powys we have to fight. Lesley Arrowsmith, scribe supreme of Hay, sums up the state of play perfectly on her blog.
In a week which has also seen Powys exposed to ridicule over their use of outsourced consultants, and hot on the heels of their failed attempt to close our local High School, you might think they'd know how to pick their battles. We'll keep you updated on the fight to save the library service in Hay.
Ok, so in amongst Tuesday's #DayoftheGirl and #NationalComingOutDay, the fact that this is #ChocolateWeek seems a little frivolous. But let's remember, chocolate - well cocoa - can provide a sustainable income for farmers in developing countries ensuring a secure future for their families along with access to education. Choose your chocolate wisely and you can enjoy the smooth sweet flavour safe in the knowledge that your purchase has improved someone's life, albeit in a small way.
This was also one of my favourite weeks of the retail year... as it's when the Christmas Zotter catalogue arrives! We've been stocking Zotter's fabulous organic and Fairtrade chocolate for some time, and their creative flavours and eye-catching packaging, make them a big Eighteen Rabbit favourite.
They have some show stopping advent calendars on offer this year. Check out this stunning tree with luxury chocolates as decorations - pretty special!
And for us vegans, they have a wonderfully tempting box of vegan chocs - with 13 different flavours. That would definitely get me out of bed on a cold December morning!
As a small shop we don't generally like to invest in 'time-sensitive' products. But as I'm definitely having one of those vegan advent calendars, I thought it only fair to offer the same opportunity to you! If you'd like to pre-order the vegan calendar (RRP £21) or the luxury tree calendar (RRP £35) then drop me an email (email@example.com) before Monday 17th October and I'll sneak your order in with mine! (Note the writing on these calendars is in German).
We'll have plenty of festive and favourite Zotter chocolate back in stock soon - so keep an eye on our website for some fab new flavours.
We are constantly amazed at the stylish new designs and fabrics which Mata Traders manage to come up with. As one of the only Mata stockists in the UK, we are always delighted when their next delivery arrives! This season we have another stunning capsule collection, featuring some on-trend patterns and a timeless little black dress.
As always we only have very limited stock of each design in each size, so please don't miss out! We are delighted that we now have some real Mata "fans" who snap up their favourites as soon as we release a new season, so we hope you'll want to join their ranks.
Of course, as well as providing you with another wardrobe staple, buying from our new Mata collection also helps ensure a better quality of life for the producers in India and Nepal. Let us know your favourites!