Veganuary, Eco-friendly and how not to kill the planet (and, inevitably, us)

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Hey there, gosh it’s been a long time. The reality is, I’ve been really busy with University applications, homework, sports, travelling, speaking, living a normal teenage life…. etc. that I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write. I’ve had tons of ideas of things I’ve wanted to write, but no execution – to be improved! I also have a tendency to write excessively long posts, which doesn’t help the situation.

Nevertheless, I am embracing the short-lived “new year, new me” attitude to speak about something that seems to have boomed in popularity recently: our impact on the planet.

We learned near the end of 2018 that we have until 2030 to reverse the effects of climate change before we reach a point of no return, in which we will likely experience mass extinction. We have already seen increases in the occurrence of deadly natural disasters, and more, but at the same time we have also seen an increase in the popularity of reducing our environmental footprint. In honour of trying to keep this post concise, I won’t bore you with all the details.

Having seen the escalation of some of these campaigns, it made me want to reflect on my own impact on the environment and see what difference I could make. Years earlier, I had already tried the ‘environmental footprint calculator’ and seen people change their lifestyles, but had never really changed mine unless it was for health, rather than environment. At the end of last year, I decided to try not eating beef, with cows being one of the largest contributors to greenhouses gas emissions, and I had already begun to cycle to school during the summer months – instead of by car.

Using the footprint calculator, I found out my current footprint level, and where I could improve (oops):

Taking out beef from my diet was really nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be. There are so many other meats available that you hardly notice the loss until it’s one of your favourite meals on offer. I have deeply missed Lasagne, burgers, a good steak, bolognese and more, of course, but have found substitutes are not hard to come by and we won’t all die from not having a juicy steak. I also made sure not to strictly cut it out completely. If it’s the only option available to be at the time, then I will take it. If I began to think that it was becoming restrictive, it would make me less likely to sustain. This way, if I allowed myself to have a burger once, I would be happier to continue cutting it out most of the time.

This year I wanted to more to help the planet, whilst maintaining realistic about myself, my free time, and sustainability. I’m sharing with you some of the things that I’ve thought of so far to help, in the hopes you might have some new suggestions, or perhaps take on some of these yourself, with me.

January marks the start of Veganuary, a month where hundreds of thousands of participants from hundreds of countries pledge to go vegan for a month. This marks a great opportunity to try cutting out more meat and fish products from my diet, with full support, without committing to anything long term. However, I also know in myself that I could never sustain a full month of this; I have a family of meat eaters, school meals to deal with, and wouldn’t feel great cutting out so much of what I love. Food is meant to be enjoyed, whilst also sustainable, so I decided a halfway commitment of one vegan day a week was a good start. I’m also going to try make more vegan switches during the week, such as milk, meat for veg, less cheese (damn…) and so on.

I’m also going to try reducing plastic consumption, something all our family really cares about. No to plastic straws, plastic bags, and excessive plastic packaging. Even if it means cooking more meals at home instead of ordering that amazing Indian takeaway, or refusing to accept plastic packaging for products, or perhaps just asking for a ceramic mug instead of a plastic one at Starbucks, all changes are positive ones – and all help:)

Finally (so far), I’m also going to try and avoid fast fashion. I am definitely a big sinner in this area, I can’t resist a good deal on an outfit I’ll buy individually with next day delivery from a fast fashion website only for it to rip the next week and have to buy another. Aside from huge plastic consumption, there are big fuel costs involved, and the production of the clothes themselves often require materials that suck up water reserves and deplete other natural resources. Maybe I can buy less clothes, buy some from charity shops, or source them from more ethical companies. I’m also going to try and clear out the things I don’t use anymore, so that someone else can benefit from them, helping the environment AND the charity.

These are just some small switches I’m considering, to help the world in which we live in survive way longer than current rates suggest, and leave our beautiful planet for more people to prosper from. I have never been the biggest ethical considerer, and mostly choose convenience over conscious, but that only means that if I can do it, you can do it too.

Veganuary website: https://veganuary.com/

The video the meat industry doesn’t want you to see (WARNING: contains graphic content and upsetting scenes): https://www.meat.org/

And as per usual, we’re back at 1000 words a post, but all for a good cause right? Until next time,

– Jo who blogs xx

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