It is well documented that turning to veganism is one of the most effective ways an individual can reduce their carbon footprint, says Tina Nieman Da Costa of Wanstead Climate Action
As a movement, plant-based living has seen steady growth in recent times, and the market share for products and services in this sector has exploded. And yet, still there are some who find this lifestyle confusing. As one Zimbabwean vegan pointed out: “It was easier to come out to my father. There were less questions, less tears and way less calls for an exorcism.”
So, here are seven questions every new vegan will face, and helpful ways to answer them.
1. What do you eat?
Fruit, vegetables and grains. Anything that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. And in the summer, swimmers in the sea… No wait, that’s sharks, vegans eat plants.
2. Where do you get your protein?
The extensive variety of nuts, legumes, seeds and grains available in any decent grocer.
3. Why are you not dead yet?
The side effects of a plant-based diet may include reduced cholesterol, lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.
4. Why are vegans always talking about it?
To save you the effort and embarrassment of killing, cooking and serving a whole cow to someone who has no interest in eating meat or animal products of any kind.
5. Do you take supplements?
No, we get all our nutrients from the food carefully selected based on what we need to live, and not what we live to eat.
6. How do you manage it?
By the grace of the vegan goddess Serena Williams, all things are possible.
7. Are you an ethical vegan or a dietary vegan?
These labels, like most labels, are irrelevant and detract from the wider and more important conversation.
The conversation being, should we, as a civilisation, rethink our agricultural activities for the good of the planet, and what are we willing to sacrifice for the future, now we know simply leaving the mess behind for someone else to clean up is no longer – and never has been – an option? Pollution of all kinds is not going anywhere until big and wholesome changes are made to stop a climate crisis that the generation sitting in pushchairs right now will have to live with.
The answer is not just veganism; in fact, you don’t even have to be a vegan. What is needed is a commitment to change your mindset from a consumer to being part of the solution to the climate issue in every aspect of your life. This will not be easy, but life by its very definition is not meant to be easy. It is, after all, the struggle against the infinite violence of the cosmos.