Why I Just Started a 30-day Vegan Challenge
Yup, a 30 day vegan challenge. It’s happening. Why? The answer is the same as that of all of life’s important questions: Leonardo DiCaprio. Well, sort of. Leo recently came on to save (aka executive produce) a documentary called Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret that had just had its funding cut because its message was considered too controversial. Leo stepped in and worked with the filmakers to finish the film and secure global distribution via Netflix.
The manfriend and I were working through our regular post-dinner ritual of Netflix-browsing when we saw Conspiracy. It had five stars and an intriguing name, which was enough for us. This may sound a tad melodramatic, but this documentary has completely changed my perspective on agriculture, the food industry and the environment. I don’t think I could do it justice by explaining it in my own words, so here are some of theirs:
“As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet, and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population.”
Everyone has causes they are care about and advocate for and I will openly admit that the environment has never been top of my list. Sure, I try to recycle and only take plastic bags when I need them, but most of the facts and information in Cowspiracy were completely new to me. For example:
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction
- Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals
It also got me thinking about the food industry in general. I found out that:
- Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption
- 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries
- A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people
It suddenly seems very, very weird to me that we live in a world where rainforests are cut down so that we can grow food to feed to animals for people to eat. Why not just give the food directly to people who need it? Aren’t there people in the world who could really use some of the 2,500 gallons of water it takes to produce 1lb of beef? Who knew that Leo would have still this much of an impact on my life 18 years after Titanic?
Don’t worry, I’m not going all preachy on you. This is a blog about my life in Canada (and apparently now about Leonardo DiCaprio), not about cows. Plus, I don’t want to give anything else away or it will ruin the documentary for you if you decide to watch it. You might not be moved by all of it, or you might have already known all of this and I’m just catching up. Either way, it’ll explain how this all ties in with me giving the vegan thing a go for 30 days.
The good news is, I live in Vancouver aka the Lost City of Dietary Requirements, which has no shortage of vegan sections in grocery stores. I’m actually looking forward to trying some new vegan restaurants too. The other good news is that I’ve decided to really focus on the reasons why I’m doing this and not get hung up on the small print. Did you know that white sugar isn’t vegan (it’s processed with charcoal that comes from animal bones) and that most store bought bread contains milk? I’ll be cutting out meat, fish, dairy and eggs and making good choices where I can on the lifestyle side (I can’t afford real leather anyway). More good news is that the manfriend is doing this challenge with me, so I have some moral support. The best news is that I already have a tried, tested and delicious recipe for vegan mac & cheese…yummmmm.
The bad news is pretty self-explanatory. No cheese, no greasy burgers, no drunk poutine and no throwing a can of tuna in anything and everything to make a meal. Something tells me that I won’t be a lifelong vegan after this experiment, but it will be interesting to see if there are any food habits that I do continue. I’m all stocked up on almond milk, vegan butter and cauliflower, so wish me luck!