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
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.
Since committing to living a plant-based lifestyle, I’ve faced varied challenges and had to make lots of changes. Controlling what I eat at home is fairly easy, but when I’m out and about I have to plan ahead wherever possible. I also have to be prepared for lots of questions. One of the most common questions I get is ‘Isn’t your diet really limited?’ My answer is no. I’m finding that I’m eating a much more varied diet than when I was an omnivore, and more varied than a lot of omnivores I know. And, believe it or not, I can still eat out and enjoy social gatheirngs that involve food. My gluten allergy throws up a few more problems for me, but I don’t let it stop me.
One of my favourite places to eat out, or order take away, in Cardiff is Noodlebox. They do an awesome Veggie Soba Box with Rice Noodles that is both vegan and gluten free. Most Friday nights, I treat myself to Noodlebox and a glass of wine.
Whilst I’m on the subject of my glass of wine, my wine glasses are one of the coolest discoveries I have made. They are made from reused beer bottles (if you take the base off the wine glass, put it on the top and flip the whole thing upside down you get the original beer bottle). So not only are they stylish, they’re also made from reused waste. Everybody who sees them always asks about my awesome wine glasses. You can also get tumblers made from the same bottles.
I did slip up today though. At the start of this year, I made a pledge to create less unnecessary waste. I’ve been try to cut down on the amount of disposable paper and plastic I use. Since January I’ve made an effort to use my washable handkerchiefs over tissues, to resuse scrap paper at work and, so far, I’ve only thrown away one disposable take-out coffee cup (I was with a new group of people and, in a ditzy moment, I completely forgot my pledge when someone asked me if I’d like a coffee). Anyway, back to today. At 4.20pm, I raced off on my bike to one of our local leisure centres to take part in a spin class. It was only as I arrived at the leisure centre that I realised I’d forgotten my water bottle. I always carry my water bottle with me, to save using plastic cups and bottles, and I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t been wearing so much restrictive cycling gear. There was no way I could face a 45 minute spin class followed by twenty laps in the swimming pool without water, so I gave in and bought a bottle from the vending machine. I don’t just want to throw the empty bottle away, though. I want to find a new, practical use for it. Not only will this ensure that it is reused, it will also serve as a reminder to me to take my water bottle with me next time. I think I’m going to take inspiration from my beer bottle wine glasses, and turn the plastic bottle into a flower pot using a similar design. I’ll let you know how I get on.