“Being vegan is great! Run! Be vegan! Woo, go veganism!”
I’m aware that it isn’t that simple for a lot of people and I’m not all about the hard sell. Would I love it if everyone in the world went vegan? Of course. Could I spend hours telling you why adopting a plant based lifestyle is good for your health, the environment, climate change, animals and generally helping to improve a lot of the things we need to improve as human beings? Sure I could. But I’m not going to. (Well not here, anyway!)
I know a lot of people I talk to on a daily basis like the idea of being vegan and leading a more compassionate lifestyle. When they think about where the meat on their plate comes from and what it endured to get there, nobody is genuinely happy about it and would say ‘Yeah! Great! Woo! Slaughter houses rock!’ It’s just that, for the majority of people, they can separate that reality from what they are eating and carry on with their day. It’s the norm and that’s that.
There’s are a huge list of reasons why people don’t feel that going vegan is for them, and I truly believe two things here; 1) My new favourite quote – you have to run your own race and nobody else’s. By this, I mean that you have to do it because you want to, and if you don’t then you won’t see it through and 2) it’s important to respect other people’s right to their own opinions and not force your views onto anybody. Ever.
But there is a lot more to what I see as a compassionate lifestyle than just being vegan and changing your diet, and a lot of things you can incorporate very easily as small steps on a path to greatness! The point of this post is to share some small things you could do, should you want to, right now. Today. This minute. Just small things you can change easily in order to start to make a difference, and not necessarily by changing your diet.
1. Ethical Beauty.
This is something which is incredibly easy to do. When you next go to buy shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, perfume etc then how about checking out high street shops such as Superdrug, who are against animal testing and their own brand products (which are often cheaper than the well known brands but just as good, if not better) carry the bunny logo so you can buy and use it and feel good about doing so! Lush and The Body Shop are also good, ethical options for buying beauty products but I think Superdrug is the best place to start as it is familiar and easy to navigate through. Even supermarket own brand beauty products are often not tested on animals, Tesco are good at this, as are Sainsburys, so look for the bunny logo – it only takes a couple of seconds more and will really make a difference
What another easy, peasy one! Recycle more. It’s that simple. I think most people do recycle to some extent, but the odd toilet roll tube might end up in the bathroom bin rather than taking it to the recycling box or we can’t be bothered to wash out the baked bean can, so it just gets chucked out. That’s easy to change with a little bit of extra effort and a few seconds of time. Reducing our household waste has a massive impact on the environment, reducing what ends up in landfill and emitting methane gas into the atmosphere. You can get recycling boxes and bags from your local council and another good option is to get a food caddy so you can also recycle kitchen and food scraps easily. I’d say contact your local council if you need more information on recycling.
3. Meat-Free Mondays.
This is a well-established social media campaign and with the most minimal amount of googling or a quick search on Twitter, you can easily find recipes and tweets for going meat-free for just one day a week. Just one day. Out of seven. And the summer months are a great time to adopt this, when there are lots of fresh fruit and veg options about and it’s hot out so you can easily whip up a hearty salad without feeling the ‘need’ for comfort dishes, which we think we should be eating in the winter months when it’s dark and cold. And it can be as easy as having veggies on your pizza rather than meat. Voila! If Monday doesn’t work for your schedule, pick a different day. Be a renegade, but perhaps give it a try and see that it really isn’t that difficult!
4. Buy local.
When you can, if there is a choice and you can buy something which is locally sourced, then go with that. Especially right now with British strawberries being in season and being sooo good, it is an easy thing to start doing. Same goes if you can support local farmer’s markets or small businesses, it makes a big difference in terms of carbon footprints and also helps support the local economy. Win Win.
5. Switch to a dairy-free milk option.
Try swapping out your milk for an alternative, dairy free option such as almond, rice or soy milk. You most likely won’t even notice it and, as the dairy industry is one of the worst in terms of how animals are treated, it really will be a big difference by making a little change. According to AHDB Dairy, a levy-funded, not-for-profit organisation working on behalf of Britain’s dairy farmers, liquid dairy consumption has fallen by just over 8% in the last 10 years in the UK and the improvements in the alternatives are surely part of the reason for this. If we keep this percentage increasing, it sends a clear message that we are not supporting the horrific practices which take place in dairy production.
Also, many people don’t tolerate dairy well and so it could make a positive impact on your health, too. It is usually right next to the cows milk in the chiller, so why not just try it at least?
6. Get Nakd!
Tried one of these bad boys yet? Well, you should! They are awesome. Every single one is so tasty, and made from raw pressed fruit and nuts, sometimes with additional natural flavours such as mint, orange or cinnamon and some of the crunch ones have soya protein, but that’s it. My favourites are the Caffe Mocha and the Ginger Bread, both of which are just a combo of some of the following nuts and fruits; cashews, dates, almonds, pecans and raisins, along with some natural flavours. That’s it. By swapping out a chocolate bar or biscuit for one of these, you are helping your health and animals, too. Brilliant with a cup of tea, after dinner or a snack on the go.
7. Save water. Save energy. Save the planet.
Another one we are all aware of, I’m sure, but things like turning the tap off while brushing your teeth, turning lights off when you leave a room, turn the thermostat down a degree, wash your laundry at 30 degrees. Pick one and do it.
8. Watch something inspiring.
If you want to learn more, then Netflix is also a great starting point. The turning point for me was after watching Vegucated, but I warn you, you might end up in a heap on the floor crying if you do! Other good documentaries include Forks over Knives and Cowspiracy which will give you some background into why, according to this article, 16 million Americans now follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, 5% of the US population and up from 1% in 2009.
I hope that this post will provide a few practical suggestions for small changes which can be incorporated if you are intrigued but not ready to go full-on, all out vegan. By implementing the ones you think would be easy for you, be that just one if that’s all you can manage right now, it will undoubtedly make a difference in some way and start you down the path to being a more ethical consumer and living a more compassionate lifestyle.
If these small changes lead to you wanting to know more then I know just the place you can start — the Vegan Lifestyle Association. Coincidentally I happen to have just been appointed as Director, which I am so excited about, however I would still be pointing you in this direction anyway as the work which has already been carried out since the association’s inauguration in March this year is phenomenal!
One area which is being developed currently as part of the membership benefits package is a 1-1 mentoring service, where people who would like some support as they embark on a more compassionate, vegan lifestyle can be matched with someone who has been there, done that and got the t-shirt and is willing to help without judgement.
If you are interested in learning more, either drop me a line or visit the website and sign up to be a member (it is free, although we would love it if you could make a nominal donation as the association is run by volunteers and is funded by donations.) Around 20% of our membership base identify as non-vegans so you aren’t committing to anything by joining us, you are simply making a great step in the right direction.