As anyone who has ever Googled medical symptoms will tell you, the internet can be a scary place if you don’t know where to look. In order to help steer you through the haze and madness (Vegan? Raw? Plant-based? Arrrghh whuuut??!!) I’ve put together a few of my favourite kindly minded sites for you.
Some of my favourite plant based cooking people:
Oh She Glows – Delicious salads and suppers.
Minimalist Baker – A saviour when it comes to dairy and egg free baking.
Anna Jones – Brilliant vegetarian recipes most of which, if not already vegan, are easily adapted to be so.
Raw.Vegan.Not.Gross. – We could all use a bit more raw food in our lives and Laura Miller is a joy to watch.
Floral Frosting – Queen of vegan macarons.
Where to shop:
Supermarkets these days seem to have an ever increasing range of exotic ingredients, and a lot of towns and cities have their own local farmers markets popping up all over the place. I shop from a mixture of my local market, supermarkets and the places below:
Ocado – One of the few online food shops that have a vegan filter and they have an great range of products.
Amazon – If you find a recipe calls for an unusual ingredient that isn’t in your local shops you can most likely get it (often cheaply) on amazon. Also great for obscure pieces of kitchen equipment.
Farmdrop – Lovely fresh fruit and veg direct from the farmers to your door. Also excellent breads and local made pickles, chutneys etc. They also have a vegan filter but are unfortunately only delivering in London currently.
Facts and Info:
Here I’ve put together a little starter of information, an amuse bouche as it were, to give you a taste of the reasons why so many people decide to ditch animal products. In no way is the information below comprehensive coverage of these complex topics, it is merely a handpicked sample. Think of it more as a starting point to whet your appetite for the subject and by all means dip in and out or just read the topic that grabs you the most.
Broadly speaking motivations seem to fall into one of three categories: Environmental, Ethical and that concerning our Health.
I think caring about climate change is often thought of as the sole preserve of do gooding hippies and the Green Party but, to think about it another way, it’s actually ultimately a selfish thing (as explained brilliantly in this video). We need the planet far more that it needs us, after all, it’s our home! And personally I’d like my children’s children to live somewhere that doesn’t resemble a scene from Waterworld.
The link between animal agriculture and climate change is slowly becoming more and more well known, but it’s an area that I was completely clueless about when I first started this journey. It’s such a well kept secret that a documentary, Cowspiracy, was made investigating the reasons why such important information is not been more widely publicised.
Consumption of animal products is contributing to climate change not only through the emissions of the animals themselves but additionally through related issues, like deforestation. An acre of rainforest is destroyed every minute to provide grazing land for cattle raised for meat, or to grow the crops that feed them. It is estimated that 91% of the cleared rainforest has been due to animal agriculture. And with the planet getting warmer we need all the trees we can get. I highly recommend watching Cowspiracy for yourself, (it’s on Netflix here in the U.K.) as it’s a real eye opener.
If nothing else I would urge you to take 5 minutes and have a quick watch of 2 videos: This clip, created by the makers of Cowspiracy, for a short burst of info about climate change and animal agriculture. Followed by this short video, summarising some of the key issues. I had no idea about a lot of the things they talk about so hopefully you find it helpful too! (Here are their sources – should you wish to know more about where they get their information.)
If you want further information here are some other sources that I’ve found interesting:
Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK – Research showing meat eaters result in twice the amount of emissions compared to vegans
- Seaspiracy – A really insightful video by The Friendly Activist explaining the impact that over fishing is having on our oceans and therefore why fish isn’t an ok alternative to meat.
Lastly, to end on a good note, here is a video of Leonado DiCaprio taking precious time out of his (22 years in waiting!) Oscar acceptance speech to talk about the importance of climate change. He was a co-producer on Cowspiracy so you can bet he is clued up on the contribution of animal agriculture. (Skip to 2 minutes in for the good stuff.)
Numerous reputable studies have shown that a vegan diet confers various health benefits including a lower risk for cancer than other ways of eating and additional protection for “obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular mortality“. Not to mention the fact that one in five people are intolerant to dairy, this is because most humans stop producing lactase (the enzyme needed to digest lactose the sugar in milk) when we are young children. There are a lot of myths surrounding milk consumption and health and many dietary guidelines recommend dairy but the reasons are not always straightforward in relating to your health. Here is an excellent video explaining the influence of government on dietary guidelines (it refers to The States but dairy farms in the UK are similarly subsidised by the Government by millions of pounds.)
Aside from the great effects that you can expect from eating plant based meals, there are also some nastier aspects to eating meat that you can bypass altogether. Whether it’s the “potentially deadly bacteria” MRSA recently found in supermarket pork, the “potentially lethal food poisoning bug” campylobacter found in 73% of chickens, or the trusty old horse meat scandal. If you’ve got plants on your plate then there’s no need to worry about any of that grim stuff!
Speaking personally, I feel great eating this way. As someone who has previously wasted countless energy on sticking to various health kicks, diets, cutting out wheat/sugar/alcohol etc it is a huge relief to finally be in a place where I don’t stress about what I eat. Sure I eat a lot of fruit and veg and houmous by the bucketload. But I also eat chips and chocolate and don’t say no to a gin… or 4. And that half a stone that normally took 3 weeks of lo-carb dieting misery to shift has just gone.
This Guardian article very clearly explains what has gone wrong with modern industrial animal farming.
Eating Animals is a wonderful and interesting book on the subject of eating meat. Humourous, honest and not at all preachy.
Peta – When I first started to look for information on animal agriculture this was my first stop. The information can sometimes be overwhelming but they have a lot of positive messages too.
Why Dairy is Scary A 5 minute video that breaks down all the problems and myths surrounding the dairy industry. (Warning: It’s graphic and grim. But if you consume dairy I think it’s worth knowing how it’s produced – I didn’t have a clue about a lot of it. Good for you if you can watch it all!)
This presentation is an incredibly thorough and easy to watch video that covers all of the vegan bases in a non-confrontational, friendly manner.
This article by Jack Monroe in the Guardian about going vegan speaks a lot of the things I would like to have said.
More cheerful sites:
If the above information has made you feel overwhelmed and/or totally depressed about the state of things then I find a good remedy is to look at examples where people are making an enormous contribution to animals and the planet.
Hillside Animal Sanctuary – A sweet video video summing up their 20 years of work. The people at their sanctuary in Norwich work tirelessly to save animals, in absolutely staggering numbers each year.
The Gentle Barn – An animal sanctuary in California and now Tennessee who rescue many animals from abuse neglect or worse and give them a loving home for life. Each animal has their own story on the website and they write a memorial for those who have passed, it is very touching indeed.
The Dodo – Lots of adorable animal videos and stories.