Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Our Vegetarian Month

by Jennie Wadsworth
My husband and I decided, on our way back from holiday where we had eaten far too much, to try being vegetarian for a month. Our motives for trying it may have been different, I suspect he was trying to make me lose weight, I wanted to try something new, but our enthusiasm was the same.
I have also been wondering for some time about where our food comes from and some of the dubious farming methods that are sometimes used. We have always eaten free range eggs, absorbed the extra cost of free range chicken and organic salmon and bought British bacon but when I hear of the rainforest being cut down to make room for crops to feed the animals we eat I wonder if we have gone slightly mad.
If there is not enough land to graze animals and grow crops to feed them, surely we should need, and by this I mean eat, less of them. I don't have any problem with eating dead animals but don't see the point in killing habitats for endangered animals just to feed them so I can eat them. I felt the only way to do this was to go vege for a month and see how I felt about eating meat at the end of it.
We got home, looked through some recipe books, asked lots of friends for ideas and went off to do a meat free shop. It wasn't as cheap as I thought it might be but I think we have saved money over the month. There were a couple of challenges to face during the month.
Eating out was hard work as we usually stick to favourite restaurants but my husband couldn't face not ordering his usual and I did wonder what there would be to choose from. I was a bit annoyed really at only having about 10% of the menu to choose from, especially when one of the things I had particularly fancied and thought my 4 year old might eat, had run out. In the end I chose a main course that was nice and that my son loved but my husband's meal was barely edible and he gave up halfway through. I tried again at a different restaurant with just my children and felt that I could just say to the waitress 'one of everything vege please' and have just enough for 2 adults.
What we had was nice but limited. Another challenge was my daughter's birthday party. We wanted a barbecue as it was July but what can you put on a vegetarian barbecue?? We trawled the internet, asked loads of friends, wondered how much halloumi cheese a person could eat before they turned into one, before settling on a menu only to ditch it all on the day because it rained. We worried about what non vegetarians would eat and did ask parents to bring a couple of bits. Other people brought salads as requested and we had a great variety of vegetarian foods which were enjoyed by all.
My brothers wedding also posed a problem as there was only one vegetarian option which my husband didn't like the sound of so he sidestepped that day and went for a steak and ale pie. I probably would have chosen the vegetarian option anyway so it was not a problem for me. I was pleased not to have been asked to my mother-in-laws for dinner during the month as I don't feel strong enough to say 'I don't eat meat' especially as I haven't decided yet. We ate some delicious meals this month and have been adventurous about trying new foods. Goats cheese is now a favourite when previously it have been eeewwwwed! by the rest of my family. Roasted veg with halloumi instead of fish with my chips was a definite winner. And my husband made a lovely 4 cheese pizza for me and my friends that will be remembered for a long time.
Now that the month is up my husband is looking forward to eating meat again but is happy to limit this to twice a week, one meat, one fish dish and I will probably go even less than this although picking out the chicken from a curry does not make it vegetarian but will mean using less. That is what I think we have gained from our vegetarian month, the ability and ideas to eat meat less and to enjoy it more when we do. I think that makes our meat eating more sustainable and that is what I was hoping for.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Green Party Arrives in Westminster

by Liz O'Neill

On Thursday evening I secured my place in history by telling a woman in Brighton where her polling station was.

Okay, it’s a pretty small place in history, but she was one of the 237 potential Green voters that my husband and I telephoned during the evening of Thursday 6 May 2010 to remind them that they had the chance to vote in the UK’s first Green Member of Parliament. Many of them had already voted and others were heading out to do the same. But a few really welcomed the reminder and that one particular voter had mislaid her polling card and wasn’t sure what to do. If I hadn’t called her, she wouldn’t have gone to vote.

Green Party members across the UK came together over recent weeks to make our biggest dream come true. In true collaborative, green style we shared the task of returning Caroline Lucas MP (Brighton Pavilion), with each person taking the role that best suited their skills and circumstances. At least five other Trafford Greens took part in the “tele-knocking up” that allowed me to play a valuable role. Others donated their time to ongoing policy development, or money to the vast cost of staging a winning campaign. Yet more Greens around the country help sustain the movement that supports and inspires us all.

We’re not forming the new government. We’re not expecting a call from Cameron or Brown, but we have secured a place at the table. The (almost certainly) outgoing Prime Minister has finally gotten the point about proportional representation but we didn’t wait for the promised electoral reform to make our mark. The Green Party pulled together and beat the big boys on their own terms. We all know that hard times lie ahead but I say bring it on – the Green Party has arrived in Westminster and we’re going to make a difference.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Britain Elects First Green MP

by Christine McLaughlin

Caroline Lucas has made history by winning Brighton Pavillion for the Green Party.  The future of our country looks brighter today.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Choose Green on 6th May

Why vote Green on 6th May? The Green Party will fight for a sustainable future for our country and our planet. We believe that fair is worth fighting for and we insist on a living wage, affordable housing and equality for all. Our manifesto embraces the concept of a green economy and sets out in detail how we will achieve this.

Green Party policies have been voted the most popular in a survey of 230,000 people, yet many people plan to vote for one of the major parties.  But what are our choices?

The Conservatives: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
David Cameron is a life-long Tory voter who was 23 when Thatcher became Prime Minister. He supported massive cuts in education and health funding, draconian measures against striking workers, endless privatisation and the scapegoating of single parent families, gays and lesbians and anyone else who didn’t ‘fit in’ in Thatcher’s non-existent society. He voted enthusiastically for the dismantling of the UK manufacturing industry which led to our dependence on ozone-wrecking, air-freighted, sweat-shopped goods. He applauded Thatcher as she sold off the majority of our local authority housing and implemented policies that pitched one in three children into the misery of life below the breadline.
Cameron’s shadow cabinet includes Ken Clarke, Oliver Letwin, William Hague and Francis Maude, all of whom served as cabinet ministers under the previous Conservative administration. Little has changed at the heart of the Conservative Party. Cameron doesn’t signal a new, compassionate Toryism. He’s a mean-spirited, over-privileged, would-be grim reaper of public services whose election as Prime Minister would harm the most vulnerable people in our society.
Don’t vote Conservative: they stand for everything that’s wrong Vote Green on 6th May.

The Labour Party: the party of destruction
Labour has on its hands the blood of many thousands of Iraqis and British troops, the economic detritus of shoring up the banks with our money and the ticking clock of impending environmental disaster, to which they have turned a deaf ear for far too long.
Don’t vote Labour: we can’t carry on like thisVote Green on 6th May.

The Liberal Democrats: Eco Charlatans
They have made good progress in the polls but their record on environmental matters is dismal. The Green Party last week branded the Lib Dems ‘eco charlatans’, citing Lib Dems' support for roadbuilding, airport expansion, incinerator projects, and opposition to windfarms.
Don’t Vote Liberal Democrat: they don’t care about the environment.  Vote Green on 6th May.

Trafford Green Party are fielding local election candidates in every ward and for the first time, a parliamentary candidate. In Brighton, Norwich and Lewisham there is an excellent chance of returning Green Members of Parliament. If you agree with our policies, vote Green. Let’s make a difference tomorrow.

by Christine McLaughlin

Sunday, 2 May 2010

78 Years Old and Not Brain Dead: A Slice of Life Under Our Tory Council

by Anne Power, Trafford Green Party candidate for Clifford Ward

I have become disabled within 12 months from common arthritis.  Both hips need replacing and I now struggle to walk at all.  In January I realised I needed a disabled driver's badge to ease my problems.

I acquired a letter from my GP and set off for Waterside Council offices. I live on the edge of Chorlton and have little sense of the "Trafford community". Is there one? Didn't know where to park, so made use of Sainsbury's and crawled my way to the offices using my father's old walking stick. I hadn't got my crutches at that stage (only cos no one had thought about it).

There was a photo booth there which appeared to be a bonus. That was the first big set back.

It was a sort of fun spot for teenagers, or unhappy, bored people whose only fun in life is pretending to be happy. I couldn't follow the instructions. Ended with half my head and loads of idiotic other images. Eventually I got my £4 back from that diversion. I was then needing a good cry from exhaustion. Tracked down the "help desk" person who was not at her desk. Told there was a photo shop in the town. In great pain I hobbled there, got a load of poor photos for too much money and crawled back to Waterside.

Found the place where I had to queue. Oh relief queue.  BUT one, then two and at one point four staff members sat, stood, talked around the computer for 20 minutes before I was called. TWENTY MINUTES.

I expressed some anger in my least pleasant way unfortunately to be told they'd had a problem with the computer.  The one person now there appeared to have the moral high ground, but afterwards I thought can they not have a simple placard saying:  "Sorry we have a computer problem. We will attend to you as soon as possible".

What they did was ignore my existence. I was a piece of furniture to them.  Unfortunately I was exhausted, frustrated, desperate for a loo, and beyond being tactful.

But if that is Trafford Council at its normal working practice it has a very long way to go.  We desperately need the Green Party way of relating and caring and building relationships for community living.

I will add that eventually I got excellent service from Urmston Library.  I have the queue ticket for that horrible day in Waterside should anyone want to identify the staff concerned.

I'm not saying they looked through me. They just never looked at me at all.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Green MEP Jean Lambert on Radio 5 Live

Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, will challenge representatives from the ‘big three’ (Alistair Darling confirmed, others tba) on the subject of public services and their commitment to the PFI on Kate Silverton’s Radio 5 Live show on Sunday, May 2, at 10.45am.

The BNP/SNP/UKIP and Plaid Cymru will also have their turn to grill the panel on a particular issue.

Tune in for a lively show!