HELEN BURTON: This column is not an instruction manual

Helen Burton SUS-150709-171138001

Helen Burton SUS-150709-171138001

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When I first started writing this column in 2014 I was at the beginning of a journey to try to live a more ethical lifestyle. Over time I have researched the issues, reported them, raised questions, shared my own choices and experiences and left you, the reader, to decide what changes (if any) you might like to make in your own lives.

As I learn more about living ethically I aim to share what I have learnt. I hope my column is thought provoking and starts conversations around ethical choices. It is not an instruction manual, some of the choices we have to make are complicated and I would never judge anyone harshly for making different choices to my own. Some of what I write is opinion, some is fact. I do not expect everyone who reads this column to agree with my opinion, but the facts should speak for themselves.

For the last few weeks internet trolls have been leaving nasty comments on my articles. I guess everyone has to have a hobby and for the most part I’m happy to ignore them. My attitude to it is that I’m obviously having an impact and some of the truths I’m telling are uncomfortable ones, so they are bound to leave some readers also feeling uncomfortable. Now I have no objection to someone disagreeing with me, in particular the fox-hunting article I wrote created a big debate and that’s fine, it’s a controversial subject with passions running high on both sides. Some comments though have been ignorant.

Last year I lived on £1 a day for a week in order to raise awareness about food poverty. To the reader who recently berated my food choices that week (again), you might like to know that my choices were made on the advice of a nutritionist and based on what I learnt from a visit to the Foodbank. As a vegetarian I couldn’t eat mince, couldn’t afford Quorn and had to rely on protein from beans and eggs. The 22p bag of cake mix you got so cross about needed one egg to make a cake that lasted all week. The chocolate spread was the cheapest thing I could spread on bread, and as I learnt at the Foodbank when you don’t have enough food and are struggling, sugary foods can keep you going emotionally, even if nutritionally they are not the best choice. There are a lot of people who live on £1 a day all of the time, and trust me, until you’ve tried it for a few days, you can’t imagine how hard it is. To the reader who says there is no poverty in Eastbourne I suggest you start paying a little more attention to reality and look beyond your own life for a while. Check out www.eastsussexinfigures.org.uk

And finally to the trolls who log on purely to comment on my weight, you are correct, well spotted, I’m fat, but also FABULOUS, so deal with it.