Vegan is catching on!
Veganism is catching on! | © Illustration: Celine Buldun
It's never too late to try something new. Grandma Trude has learned some very interesting facts about the impact of what we eat on animal welfare and the environment. And she’d changed her diet accordingly.
By Granny Trude
Hello, my dears!
You know my motto: I want to change things for the better – and not look away, but think things through. Well, this motto is pretty hard for me to live up to in the COVID era. Fortunately for me, however, my lively, feisty granddaughter Viola came to stay with me a few days ago. My salvation! Does me a world of good to have her in the house. And she’s wrought a real change in my life. You’ll be amazed.
Reasons to go veganViola recently went vegan. So we talk a lot about her decision to avoid products of animal origin in her diet and everyday life. I wanted to know everything about that! For example, she doesn't wear anything made of silk or leather anymore and doesn't buy anything new made of wool or down. For one thing, she’s concerned about animal welfare. She is pained by the very thought of factory farming, livestock transport and animal testing. For another thing, she’s concerned about the environment and about hunger in the world, which is a complex, controversial matter. She also gives some thought to her health – though, frankly, at the age of 21 she’s still too young to be worrying about that...
At first, Viola ate only organic meat, till she eventually switched to a vegetarian diet. It wasn’t a big step then from vegetarian to vegan, especially as she grew more and more concerned about sustainability and about environmental and climate protection. Veganism is really catching on, as we can see from the many cookbooks, food festivals, magazines, websites and the wide range of vegan-labelled produce at supermarkets. As recently as the 1990s, hardly anyone was talking about veganism, but for the past ten years or so it’s been all the “hype” – at least that's what Viola calls it.
Ecological footprintVeganism is closely connected to our ecological footprint. On the web we came across a study led by the Englishman Joseph Poore at the University of Oxford in 2018 – fascinating stuff! Eliminating meat and dairy from your diet makes a huge contribution to protecting the environment because plant-based foods require far fewer resources.
Less CO2Poore and his fellow scientists calculated that every vegan saves two tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, including 670 kilograms of CO2. Non-vegans cause nine tonnes more of greenhouse gas emissions than vegans. One way of looking at it is that a vegan saves about five round-trip flights a year between Munich and Milan. Vegan foods also require less farmland. That made me think of the field where farmer Georg keeps his cows. And the adjacent fields where he grows their feed. In the cows' field, which wouldn’t even exist in a vegan world, plants and trees could be growing and converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. I never thought of it that way!
New pathsWhilst browsing the web on the subject of veganism, I couldn’t help noticing all those heated, radical, sometimes even insulting arguments about it. I’m not about to join the fray! But Viola's veganism, which she takes very seriously, and my newly acquired knowledge have now given me a reason to stop eating meat. I admit that it's easy for me: meat was only on my menu once a month anyway. I'm trying to consume less dairy, too. After all, there are so many interesting-sounding alternatives nowadays!
One small step for a woman…So even at my age I’ve become a vegetarian. If only my Hans were around to see that! Back in the day, we didn't used to eat much meat because it was so expensive, if there was any to be had at all. Which made a Sunday roast with the family all the more of a treat.
Who knows what’s next… At any rate, I’d like to add that everyone should be free to live as they see fit. Going even a little vegan or vegetarian means less suffering for animals and more environmental protection, which is better than nothing!
Where to start?If you want to try a vegan diet, my granddaughter Viola has a few life hacks for you:
- Opt for falafel instead of kebab, or put a vegan sausage on the grill. The taste is masked by mustard or sauce anyway.
- Or eat more organic produce: it has fewer additives, which usually get tested on animals first.
- Dark chocolate contains less milk than milk chocolate.
- Naturally cloudy juice doesn’t contain gelatine, which is derived from animal bones and is used to clarify juice. If you’re wondering why gelatine is not listed as an ingredient on your apple juice packaging, it’s just a processing aid, so it doesn’t have to be declared. What do you think of that? On the other hand, I was always surprised to see gelatine listed as an ingredient on wine bottles in the past. So now I know the whole story!
- I already knew that gummi bears contain gelatine. Which has always rubbed me the wrong way, so I buy my grandchildren and great-grandchildren vegan gummi bears – there’s a bigger and bigger assortment to choose from these days.
- Substituting almond, rice or soy milk for cow's milk is a worthwhile move. That said, if your cappuccino tastes better with cow's milk, then just use non-dairy milk in your cereal.
Vegan with a planIf you want to go vegan all the way, make sure to eat a balanced diet of fresh produce – and take some vitamin supplements to ward off any deficiencies. In any case, make sure to get all the information you need about nutrition. If you do everything right, living vegan is a healthy choice.
Enjoy the month of June, my dears! Keep your spirits up and let me know if you found any food for thought in this month’s column.