Today I want to talk a little about veganism, what I have learned from it, what it means to me, and how it has affected my life.
First off, I am not a vegan, I have mentioned this before, but I would like to mention it again. Strictly speaking, I am an Ovo-Lacto-pescetarian. I eat fish, egg and dairy, but no chicken, beef lamb, or pork.
The reason I am not a vegan is a bit complicated. Veganism is not just about eating a plant-based diet, but also about being conscious about your environment, not using products that were tested on animals, or wearing clothes that contain animal parts.
When I think about being a vegan in the eating sense, I think that I could probably do it. But, when it comes to not using plastic, being zero waste, not using clothes that are derived from animals, it gets a little bit more difficult.
I already recycle everything, and I mean everything. We have five bins in our house, one for paper, plastic, glass, food scraps, and non-recyclables. Everything gets sorted, and then every month I drop if off at Wastepreneurs, they take everything. Most recycling places only take certain things, they are very strict about how they receive the recyclables, certain items must be flattened or taken apart, that sort of thing. (think of taking off the plastic top from your milk carton, separating it, washing out the carton and flattening the box). Wastepreneurs isn´t, they take everything that is considered ´trash´. Things that cannot be recycled are used in construction.
Starting to recycle was tough, getting into the habit of throwing one thing in one bin, and something else in another bin takes some getting used to it. But it had a great chain effect, I was getting irritated by having to sort my recycling, so I started buying things that didn´t come in plastic.
That already made a big difference to me. I was becoming more conscious of what I was buying, and where I was buying it. I also always take my Lil material baggies to the shop when I go buy groceries. It makes a difference.
Something else that I have started to do to become more conscious of my carbon footprint was to make some of my own products. I started making my own body lotion and my own deodorant. Furthermore, I buy a lot of products from Lush, like a solid shampoo bar and solid conditioner. It´s not tested on animals and it doesn´t come in plastic. Awesome.
I am pretty happy with some of the changes that I have made, I am aware of what I buy now, who I buy from, things like that.
Some changes that I haven´t made, and probably won´t make, are things like buying all types of clothes considered vegan. There are some great vegan options out there, there are clothes being made from mushrooms, pineapple, and hemp. (seriously) These are great options, but some are not so great. One example is vegan leather, or well, pleather. It´s made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) So it is plastic. It requires the extraction of fossil fuels to produce, and it is not bio-degradable. (Leather is) The synthetic fibers found in clothes like this (including polyester) is a major cause of ocean pollution. Actually, it is the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the ocean. That´s not so great now, is it?
So, another hurdle to becoming a vegan in the environmental sense is this, it is difficult to find clothes that are both vegan and not harmful to the environment. It takes a lot of research, reading, and Googling to find clothes in these criteria. Not just clothes, but accessories as well.
All these factors, clothes, food, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, are things I consider when I go out into the world to go buy stuff. I feel overwhelmed.
This is why I cannot call myself a vegan, and why I fear I may never be one. The standards are too high. When I buy something new that isn´t environmentally sound or something that comes in plastic, or worse, non-recyclable plastic, I feel guilty. I feel like if I want to call myself a vegan, eating a plant-based diet is one part, but not causing further destruction of our planet is also a huge factor. Every time I think, it´s time to become a vegan, I think, nope. I can´t. Because it opens to door to too many other things which I feel I cannot do. If I were to define myself as true vegan, I would probably feel guilty for expelling air out of my lungs.
So in conclusion, I would like to say that not strictly defining myself has left me open for some very positive changes, both to my house, my body, and my surroundings. Defining yourself in rigid terms leaves no space for change growth, it only leaves you open to judgment.
If you would like to read more on the subject of veganism, here is a great article I found in The Guardian. It is a long read, but it´s a lockdown, y´all have time.