So, everyone knows that vegans are awesome, right? We have committed to a healthy lifestyle of plants which causes the least possible harm to animals, plus we help save the environment at the same time! It’s a win-win situation. But, if you’re like me then you’re constantly searching for ways to change and improve yourself. I believe that veganism is a process. You don’t just stop eating animal products and that’s the end of it. As people with compassion for our planet and every Earthling that lives there, we are committed to learning, changing, and adapting to live in harmony in the best possible way.
I’m writing this post in assumption that you already eat a plant-based diet, use cruelty-free products (makeup, household cleaners etc), and boycott places that use animals for entertainment. If you don’t already do these things, then these should be your first priority.
But in addition to these things, here are a few more examples of steps that vegans can take to be even more awesome!
- Boycott palm oil. The palm oil industry is incredibly destructive as it results in habitat loss for many wild, endangered species. Personally I don’t see palm oil as a vegan product because of this, and the entire industry is very unethical, from both an animal rights and environmental perspective. I wrote a detailed post about this a while ago, I recommend that you check it out.
- Dress sustainably. When you go clothes shopping, are you buying from sweat shops? The unfortunate answer is yes, probably. While many of us probably can’t afford to be buying all of their outfits from 100% eco-friendly brand stores, there are a few alternatives. Charity or thrift shops are good ideas of places to go when you need more stuff. Of course it won’t be top of the range fashion, but you can definitely find some good buys if you try. You can also buy second-hand clothes from asos marketplace. Finally, if you have no alternative and must buy from a regular high-street shop, make sure that you get as many wears as possible out of it. Don’t get sucked into fast fashion. I have some tshirts and dresses that I’ve owned for at least four years now.
- Buy fruit and veg from markets, or local places. Sure, supermarkets are convenient. But if you want to support local vegetable farms, or ensure that your food has as little air miles as possible, then markets are the best place to start. Many towns and cities have them, and I always find that the food I buy from there tastes so much better. Alternatively, you can look into getting a veg box delivered. These are great, because you know the produce you receive comes directly from a local grower. Many schemes will also offer a free box so you can see what it’s like before committing.
- Be an activist. In 2016, going vegan really is the least we can do. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could influence others to also help save animals lives and spread the message of love and compassion? Activism is the way to do this, and the best part is is that you can do as much or as little as you want. You could start a blog, or a YouTube channel. You could share videos and information with your family and friends. You could give them advice, cook them vegan meals, and show them how great it can be. Alternatively you could do leafletting at your university or college. You could join a larger organisation. You could attend slaughterhouse protests. The options are endless.
- Volunteer. This one is especially useful if you are considering a career in animal rights activism, but even if you aren’t, volunteering is equally rewarding. Helping out at a local sanctuary once a week helps the sanctuary and the animals, but it also helps you to appreciate the importance of veganism and animal rights. You could also volunteer at a dog shelter, doing walking. If there isn’t a sanctuary or shelter close enough for you to volunteer at (unfortunately this is my predicament at the moment!), then another great idea would be to do raise money for them. Do a sponsored half marathon. Try a new challenge, and ask for people to donate. People often will, because it makes them feel good.
- Ditch the car, use your bike. There’s no better way to feel green and eco than riding your bike to do errands, rather than taking the car. Plus, it gets you fit! I know many people do this already, but if you’re still driving to work when you could walk/cycle/use public transport, then I recommend you consider an alternative. Yes, I know that emissions from cars are far less than the emissions caused by animal agriculture, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be doing every little bit you can. Besides, if you cycle places, you can decorate your bike with vegan stickers – an extra bit of subtle activism!
- Buy your cruelty free stuff from local vegan/eco stores. Depending on where you live, this is not always possible. I am fortunate enough (when I’m living in Oxford), to live close to many small, eco businesses which I prefer to support rather than Holland and Barratt (a health food/product chain). Not that there’s anything wrong with H&B, but if you put your money into buying your cruelty-free necessities from smaller businesses, it gives them more chance to develop and expand, and spread the eco message. But if your availability of eco friendly shops is limited, then of course it’s much better to buy from the bigger chain, than to support unsustainable, non-vegan items.
- Leave ‘business cards’ at restaurants thanking them for serving vegan options. This one’s quite easy and cute. You can either make your own or download someone else’s, and keep them in your bag, so whenever you go out to eat/drink, you can leave a card expressing gratitude for their vegan options. This shows the company that there is a demand for vegan food, and that their business might even benefit from adding more vegan options. Alternatively, you could also leave a card at a place that didn’t provide vegan options, informing the owners that they would get more business if they made their menu more veg friendly.
- Make your garden creature-friendly. If you have a garden or land of your own, you are lucky! Since moving away from home, I haven’t had anything that even closely resembles a garden to call my own. My mind is full of wonderful things that I could do with my own land. There are a few easy things that you can do to encourage wildlife to thrive. Keep parts of your garden wild, and full of bee-friendly flowers. Don’t cultivate your lawn constantly, keep it weedy and full of life. Have a bird table with seeds on it to attract our flying friends. Leaving out saucers of water is a great idea too, because every animal gets thirsty from time to time!
- Learn about the problems with overpopulation. At the time of writing, there’s over 7 billion people on our planet. And with all of the starvation we hear about, clearly we don’t have enough resources to provide for all these people. (If everyone was vegan and equal that might be a different story but that’s not happened yet!). Unfortunately, that number is only predicted to increase rapidly. It’s very easy to ignore these kinds of problems, but we must not do this. Instead, we must accept the fact the world is overpopulated, and have less children. Yes, I know, it sounds radical and in breach of our rights, but our planet simply can’t bear the strain of any more humans living on it. Having one child is fine, and then consider adopting if you want more. I know it’s a controversial issue, but this is just my take on it.
Does anyone else have any other suggestions on how vegans can be even more ethical and sustainable? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Like I said at the start, veganism is a learning process, and with time we all grow in different ways to improve our actions to align with our beliefs.
So, keep growing, keep changing, keep loving. After all, we are planting seeds of change, and even if it feels like nothing is growing now, we just need to give it time and trust the process.
‘Vegetables‘ by Jill111 is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.
‘Cow‘ by Dominik Schraudolf is licensed under CC0 Public Domain