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.
‘My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.’ – da Vinci
The lifestyle I live now is radically different to the one I was living before I committed to becoming a plant-based vegetarian, and certainly totally different to the one I thought I would be living. About 95% of my meals are now cooked from scratch at home, with fresh ingredients that I have bought locally. Every action I take, from choosing an item in a supermarket to throwing away plastic wrapping, is done with the question of how ethical and environmentally friendly I am being in the back of my mind. It’s a far cry from the days when I survived on whatever convenience food I could get wherever I was, and I produced over twice as much waste without a second thought. I feel ashamed of how I used to live. It feels like my eyes have been opened to the real world that we live in, and I want to help others see that too.
Although I was vegetarian, albeit an unhealthy one, for many years before I switched to plant-based, animal welfare wasn’t something I got involved in. I considered myself someone who cared about animals, which I realise now was hypocritical as I still ate dairy and eggs. I knew there were people out there who campaigned for animal rights, and although I didn’t always necessarily agree with their actions I always thought it was good that someone was doing something. Since becoming plant-based, animal welfare is something that has become more and more important to me. To be honest, I don’t think you can avoid it when you decide to stop eating animal protein. Things that I once accepted as fact now seem ridiculous. I read an article the other day written by a man who’s transitioning from omnivore to vegan, and one of his eye-opening moments was when he realised that cows only produce milk when they’re pregnant. That’s basic biology, so why do we believe that cows just pee milk for us to consume?
I’m still not at the stage where I’m actively campaigning for animals, although I’d definitely consider it in the future, but I now keep animal welfare in mind. I was horrified to learn that a lot of charities here in the UK waste thousands of pounds of our money on unnecessary animal testing. I’m not talking about testing that results in saving human lives here, this is a whole industry based around experiments that are never expected to get any useful results. This year, I have refused to donate money to any of these charities. Instead, I choose to support charities that don’t test on animals instead. Animal Aid produce a really helpful list of charities that do and do not experiment on animals, and you can also contact charities direct and ask them if you are not sure.
Who knows what kind of lifestyle I’ll be living this time next year, or in five years time. Maybe I’ll even be the one stood out in the street leafleting and educating others about animal welfare. I know one thing, though. Wherever this life takes me, I want to embrace it with open arms.