2021 Look Back

Maria Slough revisits the wonderful people and animals that she has met over the course of this year

Already, it is time to revisit some of the life stories I have shared with you all over the last 12 months. But before I do, let’s take a moment to reflect on what 2021 placed before us. Although many areas of life are operational there is a shroud of anxiety that seeps into much of what we do and now, more than ever, we face the growing evidence that our beautiful planet is slowly suffocating, as modern-day living continues to ravage Her existence.

On the days of information overload, I spend time with the animals in this world that need our care. Animals have an extraordinary ability to ground us, offering us their love unconditionally as they share space with us with little demands.

I also focus on the positive changes being made by many. The want for electric vehicles and the switch to green energy continues to rise and this year, a staggering 582,000 signed up for Veganuary from across 209 countries and saved over two million animals in just one month.

With livestock farming responsible for over 14 per cent of global greenhouse gases and every plant-based diet reducing carbon emissions by 1.5 tonnes, this upward trend continues to offer hope for a solution to the cruelty and destruction, that unnecessary gluttony has oxygenated.


Forest Green Rovers Football Club, March issue

Trailblazing the trend for all things green are my friends at Forest Green Rovers (FGR, fgrfc.co.uk) featured in Vegan Life’s March issue. This year, the club and Community Trust have continued to support their community, both local and international.

As part of the government’s Kickstart scheme FGR will be one of 65 clubs offering six-month work placements to young people aged 16-24 on Universal Credit, helping to build their skills and gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.

In September, the club hosted two free Dance with Parkinson’s taster sessions which are inclusive, social, creative and energising classes that help with balance, posture and fluidity of movement, with hopes of them becoming a permanent weekly fixture.

Making living history, FGR installed the world’s first renewable energy powered digital perimeter system, as well as a new stadium scoreboard which, instead of drawing power from the National Grid, is powered from Powervault battery storage, which is charged using FGR’s own solar and wind turbines, ensuring carbon-free operation of the equipment.

FGR also rolled out an innovative new low-impact fabric made from waste coffee grounds and recycled water bottles. Having shipped FGR shirts to more than 50 countries last season, the club wanted to go one step further and offer a shirt made without material. Teaming up with digital clothing brand Republique the brand new 2021/2022 home and away kit is now available as a digital edition. Fans upload a picture and get e-fitted and the image can then be used online.

Panda London, December 2020 online

In the world of retail Panda London (mypandalife.com) have just announced a new partnership with retail giant Next, who are taking low carbon footsteps towards a greener future. Director, Tamir Teitelbaum, says: “Partnering with Next is a special moment for us, we want to educate consumers in making more ethical choices at home and this collaboration is going to make an impact.

The versatility of bamboo fabric makes it an eco-friendly alternative for a wide range of skin and planet-friendly products. Next’s influence over those choices combined with Panda’s passion for sustainability sets aspiring footsteps empowering consumers with luxury choices at home, that do not cost the earth.”

Honestly Tasty, June issue

In June, Mike Moore of Honestly Tasty (honestlytasty.co.uk) told us of his journey from corporate banker to vegan cheese maker and demand for his artisan fare has exploded. Now available in 60 retail outlets, they have moved to a larger production facility to meet demand and have launched the new ‘Bree’ cheese in time for Christmas. With some product name changes and design repackaging, Mike says: “2021 has been exciting and busy and we are so happy to continue to grow with some very exciting new products coming next year.”


Ruby, Mac, Dr Arielle Griffiths and Jo Amit, August and September issues

Over the months of August and September we met plant-based dogs Ruby and Mac, vegan vet Dr Arielle Griffiths of Just Be Kind and Jo Amit the co-founder of Hownd (dogslovehownd.com). Ruby, the 11-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel continues to do well on her plant-based diet and will celebrate her 12th birthday early next year.

Mac’s family recently welcomed a new furry member to their family: “We are so happy to welcome Mika, a five-month-old pup that had been moved about a lot so we adopted her,” Mac’s Mum Linda says.
“She has fully transitioned over to plant-based with Mac and Dr Arielle Griffiths sends us extra puppy nutrient powder to add to her food.

Mac is doing brilliantly and his appetite has increased. We think we have found the right combination of food now with Hownd Wet and Greta mini.” Just Be Kind is offering a Christmas Bundle Special BEST OF BOTH, now available at vegan-dogfood.co.uk.

Anne Brummer, Save Me Trust, February issue

For Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust (savemetrust.co.uk) from the February issue, change and growth is an occupational must. “It’s been a very busy year with 2,374 wildlife causalities arriving at the hospital,” Anne tells me.

“Our hospital has been under so much pressure and COVID hasn’t helped. The restriction on staff has pushed us all to the limits and funding has dropped dramatically and we need more equipment to keep up with demand.”

One such patient was badger, Patricia, who arrived at the rescue after spending several days in a garage. She was emaciated and sick with poison. “We were unsure what she had consumed, and extensive tests revealed nothing. She was so flat, so we had to use subcutaneous fluid and tubes in the stomach for several days to get a vein.

“We must learn from our harmful habits and embrace change as a positive chance to try something different”

She had help 24/7 and was treated every hour for just over a week. Patricia finally opened her eyes for the first time after five days.” After a further week of nursing, she pulled through and joined a clan of five stepsiblings and was successfully released back into the wild. “We invest so much time into every wild animal because they deserve no less.”

Within Save Me’s campaigning calendar in 2022 they plan to implement the ‘May Amendments’ — seven new amendments to stop illegal fox hunters. “The current government ministers don’t want this issue to raise its head because they say it’s toxic,” Anne explains.

“The answer is to close the loophole now and it is fixed for ever. If they put into law the May Amendments, illegal hunting is dead. It’s illegal to hunt mammals with dogs, so now make it impossible. If our government really cares about wildlife, they must show it.”

The fight to end the badger cull continues with the last seven cullings making no difference to bovine TB in cattle. As Anne says, with the science never having supported the badger cull in 2013, and with more data now available, it’s a travesty it continues.

“There will also be a call for evidence on snares, a ban of some type in the fur trade and a degree of halting of intensive farming. All these are easy to implement and, in this day and age, long overdue — they stand in direct opposition to the Sentience Bill. In 100 years’ time we will look back at this period with shame for the ills we have bestowed on the planet.”



“We are at a tipping point now, with successive governments having got us here. Ignorance is no longer a defense. I hope this government follows its rhetoric and start to put in place policies that makes us the greenest country with a sustainable future for all our sakes. I want to see animals get the respect and rights they deserve. If we continue as we are changing climate, losing habitat and destroying the other non-human species on the planet, we are surely sealing our own fate, as after all, we are just species ourselves.”

With that sobering message being shared globally, we must learn from our harmful habits and embrace change as a positive chance to try something different. We can all play our part. Take a moment before reacting; align our minds and hearts with compassion; and if one can offer up kindness to as many living souls as possible, two legged and four, chances are 2022 will be a much brighter and safer place to grow in.

Follow Maria’s photography journey at mariaslough photography.com and Instagram @mariaslough


The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.