Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Making Changes


There's no denying, that there seems to be a bit of a change since the start of this year. Blue Planet hit our screens last year and we all had our eyes opened to the horrific amounts of plastic filling our oceans. Veganuary had it's most ever participants (over 150,000 - and that's just the people who signed up online), and it seemed like half of the people filling my instagram feed were getting involved.

I've been vegetarian for 16 years; the minute I found out how animals were killed and made the connection between the cows, pigs and sheep I see in the fields to what was on my plate, I quit. I never ate meat again, but admittedly, it's been a little harder to give up the dairy. I've been vegan about four times now, the longest for around a year, but the tempation of a big pineapple pizza, covered in cheese, was too much for me (which is, by the way, officially the best pizza - don't @ me!)

And as for plastic - well, I hold my hands up that I was completely ignorant to it all. I'm not sure whether that's my own fault or not; I can't remember seeing or hearing much about it until it was on my television every week, but at the same time I never really gave plastic (or anything else I chuck in the bin and recycling) a thought.

But this year I've decided to try and do things a little differently. And I just wanted to start off by saying that in no way do I think this makes me a better person than you, and I'm certainly not trying to be a "militant vegan", preaching on for paragraphs (it took me sixteen years to go from vegetarian to vegan, so I get it.) It's all about creating the best life for you, and that's all I'm trying to do. 



P L A S T I C


There's a few ways I'm making little changes to try and reduce my plastic consumption, starting with the most obvious; avoiding buying food in plastic packaging. It's only when you try to reduce things like this that you realise just how much you buy that is wrapped in so much unneccessary packaging.

Sadly, products like fruit and vegetables seem to be more expensive when loose, so I try to get down to my local market to stock up as much as possible. I also try to carry reusable bags when out shopping, but half the time I am so awful at remembering to put some in my car, I end up buying the reusable 10p shopping bags - recently I have sorted them all out though and have passed them on to my local charity shop, so hopefully they will get some use out of them.

I've also bought a double walled water bottle; it keeps my water cool for up to 24 hours, so no need to buy bottled water when out and about. I hardly ever buy coffee to take away, but if you do you can buy a reusable cup.

Also, whilst everything but the top of shampoo and conditioner bottles are recyclable, I've started buying the Lush solid shampoo bars, and a few other items, of which all the packaging can be taken back into store and recycled (most of them are included in the offer of a free fresh face mask if you bring back 5 pots).


V E G A N I S M



So first up, I've cut all cheese, eggs and dairy out my diet; luckily I hate eggs, I'm not even much of a cheese eater unless it's melted on my aforementioned beloved pineapple pizzas, and obviously milk chocolate is now a no-no. Instead I'm filling my fridge with vegetables, oat milk, vitalite and vegan cheeses, and my cupboards are full of grains, beans and lentils.

I'd say 80% of my diet was vegan anyway, but I've decided to finally go the whole hog (no pun intended). I've always felt like a bit of a hypocrite, being a vegetarian and talking to people who ask about the meat industry, knowing full well that the dairy industry is just as bad. I'm not going to get into all the details here (you can always email me or leave a comment if you fancy a chat!) but there's a 5 minute video called "Dairy is Scary" here.

Veganism is also avoiding wearing animal products, in the form of leather, wool, and fur. I don't actively buy new leather (usually because I can't afford it!) and I do a lot of my shopping second hand, so there's not much of a change to be made there. Although I would like to get myself a pair of the vegan Dr. Martens and donate my old pair to charity, and I'll be slowly replacing any leather and wool products I do have, and donating what is fit to.

I'm also now be buying only cruelty free beauty products - I'm mostly good on this part too, although I do have old make-up I still use from brands like NARS and MAC (both of which sell their products in China, where it is unfortunately the law for products to be tested on animals before being sold). I'll be using up these products and replacing them with cruelty free brands, or donating some to family and friends. There are A LOT of great cruelty free beauty brands out there now; personally I like to shop at Lush, The Body Shop and Superdrug (their own brand is entirely vegan and cruelty free).

Something I also didn't make the connection with until recently is household products, the majority of which are tested on animals (each individual ingredient, rather than the end product, hence why sometimes companies can state the product isn't tested on animals). I've started using products from brands such as Method and ECover which have the cruelty free logo on them. These are available in bigger supermarkets, online, and in odd places like Dunelm.

Of course, it's hard to be perfect 100% of the time, but I think little conscious changes where you can make them go a long way. As the quote above says, veganism is about making changes to reduce suffering where possible, so whilst there are many reasons why people can't go 100% vegan, there are little changes you can make for your health, for the animals, and for the environment.

I think I've rambled on enough for today, so I'll leave it here with some resources you might find helpful.

A Considered Life - Cruelty Free Choices You Can Make When You Can't Go Vegan
Madeleine Olivia - Beginners Tips For Veganism
Earthling Ed - Going Vegan is Expensive and Restrictive
Hello Gemma - Vegan Food Prep & The Best Vegan Handbags
Metro - How To Reduce Plastic With Easy, Everyday Changes
Cruelty Free Becky - The Best Cruelty Free + Vegan Cleaning Brands
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