Whether you transitioned during Veganuary or were born into the lifestyle, being vegan isn’t enough to cling to in our fight with climate change. Here are some resolutions you can take as a vegan in 2021.
Coming up to my second veganniversary, I wonder whether following a plant-based diet is enough of a contribution to fighting the climate crisis. While being vegan is the single-most impactful thing a person can do for the planet, there is so much more we can do.
Here are some resolutions you can take as a vegan in 2021.
Cut food waste
Approximately one-third of the world’s food is wasted everyday. With 690 million people going to bed hungry every night, this is not just a humanitarian crisis, but an environmental one too. If we stopped wasting food, 11% of our greenhouse gas emissions would vanish. It’s very simple to reverse this at home, and if you can manage this as an individual, you can avoid it at restaurants and other people’s homes eventually too.
Many of our vegetable peelings, from the likes of onions, garlic, potatoes, peppers, and aubergines, can be turned into stock. Instead of buying stock cubes or powder, you could be saving a lot of money for your soups and curries, by saving your peelings in bags in your freezer, and turning them into a frozen stock once you’ve collected enough. You’d be surprised by how much stock you can make from a week’s worth of peelings.
For fruit and vegetables that might not work for a stock, such as avocado skins, banana peels or expired salad, you can make compost. Then, use this to grow more herbs or vegetables in your garden or on your windowsill. Home gardens have become a very popular hobby for people during the pandemic, and are still going strong for sustainability trends.
Run for rights
If you’re looking for a way to get fitter, or move a little more after a year of staying home too much, this is for you. It’s very possible to fuel yourself right on a plant-based diet, but using this energy to your advantage is key here. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to find the right motivation. Gyms are closed, classes are online, marathons are being cancelled, and the weather is cold. But that doesn’t mean you can’t run for a cause.
Simply running for your own health is the number one reason why people begin. But to keep going, you need something bigger, an end goal. Find a charity, a sustainable start-up, or an animal rights organisation you want people to sponsor you for. Otherwise, find a cause of your own. Is there a vegan business that’s struggling? Or an animal in need? Start a JustGiving page, and spread the word on social media. If you can actively advocate for veganism without shouting in people’s faces, your activism is more likely to succeed.
Drop your shopping
This is definitely a challenge I’ve been meaning to take on for a while. In an age where fast-fashion is out of style and vintage is back, this resolution shouldn’t be too difficult. See if you can go an entire 365 days without buying new clothes. Don’t deprive yourself — if your only pair of shoes have holes in them, or you don’t have a coat for the icy outdoors, then take a trip to the shops. But sometimes living minimalistically is the best way forward, especially when we’re all working from home and wearing pyjamas to our zoom meetings.
This second one might be tougher for some. It entails avoiding the supermarket (yes, online too) for an entire month. And then seeing how it goes from there. Eating without spending money sounds like a fairytale, but it’s possible. Apps like Olio and Too Good To Go are all enabling both the reduction of food waste, as well as feeding people for free. If you stock up on yellow sticker items for a while, and use your freezer the right way, you’d be surprised how much fresh food you can last on for a month too.
Adopt a companion
Scientists predict that human objects will outweigh living things by the end of 2020. This fact means animals and plants are in desperate need of our help, and wild — as well as domestic — species need a home more than ever before. Cats, dogs, chickens and rabbits are all ideal pets. If you feel like a new pet this year, go for a shelter rather than a breeder.
If you don’t have the time or money for a pet, but love animals, adopt an animal from a distance. Organisations like International Animal Rescue are a good place to start, as they ask for as little as £0.13 a day. They offer wildlife including orangutans, sloth bears, slow lorises, howler troops and Syrian brown bears.
Educate, don’t preach
This resolution is more of a lifestyle choice. Like veganism, when you transition, you should commit to an oppressive-free life, and that includes with other human beings too. While it’s important to spread awareness about veganism as much as possible, try and take a step back this year and get people to understand what you are doing first.
Educate your siblings, your parents, your colleagues and your friends. Don’t turn your grandmother’s food down because it’s not vegan. Offer an alternative, cook with her, show her how easy it is to make her food accessible to all.
Whether it’s following more vegan educators, to get covered on all the right arguments, or reading more books and watching more documentaries — you can never stop learning about the vegan lifestyle. Sometimes you’ll realise that to get others engaged, you need to be more actively involved yourself first.