For as long as I can remember, I have been aware of the impact I have on the environment. I have been constantly trying to find more and better ways to lower my carbon footprint and to use as little of the Earth’s natural resources as possible. Reading sustainability blogs and books and watching documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth helped me along the way. It was a Green Living journey that evolved as I learned more. I recycled, bought only earth-friendly beauty and home products, and refused plastic bags to use reusable ones when shopping. I composted my kitchen waste and took a reusable mug to work. I supported local whenever I could, saved energy and used less water. Even my toilet paper was green.
Going green doesn’t start with doing green acts, it starts with a shift in consciousnessIan Somerhalder
In 2011 I had a major shift in consciousness when I learned that the most powerful way to help the environment was to stop eating animal products. I started to read more and more about the impact livestock has on the environment. I had no idea that the livestock industry could be responsible for up to 50% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is said to be the leading cause of global warming. And that the consumption of animal products contributes to malnutrition in the developing world, water scarcity, deforestation, pollution, species extinction, and land degradation, by using land and resources for livestock instead of crops for direct food sources.
The tipping point
One evening I ended up on PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) website. I watched ‘Meet Your Meat’. An 11 minute behind the scenes video exposing what goes on in factory farms. I was horrified. I cried so hard while watching the video that I had trouble seeing through my tears. But I carried on watching. I couldn’t ignore the truth. I had never before really thought of meat as living, breathing animals who feel pain, who love.
Well, actually, I have always had an issue with meat that looked like the animal it came from. As a kid I especially hated seafood restaurants because they served things like crayfish, lobster, squid, and fish. You could see exactly what it had been. I hated it when my mom (who became Vegan 2 years after I did) asked me to remove the meat from a cooked chicken because I could feel the ribs of the chicken, and see by its shape that it was a being, not a thing. I preferred my meat to be ‘anonymous’ so I didn’t have to think about it as a being. It bugged me for years but I ignored it and carried on eating meat.
Society might be telling you it’s ok, but what does your heart sayUnknown
Right after watching ‘Meet Your Meat’, I realised that by buying animal products, I was not only contributing towards harming the environment, but that I was contributing towards the exploitation of animals. I couldn’t be a part of it anymore. That’s when I decided to go Vegan. I knew that being Vegetarian wouldn’t work because I would still be supporting exploitation and violence against animals.
The next morning I was Vegan! I stopped eating the obvious products that came from animals such as meat, chicken, fish and eggs, including dairy products. I started researching Vegan Life and realised that it wasn’t that simple. I understand why people find going Vegan to be intimidating – there is a lot to consider. It is not just about what you eat.
It is important to understand that becoming Vegan isn’t a diet, it is a lifestyle. And it is also important to understand that not all Vegans are the same. People become Vegan for different reasons which tend to be either ethical, environmental, or health based. I did not become Vegan because I did not like the taste of animal products. Becoming vegan was inevitable because I care deeply about the environment and all animals.
My previous lifestyle had a huge negative impact on the planet, and I contributed to the cause of animal cruelty and exploitation. I needed to take responsibility for my choices and make a positive change. If not immediately, then when? I have been a Green Vegan for many years now, but my Green Vegan lifestyle is a continuous evolution. Finding new ways to reduce my impact on the environment, and to reduce my part in the exploitation of animals, is something I am always working on.
No single food choice has a farther-reaching and more profoundly positive impact on our health, the environment, and all of life on Earth than choosing vegan.Alternative Baking Company
As a Vegan I don’t eat any animal-derived foods including milk, cheese & honey. I eat only plant-based foods which include an array of fruits, vegetables, nuts and even vegan ‘substitute’ products for items such as milk, cream, ice cream, cheese, meats, etc… I don’t use animal products or by-products, including beeswax, wool, fur, silk, down & leather.
I don’t buy products that have been tested on animals. I do buy products that contain no animal products, are natural and biodegradable, and free from harmful chemicals. From my bamboo toothbrush, to my makeup, my roll-on, and extending all the way to my household cleaning products.
I don’t support places where animals are kept in captivity for profit such as zoos, aquariums and animal parks. I do however support animal sanctuaries where the aim is to take care of animals that have been rescued from places of exploitation. These animals have lived in captivity for so long that they cannot be released into the wild. The sanctuaries provide a natural enclosure where they can live out their lives with minimal human interaction, where visitors can respectfully observe animals but not interact with them.
As a Vegan, I don’t support the breeding of domesticated animals such as horses, dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, birds or fish. I do however support rescue organisations where you can adopt. I have adopted a few ‘fur kids’ of my own.
Not all vegans agree
Most Vegans feel the same as me with regards to the points I mentioned above. There are however, some items that not all vegans agree on. For example, in the vegan community there is an on-going debate about palm oil. Rain forests where Orangutans and other animals are living are being destroyed to make space for palm oil plantations. For this reason I don’t buy products (even if they are vegan) that contain palm oil, but many Vegans do.
As I said, not all Vegans are the same. I personally don’t support using an animal in any way, and for this reason I also don’t support horse riding. From doing lots of research about it and I have learnt that riding a horse causes skeletal, muscular and tissue damage over time, and that a horse can get sufficient exercise without the need to have a human sitting on top.
A different kind of vegan
I also don’t support companies that may not test on animals themselves, but do sell their products in countries where governmental agencies require animal testing to demonstrate the ingredient ‘safety’. These are the big companies that have many brands under them, and most are on the shelves of almost every store that I shop at.
Based on my research, here are some: Coco-Cola (Fanta, Sprite, Powerade, etc), Pepsico (Pepsi, Lays, Fritos, etc), Nestlé (Nescafé, Maggi, Milo, etc), Mars (Skittles, M&M’s, Airwaves, etc), P&G (Pampers, Ariel, Head & Shoulders), Johnson & Johnson’s (Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, Listerine, etc), Unilever (Flora, Robertsons, Knorr, etc), and General Mills (Nature Village, Haagen Dazs, Cheerios, etc).
The above links go to the pages on their websites where they state that they allow third party testing. Have a look at their products page if you want to know which other brands fall under these big companies. I will only support them once they stop selling their products in the countries that require animal testing.
Since going Vegan in 2011, I have witnessed a worldwide shift away from consuming animal products. The world is changing and becoming more aware, and it is wonderful to see. People are taking an interest in knowing where their food comes from and how it’s produced.
Be the change that you wish to see in the worldMAHATMA GANDHI
the future is vegan
Thanks to documentaries like ‘Forks Over Knives’ (available on Netflix), people are becoming more aware of the negative health impacts of eating meat and animal products, and the many health benefits of plant-based eating. The World Health Organisation has linked cancer to processed meats. The demand for dairy-free milk is increasing, while the demand for dairy milk is declining.
why I started ‘the green vegan chick’ blog
The availability of Green & Vegan products has increased dramatically, and I am finding new products I hadn’t noticed before every time I go to the shop. I started posting about them on my social media accounts so others could know about them too. I also started posting the meals I made, and then included the recipes, as people were asking for them.
My Green Vegan Journey has led me to creating this very Cape Town-based The Green Vegan Chick blog in order to create a directory of Green Vegan products I discover, as well as a database of the recipes I create. My hope is that it shows that going green and or vegan is a joy, and not a sacrifice.
The future depends on what we do in the present.MAHATMA GANDHI
Thanks for taking the time to read about me. And I’d love to hear from you, even if you just want to say hi, have a question, idea or tip. Or if you have a Green / Vegan product you would like me to know about.
Feel free to drop a comment below, send me a mail or message me on my contact page. If you’d like to see green and vegan products I have found browse my Directory. New products posted regularly. Alternatively, If you are looking for some vegan recipe inspiration, have a look here.
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