Sustainable vs. Vegan Lifestyle

If you follow any of my social media, you know that I love incorporating plant-based items into my diet. But you have also seen me have sunny-side up eggs, and maybe a little bit of cheese here and there. And so you know that I am not hardcore vegan. I don’t want to restrict myself to a diet, but still want to be conscientious about what I put into my body.

Different people become vegan for different reasons. The three main categories include abolishing animal cruelty, creating a healthier diet, and reducing the carbon footprint. Whatever reasons push a person towards this plant-based diet are totally justified. You don’t have to prove to others why you eat this way because it’s your life and you decision. However… I just want to give some food for thought:

The main reason I moved towards a plant-based diet was the sustainability (learn more about the carbon footprint of some food items here). Being a skier and nature lover, I have a certain way of thinking about how human interference affects our plant’s health. But to be honest, I also have seen positive effects on my health, as well as seen the upsides to not basing my diet around poorly treated animals. However, no matter what reasons influence your diet, I just want to invite vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, and omnivores to PLEASE ALSO CONSIDER THE SUSTAINABILITY of your food and product consumption.

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One of the times that I cringe the most is when I instantly applaud people for buying no meat and more veggies, but then they proceed to still use single-use water bottles and put produce in a plastic bags (which most likely will be taken out at home and washed).  In my mind, it doesn’t make sense to reduce the carbon footprint by not eating meat, only to balance it out by creating unnecessary waste. However, I think that it’s just because people aren’t informed. They don’t know millions of Americans also say the same thing:  “just one water bottle”.

I know that it’s hard to switch the way your think about consuming products, but it STARTS WITH SMALL STEPS.  And guess what! If you have already consciously made the effort to stop eating meat, or even just red meat… I celebrate your decision. All it takes is one small step that puts you in the right direction towards making an even bigger impact. If you aren’t vegan, then realize that it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat sustainably. Certain steps can be take in order to show that you care about the earth, but also not having to restrict yourself too much.

Here are some of the bigger steps in chronological order that led me towards a sustainable (not totally vegan) diet and lifestyle:

  • Started using reusable grocery bags
  • Stopped eating red meat
  • Gathered reusable containers (water bottles, tumblers, coffee mugs, etc.) AND REMEMBERED THEM when I went places
  • Started attending farmer’s market for the produce
  • Stopped buying items with palm oil
  • Stopped eating as much cheese
  • Learned about more sustainable forms of protein
  • Stopped eating meat altogether
  • Became educated on recycling
  • Kept plastic/glass containers from food to reuse
  • Started buying food items in glass/cardboard containers rather than plastic
  • Started looking into bamboo toothbrushes
  • Started wanting shampoo/soap bars
  • Starting buying bulk when possible (using reusable containers)

Now it may hard to do all of these at once… and let me tell ya, when I started not eating red meat two and a half years ago, I never knew that it would lead me to thinking about what kind of toothbrush I was using. But here I am.

And now I am that lady that saves peanut cans (the best because they are sturdy and weigh very little) to fill with other bulk items, the lady that carries a jumbling tower of groceries to the car in the case of forgotten reusable grocery bags, and the lady that has a reusable spork in her purse always. But mostly, I realized that I have become the lady that has started to buy mostly “real foods” and choose fresh produce over frozen ones that comes in plastic bags or choose lentils over processed vegan substitutes, which helps not only the environment, but also my body.

And the best thing? The impact of one person I knew (shoutout to the bro) was able to put me on this path towards a more sustainable lifestyle. And now I have the chance to influence others, which creates a domino effect to a better world.

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What was your first step towards mindful consumption?

Your part-time plant eater,

AJ

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