Is sharing health/fitness lifestyle unintentionally toxic?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

I’ve talked about relatively healthy veggie food on the blog before, but in spite of my very healthy diet and the fact that I’ve been working out on a regular basis for the past couple of years, I don’t really tend to bring up health and fitness.  Friends may know that I go to the gym several days a week and I eat very low fat, often low carb meals and I feel great for it, but I’ve often felt conflicted over whether or not to share anything about my healthy living journey.

I wrote a post a while back about healthy living and body positivity and how the two can conflict for me at times, and this sort of relates to that.  Sometimes I want to share what I do for my workouts, my playlists, post photos of the new records of weights I manage or something like that, sometimes I want to share the meals I eat to help keep me fit and nourish my body, but I always question whether or not that’s the best thing to do or a message or lifestyle that I want my readers to absorb.

From my own experience, reading fitness blogs or following healthy eating Instagram accounts can be a mental and emotional minefield.  Often I do take inspiration from it, or quietly congratulate that person on their quest for a fitter version of themselves, and yet it can also make me feel bad about myself, inferior, in need of improvement.  Photos of trim and toned bodies after hard work or the posts about their intense routines just make me feel guilty for not ‘trying harder’, and being fed images and tips and ideas of this kind of stuff starts to make me feel like it’s something I should be aspiring to when I know full well that it isn’t.

Although they meant no harm and were just sharing a part of their lives they enjoy, I’ve unfollowed people whose content I otherwise loved for repeatedly posting about their weight-loss and their exercise and their goal weights and their calorie counting, because I find it puts me into a negative frame of mind about my own body and lifestyle. I’ve seen others’ oversharing of their exercise regimes and strict diets have an impact on the lives of those around them, and not necessarily in a good way. I’ve known very slim, perfectly healthy women guilted into giving up their weekly treats and enjoyment of food and buying gym memberships and start scrutinizing their diets because colleagues constantly talking about their healthy lifestyle (completely unintentionally!) made them feel like the way they were living was wrong.  (Not to mention people who talk about the gym or their diets all the time bore me to tears in person – no one wants to constantly hear about these!)

This is exactly why I debate whether or not to share fitness or healthy lifestyle stuff on my blog and social media; because although I don’t really write about body positivity and loving yourself much, I want my content to be a safe, body positive space that makes people happy with who they are instead of questioning themselves or finding flaws.  So how do you talk about it without alienating people or making them feel bad about themselves?

Honestly, I have no idea.

Even a tiny mention of calorie counting, weight and before/after photos are already off the table because I find these do literally no good and don’t align with a body positive way of thinking anyway (the comparison is toxic – all bodies are good bodies, you were great ‘before’ and you’re still great ‘after’). I don’t weigh or measure myself, I have no ‘before’ photos to compare the current me to. I know that I’ve probably lost weight simply from how my clothes fit, and I know I’m stronger because I can lift more and run for longer. I don’t count calories and only think about nutrition and common sense, nor do I deny myself things I enjoy because picking a stick of celery over a cookie isn’t ‘good’ and enjoying a slice of cake after dinner isn’t ‘bad’.

In spite of carefully considering everything I might post and what the message I might be giving is, I still worry. It goes without saying that posts involving weight loss, exercise, restriction etc. could be triggering for someone who has suffered or is suffering from an eating disorder, but just about anyone can find themselves feeling bad about themselves if they’re exposed to certain content often enough or if they’re already lacking in self-confidence about their own bodies.  I often wonder what seeing other bloggers – especially so many other bloggers – talk about their health and fitness routines does to the headspace of those who read them. Do you enjoying every insight into your favourite bloggers’ lives whether you’re into healthy living or not? Does it make you feel motivated and inspired?  Or does it just make you compare yourself, feel guilty or low and criticise your own lifestyle and feel like you need to change?

I want to share my life, but I don’t want to publish content that – whether I intended it to or not – contributes to mainstream ideals of exercise-concerned, slim women who are always watching their weight. I don’t want to be adding yet more fuel to the fire that makes others’ compare their bodies and question their own worth.

This post doesn’t really have much of a point to be honest other than getting some of my current thoughts out there, but I’d love to start a discussion and for you to share what you think in the comments and let me know not just whether or not you enjoy fitness and healthy living-themed posts, but how they make you feel!  

Review / Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer

Neve Cosmetics is a brand that I never really hear much about from many other English-speaking bloggers and I’ve even struggled to find reviews of their products that I could actually read! An Italian natural, mineral makeup brand, Neve are cruelty free and many of their products are vegan, and they don’t use any silicones, parabens or petroleum derivatives in their ingredients. They have an English website and ship to the UK, but you can also buy many of their products on CutECOsmetics.

I only really started using primers a couple of years ago, and after realising that silicone-based primers – although great at smoothing skin – were prone to blocking up pores, I started looking for one that didn’t contain any silicones. That was easier said than done, especially when you put the need for it to be cruelty free in the equation! Eventually, I stumbled across Neve Cosmetic’s Brightening BioPrimer (also available here on CuteECOsmetics). I opted for this rather than the matte one, as at the time I used mainly powder products and didn’t want to go too matte looking. This product is supposed to even out skin for a smoother finisher and enhance staying powder of your makeup products, and as a brightening primer it gives a radiant finish and contains argan oil, shea butter and aloe extract to nourish and protect the skin too.

Vegan, cruelty free and only €12 (£9.50) for 40ml of product it certainly sounds great on paper, but what did I think of it?

Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer

The packaging is pretty simple but still cute – honestly, I love a lot of Neve Cosmetics’ products because the packaging is just cute as hell. The tube comes with a screw top lid and just squeezes out of a little hole, which is great for making sure you get just the right amount of it out but I imagine will be a pain when I near the end of it and can’t get to the last dregs of product.

When I first tried the Brightening BioPrimer I was a little bit unsure of how it would look on my skin as it looks really dark and orange for a primer when you first squeeze it out of the tube, especially against my pale as hell skin. As you can see from the swatches below, it’s several shades darker than my skin tone at first. That said, once you blend it in this difference in tone starts to disappear, though is still sort of visible, but with foundation applied over the top it’s totally undetectable. As far as smoothing out your skin and diminishing the appearance of your pores, I’d say it does an average job. I haven’t used many primers so it’s difficult for me to compare it, but I don’t think this is as noticeable smoothing as some of the beauty blogger world’s holy grail or high end favourites, but it does improve my makeup application and make it look a bit more even and still very natural. My liquid and powder foundations both apply much more evenly and look more like my skin but much better with this primer underneath.

Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer Swatch

Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer Swatch

As far as radiance goes, paired with liquid foundations this primer helps to give my skin a healthy, slightly luminous glow. It contains moisturising ingredients so together with liquid products it really promotes a natural, dewy finish that doesn’t look at all oily – it just looks like my face but nourished. With powder products, it helps to counteract the somewhat drying effect of powder and keep your skin looking like healthy skin. Because of these moisturising properties and the argan oil and shea butter in it though, I would err on the side of caution if you have very oily skin. My own is combination and particularly during winter I find the little bit of oil that naturally builds up on my face (even without the primer) can actually improve how my makeup looks throughout the day, but if you struggle with really oily patches and getting your makeup to stay put by the evening then this may not be for you.

I find that the Brightening BioPrimer is great for staying power on my own face though, and it makes my foundation and concealer last a lot longer and crease or move around a lot less. I do occasionally touch up my nose or under eyes with only concealer for work without using a primer, and I can tell the primer definitely makes a difference because although the products I use still look great by the end of the day without it, they look a hell of a lot better with it.

I really, really like this primer. Although given the choice I would definitely prefer it if it was either clear or came in different shades if it’s going to be as dark as it is, it’s otherwise a great primer for the money and I’m thrilled to have found a more natural and silicone free alternative. I’ve been really impressed by the Neve Cosmetics products I’ve tried so far so at some point I’m definitely going to order the Mattifying BioPrimer and see how that compares, but in the meantime I’m happy to have discovered a good, affordable primer that keeps my skin looking great!

What’s your favourite cruelty free primer?

Review / Viridian Beauty Oils & Supplements

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Viridian Essential Female Multi-Vitamin, Ultimate Beauty Skin Repair Oil, Beauty Oil and Nail & Cuticle Oil
I’m probably a bad vegan – I don’t really take many supplements or vitamins. I have a bottle of B Vitamin tablets, but that was about it until the folks at Viridian Nutrition contacted me and asked me if I was interested in trying some of their products. Supplements have never been super high on my list of things I need to buy as I’m careful and make sure I have a very varied, balanced diet, but I figured, why not give some a try?

Viridian are an ethical and organic company that produce all kinds of vitamins, supplements and oils for just about everything you could possibly need. The concept of an ethical vitamin might sound a bit weird, but rather than most vitamins that can be traced back to mass-production in pharmaceutical companies and the like, this company is family-run and UK based, and they ensure that all of their products contain ingredients that are ethically sourced and 100% active and pure, with no artificial bits and bobs and no additives or fillers. They don’t test any of their ingredients or products on animals, and their packaging is even recyclable. In addition to this, they’re also a socially responsible brand and have so far donated £225,000 to children’s and environmental charities, chosen each year by allowing each of their health store stockists to nominate and vote for their favourites (as long as they have no involvement in animal research and testing).

So, Viridian products in short…
• Contain 100% active ingredients
• Are non-irradiated, non-GM and contain no nasty additives
• Are manufactured in the UK, creating local jobs
• Are produced using green business practices
• Support the community

Now, on to what I thought of the products.

Viridian Essential Female Multi-Vitamin, Ultimate Beauty Skin Repair Oil, Beauty Oil and Nail & Cuticle Oil

Honestly, I’m not sure how to really write about vitamins and supplements as the benefits to your body are often too subtle to actually put in a solid review but, hey, I’m trying. Anyway, the supplements I received are these vegetarian and vegan multi-vitamins, specifically formulated for women between 18 and 39. When I was contacted and asked what kinds of things I was interested in giving a go, I mentioned that something for fatigue would be great, and these can do just that. They contain iron to reduce tiredness, B6 to regulate hormones and a blend of other B vitamins, nutrients and extracts to help keep your body happy and healthy.

I was a bit sceptical of these at first because they’re not exactly small, and when I first tried them I discovered that they have a rather weird and unpleasant flavour that I can’t really describe, but I guess that’s what happens when they’re 100% natural and not flavoured with sugars or anything to make them more palatable. Once you get used to that though and you don’t try to swallow them both at once and get them stuck in your throat like I keep doing, they’re not that bad to take.

As far as whether or not they’re really working goes, well, like I said earlier it’s kind of difficult to judge. I‘ve definitely felt more energetic and all around healthier in recent weeks and could certainly attribute this to the supplements, but I’m hesitant to say so because for all I know it could just as easily be because the days are getting longer and it’s not as dark, or because I’ve just been in a better mood.

Price-wise, this is where these get tricky for me. You get 60 capsules for £28.45, and you’re supposed to take two daily, so that works out at paying just under £30 a month for your supplements which, for me personally, is far too steep. Of course, the cost is down to the quality and nature of the ingredients – you’re getting great stuff for your money – but I’m just not the kind of person who’s going to spend that much on vitamins, even if they do seem to maybe improve my health and energy levels. That said, if you’re into high quality ingredients from an ethical company that you can trust and you have some cash to burn, I’d definitely recommend giving these a go and seeing how they work for you.
I work in a hospital, and although my office isn’t even in the main building, everywhere also uses hospital-grade soap in the bathrooms. The result? I get some pretty damn dry hands and cuticles. My nails on the whole tend to be relatively strong but will break eventually if I have them long for too long, and my cuticles are just often a mess of dry skin and bits tearing off and general unpleasantness. This only gets worse during the colder months! Naturally, I was pretty happy to receive a product that would help address these very problems.

Made from a blend of oils and botanical extracts, this nail and cuticle oil is formulated to improve both the growth of your finger and toenails and to improve the appearance of both nails and cuticles. It comes in a recyclable little glass bottle with a glass pipette for application. I have to say, this product smells amazing! When I first used it I noticed that it had a really crisp and refreshing citrus smell to it and I’m guessing this comes from the organic lemon myrtle essential oil in it, but it also has floral undertones and you can just about catch the rosemary in it, too.

I’ve been using this for a few weeks now and I’ve seen noticeable results. The pipette is somewhat useful for application, but I do still find it tricky to apply and make sure that all of my nails and cuticles are properly coated without using too much product or just generally getting it all over my hands and having oily hands for a while – because of this I usually apply it either before I drive to work and just have to worry about getting it on the gear stick and steering wheel, or right before I go to sleep. Minor moan aside, my cuticles have just about started to look normal and nourished, and I haven’t had a broken nail since using this product even after keeping them long for quite some time. My nails look healthy and shiny, and I get far fewer hangnails, torn up cuticles and other nasties.

A bottle of this is £12.95 for 12ml, and that might seem like a lot, but trust me when I say this will last you quite a while. It’s recommended that you apply this twice daily, and although (let’s be honest) I forget to do this practically every other day, it doesn’t even look like I’ve used any. You pretty much only need one drop per application for both hands so that 12ml is going to last me a good, long while and I’m very glad because it’s been my saviour for the past few weeks!
The Ultimate Beauty Oil is actually a food, rather than a topical skin oil! It’s a nutritional oil containing a variety of good-for-you ingredients including vegan sources of Omega 3, 6 and 9 and other ingredients like hemp seed oil among others. It’s advised that you take this as a food supplement, having two to three teaspoons daily with food added to smoothies, salad dressings, dips, soups and so on or just drizzled over your meal or even eaten straight from a spoon.

I wasn’t completely convinced by this at first as I did eat it from a teaspoon just to try it when I first received it and, although the after-taste was actually pretty nice, I wasn’t a fan because hello spoonfuls of straight up oil are never really that nice. Once I started adding it to food though, I enjoyed it a lot more. I think it works particularly well as a dressing for salads, soups and vegetables because it has a very subtle nutty, earthy taste thanks to the hemp and pumpkin seed oils in it but it does also work great blended into other things too.  Since it’s getting warmer now, I’m really looking forward to using this as a dressing on fresh salads more often.

I will fully admit that I do often forget to take this – despite putting it near my usual cooking oils that I use every day to remind me to use it – so it’s difficult to say how long it would last if you’re taking it as advised. A bottle is either £9.85 for 200ml or £20.40 for 500ml, so it’s not the cheapest oil you could possible buy, but that said I am considering buying more of it once I run out just because it’s so versatile and good vegan sources of Omega 3 can be hard to come by. As far as whether or not it’s been improving my hair, skin and nails this is, again, difficult to say! My nails have been much stronger recently probably thanks to the combination of all of the products I’ve been using from Viridian, and my virgin hair (half of the length being very chemically damaged) is looking pretty soft and nourished too.

If you’re looking for a nutritious supplement that’s a little bit different to just taking pills and is flavoursome and compliments a lot of dishes well, I’d say give this a try!
The topical Skin Repair Oil is an oil blend that’s quickly absorbing and designed to improve the appearance of blemished skin. I’ve since discarded the box so I can’t quite remember for sure, but I believe this can used on skin discolouration, stretch-marks etc. to even out your skin’s complexion. This is intended for use on the body as it’s quite a heavy oil, however after reading the ingredients, which include things like Vitamin E, rosehip and jojoba oil, I thought hey, I’ve been thinking about buying those individual oils to use on my face anyway, so why not try this? (And yes, I did confirm with Viridian that it’s face-safe!)

This has been the stand-out product for me purely because of how well it works with my face. I use this primarily as a night time oil as although it absorbs fast, it still leaves the skin looking oily for a while, and plus the lavender oil in it is also very relaxing for the evening! My skin loves this stuff. In spite of various unrelated problems I’ve been having with my skin lately, it’s been drinking this oil up and looking positively glowing. Scars and patches of discolouration I’d had from previous breakouts have faded, and the morning after use my skin looks incredibly plump, nourished and happy. At the moment, I’m using it to combat a weird reaction that appeared on my skin last week and it’s really calmed the irritation and is helping to slowly mend the dryness either side of my nose.

Face oils obviously aren’t for everyone so I wouldn’t suggest using this on your face unless you’ve tried them before and are confident that they won’t break you out – I’d previously used argan and almond oil on my face and currently use my Moa Green Balm containing coconut oil on targeted spots too – but otherwise, I can vouch for this being a wonderful overnight oil! I haven’t used it on my body much beyond a couple of patches on my arms or tattoos, but if it can make my face look so lovely I’m sure it can work miracles on the body too.

The Skin Repair Topical Oil is £15.76 for 100ml but boy does this last a while. I’ve been using it at least once per day (more recently twice to three times a day because of this dumb dry skin thing I’ve got going on) for the past several weeks and it doesn’t even look like I’ve used any. It comes with a handy pump so there’s no spillage or waste, but I’ll warn that it’s a difficult pump to control if you only want a half or quarter pump of product instead of the lot.

I’m very happy with all of the items I’ve tried and especially can’t recommend the Skin Repair Oil enough. Viridian make fabulous products and I’ll be keeping an eye out for other natural, ethical oils to try from them in the future. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on these; let me know if you have any other vegan, natural oil and supplement recommendations!

* This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the products were sent to me free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Review / Veeda Natural Cotton Pads & Tampons

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sanitary pads, towels, liners and tampons are all things that many people who menstruate will be very familiar with, but how many people are aware that conventional products like these aren’t actually all that natural or safe to use? It wasn’t really something I even thought about until my forays into veganism and trying to find more ethical and in some cases natural alternatives to things, but I eventually realised that all these things I’d been sticking in my pants and shoving up me contained a whole host of chemicals that, while not necessarily explicitly dangerous, weren’t exactly good for me either.

This was part of why I chose to switch to the Moon Cup a few months ago. Pads can contain chemicals often associated with plastics and can be bleached to create the pristine white that we associate with hygiene and cleanliness, and most who use tampons are well aware of the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) from them – menstrual cups, on the other hand, are much friendlier to the body (and environment) than well-known sanitary care brands.

Of course, menstrual cups aren’t everyone’s cup (ha) of tea and not everyone is able to use them even if they’d like to. Luckily though, they’re not the only alternative and there are more natural and ethical options available in your average stores for pad and tampon users, too!

Veeda is a brand that produces 100% natural cotton, hypoallergenic sanitary pads and tampons that contain no chemicals, dyes or synthetics. Natural alternatives to the usual menstrual hygiene products are often rarer and, when you do find them, much more expensive, so Veeda strive to provide affordable, high quality products that are produced in ethically and eco-friendly ways. They’re also a brand that gives back to the community, aiming to donate one million tampons each year to women’s organisations (did you know that it’s often the poorest and most vulnerable people to who aren’t able to access things like these when menstruating?), and they’ve also created their own care fund and work with The Teen Project and Freehab, an LA-based free, residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for young people exiting foster care and into homelessness.

Veeda were kind enough to send me a couple of samples to try out – their brand sounds great on paper, but what about their products?

Since I started using my Moon Cup my period has been so light that I don’t really need to use it at night (and since the issues I have with it and peeing, I don’t like wearing it at night either as I constantly get up to go to the loo) so I was pretty happy to have received 12 Ultra Thin Night Towels* with wings. I prefer pads with wings as I find this is generally safer with regards to leakage, and I find them more comfortable for wearing at night. These are made of a blend of absorbent cellulose fluff and they have a furrowed design to trap liquids, without the need for absorbent chemicals and other synthetic stuff that more popular brands use in their pads.  So, no weird blue patterns on the inside of them!  At £2.49 for 12 pads, it’s obviously not the cheapest option on the market, but given that they would be safe for most people to use thanks to the fact that they’re hypoallergenic and fragrance free, for many I’d imagine it’s a small price to pay and they are still a (generally) affordable price for most. I was honestly thrilled to open one up and to not be hit by an intense waft of awful perfume like so many brands now seem to insist on – honestly people, I don’t want my damn vagina to smell like a summer’s meadow and I dread to think what those fragrances are doing to my junk, either.

I used the pads a few nights during my last cycle and was very pleased with them. They’re very comfortable compared to other brands I’ve used in the past and they didn’t leak at all, but then I do have a very light flow at the moment so someone with heavier periods would probably want to look into their other pad options.

I also received a pack of 16 Regular Cotton Tampons*, also made from 100% natural cotton. Again, these are hypoallergenic and fragrance free, but it’s worth noting that they also don’t come with applicators, so if you need an applicator to insert your tampons then these may not be for you. They have a thin removal string to better prevent leaks and they expand in width rather than length for a better fit for your shape and to stop leaks (which using other tampons I have had issues with in the past). I haven’t tried these as I’m currently avoiding using tampons now that I’ve switched to a menstrual cup, but I’m nonetheless impressed with the product description and the brand and will either be saving these for emergencies or gifting them to a friend to try. At £1.85 for the whole pack, they’re definitely affordable and well worth the money compared to cheaper, chemical-laced tampons, but they are still tampons and still come with the usual warnings about TSS so please make sure you’re careful and still follow the instructions and maximum wear times. Natural tampons are certainly better, but any tampon could still cause TSS!

Both of these products are also biodegradable, which can’t be said for a lot of other sanitary products and it’s great to know that they won’t be contributing to any awful landfills or screwing up the environment after use.

I’m very impressed with Veeda’s products - they don’t break the bank and I’m also really pleased that I now know I have other excellent accessible, natural and more environmentally friendly options out there for when I’m not feeling my Moon Cup!

Have you ever tried natural cotton menstrual products? If so, got any recommendations?

This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the products were sent to me free of charge.  All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Brighton Day 2: Shopping, Stormy Seas & Scandi Food

Monday, 4 April 2016

Brighton Streets
Welcome to day two of my Brighton photo diary! If you missed day one, you can check it out here.

Anywho, after our first day enjoying the bright, sunny weather it wasn’t quite as summery on our second day in Brighton. It was cloudy for the majority of the day and we were wary that it might start chucking it down with rain any minute. Nevertheless, we left our Airbnb relatively early and had a wander down into town to get some breakfast.

I had a few different places on my hit list but we happened to wander by Wai Kika Moo Kau in the North Laines and thought it looked pretty great from the outside so decided to give it a go. A vegetarian and vegan café restaurant, Wai Kika Moo Kau (literally pronounced ‘why kick a moo cow’) serves anything from veggie full English breakfasts to tapas and vegan cakes and they offer vegan options for all of their hot drinks, too. My Other Half went for the Full Veggie Breakfast while I chose the Full Vegan Breakfast, a hearty plate of two vegan sausages, marinated tofu, beans, a baked tomato with green pesto, mushrooms, hash browns and wholemeal toast served with tea or coffee.

Wai Kika Moo Kau Full Vegan Breakfast

I was certainly not disappointed! The breakfast was filling and delicious and although it tasted like a guilty pleasure and felt indulgent, it didn’t leave me with the same greasy, full feeling I used to get when I ate non-vegan English breakfasts. Back when I used to eat meat, if I started the day off with one of those then I pretty much had to give the rest of the day a miss because I felt excessively full and gross, but this had me ready and raring to go for the day ahead. The atmosphere in the café was very busy – we arrived just before the rush – but the service was friendly and attentive and although it was bustling, we didn’t feel overwhelmed or like it was too busy. Wai Kika Moo Kau has a really cosy, homely feel and if the breakfast I enjoyed was anything to go by, I can’t wait to visit again to try more of their menu.

Shops in Brighton
Brighton Street Art 
Shops on Gardner Street, Brighton
Fountain in central Brighton

After breakfast we spent a few hours just wandering around Brighton popping into shops in and around the Laines and seeing what there was. The grey cast from the weather doesn’t do it much justice, but it really is a bright and vibrant town both in colour and aesthetic as well as feel. There are lots of little patches of amazing street art intermingled with quirky shop signs and pretty, pastel seaside homes and there’s something cool to spot on every street.

Among other places we stopped by, the Other Half visited a guitar shop he’d been hearing about for years, and I got to nip into Collectif (and continue to wish I had the time, patience and money to look full on pin-up all the time).  I had to stop myself buying a Pusheen plushie in another quirky little store!  We stopped for a drink at Infinity Foods Kitchen and had a quick walk around the Royal Pavilion, which is really a sight to behold and looks both so out of place and so fitting in the town centre. Built in a style popular in India at the time, it was completed in the early 1800s and is surrounded by some lovely gardens and can be toured inside for a fee that was just a little bit too expensive for us to consider. I imagine it looks beautiful during spring and summer when more of the flowers are in bloom, and it’s a really unique piece of Brighton that I’d love to see the inside of one day.

Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion

After a bit more of a wander (and my patience quickly draining from walking all day in a busy city) we settled down in the Loving Hut in St Peter Place. A little almost greasy spoon-like café with outdoor seating, it’s really tiny but serves a variety of things that are – much to my delight – all vegan! Again, I didn’t get to try the many, many things on the menu that I fancied and I still felt a bit full up from breakfast, but it was still an enjoyable lunch.

Vegan Caprese Panini at the Loving Hut, Brighton

The other half went for a falafel wrap with a gorgeous mint yoghurt dressing, and I opted for something a little bit more simple in the form of a Caprese panini with vegan mozzarella, tomato, red onion and basil. It was simple and tasty, although as usual I remain sceptical of vegan cheese because the taste was fine but the texture reminded me a lot of those awful, cheap ‘imitation cheese singles’ you can get. That aside, it was still a great lunch and much like the other vegetarian and vegan places we’ve eaten, the buzz from customers and staff alike was welcoming and lovely – the atmosphere you get in veggie restaurants has just been amazing in my experience so far, everyone is always just so delighted to be surrounded by a whole menu of edible choices instead of one or two options, and like-minded people!

Bellies full to bursting again, we went down to the pier and oh boy was it windy. The waves were crashing onto the shore and more than a few people were getting splashed and sprayed trying to get as close as they could or snap a quick photo opportunity. The pier was still busy though, and there’s not really much to say about it beyond it being a classic example of fun, British seaside garishness!

Stormy seas at Brighton Pier
Brighton Wheel

Brighton Pier
Waves beneath Brighton Pier
 Seagull Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

We ended our stroll in a few of the bars that we visited the day before and liked, and after more than a few beers it started to get dark and chuck it down with rain and we headed over to try out the Northern Lights, a Scandinavian bar that had been recommended to us by our Airbnb hosts, before we headed over to the dinner we booked at a nearby Indian place that sounded good. We were hoping the bar would have some of the Icelandic beers Chris had tried and loved a while back, and it sounded like it was just a generally cool idea that we fancied checking out.

In an old fisherman’s cottage in the South Lanes, Northern Lights is a relaxed but still somehow classy pub and restaurant that serves a variety of Scandinavian dishes and drinks and caters to everyone from people wanting to pop in for a couple of drinks to others wanting a delicious sit down meal (to those who want to get bladdered, too). We were instantly in love with it when we walked in and, yes, they had those beers and they were amazing! The Einstök Pale Ale and in particular the stunning White Ale are made with glacier water and the crispness and flavour of the White Ale in particular was just unlike any beer I’ve ever tasted before. I’m still a newbie to beers and my palette hasn’t quite adjusted to them yet, but that White Ale was incredible, and Einstök is a vegan friendly brewing company too!

Enjoying Einstök at Northern Lights, Brighton
As we enjoyed our drinks we perused the menu and were amazed to see that they actually had vegan options on their menu including an awesome sounding taster-platter, so the Other Half was able to have a fish-based platter and I could have a vegan version. It didn’t take us long to quickly cancel our other dinner reservation and settle in for the night, and the food was just what we wanted.

Vegan platter at Northern Lights, BrightonI’ve only included a small photo of my meal because it was quite dark and all of my slightly inebriated shots turned out kind of crappy, but it was fantastic! I had vegan ‘meat’balls, beetroot falafels, pickled mushrooms, a bulgur salad and a variety of chutneys and jams with rye bread and it hit the spot. I was surprised by how much I loved the pickled mushrooms too; just goes to show everything is better pickled.

The bar was really chilled out but after we ate we started to notice strange things happening and the staff putting up signs and tape and fiddling with a few things for a party and a couple of staff bizarrely dressed as nurses. Eventually – when they put the world’s weirdest oval shaped condoms and some ‘pill boxes’ full of sweets on our table – they explained that it was the bar’s birthday and they were having a theme night inspired by what would happen if the NHS was privatised. The condoms, incidentally, we from Poundland and there were amusing little brand advertisements snuck into sight-testing charts pinned to the wall and we were promised that if we came back later we’d be cured of any and all ailments – we were torn between whether to stay or go! We opted to go in the end and head back to Brewdog to try some of the beers we’d wanted to taste the day before, but we almost instantly regretted it and wished we were more spontaneous and embraced the friendly wackiness of it all. In any case, I hope Northern Lights had a great birthday and I honestly can’t wait to visit again; it was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.

After a few more drinks and walking around in the rain we popped over to see the pier lit up at night and then headed back to our Airbnb for a relatively early night, having worn ourselves out walking almost non-stop all day. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make the most of our Sunday as not only was the weather forecast a bit ominous, but it being Easter Sunday nowhere was even going to be open until later. Luckily, we were glad we decided to leave when we did as the heavens opened on the drive back and it was torrential. I could barely see two feet in front of the car and the wipers struggled to keep the windscreen clear for more than a fraction of a second so, uh, good choice to go home when we did after all.

Brighton Pier at night
Brighton Pier at night

All in all, I’m so excited to go back to Brighton. You’d need a full week there to go to all of the well-known vegan food places, and I’d love to go for walks nearby and back up at Devil’s Dyke one weekend when the weather is a little more reliable.

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at my trip; have you ever visited any of these places, and do you have any recommendations for my next Brighton visit?

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