Veganism – Is It As Sustainable As We Think?

First of all I’d like to clarify I’m not an expert on this topic, however I have been doing a lot of research on this lately and so just want to put my views across – this is my personal opinion and feel free to comment on this if you feel differently! I also don’t want this to make anyone feel bad, it’s just to add a new angle on current issues!

 

 

The Increasing Trend of Veganism

In recent years, veganism has taken off and is pretty much on an exponential increase in the UK. In my opinion overall this is an amazing thing to be happening – why? Because it raises awareness of the environmental, ethical & health issues arising from eating factory farmed meat and dairy products in people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested. More and more people are transitioning to plant-based milks, cheese and meat instead of the real thing because they now realise the damage these huge industrial farms are causing. However, after being vegan for quite a while myself (I’m not anymore) I started to notice things that personally I wasn’t happy with.

Processed Vegan Products

I noticed that being so dedicated to veganism was actually making me eat more processed food than I would have prior to going vegan. A lot of the meat substitutes in supermarkets have a lot of added stabilisers & flavourings, and although it is possible to just go for dried or tinned legumes & tofu – can we thrive off of these whilst getting everything we need in? Obviously this is on a case by case basis, whilst veganism might work for one person, it might not work for another. I think it would just be unrealistic to say that everybody should be vegan though. For example, women who suffer from anaemia around the time of their period?

Haem & Non-Haem Iron

The iron in plants (non-haem) is said to not be as easily absorbed as the iron in meat products (haem). So women who are suffering from this health problem might actually benefit from eating red meat – maybe grass fed beef – around this time. Now I’m not saying that we should all be eating red meat, but I think it’s important to put your health first & foremost and then your beliefs second. How are we going to make a difference if we can’t function physically & mentally as human beings?

Documentaries

Another thing I realised is that a lot of the amazing documentaries out there sort of apply mostly to the USA and Australia. I’m from Scotland, and actually if you’re buying organic meat and produce from here, chances are the animals have been treated as well as they possibly could before they are sent for slaughter (in a lot of cases). There is absolutely no excuse for animal abuse and I feel sick at the thought of any animals being treated badly. At the same time – how is this any different to the human beings who work on the soy farms in Asia working long days in the heat, to go home with almost zero cash in their pockets? However I am completely aware of the issues the fishing industry is having on the environment, and the huge amounts of by-catch that happens as a result of the fishing industry. But it’s impossible to cover everything in this one post so I’ll talk about that another time…

Can we win?

My point here is we have to pick our battles, as consumers we have a lot of power. By only demanding ethical (as possible) products then the big businesses need to supply us with that. Already we are seeing big changes with a lot of powerful companies promising to stop animal testing and bring out vegan ranges/products. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and I think we should all just go on our own journeys. One person might want to reduce their plastic waste and not be vegan whilst the other might start growing their own vegetables & herbs in the garden and eat organic meat. This is all okay! Don’t follow something because you feel like you have to, instead do your own research and find out what works best for your lifestyle. I can guarantee it’s making a positive difference and you’re winning with these small changes.

Is it sustainable to be vegan?

It completely depends on what your take on sustainability is… as I said before, if you don’t feel it’s sustainable for you and you’re not functioning properly on a vegan diet then don’t feel you have to do it. If it isn’t sustainable for you, then that’s the first thing you need to take into consideration. In terms of environmental sustainability, it probably is one of the better options but the Mediterranean diet has also been proven to be quite healthy & sustainable. To sum up – going vegan isn’t the ONLY option to becoming more sustainable, if you can’t do it then find other ways that do work for you & your family! Put you first!

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in These 6 Easy Steps!

For people who love travelling, it’s hard to accept the fact that flying is supposedly not the most environmentally friendly way to go from A to B. Although there is evidence from UK government statistics that driving isn’t much better – possibly even worse if we only consider domestic journeys! 50% of new vehicles in the UK are planned to be low emission by 2030 which is great, but there are ways right now that we can offset the impact we’re having! Here are 6 you can get started with <3 you can also refer to my post 5 Affordable Ways to be Eco-Friendly if you want more easy tips!

 

Drive More Responsibly

How many of us get road rage when we are trying to get somewhere in a massive hurry? I know in the UK it’s a big problem and I actually noticed road rage isn’t really a thing in a lot of other countries! Pete George talks in his blog about how much people in NZ love cars, and it’s very similar in the UK. Maybe it’s the high stress fast paced lifestyle a lot of people here lead, but it definitely comes out in our driving. It’s really not good to be that stressed and it can cause accidents, but it’s also worse for the environment. If you thrash your car about slamming the brakes on and accelerating too fast then you’re actually burning more fuel! So you’re also spending more money filling your car up. Try to drive more calmly and just give yourself plenty of time to get somewhere, you’ll feel a lot less stressed and you’re likely to prolong your car needing new tyres.

Buy From Carbon-Neutral Companies

Do a bit of research into companies you’re buying from and see what their production/transportation process is like. If they aren’t being transparent with their information on their website chances are they probably aren’t carbon neutral yet. Email any companies you regularly buy from and see what stage they are at with going carbon neutral! There are lots of companies just now who seem to be making that positive change which is great. Some of my favourites right now (not sponsored)

www.bambaw.com – see my recent post on a collab I did with them for a bamboo cutlery set!!

https://www.dilmahtea.com/sustainability/carbon-neutral-dilmah-tea.html – ethically sourced and sustainable tea!!

Buy Locally!!!!

Do everything in your power to support local businesses – even just changing one product at a time. It can definitely be more pricey and this isn’t attainable for everybody, but even if you can just try! You’ll be surprised at what you can find and it’s really nice to see local entrepeneurs come up with amazing products. I recently found a nut butter from my local area which is amazing, it’s called Hungry Squirrel, so I’ve decided to buy this now instead of supermarket brands. It is more expensive but I can afford to buy it so I will. See if you can find a local replacement for one of your favourite branded food items. I bet you’d really appreciate it if people in your area were supporting you instead of big commercial brands. Buying locally not only helps people in your surrounding area but it also means the food most likely travelled a lot less of a distance to get to you. This means saving carbon emissions from big lorries/planes – it’s totally worth it 🙂

Buy Less Stuff, But Better Quality

As a complete believer in quality over quantity this is something to start living by which will help you in different areas of your lifestyle!! Opting for a more minimalist based approach can not only make you feel less stressed out in general life, but it can help towards saving the planet too. Sometimes spending a little extra goes a long way – how about changing from face wipes to reusable face pads? Yes it might be more expensive short term but in the long run you’ll end up saving money AND a whole lot of unnecessary waste. How about changing from tampons to a menstrual cup?? Ok that might not work for everybody but just give it a shot and see what happens. Try things out and if they don’t work then you can change back and try to switch something else! This also goes for clothes, even if you are buying fast fashion products from high street shops why not make sure the things you’re buying are better quality/you can see yourself wearing for years to come.

Drink Plant Milk Instead of Cows Milk!

Agriculture is one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gases in the USA, and although in the UK it accounts for around 10% overall it’s still important to be mindful of this. In agriculture, carbon footprint is measured by the CO2, N2O and CH4 emissions from different processes which take part such as fermentation. Nitrous oxide and methane are the bigger problems, as they are a much more concentrated gas than carbon dioxide. Although aims are in place to reduce these emissions it’s probably still better to just opt for plant milk more often than not. My personal favourites are Oatly (oat milk) which you can buy from almost any supermarket now! And brand new on the market, Sproud, a scandanavian brand of milk which is made from peas.. Sounds gross but it’s not! My barista friends have told me it’s perfect for frothing up to make latte’s etc. Getting into the habit of asking for milk alternatives when you get your daily Costa/Starbucks/Tim Hortons or whatever is such an achievement and you should be proud of yourself if you manage to make this fundamental change in your life!

WALK more

Can’t stress this enough – if you are fit and able – walk, wherever is reasonable to walk to! The majority of people spend all day at a desk so try to walk some of your journey to or from work. I always refer to Shona Vertue cause I’m slightly obsessed with her – but she suggests moving around every 45 minutes from your seat. Although you wouldn’t be driving around your office building, getting into a habit of walking everywhere is actually kind of addictive and you’ll feel so much better. This is obviously location dependant, like if you’re living in London where it might be impossible to walk to work then don’t do that haha. But just decide whether a car is really necessary for certain journeys.

I hope some of these were helpful! You’re probably already doing some of those which is great. Please leave a comment below if you have other ideas 🙂

Collaboration with Bambaw

Bambaw kindly sent this bamboo cutlery set to me to try out and review! It’s such a handy thing to have for travelling & summer bbq’s or picnics. You can even get this if you’re moving house and need to buy new cutlery.

Contents:

  • Spoon
  • Knife
  • Fork
  • Straw
  • Straw Cleaner

This is all contained within a roll up cotton sleeve for easy storage. The cotton sleeve is washable and reusable!

The great thing about Bambaw as a company is that they’ve thought everything through – they’re plastic free, zero waste, aiming to be carbon neutral, ethically source their bamboo and even work with environmental projects in Malawi.

Because they are based in Belgium, if you’re from Europe the products don’t need to travel far to get to you. All production and transport is carbon neutral and this is certified by the Carbon Trust Label!

Bamboo products have become really popular in the past few years because of it’s sustainability, no pesticides are needed to make it grow and it is compostable. This means when the cutlery set above reaches the end of it’s life it can be safely composted (unlike metal cutlery which could end up in a landfill or the ocean for 1000s of years).

Bambaw also sell bamboo safety razors, reuseable wash pads and water bottles along with other useful and sustainable products! Check out their website www.bambaw.com to see their full selection 😊.

I’ll be taking this everywhere with me and really recommend this if you’re travelling lots during summer! It can save you using a few disposable forks/straws which is a great step to becoming zero-waste!

Please leave a comment below if you use bamboo cutlery / straws now 😛

Homemade Deodorant!

So I made moisturiser and now onto deodorant since I ran out!! I’ve never really been a fan of deodorant in the first place, I’m not sure why but blocking your sweat glands doesn’t sound that healthy?? Maybe because I’m from a colder country it hasn’t been a priority. But thought I’d give homemade deodorant a go as it’s natural, cheaper and less waste is involved!

To make it all you need to do is melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan, add a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and a few tablespoons of cornflour! Apparently the bicarb of soda is the most important ingredient. Then I just scooped it all into an old Lush container and that was it. Application wise I sort of just put it on like cream but I reckon you could get it into an old roll on deodorant package somehow. I’m not sure if this is what the consistency is meant to be like but it works so I won’t complain! Give it a try if you’re looking to reduce waste and have more natural products filling up your cupboards! Xx

Hungry Squirrel Nut Butter

I’m on a mission to eat more local and organic food. It’s not always possible for me but when I can I’ll pay the extra few £s because I’d rather help local businesses than the big brands you see being sold in the supermarkets.

I found this nut butter at a little health food shop in Aberdeen and was really excited to see that it was made just down the road. There are a variety of flavours but I chose the abc nut butter (almond, brazil nut and cashew with a hint of sea salt). They also have a cashew cookie one which I’m going to try the next time.

This nut butter is all natural ingredients with nothing unnecessary in there. It goes really well in porridge, on toast and I’m going to try making some brownies or something with it! Just wanted to let anyone near the Aberdeen area know that this is available in some smaller shops and it’s totally worth it of you’re thinking of trying it out!

5 Affordable Ways to be Eco-Friendly

https://youtu.be/cvqizSvQze8
My video on 5 ways to be eco-friendly!

I made the above YouTube video on this recently (5 Affordable Ways to be Eco-Friendly) – I feel like it can be overwhelming with all of the information out there on how we can reduce our environmental impact. That’s why I made the video, to show that even the smallest things we do can help. Here are the tips in written format:

1. Opt for an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush

Use a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one. My personal favourite brand is the Humble Co. They are a Scandanavian based company and all of their products are eco-friendly and mostly recyclable. The bristles on this toothbrush are made of natural products and the whole bamboo part biodegrades quickly plus it isn’t harmful to the environment. You can get them in loads of different colours so I would really recommend getting one!

2. Take less than 5 minute showers!

Spend less time in the shower in the morning! I aim for 5 minutes or less. I know in the winter this can be challenging but just think of the people who don’t even get to have daily showers/or don’t have access to clean or hot water! It’s a privilege and we should use it wisely.

3. Shop in thrift shops (avoid fast fashion)

Buy your clothes from thrift or charity shops when possible! You can find some great bargains there. I know it’s nice to buy new things every so often, or for things like gym clothes where you wouldn’t really want to be wearing someone’s old stuff. But just have a look, you can find things which have hardly been worn and save an absolute fortune!

4. Reuse jars//plastic containers!

Keep jars and containers to reuse & fill up with things from the supermarket e.g. oats, nuts, muesli. I haven’t fully explored supermarkets in the UK since coming back but I know in Australia and New Zealand some of the supermarkets have areas where you can fill up your own containers. This means less waste for you to have to deal with and you’re really making an impact on the energy going into the recycling process of these products.

5. Buy bamboo cotton buds instead of plastic!

Buy bamboo cotton buds instead of plastic ones! Again the Humble Co. sell these. The middle part of a cotton bud is plastic and to think one of our cotton buds could outlive us is a scary thought. It’s a really easy swap to make but you’re making such a difference by doing so!

If you’re interested in other ways to be more eco-friendly or sustainable check out some of my other posts:

A Zero-Waste Skincare Routine You Can Try Out!

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Household Waste

So there you go – 5 affordable ways to be eco-friendly, almost everyone I know can do this and even though it may require a bit of extra effort in the beginning soon these things will just be a habit! xxx

The Orang Asli People of Peninsular Malaysia

Welcome to my first post!

One of the elder & much respected orang-asli members of the Bateq tribe

Screenshot_20181103-143037 (2)

I had two different experiences of two very different orang-asli tribes whilst travelling around Malaysia. The first of which while I was volunteering in the rainforest in the centre of the peninsula, the nearest big town being Gua Musang. I was a conservation volunteer helping to set animal sensors up to catch images of endangered species such as sun bears, Asian elephants and wild boar. I also took part in jungle treks, led by a member of the Bateq tribe, to see if we could see any signs of poaching, logging & snares – which are all still huge problem in this part of the world.

I spent a few nights camping in the jungle with this tribe, they taught us how to cook meals in bamboo (not as easy as it sounds). They took us through the whole process of gathering the bamboo from the forest, washing it out, and cooking rice and vegetables inside leaves (I’m not sure which kind of leaves – but this tribe know exactly what they were doing so we just followed them). The thing that I noticed most whilst spending some amount of time with this tribe was their heightened sensory perceptions. I noticed them reacting to noises which I almost couldn’t hear, and they could see animals in the trees which a person from an urban environment would never notice.

The Bateq tribe speak their own language (Batek) as do many of the different tribes living around Malaysia. A lot of them can speak some Malay & depending on which tribe some can also speak a bit of English if they’ve been exposed to tourists. In this particular Bateq village some members from a group called Fuze Ecoteer hold optional English classes for the kids, this is to help in the future as they can interact with volunteers coming to their village which is also a source of income for them. The orang-asli population is around 150,000 and 80% of these people are below the national poverty line. This particular tribe are now semi-nomadic due to the government providing them with permanent huts to live in, but the majority of the Bateq still go into the jungle for days at a time to hunt there.

I did a bit of research about the orang-asli, they haven’t always lived in extreme poverty because about 50 years ago the rainforest was still abundant with everything they needed to survive from. However, deforestation started to happen so as to make room for palm-oil trees and other exports. Now some tribes are actually competing for resources with elephants, because so much of the forest has been taken away that the elephants needed to move to find more food. They are surviving off of the banana trees and other crops in villages that the orang asli live in. The elephants remember where to go to find the food and so it’s becoming an increasing problem for the orang-asli.

The government provide permanent infrastructure for these communities so they can access healthcare & schools, which in a way is great as they can learn about important matters such as personal hygiene etc. On the other hand, because they’ve moved the villages to certain areas, resources are not as abundant and overcrowding is becoming an issue. Some of the elder members of these villages feel it might have been better for them had they just been left alone.

My experience with the Bateq tribe was unforgettable, waking up in a campsite in the middle of the jungle to the sounds of all sorts of wildlife and the elder members of the tribe laughing and joking with eachother was an amazing experience and one in which most people will never encounter. The skills they have are unmatchable, overnight it rained so much that we were trapped at one side of a very deep and fast flowing river, and the two 80+ year old women were carrying almost all of the equipment across and laughing at my friend and I (both in our 20s) because we were struggling so much to keep up with them!

The second experience I had living in an orang-asli village (Peretak village) was about 1 hour away from Kuala Lumpur, near a small town called Kuala Kubu Bharu. The Temuan tribe live here in permanent government housing near the . I was volunteering in a small guesthouse which a man called Antares had built, he is Malay and married to a woman from the Temuan tribe called Anoora. These houses were much bigger than the houses the other tribe had, which I later found out was because this tribe had been relocated due to a huge dam the government had built to reduce flooding in the area. Their original village is now under the water. I didn’t interact as much with this tribe but I think some of them seemed to have jobs in the local town. They also make a bit of income from charging tourists 1 ringgit to go down to the river.

Some of this tribe still go into the jungle to hunt for resources, and they do all of their washing down by the river which is a really interesting thing to see happening. I loved how relaxed everybody in the village seems and how friendly everyone was. I noticed that some of them were wearing headscarves and found it quite unusual, so I asked Antares why this was the case. In Malaysia, the government actually give Muslim men 10,000 ringgit if they marry a member of the orang-asli. Which then obviously means the woman becomes Muslim by marriage. I know to be legally classed as “Malay” you need to follow Islam but not fully aware of the ins and outs of why this deal exists.

Peretak village was a magical place and I would recommend anybody who needs to recharge their batteries to go and stay at Fusion Longhouse. You will meet the most interesting and entertaining character ever (Antares), he is open to talking about anything and definitely has a lot of jokes and wisdom to share with you! I left after 2 weeks and wish I could have stayed longer, I most certainly will be back there in the future.