What, no cheese?
I’ll be completely honest with you. 5 years ago a friend of mine told me that they were transitioning to veganism, and I said she was crazy. I instantly thought of all the foods that I didn’t want to give up and I felt defensive about my own diet choices. I used to buy meat and dairy regularly (feeling good about myself selecting ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’) but I never stopped to think about how animals were treated or the impact the agriculture industry had on our environment. When we only see pretty packaging in the supermarkets with marketing jargon to mask what is really going on, it’s easy to become disconnected from where our food comes from.
I’m almost 33 years old and I’ve only been predominantly plant-based for the past 1-2 years, so I feel like I’m late to the party. For me personally, graphic images of hardcore vegan activism make me want to shut my eyes, not ask questions and learn more. I'm not perfect and I haven't been 100% plant-based. At home I actually find it pretty easy, however, when I'm eating out sometimes I'm more vegetarian than vegan. And if I'm passing by a stand on Vancouver Island that says 'eggs' and I can see the chickens roaming right there in front of me, yes I have bought them.
So I wanted to share my not-so-perfect plant-based journey with you so far and the 3 tipping points that sparked my transition:
1. Our Mother EarthIf you’re looking for just 1 change that can have the biggest impact in helping reduce climate change, it’s opting for more plant-based meals. The meat and dairy industry is on track to be the world’s biggest contributor to climate change, even outpacing the fossil fuel industry. There are so many reasons for this stat; deforestation, ocean acidification, habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, the list goes on.
Did you know that if the world went plant-based, we could save 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion USD.
Everyone is going to have their own tipping point of why they choose more plant-based meals in their life but this was a big one for me. I’m a dog nut, through and through. I started learning about the similarities between dogs and farmed animals and they really aren’t that different. In fact, pigs are smarter than dogs. They recognize their own name at two weeks old and can outsmart a 3-year old human in cognitive testing. I won’t spill the details of how pigs (especially mama pigs) are treated, but it’s certainly not a life I’d want for my dog.
2. I’m a dog lover
3. I used to buy ‘Cruelty-free’I would spend HOURS researching brands and checking their parent companies to make sure that the beauty and household products I was buying were cruelty-free. I couldn’t bear the thought of animal testing…..
And yet I’d tuck into a porchetta sandwich without question? I started to consider the quality of life for all animals rather than only thinking about domestic animals.
So, where to get started?
1. Meatless MondaysThis is how I started. The thought of going 100% plant-based was way too daunting. Kudos to those that can quit things cold turkey but I knew a drastic change wouldn’t be sustainable for me. My partner and I started off with meatless Mondays, then it progressed to only meat at weekends, and now we never buy it. Once we had tackled that, I then looked at our diary products started to phase that out too. You don’t have to be all or nothing, just introducing one plant-based meal a week is a great start. And it doesn't have to be a Monday, pick a day that suits you. And the more plant-based recipes you get under your belt over time, the easier it becomes. Buying beans and lentils vs meat protein definitely has saved the wallet too, bonus!
Do your research! A lot of people seem to think just because something is 'vegan' that it means it's healthy which simply isn't true. No matter which diet is right for your body, it has to be balanced. I loved the 'Game Changers' documentary on Netflix as it really opened my eyes to different sources of protein. *I am not a doctor/nutritionist! Always do what's right by your body and seek professional advice if needed.*
2. Curate your feed with inspirationI started out following a lot of hardcore vegan activists. I have so much respect for what they do but I’d quite literally have nightmares for weeks. I’d start crying randomly in the day and my partner would look at me and say, “What have you read now? You need to stop!” Maybe I needed it to make the change stick, but instead of sparking me into positive action, I felt completely hopeless.
So, I curated my feed with positive, inspiring figures to help me subconsciously change my habits and mindset. A few of my fave bloggers are:
@jordanbrucerhn - great for nutrition education and recipe ideas
@mwanini co-founder or @ownyourglow - both great accounts for mindfulness, yoga, and plant-based recipes
I’m certainly not perfect and I’m constantly learning. This post barely scratches the surface on this huge and complex topic but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. I'd love to know where you're at in your journey! Are you transitioning, or would you consider more plant-based meals?
Btw if anyone has found a good vegan cheese yet, I want to hear about it! Let me know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.