How could eating a plant-based, or vegan, diet possibly be simple?! That, is a perfectly reasonable question to ask! In my pursuit of an increasingly simplified life I have found a predominantly (note the use of the word predominantly) plant-based diet to be a real asset.
While a plant-based diet may seem restrictive to some, and while it can seem like an extreme move, our experience with it has been quite different.
Firstly, we didn’t set out to have a plant-based diet. We started initially stripping meat out from our diet (partly in an attempt to save money on the weekly shop, and partly due to growing health concerns) back at the beginning of 2017. Secondly, I personally have really enjoyed learning to cook ‘plant-based’. Trust me when I say it’s not all kale and juices! Far from it in fact! In learning to cook plant-based I have had to really learn what now feels like a skill – the skill of actually cooking, rather than simply catering.
With the rise of convenience food, not just fast food, I feel as though the art of cooking has given way to the convenience of just catering. It may well be easier to buy a tray bake lasagna from the local supermarket, but is that really a simpler way to cook? In order for the food to make its way from farm to face (yours or your loved ones) it has to undergo an immense amount of ‘production’ – just note the use of the word ‘factor’ in conjunction with natural foods. That fact that we comfortably use the word production to talk about the process by which we source our food is somewhat worrying to me.
Essentially, at one level or another convenience food has to be engineered in some capacity in order for it to be easier for you to cook. It allows us, as a culture, to be passive caterers; we can pick up some bits from the supermarket, pre-packed and part-cooked on the way home, switch the oven on and set the timer for 40-60 minutes – just enough time to watch your favourite show on Netflix. This, clearly, is an easier way to feed oneself.
So why a plant based diet? Quite simply put, a plant-based diet is simpler to produce, softer on the environment, and far more fun to eat than a ‘traditional’ western diet.
Simpler to produce
In order for the meat, eggs, and diary industries to churn out produce on the scale that the western world deems ‘necessary’, it must also produce vast quantities of plant-based crops, in order to rear the required amount of animals. Think about it this way, we’re growing food we could eat, and are perfectly capable of thriving on as a species (just look at the amount of athletes, for example, that are increasingly adopting a plant-based diet), in order to produce other food that is superfluous to our needs. This, to me, doesn’t really seem easier or simpler – though I can appreciate your argument that it may be tastier!
Not only that, it is simpler to shop for. My weekly shop now orientates itself around the fresh produce aisles, rather than the entirety of the store! Equally on the plus side, it has reduced our weekly food cost.
Softer on the Environment
The meat, eggs, and dairy industry produces 65% of global CO2 emissions each year. That is more than the combined transportation industry. The current recommendations for those of us who are concerned about global warming, climate change, and just all round better stewardship of this creation we call home, is for us to drive hybrid cars (or electric). While this is not a recommendation I wish to refute here, I simply cannot afford the models of cars necessary to reducing my personal emissions in this way. The hybrid models tend to be more expensive than their normal counterparts, not to mention the repeated cost of replacing the rechargeable battery for your electric car every decade (the cost of which is almost enough to purchase a brand new car. If, for the sake of argument, this was an avenue you pursued for the good of the environment, you would likely reduce your personal emission by about 1 tonne of CO2 per year – a not insignificant amount.
However, by dropping meat, eggs, and dairy from our diet and therefore not contributing to that 65% of total yearly emissions, the research shows that we have reduced our personal CO2 emissions by 1.5 tonnes. Each. Just let that sink in for a moment, particularly those who share the concerns that I do about the environment. It is better for you, personally, to drop meat, eggs and diary, from your diet, than it is to change your car. Surely, changing our diet is simpler than changing our car? Again, perhaps not easier, but absolutely simpler.
Far more fun
I’ve got to be honest, I am really enjoying cooking and eating plant-based. Since learning to cook properly, rather than just cater, I have discovered that veg is actually really tasty when it is prepared well, and far richer in taste and texture than some giant steak or chicken burger. Some of my personal favourite dishes include red lentil and sweet potato dahl, homemade baked falafel with diced roast potatoes,a gorgeous roasted red pepper and humus sandwich, and a brilliant vegan Moussaka recipe that reminds me of our honeymoon to Kos.
Not only is it more fun to cook, but I am able to enjoy more of my day. Since swapping to a plant-based diet I have experienced more consistent energy levels over the course of my day (I even drink less coffee as a result). I’ve also lost that mid-afternoon slump at around 3pm. Our digestive systems are working overtime to process the density and richness of the food now native to our western culture, than it is having a direct impact on our ability to function consistently.
These are just three reasons why I believe a plant-based diet to be simpler than a now-traditional western diet. If you’ve experienced similar things having shifted to a plant-based, or vegan diet, I’d love to hear from you!
If you’re interested in trying your hand at ‘being vegan’, or adopting a more plant-based diet, i’d recommend the following resources as things that have helped me recently: