Lets Talk About ✨Veganism✨
For those who don’t know me, I’m Emma. Part time journalism student, full time badass and vegan for just under 3 years. As you well know, the media holds huge power and influence over our society and unfortunately vegans receive a bad reputation! Perhaps some of you even read the opening line of this article and forced a collective sigh or eyeroll as you think about stereotypical vegans who try to push a “tofu-and-kale-agenda” on you. Hopefully I can answer some qualms and queries you have around plant-based living and how this goes hand in hand with sustainability practices.
What got me started?
I’ll spare you the gory details of my gap year in the United States, where my body didn’t react well to the food (particularly dairy products) and I spent the summer in bloated pain, almost to the point where I couldn’t fulfill my role as a lifeguard. I knew a change was required and went vegan practically overnight to combat these major tummy issues. Spoiler- it worked a treat.
Nearly 3 years on, my attitude towards veganism has completely shifted from being something I did to heal my gut, to a whole new mental attitude. I’ve expanded my palette as well as my mindset to understand food as necessary fuel for my body, not something that should be restricted or “earned”. Everybody is on their own journey to living their best life and for me, choosing vegan options holistically informs many of my daily choices around food and other aspects of my life and wellbeing. Don’t get me wrong, I have always had a sweet tooth and being vegan is not always synonymous with being healthy, however, the best encouragement I can give for this lifestyle is the revitalised energy you receive from giving your body, mind and soul nourishment through food that feels as good as it tastes.
Sustainability & Veganism (great names for twins)
In terms of reducing individual environmental impact, there has been a huge surge of interest in veganism as our society is made more aware of the enormous detrimental impact the Animal Agriculture sector has on greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Not to go all university essay on you, but researchers in Oxford found that if you really want to decrease your environmental impact, cutting meat and dairy from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73%
On the flip side, some would argue that veganism is still not as sustainable as it could be and I agree. Highly processed fake meats are made from plants but with added chemical ingredients on machinery that is expensive to run through time consuming processes that overall aren’t that great for the planet either. It’s hard to feel like you aren’t being green-washed here. But vegetables and legumes which make up the bulk of a vegan diet are more efficiently processed and are better for you too. I suppose the only reason I’m telling you all of this is so that you can chew it over (lol) and have a think about your individual contribution to sustainable food practices. If you’re an avid meat-eater, doing one meatless day a week would reduce your individual carbon footprint by nearly 15% a stat that may seem small, yet everyone doing it creates a huge difference.
Intrigued to try, but still not sure how to actually begin?
Here’s some bullet point tips I have for easing the transition into a plant-based diet.
- Trust your gut, but give yourself time to adjust. Going from eating meat/dairy/eggs everyday to not eating any of these items will impact your mood, energy, B12 and iron levels which can leave you feeling more tired in the first few weeks. Foods like nuts are a great pick me up or a supplement. You know your body the best so do what you think is needed during this adjustment period!
- Get inspired. Finding delicious, simple and quick vegan recipes is so easy on the internet and social media but can be hard to narrow down exactly what you want. I have two vegan cookbooks that I consider my ride or die favourites, the first being Healthy Kelsi’s and the second is Speedy Bosh. These recipes never fail to fill me up and give me inspo for all meals no matter what I’m craving.
- Hold strong to your principles. People will always ask why you are vegan. They will want to know your reasons, want to know if you watched a documentary or if it’s for the animals. You do not need to justify it to anyone. Whether you’re vocal about it or not, your morals and principles are yours and don’t require justification. Frankly you wouldn’t ask them to justify their reasons for eating meat... same applies here.
- Go easy on yourself. Not everyone can just wake up one day and be vegan. It feels restrictive and hard. I’ll admit I’ve cracked before and eaten a McDonald's Big Mac. We’ve all been there. Don’t beat yourself up about it (or worse, give up altogether over one burger!) just try to stay on track and re-prioritise your environmental/self goals. Also everything’s a learning experience, so understand what your “weaknesses” are and keep those nice, greasy vegan alternatives on hand to satisfy cravings!
That’s all! Go out and smash it, for yourself and the planet babyyyy.