While growing up, I’ve always had friends who were vegetarian, and as I was eating meat every day up to the age of 16, I could never figure out how they could do it. How could someone go through their whole life without eating meat? The thought baffled me, but in my early teen years, I started to learn more about the world, and about veganism.
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For those who don’t know or are starting to learn more about the subject – either for yourself or for others, veganism is a type of lifestyle – not a just diet like some people think – in which you aim to not consume anything that contains animals products.
For example, you would try and avoid buying leather, silk or wool clothes, eating meat, eggs or dairy, or buying products that either contain animal products or were tested on them. Instead, you would aim to wear things made of natural materials like cotton, canvas or bamboo, eat a plant-based diet, and own cruelty-free products (which means that they don’t contain ingredients derived from animals or have been tested on them.)
A lot of people believe that becoming a vegan is a lot of effort, when really it’s usually just as much effort as being an omnivore. We think that because you’re not eating meat, it’s going to take you hours to cook something tasty, when really you’d be doing that anyway! It’s super easy to make meals vegan these days and on the go options available for vegans get better and easier every year.
I personally know a lot of people who still eat meat, even members of my own family, when really some of them have no better excuse other than that they don’t want change. I think it’s important to respect everyone’s own opinions on how they eat and live, so I try to make sure I don’t judge people on that! Of course you can always recommend some vegan recipes to friends, but don’t feel disheartened if they can’t do it personally or they simply don’t want to.
It’s important to understand some people have really serious or valid reasons why they can’t become vegan. Nut and/or soy allergies is a huge reason, because these are two things that many meat and milk alternatives are made from and how you would get a lot of protein and energy. I think the main thing to remember is, as long as they’re looking after themselves the best way they can, then that’s the most important thing.
Reasons to go Vegan for the New Year
When preparing for the New Year, the common thing to do is to have some form of a New Years Resolution. Since being founded in 2014, the organisation Veganuary is a way to try out being vegan for 30 days in January. Many people after doing the initial 30 days choose to stay on doing vegan, or you can choose to tweak it to suit your personal needs.
When signing up to veganuary, you get daily emails through the 30 days to give you inspiration, recipes, and tips, as well as information about animals and plant produce. Make sure you check out their website Veganuary.com for more information!
Here are some reasons you should consider veganism:
Eating more local and seasonal foods.
When you focus on where your plant-based food comes from, it’s much easier to eat seasonal and local produce. By buying local veg boxes and eating more autumnal or spring food when they’re in season, it’s not only a great way to not only expand your knowledge on what is available, practice your cooking skills, and you’re also reducing your carbon footprint as these foods will have travelled a shorter distance.
If your food has had to travel from a faraway country, then it’s carbon footprint will have risen since the boat or plane used to transport it will emit a higher level of greenhouse gases, compared to what would be used to transport local produce. It’s also good to eat local seasonal foods, as they’re overall grown for a shorter amount of time and so use up less land.
Having a positive impact on the climate crisis and global warming.
Rearing livestock is one of the main contributors to climate change, and the climate crisis. Livestock produce more greenhouse gases with methane than cars and trucks do with CO2. It’s also said that every second, portions of land the size of football fields are being made from deforestation for agricultural use.
Due to the demand of meat production, we’re losing more and more trees – which absorb carbon dioxide and slow down global warming – destroying habitats and losing species just so the human population can eat meat. Not only is the land used for rearing the livestock, but it’s also used to grow crops to feed them. Huge soybean crops are grown all the time, and the majority isn’t grown for human consumption, but livestock.
By becoming vegan, you’re making the demand for livestock produce lower, and so less would be reared for our personal use.
Lessening the feeling of guilt.
One thing that never really crossed my mind when I ate meat, was the fact that every time I ate or wore something from an animal, I was causing death and fuelling the need for animal production (a bit morbid, I know).
One thing a lot of people just don’t tend to think about is the fact that they’re eating something that was once alive and had a mind of it’s own. Not only that, but it’s only purpose for life was to be killed in order to feed someone else.
Now I’m not saying the feeling of guilt will ever go away, you just have to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. It does get better over time, but of course don’t feel bad if you do feel guilty for doing it in the past.
Being more healthy, for your body and mind.
When eating plant-based food, you’ll start to eat a lot more nutritious and vitamin-rich foods, which will ultimately make you feel healthier. One of the plus sides of eating vegan is you don’t have to worry as much about the level of cholesterol or if you might get food poisoning like you would from eating meat, because overall it’s a lot less likely.
When you start to really think about what kind of food you can make as a vegan, you should find that they are much more beneficial, and so you become more healthier, both mentally and physically. If you’re worried that you’ll miss your favourite meal that is meat-based, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find a plant-based or vegan recipe version – Pinterest is your friend!
It’s also important to know what vitamins you need too, as ones like B12 you can’t get directly from plants but are in things like nutritional yeast, cereals, and fortified plant milks. Make sure you check out Vegums vitamins which do iron, multivitamins, and omega-3 vitamin packs!
Make sure you check out my vegan pantry essentials post if you need some inspiration on where to start!
Vegan resources I recommend
Transitioning to veganism can be a difficult and daunting process, so making sure you have some good resources to get started is a must!
You can also check out my post on Tips For Becoming Vegan here!
More Plants Less Waste by Max La Manna – This is not only a cookbook but also a book on how to produce less food and plastic waste. This is such a great book as it has recipes for every mealtime, ones you can make in bulk and freeze, and how to make things like your own nut and oat milks, toothpaste and deodorants. This is probably one of my favourite cookbooks as it has such a wide range of recipes that uses ingredients you might not otherwise have thought about.
Vegan Life by Jo Peters – I got this book from a friend for my 18th birthday and its one of my favourites. Not only does it have great recipes in it, but also tips on transitioning, what ingredients you might not have thought to look out for, and facts about the whole vegan lifestyle rather than just the diet. The book also contains things like alternative names for things like palm oil or animal products that you might not know.
How To Go Vegan: The why, the how, and everything you need to make going vegan easy by Veganuary – Although I personally haven’t read this book myself, I’ve heard many great things about it and I would love to read it one day! Written by the people over at Veganuary, the book talks about animal welfare, health benefits, eating out, travelling, and being the only vegan in your family.
So Vegan in 5 and One Pot Vegan by So Vegan – These two cookbooks by So Vegan are some of my favourites, they have a super wide range of recipes which you wouldn’t even believe are vegan! From the best banana bread to a one-pot cajun mess, the ideas they come up with are absolutely fantastic. These two books are always my go-to recommendations if someone ever asks for one, they’re super easy to make and follow, so great if you’re new to cooking!
“So What Do You Eat?” by Liz Cook – This cookbook is one of the first ones I remember having as a child, and I didn’t even realise it was about veganism until a few years after I actually went vegan. I couldn’t recommend this book more to people who are thinking of transitioning, as it’s super easy to read, has a wide set of information on all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need, and even comes with a little table at the back of the book to show where all the vitamins and nutrients come from! It contains so many “veganised” recipes, from spaghetti bolognese to apple pie, and again, I couldn’t recommend this cookbook enough.
Veganuary – Veganuary is where the whole thing about starting the new year as a vegan – by taking a 31-day pledge. Their website is amazing for giving out tips, recipes, meal plans and inspiration, and if you sign up to take the pledge you’ll get emails full of information, tips and news about the vegan world. This is definitely one of my favourite resources, and one I always recommend to new people taking the pledge – they tailor especially to new people trying out the lifestyle and try to make it as easy and accessible as possible.
The Vegan Society – Having a look at the Vegan Society page is a great place to not only get some inspiration for becoming vegan, but they have loads of information about the Vegan Trademark, news on upcoming media and brands and how to get involved with organisations too.
Cowspiracy (2014) – Cowspiracy is all about the impacts of animal agriculture on the planet and talks about what environmental organisations are doing about the issues. It sheds light on global warming, greenhouse gases, deforestation, ocean dead zones, and water use, and how all of these factors are affected by the need to consume meat and what kind of tolls it takes on our planet.
The Game Changers (2018) – This documentary talks about athletes on a plant-based diet, and showing that meat isn’t necessary for protein, and that you can still be a successful athlete without it. It contains a few famous faces such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Patrik Baboumian (a retired strongman and bodybuilder) in interviews about the benefits of a plant-based diet.
What The Health (2017) – By the same people who made Cowspiracy, What The Health is all about the correlation between the meat industry and health problems such as diabetes and cancer. It talks about all the effects it has on the human body, and how all the associations to do with cancer and diabetes actively get their sponsors from the livestock industry. It also shows how a plant-based diet can be very beneficial to your health and how it has been shown to reverse some of the effects of these health problems.
Vegucated (2011) – Although a little dated now, Vegucated is probably one of my favourite veganism documentaries due to how realistic it is. It shows the course of three different people becoming vegan for six weeks – you see their own personal struggles, how they overcame them, and see how their mindset evolves over the six weeks. This is probably one of the best documentaries to get a real insight and understanding of what it’s like to transition into a vegan lifestyle if you’re ever considering it or cautious on how difficult it may be.
Live and Let Live (2013) – A English and German documentary that talks specifically on what it’s like to change to a vegan lifestyle when you’re doing something completely opposite. There are loads of interviews in this documentary that talks about why they started being vegan – from farmers turning their farm into a sanctuary, to a butcher starting up his own vegan restaurant. It also talks about the history of veganism and how it all started back in 1944, and how they originally got the word about to others.
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (2020) – Though not directly about veganism, this David Attenborough documentary talks about the human impacts we have had on this planet, from climate change, fossil fuel consumption, and how our eating habits affect the world. This documentary really gives an insight view on what factory farming and deforestation has done to our planet all due to how we eat – how deforestation for Palm Oil destroys habitats and homes for orangutans, and how rearing livestock takes up the most landmass compared to any crop and is causing our planet’s soul to be less and less diverse.
You can check out a much larger list here by LiveKindly of a lot more documentaries about veganism.
I hope this post gave you some inspiration when it comes to veganism, and hopefully you consider trying it out either in the next January or any month of the year!
Getting started with veganism? Here’s my go-to posts!
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