Winter is coming

You could almost say that winter has arrived in Helsinki today. When I looked outside our bedroom window this morning, some parts of the ground were covered in a thin layer of snow.

winter

Somehow winter comes as a shock to me every year, it always seems like it gets too cold and too dark, way too early. Needless to say, I’m not a winter person and if I could I would escape the country in November every year and come back in May. I admit it looks beautiful a cold, mid-winter day when all nature is covered with snow, but I just can’t stand the cold.

Anyways, with many layers of clothes, some extra blankets and a lot of hot chocolate I guess I will survive winter this year as well.

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A dream about self-sufficiency

One of my big dreams is to one day live on a small farm and grow my own food to the extent it’s possible, not having to go to the supermarket to decide between fruits, veggies and other food-stuffs you actually don’t really know where they come from, what they have been through and what kind of life the workers that handled them are living.

It’s a big dream, because I’m not that good in growing plants, and certainly not in preserving them, and we live in a country with long, cold winters. It would also mean a new way of relating to food, cooking mainly from what you have instead of buying exactly what you want from the store. Still I’m hoping that it will be possible some day.

I have it all in my head; an old small house that we have renovated and made more energy sufficient, a yard with fruit trees and berry bushes, a small greenhouse, vegetable plantations, a small barn and possibly some rescue animals. No sounds except the ones of nature, of the animals, of family and friends. No smell of pollution, just the smell of grass, flowers and home-made bread. Heaven.

Are we learning anything from super storms like Haiyan/Yolanda?

No one has probably missed the typhoon that hit the Philippines last week, causing enormous devastation. The winds almost totally wiped out the city of Tacloban and destroyed many other communities on the island of Leyte as well. Many people have died, even more are homeless and starving.There’s no law and order and getting help to the victims is complicated.

People generously give money to help out, money which is greatly needed to save the people there and rebuild their city and their lives again. But this is not a post about asking you to donate money – even if it would make me very happy if you do – instead I want to ask everybody a question: Are we learning anything from storms like this one?

I’m not talking about developing better plans for how to handle the disaster when it strikes, even though that is also important, and something that should have been paid more attention to in the Philippines knowing that this storm was approaching. However, what I’m talking about is climate change. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that these storms are getting both worse and more frequent because of the damage we do to our nature. We are all partly responsible for what happened in the Philippines. Just like we are all partly responsible for any other natural disaster that has happened or will happen in the future.

The lifestyle people in the developed world are leading is not sustainable – we are living above our resources – and we all know that. We use the nature as a resource instead of living in harmony with it, instead of treating this planet as the home it is. It is the only planet we have, the only one we are ever going to have. Unfortunately life is not fair, and the consequences of the lifestyle we are leading does not always (never) hit the people most responsible.

We need to change and we need to change now. It’s not enough to change our light bulbs to energy-saving ones or closing the lights or the TV when not in the room. We need to change our way of living; consuming less, traveling less and more energy-efficient, eating more environmentally friendly foods (aka plants), and so on. We cannot anymore reverse what we have done to this planet of ours – and with that to millions of humans and animals –  but we can stop it from getting worse.

You might be thinking that changing your own lifestyle will not make a difference, because you’re only one person among billions, and along with that the many corporations and political leaders who only seek power and economical gain – often on the expense of the environment or the health of humans or animals. But you know what? You can change that. We can change that. Because people together are powerful, together we can change anything.

If not you, who? If not now, when?

In the face of change

I’m sorry for the silence lately, I’ve been so busy with life that the blog has been of less priority. Now we are however all moved in to our new apartment in Helsinki, our wedding is in the past (yes, I just got married – more about that and the great vegan food we had during the wedding in another post), and next week I start my new job.

I’ve just been in Helsinki for a few days now, except the visits I’ve made during the last month since R moved down here. I’m a countryside girl and my thought when I knew we were moving to a big city was something like “Oh no, how can I stand it with all the buildings, traffic, people and busyness?”, but the fact is that I pretty much love the area where we live already. It’s close to the water and beaches, it has several parks and other nature areas and nice places to go walking or running, and still it only takes about 15 minutes to go to the city center by public transport. I think I can enjoy my life here.

The fact that Helsinki is a bigger city also means more options of vegan food, products and restaurants, which I haven’t had time to check out that much yet, but I will, sooner or later. One place that I have had time to visit though, is the all vegan store Heluna Shop in Sörnäinen (Torkkelinkatu 3C, close to the metro station). It’s small and cosy and the woman working there when we visited was very friendly. The store sells some food stuffs, shoes, hygiene products, household products, cosmetics, books, vitamins and even dog food – all vegan. The store is open Tuesdays 1 pm- 7 pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 1 pm- 5 pm and Saturdays 10 am- 2 pm. Check it out if you happen to be in Helsinki! If you’re not, but live somewhere else in Finland or in Europe they also have an online shop.

Veganism is not a diet

Many people believe that veganism is merely a diet, something you do because it’s good for your health, or because you want to lose weight. But it is far from just a diet, it is about so much more than what you choose to put on your plate every day.

Today I stumbled upon the blog Rakkaudesta eläimiin ja luontoon (In Finnish) through a Facebook-page that I follow. Netta, who is behind the blog, phrased what veganism is about in a very nice way, which I want to share with you. Since the original text is in Finnish, this is my own translation:

“Ethical veganism is not a diet. It is not a religion, which you can believe to be the one and only truth. It is not only a sign of love for the animals. It is not a pursuit for health. It is not oppression of agriculture. So what is it then? Ethical veganism is a whole set of values. It is a lifestyle. It is an indication of that you don’t want to be a part of the speciesism of today. It is thinking of the future. It is respecting nature. And above all, it is empathy, love an equality.”