“Vegans. Ugh, they are so annoying,” I used to joke with my ex-boyfriend. I have a degree in Health Science, am a certified Holistic Health Coach, and was a personal trainer. I read book after book about the perfect diet—I had my nutrition knowledge on lock. I was also adamant that animal testing was cruel and had long since given up plastic water bottles for reusable ones. I bugged all my friends about recycling and had many discussions about climate change. I was well on my sustainability journey.
I did read a few vegan books—titles that elude me now—and I would always cringe (and cry) when I read the descriptions of factory farming. The unnecessary cruelty to animals and devastating environmental impact were indisputable. Still, there was grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, so I didn’t have to give up eating animal products to not participate in that horrid industry, right? I continued making fun of vegans, even teasing my vegetarian sister every time we ate meat around her. “You sure you don’t want a bite?”
I worked at a health food store for a few years, where the majority of my co-workers were vegetarian or vegan. I had many philosophical conversations with colleagues and considered myself one of the few “normal” people and brought blatantly vegan-unfriendly food to potluck lunches. Documentaries like Vegucated, What the Health, and Cowspiracy blew up. The vegans were at it again! No matter, no need for me to change. I started following people who were on a plant-based diet on Twitter by accident. Then, slowly, I began to reconsider how comfortable I was eating animal products. I decided to go vegetarian.
I wasn’t the only one. Big fast food chains have jumped on the veg bandwagon: Pizza Hut UK and our beloved Pizza Pizza have started offering vegan cheese, and A&W now has their vegan Beyond Burger. Whole restaurants are building their business models around plant-based menus. Veganism in the U.S. has increased by 500% since 2014 and the trend doesn’t show any signs of stopping. People are becoming more conscious about the food they put in their mouths, which is good not only for animal welfare but also for the environment. Awesome online tools like The Vegan Calculator help you calculate the environmental effects of changing your diet—not eating meat or animal by-products for only a month saves over 1,000 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forest land, and reduces your carbon emissions by 20 lbs. Eco-friendly websites—including Our Positive Planet!—even have little vegan corners for you to peruse. It looks like those vegan are emerging victorious!
If you’re not ready to go veggie, that’s okay. It took me almost 10 years to jump in. But while we’re here, let me link you to a couple of my favourite vegan recipes because food can totally be delicious and a solid choice for the environment. Here are a few of my favourite recipes:
Are you vegetarian or vegan? What got you started on this journey? If you aren’t either, what’s your favourite plant-based dish? Have you ever tried anything you loved? Share your recipes below!