Another big step towards a vegan lifestyle is committing to vegan or cruelty-free beauty and hygiene products.

The difference? Vegan is not tested on animals and contains no animal products while cruelty-free doesn’t test on animals but may contain animal products such as honey.

Right now, all my beauty and hygiene products are cruelty-free and most are vegan. Here’s what I use:

Tom’s of Maine deodorant: I really like this company suggested to me by a friend. They are open with their sources and it doesn’t take a chemistry Ph.D. to determine if the product is eco- and vegan-friendly. This particular deodorant I use is vegan and I bought it for about $5 at C.V.S. (generic pharmacy, U.S.).

Tom’s of Maine toothpaste: Again, Tom’s to the rescue. Again, this particular toothpaste I use is both vegan and cruelty-free and goes for about $5 at local pharmacies.

Shampoo, conditioner and body wash: I’m not too particular about my hair care. Generic shampoo and conditioner seem to work fine for me. I was told that Superdrug brand does not test on animals and my current shampoo of avocado and manuka honey and its complementary conditioner seem to be free of animal products as well (£4 each). For shower gel, I’m also using Superdrug brand coconut shower gel. It, too, seems to lack animal products (but don’t quote me on that, the Superdrug website is a bit harder to understand than the Tom’s site) and is only £1. About once a week, I use Paul Mitchell clarifying shampoo, which is vegan and cruelty-free (£10).

Make-up and skin: My skin care routine is simple. First of all, what kind of vegan would I be if I didn’t give a should to Lush? All their products are not tested on animals and a good handful are vegan. However, my routine starts with my only non-vegan (contains honey) product: Mask of Magnaminty (£13). It makes my face so smooth. I then apply Grease Lightning (vegan) (£7), which acts as a light and airy base that also prevents break outs. My cruelty-free and vegan make-up brand of choice is e.l.f. I use their foundation, face powder and mascara. Finally, for make-up wipes, I’m currently using wipes from The Co-operative: again, both vegan and cruelty-free!

Photo by Pinar.

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I was inspired by this post by the lovely Tania to make my own post about my favorite songs alphabetically, trying really hard not to repeat artists and omitting X and Z.

I have linked the song in the title as well as descriptions of the gig if I wrote about seeing the artist live. You can still check out my page dedicated to all the gigs I’ve been to detailing when and where I saw the artist and what songs were played (if available) even if I didn’t write about it!

A: “At the Bottom” by Brand New: Although I haven’t actively listened to Brand New since the allegations against the front man and will no longer support them by streaming their music, buying their merchandise or attending more shows, “At the Bottom” is my favorite song by them and will always be an emotional roller coaster. Seen live April, August and September 2015.

B: “Better Life” by Conditions: Seriously, everyone. This band is so underrated. This song is the climax of their heartfelt, uplifting album Fluorescent Youth. Seen live October 2013.

C: Captivate You” by Marmozets

D: “Drilling” by Minus the Bear

E: “Edge of Heaven” by Breathe Carolina: Again, don’t really listen to them much anymore or keep up with new music, but I love this album. Seen live multiple times until 2014.

F: “Faint” by Linkin Park: R.I.P. Chester. Seen live May 2014.

G: “G.U.Y. by Lady Gaga: I love Lady Gaga and ARTPOP is some of her best work. Seen live July 2014.

H: “Hermit the Frog by Marina and the Diamonds: One of my favorite artists of all time. Such an inspirational, talented beauty. Seen live December 2015 and February 2016.

I: “If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves” by Arcane Roots: This is the first song I heard by them and still bangs. Seen live February 2016 and October 2017.

J: “Just a Girl” by No Doubt

K: “Killing In The Name” by Rage Against the MachineAlways gets me and any self-respecting emo pumped.

L: “Lifeboats” by Senses Fail: My second favorite band! I love this song off The Fire, even if I haven’t gotten the lyrics tattooed on my body… yet. Seen live March 2011, November 2013, October 2014, March 2015, October 2015 and March 2017.

M: “Methadone” by Rise Against: My all-time favorite band. One of their newer songs that has really resonated with me just as long as their older stuff. You can read about all the times I’ve seen them live in this post.

N: “No Future” by Blink-182: Like most everyone between the ages of 20 and 50, I grew up loving Blink and their most recent album is surprisingly great! They also sound incredible live (September 2016).

O: “Of Dusts and Nations” by Thrice: One of my all-time favorite bands. I can’t believe they’re not better known. Seen live October 2016 and July 2017.

P: “Plug In Baby” by Muse: Not the biggest fan of Muse (sorry, Diego), but this song will never get old.

Q: “Quelle Suprise” by Enter Shikari: Okay, I’ll admit, not my favorite song of theirs (that would probably be “Solidarity”), but it was one of the only songs I have that starts with a ‘Q.’ Still bangs! Seen live April 2015, February and March 2016, March 2017 and November 2017.

R: “Rock and Roll Thugs” by Icon for Hire: I adore Ariel’s voice! Seen live May 2017.

S: “Standing in the Rain” by Billy Talent: I’ve been a fan for a while, but only recently come to love this song. Took me long enough!

T: “Thundermonster” by Biffy Clyro: ‘Mon the fucking Biff. The biggest bands North Americans have never heard of. This b-side is so incredible and deserves more attention. Seen live March 2017.

U: “Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be” by We Came As Romans: I used to love this band and although I don’t keep up with them anymore, their older music still means a lot to me. Seen live multiple times until 2014.

V: “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey: The first time I listened to this album was a spiritual awakening. Her voice is absolutely mesmerizing.

W: “Would You Be Impressed?” by Streetlight Manifesto: A tune by a band that’s hard to dislike. If nothing else, take time to watch this music video, it’s absolutely brilliant! Seen live October 2013 and July 2016.

Y: “Youth Is Wasted on the Young” by Architects: My Brighton boys!

#: “505 by Arctic Monkeys: Who else is excited for their comeback? Seen live October 2014.

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Where do I begin?

PETA is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, probably the most well-known animal activist groups. Founded in the 1980s, its platform is: “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.” A pretty noble cause, if you ask me. A lot of vegans either actively or passively support the organization and often cite them as a good resource.

However, it doesn’t take a thorough Google search to find its atrocities and heavy criticisms.

Perhaps the best-known of these hypocritical acts is euthanizing animals brought into its shelters, exceeding even the kill rate of local shelters. Although the PETA spokesperson defended these as mercy killings, the organization kills 84 percent of supposedly “unadoptable” animals within 24 hours of their arrival. So much for second chances. Not only killing the animals, two employees were charged with 21 counts of animal cruelty after dumping the corpses of killed dogs in a dumpster. God knows how many other crimes of cruelty and “mercy killings” are still under wraps. With a whole website dedicated to reporting PETA’s hypocritical killings, it’s hard to refute the evidence and defend the organization’s actions.

PETA has also gotten a lot of backlash for its distasteful and sometimes offensive advertisements. My personal least favorites from this article include “To animals, all people are Nazis,comparing the tragic murder of Tim McLean to animal slaughter, “Save the whales,” which body shames people into going vegetarian and “Got autism?” which faultily links autism to dairy consumption. In addition to comparing consuming animals to the Holocaust and the African salve trade (they ran photos comparing African American slaves to animals being transported for slaughter), PETA also undermines the experience of human rape victims by comparing it to factory farming. So messed up.

A bit of a side note: my basic argument for not comparing animal agriculture to experiences of oppressed is not on because slavery, genocide and rape effect the individual for the rest of their life and the group of oppressed people for future generations. While I do believe animals are capable of similar suffering similarly to humans, I do not believe they are capable of cultural inheritance where these experiences can be passed between generations. I will expand on this argument in a separate point at some point in the future, but that is my stance.

PETA uses unsound studies, shock factor and blatant lies to guilt people into taking their side. Organizations who resort to such methods clearly have nothing more to offer. There is plenty of truth out there and fact should reason enough to reject animal abuse. If those reasons aren’t enough, odds are the person won’t turn, no matter how you twist the story.

Photo by Gustavo Zambelli.

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Taking in all the study abroad and other travel posts from the semester, I realized there were some things I’m dying to do in places I’ve already visited, but didn’t know about or didn’t have time.

Here are some things I would most like to do if and when I revisit some of the places I’ve already been:

Sacrè-Coeur (Paris, France): How the hell did I miss this one? It was a stone’s throw away from my hostel. I guess since it was so close, I thought I could do it any time… until my week ended quicker than I expected.

Palace of Versailles (Paris, France): Again, too much wine and not enough being tourists. My brother quite liked this and I regret putting it so low on my priorities.

Climb up the Campanile (Venice, Italy): I would have loved to get a bird’s eye view of the city, but didn’t have enough time and planned poorly.

Museum Island (Berlin, Germany): If you’ve been around long enough to read my 20 Facts About Me post, you’d know that I’ve never been a huge museum person. But, I recently read a post on the Natural History Museum in Berlin and it sounded super interesting. Also, the history surrounding the Holocaust really interests me and I really enjoyed all the historical walking tours I got in the city so who knows, there’s probably more on the island for me than just natural history!

Capri day trip (Naples, Italy): I regret not going on a day trip to the island of Capri when I was based in Naples. I was worn out from a week of intensive travel since and must have decided to take it easy the day I was considering going to the island. Oh, well.

Christianshavn (Copenhagen, Denmark): Amidst the pristine, perfect Danish culture, I wish I got around to visiting this alternative “hippie” area.

Ellis Island (New York, United States): I went on a tour of the Statue of Liberty on my trip in 2015, which included Ellis Island, but my mate and I were running late to our ticketed next activity so we gave it a skip. It would have been cool to walk in the footsteps of the earliest settlers back when the U.S. was the land of opportunity for immigrants and not… well, I don’t have many nice words for the state of the country these days.

Library of Congress (Washington, D.C., United States): My dad and I did a lot on this trip, not to mention we were limited with availability going over Labor Day weekend. But in retrospect, one thing I regret missing is the Library of Congress (National Treasure, anyone?), even if only for the architecture.

Arthurs Seat (Edinburgh, United Kingdom): I went to Edinburgh in early summer and regret not taking advantage of the not-totally-shit weather and making the trek to the amazing views offered by Authers Seat.

Cologne Cathedral (Cologne, Germany): I had about a day in Cologne and was too late to go up into the cathedral; I should have done my research! However, it was amazing to admire from the outside and from other further vantage points such as the other side of the Rhine.

Photo by Thought Catalog.

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A more detailed look into my life as a (mostly) vegan! Hopefully this will inspire some people to try new things.

Monday

  • Breakfast: cereal (basic flakes, I know, I’m exciting) with almond milk, orange juice
  • Lunch: granola bar, smoothie (banana, summer fruit mix, vanilla soya yogurt, chia seeds, hazelnut milk)
  • Dinner: bolognese (mushrooms, garlic, onion, vegan mince and pasta sauce)
  • Snacks: Walker’s crisps, Oreos (I know, I’m the glowing image of health), tea

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: cereal with almond milk
  • Lunch: peanut butter and jam sandwich, Walker’s crisps, diet Coke
  • Dinner: leftover bolognese
  • Snacks: orange, smoothie

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: peanut butter and banana toast, tea
  • Lunch: leftover bolognese (I’m sad that’s the last of the bolognese, it was so tasty)
  • Dinner: Asian garlic tofu with rice
  • Snacks: orange

Thursday

  • Breakfast: mini fry-up (Linda McCartney sausages, baked beans, toast with vegan butter), orange juice
  • Lunch: granola bar
  • Dinner: Linda McCartney sausage rolls with chips
  • Snacks: apple, Walker’s crisps, Oreos

Friday

  • Breakfast: cereal with hazelnut milk and banana slices, toast with vegan butter and strawberry jam, orange juice
  • Lunch: toast with piri piri hummus, avacado and vegan blue cheese, Walker’s crisps, Oreos
  • Dinner: ASDA vegan spaghetti and meatballs ready meal
  • Snacks: tea

Saturday

  • Breakfast: cereal with almond milk and banana slices, toast with vegan butter and raspberry jam, orange juice
  • Lunch: toast with piri piri hummus, avacado and vegan blue cheese, Walker’s crisps, Oreos
  • Dinner: leftover Asian garlic tofu and rice
  • Snacks: orange, granola bar

Sunday

  • Breakfast: toast with vegan butter and raspberry jam and peanut butter, smoothie
  • Lunch: granola bar
  • Dinner: vegan pizza with garlic bread
  • Snacks: apple, tea

I don’t think I’m compromising much taste or variety by cutting out meat, dairy and eggs from my diet. As you can see, I eat a lot of different things and like to mix it up!

Photo by COSMO UK.

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