Friday, 28 February 2020

Taylor Shaw & The Reappearing Vegan Options

Three years ago, I wrote an article entitled How I secured vegan free school meals for my daughter for The Metro (this was during my very brief stint as Unofficial Spokesparent for Vegan Families). Then, a year later, I wrote an update on my blog because the vegan school dinners my daughter had been enjoying were suddenly no more. 

My daughter's school is catered for by Taylor Shaw catering company. They seem to do catering for quite a lot of schools. I know this because I've spoken to parents of vegan children at some of the other schools. The company made the decision to stop providing vegan options because, according to them, they didn't need to. 

With Ember due to start reception in September, I'd started to worry about the lack of vegan options available. She's already one of the youngest in her year, and I think a hot dinner helps them get through the day. So, I'd been planning to get in touch with Taylor Shaw again to ask more questions about their policy of not providing vegan options. 

It seems a little outdated, considering the growing popularity of veganism. Many schools are introducing vegan options as a way of reducing their carbon footprint, and this is something supported by pupils who are keen to make environmentally-friendly choices. Many of the vegetarian options would be easy to veganise, so it felt unfair that the catering company were refusing to make small changes that would make their food more accessible. 

Primary schools put a lot of focus on inclusivity, empathy and celebrating differences, so it felt at odds to have a lunchtime ritual that failed to meet these standards. Even on special days (bizarrely, America Day is a thing at my daughter's school, where all the kids eat unhealthy food and celebrate a country governed by a man who likes to 'grab pussy'), they make no effort to offer vegan options.

So, it was more than a little irking in Veganuary (the month formerly known as January) when I saw the following tweet by Taylor Shaw catering:

I mean, if that's not a bare-faced attempt at jumping on the vegan publicity bandwagon, I don't know what is. 'Hey, try some vegan food, no, not at school, lol, we won't provide it.' I got strain from eye-rolling so hard. I tweeted them back to ask whether this signalled the introduction of vegan food to their menu. 

I received an email in response explaining that yes, the company would be introducing a vegan menu during the summer term. Obviously, it isn't the summer term yet, so I don't know whether this will actually happen, but I very much hope that it will. I'm excited to see the meal choices and for my then four-year-old to be able to enjoy a hot dinner with her friends each day. 

I don't know what inspired this change of heart from Taylor Shaw, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with the recent discrimination court case. The court ruled that veganism is a belief protected by law and that vegans should not be discriminated against. Whatever the reason for the introduction of vegan options, I'm just happy to see things changing for the better. 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Pregnancy Update: 24 Weeks

Week 24 has been all about gestational diabetes for me. I don't have it, or not that I know of anyway, but I had an appointment for the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) coming up so it was on my mind. After having one perfect home birth and one imperfect hospital birth, I'm keen to try and avoid all things medical this time, if I can. 

The only risk factor I have for gestational diabetes is Ember's eye-watering birth weight. Yes, she was massive (the size of a large elephant), but she was also very late (17 days, don't you know). If she'd been born on time (wouldn't that have been nice), she would have been under the weight limit and I wouldn't need the glucose tolerance test at all. It all felt kind of arbitrary, and I've been obsessing over it for weeks.

AIMS (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) have a book about gestational diabetes which I was keen to read before making up my mind. I like to research. The lovely doulas from Greater Manchester Doulas very kindly leant me a copy of the book so I could make an informed choice. I found the book really helpful and it gave me the confidence to discuss the test with my midwife at my 24-week appointment. 

By this point, I'd already decided I was probably going to decline the test (unless my wonderful midwife managed to convince me otherwise). From my research, I'd already figured out that a gestational diabetes diagnosis would make everyone panic that was my baby was going to be huge. [Spoiler: it probably is. I think I just make big babies.] I'd then be offered growth scans and possibly an induction, both of which I would refuse, so really, what was the point in the test? 

At my appointment, I mentioned to the midwife that I was thinking of cancelling the test. She smiled wryly like she had perhaps been expecting me to say this. She said that if glucose showed up in my urine test at my appointments then I should have it, and I was happy to agree to that. 

In the meantime, I've decided to eat a low glycemic diet so that even if I did have gestational diabetes (which I don't), my blood sugars would be regulated. So, for the rest of the pregnancy, I'll be eating a vegan low glycemic diet. This means no sugar, no white bread, no pasta, no white rice. Basically, all of the best foods are off-limits. I'm ok with this though. Even on Pancake Day which I truly feel shows my commitment to the cause. 

My 24-week appointment fell in half-term so I took the kids with me. Ember told the midwife all about the giant pond in our garden (it was a lawn, it's now a puddle) and how she'd just finished her last piece of Christmas chocolate. And she suggested that maybe the baby would come out that day and then seemed disappointed when the midwife said not. It took the midwife a while to find the heartbeat (always terrifying) and Ember suggested that perhaps that was because the baby didn't really like the midwife. 

I spent most of my 24th week of pregnancy in a bad mood in the bath. It's possible I am hormonal, or hungry. I couldn't go walking all week because of half-term and I don't think this helped. When I did finally get to go after a week off, my pelvis was not happy. I think the key is to never stop walking and then it's ok. I will be making this my mantra for the rest of the pregnancy. 

If you missed last week's update, find it at Pregnancy Update: 23 Weeks.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Pregnancy Update: 23 Weeks

Week 23 has been tiring, but I think that's probably more to do with life than pregnancy. Laurie had an assignment due in for his masters so he has been working on that every spare minute. This is, of course, totally FINE. And, even better, there's another one due in two weeks time so there will be no rest for the wicked. You probably think Laurie is the wicked because he is trapped writing essays, but no, I am the wicked because I am pregnant and tired and really would love to not do ALL of the childcare and house stuff. 

I took the kids down to London for a day over the school holidays. We went with my family and visited the Tutankhamen Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. If you're worried about seeing the exhibition in London and it not feeling very Egyptian, fear not, because they have made the Saatchi Gallery approximately 50 degrees inside so you can really appreciate that exotic experience (but with your coat on, so, even better). Ebony really enjoyed it because she's been learning about the Egyptians at school. Ember really didn't because 1) she hasn't 2) she doesn't like to stand in a line for three hours and 3) she doesn't like London. She concluded our expensive day out by explaining that she just likes Romiley and will be staying home in the future, not going to London. 

After London, we went to Bedford to celebrate my Grannys' 100th birthday. Then we drove all the way home and had to keep stopping so I could pee. Pregnancy is really not suited to long journeys. 

Pregnancy-wise, this week has been pretty non-descript. The baby has started punching or kicking me in the bladder without warning so this is lots of fun, especially on long car journeys. I have felt tired and heavy and like I have the back of a 100-year-old. I have spent a lot of time in the bath and have given up picking things up off the floor. If they fall, they're gone now. I will retrieve them in June. 

If you missed my 22 weeks update, you can find it here.

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