Save the planet in just one step

Happy Earth Day 2020!

Find out how you can help save the planet in just one step.

This year, climate change has been slowed by the millions of people staying at home due to COVID-19. Flights have been grounded, cars are parked and we’re consuming fewer fossil fuels by staying at home. Ecosystems are benefitting from the reduced pressure placed upon them and are beginning to rejuvenate. Just take a look at Venice’s canals! 

So how do we maintain this after lockdown ends?

Eat more plants. Eat less meat.

Adopting a lifestyle that precludes factory farming is vital for a healthy planet. We’re living proof that as a cohort reducing our travel, we have a direct impact on the climate. Now it’s time to ensure we maintain it.

The livestock sector (rearing pigs, cows and chickens) generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as cars, trucks and automobiles combined.

Joseph Poore, from Oxford University states that reducing our intake of meat and dairy is more effective than ‘cutting down your flights or buying an electric car.’

It’s therefore imperative to become ‘meat conscious’. We need to understand that our daily choices have a direct effect on climate change. Shifting our diet to include more plant-based foods will also help to combat soil, air and water pollution, ocean dead zones and deforestation.

However, eating meat is a cultural staple throughout western societies, so it may not be an easy change for some people, as it’s ingrained in our sense of what’s normal.

Here’s what you can do to help:

 

  1. Limit your weekly meat consumption by planning vegetarian meals, and eventually vegetarian days.
  2. Introduce more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds into your diet and try something new.
  3. Get friends and family members to help. It’s not all or nothing, and we can always do better than the day before!

Take care of yourself, and take care of the planet.

Happy Earth Day!

References:

Eating Less Meat, More Plants Helps the Environment

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

Refarm’d: transforming Dairy Farms into Animal Sanctuaries

cows

Veganism is a movement. It’s political, it’s economic, and it’s growing.

As with most social movements, ideas initially appear to be radical. They go against opinions held by the collective, as these new ideas equate to rejecting or reforming old ones.

In order to survive, humans ate the food that grew on the land they lived. They began to plant seeds, harvest their crop and work together as those first communities settled to swap and share what they grew, for what their neighbours grew.

They kept animals, and small holdings, and became self-sufficient.

Our ancestors ate meat, but in 2020, we don’t need to eat animals to survive. We have supermarkets full of vegan alternatives, and ready meals free from animal products. For many of us, our main objective is not to eat to survive.  We have transformed into a culture where taste matters. We cook what we enjoy, we dine out, and we indulge.

So when meat eaters argue that they eat meat because they like the taste of it, what it translates as is that they like the taste that they’ve been conditioned to like; cooked meat, seasoned meat, flavoured meat. We don’t kill the animal ourselves, rip the skin or feathers off, and eat it raw like our ancestors did to survive. This ‘keeping up traditions’ argument is flawed. Our ancestors didn’t fly in planes, or use smartphones, but we do because technology has adapted. And food technology has adapted too.

Farming, as a practice, has been passed on through generations. Although lots of farms claim that they treat their animals well and give them a good life, I never think killing a sentient being is moral; there is no dignity in death. But for farmers, abandoning a business that has taken a lifetime’s work, for a social movement that they may not agree with, is difficult.

That’s where Refarm’d come in. They’re a new social venture who want to help dairy farmers transform their businesses. By turning current dairy farms into animals sanctuaries, they offer farmers the help they need to stop abusing and killing the animals they own. Instead, their farm becomes a safe haven for animals, whose bodies will not be valued by their flesh. Refarm’d also support the farmer with their new income source, by selling plant-based milk. Buying the ingredients directly from a local producer means the farmer can make the fresh plant-based milk on their farm. This allows the farmers to have a quick and easy transition into their new lifestyle, as the animals can stay on the farmland, and they don’t need to worry about whether the land would be suitable for growing plants.

Highlighting a problem of modern society, is of course, crucial for our need to progress, but offering a solution is vital. Our consumption of meat and dairy products is driving us to self-destruction. The Vegan Society state that the world’s population has doubled since the 1960s, but the world’s meat production has quadrupled. This pattern will continue to contribute to climate change, deforestation, widespread pollution, water scarcity and species extinction. More forest fires will burn, like we’ve seen in recent months in South America and Australia.

But by transforming dairy farms in sanctuaries, the planet’s Carbon Dioxide emissions will slowly but surely decrease, and also increase the plant-milk market; which is accelerating at such a rate, that in Spring 2018, New York had run out of oat milk. According to the Dairy Farmers of America, milk sales have dropped by $1 billion, while plant-based alternatives continue to surge.

If you’d like to nominate a farm that you think could benefit from a transformation by Refarm’d (for free) you can contact them here.

Have a browse of their Instagram too, and make yourself an Oat flat white incase we have another shortage!

Vegan Skincare: Belenos Skin Botanique

belenos

 

I love skincare. Working in the beauty industry, the last 6 months have been an induction into how to keep my skin looking youthful and glowing. Eye creams, neck creams, hand creams… I’ve learnt the difference between what I need to nourish and protect my skin, and what not to waste my money on. I now have a perfectly curated and effective routine that works for my lifestyle, and I love it.

As with most facets of my lifestyle, I opt for vegan alternatives where possible, avoid brands that endorse animal cruelty, and aim to shop locally.

As a New Year’s resolution for myself, I vowed to use up my existing collection of skincare products that are slowly taking over my bathroom. But then I got a DM.

It was Rhi, the founder of Belenos Skin Botanique who offered to send a couple of products for me to try.* Of course I said yes, I’m not one to turn down skincare as lovely as this.

Belenos Skin Botanique is a brand that adheres to all of my shopping goals. I discovered their Instagram account last year and followed with interest. Their ethos ‘every ingredient has a purpose’ resonated with me; I loved the transparency, and the fact that the products were vegan and palm oil free.

Rhi sent me the Cucumber Cleanser and the Repair Serum.

The cleanser is oil-based, with 6 active ingredients. I’m used to a water-based cleanser, but the weight of this cleanser was so light and surprisingly moisturising, that I’m seriously thinking of making the permanent swap. It smelt like freshly cut cucumber, and hydrated my skin wonderfully.

I didn’t know what to expect with the Repair Serum. I have tried so many serums that claim to make my skin glow and look its best. I often find that serums feel great on my skin before bed, but when I wake up, I can’t see or feel the difference. I have naturally good skin; I don’t have acne and drink enough water throughout the day, but I want to make it look like I’m energised and have had a lot more sleep than I actually have.

At £14, the Repair Serum is extremely reasonably priced. As soon as I opened the bottle (made from glass, not plastic of course) I could smell the Neroli, and I knew that we’d get on. This serum is a beautiful elixir of luxurious oils. My skin felt nourished and hydrated as it drank the potion in, as I was providing it with all the vitamins it needed (A, C and E).

I’m excited to continue using these products, and look forward to my skin looking and feeling even more pampered.

(I may have to invest in some more storage!)

*Items gifted, all views are my own.

To check out these products for yourself, head to: https://belenosskinbotanique.com/

 

Is café culture inadvertently tackling climate change?

Another brunch, another #vegan added to the pool of 85 million #vegan on Instagram.  Not only has veganism become a lifestyle, but for many millennials it’s become a statement, a trend, an Instagram classic.  By snapping and tagging their brunch, influencers and customers are providing free marketing to their favourite vegan hang-outs, and retailers are capitalising on this growing trend.

 

Gone are the days of dry falafel and bland tofu.  These new vegan cafés are an Instagrammer’s dream; coveting floral walls, neon words of encouragement and an array of edible flowers on exotic dishes.  Some of the most popular places to brunch in London include Dalloway Terrace, Feya and Kalifornia Kitchen.

 

A report by Forbes[1]states that millennials value experiences over possessions.  More and more customers are happy to pay for food at trendy cafés, on the premise that they’ll get an experience, and a photograph out of it.  Due to the perceived increase of social responsibility, many cafés are catering for people with plant-based diets, but appeal to the mass consumer. Neuro-Linguistic Program coach, Rebecca Lockwood argues that social media is one of the main reasons why millennials are splashing their hard-earned cash at these establishments.  She states ‘we see what everyone else is doing, and this can cause the feeling of missing out.’  If your favourite influencer brunches at these pretty cafés, you’re more likely to.

 

Yet this vegan aesthetic may inadvertently tackle climate change. The Vegetarian Society[2]states that boycotting meat for a year is equivalent to taking a small family car off the road for 6 months.  For most, it’s an achievable lifestyle target to meet whilst still living an ordinary life.

 

So if you’re paying for a gourmet Insta-worthy meal, it may as well be plant-based.

[1]https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/01/02/nownership-no-problem-an-updated-look-at-why-millennials-value-experiences-over-owning-things/#61c8e4fb522f

[2]https://www.vegsoc.org/info-hub/why-go-veggie/environment/

 

The G7 Summit: What You Need To Know

Today marks the beginning of this year’s G7 summit, where world leaders meet to discuss shared macroeconomic initiatives.  Hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Biarritz, all leaders have now arrived:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italy’s caretaker Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  These countries make the foundation of the summit, as they have the seven largest IMF-described advanced economies in the world, and some of the most powerful democracies.  The Egyptian President, Abdel Fatteh el-Sissi and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera are also invited to the two-day summit as guest countries.

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk has stated it will be an ‘unusually difficult’ meeting of the leaders.  He warns against trade wars, which he believes could lead to a global recession, and the advancement of technology that is developing more quickly than the ability to regulate it.  Tusk summarized by stating that this summit could be the last moment to restore unity among the G7 countries.

The issue at the top of the agenda is climate change.  Tusk has supported Macron’s decision to prioritize the Amazon wildfires, despite Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promising to take a tough action approach by sending in the military to tackle the flames.  In an introductory speech, Macron stated, ‘we need to help Brazil and other countries put down these fires, and then we need to reinvest in reforestation.’

The discussions continue.

Restaurant Review: Blanche Bakery – Roath, Cardiff

Oh, bb…

 

Blanche is undoubtedly my favourite vegan hang out in Cardiff, and I’ve visited more times than I can count.

 

Founded by Amy-Rose Hopkins and Remed Aran, Blanche is situated on Mackintosh Place – an area made busy by student life.  Vegan donuts, cakes and plant-based meals are freshly made every morning, and the menu changes depending on the season and ingredients available.

 

Some of my favourite donuts include the Earl Grey Tea, the Peppermint Candy Cane, and the Cereal and Mylk. Prices range from about £2.50 to £3.50, and for an independent business who bake them freshly, I think this is very reasonable.

 

The oat milk flat whites are also exceptional – a light, creamy roast that I could happily sip all day.

 

Blanche is a must-visit for anyone who loves an Instagram-opportunity.  It boasts a neon sign that reads ‘but first coffee’, marble tables, and a scandi-chic aesthetic.

 

Top-tip: check the opening hours on their website, you’ll be disappointed if you miss their dough!

Plant-based milk – who’s drinking it?

I’ve always loved an oat milk flat white, and it turns out a quarter of Britons also favour plant-based milk alternatives too.

 

A study by Mintel, a market research firm has discovered that 16-24 year olds are popularising the plant milk demand more than any other age demographic.

 

From almond to soy to coconut, 33% of 16-24 year olds are drinking and buying them.

 

Of this age group, 37% stated that they chose plant-based milks for their health, while 36% explained that dairy farming isn’t good for the environment.

 

And when you do actually think about where cow’s milk comes from, humans are the only species to drink another animal’s breast milk.

 

However, cow’s milk still dominates the milk market, securing 96% of the sales in 2018.

THE FOOD IS THE EASY PART

I became vegan almost two years ago.  I decided I wanted to make a small difference to our world, and now everyday, I make important choices that are directly saving the lives of animals; helping to reduce the supply and demand economics of animal-based industry and commerce (therefore not relying on multinational companies as often); and supporting local businesses, who are battling the inequalities of both killing animals, and the Zero Waste movement.

 

But for 18 years of my life, I ate meat.  For 19 years I was not vegan, and I know (alongside a couple of my best friends, who are an incredible support system for me, as they became vegan too) how hard transitioning to veganism can be.  The food is the easy part.  The difficulty is linked to your upbringing.  Childhood books lie to us about what dairy farming is like; there are stories depicting happy farms with happy animals and happy people.  We are taught that we are supposed to eat 5 fruit or vegetables a day, but when that’s the only thing we choose to eat, it’s ‘not good for us,’ and we ‘need’ the meat.  Our culture and the discourse surrounding food and its advertisement (‘milk will make your bones strong’) is how we are fundamentally socialised into believing that animals are ours to consume, use, and watch in circuses.  How can animal lovers love animals if they eat them?  Of course, because so many people are not vegan (and I do not want to vilify non-vegans, as I once ate meat, and have many friends who do so) the answers that veganism provides, in regards to how eating animal products make us ‘stronger’ or ‘healthier’, falls on deaf ears.

 

Some people don’t want to know.  But with consistency and kindness, you can explain how veganism benefits the individual and the masses.  Think about when you were not a vegan (or are on the cusp of transitioning).  What would you want to hear?  What would make you want to become vegan?  For me, the answer is how synonymous veganism is with environmental impact.  Everyday I feel like I am accomplishing a goal; lowering my carbon footprint, reducing water wastage and preventing needless suffering.  I am not a vegan to be better than anyone else, I am a vegan to be the best (still trying!) version of myself.

 

Other people (including some of my previous housemates, who I have discussed this topic with at length) are interested in veganism’s arguments, and can understand its moral positionality, but have decided that the La Vie Vegan is not for them.  They have got their own routines, their own likes and dislikes, or their own cuisine.  That’s okay.  Social conditioning is strong, and some people do not want to draw attention to themselves, or seem different in today’s society.  At social gatherings or parties or restaurants, people often target, mock or extensively question me about my dietary choices; people try to catch vegans out.  Therefore, as much as I enjoy my friends’ company, it is also important to surround yourself with people that do not think factory farming is an acceptable lifestyle to contribute to.

 

We are almost 30 years away from 2050 (is a vegan future possible?), and social media is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to connect with other like-minded people.  Since I decided to cut my dependence on animal products, social media and the internet has allowed me to educate myself, and deepen my interest and awareness of the inequality, injustice, and unjust social movements; such as sexism, racism and ableism, that exist within the power structures that daily control our lives.  Seeing other people, of other nationalities, and cultures, and also similar ones to yourself, signifies how uniting veganism is, and how unnerving it can be against the people who see animals as money.  By watching protests, activists, and documentaries, I am continually inspired by what other vegans are doing to protect animals’ rights.  By 2050, there will be a rise of activists are celebrities and children using social media to present their own views on veganism and disseminating their understanding, and it is crucial that we listen; we need to elevate vegan voices.

 

 

Convenient Veganism: an Age of Social Progression?

This post is partly written in response to Jill Wooster’s article ‘Being a little bit vegan is completely oxymoronic.’[1]

 

In a society where our awareness as consumers has been heightened by social trends, fads and diets, it is questionable whether we treat veganism as a societal convenience, as opposed to a reflection of morality.

 

‘Veganism’ is not a flexible concept, and the danger of presenting ‘Meat-free Mondays’, ‘Fishless Fridays’ and ‘Veganuary’ as forms of veganism may be damaging to the label.  Wooster is not shaming non-vegans, but is clear about veganism’s steadfast definition.  Vegans don’t eat, wear or use any animal products, at any time.

 

REDUCTIONISM

 

But we are creatures of habit, and are learning more about how to terminate our dependence on animal products, especially if we are transitioning from eating meat, to eating vegan.  When I transitioned, I had stopped buying meat, dairy and eggs, but by occasionally eating a chocolate bar, I wasn’t embodying veganism, but instead, reducetarianism.  Veganism is all or nothing, but getting there is an important part of the process.  It’s part of the learning curve.  Although this stage helped me transition fully, I used the term ‘vegan’ too loosely.  And as Wooster explains, you can’t be ‘a little bit vegan.’

 

VEGAN FOR A REASON

 

Sean O’Callaghan AKA ‘Fat Gay Vegan,’[2] believes we need to practice what we preach.  His view is to remain dedicated to being 100% vegan.  Eating dairy once a week is better than eating it every day, however the aim should be to cut it out completely.  Sean says ‘we can congratulate people on their milestones and the small victories… but we should never convey the sentiment that reducing is the end goal.’  Animal exploitation cannot be justified.

 

SOCIAL PROGRESSION IS SHARED KNOWLEDGE

 

The more we learn, the more we can do.  By reading books, blogs, web pages and cook books, I have involved myself more in vegan and environmental activism.  It’s clear to see how many areas of my life have been corrupted by convenience.  Saying ‘no’ to a cake made with eggs, ‘no’ to a beer strained through fish swim bladders (if you didn’t know about that one, google it!) and ‘no’ to buying a plastic water bottle, you are taking an active stand against convenience.

 

Most people don’t want to think about the processes behind their daily commodities, or even want to change their habits, but in an age of social progression, I think it’s important to realise the disadvantages of what you may think think is a positive social trend.  Don’t dilute the label.  Do what you can, when you can, if you can.

 

VEGAN MEANS VEGAN.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/feb/03/being-a-little-bit-vegan-is-completely-oxymoronic

 

[2] http://fatgayvegan.com