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Monday, April 12, 2010

Being an Environmentalist: The Changing Times/My Vegan Journey

This Summer marks my 9th year of being vegan, and this year marks my 9th year of being an environmentalist. This all coincides with the year that I moved in with my best friend (G) and out of my mom's house. It wasn't that I didn't care about the environment before moving out, but that I couldn't/didn't buy my own stuff for cleaning, house hold goods etc.

Once I moved out, G introduced me to the variety of things that we could do to be more eco-friendly from

  • the products we bought: things like reusable bags, napkins and handkerchiefs
  • to the way we bought clothing or any other items: trying to buy from the most eco-friendly, non-sweat shop products we could find, preferably from reputable companies who had decent social values or environmental policies.
  • to the food we ate: organic and local as much as possible

Me at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta - on one of many hikes/camping trips

Even before I decided to go full-on vegan (G said it was the best birthday present he got - I announced it to him in August on a trip to see his parents in Interior B.C.), I learned to make environmental choices in my daily life. I walked a lot more and further from my non-suburb home we rented, went to parks and experienced nature more, and had access to so many more places where I could make eco-friendly purchases. . . not to mention, G cooked a lot so we had an easier time making better choices with our food. It was a bit difficult at this time trying to find all the products and food we needed, as there were really only 2 stores in the city where we could buy what we needed - soy milk, least of all, was not readily available at this time. We bought flour and other staples in bulk and G cooked and baked a lot! 

The changes: I lived with G in Calgary, in our little yellow house, until 2003, when we went to India for about 6 months. It was very easy to keep being vegan, and we tried to be as eco-friendly as possible, taking trains everywhere and staying in small local hotels. When we moved to Vancouver in 2004 to go back to University, I could all ready see the changes in the availability of vegan and eco-friendly items at stores. 

Vancouver is a much more vegan and eco-friendly place (Calgary only just last year started a recycling program for picking up things at homes!) to live - we could go to many different stores, eat out at a variety of vegetarian only places and we didn't feel as much like freaks for not eating meat! We are able to get so many great things at the farmer's markets in the city and from the many locally-owned 'green grocers', and if I really needed to, I could go to regular grocery stores to pick up many eco-friendly/vegan things as well. These products are becoming more and more popular, with many regular grocery stores having entire aisles for such goods, and every kind of soy milk, soy ice cream and other dairy alternatives readily available! Prices on these types of goods has also changed with them being more available, too.

While it may have been difficult at the beginning to find vegan/eco-friendly stuff to buy (shoes especially!), it has become so easy now that it would be a much easier decision for people these days. The lifestyle change isn't so drastic these days!

The environmentalist/vegan connection comes about because of my initial reasons for becoming vegan: the environment!