Thursday, 9 March 2017

Mainstream Veganism

Veganism is a great thing, its good for the animals, the environment and our own health. That said the fact that society and its institutions have taught us that animal products are good for us and are necessary has long kept it as a niche lifestyle.

So it pleases me that in recent years the amount of vegans in the UK has more than doubled, vegan YouTube channels are attracting hundreds of thousands of subscribers, chains like Zizzi's, Handmade Burger Co. and Pret (just to name a few) are offering vegan options. Even the UK's The Guardian, arguably our finest newspaper, has said recently that a vegan diet can reduce an individuals carbon footprint by 20%.

I know with it being mainstream it will likely be a fad, it could take decades or more for veganism to just be the standard lifestyle of the world, but it pleases me that we are moving forward, making progress and it seems like it must be easier than ever to give it a try.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Is the Pursuit of More Getting you Down?

All our life we are taught to want more, that more is better. We are taught to want a bigger TV, a faster car, a new phone, the new games console, newest on trend clothes and accessories. We are told that the newest things, the biggest things, the fastest things, are what dictates our success as a person. A big house means you've done well, a small house means something went wrong.

So we work harder and longer at our jobs, chasing promotions, raises and over-time pay. We spend our spare time in shopping centres, walking through crowds to get the new smartphone, the new pair of shoes. We constantly dedicate our time, our energy to the pursuit of more.

Is it worth it to you?

Does your job stress you out?

Does the new smartphone bring you that feeling of contentment and happiness?

Do the 40 hour weeks, the aching heads, the poor moods just go away when you replace your Blu Ray collection with 4K Ultra HD discs?

Or does the cycle just repeat? Leaving you in the stressful job, with mounting debt, feeling like a failure, feeling like you can't be happy?

What if you rejected that way of life? What if you learned to practice gratitude, what if you could learn to be satisfied with what you have, learn to want less and learn to dedicate your time and energy to other things: friends, family, relaxation, meaningful pursuits and happiness?

Wouldn't that be better?

Monday, 27 February 2017

Rojava - Democracy for the People

It's pretty hard to argue that Western systems aren't failing. Between homelessness doubling in Britain in the last six years, the NHS being systematically defunded whilst nuclear armament has money pumped into it, unjust wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan and the frightening apathy of governments and populations towards refugees from nations like Syria, its hard to say our systems are working well.

So imagine my amazement when I read about Rojava earlier this morning. Rojava is an area in Syria where new systems of democracy are being implemented. The state has been scrapped, in its place a combination of local and district assemblies, running all aspects of life in a democracy built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. Their new democracy allows for equal rights for women, people of different faiths and different nationalities. They are implementing different forms of justice in an attempt to improve on the typical system of state dictated punishment.

In short they are doing an awful lot of inspirational things, things that many nations may well benefit from if they could only snap out of their state induced apathy.

You probably haven't heard of Rojava, or of the developments there, because our media has hardly even mentioned it. It's a real shame, this sort of forward thinking is something the world sorely needs to embrace. We must try to improve ourselves and our way of life, we must save our nations and democracies by improving and fixing them. The same, of course, goes for the planet, which could perhaps be given greater emphasis in a better run democracy?

The problem is the nations surrounding Rojava; Turkey, Iran, Iraq et al, are doing everything in their power to crush it. They are blocking trade, humanitarian aid for the war torn areas affected by ISIS and the broader Syrian conflict and even cutting off the supply of electricity and water. If these aren't terrorist acts then what are they?

People need to take it upon themselves to read, to look into things, to educate themselves, to challenge their preconceived notions of things. Then we can sort out our governments, our democracies and our environment. Rojava seems like a great example of what a democracy could and should be, we all owe it to ourselves to learn about it, to spread the word about it and encourage our governments and our people to help it grow and flourish.

If you want to know more about Rojava take a look at these links:

https://www.ft.com/content/50102294-77fd-11e5-a95a-27d368e1ddf7

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rojava_conflict

Credit to https://radicalglasgowblog.blogspot.co.uk/ for first educating me about Rojava.


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Changing Priorities

When I started this blog it's because I wanted to blog about anything and everything, things that interested me, things that were important to me. It was largely about veganism, gaming, movies and other geeky things.

More recently I've dedicated the few sporadic posts to my issues with depression and the changes that I have gone through to get to a healthy state: discovering the ideas of mindfulness, minimalism and anti-consumerism. These things, along with veganism, are now the most important things in my life.

I still enjoy video games and movies but want to dedicate far less of my life to them, I want to enjoy what I enjoy but don't want to fuel what I see as quite horrible industries - industries of environmental destruction and unfair wealth distribution. Don't get me wrong, films and games are great fun and often great works of entertainment and art but the cost, in terms of environmental impact and the ludicrous situation of actors being millionaires unsettles me greatly. I also want to own less, spend less and take time to focus on what is important to me for my life: friends, family, preserving the earth, being happy and healthy.

I am more politically engaged, more environmentally engaged and more personally engaged than I ever have been and this makes me happy. I want to keep blogging, about my experiences, about what's important, so I asked myself the question of whether or not to start a new blog. With my most recent posts the tone of things here has taken a dramatic shift and that shift is only going to continue. But I have decided to stick around here, my love of geeky things and the posts about them will remain and ill be able to look and see how I changed and when.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Take a Look at my Writing

You might have noticed that I've shuffled things around on my blog so that on the right hand side of the screen, just below the links to my popular posts, is a section called 'My Writing'. There you can read any stories or poems I write and publish here and, if you want, can request a free PDF copy to read on the go!

First up is my short story Scarlet's Way Out - you can read it here http://robthevegangeek.blogspot.co.uk/p/scarlets-way-out-short-story-for-pdf.html.

Then there is my first collection of poems called Frayed - you can read it here http://robthevegangeek.blogspot.co.uk/p/frayed.html.

There'll be plenty more to come, I'm pretty much writing every day now. Everything will be published here and available as a PDF, for free and free of copyright.

Friday, 20 January 2017

What is Anti-Consumerism and Why Should You Try It

As well as becoming a minimalist, I've become an anti-consumer, the two really go hand in hand quite well. You see consumerism is killing the planet. Think about it, we want stuff, so people make stuff and sell it to us to make themselves money. All well and good but the world isn't Space, it isn't infinite. Everything that is made takes resources and many of the resources aren't renewable. When you upgrade your smartphone, your TV, your car, your games console, you are indirectly harming the planet. Unfortunately it can be a hard truth to realise, I only did so about a month ago!

The western world is built on consumerism and capitalism, we consume new products constantly, spending billions upon billions of pounds every year whilst much of the world is left developing, striving to function at all let alone reach our consumerist level. The US consumes 30% of the world's resources, so when all of Africa and Asia reaches ours and the US' levels of consumerism the world will have insufficient resources to sustain life. Humanity as we know it will inevitably begin to die out. Forgive the simplified explanation, this is about the gist of it rather than the minutia.

If that weren't bad enough then there's also the short term to consider. We (as in society) put ourselves under great stress and strain to earn the money we need to acquire more things. Many of us work jobs we hate, we tire ourselves, cause ourselves stress related illness. And if we still can't afford the new phone, car, house then we use a credit card or take out a loan, putting ourselves in the debt of massive corporations. And why? To get the slimmer version of the phone we have? A phone that often still works! To buy a bigger TV? A faster car? A house with a pool?

Not to mention the vast time and effort needed to face down our social, political and economic short comings. Think about it: billions of pounds spent yearly on 'goods' could be put to improving environmental efforts, helping those fleeing war, helping the homeless, working in local communities, travelling, learning.

Consumerism is destroying our humanity and our planet. Our relentless pursuit of materialistic goods will annihilate our habitat in the long term and annihilate our physical and mental health in the short term. It allows for social and political injustice, it facilitates corporate greed. By saying no to the new thing, by questioning what really adds value to your life, what goes in to making something, by saying no, you can make your life and the lives of others much better.

Want to know more? Check out http://www.enough.org.uk/ and http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Bit of What I Want From A Government

A lot is made of the youth and politics, what young people want, what we vote for etc. I myself take an active interest in politics and here is some of what I want from a government.

An Overhauled Education System. 

When kids leave school knowing that Henry VIII had six wives but not knowing how taxes and mortgages work then your education system has failed. Sadly this is the reality in Britain. Don't get me wrong, history is important, so is a lot of what is taught at schools, but schools need to teach us how the world works. We need to be teaching people to understand taxes, mortgages, rental agreements etc. School should prepare someone for life.

Nationalised Public Health

It's no secret that the Conservatives are hell-bent on privatising the NHS, I would like a government that abandoned this dangerous idea and pumped funding into a fully nationalised health service.  After all, what's more important than health?

Significant Cuts to Military Funding

I would like a government that realised Trident is a waste of money, that stops funding proxy wars and that greatly reduces our spending on destructive things. Pump the money into important things like health, education and infrastructure instead.

Massive Tax Reform

It is too easy for companies and individuals to avoid paying tax. For our country and its services to work at their full potential everyone needs to be paying their full and fair share. Massive corporations should pay more, the poor should pay less. It's really quite simple.

Nationalised Public Transport

Our public transport system is a disaster, its expensive, unreliable and does not reach far enough into rural areas. With a publicly owned, publicly funded transport system we could get to work correcting this.

Nationalised Phone and Internet Services

Communication is crucial in our 21st Century western world so why is it in the hands of greedy corporations? All homes should have phone and internet access. The two of them are simply too crucial to modern life.

Genuine Work on the Environment

We need a government that moves away from our current lifestyle. One that makes genuine attempts to look after the environment, one that highlights the true cost of our diets, of our consumerism, of capitalism.

So there you have it, a small snapshot of what I, as a man in his mid-twenties, want from a government.