Category Archives: Blog

Welcome to the Great Vegan Challenge blog! Throughout November people taking part in the Great Vegan Challenge will be posting their thoughts, experiences and advice here, so check back regularly for updates. If you would like to contribute to this blog, please email veganchallenge@animalaid.co.uk.

Welcome to the Great Vegan Challenge blog! Throughout November people taking part in the Great Vegan Challenge will be posting their thoughts, experiences and advice here, so check back regularly for updates. If you would like to contribute to this blog, please email veganchallenge@animalaid.co.uk.

Daily Vegan 30: So long, farewell and au revoir… – by Ben Martin

Well, that’s almost it for this year’s Great Vegan Challenge. So, how has it been for you? Interesting? Enjoyable? Maybe even fun? At the very least we hope that you’ve taken something positive from the experience and maybe learned something new.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you made it to the end with out too many slip-ups, if any. In which case, everyone here at Animal Aid would like to say congratulations and a huge thank you for taking part in this year’s challenge. Simply by going vegan for the last 30 days you have collectively helped to save thousands of farmed animals, which just goes to show how effective veganism is in reducing animal suffering.

Of course, you could help to save many, many more if you decide to stay vegan when the challenge is over. We hope that’s what you’ll do, but it’s completely up to you. If you do decide to make veganism a life-long commitment, remember that we are still on hand to answer your questions and provide support. And if you can’t fully commit to veganism, we hope that you enjoyed the challenge nonetheless and that you’ll perhaps depend less on meat, milk and eggs in the future.

Soon, we’ll be sending you an online questionnaire about your experience of the Great Vegan Challenge. Please take the time to fill it in, as the feedback is vital in helping us to improve future challenges. And if you complete it before 6th January, you’ll be entered into a free prize draw for a £20 gift voucher to use in the Animal Aid online shop.

Otherwise, all that’s left to be said is so long, farewell and au revoir from the Daily Vegan.

Your favourite vegan recipes – by Ben Martin

During this year’s Great Vegan Challenge we ran a competition amongst participants to win one of three copies of the brand new vegan recipe book Bit Of The Good Stuff, kindly donated by author Sharon Collins. To be in with a chance, they had to send us a link to their favourite vegan recipe and tell us why they liked it in no more than 50 words.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry, we received many, but we could only pick three to win a copy of the book, which you can find below.

If you would like to a buy a copy of Bit Of The Good Stuff for yourself, you can do so here, and by using the discount code ‘ANIMAL AID’ you can get 15% off both the book and delivery! How good is that?

Cous Cous with Spicy Baked Aubergine and Chickpea Stew

Submitted by Pearline from Greater Manchester

‘The combination of spicy chunky aubergines, flavoursome chickpea stew and cooling fruit sweetened cous cous, created a nasal waking, colourful, mouth watering, tongue enlivening, tasty, culinary experience.’

‘Memories of my carnivorous family, devouring the enhanced flavoursome left overs, whilst reminiscing about past sunny holidays, warms my heart.’

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

Submitted by Sam from Berkshire

‘This tastes better than many non-vegan cakes I have made. My colleagues thought it was delicious and were amazed to learn it was vegan.’

‘As a new vegan I love recipes like this when we are lead to believe that you can’t bake tasty food without dairy and eggs.’

Macaroni ‘Cheese’ with Roasted Tomatoes

Submitted by Becca from Cambridgeshire

‘This is my favorite vegan recipe because it uses butternut squash that I had home grown in the garden.’

‘The taste of homegrown produce and the creamy cheesy texture from the cashews (high in protein) and the national yeast makes this one of my go to comfort foods.’

Daily Vegan 29: Animals and emotions – by Kate Fowler

Marc Bekoff is an exceptional ethologist who has written and lectured widely on the subject of animals’ emotions. I heard him speak some years ago when he discussed grief in animals, not just elephants and dolphins as you might imagine, but in foxes and magpies, sea lions and others. In one of his books, he shares this: ‘If I assume that animals have subjective feelings of pain, fear, hunger and the like, and if I am mistaken in doing so, no harm will have been done; but if I assume the contrary, when in fact animals do have such feelings, then I open the way to unlimited cruelties… Animals must have the benefit of the doubt, if indeed there be any doubt’.

Animals have emotions. It’s really no surprise or secret, but from the regular headlines proclaiming that scientists have just found [insert species] feels [insert emotion] you would think that each revelation is, indeed, huge news. Research published just this month, for example, found that pigs have personalities and that they express themselves through vocalising. Really?! If only they’d asked a five-year-old, they would have got the same answer and saved themselves a fortune.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of sharing their home with a non-human animal will know for absolute certain that their companion has a rich range of emotions. Some, like my dog Alfie, are easy for apes like me to understand. I can, for example, see ‘dare I hope?’ when I get my coat on, apprehension when a dog she doesn’t know runs towards her, and pure joy when she spots a friend. The rabbits who live with us – both rescued after being abandoned – are less easy to read. Their facial expressions don’t change all that much, but I spend a lot of time with them, and can understand something of what they are feeling from the way they move and position their bodies: the alert pose, totally still, with ears pricked forward says they are concerned that there is something they have not yet identified approaching; the head pushed down, ears pressed back, is a plea, ‘please groom me’;  the leaping and jumping and belting around the garden at high velocity screams ‘LIFE IS GOOD!‘ Of course they feel a lot more than that and if I don’t understand everything they feel or express to one another, then that is my ignorance, not their lack of emotion.

At Farm Sanctuary in the US, a pig named Hope, who struggled with mobility problems, was befriended by a younger pig called Johnny. He looked out for her, protected her to ensure no other pigs stole her food, and kept her warm at night. When Hope died of old age, Johnny was devastated, and died suddenly, even though he was only young. Now, why would we think that a pig does not grieve for her piglets dying right in front of her while she lies trapped inside a farrowing crate? Of course she does.

If you’ve read anything of the dairy industry, you’ll know that cows bellow for their calves when they are taken away. Sheep do, too. I once lived next door to a farm and was woken early one morning by the sheep calling and calling. It was deafening. Later that day, while they continued to call, I bumped into the farmer and asked what was going on. ‘They always do that when we take the lambs’, she said. I remember replying ‘They must really miss them’ and she looked at me as though I had just said the most amusing thing she had ever heard, but I can’t think of anything less funny than calling and calling for a child who will never come back.

Jeffrey Masson, author of the wonderful book The Pig Who Sang to the Moon writes that many people cannot conceive of a chicken as a ‘he’ or a ‘she’, let alone an individual. They are somehow bottom of the pecking order of animals we care about, and ‘it’ is all they are accorded. But of course chickens have personalities and preferences, and different ways of expressing themselves. Dolly, one of my rescued battery hens, celebrated every egg she laid with a tremendous ballyhoo of exclamations. She was pushy and demanding – once she had regained her health – and loved nothing better than to fly past my face at speed as I opened the back door to go in search of her favourite food (spaghetti) in her preferred eating location (my lounge rug). Her friend Hilda was a gentler soul, and got her pleasures from more chicken-like pursuits, such as sunbathing and scratching up my flowerbeds. Both were happy, but they expressed it differently. In the unit where they had been incarcerated, neither would have known what happiness was, and it was wonderful to watch them discover what a good life meant to them.

In all the propaganda about high welfare in British farming, there is no talk of happiness. For scientists, measurable outcomes are all that’s important. So when research found that broken bones were more prevalent in free-range hens than battery caged birds, it was announced – by some – that cages are better for the birds and make them happier. But good welfare isn’t having a bit of rope to play with inside a filthy unit, or staying healthy just long enough to reach optimum slaughter weight. It is having the freedom and opportunity to find out whether you are the kind of person who wants to sleep in the sun, or eat spaghetti off a rug.

Daily Vegan 28 – Ethical meat, milk and eggs – by Kate Fowler

Some years ago, Animal Aid undertook an investigation into British goat farms. The unsavoury facts about the production of cows’ milk were hitting home, and consumers were switching to goats’ milk in the assumption that – because they hadn’t heard anything bad about it – all must be well. Reader, it wasn’t. Everything that was wrong with cows’ milk was also the case for goats, except that where some cows spend time on pasture, all commercially farmed goats are raised in zero-grazing, factory farm units. On these farms, we found mutilations, overcrowding, the use of artificial hormones to manipulate reproductive cycles, and dead and dying animals. We found a kid huddled up to her mother who had been shot in the head.

When we released our findings, we took more phone calls all asking the exact same thing than I have ever experienced before or since. The callers asked: ‘Is there a way I can get ethical goats’ milk?’ I replied; ‘there is only one way.’ And I went on to explain that, if they could find an animal sanctuary that happened to have recently taken on a goat who happened to be pregnant, and if the mother produced more milk than the kid needed, there was a chance the sanctuary would be able to spare a cupful of milk. I expected them to understand what I was saying, but without fail they all asked ‘Great. Do you have a number for such a sanctuary?

The truth is, there is no humane and compassionate way to produce commercial quantities of milk. Cows, goats and sheep must be made pregnant and the offspring are often no more than unwanted by-products. One goat farmer we investigated admitted he sent his unwanted kids to the hunt kennels. Calves may go for veal production or be shot at birth. The free-range milk promise, which sounds like a high welfare initiative, actually allows the cows just six months outdoors, and therefore six in. Now, being stuck outside all through the winter wading through mud as the rain lashes down is no fun, but if the only other option is six months stuck inside a barn wading through faeces, then something is wrong. If this is how milk is produced, then I welcome the huge and growing range of plant milks that don’t force animals into a life that is miserable – indoors or out. You may have heard of Ahimsa milk, or slaughter-free milk, but this is not sustainable. The male calves will be kept at the farm and the older females will retire and somehow the care for this ever-expanding herd of ageing, non-productive animals will be paid for by the sale of milk – a product whose price is in terminal decline. It looks a lot like the UK pensions situation – an ever-increasing older generation being paid for by a smaller proportion of workers, and we know that this model cannot work indefinitely. I visited the site’s FAQs to see if they addressed this issue, but all I got was an error message with ‘Oops! Something went wrong.’ It most certainly did.

Free-range eggs should not be mistaken for a genuinely high welfare product. The millions of birds who happened to be born male and therefore unable to lay eggs will still be gassed as day-old chicks. The females are likely to join unnaturally huge flocks of tens of thousands of birds, once they have had the ends of their beaks cut off to prevent them harming one another. The birds don’t need to actually go outside to be free-range, they just need to have access to the outdoors. In such large flocks, weaker birds will be too frightened to cross other birds’ territories and so may never leave. Those who do get outside may find a scrubby patch of dirt is all they have. Far too many investigations have laid bare the reality of commercial free-range farming – birds in cramped, filthy conditions, the floor littered with rotting corpses. The images portrayed in adverts rarely match up to the reality. If they did, they wouldn’t sell many eggs. And, of course, productivity is everything. When egg numbers drop, the birds are gathered up by catching gangs, rammed into crates and sent off to slaughter. Where is the compassion there?

And what of meat? Is there ethical meat? Perhaps there is. It’s called roadkill. But an animal who spent a life of torment inside a factory farm – or even one who spent happier days on a truly free-range farm – will still have his or her life taken from them. And we know from our own investigations that there is no humane slaughter. Animals who were reared free-range, under the Freedom Food (now RSPCA Assured) or Soil Association labels, were battered and abused to their deaths inside British slaughterhouses every bit as much as factory-farmed animals. Those with a strong stomach can see how these ‘high welfare’ animals met their deaths below.

Daily Vegan 27: I’m dreaming of a cruelty-free Christmas… – by Ben Martin

As my brother once said, Christmas dinner is the ‘best meal of the year’, but for new vegans it can be a daunting prospect. Questions like ‘what can I have instead of turkey?’ and ‘where can I find a dairy-free Christmas pudding?’ immediately spring to mind. But having a cruelty-free Christmas needn’t be a massive hassle.

If you’re confident in the kitchen, there are all sorts of things you can whip up as a centrepiece for your Christmas lunch in place of turkey. Nut roast is the traditional veggie option, of course, and you can find countless recipes on the internet for versions with various ingredients and levels of complexity. If you can’t be bothered to make your own – and let’s face it, there’s enough to do on Christmas Day – Tesco and Morrisons are both selling a nut roast that is suitable for vegans this year, and you should be able to find the VBites’ Seed Roast in most health food shops. Another great option is to go for something wrapped in pastry. This lentil and spinach roulade has been a favourite in our house for years, and this mushroom and chestnut wellington is a good bet.

If you prefer something that’s a bit more ‘meaty’, there are options for you too. VBites produces a mock-turkey Celebration Roast that includes gravy and vegan sausages wrapped in faux bacon, which can be found in most health food shops. Simply stick it in the oven for 40 minutes and it’s done. Something that has been a hit in the US for years and has recently arrived in the UK is the Tofurkey Roast, which comes with a stuffing centre and herb gravy. It’s still a little hard to come by, but you can order it online from Planet Organic or Natural Grocery. Another company to check out is Vegusto, who offer a selection of different readymade roasts on their website, and Fry’s produce a Soy and Quinoa Contry Roast that can be found in the freezer section of most good health food shops and comes in its own foil try for easy cooking.

It’s pretty easy to make sure most of the traditional veg are vegan-friendly, just make sure to use dairy-free margarine instead of butter, if that’s what you like, and ensure that the roast potatoes are cooked in vegetable oil rather than goose fat. If honey-roasted parsnips are your thing, why not use maple syrup instead? And if you like Yorkshire puddings, you could give this recipe a go.

If you’re not completely stuffed after all that, you’ll be glad to hear that most of the major supermarkets are selling vegan-friendly Christmas puddings this year. At Sainsbury’s, the 6 month matured and Be good to yourself puds are both fine, and the M&S Classis recipe Christmas pudding is vegan-friendly too. At Morrisons there are three suitable puddings; rich fruit, nut and alcohol free, and the ‘Nu Me’ one. The 12 month matured Christmas pudding and Classic fruity Christmas pudding at Iceland are both animal-free, as are the Co-op Christmas pudding, and the Asda Free from Christmas pudding.

Mince pies aren’t quite so readily available, but there are still a few about. The Co-op has come to the rescue with its Puff pastry mince pies, and at Iceland the ‘We love cake’ gluten-free mince pies are fine too. Lidl’s Favorina mince pies are vegan and come in a massive box of 12, in case you have a big family. The Morrisons ones are also vegan-friendly, not to mention Sainsbury’s Free from mince pies and the Waitrose essential ones.

Fancy some custard with that? You can find cartons of delicious Alpro custard in most major supermarkets (even my non-vegan family members love it), or if you prefer ice cream, Swedish Glace is a good bet and widely available.

Don’t forget that the Animal Aid online shop also sells vegan Christmas puddings, mince pies, advent calendars and lots of other festive treats, so why not have a look?

Daily Vegan 26: The Save Movement, a new kind of activism – by Issie Hutchinson

If you’ve been exploring vegan Facebook groups over the last few weeks, you’ll probably have come across the Save movement. You might have heard of Manchester Pig Save, Kent Animal Save, or one of the many groups now established across the world.

These groups are part of a powerful new kind of advocacy for animals. Their volunteers organise vigils outside slaughterhouses, where they witness animals on the final stage of their journey to slaughter, and try to show them some compassion before they are killed.

Despite their name, the Save groups do not usually manage to spare animals from their awful fate at the slaughterhouse. But the footage and photos they gather have an extraordinary impact for animals – exposing their suffering to the public and inspiring people to choose a kinder way of life. And by offering water and kind words, the activists ensure that these animals experience at least a moment of compassion during their short, miserable lives.

The Save Movement began in December 2010, when Toronto Pig Save was founded. There are now around 80 groups across the world, in countries including the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Italy, Brazil and Poland. You can read more about the Save Movement on their website.

At Animal Aid, we wholeheartedly support this essential work, and admire the bravery of the activists who attend vigils month after month. Back in August, we joined up with Essex Pig Save to film pigs on the final stage of their journey to Cheale Meats slaughterhouse in Essex. We filmed exhausted pigs in cramped, stressful conditions, some of whom were sick or injured. But all we could offer them was water and a kind word. It was truly heartbreaking to know that we could not save these animals from a brutal death, but the powerful footage and photos we gathered during the vigil resulted in more than 200 orders for our Go Vegan packs. You can view the film we created below.

If you’d like to get involved with the Save Movement, you can find your nearest group here and click on ‘more details’ to access their Facebook group.

Daily Vegan 25: Leather, silk and wool – by Ben Martin

A dilemma often faced by new vegans is what to do with all their old leather shoes, woolly jumpers and silk shirts. In fact, I’ve already been asked about this several times over the course of this year’s Great Vegan Challenge. Well, first of all, don’t panic – we don’t expect people taking part in the challenge to go out and buy a new wardrobe just for the sake of one month. But if you decide to stay vegan after the challenge is over – and we really hope that you will – this is a quandary you may experience yourself.

First, however, let’s look at some of the issues with these items, starting with leather. Years ago, even many vegetarians wore leather on the basis that it was a by-product of the meat industry and the animals weren’t actually killed to make leather per se. Whilst leather may be a meat by-product, its production helps to make the meat industry more profitable and, along with EU and government subsidies, keeps it afloat. Without the sale of leather, meat would be more expensive, or cattle farmers and slaughtermen wouldn’t make as much money and would be less likely to stay in business. And, at the end of the day, an animal still has to die in order to produce that leather handbag or wallet.

What about silk? It’s easy to forget that it, too, comes from the slaughter of animals, with uncounted billions of silkworms being killed each year to produce silk. These unsuspecting caterpillars, snuggly wrapped up in their cocoons transforming into moths, are boiled alive in huge tanks. This is to prevent the silkworms from damaging the cocoon as they eat their way out, and makes it easier to separate the dead caterpillars from the silk casing. Around 1,000 silkworms are killed to produce just one shirt.

Unlike leather and silk, animals are not killed to produce wool, so it is often seen as a more ethical product. So then why do vegans shun it? Well, these days sheep are farmed more for their meat than for their wool. Much like leather, wool is a by-product of the meat industry and helps to make its production more profitable. Almost every sheep that is sheared for wool will end up in a slaughterhouse. Sheep also have one of the highest mortality rates of any farmed animal, as they are left out in all weathers, often with no shelter and unmonitored, so that animals usually die before the farmer knows anything is wrong. Shearing itself is a brutal process and is increasingly being done earlier in the year, leaving them exposed to freezing conditions, as shearing sheep during cold weather ensures the sheep put on more weight to compensate.

So, back to our original question: what should you do if you’ve gone vegan and you still own items made from animal-derived materials? Well, there are a few options. Some people throw them away, but I personally think this is a terrible waste. Other people choose to donate them to charity shops, animal shelters, or someone else who can make use of them. But what if you can’t afford to do this, or you have items of sentimental value? Well, a sensible approach might be to hold on to them for now and replace them with animal-free versions as and when they wear out. After all, they’ve already been paid for, so getting rid of them won’t help to reduce demand for such products.

When it comes to buying cruelty-free alternatives, there are plenty of options. Most clothing shops will have items made from plant-based or synthetic fibres, even knitted cotton jumpers, so there’s no need to go naked. Finding substitutes for leather shoes, belts and handbags can be a little more tricky, but it’s not impossible. Many discount shoe shops and clothing stores have leather-style items that are actually made from synthetic materials, simply because they are cheaper to make, and there are a number of online companies that can deliver high quality vegan shoes and accessories right to your door, including:

Ethical Wares
Freerangers
Veganline
Vegan Store
Vegetarian Shoes
Eco Vegan Shoes
Wills Vegan Shoes
Bourgeois Boheme
Beyond Skin

Daily Vegan 24: What about the environment? – by Ben Martin

As well as reducing demand for cruelly produced animal products and improving your health, going vegan helps to tackle some of the biggest environmental and humanitarian issues the world faces – water shortages, desertification, feeding a growing human population, land and water pollution and, of course, climate change. According to the United Nations, for example, animal farming is responsible for at least 14.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all of the planes, cars, buses, ships and other motorised transport on Earth combined.

A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Oxford similarly concluded that animal products are having a huge impact on climate change. By analysing the diet of tens of thousands of British people, it found that meat-based diets are responsible for more than twice the greenhouse gas emissions of vegan diets.

So by going vegan, you’ve managed to slash your ‘carbon footprint’! But what about your ‘water footprint’? Well, given all the water required to produce feed for farmed animals, not to mention all the drinking water they need, it’s no surprise that it requires a lot more water to produce meat, milk and eggs than their vegan counterparts. For example, it takes half the amount of water to make a pint of soya milk as it does to produce a pint of cow’s milk. And you can get six tofu-based burgers for the amount of water it takes to produce just one beef burger.

This is especially important as climate change causes drought to become a growing problem across the world. Over the last few years, for example, California has experienced a crippling drought. Almond production, which uses ten per cent of the state’s water, has come under particular attack, but it is often overlooked that animal agriculture in California uses around five times as much water whilst providing far less nutrition per drop.

But animal farming doesn’t just use fresh water, it pollutes it too. According to the Environment Agency, it is the single biggest cause of water pollution in the UK, with dairy farms being a particular problem, and other countires around the world have reported similar findings. The trouble is that farming huge numbers of animals means they produce lots of waste, and that slurry can end up in rivers and streams where it kills wildlife and has the potential to spread disease.

I’ve been told many times that vegans are destroying the rainforest because it is being chopped down to grow soya plantations. But whilst it’s true that large areas of former Amazon rainforest are now being used to grow soya, more than 95 per cent of it is used to produce feed for farmed animals, particularly in North America and Europe. Besides, most deforested land in South America – around 70 per cent, in fact – is now used to graze cattle and other animals reared for meat.

As we try to feed a growing global population, it is becoming increasingly clear that doing so will have to involve a shift away from animal farming towards plant-based foods. At present around a third of edible crops are being fed to farmed animals, instead of the millions of starving humans around the world. And the nutrition we get from the meat, eggs and milk from those animals is far less than we would have got from the crops fed to them. Animals use up calories and other nutrients as they move around and do the other things animals do, so they are a very inefficient way of producing food. Globally, animal farming takes up almost 80 per cent of farmland, and yet animal products provide just 30 per cent of our protein and 20 per cent of our calories. Whereas crops, produced on a fifth as much land, provide more than half of our protein and calories.

Put simply, we can feed far more people on a plant-based diet, cause far less pollution and use far less land and water.

Daily Vegan 23: More than just food – by Ben Martin

Throughout the Great Vegan Challenge we largely focus on food. That’s because farming animals is the single biggest cause of animal cruelty in the UK. Almost one billion land animals are killed for food in the UK alone every year – plus a huge but unknown number of sea creatures – and as Animal Aid’s undercover investigations into farms and slaughterhouses have shown, suffering is rife in the industry. Also, for many people, changing their diet is the greatest hurdle to overcome. What we eat is bound up with our culture, our traditions, the way we socialise and so many other aspects of our lives that changing our diet can seem very daunting. But I hope that through the Great Vegan Challenge, we’ve shown you that being vegan is not only easy, but can be a joy!

Sadly, animal exploitation is not just limited to food, of course. Toiletries, cosmetics, and household cleaners, for example, are often tested on animals and may contain animal products. As such, many are considered to be unsuitable for vegans. But, fortunately, it is now easy to find cruelty-free beauty products.

In addition to specialist companies such as Faith in Nature and Honesty Cosmetics, several leading high street companies also sell vegan beauty products. Very helpfully, Superdrug and the Co-op label which of their own-brand goods contain animal products, and almost all are not tested on animals. A special mention must also go to Lush, who not only oppose all animal testing and have a wonderful range of vegan products in their shops (all clearly labelled), but also lend their support to groups like Animal Aid who work to end all animal cruelty.

When it comes to household cleaners, again the Co-op comes up trumps by not only selling products that are not tested on animals, but also labelling which products are also suitable for vegans. There are a number of other companies who specialise in making cruelty-free household cleaners, too, including Faith in Nature, Bio D, Suma, Method and Astonish. The last two can often be found in supermarkets, or even discount stores such as Poundland.

For make-up, Superdrug’s own ‘B’ range is vegan and non-animal tested, and Barry M indicates on its website which of its products is vegan-friendly (although, sadly, not on the products themselves). Beauty Without Cruelty is also completely vegan and many of their products are available from the Animal Aid online shop, where you can also find products from Fairypants and Lavera, not to mention cruelty-free shampoos, moisturisers, household cleaners and more.

Daily Vegan 22: Animals overseas – by Kate Fowler

Travelling overseas as a vegan is not always easy, and that’s before you even think about what you are going to eat. I’ll never forget the romantic weekend in Venice spent offering water to dehydrated and dying pigeons in Piazza San Marco, or the long-anticipated trip to the Pyramids where I spent so much of the day persuading tourists to get out of carts pulled by skinny, lame horses that I don’t think I took a single photo. And as for my travels in China, there were daily upsets, even though I avoided the markets where I knew the worst sights lay.

There are plenty of Brits who have seen similar suffering but, instead of coming home and writing a blog about it, they set up sanctuaries or treatment centres in the country they visited. Animal Care in Egypt, Greek Animal Rescue, Animal SOS Sri Lanka and many more were started because good people did not walk away when faced with suffering. These groups offer a lifeline for animals, but also a helping hand for those of us who visit their country. My advice to anyone travelling overseas is to find out which animal protection centres and services are available before you go, so you know who to call if you need to.

If you’re going to an area where stray animals are common, see if you can volunteer for a day or donate to the local sanctuary. And be prepared to buy a lot of bottled water and spend your days looking after the little ones who follow you around. You may be lucky enough to meet your best friend and, once microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and issued with the correct pet passport, she can come home with you. You wouldn’t be the first. My best friend, Alfie (left), happened to be born on the streets of Bucharest.

It is unlikely that vegans will ride on elephants, pose for photos with chained monkeys or visit a bullfight, but you may be confronted by these things all the same. Or you may find yourself in a region where birds in tiny cages are hung outside every door, innocently visit a tiger ‘sanctuary’, only to find the animals are chained and sedated, or unknowingly drink Kopi Luwak, the coffee produced by feeding coffee cherries to caged civets and waiting for those poor, tormented creatures to poop out the remains. Cynical as it might sound, it is safest to assume that, if animals are involved, they are being exploited, unless you know otherwise from your own research.

If there are sights you know you cannot bear, but about which you can do nothing, it is better to avoid them, either once you are in the country, or by boycotting the country altogether and letting their tourist board know why. If you see something you don’t like, speak up at the time, and tell the world later. There are animal protection groups working in all countries, so let them know what you saw. If you have photos, send them too. You can always write a letter to your local and the national newspapers once you’re home, urging people not to get involved in the kinds of events you saw. And then join the campaign group that works on that issue to ensure things change in the long-term. We are not helpless although we may feel it at times; the world changes when we work together to end suffering.

After reading this, you may decide to holiday at one of the many wonderful UK vegan B&Bs, and who could blame you? But you would not be immune. Where there are people, there are animals suffering. In all countries.

Research, be prepared, boycott the baddies and speak out. What else can we do?