In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.
‘Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.’ – Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
‘Locavore’ is a word that is beginning to be heard more and more. A locavore is someone who eats local, seasonal food. If you’re making the transition to living plant-based, you will naturally find your inner locavore. 99% of the fresh produce I buy at home is British. I’d love to tell you that 100% of my shopping comes from local sources, but I have to make a compromise between my ethics and making sure I get all the nutrients I need. I’m very lucky in the neighbourhood where I live in Cardiff, Wales. We have local farmers markets every week where we can buy fresh vegetables, bread and the occasional treat such as vegan cakes and falafel. I also get a lot of my food fresh from the community garden where I volunteer, and trade produce with friends who have their own allotments.
When I tell people that I try to eat only British produce, as close to the source as possible, they look at me like I’m crazy. They tell me my meals must be boring, and it must be hard to live like that. Actually, the opposite is true. Before living plant-based, I tended to stick to the same few meals on rotation because it was convenient. Now, I simply buy whatever is seasonal at that time of year and find a recipe that suits what I’ve bought. Shopping is much easier because I just look for the British labels or choose from the huge selection at the farmers market, and my diet is now much more varied because I’m trying ingredients that I would not have done otherwise.
Buying local also helps us to revert back to small scale, organic farming. This is massively important for the future of the planet, and also makes our food sources much more sustainable. Eating organic has received a lot of mixed press over the years, but when you learn the facts about chemical farming it really is a no-brainer to choose organic. At the moment it may be slightly more expensive on your weekly shop, but in the long term the price we are paying is far, far worse. Modern, chemical, mass farming has been described as the biggest case of genocide this planet has ever seen. We are literally making ourselves extinct.
Even if you choose to eat meat, buying it from small-scale organic farms is the much friendlier way to do it. ‘Silent Spring’, by Rachel Carson, was published in 1962. The real-life accounts of the effects of chemical farming read like a horror story. From children dying on farms within hours of touching farm equipment to whole species of insects and animals disappearing. The full affects of chemicals can only be seen after a few generations. In the case of some small insects, this is a relatively short period of time. However, for us as humans, we will not see the true consequences of our actions for many years yet.
It is not just the direct affect of chemicals to us that we have to worry about. Neoricotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees. Without the bees to pollinate crops, we cannot grow anything.