Live Performances and Socks

Live music performance is a thing that most people are familiar with to some degree. Is it too expensive? Is it worth it? Is it a dying art? (Also Green Day).

Last Sunday (5/2/17) Green Day played at First Direct Arena in Leeds as a part of their Revolution Radio tour, and as surprising as this sounds, it was (at age 19) the first gig I have ever attended. Now, I’ve been a fan of Green Day for around ten years and I honestly didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to see them play live, so when I got the tickets a few months ago, it honestly didn’t register that I’d be close enough to Billie Joe Armstrong that I’d be able to see the colour of his socks. But then February 5th rolled around and… it actually happened.

The thing about live music is that it’s almost always somewhat manufactured. By this I mean that immense amount of planning goes into every aspect of the performance, from the lighting right down to the set list and sometimes even what the performers wear. To some, this may take away from the authenticity of the performance but just because something is planned doesn’t make it any less special. In fact, the idea that something is so highly anticipated translates to it being popular and loved. Although people are always keen to draw a line between “popular”, “good” and “quality”, we can agree that the the power of pop culture, especially in music, is worthy of further study and popularity doesn’t take away the quality of anything.

A pop music scholar, Philip Auslander, in his article about female fans of The Beatles at their live shows notes that there is are elements of shared experience and even shared performance. This is an interesting concept as it focuses more on the audience than the act itself. Although neither could exist independently, it’s nice to know that within the huge industry that gives us so much great music, we the audience are valued. This is how it felt at Green Day. Yes, we’d all paid to be there but it was as though we were the performers. In a way, everyone was singing along in an attempt to prove they were a big enough fan to be there, so it was like Green Day were there to see us perform as opposed to the other way around.

Yeah, it was expensive. Things were planned out to the exact moment. It was hot and I got whacked in the face a few times. But I got the chance to see Billie Joe Armstrong’s socks (they were red) and it was like being 14 again and listening to Green Day because it was the only thing to do to show any sort of political standing. Live performances are amazing and I hope they never become as elusive as they once were.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture of his socks.

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Vegan Student Hacks

One thing that stops many people, especially students for obvious reasons, from taking that step to veganism, is that they think it will be too expensive. No fear, here you’ll find a few hacks that are sure to slash your budget, even if you’re a lowly student! 

1) Noodles and Pasta

As a student, one of the staple foods is the humble noodle. You might be under the impression that most noodles contain egg and milk, but in fact a fair few Pot Noodles are vegan, including Beef and Tomato (surprising but true) and Bombay Bad Boy. If you’re on a tight budget, a lot of supermarket own brand noodle pots are also available, just make sure to double-check the ingredients. In addition to this, there are quite a few brands of Ramen noodles you can buy, including Koka and Ko-Lee Go noodles.

However, if being a vegan is about personal health for you, these options are often high in salt so you may want to opt for a healthier noodle dish.  It’s not just egg noodles that are thick and wholesome, Udon noodles are completely plant-based and have the same texture and taste as their egg based counterparts. Coupled with some fresh vegetables and low sodium soy sauce, they can make a quick and easy midweek meal.

As for pasta, fear not! Most supermarket brand pastas do not contain egg, so you’re good to go!

2) SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS

If you’re still on that health kick, we advise that you skip this section completely!

We all need a good snack every once in a while, more often than not during exam season. Being a vegan hardly means your snacking days are over, we have the special skill of making everything more edible… But even if you’re not an expert in making vegetables taste nice, there are plenty of shop-bought junk foods you can feast on instead. The guilt and regret can wait.

It was a well guarded secret for years that Oreos are vegan, there is actually no milk in the middle part so you can carry on munching away! As far as biscuits go, Bourbon Creams and Party Rings are also green-lit. Jammie Dodgers used to be vegan but their new recipe contains milk. However, if you find a packet that doesn’t say “new recipe”, snap it up quick before they go out of circulation! The Berry Blast ones are still dairy free though.

Crisps and sweets are relatively easy, with many sweets that are suitable for vegetarians also suitable for vegans too (just watch out for gelatine and carmine) and many popular brands such as Walkers having several flavours to choose from. Chocolate is where it gets a little difficult. A lot of supermarkets have their own brand of free-from chocolate, but if you want the good stuff it gets a little pricey. That being said, you can always have dark chocolate such as Bourneville, which has the added bonus of being good for your general health in more ways than one, including your blood pressure and skin.

If you stay away from the red and orange flavours, you can also enjoy Hartley’s jelly pots with a nice helping of Swedish Glace dairy-free ice cream from Walls, an excellent vegan ice cream substitute and easy on the wallet too!

One last thing about snacks; if you’re nearing deadlines and pulling all-nighters in the library, you’ll probably find yourself without food at strange hours. To combat this, always have a few cereal/ energy bars on hand. Nakd bars might be a bit pricey but they do the job well! Shove them in every extra pocket in your backpack and you’ll be able to power through that exam prep.

3) Aldi is your friend (Also Farmfoods!)

Recently, there’s been a hype about going to Aldi to get your fresh fruit and vegetables and they seem to have gone up the supermarket ladder, now competing with the likes of Sainsbury’s and Asda. But that’s not all they’re good at…

Something every vegan should have in their fridge is a good milk substitute. Whether it be almond, rice, oat, coconut or soya, it’s full of protein and is great to have with breakfast to kick-start your day without making you feel bloated.

Aldi have their own brand of soya milk, called Acti-Leaf. Soya milk in general takes a little getting used to but Aldi’s is actually quite nice. Not only that but it doesn’t curdle in hot drinks! A huge problem for tea and coffee lovers is having soya milk curdle and it’s disgusting. Alpro have a milk that is specifically designed for this purpose, but the Aldi milk is less than half the price of the regular Alpro soya milk, never mind the premium one! That being said, if you have the budget for it, Alpro do some great products, including dairy free yoghurt and chocolate soya milk.

For frozen products, always go to Farmfoods. Branded products are often cheaper there and because they’re frozen you can stock up without worry. We recommend McCain’s Potato Smileys!

4) Replacing Quorn 

It’s quite shocking to learn that most Quorn products have egg in them. Although there are now two vegan items in their range (burgers and chicken style pieces), they’ve yet to bring out a mince substitute. Chilli con carne is another dish largely associated with students as it’s simple to cook. You might be wondering what you could possibly substitute Quorn for without breaking the bank, but the answer is really quite simple.

Again the supermarket own brand comes to the rescue! Morrison’s Meat-Free Mince is especially good, as it takes in all the flavour you add without having that weird aftertaste.

Veggie and bean burgers are often vegan friendly also, with Quorn being the current leader for soya-based burgers. With sausages, you can’t really beat Linda McCartney, with Smash Instant Mash Potato and Bisto Vegetable Gravy…

5) Knowing where to get good pizza

And if all else fails you need to know where you can get a quick meal out and about. You wouldn’t think pizza would be an option for vegans but the chain restaurant Zizzi has what is thought by many to be one of the best vegan pizzas about. Their new vegan menu has a fair few other options on it too, so find your nearest Zizzi’s and mark it on the map! If you live in the centre of Leeds, you’re lucky enough to have the Oranaise Café on Just-Eat! All you have to do to find local establishments is talk to other local vegans, we’re everywhere nowadays…

Also, for Indian food, if you check whether they cook in oil or butter, you open up all the vegetable based curries on the menu, such as mixed vegetables, dahls, and potato-based dishes. And, failing that, there’s probably a chippy nearby that fries in vegetable oil!

We hope these tips help in keeping the taste up but the cost down in your plight in veganism! Please share with us your tips and tricks in the comments below or on our Facebook page!