I am not vegan. Not yet.
I am firmly in the camp of vegetarian, but it has been a gradual journey for me, until more recently.
I started by eating much less meat, then only eating it once every two weeks or so, and then down to fish and other seafood, before finally cutting out all the meat provided by any animal, unless you count pastured organic eggs (?).
Now, finding it difficult to give up dairy (specifically butter and Parmesan cheese, and occasionally ice cream), I am on a quest to become vegan, but with a few thoughts about it I would like to express.
If it was not for the climate code red (as declared by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their 2021 Report), I do not think I would be as far down this path, at least not with such urgency for the sake of the environment.
The 2021 UN IPCC Report made it clear that human activity is indisputably responsible for the warming of our planet, and that said warming is alarming for the present and the future.
Our actions are placing the health of this planet at risk for our kids and their future generations. Our habits of convenience (ie: single use anything: napkins, plates, diapers, food wrapping, cutlery, paper towels, hotel soaps and shampoos, K cups, and more) and overconsumption (ie: single use anything, fast fashion, BEEF, DAIRY, and the list goes on and on...) have put in peril the stability of our earth's environmental future. And a whole topic of its own: rich nations (like the US, UK, China, Australia) are disproportionately responsible for overconsumption and increasing carbon emission, rather than the less fortunate nations. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are from one of the richer nations.
In order to effect positive change, we need to make changes in our own lives of consuming less meat and dairy and not always opting for paper towels and paper napkins, toilet paper, plastic cutlery, etc.
Meat and dairy livestock produce around 15% of the world's carbon emissions (according to an article in The Guardian), with cows weighing in as the big greenhouse gas polluter. A cutback in (if not a complete abstention from) the consumption of animal meat and dairy by people is considered to be the single most impactful thing an individual can do to help slow human climate impact, and each person counts. Less meat and dairy consumption = much less livestock bred and kept producing detrimental greenhouse gases.
Not forgetting to mention seafood, fish are being unsustainably harvested from the seas. According to the Oceanic Preservation Society, "Commercial fisheries deplete the world's oceans and pose a risk to marine life. Overfishing, habitat destruction, and unsustainable bycatch are depleting marine life, harming coastal communities, and threatening endangered species." With the ocean sequestering a whopping 25% of CO2, we need the ocean to be healthy. A destabilized ocean will re-emit carbon into the atmosphere, further raising temperatures. (Check out this for great info on the biological physical carbon pump at work in the ocean.)
Finally, eating a more plant based diet has been proven to be better for our own health - brain and body. If you would like some literature on that point, check out Undo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases and This is Your Brain on Food.
Would you be willing to try? Even just for a finite period, maybe a month, before saying no?
I would like to share with you some of the habits we have changed or adapted in a way that we have been able to maintain (because maintaining these changes is crucial). Bullet-point-style.
from occasionally eating meat to eating no meat (try starting this by eating meatless one more day a week each month);
from purchasing all produce from the grocery (where you can buy mangoes and blueberries in January!!) to joining a CSA (or farm share for fresh, local produce, which has inspired us to eat pretty much only seasonal produce and has jazzed up my daily cooking, searching out the interesting ingredients);
growing more of our own produce (it might be less than perfect looking, but the flavors can't be beat);
reducing takeout meals/preparing more meals at home;
switching from cow's milk yogurt to plant-based milk yogurt (cashew is the best in a taste test, IMO);
occasionally using plant meat for normally meat-based faves like bolognese;
searching for flavor acceptable substitutes for butter and cheese; and
making and cooking with/drinking plant based milks (I like a blend of almond and oat milk).
I have hope we can slow this dire trajectory for the state of our earth. I do. Will you join me in my attempts to effect change in a positive way for the future?
And please share any helpful vegan tidbits you may have (specifically butter and cheese replacements!!)!