If you didn’t already know; I’m vegan. Being vegan is the single biggest thing anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint, however, not everyone can go vegan. So, you might wonder, how to be green without going vegan?
A lot of “radical vegans” will say otherwise, but frankly, suggesting everyone can go vegan and thrive on a vegan diet is ablest. That logic doesn’t take allergies, eating disorders, mental illness, chronic illness, food deserts, etc into account. I always say do your best; even Meat Free Monday is better than nothing. However, this does beg the question of how to be green without going vegan.
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6 Ways To Be Eco-Friendly Without Going Vegan
1. Do Meat Free Monday
You don’t have to go meat free every single day, but going one day a week without meat is better than nothing.
For me my vegan journey began because I started going one day a week without meat, then two, then three and so on until I stopped eating meat altogether. This doesn’t mean you have to do that; after all, you’re reading how to be green without going vegan for a reason!
2. Get Some Zero-Waste & Low-Waste Essentials
We rely much too heavily on single-use plastic than we need to. I see whole vegetables like cucumbers shrink wrapped in Tesco all the time as if nature didn’t millennia developing biodegradable skin for them.
Here’s some scary facts about our reliance on single-use plastic; one trillion plastic bags are used every year globally, and half a billion plastic straws are used every day worldwide. As we’re on our way to having more plastic in the ocean than fish, we need to live a more low-waste life, especially if you care about animals.
Start off with these zero-waste essentials, if you need some zero-waste products.
3. Say Goodbye To Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is another thing we are much too reliant on. It’s convenient, trendy and cheap, but awful for the planet. Fast fashion is made with such low-quality materials (and often in sweatshops), that the pieces don’t even last long! In 2015, greenhouse gas coming from manufacturing fast fashion clothing totalled 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2, which is more than all flights and shipping combined.
Slow-fashion doesn’t mean you’re going to end up looking like a potato sack, I’ve found amazing secondhand outfits but it’s also a good idea to get crafty and try upcycle some old pieces even if you can’t sew.
Try shop from secondhand and slow fashion retailers instead, and invest in good quality clothing that lasts a long time. Not everyone can afford to buy new clothes from slow fashion retails (including me!), so the affordable option is Depop, but if you’re going to stick to fast fashion then try not to impulse buy and get new clothes when you need them.
4. Take Public Transport, Or Walk
This next way to be eco-friendly without going vegan is the oldest green tip in the bus; stop driving everywhere.
This point is not aimed at people with disabilities, it’s aimed at the people who drive to places that are walking distance for no reason. Not only is it bad for your health but these little micro-trips add up.
If you can take public transport or walk to coffee with friends rather than driving it will do your health and planet a favour!
5. Fly less
Well, thanks to Miss ‘Rona we weren’t flying this year anyway, so this tip on being eco-friendly without going vegan is for when some bit or normality resumes. Flying is more convenient than other modes of transport like getting a ferry or train.
Flying makes up 2% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which doesn’t sound major but it could still be lower. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) revealed in 2018 that 4.3 billion people flew. This was an increase of 38 million from 2017.
If you are going to fly, offset the flights afterwards.
6. Avoid Palm Oil & Other Problematic Foods
Palm oil is in almost everything because it’s so cheap! What you eat effects the world around you, regardless of whether you eat meat or not which is why this non-vegan green tip is a foodie one.
Palm oil comes from the rainforest which are cut down to be used in food, shampoo, cosmetics, everything! We lose approximately 200,000 acres of rainforest every day! As the “lungs of the Earth” this is concerning because with less trees, less Co2 is absorbed.
A disgusting fact is because now that people are waking up and actively trying to avoid palm oil, some companies are being sneaky and calling it different things, so familiarise yourself with these aliases for palm oil.
Aside from veganism (which is by no means flawless), the greenest way to eat is to opt for locally grown and produced food in season. You can also try grow your own fruit and veg if you have the space!
But If You Are Going To Go Vegan
If you are going to go vegan eventully here’s some things to keep in mind:
- It’s not just about food; it’s a lifestyle. Someone plant-based isn’t necessarily vegan, they might just eat vegan food. Vegans don’t use any products that come from or were tested on animals so this means; no fur, no leather, no products tested on animals.
- Make sure to replace what you remove. It’s not as simple as taking meat, dairy, and eggs out of your diet. You need to replace the nutrients you removed with something else, so you should consult a dietitian first. For nutritional advice and meal ideas, check out my vegan & wellness blog pricklypineapples.ie.
- It’s okay to transition slowly. I wouldn’t recommend going cold turkey, this will be a huge shock to the system and you’re more likely to give up. A good way to ease into veganism is to actually start adding vegan foods to your diet before cutting anything out; try vegan snacks, try vegan fast foods, add oat milk to your coffee etc Then you can take Meat Free Monday from one day a week to two and so on etc. Some people have meat-free days, and others will remove one kind of animal product at a time, do whatever feels right for you.
- Educate yourself on nutrition and learn to cook. It’s not actually as simple as swapping chicken out for tofu, the nutritional breakdown of chicken and tofu are very different. Before going vegan have a strong idea of how you’ll meet your nutritional requirements, and expect to have to cook a lot! While it’s fun getting to experiment with food and new meals, it’s not always easy (but I think it’s worth it).
- There’s also no shame in taking supplements. Your health is so important, don’t let pride be the thing to damage it.
What do you think of these tips on how to be green without going vegan? Do you live an eco-friendly live by doing any of these things?