At the end of May, Birmingham united together in the city centre to love out loud and celebrate Pride. It is estimated that 80,000 people joined the 5,000 strong parade, which was led by Andrew Moffat, a teacher at Parkfield Community School in Alum Rock. This teacher was slammed by parents, because his lesson programme covers LGBTQ+ relationships. His programme titled ‘No Outsiders’ resulted in big protests outside the school.
This was mine and my friends first experience of Pride. We had no idea what to expect; we simply left the house in the morning of the Saturday decked out in rainbow attire. Birmingham Pride stood in solidarity with Andrew Moffat in a sea of colour and glitter as they paraded from Victoria Square, right down to Hurst Street. We joined the colourful crowds lining the streets to see the parade, which bursted with music from the floats, a plethora of diverse costumes, and of course rainbow everything. It was so exciting to feel part of such a euphoric atmosphere, the happiness was contagious and smiles were on every face. We were handed flags and all sorts from the people in the parade. The atmosphere created was inspiring, and I actually found it very moving. I was in awe of the crazy costumes that went by me, whilst at the same time remembering the importance of the event. As we freely celebrate Pride, dancing in the abundance of rainbow, I thought of how important it was to remember of those who first fought for LGBTQ+ rights, and of those who still are. The Pride Parade is an amazingly fun experience, but Pride is first and foremost a visible act of coming together as a community, in order to change public attitudes, through a joyful, public parade.
The event simply oozes happiness, and it was also just a time to have a fun day with friends. I will definitely go next year, and will hopefully by then have learnt when to stop drinking, so I don’t have an accidental nap after the final act and miss the night out (oops).
Writing about my time at Birmingham Pride reminded me of the film Pride, which came out in 2014, and remains one of my favourite films. It is based upon the true story of when Margaret Thatcher was in power during the summer of 1984, and the strikes of the mine workers was ongoing. The film tells the uplifting story of how a London group of gay activists raise money to support the miners cause, and how they unite together to support each other. Not only does it touch upon intense and dramatic moments, but it is also effortlessly hilarious. It is a heart-warming and inspiring film, defo one to add to your watch-list!
Veganism! A highly discussed concept nowadays, yet it still gets most people turning their noses up or rolling their eyes. I do get why this is the response from meat-eaters, as preachy vegans are hella annoying. But after researching and watching the film ‘Cowspiracy’, they have a right to want to be a heard – or rather a need. It’s about balance, as much as I think the vegan charities are great in educating and spreading the word, I don’t think it’s always done in the correct way. Straight up criticism will only cause anger. It can be hard to be mocked all the time, but in order to make a difference and be heard you just need to respond kindly, and get them to taste amazingly yummy vegan food!
At the weekend, I went to the Birmingham Viva! Vegan Festival. I spotted Evanna Lynch (aka Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter!!!), a vegan activist, but what was more impressive was the huge variety of food there. The choices were endless! I had a smile brimming from ear to ear as we went around, tasting everything on offer. I love food, and enjoyed being able to try absolutely everything. After some questionable vegan beef jerky type thing, I had a slice of pizza from One Planet Pizza – highly recommend. As a veggie who has avoided a lot of dairy for a while now, I’ve had my fair share of vegan pizzas. I reckon this one is the best. Changed my opinion on pineapple on pizza! We also had a hot dog loaded with mac n ‘cheese’ – with the meat-eater preferring the sausage to an actual meat frankfurter sausage (!!). The savories impressed me more than the sweets, which is unusual for me. There were cakes galore though, very elaborately decorated. It was such a fun afternoon going round, and I picked up their magazines to read when we got home.
They are full of loads of cool recipes I definitely want to try. The advice section on how to deal with hostile meat eaters was problematic though. It suggested to bring up footage of factory farms when they apologise of eating meat in front of you, and other things that I know would just generally go down terribly. Not only would it go down badly, I just would not want to do that to people. Vegans should not have to deal with hostility, and their personal choice should be respected, so I empathise with their anger. However, to really make a positive change to the world and help veganism increase, it needs to be done by getting people interested and enjoying vegan food, and from this people will ask questions.
I have been a vegetarian for two years this coming July. I did it because I simply just stopped liking the idea of eating animals. When I was in Indonesia (#gap yah), I saw a lot of animal cruelty, and it just opened my mind as to why I was repulsed at eating an animal we would all keep as pets, but not others, e.g. a cow. I’ve thought about veganism for a while, but it’s a big jump. I went vegan for lent this year, purely just for a challenge for myself, which got me creating new recipes – it was much easier than I thought! I haven’t eaten dairy for a while now, but that was for health reasons. I had no real idea about animal cruelty within the dairy industry, or the effect of animal agriculture on the environment. I had heard about the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’, but I’ve always been too scared to watch it. After going to the vegan festival, I watched it, and I think everyone should – if you’re interested in the environment (who isn’t?), watch it. It’s on Netflix. Instead of judging veganism, I would encourage everyone to watch it with an open mind, and find out about how veganism could save the planet. It definitely opened my eyes. Try and give the film a chance, because it approaches the topic of eating meat from a totally different perspective, and if you’re like me, you’ve probably heard little on it before. The thing that shocked me the most was learning that raising livestock produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector! The interviews and statistics are striking; I had no idea as to how connected animal product consumption affects the environment. Not only do we all need to learn better about where our food is from, but also the impact it has on the world and it’s wildlife.
Overall, I don’t think the outcome of this film is to make you feel awful if you eat meat or dairy, but instead it makes you think more about it and how it is linked to the degradation of our environment and climate change. The ultimate conclusive message of ‘Cowspiracy’ is that Earth cannot support our meat and dairy consumption at the rate it is now. This is a very inconvenient truth, yet it is time to face it. Taking the smallest of steps to reduce your habits of eating animal products is a positive move towards hopefully a more sustainable future for everyone. I am not yet ready to declare being vegan. I think that at this moment in time having the label is problematic, as to go home with this diet is asking too much of my family. So I have a plant-based diet. I want to help the environment, but I still believe in satisfying a craving once in a while. Please let me know of any vegan milk chocolate brands to try as I am yet to find one that comes close to Dairy Milk. I am leading with a very open mind, I hope you will too!