Looking through my diary for 2022, I noticed that there are an increasing number of days and months dedicated to promoting going vegan. There's Veganuary in January, a Vegan Month in November, and National Vegetarian Week in May.
And this month, January 2022, it is Veganuary month. Veganuary is a non-profit organisation, encouraging people all over the world to try going vegan for the month of January and for longer. In 2021, over half a million people from 209 countries pledged to try a vegan diet during Veganuary.
For Veganuary is on a mission: a vegan world. A world without slaughterhouses and animal farms, “where food production does not decimate forests, pollute rivers and oceans, exacerbate climate change and drive wild animal populations to extinction.” And it’s busy throughout the year as it encourages people and businesses to move to a plant-based diet.
Veganuary.com has lots of help and resources available to you – it’s free to sign up to Veganuary and you can unsubscribe any time you like. There are also other websites and organisations such as the Vegan Society and Viva! who are a campaigning vegan charity
For many people, especially those who eat meat, it can be a very sudden change to go vegan but I hope to show you there are a number of ways to reduce our meat consumption and lead a more vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Even if you reduce your meat meals by one a month, that's better than nothing.
Eating meat takes up precious resources from earth
- The animals who end up on our plates need land to be raised on – or they may have been crammed in somewhere with thousands of others. That land they are raised on may have been forests or grasslands, vital to wildlife and eco-systems before it was taken for agriculture production. Millions of acres of forest and grasslands have been turned into agricultural land, meaning that a huge number of wildlife have lost their habitats and their food sources.
- The animals we eat need feeding as they are raised for slaughter. Producing the food they eat takes up more land.
- Producing meat demands a lot of water. Water is needed for the animals to drink, and to water the crops produced to feed the animals. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that 70% of the freshwater supplies around the world goes towards agriculture. One third of this goes to grow animal feed crops.
When you eat meat, you are eating a dead animal, killed for human consumption. Even if this animal is killed in one of the more humane slaughterhouses, this must be full of very stress for the animals awaiting their turn to be slaughtered and of course being slaughtered as well. Find out about Animal Aid's campaign and take a look at their four reasons to go vegan - for the animals, for our health, for the environment and for human rights.
How far have the animals travelled to get to the point of slaughter?
Then there is the number of animals the meat has travelled to get to our shops and subsequently our plates and stomachs. Stop Live Transport is a campaign which has some footage and photos that are difficult to take in, because of what the animals go through on their way to slaughter, and they also have some maps it’s worth looking at because it shows how far some of these animals travel. (A date for your diary: 14th June 2022 is the Stop Live Transport Awareness day.). If you eat meat, please buy as local as you can.
World Horse Welfare also has a campaign about long distance transport for slaughter - they want to stop long distance transport for slaugher by 2027. Find out more here
Making life better for farm animals
You can also look at Compassion in World Farming, which campaigns peacefully to end all factory farming practices. Please take a look at their website and join in to give your support to their campaigns. Take a look and see what the charity achieved in 2021. The more of us who join campaigns to make the world a better place for animals the better. Let's all put the pressure on! A lot of people don't feel comfortable starting campaigns but this is a way to really make a difference - the animals need all our voices to help them.
A date for your diary: the 10th October is Asia Farm Animal Day - and there's plenty you can do before that, as you'll see if you scroll down the page when you click here - as they say, everyone has the power to do ONE thing to help farmed animals.
What about pet food?
A recent article by The Independent tells us that dry pet food production emits 106 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, according to a study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh. Pet owners can make a difference by looking for sustainable alternatives. Viovet has a number of vegan products, as does Pet Supermarket
11 ways to reduce your impact on the planet
We need to think carefully about what we are eating, what we waste, where it comes from i.e. how far it has travelled to get to us, and how it is produced. So here are some tips for reducing our impact on the planetL
- Reduce the amount of meat meals you eat e.g. you could do Meat Free Mondays. Take a look at Ethical Superstore, an online retailer with a huge range of products for the home, garden, groceries, beauty, fashion, including a Meat Alternatives section
- When you have a meat meal, reduce the portion of the amount of meat you are eating.
- Plan your meals so that you shop accordingly and minimise waste wherever possible. Leftovers could become a stew or tasty casserole but be sure of safety when re-heating meat.
- Buy your meat, fish, fruit and vegetables from local suppliers such as farm shops or look for produce in your supermarket that is locally produced.
- Go to seasonal eating e.g. eat strawberries when they come into season in your area, not in the middle of the year when they have to travel many miles to get to your area. And products such as almonds, soya, cashew nuts, cocoa and walnuts are hard on the environment because of the amount of water and/or land it takes to produce them. Be conscious of where your food has come from. If it's travelled many thousands of miles, try something else which is closer to home.
- Grow your own if you can. Suttons have lots of vegetables, fruit and salad plants you can order online. Herbs will sit on the window sill or outside the back door in pots; you could try a vertical garden for your produce, especially if your garden is small. More and more garden stores have dwarf fruit trees available which will fit in a pot on a patio area. Please use peat-free compost. Natural Collection have a Seedball Italian Herb Kitchen whilst Thompson & Morgan have a Gardeners Herb Collection for outside
- Try eating vegan when you are out – it may give you some ideas of things to try at home. And give it a go – you may find you like it!
- Give plant foods a try – you don’t have to eat them all the time – even just cutting back a couple of meat meals a month would help
- Look to sustainable forms of fish – the Marine Conservation Society’s website has lots of information with its Good Fish Guide, including fish to avoid and a best choice - you can search the fish you are thinking of buying or ordering and the guide will tell you if it's a good choice for the planet or best avoided.
- If you can't give up meat and dairy products at all/a bit, look at other products that are vegan – such as chocolate, biscuits and snacks – and see what you think. Give them a go. Have a rummage round a website such as Natural Collection or your local supermarket to see what sort of vegan products they have. Natural Collection has vegan cleaning products, for instance. Think outside the meat box. It's easy to think of being vegan = eating no meat but being a vegan can involve much more than that.
- Give a delivery service such as The Brooke Plant-Based Kitchen a go! They've got lots of recipies on their website as well that you can try.