4 Small Things to Give up to be Environmentally Friendly
If you’ve been following the blog for a while now then you know I’m a huge fan of baby steps. It’s taken me three years to go vegan since I first gave up dairy because I slowly made more and more changes to my diet before I was able to (almost completely) go vegan. I am a firm believer in taking things slow and only doing as much as you can handle at the moment.
Since going vegan I haven’t put much more thought into what I’m eating other than avoiding all milk and dairy products, all meat, and almost always avoiding eggs. I don’t pay attention to the fine print such as gelatin, sugar, or palm oil. There’s also a ton of other small things I keep meaning to give up, yet have never actually gotten around to. So, for my New Years resolution, instead of having one resolution, I decided to have 4 little tiny ones. They aren’t all vegan-specific so if you’re not yet vegan or you’re a better vegan than I am then there will still be a few you can try!
How it works
I was inspired by Veganuary, a movement that encourages people to go vegan for just one month. After that, you’re free to do and eat whatever you want! This way you can see how easy it is to change your lifestyle without having to fully commit to anything long-term. Basically, I’m not going to force myself to stick to any one thing for a full year; that just sounds scary and like a large commitment. So instead, I’ll be giving up 4 different things each for one month in an attempt to become more environmentally conscious and help my body at the same time. Hopefully, in the end, I’ll be able to continue to eat less of the things I give up and become more aware of the world around me.
I kept hearing that sugar was not always vegan, but I never got around to finding out why it wasn’t vegan. And now that I just looked it up I’m kinda thinking this whole one month of only eating vegan sugar might last a bit longer. According to PETA’s website, most sugar is not vegan because it contains bone char. “Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve a white color. Bone char is made from the bones of cattle who were slaughtered in foreign countries and sold to traders in other foreign countries, who then sell the bones back to the U.S. sugar industry.” So that’s kinda really gross. But the good news is it’s not too hard to find vegan sugar. Any sugar that comes from beets or coconut cannot use bone char, and any sugar labeled organic also cannot contain bone char. This article from PETA has a bunch of vegan sugars you can buy at most grocery stores!
Palm oil is a little-known issue that’s causing big problems. Palm oil is soured from the habitats of endangered orangutans as well as many other animals. It is causing mass deforestation, loss of homes for indigenous people, and the mass burning of trees greatly attributes to climate change – and barely anyone talks about it. Palm oil is in almost every processed food we eat, including many vegan products. According to WWF, “It's the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet and half of all packaged products contain it – from ice cream and instant to shampoo and lipstick.” So clearly the issue is much larger than food – it’s even in beauty supplies. Look for RSPO or CSPO on labels to ensure sustainability when buying products made with palm oil.
For most vegans and vegetarians, soy is a staple in our diet. Tofu is almost always used to replace meat and soy milk is sometimes the only option for alternative milk. Although eating soy products is definitely better for the environment than the animal alternative, it’s still not environmentally friendly. Mass deforestation has been caused by farming soy and most soy is sprayed with pesticides that can be harmful to the plants around it, the people handling it, and the consumer. 90% of soy grown in America is also genetically modified, meaning it can be very harmful to our bodies. Cutting tofu out of my diet will be the easy part, living completely soy free for a month will be very difficult – soy is found in almost every processed food!
Buying new Things
This one’s a bit different as it’s not food based, but it’s still an important one. In today’s culture we consume goods non-stop. It’s hard to go to a store without finding a shirt you need or a bowl that will perfectly compliment the rest of your serving-ware. But, this fast paced consumption of goods is taking a toll on our world. For one month, I’m going to commit to not buying anything new to teach myself that it is okay to say no sometimes. And, to make matters worse for myself, I’m going to limit myself to just 14 articles of clothing I can wear for an entire month. That’s including shoes and socks and everything else. the goal is to teach myself that although I love clothes, they aren’t as important as I make them out to be. Our environment – and the livelihood of the individuals hurt by fast fashion – is far more important than the way I dress.
How do You Help
Did you make a New Years Resolution to change your lifestyle for the better? I’d love to know!