Today is Blog Action Day, the theme of which is environmentalism. I won't be explicit about the connections between veganism and the environment. All of my readers know that a vegan diet produces less greenhouse gas emissions, uses less water, and is generally MUCH better for the planet. (Look it up if you don't know about it.)
To be environmentally friendly doesn't mean paying lots of money. In fact, I think it really means consuming less and, therefore, spending less. The Australian
government is currently running ads that encourage people to turn off their computers when they're not in use, or to take 1 minute less in the shower. While these are important things that *everyone* should be doing, it's not enough. If we want to make a change, it has to be radical, and we need to address the underlying assumption that humanity can keep consuming for all of eternity. We need to remember those three R's we learned about in elementary school--Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. People often get caught up on the last one, but it is probably the least effective of the three. The other two are more important, in my opinion.
Reusing takes no energy, and it's so easy. We save all of our empty jars to store leftovers, or to use as vases, or for keeping homemade sauces. We buy used where ever possible. ALL of my furniture is used, probably 75% of my wardrobe is
second-hand, and our kitchen gear was purchased at op-shops as well. This weekend we took some time to help the environment and support the local hospital, at the Townsville Hospital Book Fair.We got all these books for $10. Included in the stack is Francis Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet, written in the 70's but still incredibly timely (though very heavy on dairy and eggs!). We also got a tofu book from the 80s, a veggie book from the early 90s, and a baking book from the 80s.
Even better than reusing? Reduce. Reduce the amount of packaging you use by buying in bulk. Reduce the distance things need to travel by purchasing locally. Simply reduce the amount of stuff that you buy. For dinner the other night, we had seitan chicken salad--homemade seitan, local avocado, tomato, cucumber, and lettuce. The dressing was a local lime, homemade vegan worcestershire, and some home-grown coriander.
We did the math, and figured out that it costs less than $10 to make 8 pounds of chicken-style seitan, which usually gives us a base for 16 meals. We also buy our gluten flour from the local Organic Buyers Network, and turn it into seitan ourselves, cutting down on processing and transportation.
Keeping on with this theme, we buy just about all our fruit and veg from the farmer's market, and turn it into delicious vegan food in our kitchen. For example, these local tomatoes. Andy reckons, "This is the way tomatoes are supposed to be".
Topped with homemade vegan cheese, and a basil leaf from the garden, these were a nice summery dinner.This meal probably cost $3 for the two of us.
Although organic food and vegan food is sometimes more expensive, it isn't always. Local sources are often cheaper, and better for the environment. Plus, if you cut down on the other things you're purchasing, you'll have extra money to spend on more expensive organic things.
Now that we've dealt with consumption, we need to do something about the producers (who are really in charge of supply and demand, in my opinion). I think we can take 'em. Who's with me?