Why I Choose a Plant-Based Diet (but no, I’m not a vegan)
The food choices we make have an impact on the planet. There’s 7 billion of us, and we all need to eat, so we’re talking a huge impact. When I quit plastic in 2012, I stopped buying food products in plastic packaging, which meant processed and mass produced food. Initially I was motivated by waste, but then I began to think about how sustainable my food choices were in other ways.
I started shopping locally and buying whole foods and the environmental impact of my diet reduced as a result.
Recently I’ve started hearing more and more about choosing to go vegan to fight climate change, and “eating for the planet” and it got me thinking about my own diet and whether being vegan was the most sustainable choice for me. I’m 99% meat free and this year I committed to aiming for fish-free too. I avoid dairy.
I guess you’d describe my diet as plant-based, but I’m not a vegan. Here’s why:
Why I Choose a Plant-Based Diet
I love vegetables.
I mean I really truly absolutely love vegetables. They are friggin’ delicious. Give me all the vegetables any day! I love the fact they are so varied, so versatile – you can eat them boldly, or you can sneak them into anything.
I love making vegetable-based desserts (it’s far more possible – and delicious – than it sounds).
Did I always love vegetables? Not particularly. But when you step away from the supermarket and go to the Farmers’ Markets and grow your own you discover a whole other world of taste and satisfaction.
Creativity in the kitchen.
Experimenting in the kitchen is my creative outlet. I love mixing things together and trying new combinations, or new ways of doing things…and vegan cooking is a world of opportunity.
Vegan food in the 21st century is super creative, with raw desserts that rival conventional desserts, dairy style products made of nuts that are a million miles away from those processed-fake-cheese-vacuum-packed-blobs and clever ideas like making meringues from leftover chickpea brine that make my mind run overtime.
Fish and plastic in the ocean.
I stopped eating meat a long time ago, but my husband and I have always eaten fish. More and more though, when I see the reports of how much plastic is in the ocean, and in our fish, it makes it seem less appetizing.
If you’ve taken part in a beach or river clean up then you’ll know exactly what I mean! That plastic is being ingested by fish (a study showed 25% of fish contain plastic) and what that means for human health is still being researched.
Plastic aside, the other question is whether there really is sustainable seafood. There’s plenty of issues with fishing – like overfishing, using indiscriminate nets and bycatch.
I’m happier sticking with my vegetables.
Bottle Return Schemes are a pain.
Until recently, my husband still bought dairy milk for his coffee. We bought the milk in glass bottles and returned the containers. Simple – except without a car, returning the bottles was difficult, and we’d end up storing several months worth before we could return them.
Cue a cluttered kitchen and much grumbling. We did it because we cared.
Eventually he decided to switch to nut milk (we use cashew nut milk for coffee, or a blend of 50/50 almond milk:cashew milk if I make both at once). The clutter-free kitchen, the fact it is much harder to run out of cashews than milk and the general ease means he won’t be going back.
The Ethics of the Dairy Industry.
If I’m completely honest with myself, I always knew that the dairy industry wasn’t all happy cows and green grass. But I ate so much dairy (milk and cheese) and liked it so much that I never thought I’d be able to give it up – and so I didn’t think about the ethics. (There’s a term for that. It’s called cognitive dissonance.)
I didn’t want to think about it.
What changed my mind was Plastic Free July. It changed the way I shopped and the types of meals I cooked, and I started buying less dairy and experimenting with nut milks and other alternatives without really intending to.
Once I realised I really wasn’t consuming that much dairy any more, I finally opened my eyes to the dairy industry. Cows produce milk after having a calf, but the farmer doesn’t want the baby drinking the milk, he wants to sell it to us. So the calf is removed (sometimes only hours after birth) – and if it’s a male calf it will often be destroyed (and we’re talking millions per year worldwide). Mothers get no time to bond with their young.
To keep a cow producing milk she needs to give birth every year, as milk production declines over time. So 305 days after calving, she is taken off milk production to gestate another calf (she is given 60 days to rest prior), and the cycle begins again.
It’s industrial agriculture.
There’s plenty more I could say, but I’ll just say this: personally, supporting the dairy industry doesn’t make me feel good, and I don’t think (in its current form) it’s a sustainable industry in the 21st century. I try to consume as little dairy as possible, and we no longer buy dairy for home.
Out and about, it’s hard to avoid completely and we do what we can.
Why I’m not a Vegan
I’m motivated by sustainability principles.
I’m also motivated by ethics and health, but my guiding value is sustainability. Living in a city in a country with an abundance of fruit and vegetables, it’s very easy for me to choose to eat a plant-based diet.
Were I to live somewhere else where vegetables weren’t so prevalent, my diet would probably be different. I value local and seasonal over big business agriculture and industrial food systems, and that means I won’t rule out non-vegan alternatives. I’m always open to new ideas.
I still eat eggs.
It’s not possible to get B12 from a plant-based diet without eating fortified foods (mass-produced chemical laden cereal and bread? No thanks) and I’d rather get the nutrients I need from food than take supplements.
That said, I’m pretty fussy with my eggs. There is no way I’d eat a battery egg (despite being banned in the EU since 2012, they are still available to buy in Australia) and after the controversial press surrounding labelling of free-range eggs I stick to super local, organic, clearly labelled eggs – or get them from friends.
I still eat honey.
Bees are amazing, and honey is a superfood – full of nutrients and thought to be immunity-boosting. I love that it can be produced locally, whereas other minimally processed sugars like coconut sugar are imported. The other alternative? Big business sugar cane sugar with all the nutrients stripped out. No thanks.
I still buy non-vegan fabrics.
As I’ve mentioned before, my goal is to have a wardrobe comprised of almost entirely natural fibres. This means silk and wool (both no-nos for true vegans) will be a part of that. I’ve bought leather in the past but since I’ve learned more about how polluting the leather industry is and the toxic effects of chromium poisoning, I’m avoiding this until I learn more.
I’m a ‘freegan’ more than a vegan.
I’m definitely not into labels or trying to pigeon-hole myself into any kind of category, but I can’t bear waste, and this includes food waste. I’m not bothered so much with the waste of food-like substances like pre-packaged, processed junk food (well, I hate the waste of course, but I’m not gonna eat that stuff!), but if I had the choice between eating a grass-fed organic steak or watching it go in the bin and going hungry, I’d probably opt for the former. Fortunately that kind of dilemma doesn’t happen very often.
To sum up, I’d say that negotiating ethics and morals is a minefield, and there’s almost always compromise somewhere. I’m comfortable with the choices I’ve made. Eating locally produced food as much as possible, seasonal always and small-scale and independent as an ideal, a plant-based diet works for me. But no, I’m not a vegan.
Now it’s your turn to give me your thoughts on this! How would you describe your diet? Do you eat a plant-based diet? Would you call yourself a vegan? Whether yes or no, tell me your reasons! Why have you made the choices you made? Have you changed your diet due to environmental, ethical or sustainability reasons, or is food an area that you’re not willing to compromise with? Is it something you want to change in the future, but you haven’t begun yet? Does the place you live restrict the choices you make? This is such an interesting and juicy topic and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment below!
I’m technically a vegetarian, but very much feel along these lines. I think what can be overwhelming is when you start from a meat and dairy-heavy, processed diet, then open your eyes to what really happens, and try to change it all at once. You begin having anxiety issues in the shops as you try to weigh up the moral and ethical pros and cons of each item, until you just give up and go back to what you know.
What you’ve outlined here really supports the idea of making the best choices you can, as you go, and slowly evolving over time to improve those choices. Ethics with animals comes out slightly ahead of the sustainability issues for me right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a very substantial weight in my decision-making processes. I’m curious to try the homemade cashew milk, but it will still be a while (with two very young children) before I get the chance to try it!
The fabric thing is something I’ve struggled with, too – those natural fabrics are better in almost every way, with the exception of silk, wool and leather all being animal fabrics and in most cases requiring the death or suffering of an animal. I generally end up choosing the natural fabric, as I’ve found enough man-made fabrics or materials that have too many drawbacks, but it’s one of those tricky decisions.
Thanks for the post – always thought-provoking!
Thanks for your comment Mrs Winter – and your first paragraph summed up exactly the struggles I’ve felt and my reason for inaction for many years! When you first start looking into all the issues it is definitely overwhelming.
“Slowly evolving over time” – exactly! Maybe I will give up eggs in the future. I used to think leather was good because it was natural, but after reading about chromium poisoning and seeing cheap stores sell “genuine leather kids’ shoes” for a handful of dollars, I’ve realised it’s a much more complex issue.
Every time I think there’s something I just can’t give up, I’ve been able to. All the things I think I can’t give up now, I’m confident I will be able to in the future, if I choose to. Small steps in the right direction and we get there : )
Please give up eggs asap,its one of the worst things you can eat for your health.The protein and vitamins are not worth the pure cholesterol.Eggs hites hard is not a too bad choice but avoid the yolk as much as you can. Im in your page too,plant based diet not vegan. ive noticed vegan people are a bit too fanatic and Im not into labels. HOney is delicious and nutricious. And for sure if I get a leather jacket as a present Ill wear it.I think vegans take things to the extreme if you know what I mean. If you go that route you end up isolated only having relationships with vegans like a cult.
Eggs are hard for some people, but for those that it works for,
it’s a great source of a lot of good things – especially the yolk!
Monks used to eat *just* the yolk if they were doing a lot of hard
work. It is especially nourishing raw, but for that you want to make sure it’s fresh and from a good trusted source. :)
As for leather, it seems to me that it’s a by-product of using the animal for meat and as the natives/aboriginals did, we need to make use of all the animal as much as possible (since there will always be some meat eaters around, for now, at least!). So I don’t have a problem with it, as long it is sparsely used and we don’t ask for it too much (ie. buy it) and then it switches to using the animal for hides and meat as the secondary reason. But for me, personally, I prefer not to wear animals, so I like fibers
that can be grown locally and sustainable, as an ideal.
Eaten cholesterol does not cause cholesterol in the body, cholesterol is formed naturally in the body. It is also essensial for life.
I’m literally just writing an FAQ just now and one of my questions is about why I am not vegan, as you have so eloquently explained this better than I have I am going to link through to this post!
It’s been something I’ve been wanting to write about for some time as it’s a complex issue where ethics and values collide, and is very personal to many people. I don’t think there’s a single right answer. Plus changing your diet if you’ve been brought up one way for many years is hard! All change is hard at first.
Thank you for sharing!
Ditto! I’m almost exactly the same, except I avoid fish because of overfishing rather that the plastic in the ocean.
I’ve just signed up to a 30-day vegan challenge, to prove to myself it is possible, but really to show other people that I want to eat mostly vegan. Although my diet is maybe 80-90% vegan, I choose to eat eggs that I buy (ethically sourced only), chicken that I buy (when I knew it was raised well & organic) and the occasional dairy, preferring local small dairys rather than the mass-produced items at the supermarket.
Over the festive season I found friends and family who knew I don’t eat red meat just focused on providing me an alternative – mostly chicken, and cheese. My stomach is sensitive to dairy and I wasn’t purchasing the chicken to know it wasn’t mass-produced. I want my friends and family to know the alternative is not just chicken or cheese. I want vegie options when I eat out that are not always with cheese. I want people to know that the options aren’t chicken or pork, it’s more than that.
I’m really frustrated with people ignoring the issue every time they eat. If they could just focus on reducing their meat and dairy consumption by a portion, it would have a big impact on limiting climate change.
Talk more about this and get the people you know involved. Who knows, they may go home from a vegan or plant-based dinner not bloated and loaded with calories!
Overfishing is definitely as big an issue as plastic in the ocean! My husband and I do not buy dairy at all at home but we accept that when we are out we have to compromise. we are lucky that there are several vegan and paleo cafes local to us, but I refuse to drink carton almond milk shipped from California which most cafes use. If I do get a coffee out, I tend to get an expresso topped up with dairy milk in the little tiny cup. It’s definitely becoming easier.
Friends and family seem to struggle more! I’m with you on this Sarah! We are staying with family currently and my cousin was stressed about the idea of cooking a vegetarian (not even vegan) meal. Like you say, everyone wants to add cheese to everything, or feels that a plate of vegetables is not enough! I too am sensitive to dairy and I’m looking forward to moving into our new place and eating vegan food full time for a while! I think your 30 day vegan challenge sounds fun – let me know how it goes! Maybe writing this was my way of explaining to my friends and family how I feel about it all… ; )
My husband gets cross that people just ignore the impact that animal agriculture has on the environment. He doesn’t understand people can turn a blind eye. I want to spend some time this year making vegan recipes to inspire my friends and family that you don’t need to eat meat all the time, and vegetables can be delicious too!
I stopped eating meat and poultry a few years ago simply because of animal welfare issues, almost as a ‘one-woman protest against factory farming’. My husband followed suit about a year later but mainly for health reasons. It was a slow process, which made it easier: first we stopped eating processed meat completely, then we stopped having meat at home, and finally we only chose vegetarian/pescatarian meals even when we ate out. Of course locally produced organic meat would have been an option but it’s much more expensive and we had got used to not eating meat anyway.
Although we’ve had done a ‘vegan February’, eat a lot of vegan meals, and have gone more or less dairy free, neither of us feels ready to switch to a 100% vegan diet. We still have fish or prawns occasionally when we visit friends (often people almost panic if they think about having to cook something without any animal flesh!) and both eggs and honey are quite an important part of our breakfast. Luckily a local community shop sells organic eggs from a near-by farm with high welfare standards so I’m ok with that although I don’t agree with what the egg industry does with male chicks. Basically I try to lead as sustainable and ‘animal-friendly’ a life as I can and not to feel I’ve committed a cardinal sin if I have a prawn curry or a poached egg once in a while.
Your journey sounds very similar to mine Min! My husband and I are working towards “vegan at home” and I’d like to stop using eggs at home, but we are happy to relax our rules when we go out so as not to make our friends feel uncomfortable and because it’s easier. We used to often choose fish out, but this year we are trying to choose vegetarian meals instead. The less we eat fish, the less we want to eat fish, and the change happened fairly fast. I agree with what you say about friends and prawns! ; )
I like your approach and agree with your philosophy : )
I’m assuming you mean that cows are taken off milking for 60 days, rather than that being the gestation of a calf (which is 184 days I think).
Oops, yes! Another reader emailed me about this. When I wrote it and read it back to myself it made complete sense, but of course when I looked again it was definitely ambiguous! Cows take around 270 – 285 days to gestate – nowhere near 60! Thanks for the heads up!
Hubby hasn’t eaten meat for forty years, he doesn’t like the taste. So we eat mostly vegetarian. I like meat but only buy organic or local, or venison. I eat a small pice of meat once or twice a week. We eat eggs and cheese and put dairy milk on our muesli, and once in a while have a small piece of salmon.
If everyone reduced to that, I think it would be OK. As you mentioned, B12 is lacking in a vegan diet, and that lack causes lots of health problems.
A one sided diet is not healthy, we humans need to eat everything to keep our bodies healthy. However, the food should be fresh and without chemicals.
It’s a fact, though, the number of people who eat carefully is only a mini percentage of all.
We few are not going to save the planet, so we should kid ourselves that we are making much impact.
As long as the food industry processes foodstuff and offers the products cheaply, a huge percentage of the population in America, Europe, Australia, Japan, China … will buy and eat and demand more, leading to too many animals being bred and raised in a short time, too many chemicals being sprayed on plants and too many overweight people.
As I’ve mentioned before,
“Let’s hope we have the the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Hi Jeanie, thanks for taking the time to comment! We have to remember that we live on a planet with 7 billion people and what might have worked when we only had 1 or 2 billion is different to now. Moderation is increasingly important!
Personally I wonder about B12, because that is always the vitamin pointed out that vegans aren’t getting. As many people have pointed out though, plenty of people eat diets that are lacking in some (and often many) vitamins or other nutrients. I suspect avid meat eaters have vitamin deficiency issues of their own!
Of course I disagree with you about making an impact! Firstly, I do not think we are “few”. I realise there are 7 billion people on the planet but there are so many people passionate about sustainability issues and the environment who are really working to make a difference in many different areas. Of course it’s hard to change the status quo but I really believe that it can be done. The world is changing fast and we can help shape the future into one we want.
I’m not saying we can change everything, but we all have the power to make change somewhere : )
Thanks for you input.
Regarding vitamin B12. I have an India friend who was brought up totally vegetarian without fish and meat, but with dairy products, her diet being religiously based. She has had problems for years with a lack of B12 and reported that almost all other members of the Hindu religion, who follow the strict vegetarian diet in India have the same lack and get injections.
Both hubby and I get B12 injections each year, because he doesn’t eat meat and I only eat a weeny bit occasionally.
Heavy meat /dairy product eaters have other health problems as you say, bowel cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart issues to name but a few.
I like to think that we are doing something with our mindfulness, our care about the use of resources and energy. How many of us are there doing our bit? I think the world population is around 10 billion in the meantime. Would you say that 20% of those cares and actually does something?
People are lazy and comfortable!
There’s always a health implication! You’re right, there are plenty of health risks associated with meat, and dairy…most things, I suspect!
I honestly believe that most people do care. The population is 7 billion and yes, I would say that almost all of them care in some way, some of them maybe deep deep down! People often don’t realise that the things they do harm the planet – I didn’t realise plastic was such a problem only a few years ago! And knowing where to start can be hard. Caring and doing something about it are two very different things…
It always surprises me that meat eaters think vegetarians wouldn’t be happy with a plate of vegetables. It’s fine, seriously! just give us the potatoes and vegetables and you have the meat, and everyone will be happy! No stress required!
Hi there, I love reading your stuff Lindsay, when I can…looking for some good tips—
on bathroom prdcts-I can’t for the life of me imagine cleaning my hair with rye flour tho—!
& then the ‘shake ou’t of remaining husky bits–?!?!
My hair is ‘dry’ enuf & soaks up any moisture, but can be ‘squeaky’ clean in the wink of an eye w just any old shampoo—(i grab the spa-dupa huge Aveda ones)
Can rye flour really be the answer?
As for vinegar &/or bicarb?
And, on B12—guys—yeast flakes in bulk, organic…AWESOME!!! on everything…(im vegetarian) full of the stuff!
Terrific article! I too favor a plant-based diet, for health, moral, and environmental reasons.
reasons. Wishing everyone well,
Thanks so much Carol! : )
I have lived a vegetarian (and sometimes vegan) lifestyle for over 42 years now. The ethical treatment of animals is very important to me, but pinning a label on myself tends to weigh me down. Rather than attaching the label veg(etari)an to myself, I would rather say that I make vegan choices in the marketplace whenever possible/practical. Same with zero waste and plastic free. I have come to the conclusion that we need to democratize conscious consumerism to encourage people to buy products which fit their ethical goals at least part of the time. I believe that will do the greatest good for animals and the environment. Making veganism/zero waste/plastic-free into an exclusive orthodox club does very little to improve the condition of the world, I think. We need to focus our attention on the majority of people, and appeal to their hearts, while not expecting perfection from them.
I completely agree – no exclusive clubs with big lists of rules required! Everyone is just trying to do their bit as best they can : ) And practicality is such a huge part of it – we all have different lives and different choices and different needs. If everyone just did the best they can then the impact would be huge!
Also, I have been working on developing a homemade dog food recipe over the last two weeks on a food analysis/tracker called Cron-o-meter. Eggs contain a lot of vitamin A, some vitamin D, but a shockingly small amount of vitamin B12. You have to eat a lot of eggs to meet your minimal requirement for vitamin B12. If available, you might want to augment your diet with nutritional yeast. It’s very tasty on grains/pasta, and adds a lot of B vitamins to the diet. Where I live, I buy it from a bulk bin. I don’t know if that’s possible in Australia, but it’s just a thought.
Thanks for this Linda – you know, I’ve just been accepting that I need to eat eggs because I’m told they have B12 without really looking into it. I should have known better! I do eat nutritional yeast (it is available in bulk here) and it is delicious. After reading all these comments I’m feeling more and more inclined to reduce the eggs in my diet…
Back from Cron-O-Meter. One medium egg contains 20% of the US RDA for vitamin B12, so if it is your sole source of vitamin B12, you would need to eat 5 eggs to meet the minimal requirement.
I read more than 2 a day impacts your cholesterol, so that won’t be happening! I’m going to look into B12 a little more I think. Thanks for all your input Linda!
As much as possible we eat what we grow. Fortunately we have enough land to have cattle and chickens so our diet is meat based with veges from my garden. I like the way you explained each choice and how it could change depending on circumstances.
I would love to have the land to grow my own food! As in, all of my own food! Sounds like a dream Liz : )
Thanks so much for sharing your views and this article, it’s definitely along the lines of how I feel and try to live as well. I still eat seafood and ethically sourced eggs occasionally but otherwise I live a predominantly plant-based diet (this is mainly due to living in Mexico where the only vegan option is generally guacamole :) ).
I definitely feel at times that the two goals of eating mainly vegan foods but also avoiding packaging (particularly plastic) are often pitted against one another and it certainly can get frustrating! However, as other commenters have mentioned, by not becoming an elitist minority and so stringent in every finer aspect hopefully we can create awareness on both issues to the greater public. There is no need for labels, it only promotes exclusion and that’s the opposite of what you, and many of us, are hoping for.
I really enjoy all your posts, congratulations on taking the plunge and devote your life to your passion! I hope to do the same one day soon.
Perfectly put, Georgia! Oh, and we are lucky to have guacamole – it is so delicious! ; ) I love living in a country where avocados can grow because they are so tasty and versatile – and a great vegan substitute for dairy products.
I think sustainable living is so often about finding balance and maybe having to compromise somewhere – and we all simply have to do the best we can.
Thanks Georgia, and good luck with your own journey : )
Another great post, Lindsay. I straddle that line between vegan and vegetarian. I have given up eggs, again, because I no longer have a local source and won’t buy the factory farmed eggs at the store. It’s been a year since I had honey because I am concerned about both the pesticide levels being found in our honey and the decline in numbers of bees, but I’m missing honey terribly. I used honey for most of my life to boost my immune system and since giving up honey I’ve been sick more in the last twelve months than the previous decade.
That’s diet. but if I add clothing into it. I am working towards all natural fabrics which will include wool as it’s one of the warmest materials we can wear in this climate that gets really cold in the winter,, but I draw the line at wearing leather. The reason I don’t wear leather is because of how the animals are mistreated.
My friend and neighbour has begun beekeeping and it sounds so fascinating, I’m going to do a course and get involved. Maybe you can find a local supplier Lois? Or some wild honey (as in, somewhere that sells wild honey – not you going into the woods and finding a hive!) that should have lower pesticide levels (or hopefully none!)? I’ve seen organic honey for sale in the UK – do you have that where you are? It’s such a superfood and has so many health benefits I don’t think I would like to give it up – and it is so natural compared to all that artificial bright white cane sugar that line the store shelves.
I didn’t really know anything about the leather industry until I saw True Cost movie, and that made me realise I had a lot more research to do. I’m still open to the idea of leather but it’s going to have to be small-scale, vegetable dyed and ethical – and my challenge is to find out if such leather even exists…
I bought cromium free leather barefoot shoes for my daughter from a company called Tikki Tikki. They’re imported though. I have been totally plant based food wise for a long time and will only buy second hand clothes and shoes made from animal products for me but for my daughter, if I can’t find plastic free barefoot shoes second hand in her size then I’d rather buy new leather than plastic.
This is really a interesting read thanks! I don’t like to label myself either. It’s quite complex thinking about what to eat there are so many factors at play.
I Started drinking nut milk last year although I never really drank much anyway. I’ve never been much of a cheese eater either however over the past few months I have been a lot more concious about my meat consumption, choosing mostly vegetarian or fish, but this has caused my cheese consumption to go up. I was in France recently doing some volunteering and the kitchen at the place provided us with the most amazing vegetable & salad lunches. It made me realise I just need to be a bit more organised for the week and batch prepare my lunch if I am out of the house.
Thanks Becky! I think a lot of people new to vegetarianism think cheese is necessary but as you get further down the vegetarian path you realise there are lots of alternatives. I often use nuts, tahini or avocado in salads and I think they are good alternatives. I would recommend Yotam Ottolenghi if you’re looking for some inspiring salad recipes – the man is a genius! He does use dairy but many of his salads are dairy-free. I have two books of his (which is saying something as I only own 10 books!) – Plenty and Plenty More, and both are great. He also writes a column for the Guardian and has heaps of recipes online. Look him up! : )
Great article and similar reasons why we now eat a plant based diet. We originally started due to meat not being sustainable and then as we found out about the various suffering for other things such as honey and eggs we went to a full vegan diet but whatever anybody chooses to do is an improvement. We often have dilemmas when buying food though concerning buying food that is either packaged or organic or fair trade, it is usually a compromise of some sort which we have to rationalise.
Thanks for your comment Kevin! After all the comments both here and on Facebook I’ve been thinking more about eating eggs, and I think I’m going to work on this next. I love vegan baking because I find it all like a big scientific experiment with tasty results – it’s the perfect challenge for me! Since discovering aquafaba I’m confident I can reduce my egg consumption, so this year that is going to be my focus.
Really interesting post! I have similar thoughts as you about food. In general, I try to stay away from dairy products because I do not want to support this industry. I must admit though that sometimes my craving for yoghurt or cheese overrides the ethical consumer in me. In terms of meat, I only eat 100% grass fed beef that comes from one specific seller that butchers highland cattle that have spend their entire lives in nature reserves. I don’t eat fish because I don’t want to support the fish industry either. Apart from overfishing, I am also concerned about animal welfare in this industry. The only time I eat fish is if it is wild, fished locally with a small net or simple fish line. Eggs I only buy from a small veggie farm a street away from where I live. When eating out, I never eat meat and try to avoid dairy and eggs, but sometimes I do end up eating this anyway out of politeness or convenience. Veggies come from my own garden or from the veggie farm two blocks away. I think I could consider myself a localtarian.
A localtarian – I love that Annemieke! : ) It’s hard, not wanting to support all these various industries, but also having the cooking skills and knowledge to be able to make tasty meals without them. Of course it’s possible, but if you’re brought up eating a conventional diet of meat, dairy, eggs and fish (and fairly few vegetables) – as is common in Europe – it’s a big jump. We had an idea of being “Vegan at home” which at the moment includes eggs and honey (I’ve decided to work on the eggs part) but going out or to friends’ houses is a different story and we eat dairy and eggs if there are no vegan options – like you say, politeness and convenience! We only gave up fish this year so currently we’ve been eating fish at friends’ houses. Once we’ve moved we will be able to invite our friends over and cook delicious vegan food for them! : )
I love your comment about friends getting into a total panic about what to cook when hubby doesn’t like meat. They trawl the Internet for recipes and mostly suggest stodgy pasta!
What part of VEGEtarian do they not understand?
I usually tell them to cook whatever meat they would anyway, as there are often others present who eat meat, with potatoes and vegetables which they would do anyway, but a few more. Hubby just eats those. I treat myself to a small piece of meat, cos I like meat.
Haha, that is so true Jeanie! ; )
My dietary changes, like yours Lindsay, have happened over time. As an adult, I’ve always eaten a healthy diet, but twenty five years ago, I stopped eating meat for ethical reasons. When free range and organic meat became available in supermarkets, I ate meat again. Over the last four years, I’ve stopped meat, followed by fish, and dairy. Fish can be problematic from an overfishing viewpoint, but also from the marine animal and bird bycatch problem. I eat organic eggs but am uncomfortable about the fate of male chicks. I don’t call myself a vegan – like you, I don’t like labels. It’s important for people to know and care where their food comes from and the impact on the environment, their health, and animal welfare. In the end, we make our own choices, but I think people who make ethical dietary choices (whether environmental or animal welfare) are just as important as people who have restricted diets for religious or health reasons. I don’t mind cooking for friends who are gluten-free, so I don’t think my dietary restrictions should make people feel uncomfortable. As readers here have said, a plate of vegetables is just fine – perfectly cooked of course!
Tracy, I think I had a similar journey. I stopped eating meat in my early twenties but as I could afford to buy organic, I did start again – probably once a fortnight or less, but I did. Then I met my husband, who was vegetarian, and it was very easy to transition back.
I agree that fishing has so many issues – or should I say overfishing and indiscriminate nets. I would rather steer clear of eating fish now. We no longer buy it, but occasionally when we are out one of us will order it. It really doesn’t appeal to me any more though… I just think of all the plastic I’m ingesting and the state of our oceans.
The fate of the males is something we never think about, and I think we should. It seems to be a very wasteful system when half of a population is killed – the amount of energy taken to grow that baby, only to destroy it after birth – it just doesn’t make sense. There are too many people in the world now for those kinds of practices to work like they used to (if they used to).
You make a good point Tracy – why should our ethical views be any less important than religious or health reasons? I realise that a life-threatening allergy or health issue is serious of course, but there are enough types of food to accommodate everyone with just a little thought! ; )
I am just starting this process and am wondering if I am going to be able to give up dairy! Right now, cheese is what makes me think I could go vegetarian. But maybe over time, I will be able to let go. Loved this post!
Thanks for sharing Jeanine! If you’d asked me several years ago if I could give up cheese I’d have said no, of course not. We all change! The less you have of something, the less you actually miss it, I’ve found. There’s plenty of delicious alternatives to fall in love with, too. That said, I’m not perfect. We don’t buy dairy at home but if I was out and there was cheese in front of me, I probably wouldn’t say no. The more that delicious plant-based alternatives become available, the easier it is for me. But I’m always trying and working to do better next time.
Do what you can! Take your time, if you need to. Change takes time :)
why do you or others feel it necessary to give your divine self a label???? to identity yourself, just say you support Life ….for yourself and all others, and you make your choices based on choosing Life….wha’ cha think???? with that we are flexible to changes as we learn more and more, and become receptive to what the true facts we learn are….and therefore, we grow, ascend to higher thinking and then higher frequencies in thinking, behavior, choices, conduct, etc.
Hi Leanita! Thanks for your comment. Honestly, this piece has nothing to do with labels in my mind! I simply wanted to explain my food choices and why, and I suppose in the context of the piece I wrote, I felt that using the terms “plant-based” and “vegan” were useful descriptive words to use. Particularly in the title. I like the term “choosing life” – but I’m not sure, as a title, that it conveys the subject matter quite as well. Just my thoughts!
I have written about my thoughts on labels here actually, you might find this interesting, and it answers some of your questions: https://treadingmyownpath.com/2016/10/06/labels-or-no-labels/ I’d love to hear what you think :)
Hi all, I am eating mostly low carb, high fat and moderate protein. I do eat fish 2-3 times per week. I was a vegan for 4 years and got really ill due to low B12. I have given up shopping at major grocery stores, favouring local farmers markets and local delis. I love cheese, but it doesn’t love me! On the LCHF diet, I lost the 30 lb I had gained after 50, and another 25 lb after I quit drinking alcohol.
Thanks for sharing, Mrs Beardsley! Love that you’ve given up the grocery store in favour of Farmers Markets! Hurrah!
My reason for trying to find an other than meat diet, is because I believe that meat slows the system down, but it makes me believe that being a vegan can’t be natural if you have to supplement it with vitamin B12, I thought about being a Pescatarian, but then fish has its drawbacks, Mercury and as you say plastic, I did read that going without vitamin B12 can cause paralysis and a lot of other illness’s.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Richard! It’s an interesting discussion. I’ve made peace with the idea of eating vegan and supplementing with B12 because whilst I love the idea of eating as naturally as possible, I’m not a hunter-gatherer. I grow what I can but still buy a lot from the shops. I dislike intensive animal agriculture, recognise there are way too many people on the planet for us all to be eating meat, and the sea is so polluted I’m not a fan of eating fish. If supplementing my diet with B12 means I can avoid the animal industry, and not eat fish, then I am happy with that choice, even if it seems less “natural”. We all have to do what feels best for us, with out ethics and our health and our values meeting together.
I am so thankful you wrote this post! I was having slight difficulty explaining why I most likely will never be full vegan to people. I tell people I’m trying to stick to a mostly plant-based diet because it reduces my carbon footprint, and of course, it has amazing benefits! I agree wholeheartedly that honey and eggs are both very nutritious foods if their source of origin is known. I’m blessed to live in the Netherlands, there are so many local farmers that sell their own products in a sustainable way!
Hi Arlene! I really like the idea of being vegan, but where I am in my life right now, I just can’t achieve perfection. Maybe in the future it will happen, but for now I’m content with being “vegan at home” and trying to avoid animal products as best I can when I’m out – even though that sometimes means that I don’t. Every year I make progress, its just slower than I would maybe like.
Thank you for your beautifully written thoughts. When I lost my job 4 yrs ago and unable to find work due to an ongoing illness I had to cutback from my carefree strict vegan sustainable regime. I now live on 15$ a week so I buy veg wherever I can. I have started eating eggs bc I cant afford supplements anymore I do eat meat when its gifted. I try to stay away from food banks bc they mostly distribute processed foods. I eat only one meal a day and I am okay with that. When I am better and back to work I will eat differently For now I do what I can.
Hi Cam, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Doing what we can is what it is all about, yes. And sometimes life circumstances force us to make changes and do things differently. I certainly feel lucky to have a choice, and to live in a country where the options are plenty. Good on you for doing your best in challenging circumstances :)
Are you able to source local cashews? The ones I can find in Adelaide come from Vietnam and elsewhere. At least when I buy Adelaide hills or Fleurieu Peninsula milk I know it is a local product and supports a local industry.
Hi Kate! I was when I wrote this. There was only one commercial cashew farm in Australia, in Queensland (the Source Whole Foods used to stock their nuts). But last year they ripped out all their cashew trees to replace with mangos :( So now the nuts I get come from Vietnam. Not as close as I’d like, but I feel more comfortable buying organic cashews than dairy milk from a sustainability point of view (trees are great for the environment), and I prefer the taste. I could switch to Australian-grown macadamias, almonds or walnuts and sometimes I mix it up, but cashews are still my fave :)
Hello, Ms. Lindsay (such a lovely name, by the way). This is my first time to comment on anything online, I do hope to hear from you about this comment. Anyway, what you have shared deeply resonated with me. I’ve always wanted to go green and live a very healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle yet there’s some setbacks/restrictions from where I live – culture, background, budget, etc.
It wasn’t until weeks ago when a friend came by our apartment and we had this conversation about sustainability and animal cruelty. He basically pointed out his idea of me being “unaware” of my environment and the real issues about eating meat and the like. Although I agree with him, it’s really difficult to switch my usual eating routine since the place where I live doesn’t support this kind of thing. Also, our culture almost always has meat and other stuff in our food palates so it all makes it the more difficult (I live in the Philippines, by the way). Needless to mention some friends who I tried reaching out this subject with, only shut me off and stated things like, “You’re also helping starve animals because you’re eating away their food source” or some mean things like that.
To a neophyte like me, in this game-changing lifestyle of aiming for sustainability and living a truly nature-loving lifestyle, can you share some savvy ways/tips/hacks on how you have worked your way into this? Like, what did you tell people around you when you switched from eating meat to becoming meat-free? How did you deal with family members (if you’ve got some who still hasn’t lived this lifestyle) and what were their responses? That was a lot of questions, sorry about that.
One more thing, can you share or write about how you take care of your skin and your tips on how you maintain it? :) Super thanks and I will truly appreciate it if you do answer this. Have a fabulous day, Ms. Lindsay!
You really don’t seem to understand that B12 isn’t naturally lacking in a whole food plant-based diet, it is only absent because of the sanitation process of agriculture, which causes the B12 to be destroyed. It would naturally exist (along with iodine) in a “natural” plant based diet. Taking a supplement for it is undoubtedly better than eating eggs, as eggs bring up total cholesterol and increase risk for other diseases.
Also, honey isn’t a “superfood”. That is such a clickbait, no-meaning term to begin with, but what’s worse is that it doesn’t even apply to honey, which is essentially sugar (which your body needs 0 of, as in, you’ll ALWAYS be better off without any, no matter the source).
I changed my diet too. My diet/new lifestyle doesn’t have a name.
I am plant-based whole foods. But I do eat:
2 eggs once a week.
Salmon/Shrimps once a week.
Yoghurt with natural bacteria once a week.
Dark Chocolate 74% Coco will be my only processed food – I have 2 squares daily.
I also use Olive oil & Avocado oil in my cooking.
Once a month, I have a spinach pie (which is fine grains) and a slice of cake, or a scoop of ice cream, or a waffle (fine grains, dairy, sugar)
As you can see, I opted for eggs, seafood, and yoghurt for animal protein that gets easily absorbed by the body and for vitamin B12, and for healthy gut bacteria.
The dark chocolate is my weakness so far and I need to start transitioning out of it – maybe limit my intake to 2 squars per week not per day.
The once-a-month spinach pie & the dessert are just a treat for my taste buds and in my crazy way of thinking, I believe it balances my system so I don’t end-up developing any kind of sensitivity to the less-consumed grains/sugar/dairy.
I started this 4 months ago. It’s not for weight-loss, but rather for health reasons. I don’t miss or crave the beef or chicken even a bit – it’s amazing.
I like my diet. It suits & satisfies me. It’s hard to explain though.
Hi Moly, thanks for sharing! I love all the specifics and nuances – although the restriction on chocolate, my goodness! Dark chocolate is my weakness also. If I could stick to two squares a DAY it would be a miracle!
Hi Lindsay! Thanks for the post, can you share your suggestion on the seafoods packages non plastic free, in our place we are ban to use the plastic bag storage.
I’m heading towards a plant-based diet, effective January 1, for environmental reasons primarily and health reasons secondarily.
I’m a life-long meat eater and meat lover, but with the dire warnings about anthropogenic climate change, I’ve been having a harder and harder time justifying my meat consumption to myself. And while some among my friends and acquaintances who are similarly concerned have taken the view that it’s the responsibility of corporations and governments to change, I refuse to believe that individual choices and actions don’t have a role to play as well. As consumers (god I hate that word), we can and should vote with our pocketbooks.
Similarly, however, strict ideological purity strikes me as a fool’s errand. Thus my approach is going to be to eat a primarily plant-based diet. I will occasionally eat meat with my wife, and I won’t inflict my dietary choices on others. I will probably continue to use dairy milk in coffee where alternatives aren’t readily available. I’m not aiming to adopt the clothing restriction components of strict veganism, though that may change in the future. And I’m going to make a point of not proselytizing to others about my choices. I’ve seen far too much of this, and however well-intentioned it may be from some, it rarely has the desired effect. This is something I need to do for me — both for my health, and so that I can at least say that I did my part.