Thursday, 31 May 2018

'The Great Awakening'

A Journey to Dietary Enlightenment
by Mark Plummer BSc / PGCE

Before late 2015 I had no real idea how nefarious the global processed food industry really is. Sure, I knew a bit about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), a spectre I’ve been following since the mid-1990’s. Even so, I had no idea as to how the modern food business operates, not so 3 years later. 

Having spent some time researching its machinations and objectives it is not hard to see why food manufacture in the modern age is so steeped in secrecy, double-speak and dis-information. It is also not hard to see why they want to keep it that way too. One thread of how this three book series came together takes me back to my late teens and early twenties. 

Through my university days, I learned about organochlorine or halogenated hydrocarbon compounds. Perhaps the most infamous of these is the compound di-chloro di-phenyl tri-chloro-ethane (DDT) and a family of chemicals called poly-chlorinated bi-phenols (PCB’s). I learned about how they were used as pesticides and in industry respectively. I learned about their temporary success in pest control, but I also learned about their devastating long-term environmental impact. I learned of how insects evolved resistance to the poisons they were coming into contact with. I learned of how insect resistance is what drove the manufacture of ever more organochlorine pesticides. 

To date, many hundreds of these compounds are cycling their way through the planet and its biosphere. These substances may well be chemically unique compounds, but they all have the same broad devastatingly irreversible environmental impacts, irreversibility being one fundamental reason to oppose GMO’s. If the chemical companies really cared about “the environment” such substances would not have been manufactured in anything like the quantity or varieties they have been. The same goes, but for different reasons for glyphosate (trade name Round-Up) and neonicotinoid (the bee-killing) pesticides.

DDT sprayed liberally in the 1950’s and 1960’s

Later in the mid-1990’s I read of GM soya being grown across the pond in the US and Brazil. I also saw how the industry was making inroads into the Far East, particularly in China. At home, here in the UK, I saw the flavr-savr tomato come onto the supermarket shelves and then within months I saw it come off them again! This was 1995-6 when the nascent new labour opposition headed by Tony Blair was successfully duping the country and its people (me included) into thinking it was some sort of alternative to the hated conservative party, headed by the equally loathsome John Major.

Anyway, Good old “bomber” Blair gets elected in 1997 and things were supposed “to get better” were they not? Clearly, they didn’t! For me the rot set in over the academy programme, university tuition fees and the continuation of privatisation along with a general realisation that New Labour was, in essence, the same as the conservatives.  Simultaneously, I was not happy about British involvement in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kosovo. At the time I was not in the least bit informed about any of this. I was far too busy enjoying myself! I knew there was more to what “I was being told” and I never lost sight of the environmental knowledge I gained at university. Yet, I was losing “the argument” on these and other matters because I just didn’t know the nuts and bolts of what I was talking about. 

A set of circumstances I am pleased to say no longer exist, at least in the areas where I profess to “know my damned onions”.  Yet, it still took Afghanistan and Iraq to really catalyse my thinking and catapult forwards to where I now politically, philosophically and ideologically reside.  

I learned that Monsanto was involved in the production of compounds such as DDT and the other chemicals mentioned above. I learned of equivalent involvement in the production of Agent Orange and later how the British army also used in Malaya. I saw the clear ideological links between what was, and still is, going on in the Middle East and Central Asia and equally criminal imperial ventures such as South East Asia and Chechnya. On the back of Iraq and Afghanistan, I learned of the sordid history of Western and other forms of Imperialism.  Plus, the totality of lies, deceit, hypocrisy and destruction that goes with it all.  I was and still am appalled over the hypocrisy around Colonel Gadhafi’s Libya. For a time that particular dictator got his oil swap Lockerbie points. He also caused through arms sales from the UK (and other countries) untold suffering to people all over Western Africa. The list of crimes wrapped up in all of this and more is as endless as it is well documented, all the reader has to do is look.

From the Horse’s mouth in 2001 – Nothing has changed since then!

The key point of this article is the realisation that the same companies and institutions that were pushing for war in the Middle East, were the same companies who made the types of chemicals mentioned above.  They were also involved (and still are) in the drive to implement GMO’s in agriculture all over the world.  A point outlined with Specific reference to Iraq in chapter 6 of the Introducing GMO's book. 

For instance, here in the UK a company called Rothamsted Research is well embedded with various forms of GM crop, but also has a direct historical connection to developing poisons such as Agent Orange as weapons of war. And it was for reasons such as this that the fundraising job mentioned in chapter eight of the GMO book comes to its forte. 

In 2003 ONE reason for opposing GMO’s in agriculture was realising that a company such as Monsanto, with its sordid history, really ought to have no business in telling the world what is good to eat and what is not. In 2018 nothing has changed! Exactly the same goes for ALL other transnational corporations involved in GMO’s. The "Introducing GMO's" book gives countless additional examples and provides links to plenty more.

The second book in the series concerns the mass production of bread here in the UK. It grew out of an original idea to look at additives and food processing in general. I soon realised that developing an “additives database” was a reinventing the wheel exercise. So I decided to focus on a staple of the British diet, the humble loaf of bread. What I found out in the course of putting that book together should put any rational human being off ever eating mass produced bread of any kind again. 

Bread by definition is made by mixing flour, yeast and water together in the right proportions and then following the instructions for kneading, rising and finally baking into the final loaf. Bread produced through the Chorleywood process is not made in this way. All the reader has to do is look at the ingredients in any supermarket loaf. The how what and why of those ingredients form the bedrock of “The BIG Secret - What Happened To Our Bread?" book. 

On the back of that writing, we have invested in a bread maker. We use a simple Panasonic SD2500 machine, with a recipe book, which right now is baking a 5 seeded granary loaf. It is made from flour, water, butter, yeast, sugar, the seeds and that is all. 

Solely, from a bread perspective, if there is one thing the reader can do right now it would be to invest in a bread maker. For sure there is an initial outlay, which is going to be an issue if you’re on a budget. And finance is another point raised throughout the trilogy, it’s no good banging on about how terrible GMO’s and processed food is and then praising the virtues of whole or organic food if we have millions of people in the population who are barely getting by.  However, our machine cost £100 and we spend on average about £15 per month on ingredients. The health, taste and nutritional benefits more than outweigh those costs. In any case, if you use your machine regularly and follow the recipes it will have paid for itself in about 2-3 months. 

Another point is raised here and is made repeatedly throughout the writing. The ONLY reason people do not buy more fresh wholesome and the locally produced food is down to cost. In turn, the only reason proper food is so much more expensive is structural, i.e. mass produced food is cheaper than non-processed food. 

The trilogy of writing uses examples from the real world to demonstrate this and chapter four in the “food additives” book uses examples from the life of yours truly.  As with plastics and the processed food outlined in the third book, the only real answer is to overhaul how food and agriculture are organised all over the world. In many cases as with single-use plastic packaging and other items, the only REAL answer is to STOP making or producing it, a point raised in chapter 3 of the “Food Additives - The Truth” book.  

This third volume also considers sweeteners in general and aspartame in particular. The same nefarious links mentioned above as regards GMO’s also apply to the most studied and arguably most controversial sweetener on the planet. As for sweeteners themselves, read the book, in fact, you can read that chapter first if you like, when you’re done if you keep ingesting sweeteners there really is nothing else I (or anyone else) can do.

Bread from the bread machine

Prior to 2015, I had no idea as to the depth of knowledge and research there is tied up under the word “nutrition”. I truly believed it was wishy-washy whimsical nonsense and certainly not as important as the global issues I constantly bang on about. Read the books to see what they are! I am pleased to inform the reader that I see how wrong I was. The domain of food and nutrition is just as hard in the science and politics department as the big self-inflicted problems we need to fix if we are to survive on this Earth.

Now in May 2018 I truly do understand what is meant by the term “you are what you eat”. Since 2015 we have made as many individual choices as we can. We have cut out as much processed food as we can and we have almost completely removed meat and fish from our diet. We have taken to using more pulses, beans, nuts and grains in our cooking. We cook from scratch as much as possible too and that is another action the reader can take. Get a cookbook, the best IMO, are the traditional farmhouse type. They have better recipes, better instructions and are more fun to use in the long run. 

The only fly in the ointment here is single-use plastic. We pretty much get everything we buy in glass or metal containers. Another way to significantly reduce your plastic footprint is to stop eating meat and fish. Even so, our much re-used black bin bag becomes filled with various wrappers of grains, pulses, seeds, and other single-use packaging materials. Such is one consequence of living in a food desert!

About a month of single-use plastic in the bin bag!

So here we are then, this is the broad strokes as to where the box set comes from. My hope is that the reader will see the processed food industry and the drivers behind GMO’s for what they truly are. As a construct, it has no interest in promoting healthy eating, sustainable agriculture or nutrition. All it cares about is making cash at all costs, to the detriment of you and yours, everyone else and the planet itself. My hope is the reader will become empowered by knowledge and begin to explore and act upon the issues raised further.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Badger Cull: A State Sponsored Sadistic Genocide EXPOSED #StopTheCull

The argument for the pro-badger cull lobby is simply ridiculous and falls apart under any kind of scientific scrutiny. The real reason for the now expanded and bounty driven badger cull in 2018 is, in my opinion, to gain votes and party campaign contributions from the farming community and the landed wealthy elite and hunt/bloodsport lobby. 

A simplistic view, maybe, conspiratorial yes, if that means I’ve genuinely researched the studies and evidence into this case then I stand accused. When this kind of insane controversy raises its ugly head, my first instinct is to follow the money and influence. I learnt a long time ago the politicians never waste a drama or crisis to capitalise on.

Since the first recognised outbreak of Bovine tuberculosis was identified in the body of a dead badger found on a farm in Gloucestershire in 1971, the whole debate has staggered back and forth like a drunk on a Saturday night. 

Hundreds of millions of taxpayers money have been spent, some say squandered on trying to find a solution to the spread of Bovine TB.

The fundamentals are all wrong. I will give a simple example as to why culling is not only ineffective but also encourages the movement of badgers and the possibility of wider TB transmission that is if badgers are to blame.

As a naturalist for 40 years and a wildlife photographer for over a decade, I spend a very good portion of my time observing wildlife, especially the native species of the UK.

I’ve spent countless hours watching the habits and lifestyles of badgers. They are intelligent, social, family-based mammals. Not once have I witnessed any regular interaction with cattle, in fact quite the opposite. The badgers I’ve seen on farmland tend to use the hedgerows and field borders when crossing fields inhabited with livestock. I have seen them around cattle sheds and farmyards and this is often used to point towards the source of TB infection. It is more likely that the cattle are actually infecting the much lower concentrations of badger than the other way around.

The majority of cattle, whether for beef or dairy, live in not ideal conditions, especially in the cold, wet winter, shoulder to shoulder being fed unnatural diet and pumped with 16 vaccines, growth hormones and antibiotics (all of this chemical brew goes into the meat on your plate). Is it really any surprise the industry lose so many cattle to disease and infection per year? One infected cow wipes out a herd. The industry move these animals around the country increasing the risk of exposure to other herds and yet the humble badger gets the blame; it’s insane.

The increase in mass, industrial level cattle farming is about to sweep across the industry using the American model. This is terrible for human, animal health and the environment but this I will have to address in another article.

The major problem with the ‘logic’ of the badger cull to decrease TB transmission is simply this: You have something called ‘the perturbation effect’; I’ll explain.

Badger group behaviour
When you have a stable population of badgers you have very little movement between sets (badger homes) and populations. Therefore if TB is present in a given family group the spread of outside infection is very low.

When you start culling the population, removing large numbers of animals from local areas you open up new territory for the displaced animals to move into (can you see where I’m going with this yet?).

Healthy badgers from outside designated infected areas move into the vacant territory and encounter infected sets and animals that have escaped the cull. Also, not all culled bodies can be collected which leaves another, unseen source of infection. Badger to badger infection multiplies and therefore the likelihood of cross-species infection goes up.

Because the new population of badgers in a culled area is lower than the carrying capacity of the land the Badgers move around much more freely and therefore can infect new areas previously free from the disease. This is as a direct consequence of the local area culling.

Studying a report based on the largest randomised badger culling trial carried out by the Independent Scientific Group set up to advise the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom (now Michael Gove’s office). The report clearly showed that local, small-scale culling and targeting of particular farms actually increased infection rates rather than reduce them.

Another trail over a wider area of up to 100km only achieved a very modest reduction in infections but however increased infection in adjoining lands and previously un-culled areas. The Badgers were obviously moving around looking to inhabit previously occupied territories spreading the infection to each other and possibly to the cattle herds.

This study and similar others are widely accepted by the scientific community but have been ignored by our government. Why? This is a very obvious and yet unanswered question.

In the last week (May 2018) Michael Gove has put a Government-financed bounty of £50 on the head of all badgers. The implications are horrendous. Most sets I’ve observed over the years can have a dozen or more animal living in them. That’s a potential reward of £600 per set!!! That’s a huge financial incentive to all of society who are struggling to find ends meat or would just like to finance a holiday, car etc... you can fill in the blanks. The government is encouraging the population to go out stalking our countryside with poisons and weapons for some easy weekend cash incentive. All based on a campaign of fear and propaganda, now weaponised with cash rewards.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking the farmers, they are the victims first and foremost. Although as a vegan I do have some issues with certain farming practices but that discussion is for another time. 

This state-sponsored genocide is not improving the farming community’s welfare, the evidence points completely to the opposite outcome. But the information the farmers are being presented with is biased and easily believed especially as the livelihoods of the affected cattle farmers are in the balance and many are forced out of business. This, in turn, frees up the land for ‘other development projects’. Also opening the doors to more industrial American style cattle farming which is on the increase and seems to have slipped under the radar. Hmmm...
Fear is a great motivator for irrational group behaviour.

£50 per badger carcass. 
Cull figures of 19,274 in 2017 alone, which will undoubtedly increase this year. 
Who pays? 
Exactly how does this work?
Will we have people turning up at town halls with sacks of badger heads looking for a cash handout? 
I shudder to think.

Surely this money would be better spent and probably more effective if a trapping and oral vaccination (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin - BCG) scheme was implemented across the country as has already been trailed for the last three years in Northern Ireland with so far positive results. The results have even been widely approved by farmers. Irish Badger Vaccination trail

Call me a crazy vegan, environmentalist, animal lover, conspiracy nut (t-shirt anyone?). But I’d prefer it if you call me a rationalist who makes conclusions without muddying the waters of scientific enquiry with fear, bloodlust and stupidity.

As a society built on democracy, we must remember that we elect politicians to serve the will of the people and we must make sure they hear us loud and clear when they enact policies and laws against the wishes and consent of the majority.

We must demand better representatives and open and unbiased discourse on such serious matters. If we shy away from these sometimes difficult issues and conversations then as people we invite the tyranny that history has always thrown up when ignored. The people must not acquiesce because the conversation is difficult. We must share our ideas freely without hindrance and fear of judgement.

This is not a left/right argument; this is based on lessons from science and history. The people and our natural heritage deserve much, much better from our elected officials.

We must not take ‘faith’ in what we are told to believe. A critical and enquiring mind is a gift of natural selection and human evolution that separates us from the animal kingdom. It helps us make better choices and leads us to the truth based on evidence. Use it or lose it and face the consequences.

We must never tolerate arguments from ignorance.
We must exercise this freedom while we still have it or we will lose it. 
We must also be the guardians of the biodiversity of this planet because we have the biggest influence and demands. 
We must leave a stable and safe planet for future generations; it is our individual moral obligation.

Final Conclusions
Solely based on the rigorous scientific findings and analysis, it is obvious that the tragedy of Bovine TB cannot be solved by the eradication of badgers across the country. This is not a viable long-term solution to this 'hot' debate. More studies are required undoubtedly, we can never have too much data. We have to re-think some of our long-term practices in meat production and farming. More funding for implementing an effective vaccination programme, safeguarding not only badgers, farmers but also the delicate balance of our country's biodiversity. 

Are we really still at the point of a 'kill everything' attitude when we encounter an environmental problem? 
Have we not caused enough damage? 
Have we not learnt anything from history? 
I sincerely hope we have!

John Hodges

Reference list
Godfray et al. (2013) A restatement of the natural science evidence base relevant to the control of bovine tuberculosis in Great BritainProc R Soc B 280: 20131634.

Donnelly and Nouvellet (2013) The Contribution of Badgers to Confirmed Tuberculosis in Cattle in High-Incidence Areas in EnglandPLoS Currents: Outbreaks, available here:

Report of the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in 2014 - 2015 in the areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire exposed to two years of industry-led badger control, available here:

Summary of badger control monitoring during 2016 - Updating of minimum and maximum numbers during the cull

Defra (2011) Bovine TB and Badger Control: Consultation on Guidance to Natural England on the implementation and enforcement of a badger control policy – July 2011. 
Woodroffe, R., Donnelly, C.A., Jenkins, H.E., Johnston, W.T., Cox, D.R., Bourne, F.J., Cheeseman, C.L., Delahay, R.J., Clifton-Hadley, R.S., Gettinby, G., Gilks, P., Hewinson, R.G., McInerney, J.P. & Morrison, W.I. (2006) Culling and cattle controls influence tuberculosis risk for badgers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 14713-14717.
Donnelly CA, Nouvellet P. (2013). The Contribution of Badgers to Confirmed Tuberculosis in Cattle in High-Incidence Areas in EnglandPLOS Currents Outbreaks, Edition
Woodroffe, R., Donnelly, C.A., Jenkins, H.E., Johnston, W.T., Cox, D.R., Bourne, F.J., Cheeseman, C.L., Delahay, R.J., Clifton-Hadley, R.S., Gettinby, G., Gilks, P., Hewinson, R.G., McInerney, J.P. & Morrison, W.I. (2006) Culling and cattle controls influence tuberculosis risk for badgers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 14713-14717.
Woodroffe, R., Donnelly, C.A., Wei, G., Cox, D.R., Bourne, F.J., Burke, T., Butlin, R.K., Cheeseman, C.L., Gettinby, G., Gilks, P., Hedges, S., Jenkins, H.E., Johnston, W.T., McInerney, J.P., Morrison, W.I. & Pope, L.C. (2009) Social group size affects Mycobacterium bovis infection in European badgers (Meles eles). Journal of Animal Ecology 78: 818-827.
Trewby, I.D., Wilson, G.J., Delahay, R.J., Walker, N., Young, R., Davison, J., Cheeseman, C., Robertson, P.A., Gorman, M.L. & McDonald, R.A. (2008) Experimental evidence of competitive release in sympatric carnivores. Biology Letters 4: 170-172.
British Veterinary Association (2015) BVA calls for change to badger culling method and wider roll-out in England, available here:,_campaigns_and_policies/Policies/Farm_animals/Final%20position%20on%20bTB%20and%20badger%20culling%20AGREED%20at%20Council%2015%20April%202015.pdf
These figures were provided in response to a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, which is available in full on the website
Woodroffe, R., Donnelly, C.A., Ham, C., Jackson, S.Y.B., Moyes, K., Chapman, K., Stratton, N.G. & Cartwright, S.J. (2016) Ranging behaviour of badgers Meles meles L. vaccinated with Bacillus Calmette Guerin. Journal of Applied Ecology
Carter et al. (2012) BCG Vaccination Reduces Risk of Tuberculosis Infection in Vaccinated Badgers and Unvaccinated Badger Cubs. PLOS One, 7: e49833
Gormley et al. (2017) Oral Vaccination of Free-Living Badgers (Meles meles) with Bacille Calmette GueÂrin (BCG) Vaccine Confer Protection against Tuberculosis. PLoS ONE, 12: 1-16
Brennan and Christley (2012) Biosecurity on Cattle Farms: A Study in North-West EnglandPLoS ONE, 7: e28139. 

Friday, 4 May 2018


My morning Wild Food Green Smoothie and WHY I do this

Most days I'm up at first light, there's nothing wrong with me, it's just the way I've always been. When the world wakes up and I hear the birds I have to be up with them.

My health and vitality are very important to me. I want to stay active to pursue my passion for travel and wildlife photography for as long as I possibly can. This year I turned the dreaded fifty but I'm as healthy as I've ever been.

My nightmare is to be constantly suffering from some ailment or worse. I'm a BIG believer is preventative medicine. Surely it's better to stay healthy than wait for illness to strike and only then try to sort it out. Just like most of the medical profession, most of us just treat symptoms of sickness and never wonder about the cause. That's fine if you get a cold or a mild infection, but what if something more serious strikes you down. Is your immune system strong enough to fight back and even reverse disease?

According to the Smithsonian Institute, there are approximately 37.2 trillion cells in the average human body. Every single one of these cells needs amino acids which we obtain from nutrients in our diet, without them the cells lose their integrity and start to break down and die. During this process, the cells can undergo dangerous mutations which can spiral out of control when the immune system can't keep them in check. This is very simplified but essentially this is how disease starts in the body, whether it's cancer or skins problems. Every function and part of our body is made up of cells and we tend to abuse this intricate biological system at our own peril.

The modern diet is horribly low in essential nutrients. It's overprocessed, overcooked and filled with all kinds of sugars, salts and very dangerous chemicals. Don't get confused, the food business is just that, it's business. They are not responsible for your families health and wellbeing. They bombard sell us effective propaganda through all our media. In 2016 McDonald spent over £85.4m on advertising a food source that might taste good but essential is very unhealthy and ethically immoral. (I faintly remember the days of stuffing my face and then suffering for hours afterwards).

We have to be responsible for our own health and well being and especially our children. Education about nutrition is completely missing from our schooling, in the UK and across the world. This needs to change. Our societies have become obese, sick and acquiescent to the food industry and big pharma. We stopped questioning what we consume. Unfortunately, this behaviour is fed by our diet. Poor nutrition often leads to poor cognitive ability and often manifests itself as stress.

Heartburn, indigestion, "take an anti-acid and wash it down with a coke" it'll take away the discomfort and you'll look thanks!!

Minor symptoms such as above if left ignored our years lead to serious disease as the body starts to lose the battle against the storm of poisons we pour into our bodies, three meals a day, year after year. 
Sound familiar? 
Drip, drip, drip, one bite after another on the path to destruction.

Society has become addicted to junk, processed food. Addicted to the consumer kitchen. Hardly anybody cooks nowadays. The high streets are full of takeaways and restaurants. Fifty percent of us die of cancer and the rest die of diabetes, stroke or degenerative brain diseases.
Coincidence? It didn't use to be this way at all and this epidemic is relatively a recent development but it's gathering pace.

Who benefits?
Food Industry and Big Pharma

Right, now that I've scared you all to death (see what I did there) I have some very good news.

The natural state of the human body is wellness, a state of strength and energy. Even in a place of sickness if you provide the correct, natural molecules your body requires to heal and rebuild the system the body responses. I've seen it with my own health which was in a very fast decline ten years ago and I've witnessed it in other very sick people. Remarkable recoveries after years of disabling health issues.
It's simple.


Often when I tell people this is the answer to regaining their health I get a standard response. 
"I don't like vegetables and I can't afford it"

Well, if you've never tried to regularly eat fruit and veg then the taste buds will find it strange but they very quickly come round and you'll find your body will start liking if not craving the 'real' food you're feeding it. 

As for cost, Yeah sure if you go the lazy vegetarian / vegan route and live off processed plant based foods from the supermarket then sure it can be very expensive. But compare that to the monetary cost of constantly being ill, losing your job, the quality your life and almost guaranteeing a painful and early death before your time. 
Now that's a high price to pay!

There is a better, healthier way.
Our countryside is full of nutritious FREE food. You don't have to be a trained botanist, you have google and a gazillion foraging, healthy living websites. But fundamentally if you can identify half a dozen common, edible plants you'll be fine.

The one monetary outlay that I'd suggest is a decent smoothie maker. A machine that is powerful enough to break down all the healthy fibre (mostly lacking in the modern diet). I use the fantastic Magimix, seriously you could put your sofa through it and it would come out a palatable, smooth drink.

I make sure I have all my nutrition and more every day by drinking my nutrition in the form of a green smoothie. Today as with many days I harvested my greens from my local countryside while I was walking the dog and trying to photograph the local flora and fauna. 

Washed and mixed with a selection of berries and fruits, plus some additional powdered superfoods which are optional I've downed 2 pints of superman nutrition which was delicious before 13:00. I have two pints stored in the fridge for later or even for the following day. 

In all the washing, chopping and blending took me no more than 10 minutes. You don't need to be a Michelin chef to prepare this at all. wash, chop and fill with filtered water or if you prefer coconut water, then hit the button on your blender and voila, your very own preventative, restorative medicine. You could also consider it as a long life pension fund.

I know for sure I've had more nutrition in my 2 pints this morning than most of the population have in an entire week or even month. It's just so easy.

Trust me you'll feel amazing after a week of doing this. It will be a little strange at first and it will help if you start to cut out the junk in your diet. If it's frozen, tinned, sweet or salty then if most probably is terrible for you.

Health is your wealth, so start saving it today.

Below is the recipe I used today, give it a try. At first, you'll probably need more fruit, ripe bananas and blueberries work really well and help give a smooth texture. The ratio I tend to use is 70% greens 30% fruits. If your struggling reverse these percentages so you have 70% fruit 30% greens and then adjust them as you go.

Very important to remember the 'greens' are where you obtain the chlorophyll, that's where the healing magic lays.

For a better explanation go here to a previous blog posts

Also, check out our range of books at Vidda Publishing, we have many No1 titles, plus we have new books due for release any day now. I highly recommend the outstanding work by Mark Plummer who has completed a trilogy of books for Vidda discussing the world of GMO's Food Additives (coming soon) and even the terrible Bread Industry (you wouldn't believe what goes into your bread)

Any questions just drop me a line here or you can get hold of us on our social media pages
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If you give the smoothie lifestyle a go please leave a comment and let me know how you're getting on. Also please feel free to hare this article and recipe with your friends and family.
Thanks and good future health.
John Hodges

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

An inspirational and uplifting morning at the Birmingham Vegan Festival

A Cruelty-Free, Vegan Day Out
by Pilar Bueno

For the last 10 years or so now, both John and I have been strong advocates of Green and Healthy living and we rejoice on the realisation that we are incredibly lucky to be able to make a living sharing our lifestyle, our passion and respect for nature, gaining knowledge and experience as we continue to evolve and learn to live more ethically and sustainably.

I will not lie to you that at times it gets tiresome to be looked at as a freak and questioned endlessly about our life choices and particularly dietary intake.

‘Yes, I do get enough protein (plant protein that is, that I get from the “source” which incidentally is more bioavailable than animal protein)’…,
‘No, I am not malnourished’ (and my latest blood tests results can vouch for that)….,
‘No, I don’t just eat lettuce’ (as a matter of fact, I probably get more variety and nutritionally rich foods in a day than most people would have in a whole month!).

Our visit to the Vegan Festival at the Edgbaston Cricket Grounds in Birmingham on Saturday 14th April was just what the doctor ordered. An event that filled us with positivity and inspiration, seeing all wide selection of delicious foods, creative crafts made out of recycled or otherwise waste materials and such enthusiasm and passion for a Cruelty-Free Life. Inspirational talks and lots of information was at hand, in order to allow us to make informed choices about improving our health, becoming aware and preventing animal cruelty and protecting our environment for us and future generations.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the place for full of “lentil-munching hippies”, “feeble looking sandal-wearing weirdos dressed in hemp” shouting for animal rights. Gone are the days of these stereotypes, instead we were delighted to be amongst healthy looking people, engaged, informed and interested in ways to enhance their consciously Healthy and Ethical life choices.

Veganism has taken social media by a storm. Veganuary inspired people to try being Vegan for the month of January (and throughout the rest of the year). It is undeniable that there is a huge shift towards plant-based diets and everything indicates that this is not just as a fad but it is here to stay.

Food Revolution shares some very interesting statistics on their website, such as the fact that in the UK, the number of Vegans has increased by 350% compared to 10 years ago. It fills me with great hope because the choices you make don’t just affect you; they have a wider effect on other people, the animals and our whole planet.

The £3 ticket event in Birmingham was all in aid of Farplace Animal Rescue, a charity based in Bishop Auckland with a mission to rescue and re-home abandoned animals and also to create environmental improvements for all the animals via education.

If you think a Vegan Festival is not your scene, think again, because this proved to be a great day out for us. You can bring all the family, they even have a children’s area so the kids can play safely while you go and sample some of the goodies on sale. What follows is just a handful of what we experienced:

Who says that if you are Vegan you are missing out? OR … you can’t indulge in delicious treats?

I thought I had died and gone to heaven! There were so many stores tempting you with delicious looking treats for those of us with a sweet tooth. Amongst them, Scrummy Crumb stood out for the large selection of cakes on display and their great smiles (I would be smiling too if I were surrounded by all those yummy vegan treats!). Based in Hull, they are a small family run business that I hope will take the Vegan world by a storm. Their delicious bakes can be ordered on Etsy which will deliver your purchase straight to your door. Anyone for cake?

I can highly recommend their chocolate brownies and Cherry Bakewell slices. I dared anyone to tell the difference between these vegan options and the “real thing” – Amazing.

Plastic Free and Zero Waste

John and I are making conscious decisions every day to reduce, reuse and recycle everything in our lives, and in the process, to avoid at all cost buying products that are made out of plastic or come packaged in plastic. An incredibly hard task because everything seems to be overly packaged in the supermarkets – my bugbear being cucumbers wrapped in those obscene clear plastic sleeves… Arghhh

I know we all try to do our best to recycle plastics at home, but as we all know, not all types of plastics are recyclable and end up in landfills in our oceans and take thousands of years to decompose, all the time leaking pollutants into the surrounding soil and water and killing the wildlife. If you saw David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II television series, you will be aware of the devastating threat that we are facing.

So don’t just recycle, try to avoid plastic in as many aspects of your life as you can. For instance, why not change your standard toothbrush for an eco-friendly one?

You might not know that your toothbrush is made from polypropylene plastic and nylon bristles (both non-renewable fossil fuel sources) and that around 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills every year in the USA alone – those are staggering numbers!

That is why we opted to buy an environmentally friendly bamboo toothbrush from Zero Waste Club.

I have been after one of these for a while but I wanted to make sure that my money went to an ethical company. I love their ethos and fully support their entrepreneurial spirit and passion to help save our planet. Their Replaceable Head Bamboo Toothbrushes are very innovative, simple yet beautifully designed and very importantly 100% Biodegradable. They are made from Sustainable Bamboo, a plant that grows super-fast in close proximity to each other (over 3 feet every day!)

The bristles are Bisphenol A (BPA) free and recyclable. I love the fact that I only have to replace the Head of the toothpaste generating, therefore, less waste (not that it will be wasted really, as it will help to “feed” my composter). They use plastic-free packaging for all their mail orders and all “unavoidable” packaging is 100% recyclable. On top of it, Zero Waste Club will plant a tree for every item you purchase!

If you want to explore more ways in which you can reduce your waste, take a look at Going Zero Waste website

Natural Beauty

I am always on the lookout for companies that provide natural, chemical and #crueltyfree cosmetics and personal hygiene products, that I can recommend in my Green Up Your Beauty Book. Today, I was in for a treat as the selection was wide, but in particular, one company stood out for me.

Siobhan is the woman behind The Artisan Soap Shack. They produce an incredible range of 100% Natural, Organic, Vegan Soaps and Organic Beard Oils, all handmade here in the UK.

Siobhan proudly tells me “We don’t Test on animals, We Test on our Friends! And I can tell that her fortunate circle of friends are more than willing to be her “guinea pigs” because the soaps are fantastic. I have tried the Oatmeal and Shea Butter soap with Frankincense and Clove Leaf. It has a beautiful subtle fragrance and leaves your skin lovely and soft. 

Siobhan tells me she is currently working on a new Solid Shampoo, so watch out for the new product range coming into the market by visiting her website.

You Will Not Miss Meat

Seitan’s Grill is a travelling Vegan Burger Grill that offers very exciting meat-free fast food meals, all 100% homemade from organic produce from local suppliers, wherever possible.

We had the most amazing Pulled Jackfruit chilli with a “quick-as” chilli sauce and a delicious Seitan sandwich. Their seitan burgers are by far the best we have ever tried. We purchased some pre-packed ones to cook back at home the following day, only wishing we had bought more.

Liam and his Seitan Grill will go far. His passion and enthusiasm are contagious and a force to reckon with. Thanks for such an amazing meal – like your logo says “tasty as hell”!

And because we needed to “wash down” our meal with a cold beverage, we headed straight to the Red Moon Brewery stall for a Hand Crafted (Chemical Free) Ale. Those of you who know me well, know that I am always partial to a swift half, and here I found my new brand: “Poison’s Pleasure”.

Their brewery is based in Birmingham but the great news is that they are currently in negotiations with Amazon to delivery their handcrafted beers directly to your door. 

Arts and Crafts

For the creative minds and those that like to wear unusual accessories and jewellery, the Vegan Festival is a treasure cave. You will be amazed at the creativity, genius ideas presented, all made from recycled and repurposed materials. Handbags, Belts, earrings and an endless list of beautiful creations made with cork, electric wires, inner tubes and old tyres! Check out Paguro Upcycle

Conservation in Action

Last, but not least, was a group of heroes under the name of Sea Shepherd who are campaigning hard to end the appalling destruction of our ocean wildlife and habitats. As a registered marine conservation charity, they rely on volunteers and word of mouth to carry their message and help them raise funds to continue their vital work. Please visit their Facebook page, like, share or even join their group of volunteers.

Have we got your interest? If so, I hope you will be tempted to visit a Festival soon. For all enquires about future Vegan Festivals, visit their Facebook page or email them at

Pilar and John 

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