Plant-Based Pause No 45: Don’t Be Afraid of Where Your New Lifestyle Will Take You

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

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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.

Plant-Based Pause No 44: How to Survive the Winter

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.

‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I try to buy only local produce whenever possible. I’d say about 95% of the fresh food I buy at home is grown in the UK. Recently, for nutrition reasons I have started to add some imported foods such as fairtrade bananas and avocados, but I try to stick to my pledge as much as I realistically can. Here in the UK, that’s pretty easy in the summer. We have lots of fresh fruits growing such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb and raspberries. Vegetables are also not a problem. Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, beetroot, spinach, kale and lots of other vegetables grow well in our damp, humid environment. When it gets to winter, though, eating seasonally can become a bit of a drag.

I’m sure this happens in a lot of places around the world, through different seasons. All of a sudden that once abundance of fresh food suddenly seems to dry up. Never fear, though, there are ways to survive your equivalent of a British winter. Make the most of the seasonal produce that you can find. If, like us, you see a lot of carrots during this time, search online for carrot recipes. Carrot soup is a personal favourite of mine during the long winter months. Local farmers’ markets are a great place to find out what is available locally at any time of year, and you can download seasonal food calendars for your area.

If you grow your own food, buy seeds that grow at different stages throughout the year. We may have long, cold, wet and sometimes snowy winters here in Wales, but we can also grow lettuce all year round. Dried fruits and vegetables are also a good fall back when the fresh alternatives aren’t available. If you’re crafty and creative like my aunty Christine, you can pickle and preserve produce in the summer and store it until needed. Or, if you’re like me and a little lazier than that, freeze berries to use in smoothies in the winter. Most berries will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I’ll admit, by the time it gets to April every year I am sick of the sight of carrots. But I’m still willing to keep eating them so I can enjoy fresh, local produce. Besides, when we do get round to the new summer season again, it makes it all the more exciting to see all that lush, tasty produce.

Plant-Based Pause No 43: Be Warned – You Will Get Addicted

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.

‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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When I meet other plant-based vegetarians, there’s often one thing we share in our stories. We all start with ‘At first, I just wanted to cut down on the amount of animal protein I was eating…’. I’ve heard it so many times. I’ve said it myself so many times. When I first watched Planeat and had my eyes opened to the truth that humans are not meant to eat animals, all I intended to due was avoid animal products most of the time. I figured that I could still eat cheese, eggs and milk when I was out and about with family and friends. Five weeks later, my parents came to visit me and we went out for dinner. I chose pizza from the menu, loaded with cows’ cheese, and about five minutes later made the decision that I never wanted to eat dairy again. I felt so ill, I couldn’t believe that I used to eat that stuff all the time.

Since the pizza incident, I have become more and more addicted to living plant-based. Every day I’m looking for ways that I can improve my diet and health and be more environmentally conscious. I search out new websites, read books, sign up to mailing lists and try as many new recipes as I have time for. I can’t get enough.

If a plant-based lifestyle came in a packet or a tin, this would have to be written on the side:

WARNING: Contents will probably cause long-term health benefits such as reduced illness, more energy and weight loss. Prolonged use can result in addiction.

Eat Well: Live Well Expo 2014

OK, I’ve got something to tell you all.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve not been as active on it this year. That’s because I’ve been sooooo busy, I’ve even pushed my own definitions of what the word busy means. At the beginning of March I enrolled on a course that began four months of intense physical and mental study, exam papers (haven’t had to deal with them since I left sixth form in 1998!), what seemed like endless coursework and very little time to sleep. I’m very proud to say, though, that all that hard work was worth it because at the end of June I became a fully qualified personal trainer! If you’d have known me six years ago, you’d have thought I had more chance of becoming an astronaut or brain surgeon in my thirties than working in the fitness industry.

Since qualifying, I’ve kept myself just as busy working three jobs whilst I transition between my current full-time role and hopefully working for myself one day. Hence the reason sasieology hasn’t been posting as frequently. You’ll probably also notice some changes in my blog, because now not only am I obsessed about living plant-based and travelling, I’m also obsessed about fitness as well. I’m learning more and more every day, and I love it.

On Saturday, I took myself along to the Eat Well: Live Well Expo right here in Cardiff. I enjoyed the day so much and came away with so many great ideas for my blog and my business, and I want to share with you what I learnt about the amazing products, services and people that I met during the day. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see all the events because I had to dash off to one of my paid jobs (the story of my life at the moment!), but here’s what I did manage to catch. PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA

Tara Hammett actually told me about the event, so I have to say a big thank you to her. She put some lucky volunteers through their paces for one of her 12 minute workouts, and having witnessed first hand the sweat pouring off them at the end of it I can testify that they really do work. I also got to try one of Tara’s famous chocolate sprouts. They may sound strange, but don’t knock it until you try it because they are delicious. Check out her website for info about the chocolate sprouts, workouts and lots more tips and tricks to stay in shape.

Having recently started adding vegan protein powder to my diet, I was excited to discover that Marvellous make their own right here in Wales with hemp and pea protein. I’ve started using it alongside Sun Warrior on days when I’m training and I already feel more energised. As a rule I advise people to stay away from protein powders, especially animal proteins, but Marvellous is 100% organic, gluten free and vegan, nothing like the synthetic chemicals I see people guzzling at the gym. They specialise in other superfood powders too, and you can order straight from their website.

DSC_0941Juicing is something that I’ve wanted to get into for ages, but I’ve not been able to make it work for me so far. Until I discovered the Natural Juice Junkie that is. If you have any questions about juicing, juicers, what to juice, when to juice, how to fit juicing into your life or how to make it work for you, this is the guy to ask. During a fantastic, informative and entertaining presentation, Neil told us his personal story, how he came to completely change his life through juicing and how he helps other people through their own journeys. I then harassed some of his team with lots of questions, and they were brilliant. They answered everything I asked, and encouraged me to download some free juicing recipes from their website. The Natural Juice Junkie is holding a 2 day masterclass in Swindon in November which I would recommend to anyone seriously considering incorporating juicing into their healthy diet. I’ve already had my juicer back out and been giving it another go, and I’ve found it so much easier with the great, simple recipes and advice Neil gave us.

If you’re still unsure about buying a juicer and venturing down the juicing path yourself, there are great companies out there that can deliver the juices straight to your door for you. Fresh Start offers such a service here in Cardiff and they deliver all over the UK. I tried two of their lovely juices on the day. Beat It is a comforting mix of apple, beetroot, carrot, lemon, mint and a kick of ginger. Super Survivor is a healthy green blend of apple, cucumber, kale, pineapple, watercress and lemon. They both tasted delicious, and I can’t wait to try more of the other juices that Fresh Start make.

I was happily surprised when I came across the Hero Health Room stand, because it’s the first time I’ve seen the DSC_0940term ‘Plant-Based’ actually written on anything in the UK. Luke and his team are committed to helping people live a healthier, happier, plant-based lifestyle. As you can imagine, I had lots to talk to them about and it was great to share plant-based experiences with people face to face.

I am a chocaholic! There, I said it. Even though I no longer eat dairy chocolate, I still treat myself to vegan and dark chocolate and when there is some on offer I can’t resist. Shirley’s Raw Chocolate is some of the best vegan, gluten free chocolate I have ever tasted, and believe me I have tried a lot of different brands. I was spoilt for choice with all the different flavours to choose from, but in the ended I went with the orange chocolate and it is to die for! You can find Shirley’s-Homemade Raw Chocolate on Facebook.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERALuckily I didn’t fill up on the chocolate, and I left enough room to try some of the great snack bars from Ernest Food Co. Filled with nuts, fruit, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa and puffed quinoa to add a satisfying crunch, their bars are totally natural with no added sugar, syrups or flavourings. I have officially found my new snack of choice for when I’m travelling/hiking/away from home in the middle of nowhere with no plant-based food around.

PROMO CODE ALERT! The lovely people at Ernest Food Co have given me a promo code to share with you guys so you too can experience the yumminess of their snack bars. Enter the code “ernestlove” when you order a carton of snack bars from their website and receive 20% off.

As well as chatting to all the amazing people I met, and trying all the free samples, I also had lunch from The Parsnipship, a long time favourite vegetarian caterer of mine. Some of the Boulders team were also there with the mobile climbing wall. I’ve been a member of Boulders for a few year, and as you know I love climbing, so it was great to see them. Anyway, I’ve got to go and try and get some sleep before I’m up at 5.30am for one of my jobs 🙂

Plant-Based Pause No 42: Get Involved in Your Local Community

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.

‘In the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.’ – Albert Schweitzer

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As we already know by now, living plant-based is about much more than personal nutrition and health. The food that we choose to put in our mouths affects every other being on the planet. Since I chose to stop eating animal protein, so many other parts of my life have been affected as a result. I am constantly finding more ways that I can live more ethically and environmentally friendly. Which has led me to my very own doorstep.

Nowadays, not only do I shop local but I try to get involved with local activities as much as possible. The more we can look after ourselves from within our own communities, the less we have to rely on the Earth’s resources and the less of an impact we have on the planet.

I’m very lucky in the neighbourhood where I live. We have great local farmers’ markets, craft fairs, skills swaps workshops, groups and initiatives to improve the local area and opportunities to learn new skills from pottery to plumbing. We even have our own arts festival every year where the whole neighbourhood gets involved to showcase our local talent and share a fun-filled week of exhibitions, film showings and workshops.

My favourite local activity is the community garden where I volunteer. We have a few community gardens in the area, each with their own goals and visions, and ours is a great place to work alongside other volunteers, meet new people and learn about growing flowers and vegetables. As an added bonus, I get free fresh vegetables that I picked from the ground with my own hands (all the vegetables in the above photo came from the garden).

I know that I am fortunate. There are many more neighbourhoods out there that do not have these opportunities. That doesn’t mean you can’t start your own community activities and groups, though. Even something as small as a monthly book club can make a huge difference. I’d love to hear what activities you all have in your local communities. You might even give me some new ideas for my neighbourhood.

Plant-Based Pause No 41: 4 Easy Steps Everyone Can Take

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.

‘I don’t want to be running around barefoot, pushing my car like Barney Rubble. I don’t want to go back to the Stone Age. I just want to maintain what we have for a long time… for ever.’ – Cameron Diaz

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My dream would be for everyone on the planet to live plant-based. However, I am a realist and I know that is very unlikely to ever happen. There are a lot of people out there, though, that still strive to be more environmentally conscious even if they choose to continue consuming animals. The meat and dairy industries are a huge threat to our planet and our species, but there are other areas of your life where you can make positive changes. Here are four easy steps that everyone can take to help reduce our impact on Earth.

1. Carry reusable shopping bags with you wherever you go. It is estimated that UK shoppers go through 13,000 carrier bags in their lifetimes. That’s a whole sea of plastic you’re creating by using single-use bags.
2. Refill ink cartridges or donate them to charity. Over 65 million printer cartridges are sold each year in the UK alone, and it takes 3 pints of oil to produce just one of them.
3. When buying wood or paper products, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo which shows that the product comes from a responsibly managed forest.
4. Go paperless. Banks will now email your statements straight to your inbox. Not only does this save paper, it reduces clutter in your home and is a lot easier on the postman’s back.

Plant-Based Pause No 40: Take a Deep Breath

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.

‘You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.’ – Indira Gandhi

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If you’ve been following this series of posts from the start of the year, by now you’re possibly living a plant-based lifestyle. Making ethically led, environmentally friendly decisions that impact humans and other beings as little as possible will be ‘normal’ to you. You might think it crazy that you ever ate meat and dairy, or you might be horrified by the amount of waste that you used to create.

You may also be feeling frustrated by other people’s actions. When I see people making the same mistakes that I used to I get angry and annoyed. I want to scream out loud and tell them that what they are doing is not only jeopardising their own health, but it is slowly killing the planet and all other beings on it. However, I also know that doing that is futile and I will only be accused of trying to convert everyone. So, instead I take a deep breath and remind myself that I once lived like them too. I take a deep breath and try to be patient. I take a deep breath and share my knowledge in a way that I hope is inoffensive. I take a deep breath and remember that we’re all still learning.

I take a deep breath every time I hear someone make a joke about how they ‘need’ meat.
I take a deep breath when people make wisecracks about my vegan food.
I take a deep breath when I see yet another colleague throw yet another disposable plastic cup in the rubbish bin.
I take a deep breath when I’m told it’s natural for us to eat animals.
I take a deep breath when omnivores tell me they don’t want to know how animals make it to their plate.
I take a deep breath when people ask me where I get protein from.

I’m sure I have a lot more deep breaths ahead of me. I also know we can make this world a better one, one deep breath at a time.

Plant-Based Pause No 39: Your Decisions Affect Every Other Being on the Planet

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.

‘The maps of the world will have to be redrawn’ – Sir David King, UK science advisor

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I don’t have a problem with omnivores, I have a problem with ignorant omnivores. If you know where your food comes from and how it impacts the planet, and you’re still comfortable eating it, then go ahead. However, most people have no clue about the truth behind what’s on their plate and how it got there. I used to be guilty of this myself. Even when I was a regular vegetarian, I ate milk, eggs and cheese believing that I was genuinely hurting no-one through my actions. Now I know just how wrong I was. Every choice we make impacts the planet and other humans, and now is the time to end the ignorance.

This quote from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth explains the issue far better than I ever could:

‘One reason climate change doesn’t consistently demand our attention can be illustrated by the classic story about an old science experiment involving a frog that jumps into a pot of boiling water and immediately jumps out again because it instantly recognises the danger. The same frog, finding itself in a pot of lukewarm water that is slowly brought to the boil, will simply stay in the water, in spite of the danger. Our collective ‘nervous system’ through which we recognise an impending danger to our survival is similar to the frog’s. If we experience a significant change in our circumstances gradually and slowly, we are capable of sitting and failing to recognise the seriousness of what is happening to us until it’s too late. Sometimes, like the frog, we only react to a sudden jolt, a dramatic and speedy change in our circumstances that sets off our alarm bells. ‘

A report by leading water scientists at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) found that about 20% of protein in human diets is animal-based. Unless that drops to 5% by 2050 there won’t be enough food to nourish the additional 2 billion people estimated to be alive by 2050. If America alone reduced their intake of meat by 10%, 100 million more people could be adequately fed by the land freed. Most of the grain grown in the world goes towards animal feed. Cows consume 10 times more food than they produce, and we only get a third of the food back from chickens that we put into them. If we all lived plant-based, we could free up enough land and return enough nutrients to the soil to end famine within a couple of generations.

Some people question ‘What’s the point?’. As a species, we easily get defeatist. The damage we have done to the planet seems so overwhelming that you can be forgiven for thinking maybe we have gone past the point of no return. History has shown us that we do have the ability to change, and the ability to make a difference. In 1987, 27 nations signed the Montreal Protocol, the first global environmental agreement to regulate CFCs. Since then, the levels of the most critical CFCs and related compounds have stabilised or declined. At the time, the thought of even stabilising the hole in the ozone layer seemed insurmountable. I can remember consumers looking at the new, strangely shaped light bulbs in the shops and stating that they would never catch on. People complained that they didn’t shed enough light, there was no possible way they could live under those conditions. Conventional incandescent light bulbs are now no longer sold in the UK. The same people who complained about the new, energy saving bulbs now use them without thinking. On the odd occasion that I walk into a room lit by an old bulb, the brightness is so uncomfortable I wonder how we didn’t all suffer from sight problems back then.

Thanks to the wonders of the modern world and the internet, help is just a click away. There are lots of resources to help you make simple changes and improve your carbon footprint. Chasing Ice is a good place to start.

As humans, we are privileged on this planet to have a certain amount of control. We have free will, the ability to make decisions and the ability to question. Don’t just give up this freedom by accepting what’s on your plate.

Plant-Based Pause No 38: Supermarkets Aren’t Always the Bad Guy

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.

‘Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what you want them to achieve, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.’ – George Smith Patton Jr.

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As I’ve said in earlier posts, I try to do as much of my shopping as possible from local farmers markets and health food shops. Ideally, I’d like to be able to do all my shopping like this. Unfortunately, my life does not allow it. The farmers markets are only on three mornings a week, in different parts of the city, and I can’t always get there. The health food shops don’t open in the evenings, and because of the ridiculous number of hours I work every week I can’t always get there in time. I also can’t always find what I need there. That’s when I use the local supermarkets.

When you’re trying to live ethically, I think it’s easy to see modern supermarket chains as the enemy. Certainly here in the UK, it’s true that they are responsible for encouraging modern, mass farming techniques. For many years their buying power drove out small-scale farmers and producers, and their demands for perfect produce has led to ridiculous levels of waste and prices so low that they are not sustainable. However, the tide is slowly changing. Supermarkets are waking up to the fact that their customers are becoming more conscious of their ethics. The ‘Big 5’ – Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons and The Co-operative – all provide organic choices in their produce departments, sell plant-based alternatives such as soya milk and are keen to label their British products with very visible Union Jack stickers. It’s now also common for supermarket brands to team up with environmental causes in an effort to do their bit and improve their public image. Tesco launched Together for Trees, a partnership with RSPB to stop the destruction of the rainforests. Customers can collect and donate green Clubcard points, and you can earn more points by re-using shopping bags and recycling ink cartridges and mobile phones.

The Co-operative is one of Britain’s biggest farmers. Their first farm, to grow their own potatoes, began in 1896. Today, as well as the potatoes, they mill wheat for their own-brand flour, oats for their own-brand oats and grow strawberries and apples. More than half of the rapeseed oil they grow on their farms is used to heat their head office. I used to work for the Co-operative, and I was pleasantly surprised at how serious they are about their ethics. They were the first business to use biodegradable bags, they designed the first ever biodegradable credit card, you can trace every coffee been they sell back to source and they even ensure they stun all the fish on their fish farms before killing them so it is more humane.

British supermarkets are making the effort to keep up with the ethical changes in shopping trends. That being said, bear in mind that most supermarkets/grocery stores are companies. Although their actions are positive, apart from businesses like The Co-operative (a co-operative, not a a company), they are doing it to increase their profits.

For me personally, there is a place on the high street for both supermarket chains and smaller, independent stores and markets.

Plant-Based Pause No 37: Buy As Local As Possible

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

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‘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.