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 🙂