Have you ever licked a tree? By Jake Yapp

I licked a tree yesterday. A couple of 'em, in fact. I don't recommend you do it. Not because I suffered any particular ill effects, but simply because you can't go round advising people to lick trees.

It'll probably cause all kinds of unpleasant illnesses or worse, so don't do it, ok? Especially don't if you're not markedly taller than, say, a Great Dane. One Never Knows. It wasn't on some whim. In the first episode of the Vegan Life Magazine Podcast (what? You haven't listened yet?

Go and have a listen, it's really fun - just search for Vegan Life Magazine in your favourite podcast app) Katie White advised me to 'go and suck on a kale leaf'. I have no reason to think I'd particularly offended her.

But she explained that, essentially, the good gut bacteria that you need for good digestion live on the surfaces of most plants. So, to tell someone to go and suck on a kale leaf was, essentially, to wish someone good health.

There wasn't any kale standing around near where I was, but the trees looked alright, so I figured, what the heck? The trees had a nice, healthy-looking bluish-green, you know - microbial sort of sheen to them. So, I had a lick.

No regrets so far. All going pretty well. Nothing to report. (Like I said: don't do this). I was in Hardwick Wood, five miles west of Cambridge, and not a place you're likely to have heard of.

It's one of countless little patches of wilderness looked after by the Wildlife Trusts. I love the work they do: taking custody of those little, almost accidental little patches of woodland that you find squeezed in between fields.

These patches don't have the grandeur of a Grand Estate, or the romance of a ruined castle. But they are vital little bridges for the flora and fauna of Britain, literal breathing spaces from the monoculture of so much of our countryside. And, best of all, they don't charge you a tenner to get in.

The Wildlife Trusts also run brilliant stewardship programmes - they were coppicing in Hardwick Wood, letting more light onto areas of the forest floor and allowing a diversity of plants to thrive.

The wood was a nice size - not an ambitious walk, even for a family with a young child, but a great space to climb (ok, lick) a tree or two and add to one or two already-begun dens.

\"The trees had a nice, healthy-looking bluish-green, you know - microbial sort of sheen to them. So, I had a lick\"

One man who knows exactly what tree to lick is Anton Petrov. He's a properly brilliant chef and an expert forager.

He's on episodes three and four of the Vegan Life Magazine Podcast, and I have tried almost every recipe he outlined in the shows, and they've all been amazing.

I will now blindly follow him anywhere, and, if I am ever with him on a street, I will eat whatever he points at.

His talk of sea-beets got me really excited about the prospect of foraging, and I'd seen on the website that there was wild garlic growing somewhere in this humble little woodland.

I walked about, occasionally rubbing and sniffing some of the plants. In fact, the more I think about it, the more disturbing I realise I must have looked.

I didn't find any, but it didn't really matter. On the way home, I stopped off at Tesco's and foraged for a massive packet of vegan chocolate biscuits.

I don't know how my gut flora felt about it, but I felt great. It feels so good when you just get out there and find food for yourself like that, you know?

Find out about your local Wildlife Trust at wildlifetrusts.org.



For more from Jake, follow @jakeyapp on Twitter. To listen to Vegan Life Magazine Podcast, head to veganlifemag.com/vegan-podcast or search for it on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google Podcasts.


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