Life after Veganuary
The animal agriculture industry is responsible for approximately 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions according to the World Economic Forum.
It was this statistic alongside countless others that drove me to try ‘veganuary’. As well as the environmental concerns that meat and dairy inflict, I am also largely driven by the ethical, health and financial costs of eating meat and dairy. Reflecting on my vegan month I can say that all these reasons remain as important to me as they were at the beginning. I have concluded that I will continue a vegetarian lifestyle and certainly minimise my dairy intake, but not limit myself if I fancy some cheese or maltesers because life is for living.
I went into this thinking it’d be a challenge and I was genuinely quite excited to join the veganuary bandwagon. Thankfully I love to cook and getting creative is my forte, so ditching dairy was rather fun. The imagination I conjured up to create recipes made my meals pretty exciting and researching recipes online gave a surprising amount of additional options.
“The imagination I conjured up to create recipes made my meals pretty exciting”
A study in the Science Journal 2018 have said that avoiding meat and dairy could be the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact. This hard-hitting reality drives my choice to remain what I call a ‘flexi-vegan’. In this same study mentioned, the research found that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% and still feed the world. We are exploiting the Earth’s resources and it’s taking its toll, as we all probably know by now.
There’s an argument that one person can’t make a significant difference. Yet Gary Yurovsky says that in this instance, going vegan can spare around 198 lives a year - imagine what more vegans could save! The same with most individual level movements, they all add up to an incredible wave of impact and the benefits of this lifestyle change is monumental.
Another reason I chose to go vegan was of course because of the ethical reasons, I don’t want to go into too much detail around this because to be honest it makes me uncomfortable. There is a lot of manipulated messaging that surrounds the ethical practises concerning the meat and dairy industry. The truth behind a lot of it can be found on Instagram shaming pages, exposing documentaries and even a quick Ecosia search. I recommend reading up on the basic details of where your food comes from and how it is produced, but don’t get too caught up in it. We can all make small positive changes, but let’s not get overwhelmed by all the bad in the world – otherwise we won’t be able to sleep at night and sleep is important too!
Aside from all my reasonings behind going vegan I wanted to talk about the eating out options while being vegan. Thanks to the increasing take-up of veganism there are increasing amounts of vegan options while eating out. Yet there’s still a long way to go and that’s expected. Vegetarian options are still pretty limited as it stands, but the vegan choices are catching up. Living near London I’ve been quite spoilt for choice with vegan specialist restaurants, however it’s the classical restaurants where it’s a bit tricky and less spoilt for choice.
The response from friends and family I received was fairly un-bothered and rather unsurprised because of my enthusiasm for the environment and ethical practises. I did find that whenever being a vegan was brought up it instigated an interesting discussion about the benefits of going vegan and people sometimes telling me they too have been more conscious of their meat intake. It was super nice to have these types of conversations and realise that everyone is aware of their actions, while considering the impacts they have on the world.
Continuing from veganuary, I continue to be mindful in my dietary choices and will often choose the vegan option on a menu and now definitely prefer cooking vegan meals over vegetarian meals at home too. If everyone were to go vegan a day a week the impacts would be incredible, unfortunately I couldn’t find a statistic for this one! Each person has a part to play, at whatever level they choose, and it can add up to a monumental positive change.