Five things I have learnt from a month of being vegan

When I get an idea in my head, I have a tendency to run with it and never look back. Thirteen years ago I had a night in with some of my close friends at the time and we joked about going vegetarian, the next day I told my parents I no longer wanted to eat meat and haven't touched any since. Just over a month ago, my husband and I were reading about veganism and we both thought it would be a great idea to give it a go, the next day I got rid of any dairy in the house (giving it all to my parents) and we became vegan. The last month has taught me so much about myself and most importantly my diet, even though I was vegetarian and tried to avoid dairy, I was shocked by how much dairy was hidden in some of the foods I was eating and I realised that despite eating a lot of vegetables already prior to being vegan, I could have been getting more in my diet and have been more experimental with my cooking.

Over the last four weeks, my health has seen a slight improvement, my weight has slightly dropped (this is mainly due to me actively dieting alongside being vegan) and overall I have felt a happier, perkier person. What was originally only supposed to be a months challenge, is looking like a viable lifetime option for both my husband and I. Today I thought I would put together a few things that I have learnt over the last month for anyone who is considering taking the step to becoming vegan.

It's not that hard

Going from vegetarian to vegan was quite easy for me as I had already cut out dairy from my diet prior to my transition, however, I expected things to be a little bit more difficult for my carnivorous husband. Once we had created a meal plan and done our first food shop, we both realised that it really wasn't that difficult.  There are so many products out there for vegans these days and every year, more things are being introduced to make lives of those who are too busy to cook from scratch easier. Sainsbury's only this year introduced a large section of plant-based cheeses and Linda McCartney and Quorn are now actively expanding their vegan range.

It's not that expensive

A lot of people jump to the conclusion that eating healthy is automatically expensive, but it isn't, especially on a plant-based diet. If you stock up on cupboard essentials such as beans, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, herbs and spices, you can make a plethora of meals for just a few pence.

Cooking has become exciting

I have always loved cooking, but I am enjoying it even more now I'm vegan. Being vegan has forced me to become more experimental with my cooking and my baking, for example ditching the eggs for linseeds or bananas. It is fun to play around with spices when it comes to making curries and over the last few weeks, I've eaten a few new foods such as Jackfruit and Ackee.

Restaurants are more adaptable than you would think

Dining out was one of the biggest things holding me back from being vegan, my husband and I love going out for meals together. However, a lot of the restaurants I have visited recently have been more than accommodating. Surprisingly, one of the best meals I've had was a salad at a steakhouse when going out with friends who are not vegan. 

It is surprising how much energy you have

I have always battled with fatigue and I'm aware that being vegan won't fully eradicate it, but it has helped tremendously. Before going vegan, I was feeling tired and rundown every day, but recently my levels of fatigue seem to have halved. I also feel like I have more energy at the gym and I'm feeling stronger - it's no surprise that a lot of top athletes are vegan.

Being vegan has been eye-opening for me and it is something that I have now become quite passionate about and would hopefully like to continue in the future. I'm not fully vegan when it comes to my clothing and makeup just yet, but I'm hoping that each month that goes by I'll be taking, even more, steps to becoming cruelty-free.

Have you tried being vegan?
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The Perfume Society: Fashion, Fabric and Fragrance Review

If you are someone who loves to experiment with scents or change their perfume every season, the Perfume Society subscription box is perfect addition to your fragrance cabinet. The Perfume Society discovery boxes contain up to eight premium fragrance and beauty samples, in a beautifully curated themed box. This months theme is Fashion, Fabric and Fragrance box, which is a celebration of fashion designers who evoke the texture of fabric through scent.

The newly launched discovery box features an array of the latest must-have perfumes, including samples of the highly rated Elie Saab Girl of Now, Estee Lauder Modern Muse and Mugler Aura Mugler. Priced at £17.50 plus p&p for non-subscribers and £12.50 for subscribers, it is a great way of discovering new scents without needing to splash out on the full sized bottle, as well as introducing you to perfumes and fragrances you may not have known are on the market. As well as eight fragrance samples, the box also comes with a travel sized Molton Brown shower gel and a full sized Percy & Reed's A Walk in the Rain Shine and Fragrance Mist worth £15 on it's own.

Elie Saab - Girl of Now

Elie Saab's newest fragrance, Girl of Now is possibly my favourite in this discovery box. I have always been a fan of Elie Saab's perfumes and this one also doesn't disappoint. The fragrance is sweet, floral and elegant with notes of white jasmine, orange blossom and patchouli. It's a radiant, fresh, energising scent.

Jasper Conran - Nightshade

Jasper Conran's Nightshade is a musky, autumnal fragrance, perfect for this time of year. The fragrance. It is sexy, seductive and has a spicy floral and jasmine mix.

Estee Lauder  - Modern Muse

Estee Lauder Modern Muse is a classic scent, comprising of mandarin and jasmine top notes, honeysuckle and lily heart notes and base notes of amber wood and vanilla. This would be of my go-to work scents as it is quite sophisticated and elegant.

Lalique Satine

Lalique Satine has an oriental scent made up of jasmine petals, gardenia, tonka bean and sandlewood. It is a warming, soft, sensual scent. 

La Perla La Mia Perla

The La Perla La Mia Perla comes in a beautiful 8ml bottle and would love wonderful on anyone's dressing table or in someones makeup bag. Again this belongs to the oriental family and has top notes of mandarin and white pepper, heart notes of sambac, jasmine, suede and peony and base notes of musk and sandalwood. This scent is sophisticated and vibrant and possibly one of the scents in the box that I'm most open to repurchasing.

By Terry Delectation Splendide

Terry Delectation Splendide is quite a spicy fragrance and one that I wouldn't usually go for, but I've drawn back to it a few times now. It has top notes of lemon, ginger, pepper and anise, heart notes of tobacco leaf, rose and tonka bean and base notes of cinnamon, vanilla, musk and patchouli. This is a lovely autumnal fragrance and something I look forward to wearing more of over the next few months.

Mugler Aura Mugler

Aura Mugler is a really fresh, fruity, botanical scent, deriving from top notes of orange blossom, heart notes of rhubarb leaf and wolfwood and basenotes of vanilla. I've tried wearing this a few times, but this scent is something I would usually go for myself.

Aerin Evening Rose

Evening Rose is a floral fragrance and is possibly in my top three scents from this box. It incorporates all the fragrances I love - blackberry and cognac top notes, heart notes of rose and base notes of incense. It is a rich, juicy, vibrant scent and it lasts for a considerable time.

                                       Have you subscribed to The Perfume Society?

*Contains PR samples

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How to cope with the dark side of blogging

Sharing your personal life on the internet for the whole world to see is never without risks and when it comes to blogging, there are many of us that share intimate details about our lives without a second thought. Unfortunately in the world there's a plethora of jealous people out there and the internet is the prime place for them to vent out their anger as they hide behind their keyboards. I have been lucky that throughout my seven years of writing on the internet, everything has run smoothly and I haven't been a victim of hate or trolling...until recently. Just over a week ago, I received my first troll email from a person trying to jeopardise my marriage. Part of me always knew that at some point I would get backlash for what I do, after all there's always someone in the world a little bit jealous of you, but it didn't make it any easier to digest. It honestly hit me like a thousand knives and made me want to retreat. For a few hours, I felt insecure, alone and doubted everything that I took for granted, that was until I decided that I wasn't going to let them win. Trolls, bullies, the people who hurt you are just after attention and they want you to breakdown so that they feel better about themselves. They may have taken my confidence for a few short hours, but they are not going to put me off doing what I love, what I have worked hard for and ruin the relationships of the people that mean the most to me.

Take some time out

When things are getting tough and you're feeling overwhelmed, don't be afraid to take some time out. Taking time out can help you reflect on your life as a whole, why you love what you do and the accomplishments you have achieved. It helps you put everything into perspective.

Surround yourself with your friends

Our friends can be our biggest motivators and sometimes when you're feeling down, a coffee with someone who really appreciates you can be the biggest 'pick me up' that you need. 

Carry on doing what you love

In life, there will always be haters, whether it is at work, in our personal lives or on the internet - it's unavoidable. Don't let them get the best of you, carry on doing what you love and prove them that you are stronger and better than ever before.

How do you cope with online haters?

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A Foodie Tour of Victoria Leeds

It is hard to imagine Leeds without Victoria Gate. Since its arrival only last year,  it helped transform the city in many ways, by introducing a luxurious shopping district to what was once a run-down area of the town and also being one of the main reasons Leeds made it into the Top 10 of Lonely Planet's 'Best Places in Europe'. Victoria Gate merges the old, with the new - bringing the Victorian arcade across the street known as Victoria Quarter together with a new, state of the art shopping centre Victoria Gate, collectively known as Victoria Leeds. Over the last twelve months, Victoria Leeds has established itself as the hotspot for luxury shopping, drinking and of course dinning.

There are several restaurants in Victoria Gate and to give me a taste of what they offer, I was invited last night on a foodie tour of the shopping centre, where I was given a three-course meal to review, with each course being in a different restaurant. As a newly proclaimed vegan, I was a little bit apprehensive about what would be on offer, but I also knew I was in for a treat.

Our starter took place in Le Pain Quotidien, an organic bakery which specialises in Belgian cuisine and uses only seasonal produce. LPQ is one of my favourite eateries in Victoria Gate and I was excited to start my culinary tour in familar terrority. LPQ has such a homely feel and I love the finishing touches they add to the tables to give them a seasonal feel. The main table in the restaurant featured an array of autumnal pumpkins and flowers. For my starter, I ordered the french onion soup which was served with a crisp garlic bread and a soya yoghurt dressing. The soup was rich, flavoursome and warming, a perfect starter for the colder autumn nights that are beginning to settle in. 

Once we had finished our starter, we nipped around the corner to Cau for our main course. Cau is an Argentinan steakhouse with a beautiful sleek black and white decor, an extravagant glass ceiling and balconies overlooking the main shopping centre. Cau was the restaurant I was the most anxious about as I didn't know whether they would cater for vegans, but the staff were amazing and listed so many items on the menu that they would have been happy to 'veganise' for me - including flatbreads, pasta and different salads. As I'm trying to be healthy, I decided to go for the superfood salad without the goats' cheese and I wasn't disappointed. The ingredients were incredibly fresh, the colours of the salad look amazing, it was a large, filling portion and the mustard dressing was moreish.

Our last course was at the newly opened East 59th, a New York-style bar and Grill on the third floor of the shopping centre, which features a beautiful outdoor roof terrace. The menu features modern twists on American foodie classics, curated by Executive Chef Lee Murdoch who is also in charge of the menus at Angelica and Crafthouse. I opted for the sorbet sundae with chickpea cream for my dessert and it was incredible. It was an explosion of flavour from the juicy cherries to the tart lemon sorbet. The chickpea cream was a revolution and I was also impressed by the vegan meringue, also made from chickpeas. It was an incredible dessert and it really made a change from the standard bowl of sorbet that vegans are usually offered. I would happily eat this dessert again.

My foodie journey of Victoria Leeds was a night to remember - I learnt about two new restaurants, trialled several new dishes and had a great time getting to know the staff who work really hard to maintain this level of excellence that has everyone in Leeds talking about all these places. Victoria Leeds has everything you could wish from cafes to a la carte dining and also a £10 million casino perfect for cocktails to finish the night off. If you're visiting Leeds, Victoria Gate should be on your radar.

Have you dined at Victoria Gate before?

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Review: Northern Tea House, Huddersfield

Northern Tea House is a beautiful tea house in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and it is a place I love dearly.  The cakes are always freshly made with gluten-free and vegan options readily available, the china teacups help make every cup of tea feel special and the staff always go above and beyond to make all their customers smile. Over the last few years, I have spent many a Saturday or Sunday afternoon frequenting this little cafe, sometimes with friends, other times with my husband and today I thought it was about time that I shared one of my favourite little gems in Huddersfield with you.

Northern Tea House first opened their doors back in 2015 and they became a welcomed addition to the Huddersfield food and drink scene. The tea house is conveniently situated next to Kingsgate, the towns busiest shopping centre and they are never short of customers. On a weekend, grabbing a seat at Northern Tea House can be quite difficult, but once seated it is worth the wait. The decor has a welcoming modern, vintage twist with industrial style furniture styled alongside vintage crockery and black and white photographs hanging from the walls. They have an extensive menu filled with cakes, sandwiches, hot and cold dishes, many of which are suitable for an array of dietary requirements. 

Last week I went to Northern Tea House with a few of my friends for afternoon tea and I ordered a vegan option. Finding a vegan afternoon tea can be quite difficult as a lot of cakes are full to the brim with eggs and dairy, however, Nothern Tea House already has quite a substantial vegan menu and was more than happy to accommodate my needs. My pot of tea came with its own little jug of soya milk and my afternoon tea comprised of hummus and chargrilled vegetable sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches, a light, fresh lemon drizzle cake and two moreish dark chocolate coconut slices, that I could happily eat every day. The afternoon tea came to £14.95 and I was able to box up some of the items I couldn't finish eating.

If you're looking for a place to meet up with friends, your partner or colleagues and grab a coffee, tea or a light lunch, Northern Tea House is the perfect place for you to visit.  I would definitely recommend popping in if you have the time.

Have you been to Northern Tea House?

*I have NOT been paid or compensated to write this review, I wrote it because I genuinely enjoy visiting
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