Zero Waste 2.0 – Gone Vegan
So first off, Happy New Year everyone! It has certainly been too long since our last post – so long that I feel rusty. Life for us over the past few months has been busy and ever-changing – but that is what life is though, right?!
There are a number of reasons for the drop in our frequency of blog posts: newborn baby cuddle quotas, preparation for speaking engagements, potential blogger burnout, and my personal struggle with blogging on anything Zero Waste in light of a big change in my life.
My life path took a hairpin turn six months ago. To say the least, this change has consumed me, my spare time, and I have become utterly addicted to YouTube as a research tool.
Late summer 2015 – I watched Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret… *insert high-pitched screechy sci fi sound effects, re re re re*. This Netflix documentary film highlights the environmental impacts the meat and dairy industries have on the environment.
Now, previous to watching this film, I understood that big agri-business posed threats to the environment, and often treated animals inhumanely. As such, our family reduced our meat and dairy consumption and began purchasing our meat and eggs from a local butcher who advocates raising animals in biologically appropriate environments, while ensuring their farmers treat animals with compassion. I felt good about this change. Looking back now, I see it was the inevitable first step in my journey away from meat and dairy.
So often I hear vegans say that once you move away from eating animals your capacity for empathy for them increases. As an animal lover and a compassionate person, I thought this was an unfair statement. I cared for all creatures immensely. But now, I get it. It’s not that I didn’t care before, but I was able to compartmentalize my feelings about the animals I was choosing to eat.
However, the tipping point in my decision to no longer consume meat and dairy was 100% due to the environmental impacts these industries have on the planet. Global greenhouse emissions from animal agriculture are greater than ALL transportation emissions combined – yes, that includes cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes, and cargo ships! This information was staggering to me. Here I was getting pats on the back and accolades from my peers for not producing waste but in reality any vegan was doing far more than I ever could, just by changing their diet.
I felt like a hypocrite.
So you can see why I was struggling to write posts on Zero Waste while I was grappling with the concept of giving up meat and dairy. I felt a little like a fraud AND my attention was completely consumed with watching YouTube videos on how others transitioned, what they ate, how they felt etcetera etcetera.
I started by giving up meat and, in all honesty I found this surprisingly easy. Perhaps it was because my conviction was so strong, or perhaps it was because I knew it wasn’t temporary… as in, when you are on a diet that is temporary you are always looking forward to the finish line and daydreaming about what you are going to indulge in. There was no finish line here, so I tried to focus on all the wonderful foods I could eat instead of the few I couldn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there was the odd time when preparing supper for my family that I encountered the urge to pop a piece of bacon or sausage into mouth while no one was watching. But that temptation was fleeting and as soon as I was eating something else I was over it.
Almost as soon as I gave up meat I was considering giving up eggs and dairy. But I was cautioned by a good friend to take my transition in steps. So while becoming accustomed to eating vegetarian I was investigating going vegan. I started by eliminating dairy and eggs one day here, a few days there and seeing how difficult it was. In all fairness, I found it to be much harder than giving up meat. Partly because I adore cheese and butter (the smell of garlic and onions frying in butter is the best), but mostly I think I found it difficult because it requires more effort. Dairy and eggs are in everything!
So I continued to incorporate vegan days into my routine while building motivation through my YouTube addiction. But with the New Year I resolved to start 2016 with the intention of not consuming any meat, dairy or eggs. I am happy to report that so far it has been an extremely enjoyable experience. My family still consumes animal products (albeit, much less as I am still the main cook & shopper in the family) but I am able to find many adaptable meals that are fantastic vegan and that can easily have meat or cheese added to them.
Each person’s journey is their own and while giving up the consumption of animal products was a natural progression in my journey, I would never judge another “Zero Waster” or anyone else’s journey should they still choose to consume animal products.
As for my personal journey, I do not intend to take it too seriously. What is with the cattiness within certain vegan circles where it seems acceptable to critique another vegan’s commitment or the degree to which they adhere to the lifestyle? I recently read an article where, in the comment section, a newbie vegan was scolded for stating they went vegan, cold turkey. This to me is both ridiculous and hilarious! Way to focus on what is important, right?
As a Zero Waster who vows to use up everything I own and to always attempt to purchase second hand first, it doesn’t make sense to get rid of my leather shoes and bags, wool mattress, silk duvet and dental floss – this just doesn’t jive with my interpretation of what it means to be Zero Waste AND vegan. Perhaps, as I delve deeper into this lifestyle my opinions will change, but I am guessing not. And, if my area of focus becomes as narrow as the vegan who rudely pointed out the “oxymoronic slip up” in the article, please kick the soapbox out from under me and flick the halo off my head.
So now that I feel I have come full circle from the beginning stages of the process, being consumed by all things vegan/vegetarian, to feeling completely confident in my decision and comfortable that this change of course is life long, I can refocus on all things Zero Waste and getting my blogging groove back. To the New Year, you sure do look good to me! Let’s do this!
“The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Ghandi