All right, so I am a vegan what has that got to do with ethical and sustainable travel? For me, becoming a vegan meant transforming my whole lifestyle. I was always aware of my ethical doubts about animals and how we treat them. I was also deeply interested in the whole sustainable living thing and the need to care for the planet. Continue Reading
This quick guide will help you get to grips with starting your own self hosted blog. It is the second part of my series looking at resources for setting up a blog or website – check out the first part here – it looks at free blogs.
For a total newbie all of this can be very intimidating at first. All the new terminology and the range of different ways to go about getting your first web property up and running can be confusing. Let’s start with the most important elements for going the self hosted way.
These are the 3 things you will need:
Your website / blog needs a name! The domain name basically provides you with a unique address on the internet. It is made up of two parts – the name “Mygreatblog” and the extension “.com” or “.org” etc. Don’t get to worried about the extensions; just know that in most cases people use the .com version.
To purchase a domain name you will need to visit a Domain Registrar such as Namecheap.com or Godaddy – just do a Google search for many others. At the registrars website you get to search if the name you want is available and then you simply buy it and register it as your website address.
Costs vary but expect to pay around $12 and don’t forget to look for discount coupon codes! Your new domain name will need to be renewed each year for a similar amount or you can register for several years at a time. Next up …
You have your name, now it needs to be hosted somewhere that people can go and see it. There are loads of hosting companies catering to all sizes of businesses and blogs and offering different types of hosting.
For starting out I recommend a basic shared hosting account with one of the well known companies – Hostgator, Bluehost or Stablehost are all good.
Hosting costs can vary widely depending on your needs but for starting out a basic shared hosting plan will cost about $4 – $9 per month. Again you can save a bit by paying for a year or two upfront.
That is it for your basic costs – all you need to get started – domain plus hosting. Most people are shocked at how little it costs to get a website online.
Now you are not quite ready to start writing that epic blog. First you need to connect your domain name to your hosting account. Don’t worry this is very easy and the hosting companies can walk you through it. No real technical expertise is required.
So domain name and hosting are ready, now you need a way to publish your article onto the website. This is usually called a Content Management System (CMS) OR Blogging Platform.
There are several to choose from and some are free whilst others are paid. Some include:
For most people the choice is easy – WordPress.
It is the most commonly used blog platform, especially for non tech people.
You can install WordPress for free on to your hosting account. Again the hosting company provides simple installation instructions which usually involves just clicking a few buttons. It really is that easy to set up.
Think of WordPress as the back-end of your website where all of the management takes place. It is very easy to use and requires no real technical ability.
This is the basic outline to getting started but of course you are going to need to do some more research. Don’t be afraid of the technology, just get started.
Learning to use WordPress can be done as you go along, just learn the basics and get started then when you need to do something new you can research that subject. The great thing about all of this is that the web can help you.
There are loads of great, free resources online to help you – from the most basic to more complex techniques. Remember, just get started and have fun learning as you go.
So you think you could be a successful blogger? Why not, with a commitment to learn and the ability to write and work hard, anything is possible. In this article I want to share some of the resources available to help you get started.
It is by no means a comprehensive guide – whole websites have been dedicated to this vast subject and a small article here will only help you get your head around the basics of what is available.
So I am assuming you have some sort of plan about this blog of yours. Is it going to be a personal style blog talking about subjects which inspire you? Perhaps you want to focus on a particular skill you have, some information you can share with the world. Do you need a business blog, somewhere to grow your customer base and break into online sales? All of these and many more are feasible; just have a look what’s out there.
I will outline some of the best ways to get started, depending on your circumstances. To start with you need a platform – a way to present your blog online.
Believe it or not there are lots of free services to get your first website up and running. Free blogs can be a great way to start – they give you some experience of how things work and you get to start writing – at no cost. You can even make money with a free blog.
There are different types of free blog hosts:
Sites like Squidoo or Hubpages are free to use. You simply register with them and start writing articles one by one. They are not true websites of themselves but rather a collection of web pages published under your user account.
People use them for all sorts of informational articles and product reviews. They are good for writing about a wide range of subjects not necessarily related. Plus you can earn money through these sites either by promoting products or through advertizing revenue – where you get a share.
These are different in that they allow you to build mini websites on their domain at no cost. Some good examples are Webs.com and Weebley.com but there are many more available.
Again you just need to sign up and you can start right away. These properties work by allowing you a limited amount of resources – web space basically – and then they will run adverts on your site and so make their money.
They can be a great starting point and are ideal for small niche websites focused around specific subjects. They are limited in certain ways either by the number of pages you can publish or the amount of space the overall site takes up (in memory terms).
Both the above examples of free host sites require very little in the way of technical know-how. If you can write and follow basic instructions you can get started.
They both have a shared major drawback in my opinion – you do not own or control the sites you create. They are hosted by the provider and are subject to their rules and conditions – which can change at short notice. Sometimes these services simply close down with little notice or else switch to a paid service leaving you with problems.
I would recommend them for trying things out and getting a start but for any serious projects you need to look at self hosted platforms. With self hosted blogging platforms you are the owner and are not at the mercy of some other company. You will be surprised at how cheap self hosting can be so don’t let that worry you.
If you get to the stage where you need a professional set up and have a reliable business type platform you need to consider the self hosted route.
Check out part two of this series about getting started with your own self hosted website.
Whatever route you choose to go, whether free or self hosted, the most important thing is to get started. Too many people get bogged down with the technicalities and can’t make decisions, endlessly considering which way to go.
My advice is to start writing and work on the details as you go. Successful blogging starts and ends with writing – the stuff in the middle matters, but without the words you have nothing.
Once you get in to this whole vegan thing you soon realize that following the true lifestyle isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Of course it all depends on your level of commitment.
For some, veganism must be adhered to – to the letter and at all costs. From the start I took a more relaxed approach aiming to do the best I could.
You don’t automatically think about the things around you in your home and everyday life being affected by your vegan conversion. If you really want to make a commitment to a totally animal free lifestyle then, sooner rather than later, you need to take a long hard look at the things that you use.
When I first started to look around the home for animal products I realized that I would need to take a more relaxed attitude and aim to improve things over time. This was based on very practical reasons – I couldn’t afford to suddenly get rid of all the stuff that needed to go, not right away. I did however resolve to make that transition as quickly as possible.
They are not always that obvious but here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Let’s start with the leather and animal skin products not counting the bearskin rug and the moose head above the fireplace!
I bet most of your shoes, belts, purses and wallets are made from leather.
Those crocodile shoes have got to go – what were you thinking in that past life!
Leather products are all around us, so much so that we don’t even register that these things are made from animal skins. So much fuss is made about fur products – what’s the difference really?
The leather sofa and chairs – gone, as soon as you can afford to replace them of course.
Check your carpets – pure new wool? Things aren’t always obvious at first but you need to be honest.
Cosmetics – tested on animals? You need to look at ways to ethically source all
natural, vegan friendly cosmetics. Make sure they have been tested on innocent vegans.
Don’t forget that shampoo with honey and lemon, stealing from the poor bees.
Any feathers in those very comfy pillows – stolen from birds?
Silk bed sheets are another obscure one, again stolen from animals.
Pearls are another unusual example – not immediately one which comes to mind but when you apply the vegan rules, it makes sense. You don’t want to eat the oyster so leave the pearls where they are.
How many woolen jumpers or socks are in your wardrobe?
Leather picture frames, wool insulation in the walls, animal hair shaving brushes, toothpaste containing milk, beeswax furniture polish…. The list goes on and on. The more critically you look at the world around you the more you will find.
As I said, even with the best will in the world I wasn’t in the position to just replace everything in one go. You can’t deny your previous non vegan existence and I think it is unreasonable to expect perfect adherence to vegan principles right from the start.
Get rid of the stuff you can do without and then start working on the rest.
Everything you buy from now on should be checked – has any animal suffered for you to have this product?
The good news is that when it comes to buying vegan friendly products you have lots of alternatives. Shopping online makes it even easier and of course you can check out all the vegan websites for some great information.
You are not on your own with all of this. No matter what commitment level you choose to take there are vegans just like you trying to do what is right and what is right for our world. Do your best!
Who doesn’t love delicious cakes and wonderful freshly baked bread? There is a problem however; traditional baking methods and ingredients don’t really cater for anyone leading a vegan lifestyle. Thankfully there are easy ways to get around these problems and enjoy good old home baking without compromising on taste.
When you first start out with becoming a vegan there can be quite a steep learning curve. There are so many things to consider which were part of your previous lifestyle and yet they are no longer acceptable to a serious vegan. Sometimes the problems are less obvious and need some thought.
It is pretty obvious that some main food items are off the menu such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk. Then you need to start looking at things made using any of these ingredients.
Most traditionally baked products like cakes, pastries, cookies and bread are made using dairy products – milk eggs and butter. This is the problem for a vegan. Now you need to learn how to get around these problems if you still want to enjoy these foods.
Yeah, sure there are loads of specialist vegan delicacies you can go out and buy now. It is great to see that many companies are now catering for the growing vegan market but sometimes you need to do it yourself.
Buying vegan bread may be part of your weekly shopping but what about something for a little fun and a personal touch?
Baking can be so much fun especially with kids around. You may not want to bake all your own products but it is good to at least know how. First things first – you need to replace those dairy items with something a little more vegan friendly.
Eggs are normally used in baking for either:
Here are a couple of ways to substitute eggs in a binding type recipe:
You just need to experiment a little to get your quantities right, the above measurements are equivalent to one egg.
Here at least we have several ready replacements. You want to think about the finished item and how the chosen type of milk is going to affect the taste.
Some milk replacements like almond and coconut milk can really add to certain recipes giving them a sweet lift.
I wouldn’t really recommend trying to make your own butter – you can just substitute your favorite brand of vegan margarine. Another alternative great for baking sweet products and puddings is Coconut butter. Try it in your cookies for a sweet rich flavor.
These few tips are enough to get anyone started with vegan style baking. Just because you have made a lifestyle choice doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some of life’s little luxuries. The great news is that you will also be having the healthy versions without compromising on taste.
I had to share this on my blog. Travel has always been a huge part of my life and I have been lucky enough to visit some fantastic places but one always draws me back – Spain.
Now you might be imagining just another Mediterranean beach holiday and for many that might be the case. My Spain is a little different.
As a family we have a very definite link with Spain – my aunt and uncle moved there to live about fifteen years ago. Soon after they moved we decided to take the opportunity to visit. It was before we were married and all we needed were the flights and some spending money. The lure of a cheap, dream holiday was irresistible – mercenary but honest!
They had moved to a small rural town called Muro del Alcoy, about a one hour drive north of Alicante. It is about half way between Alicante and Valencia – inland and in the mountains. The area just blew me away.
We flew to Alicante and picked up a cheap rental car and followed the map. Alicante provided our only view of the Mediterranean for the whole two week stay. That first trip changed any preconceived ideas we ever had of this country.
After fifteen years of visiting and touring around many different parts of Spain I have discovered a general rule. If you want to experience the real hidden life of Spain you need to get away from the coastal resorts and head inland. If you can see the sea – turn back!
Most people make the mistake, in my view, of heading for the hugely popular coastal resorts. Parts of the coastline have been totally ruined by several decades of commercial tourism. High rise apartments and hotels, huge areas of identical holiday villas and towns overcome with cheap bars, restaurants and tacky gift shops. For some this may sound great but trust me, this country has so much more to offer the discerning tourist.
The real, old Spain lies inland and you don’t need to travel that far to find it.
Enter a world of beautiful scenery, bustling market towns and centuries old villages where life just ticks along. Imagine little old village squares with kids playing and old men in hats smoking pipes under the shade of ancient olive trees.
Mountain scenery or lush green orange groves, Spain has a true diversity that most people miss. Did you know you can have a winter skiing holiday in the high Sierra Nevada mountains of southern Spain – and of course the Spanish side of the Pyrenees?
In the north west Atlantic coastal region you’ll find a more temperate climate with grasslands and forests. Head to the southern city of Seville in August and you will understand the meaning of hot! The point is that there can be something for everyone.
Spain has a fascinating cultural history making in unique in many ways. They long ago recognized the importance of preserving their old towns and ancient parts of their cities. Here I have seen some amazing examples of mixing the old with the new without ruining towns and cities.
Don’t just visit Barcelona – much as I love it, Spain has many other cities to compete. Valencia is a very beautiful city which is often low down on the tourist list. Two more of my favorites – Malaga and Alicante are so often treated as airports and yet they are vibrant and very beautiful cities well worth a visit.
If I could give one single piece of advice to anyone traveling to Spain for the first time it is to head inland. Get off the beaten track away from the resorts as soon as you can and you will experience something most people miss – the Real Spain.
Vitamin D is another vital ingredient essential for a healthy body, we all need it. I promise I am not going to go through all of the vitamins, but this one has particular importance for some people following a vegan lifestyle.
This one is a little unusual – it is a fat soluble vitamin usually associated with healthy bone development and maintenance. Another thing makes it stand out; it is produced by our own bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. How good is that – we can make it ourselves!
Our clever bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet B light. This doesn’t only happen in bright sunshine. Even reasonably high light levels on a cloudy day can stimulate the production of this vitamin.
For the majority of people in the world vitamin D isn’t a problem and they get all they need from the sun’s rays. It can however be a serious problem for people living in far northern latitudes, usually above 52°. Here, the long dark winters with short day length and cold temperatures means that people don’t get enough light exposure to keep their vitamin D levels up. Being wrapped up in warm clothing doesn’t help with sunlight exposure either.
Vitamin D is also present in many foods so creating a balanced diet can help offset the lack of sunlight. If you’re a vegan and living in low light conditions you need to find ways to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.
It is never that straightforward for the vegan as many of the foods which are naturally high in vitamins D are off the menu.
Here are a few of the foods which are naturally high in vitamin D, but not suitable for a vegan diet:
This isn’t a definitive list but you get the idea.
As with my other article about vitamin B12, your best source is going to be in fortified products – products were the vitamins have been added. You will need to check individual products for the presence of the vitamins required.
Another option is to take a vitamin D supplement. There are specialist supplements designed for vegans that usually include vitamins D and B12.
Remember, if you’re a vegan living in an area of reasonably high light levels, you will be able to get all of vitamin D you need from sunlight.
A lack of vitamin D in your diet can lead to quite serious health issues:
Unfortunately having too much vitamin D can also cause problems.
Too much vitamin D can lead to overproduction of calcium in the body which in extreme cases can lead to increased risk of kidney stones and even heart attack. It is relatively rare but just remember not to overdo it.
Most vegans will not need to worry about their vitamin D levels. They will get all that they need from regular exposure to sunlight.
People living in colder climates should consider supplementing vitamin D intake especially during winter months. Lots of mushrooms and fortified products work well but alternatively a simple vitamin supplement taken regularly will do the job.
This is the part of this site where I look at some interesting careers. Some might be jobs I have done or would like to do others I just find fascinating or fun.
Today’s Job Focus is looking at becoming a Nutritionist or a Dietician.
I need to thank a very good friend called Sarah who works as a Nutritionist for a very busy local hospital which shall remain nameless! She kindly answered my questions and provided some unique insight to this career.
Some people call themselves a nutritionist others still call it a dietician – same thing different name. They are experts in all aspects of food and nutrition – the practical needs and the science behind it all. It is a science based career and one which has become very popular.
Their job in its simplest terms is to advise and put together comprehensive eating and nutrition based guides often with a specific goal in mind.
Hospitals and nursing care facilities are the most common workplaces for the nutritionist. Their job prospects have greatly improved with people’s increased awareness of good diet. Nutritionists are now a major part of most sports teams – a relatively new and specialized branch of the career.
The job has really changed with the times and you can find private practice dieticians serving peoples needs and their desire to have balanced diets and healthy lifestyles.
It depends on the job of course but most have common themes:
Patient or Client assessment.
Qualified nutritionists often specialize in certain fields such as sports science or health; others are more general in their range of work.
Most nutritionists will need to have a bachelor’s degree in a science or medical related subject followed by a specialist course or internship. Some colleges offer specialized courses in dietetics.
In most cases becoming a nutritionist involves extensive training in the form of internships – much like many medical fields.
Don’t think you are going to become a recognized, professional nutritionist without extensive training and education – it is a highly skilled medical profession.
Some states require nutritionists and dieticians to be licensed. Most large employers will now insist on the applicant gaining the RD (Registered Dietician) credential.
Again this can vary widely according to the work and the type of employer. The median wage in 2010 (latest figures available) was $53,250. As a general guide $40,000 – $70,000 in the US.
When you get into consultant status and of course private practice the figures can really grow!
Definitely a fast growing profession with good future prospects. Our interest and awareness in dietary health is going to continue. Treating and preventing major health problems such as diabetes and heart disease is going to fuel the rising number of specialist dieticians and nutritionists.
Thanks to Sarah for providing this information.
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