A Beginners Guide to Vegan Entertaining

A Beginners Guide to Vegan Entertaining

I recorded a solo Q&A episode for my podcast on Friday, and sitting down to answer the questions people had asked me on social media one made me pause a little. 

“Does being vegan ever affect your social life?” 

Hmmm. I caught my breath as I found a good answer to this. Yes? I guess it probably has to be totally honest. It totally has. But in a good way.

I’ve been veggie (on and off) since I was a teenager. And vegan (on and off!) for a few years. TOTALLY on for a year now. And in that time there’s been a heap of stumbling blocks, although when you know me you know I don’t consider these to be an issue anyway……

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Anyway, as I’ve become comfortable in my veganism and found regular places to eat, brilliant substitutes for old faves and well worn recipes I turn to again and again there’s one thing I’ve struggled with a little. Until now anyway.

flatlay image of ice water and vintage suitcases

Not a natural host 

I’ve always HATED entertaining. Playing host is literally my least favourite thing to do. The potential for a cooking related disaster is stressful, coupled with the etiquette: ‘How many bottles of wine should I provide?!” and: “Do crisps and dip count as a starter?” make me very sweaty palmed indeed. 

But with my endeavours to reduce my waste and the fact my entire family is now vegan, I’ve found a bit of a sweet spot in the kitchen. I have old classics I can cook easily, knowing they’ll turn out how they’re supposed to. 

Being vegan certainly adds an element of: ‘F@ck, this needs to be EXTRA yummy” when you’re cooking for carnivores but it also reduces the fear of food poisoning massively (except rice…..always be careful with rice!) 

Anyway. As we’ve moved to a new area, with a bigger space for entertaining and a bigger community of people we want to hang out with we’ve been bold and played host a fair few times now. 

shot of gallery picture wall through monochrome light pendant

Entertaining, vegan-style

Keeping it all simple is the aim of ALL my endeavours. Seriously. I can’t cope with too much faff so I pick a simple dish I’ve cooked (and loved) before. Save the jazzy showstoppers for bake-off. 

I LOVE the Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics cookbook by Lauren Toyota  cookbook, or Ainé Carlin’s Keep it Vegan one. Both well loved and very well used!

pretty autumnal wreath hung on white wall

Add some ambience with a Spotify playlist and make sure you and your guests are in a chilled, chat-friendly atmosphere.

I know that sounds silly, but our flat is very minimal so if we stuck to sitting on the bits of furniture officially designated for sitting we’d be uncomfortable and forced to talk across rooms (we have one sofa!)

So we always have a few floor cushions so people can sit and chat easily before we sit down to eat.

Add some pretty cutlery & crockery and some flowers too. I have a few in my garden and use the dried flower wreath I made at The Nature Sessions, plus some dreamy glasses

tiny baby lounging on chaise longue
Keeping it louche……

So, not a natural host but a reluctantly okay one nonetheless. Are you a natural host or, like me, do you prefer to be waited on?!

Share your top hosting tips in the comments!

L x

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My Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps

My Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps

I’ve heard it said that toiletries are the last thing for a zero waster to swap out. Hmmmmm I think that’s partially true, certainly when it comes to makeup. I’m not a massive product junkie (anymore, thanks minimalism!) so I really only needed to swap out the basics when it comes to the bathroom. 

I’ve heard it said that toiletries are the last thing for a zero waster to swap out. Hmmmmm I think that’s partially true, certainly when it comes to makeup. I’m not a massive product junkie (anymore, thanks minimalism!) so I really only needed to swap out the basics when it comes to the bathroom. 

But makeup? Wow. What a shocker. I didn’t quite realise how much of a creature of habit I am when it comes to my beauty regimen (ahem, regimen?!) but I am. 

If you peruse this site you might find over 70 beauty posts in the depths……70!! That’s because I’ve been a beauty junkie for longer than I can remember. So, the fact I have very specific product loves (I rarely try anything new anymore) coupled with a face that stays mostly free from makeup means I have a HEAP of stuff in no danger of running out. 

I’ve written about the first few swaps I made and that still stands, but I’ve researched and added a few more since then too. And the bathroom swaps felt like they needed a lovely blog post home all of their own…..

So this list is by no means exhaustive, but I’m hoping it’ll help you on your way to low impact, zero waste, less plastic joy! (Catchy, I know.)

Zero Waste bathroom swaps  - image of vintage safety razor and  astra razor blades

Hair

Since I wrote my last post I’ve made a big decision and decided to start washing my hair again. Because I like washing my hair, and it’s really easy to get plastic-free, zero waste alternatives for my shampoo and conditioner. 

I currently use Lush Soak & Float shampoo bar and some lovely Veganese conditioner (this comes in a plastic bottle, which I can recycle in store.)

A note on Lush…..I’ve been using their products for YEARS and I have no issues with SLS but if you do, then their shampoo bars won’t be a good fit. You can try Beauty Kubes or Etsy alternatives instead.  

I don’t use any products on my hair, but I guess I could use some coconut oil if I needed a bit of smoothing/deep conditioning.

Skincare

I’m a BIG skincare junkie but three years of travelling sort of broke the spell a bit. So I now use Aesop Parsley Seed cleansing oil (which comes in a huge glass jar) and will switch to coconut/olive oil when it runs out. I double cleanse with Lush Angels on Bare Skin and moisturise with this Lush serum bar too.

I have a really nice hydrating spray from West Barn Co. that I love too. It’s been especially nice in the summer and has helped with the hydration I’m lacking.

Body

Honestly, I’ve never used body lotion or anything like that so I feel pretty lucky I don’t have to make that swap. Although if you do, coconut oil, Lush solid massage bars or good old olive oil in a glass jar would work. 

I use a safety razor to shave legs & underarms and this was probably the most transformative switch I’ve made so far. A safety razor is one of those amazing old-fashioned steel (some have wooden handles) razors you might see in a museum…..but they are AMAZING. You pop a razor blade in however often you need one (similarly to your Gilette Venus) but the blades are CHEAP. 

I paid £10 for a box of 100 blades, which come wrapped in plastic in a cardboard tube and I collect the used blades to take to the recycling centre. You can buy the blades here and safety razor here.

Makeup

This bit has been the toughest for me although, truth be told, I haven’t needed to switch much out at all as I wear little makeup and therefore still have stacks.

But I do need mascara and eyeliner…….I don’t know what I’ll do, as I have super oily eyelids and need something that’ll stay put. I might try something like this solid ‘ink’ style pot and use with a spoolie for mascara and a brush for liner

My biggest win has been my new brow gel. I used to pick up cheap tubes of eyebrow gel because easy and easy, you know? But the wonderful West Barn Co. sent me Soap Brows which comes with a couple of spoolies. It’s essentially a little tin of solid brow gel. You wet the spoolie  (I use my hydrating mist, but you can use water) and sorta scrub your spoolie back and forth to pick up product, swiping it over your brows as per usual. It’s SO good…..keeps my unruly eyebrows in check without that gross flakiness that makes you look like you have dandruff. 

I’ll keep updating y’all as and when I make my swaps, but for now – I feel like I’ve hit a zero waste bathroom sweet spot. Long may it continue! 

L x

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Why are we so willing to criticise each other?

Why are we so willing to criticise each other?

This post came about because, you guessed it, someone criticised my work. Again. And this time, it REALLY hurt my feelings. Something snapped.

I’m writing this a bit after the fact because I was WAY too emotional and hot-headed to do so in the moment…...praise be for restraint.

I’m not even remotely going to go into details because I think that would be a bit unkind and bordering on gossipy. Not that I’m averse to a cheeky bit of gossip you understand, but….ya know, enlightenment is calling.

But to be fair, I guess the title is a little misleading as I use the word ‘we’ to feel more inclusive. Less defensive. You got me though, I’m asking YOU the question.

Why do you feel okay criticising my work?

Not a trick question, I’m genuinely interested. Because personally, I don’t feel super comfortable criticising others content creation. I don’t proffer critique and back-handed compliments to fellow influencers and I certainly don’t leave negative reviews to fellow one-girl-bandits creating for free, for my pleasure.

Of course, that’s because I do it too and have been on the receiving end of one too many off-handed, helpful comments and know first-hand how unbelievably frustrating it feels.

Lucy Lucraft working pictures Brighton beach -1

Are we all fair game?

I’ve noticed a bit of a theme in content creation and those who have opinions about it (myself included.) And it seems to be a lot more okay to tell a podcaster the content they’ve created is……crap.

More often than not, I’m surrounded by a whole heap of incredibly positive and kind people who tell me nice things, which I am SO bloody grateful for. My podcast has brought me incredible opportunities and a whole load of joy. In truth, I never thought anyone would listen – I thought it would be a long hard slog to get any kind of momentum but in week three, iTunes noticed me and put me on their home page.

That was bonkers. And lovely…….and a little scary too.

So overall I’m profoundly happy that each week people join my Facebook group and leave me lovely reviews, include me in podcast roundups and DM me to tell me they liked an episode. But even so, I still smart at those occasional stings. For a few reasons, both human (we all like to be liked) and business (it never looks good to be told in public my work is crap.)

Why aren’t we allowed to be less than perfect? Why are we pitted against professionals in podcasting? Expected to be better than in any other content medium.

It’s so ungracious. Chatting to my wonderful (and anonymous) friend she pointed out the same criticism, namely that my older episodes aren’t as good, wouldn’t swing in any other form of content creation.

Of course, it wouldn’t happen. Imagine someone commenting on a blog post that you’re spelling was a shocker back in the day, or sharing an early Instagram post on stories with the caption: ‘dodgy picture alert!’…

I create the podcast for free for the listeners. It takes time, money and effort on my part and that makes it extra shit when I’m told it isn’t good enough. That I’m not good enough I guess.

When I realised this (okay, when anon realised this for me!) I got REALLY angry. And then I calmed down and realised it’s not okay to be that mean…..I will never do it. But it’s also not remotely my business what other people think about my blog, Instagram or podcast. It’s not my business at all.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Trying to unhook from anything that doesn’t serve me. While silently swearing at my laptop…..I’m a work in progress okay?

L x

How to reduce your waste

(without getting totally overwhelmed)

Zero Waste - reusable diaper/nappy

There’s probably no getting around it, #ZeroWaste is err‘where. Well, in my echo chamber it is anyway…..and with any new trend comes marketing, and things to buy, activists and hella content telling you how to do it THE RIGHT WAY. When all people really want to know is how to actually reduce their waste.

It’s no wonder I get so many messages telling me how bloody overwhelmed people are. 

When I say ‘so many messages’ I mean two………….Maybe three 😉

Anyway, let’s all agree the idea of reducing your waste is now in the mainstream and talk about how to actually do it.

Getting started with Zero Waste

Because that’s what we wanna know, right? HOW to do it. WHAT to do first, and maybe why. 

WHY should we reduce our waste?

Because we have one planet that’s not equipped to cope with the sheer volume of waste we currently produce. It’s skewed, of course, towards humans who consume more than the average but it’s fair to see most of us use more than we need, creating unnecessary waste.

If we continue this way, we are simply condemning the planet to a shorter life. One our children, or other people’s children, will have to deal with.  

And a REALLY important point on this is that recycling more is NOT THE GOAL. Sure, it’s the lesser evil…..but still an evil. And plastic is basically the poster child of evil incarnate.

So not only should the goal be to reduce our landfill waste, but to reduce our recycling, reduce plastic AND eliminate all single-use disposables entirely. 

Bea Johnson explains it better here…….

HOW should we reduce our waste?

Getting started is probably the hardest bit. Once you start looking at everything in your home as different varieties of evil it’s a little stressful, to say the least. 

DON’T STRESS is my first tip, because let’s face it; life’s too short. There will always be someone telling you you could do more, believe me – every time I talk about Zero Waste online I encounter criticism or something I ‘should’ have said. 

flatlay image of granola in a jar and coffee cup.

I say, screw the perfectionists. It’s always better to do something good than nothing at all, despite what some might say. So here are my top tips to reduce your waste without become totally overwhelmed!

Start with your single-use, disposable plastics……what do you really need? Try to eliminate these first.

Then move onto your recyclables and landfill (trash/garbage bin) waste: What are the main culprits here? For me, it was nappies. They aren’t recyclable, and we were taking out a couple of bin bags each week – nappy/diapers sit in landfill for about 500 years so switching these out to reusable nappies was my first big switch.

But for you it might be shampoo bottles, takeaway coffee cups, snacks in unrecyclable plastic (all the yummy food seems to come in this!) and toilet roll. Focus on the biggies, researching zero waste/low impact  swaps that work for you.

Have fun! I loved making a tote bag full of little cotton produce bags, a bread bag I made from some scrap fabric and my Keepcup so whenever I go out I have it to hand. I also love trying new zero waste alternatives when I run out of stuff; making new cleaning products (ps this is EASY PEASY!) and trialling toothpastes in glass jars (so far, all are rank.)

Follow people who inspire you online. I love Bea Johnson, Sustainably Vegan (also Low Impact movement on Instagram), Eco Boost, Treading My Own Path. 

More than anything, be kind to yourself. This shit is hard. REALLY hard. And sometimes, I’m sure even the most hardcore of zero wasters ‘slips up’ but who cares – trying and failing sometimes is better than not trying at all. 

L x

 

Having a Baby Killed my Wanderlust

Having a Baby Killed my Wanderlust

It’s funny to look back on a few short years ago when I planned my year based on where I would travel to, how long for and when.

I’ve always been a travel addict, I guess because my first passport came before my first birthday and by 5 I’d already had a stint living abroad. But maybe not. Maybe it’s simply because I love sunshine on my face and sand in my toes, eating street food and pounding pavements without a schedule.

Who knows. But travel, and travelling, has always been my happy place. For me: “the journey is the destination” rings oh so true because I ADORE flying. When the plane’s wheels lift and woosh you’re above the clouds is like taking a HUGE breath of air.

Past tense. I adored flying. Travelling was my happy place.

Enter Anaïs Lucraft.

This little bean who makes my heart pop with love and is the ultimate, squidgy delight managed to kill all that joy in just over a year.

I despise travelling with her. I tolerate travelling without her. And that would be fine, I guess, except that I’m kind of, sorta a travel writer. Apparently.

Can I still be a travel writer if I sorta hate travelling? It’s not that don’t have the urge to visit anywhere new, although I feel super settled being at home in Brighton. Of course, I long for a break with my husband and yep, I’d happily hop on a plane or train to Europe. I think about my time in India with super fond memories and long to wander down Khao San Road eating street food again but honestly? I could take it or leave it.

I was chatting with a friend recently who used to be a flight attendant. And she admitted that after having kids she developed a fear of flying – I can relate to that too. Being above the clouds no longer gives me a sigh of relief, it makes me feel anxious. It makes me wish I were on the ground with my feet planted close to home. A 45-minute delay wouldn’t have entered my mind as an issue before Anaïs, but now it feels like the biggest waste of my time.

Everything I do has to be weighed up against time spent with my family. I have to ask myself: “Is this worth it? Is this better than hanging out with my baby?” Not much passes the test!

Yes, I could take her with me but honestly….have you ever navigated trains, planes and automobiles with a screaming toddler who won’t sit, stand or lie down? It’s not fun.

Trying to make travelling with kids less stressful is tricky. Because I don’t necessarily think it’s possible. But should I  try, even if that means I have a great time, just so I can say I did it? Who do I need to prove anything to?

Answers on a postcard please. And if you find my wanderlust, post that too.

L x

 

Why I Left London and Moved to Brighton

Why I Left London and Moved to Brighton

Shall I tell you a secret? I wrote this post about six weeks ago and I was SO proud of it. I declared it a ‘brilliant writing day’ as I wrote two posts that day and I was as smug as if I’d penned a best-selling novel.

Squarespace lost them. LOST BOTH POSTS. I cried, then promptly moved back to WordPress before breathing a sigh of relief. But I couldn’t face re-writing such a perfect post so that’s why it’s taken me over a month to put digit to keyboard and tap it out once more.

But here goes……because in all the questions I get asked, this one is VERY high on the list. Why I left London and moved to Brighton despite the fact I know approximately three people who live here.

Lucy Lucraft-why i left londom and moved to brighton beach

In the two months, I’ve been living in Brighton what always surprises me is not how quickly I’ve adjusted, but how little adjustment was necessary. And I’m still waiting for the FOMO to hit every time I’m invited to something in London, something that would have taken me twenty minutes to get to once upon a time but would now (god-willing) take approx 3 million years on a stuffed train packed with cross commuters.

Obviously, that’s a huge exaggeration but Southern rail isn’t known for its efficiency and although I am really close to London and have a direct train in easy reach, it’s still quite the faff to travel up and down to the Big Smoke so I’m rarely in a rush to do so.

Even if I wanted to. Which, realistically, I very rarely do.

girl holding coffee on steps

Tired of London, tired of life

Because the truth is, I don’t. I spent my entire adult life in London, not really knowing how to be an adult outside of the hustle and bustle of a capital city. I know nothing of renting somewhere where you might pay less than 1000 per calendar month to share with 17 Australians and I don’t know how I’d cope if my nearest shop was a twenty-minute drive from my house. In fact, until now, I can’t remember the last time I lived in a house. Before I lived in London I guess!

I’m used to not worrying about travel times and train timetables. I lived in zone two the majority of my time in London so it was twenty minutes from anywhere I wanted to get to anyway. I had a nice little community, cool cafes and Oli and I went to our fave pub regularly. There were nice spots for me and Anaïs to go and everything felt quite…..safe? Convenient? I dunno. Maybe boring?

Yep. Boring. I was SO BORED.

London is lively and exciting and busy and, YES, ‘the Queen lives here!’ But did I enjoy living in a city home to over 8 million people, most of whom I didn’t know, care about or want to cross paths with?

I guess I did once upon a time. But after taking a big break from London life when Oli and I travelled long-term my priorities changed. I no longer craved nights out each week or going to new pop-up restaurants that I had to queue for because booking is passé.

man holding baby in air on sea front

Left my soul there, down by the sea…..

Anyone who knows me knows I love being by the sea. Not on top of the sea so much….because I hate boats. But under the sea for sure. And definitely strolling by the sea too.

I always knew I’d move my family back to the seaside because that’s where I grew up too. But I didn’t want to go back ‘home’ to Kent and longed for more of a city vibe (sorry, ‘vibe’…. really Lucy?)

I spent many a Saturday down in Brighton in my youth, and a few with Oli too. But I wouldn’t say I knew it well at all. So I can totally understand why people thought it was a snap, rash decision to up sticks and move further away from our family to a place we’d never lived before.

But I don’t really care what people think, do I?

Nope 😉

In lieu of a real reason, I can offer you this: It just felt right.

That’s all! I go with my gut on most decisions and this was no different. It just felt really right.

Was I scared of not having a Pret on every corner? Or of being away from a gazillion tube lines? Nope.

Scared of missing out? Yeah, a bit. 

Worried I’d become irrelevant at work and never be invited to another blogging party again? I mean…..after having a baby I was pretty much kicked out of the travel blogging community I was in anyway, so…nope, not really.

If you’re thinking about leaving London and moving somewhere else know this; when the time is right you WILL know. And you’ll never regret it because guess what? Living in my dream house by the sea trumps anything else London could ever offer me.

L x

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Long mage with title text and three smaller images of the seaside