Growing up with Hearing Loss

My hearing deteriorated when I was in primary school. The most I remember from it is having an intensely painful ear infection and then soon enough being told by a doctor and audiologist I had lost hearing in my left ear. It seems like a massive blur to me now but I know I had to go through a lot of tests – blood, urine, CAT scan etc. Those tests where they stuck little pads to your chest to measure whatever. I was in juniors of primary school when most of these happened so I can’t remember them very well. But alas since then I have had hearing aids.

My first few hearing aids were always so glam. I always asked for ones where the mould had cutesy stuff on it because they could put stickers on the inside or make them glittery or coloured. Admittedly did and probably still would, perk you up about having to wear something in your ear to be able to hear like other kids. I do remember getting teased about it up until around year 8 where I started to avoid even mentioning it to teachers. I was ashamed of my own disability and didn’t want the special treatment teachers went about it. I didn’t like being moved to the front of class so I could hear, I cringed whenever the teacher double checked with me if I had heard everything and god forbid the monthly check the school doctor would do where they’d come and take me out of class to do these little tests to check my hearing and if there was any changes. Looking back I definitely shouldn’t have been ashamed of something I could not have controlled. I shouldn’t have believed something was wrong with me, when really, there was something morally wrong with the children that would get a kick out of teasing me about it. No, whispering rude sentences to me because you know I can’t hear it, asking me if I heard you, then giggling when I say no, isn’t funny at all. It’s anxiety-fuelling and a complete waste of both our times. Get on with your school work and stop being a tool.

Recently in the past few years I’ve finally overcome this embarrassment of my hearing impairment and try my best to bring it up to all people I spend time with on a regular basis. Mainly because A) I am a bit of a ditsy person and sometimes forget my hearing aid and B) Well, either way, it hardly makes it a good day when someone gets huffy and puffy with you when you say you couldn’t hear them or ask them to repeat themselves. However there’s still something in me that stems from, perhaps, the teasing as a child or comments I have gotten as an adult, that makes it rather difficult to bring it up unless asked.

Twice in my late teenage years I have had times where my problem has been dismissed as ‘over-reacting’ or ‘fake’. ‘Shut up about your hearing, you’re not even disabled’ or ‘Oh forget it. I’m not repeating it – you and your so called ‘deafness’. Those sentences stand clear to me in the back of my mind. Obviously because they were like stabs through the stomach from people who at those times were mature in age (well you should be mature at 17-19? Right?), and because they made me feel nervous about telling people about my hearing again.

However, being deaf, hearing loss and tinnitus effects more than 11 million people in the UK. That’s one in six of the population. As well as this, I found it interesting to learn, on average, it takes people up to 10 years to address their hearing loss. (x) You’d think such a thing is crazy, but then when I thought about my history with it up until now – it doesn’t seem all that strange. In this day and age, especially when you’re young, it’s hard to admit to something that can effect your social activity. I admittedly have a complex where I think my hearing loss would burden or annoy people, because they’d have to change their behaviours to accommodate me and ‘I don’t want to anger people’. However, now I have to say to society – boo freakin’ hoo.

Believe me when I say I struggle listening or hearing you. I like being polite to people and believe me never in a million years would I avoid trying to listen to people during conversation. It doesn’t take you much to just repeat what you had to say. Teachers and employers – if you have an employee who has hearing loss and is struggling with concentration or hearing instructions. Try and talk to them. Nobody asks to lose their hearing, lose their sight or any other able ability. Stop assuming that everyone has perfect senses. Assumption makes an ass out of you and I. Or something like that.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

Helena x

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Ta-da! One of my two aids! :o)

Dear 2015..

Dear 2015,

You’ve been a roller-coaster of a year. It’s like you weren’t exactly certain where you wanted your head to be at and kept changing your mind every month. I understand cause I am like that too. January and me had a bit of an argument this year, do you remember? I was finally coming to terms with how and how I shouldn’t be treated – I was questioning a lot of what was going on and at one point January didn’t seem to like it. In fact January seemed to want to see me crying on the bathroom floor with left-over tacky Christmas drinks at one point – which I still don’t appreciate January, but I am eternally thankful for when you turned around and pushed me in the right direction near the end. The year was extremely different to others since then and I know it was for the best.

February dived in with a lot of adventures up it’s sleeve. I got to explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh and see my lovely sister and brother-in-law. I got to visit the small, hidden village of Todmorden and meet some funny people and my confidence was slowly growing. Like a small seedling. Admittedly some days it’d have troubles uncurling it’s leaves – scared it was showing off too much growth when other people were not ready for it. But small progress is better than nothing. March was fizzy and sweet like pink lemonade and the spring definitely blossomed some optimism inside me. I began a second game project at my old job and saw a great band live. March was the bittersweet month of this year and I was comforted by her visit.

April showers mostly reflected my stress levels. Some days everything would be clear and other days you’d be stuck trying to fix a broken umbrella torn apart from the wind and reckless rain. Luckily April lectured me in the importance of people’s intentions. Some people will not need or want you when you can’t give them anything and other people will expect things from you that you never promised them. April’s tough love at the time felt cruel and hurt my head, but now I look back and see how much progress I made and I wonder if April knew how her tough attitude made me stronger. May was like a softer twin of April – still wanted to push me to extreme lengths but was full of understanding when it became too much.

June and July were blurs of sweat and motivation. Admittedly in July, I had a lot of hope for my career – then it was unknown to me what turns the Winter would give me. But I am nostalgic for that relaxed feeling I would have surrounded by friends I had made for the past year. I wish July would tell me if I had done the right things or if there was anything I could of done to ensure I would have more times like I did the past year, with those same people. But July was quite secretive and would only tell me so much. In future, I must learn to be patient but plan ahead.

August put me on a plane and taught me to conquer my fears. “You need to do these things once”, August pleaded with me. I guess August was right. There’s something about going through an airport and to a new country alone that strengthens your bones. There’s also something about standing in a hot, stuffy crowd at your first ever festival that makes you fall temporarily in love with the world. Hearing a massive amount of people sing their hearts out to one of your favourite songs along with you is almost overwhelming and I think even next August won’t let me forget the thumps in my chest as the blurs and bright lights of festivals span around me like neon ribbons.

September, October and November all hid under a blanket together and invited me to come and sit with them. I wonder if it was fun for them to watch how patient I could be over three months. The months all merged together with their mild, crisp airs and constant flickering of my phone on and off as I waited for emails. I hope they wanted to punch and kick as much as I wanted to when the long wait came to an end. I wonder how they felt when they saw me in tears questioning why I wasn’t good enough to continue my career. They had no answers. Quiet pats on the back followed and the small, tender push to go and find something else. I remember it was November’s pale, cold hands that were the hands that pushed me forward to my current career. Although I think November didn’t know me well enough to make that choice, I still thank her for getting me out of my self-pity.

December’s eyes glowed amber colours symmetrical to the street lights on a Winter evening. She was perfectly still and reserved like a magical fountain of some sort, but every so often she’d open her eyes wide and they’d shine like tinsel and glitter and hypnotise me. My heart and head would become jumpy and excited and convince me I could do anything. But then December’s eyelashes would crinkle with frost and everything came to a halt again. I think December knows how much I rely on other people and that when it comes to looking after myself I can instantly stop dead in my tracks and crumble. Instead of waiting on the year to validate me with gold, shining eyes, I must understand that I can do great things without the nod of approval.

So thank you 2015, for teaching me confidence. Thank you for giving me the strength to come away from relationships that were hurting me. Thank you for giving me the hope of new friendships and relationships that make me more happy and push me in the right direction. Thank you for keeping me humble and making me tread through storms to realise what I have the strength to do.

I am excited to see what 2016 brings. I know I am going to do great things.

Have a good one everybody,

Helena x x

 

Sometimes being selfish makes me feel good

This post is probably more of a personal, ‘what I did today’ blog post than anything else. Lately in the run up to Christmas I think everyone’s getting a little more stressed and retail is probably not the most favourable place to work right now. Although I must say having little old ladies and men go ‘are they making you work Christmas Eve?!? bless you, you poor thing’ is kind of endearing – to which I halfheartedly laugh and go ‘Aw I know’, don’t think they’d bless me as much if I told them I said I’d work Christmas Eve if I could have New Years off so I can stay at home hungover..

But yeah today has been an up and down kind of day. I definitely started today off on a positive note – my UCAS application is almost sent off! I finished my personal statement and got it double checked at my old college (shout-out to Trafford College, my rights as a student to get help with University applications lasts up to 3 years after leaving!), paid for the choices and now I just await my tutor to attach a reference and off it goes! I’m feeling extremely excited about it.

Then at work I did get a slight bollocking about ‘wandering off’, when really I had gone to help on a department that had no staff. I thought I was taking the initiative and doing something that would be helpful to the rest of the store/staff but alas. I’ve never been good with being shouted at, especially in front of peers, so that did put a downer on my day.

So after work tonight when I went Christmas shopping with my mother – I decided to be selfish and treat myself. It’s very fulfilling ‘treating yourself’, even if it’s short lived. I do recommend having ‘treat yo self’ moments. Obviously not everytime can be self indulgent purchases BUT, you can try things like bubble baths, treating yourself to chocolate/cakes, watching your favourite movie, buying yourself some takeout – even I class having naps as treating myself after a long day cause it just relaxes me so much. Naps always give me a bit of an energy lift because I get so cranky when I’m tired.

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Bubble baths are great for de-stressing

But yeah I went and got myself… (drum roll) ANIMAL CROSSING HAPPY HOME DESIGNER!

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Please excuse the bright pink pj bottoms…

It’s been so long since I treated myself to a video game; considering they are one of my favourite things. I’ve heard good things about this spin off and Animal Crossing is one of the most relaxing games I’ve ever played. I can’t wait to play it.

I also got myself a big ass jumper. Or in a less sweary description – a men’s medium size cream jumper from Tesco’s. I love getting men’s jumpers because they just seem so much more thick and baggy than womens. I do love the designs and cuteness of women’s jumpers but sometimes I can’t take the ‘fitted’ design. I look good in them in the daytime and then after eating or drinking, the fitted bit tugs over my little food belly and I feel so uncomfortable. Sad face.

But yeah! Always take time in a week to self care and treat yourself! I hope everyone else is having a good week in the run up to Christmas.

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Thanks for reading!
Helena x x

 

Halloween Week Goals

I feel like I should have hashtagged ‘Goals’.

I probably have mentioned before how much I love the Autumn/Winter season, if not there’s my statement of adoration towards this time of year. I love getting excited for Halloween and Christmas, although every October I get so hyped up for Halloween by all the store-based and online hysterics leading up to Halloween, whether it’s BuzzFeed going on about loads of cute Halloween recipes/costumes or online illustrations to do with Halloween – I get so excited and when the week comes round it’s kind of a let down. Unfortunately in the past I’ve rarely gone out on Halloween, and as I’ve become to old for trick or treating – I end up just spending it as another day. I really miss when I was young and my adjacent family (e.g cousins, aunties) would have Halloween do’s where we’d all get together and just sit around but there’d be Halloween themed food and music. So I decided spontaneously about half an hour ago, I’d try to actually get some stuff done next week that is going to end with Halloween.

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Obviously carving a pumpkin lantern is on the top of my list. Although it’s a lot of hassle and work (and I have possibly the weakest arms out of everyone I know including my baby nieces), I really want to do one! I like the ideas behind Jack O Lanterns on how they are used to protect houses from the undead or spiritual creatures. Online you can find a lot of interesting tutorials and stencils for funky pumpkin lanterns, one of my favourites I found whilst browsing was from a Swedish blogger called Ruth! She does a tutorial with instructions in both Swedish and English on how to make a pumpkin lantern covered in stars!

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Next up on my ‘Halloween Goals’, is trying to do some themed baking. I used to really enjoy baking when I was younger but recently I’ve become more rubbish at it; a good example is a week or two ago when I tried to make blue vegan vanilla cupcakes which ended up tasting really undercooked and the icing ended up looking like radioactive blue butter…
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But practice makes perfect! So I want to try again next week on something that’s hopefully less likely to turn into sickly goop. ‘Oh She Glows’ is one of my favourite blogs to gaze over when I want to find recipes and on her blog she has a recipe for vegan homemade Rolo knockoffs! I remember Rolo’s being absolutely delicious so I like the idea of trying them. They only require 5 ingredients too!

Finally arts and crafts are always fun no matter what age you are. The Tesco’s website has the awesome idea of egg box Bats. They help reuse the old egg box and only really require googly eyes and paint! Pinterest had some other great examples including making swirling hanging ghosts! You can also make characters like bats or ghosts out of old toilet paper tubes! All these little crafty pieces would look so cool as decorations around the house!

So my plan for next week is..

Tuesday – Make Halloween decorations
Thursday – Make Halloween treats
Friday – Carve a glorious pumpkin

And you can hold me to that! I will post about my experiences with being more crafty and Halloween next week. Are you guys doing anything interesting for Halloween? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading,
Lenah x x

P.S I found this adorable video whilst searching for Halloween recipes and ideas:

Tea Hoarding

The most common stereotype about Britain is that we absolutely love tea. Celebrating something? Have a cuppa. Long day at work? Get snug with a brew. Just another lazy Sunday? Put the kettle on.

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It’s not really a lie, in my 19 years of life I don’t think I’ve ever seen the kitchen cupboard without tea bags. I’ve been raised as a tea lover since young. I remember when I was tiny I used to love drinking the cold little drop of sugary tea left at the bottom of my mum’s mug when she had finished the tea. Since then I’ve always had cups of tea when I get up in the morning and when relaxing in the evening.

Since I started getting my own money, I believe I’ve developed a slight habit of tea hoarding. Green teas, ginger teas, peppermint teas, white teas, black teas – even chocolate orange tea. There’s a shelf in the kitchen dedicated solely to my so-called ‘fancy teas’. Having a sweet cup of herbal tea is one of my favourite self-care routines. Most of my teas I don’t have extra sugar or milk in so they’re very guilt-free but still contribute towards my sweet tooth. Coming home from college or work, sticking the kettle on and having the air fill with the aromatic, fragrant scents are just lovely and then the warm tea is like a cuddle for your tummy. It’s bliss.

There’s many great benefits to drinking tea, obviously remember to drink tea in moderation (especially if you add dairy or extra sugars) and let the tea cool to prevent burning your throat.

  • Antioxidants in Green tea increase the body’s ability to burn fat as exercise fuel.
  • Antioxidants in tea may help protect against cancers such as skin, colon, lung, oral, prostate etc.
  • Tea helps fight free radicals.
  • Green tea may possibly improve bone mineral density.
  • Compounds in tea can help to lower levels of inflammation/inflammatory reactions.

As well as ensuring moderation if you add sugar/dairy to your drinks, it is also a good idea to invest in organic brands of tea, as bleaching is sometimes used on tea bags and obviously less chemicals the better! The following brands are apparently rated for being ‘organic’ brands – Pukka Tea, Qi Teas, Clipper Teas, Dragonfly Teas and Heath and Heather Teas! Obviously if you own a tea strainer and like to use loose leaves, these are a lot more organic and chemical-free too!

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My top favourite 5 teas at the moment are:

  • Dragonfly Tea Organic Moroccan Mint Green Tea
  • Higher Living Green Chai Tea
  • Cosy Blueberry Tea
  • Pukka Cleanse Fennel, Nettle & Peppermint
  • Twinings Gingerbread Green Tea

Obviously Twinings isn’t a very organic tea brand so I’m hoping to invest in more teas to taste and find a winner to get on the top list. A good excuse for more fancy tea hoarding!


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Thanks for reading,
Lenah x x

#WEARECOW: Manchester Vintage Lock-in!

I absolutely love vintage clothing. It took me a few years to catch on to the benefits of buying vintage or buying from charity shops when I first started clothes shopping for myself. When you grow up sometimes it’s hard to fall under the fear of seeming ‘uncool’ especially if you’re as shy and sensitive as I was. I remember being scared of the ‘popular kids’ at school judging how I dressed or what clothes I wore. There was always trends going round that people would always try to catch up on, even in a uniform based school. Jane Norman bags were immensely popular with the girls when I was in year 7 and I remember saving up for one because I felt uncool with a backpack. I’m pretty sure the Jane Norman bag broke and its being chucked away somewhere in my wardrobe. I can’t even remember it being a good bag or not.

But that’s really not the point of this post. In the past few years I’ve been introduced more to shopping vintage and finding unique treats in thrift/charity stores. Some of my favourite clothes have come from second-hand shops. Last Christmas I bought a denim vintage jacket at Pop Boutique in Afflecks Palace, Manchester. It is literally my comfort blanket in the form of a jacket.

Pop Boutique is one of the loveliest vintage/second-hand places in Manchester. My other favourite is definitely COW. Found in the Northern Quarter, it’s a two-story vintage store with so many choices. Recently they did a Vintage Lock In to welcome new students to Manchester, but anyone was invited! Me and one of my very good pals, Natasha, decided to head down and see what it was like!

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We got into the store for around 5pm when the party was starting and had a look around all the clothes whilst jamming to Baby Got Back, a brilliant song choice by COW right there!

One of my favourite things that I always seem to find in vintage stores is ridiculous t-shirts with dramatic realistic animals on it. Don’t know what I’m talking about? You are not looking properly in vintage stores..

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The WEARECOW Lock In also had awesome music provided by Electric Jug and delicious doughnuts provided by Common bar! Cow themselves also handed out free juice which gave me so much nostalgia as I haven’t had these little cartons of juice since discos in primary school!

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I wish on the evening I had more money to spend in COW because I came across a lot of cute, quirky clothes that I wanted to have and may have to go back for in the future. This pastel blue jumper definitely stole my heart. It reminded me of December winter because of the cool colour palette and I could picture it with some skinny jeans and doc martens definitely, it looked so snug.

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In the end I found two cheap adorable oversized jumpers that I chose between. COW provides quite a few comfortable, tidy changing rooms that you can try clothes on in! The first jumper which was blue only cost about £15 and the second one which was grey was £10! I went for the grey one as it was a lot lighter and unfortunately we are not into the completely freezing winter months yet, and with the lock in discount I got it for £8.50!

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I’d like to thank COW Manchester for such an awesome lock in experience and if they ever do any future ones I definitely recommend Manchester students and vintage fans alike to pop down and visit!

Thanks for reading,
Lenah x x

my recommendation of delicious vegetarian options from well-known restaurants

This year I’ve recently decide to commit myself to becoming vegetarian. I have been wanting to do it for the past year but sometimes stumbled off the wagon especially around Christmas. However a month or two back I decided to definitely state myself as one. I told my family and friends that I was one so it wouldn’t seem strange when I asked for meat-free meals etc.

It’s been hard at some points, especially accompanying friends to places like McDonald’s where the chicken nuggets are addictive. However I’ve been really enjoying being vegetarian the past few months. I haven’t craved meat much at all unless I’ve been starving hungry and near it and even then it feels good to take the veggie option and consume extra vegetables. I remember hating vegetables as a kid but now I literally vacuum them up or get second servings of vegetables because of how delicious they are.

However, turning vegetarian is always difficult for people whom have grown up eating meat. Especially if you do not live alone and have control over what is bought in groceries. So I decided to get together a list of well-known restaurants/chains and tell you what my favourite vegetarian options are from each place! So next time you go and feel like taking the meat-free option, you can try these out and see what you think! I’m sure the farm animals will thank you.

DISCLAIMER: All of these options are vegetarian, not vegan. I can not confirm that any of these meals include dairy or other animal produce in their food.

PIZZA HUT

I do not visit Pizza Hut restaurants often but their Classic Veggie pizza is incredible and very filling. It has all the vegetables I love on it including sweetcorn, peppers and mushrooms. The flavour is so delightful and it’s what I always order when I go there. You can also dip into a bucket of fries for the table if you are out with friends or a date as they are also vegetarian.

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TGI FRIDAYS

I adore TGI Fridays. It’s one of my favourite restaurants, mainly for the atmosphere. I love the American diner style of the reds and whites and all the lights on the logo. When I go there I tend to order a Sizzling Veggie Fajita. The waiter brings you all the sizzling vegetables separate from dips and the tortillas so you can make the fajita the way you want and it is so delicious. Unfortunately there is no veggie burger option from TGI Fridays yet, considering how much I would adore the burgers back when I ate meat. I hope one day they bring out one because it’d be great to try. Their sundaes are also delicious and vegetarian. My favourite one is the Cookies & Cream one, as it includes Oreos which are so tasty!

CHIQUITOS

Last year I managed to find probably one of my favourite vegetarian meals from a chain restaurant in Chiquitos. I always rave about how tasty it was whenever people mention the restaurant and I definitely recommend it. This is the Veggie Volcano burger. It includes a veggie bean burger with mayo, five bean chilli, melted cheese and jalapenos. However because I really do not like cheese I tend to order this without the melted cheese, it’s still just as gorgeous!

WAGAMAMA’S

I have to personally thank my lovely boyfriend Will for introducing me to Wagamama’s as I had never gone to it before last year. It’s menu is very unique and there are lots to choose from on there so I was definitely able to find a delicious meat-free option for myself and the portions are so filling and big that even without meat, which is generally the stomach-filler of a main meal, I was unsure if I’d be able to finish meals from there. The Yasai Katsu Curry from Wagamama’s is so full-flavoured. Compared to the traditional Chicken Katsu Curry, the Yasai has sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash coated in panko breadcrumbs drowned in the aromatic curry sauce. It is so divine and delicious, that I’m actually craving it as I type! You can also get yasai steamed dumplings or wok-fried greens as a side to your meal which are also delicious vegetarian options!

TAMPOPO

Tampopo is very similar to Wagamama’s in atmosphere and cuisine however it was a visit to the Trafford Centre restaurant yesterday that inspired me to write this post! It was my first Tampopo meal and I had the delight of eating the Thai Style Vegetarian Fried Rice. There was so many different flavours in this meal and they all complimented each other. You can order this meal with chicken or prawn however with the vegetarian choice you get chunks of tofu which are just as delicious and go well with the egg, mushrooms, peppers and pineapple mixed in the delicious fried rice.

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SUBWAY

Although not really a ‘well-known’ restaurant. Since going vegetarian, Subway tends to be my go to place for ‘fast food’. When I go to a shopping centre food court where I’m surrounded by McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut Express, Gregg’s etc, I tend to go for Subway because the veggie options there are definitely the tastiest. My subway order may seem very mundane but to me it is very delicious and filling. I tend to have the bread as either hearty italian or honey oat. My filling is either a veggie patty or I like to go for the ‘veggie delite’, which is basically no filling thanks I’m just going to have a lot of veggies. (If you listen closely you can hear meat eaters judging me and moaning in the distance). I always get the bread toasted because it’s just boring without the warm, soft bread. Then for vegetable fillings I go for cucumbers, lettuce, red onions, green peppers, sweetcorn, grated carrot and jalapeno. I sometimes give or take random ingredients but I will always definitely have cucumbers, peppers and jalapeno on. So basically my subway order is a Toasted Hearty Italian/Honey Oat VEGGIE DELITE.  I do not tend to have sauce on it but that is mainly because I have never tried any of them which I should probably change soon. Don’t want to make my veggie subway more aesthetically boring than it already seems. But whatever people say I love it! I do also enjoy a Subway Rainbow Cookie as a treat, as I think they are vegetarian as far as I am aware. If I am wrong, I would love to be corrected, please!

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But yeah, that’s my recommendations for anyone who would like to try a delicious vegetarian option in any of these restaurants! Feel free to comment any other places or chains that do great veggie options! It’s useful for aspiring vegetarians!

Thanks for reading,
Lenah x x