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Thoughts on Vegetarianism

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On the first date with the boyfriend, we went for sushi, and he sat down and told me that he’s vegetarian. I’ve never dated a vegetarian before so I freaked out wondering what the etiquette is and ended up ordering the same veggie sushi set as him, even though I love fish based sushi so very much.

As we got to know each other more, and when it was obvious that we would end up together, I made the decision to be vegetarian when I am around him – if I was the veggie one, I would think it gross to kiss someone who had just eaten a load of meat, and also I don’t want to make him feel uncomfortable so it just made sense to me. What’s more, at home I rarely buy meat and the only time I eat it normally is when I’m out for a burger or some German food.

Since making this decision, I’ve seen food in a new light. Checking food labels all the time is kinda a hassle and finding that things I thought were clean actually having animal products in them makes me sad – things like Worcestershire Sauce and kimchi. I’d say that overall, Frankfurt is pretty good with vegetarians but still sometimes there are places with only one or two options. That kinda sucks too, especially when I’m restricted by my gluten allergy as well.

But when we cook together, it’s amazing. I’ve learnt that there are two types of vegetarian food – one type that pretends to be meat with all the fake mince and fake bacon and whatnot, and the other type that is just meatless by nature. He’s been teaching me lots about cooking the second type of food, though when I cook for myself I still like a good slab of pineapple curry flavoured tofu to replace the chicken I would have had otherwise.

I enjoy this new way of eating and I don’t feel like it’s a negative choice, or that he is forcing me to do this. However, I have been surprised by some people’s reactions to this small change. People turn their noses up at food I’ve chosen because it has no meat in it, even when it’s still veyr yummy. In this day and age where I can go to a bakery in Germany and get gluten free bread and where there are whole supermarkets dedicated to people who have special diets (Denn’s… you are heaven!), it should go without saying that you can live as vegetarian and still really enjoy food. But it seems that even now people sometimes treat vegetarians like they are just being that way to be difficult. It’s pretty shocking, really.

The only worry I have is that some day, I’d like to take the boyfriend to Japan and show him my “hometown” and all the places I used to go – Japan uses fish stock in pretty much EVERYTHING. So it will be a challenge like no other. But we’ll see. Maybe it’ll still be do-able…

Thoughts on Smoking

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I was with a friend trying out a new burger restaurant in town. It was a gorgeous day, so we sat outside. The restaurant serves healthy burgers and really wholesome food. My veggie friend and I were looking forward to a really nice dinner.

We were sat on benches, across the table from each other. Just after we’d ordered our food, we noticed some young girls looking for a place to sit, then pointing at our table. We motioned for them to come and join us, so they did.

The food was delicious and I was taking my sweet time. However, towards the end of my meal, one of the girls lit up a cigarette and started smoking. I looked over to her and said “I’m still eating. Would you mind not doing that right now please?” They are giggled and bitched in German under their breath.

To my annoyance, the second I put my knife and fork down to finish, they lit up again. I was so angry.

People here just don’t think it’s rude or gross or bad at all to light up around people eating. It affects the taste for me – after all, taste is whatever % smell, right? But it happens so often here. Back in Japan, too, it wasn’t uncommon to have people smoking at the next table along from you. I always put it down to Japanese men being stubborn because most of the time it’s men and not women who smoke.

Germany has this super clean and conscientious image but when it comes to smoking it can be pretty behind the times. A lot of great bars in Frankfurt are let down by there being smokers there. And the one thing I miss the most about British life is being able to go out for a drink and not having stinking jeans and hair afterwards.

I just don’t understand why *I* must be uncomfortable when out eating or drinking just because some people want to smoke. It makes me pretty angry…

Maybe I’m in the minority with this kind of thing and most people just put up with it?

Critical Mass Bike Ride

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One sunny Sunday my flatmates told me there’s a big bike ride happening in Frankfurt, and would I like to join? I love bike rides so I said I’d join up with them after my Japanese – English meetup. I’m so glad I did.

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You see, this wasn’t just any bike ride, this was a Critical-Mass bike ride. Critical-Mass are a group who like cyclists’ rights, and according to German law, when there are lots of bikes together on the road, they can forget the crappy bike paths occasionally laid out for us and act like a car. One massive car. That is made up of 100 cyclists.

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The seasoned members (for there is no leader – otherwise that would be a protest and the police wouldn’t be happy) do their best at blocking cars when we get to junctions so that everyone can pass through without being mowed down. I saw some pretty hardcore moves by them, often milimetres away from crashes.

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But what is it like cycling normally in Frankfurt? Well, it’s ok. I’ve seen worse. But it’s certainly not an ideal situation. Where I live on Kaiserstraße I can get into the centre of town on a nice bike path leading me right there. But at other parts of town you have the choice of joining the scary, honky traffic or being a nuisance to the pedestrians and biking on the path. One part in particular, around the Metropolis cinema, is my worst nightmare. There are bike paths in certain places here too, but none of them seem like safe routes to take.

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So this bike ride was really amazing for me – to be able to bike along the roads freely without worrying about cars getting aggressive is a real treat.

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And the best part? It happens every month! Twice a month, in fact! You can join this bike ride from Alte Opera on the 1st Sunday of each month, from 2pm. And again they have another one the following Friday.

For information about Critical-Mass, check out this link, which is in German.

How to Survive in Primark

Primark is a wonderful Irish invention; a shop that sells very very cheap clothes for those who have no sweat-shop related social conscience. You can buy t-shirts for 4 euros, jeans for 8 and a dress for that party you wanted to go to for less than 20. It was my savior at uni – I could be dressed fashionably AND have enough money to buy ridic expensive Japanese textbooks!

Then I came to Frankfurt. Frankfurt has CRAP shopping. Seriously, if you are visiting here and want to spend the day shopping, save your time and money and just don’t. There is a Primark up in a shopping centre in the north and it was nice to make a day trip there once every few months and just buy EVERYTHING – because it was the closest thing to home fashion as I could get. But now there is a new Primark that opened on Frankfurt high street and so you can’t shop there anymore because every spotty teenager from Dornbusch to Darmstadt will have the same items.

BUT since I know a lot of people here are new to Primark, I will tell you as a Primark pro how to work your way around these battlefields.

Rule number 1 – Only bring with you fellow Primark warriors.

Got kids? Nope, try for Primark at 10am on a week day. Leave your boyfriend/husband/non-shopper at home because children and stragglers will only get kicked to the side when all the serious shopping starts. They will get in your way, they will get in my way. We will all be sad.

Rule number 2 – Don’t try it on.

Are you seriously going to wait in that queue for 40 minutes to try on a top that costs 12 euros? Buy it, and if it doesn’t fit, take it back. Or, go at 10am on a weekday.

Rule number 3 – Don’t make it more difficult for staff.

In terms of hardcore levels, you have your That-Guy-Who-Jumped-Out-The-Rockets, you have your Chuck Norris’. Then you have Primark staff. They cannot just throw down their baskets and say “I’m outta here” when the Primarkers get crazy – they HAVE to be there. So even though you picked that Mickey Mouse t-shirt from a mountain, don’t just throw it on the floor after you’ve opened it to see what the rest of Mickey’s face looks like – attempt to fold it and put it back where it should be.

Rule number 4 – This is a battle ground.

Your buggy is in my way. I will move it to the side politely because it’s in my way. You yourself are in my way. I will put my hand on your shoulder and ask you politely to let me past. We are all in each others’ ways. But let’s not be dicks about it, ok? We are not heathens! Let’s not ram past or send each other flying or huff and puff when you can’t get past. After all, we are all here for the love of cheap fashion. And that is a glorious love to have.

Rule number 5 – Don’t be Those Primark People.

You know Those Primark People. Usually a small group of girls or young women, they’ve filled their baskets up want to assess their purchases and maybe try a few things on. So they set up camp in the corner, building a small wall of clothes around them so that no one can get by, and they sort their clothes out, and try on anything they want to try on. Look…this is annoying. You’re blocking a load of clothes, you’re blocking the way, you’re being stupid. If you don’t like something, don’t put it into your basket. Simple as that.

So there we have it – my top Primark tips. If any fellow Primark warriors happen to be reading this and have some tips, please do let me know in the comments!

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