Often when researching ways to help fight the climate crisis you’ll be told to switch to a vegan diet. Frankly, it’s great advice, and something we should all consider if possible, but where do we start?
To help answer that question I’ve invited my Mum, Jackie Byrd, to offer some advice. She’s been exploring sustainable eating for decades and supported my decision to go vegetarian 24 years ago, as well as fostering my interest in sustainability and the environment from an early age (thanks!).
She’s got lots of great advice and information to share, so get reading…
I first became aware of meat-free, plant-based diets in the mid-70’s, around the same time that I came across a thought-provoking book called Diet for a Small Planet. In it, Frances Moore Lappe described the environmental impact of meat production – how wasteful it is and how it makes little economic sense.
It was written in 1971 but feels just as relevant today. For me, this book was the start of a journey down the rabbit-hole of political, environmental, animal rights, and health-related issues relating to meat based diets.
I’ve now spent decades learning about, and experimenting with, a variety of diets – including pescatarianism, vegetarianism, and now veganism (for 3+ years).
I’ve learned a lot over that time but I still remember how hard it can be starting out. With that in mind, I’ve collected a range of helpful information for anyone looking to get started with a plant-based diet.
Top 8 Meat Replacements
Ideally, we’d all cook every meal from scratch – the nutrition is better and there’s also plastic-packaging on meat substitutes which impact our environment. However, meat-like products can really help people make the transition to a plant-based diet and are invaluable in many cases.
Here are some of my favourite meat replacements:
Note: If you’re concerned about the origins of soya produce then the organisation Viva has some useful information on their website listing the policies of some popular vegetarian/vegan food companies.
Let’s Talk About Dairy…
For a long time before becoming vegan I was a vegetarian. I thought the beef/pork/chicken industry was cruel and unnecessary, but the more I learned about dairy and egg production the harder it became to ignore the parallel levels of needless brutality – hence the move to veganism!
Animal cruelty aside, drinking another animals breast milk is something no other mammals do in the wild.
But how do we substitute all the dairy products that make up so much of our modern diets? What about ingredients for baking, and all the sweet treats we are accustomed to?
Top Dairy & Egg Replacements:
For those looking for more information about the meat and dairy industry, here are a few great links to get you started:
Making The Change
If you would like to try and make the transition to a vegan diet there’s lots of help and advice available online. Here are my top tips:
Scared of going it alone? One nice way to get started is with the Veganuary movement where people try and live meat-free for the whole of January. Their website has loads of resources including a cookbook and menu plans plus lots of facts and information.
The global community of vegans is growing fast and there’s no shortage of ways to get inspired:
Videos, Films & Documentaries
If you have read this far – well done – hopefully you’re feeling more informed and inspired than ever to try a plant-based diet. And finally, if my words aren’t enough, here are some convincers from a couple of influential thinkers you may have heard of:
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein
“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” – Leonardo Da Vinci