I do apologise for the slightly click bait title but it is a message born from sincerity and fuelled by a concern for humanity and the world in which we all share.
Even the most cursory study of the environment and of environmental trends will show that we are heading in a worrying direction, we are losing biodiversity, we are horrendously off course to solve climate change and the scale of plastic pollution gets greater and greater the more research is conducted. As somebody who has been an environmentalist for the majority of my life, it’s a frustrating and draining pursuit. To see politicians, governments and businesses all acknowledging the need for action but then refusing to implement the solutions on a scale large enough to solve the problem.
Let's start with a bit of background. Over a decade ago I decided I didn’t want to eat meat any more, not because I was overly concerned with animal welfare because frankly I wasn’t and I had some pretty basic views on the whole subject of animal welfare and humanities role in animal suffering. It wasn’t because I disliked the taste, I would frequently salivate at the thought of crispy bacon and my pub snack of choice after a few alcoholic beverages were always pork scratchings. It wasn’t necessarily for the health reasons either, I was of the antiquated view that I needed a good and varied diet to be healthy: I thought that I should have the entire world on my plate (in more ways than one) and I shouldn't deny myself anything in order to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. None of these reasons or considerations was enough to stop me having a fairly meaty diet. What did convince me was learning of the almost incomprehensible amount of waste, energy and environmental damage that was caused by the meat and dairy industry.
In learning that becoming a vegetarian was one of the single biggest things that I could do as an individual to cut my carbon footprint was enough for me. I felt that as somebody who campaigned and lobbied others to pressure MPs and businesses to be more environmentally friendly this action was incompatible with my diet of greenhouse-causing meat. That was a decade ago and since then I can honestly say that I haven’t missed meat. When you make a choice not to eat meat you discover so many benefits irrespective of the initial reason. I noticed an improvement in my health and I also had a greater sense of well-being and pride as I learnt how these animals were being treated and killed in order to prove my food.
Beyond my personal choice to be a vegetarian, I began to notice an ever-growing awareness of peoples relationship with the environment and what role we all play in its destruction through our choices (and of our ability to stop that destruction). Unfortunately, however, there is a kind of self-flagellating environmentalist that feels we must all atone for the very sin of existence. I am of the opinion that citizens of this planet need to have a balance in their lives. All success is based on balance whether it’s a successful life/work balance or homeostatic balance that exists in your own body; balance is essential. So people shouldn’t feel guilty for being alive and for existing on this planet. We must, of course, take personal responsibility for our actions and if something is so clearly demonstrated as being damaging or causes of a great deal of suffering and is ultimately unnecessary then it should be our moral and logical duty to stop it. We must also pair this sense of personal responsibility to a duty to demand action from the people we elect to represent us and from the corporations that only exist to sell us products to exercise a similar concern and stewardship over this world. The solution for ecological destruction is not solely on the individual. It is on the individual making the right choices in their personal life but it also on the individual holding the powerful to account.
This is the view and the position I maintained until just a month or so ago. I started to think about what more I could do as a way to respond to the ever dire news that our timeframe to avert catastrophic climate change was dwindling. I began to take stock of what I do in my own life to see if there were ways in which I could improve. Well in my personal audit I didn’t think I did too badly. I haven’t flown in nearly 10 years, I drive an electric car which is powered mostly by renewable energy, I haven’t eaten meat in so long I’ve pretty much forgotten what it tastes like, I work in an industry which is dedicated to helping others, I donate a portion of my income to environmental charities like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, I create videos for Friends of the Earth freely in the hope that it will inspire others to take action and of course I participate in many of the types of activities on behalf of environmental organisations such as writing to your MP and attending demonstrations. I even go so far as investing in renewable energy projects around the UK. What else could there be? At the time I was doing this I was seeing the word 'vegan' appearing more and more. This also coincided with me getting to know a Mr Ben Raue. Ben, known as Plant Based Ben on Instagram is an inspirational fitness and lifestyle coach who shows people what can be possible on a plant-based diet. His personal transformation is impressive and when I read about his story I knew I had to get in touch. I had initially intended to follow his plan and his advice with regards to workouts but still be a vegetarian but as we began talking and I started to learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet I knew I should give veganism a try.
Well, the short story is that when I started trying this new plant-based lifestyle I was feeling great. I wouldn't say that I was instantly transformed into a pillar of health but I couldn't deny the benefits to my energy, concentration and motivation. Then I made the effort to be more educated by watching documentaries like 'What the Health' and after that, I knew that this experiment was going to be a permanent change.
Since that, I made that choice I can honestly say it's been really easy to be a vegan. I thought there would be so much that I would miss but because of the unbelievable popularity of this movement, it's now easier than ever to live plant-based. Major restaurant chains and supermarkets are awash with vegan options. In the past, you would have had to be a slave to your convictions, but considering that Pizza Hut has a vegan pizza then you know it's hit the mainstream.
So making this choice has been the right choice for my health and clearly, the animals would appreciate it but it's also been the right choice for the planet. As I was told many years back; being a vegetarian is good, being a vegan is better. There are no two ways about it; being on a plant-based diet is the best for your personal health and for the environment.
As I write this we are 6 days into January 2019 and the charity Veganuary is sending thousands of people daily messages of information, tips and support for people trying a plant-based diet for the first time. It's never been easier to make this choice, nor has the need to reduce our environmental impact been greater. This is why I think veganism is inevitable. I see it as a natural evolution, the care and love for myself and the planet made me vegetarian, and that same drive has made me a vegan. I believe there will be a time when being plant-based will be the norm and people will look back in confusion at this generation. They will wonder how we ever justified eating animals or allowed them to suffer for our diet.
Over the coming weeks and months, I will be sharing more and more about how this lifestyle change has positively impacted me and how I hope to use my own story and journey as an inspiration to others to make this change.