I happen to be one of those people who suffers from extreme eco-anxiety. I don’t know if it’s the consequence of all the David Attenborough documentaries I watched as a kid or what my issue is but, recently I’ve had to find some coping mechanisms to combat my klimatångest. Therefore, over the past years I’ve tried to ease my guilt over buying a broccoli wrapped in plastic by finding new ways to reduce my ecological footprint. I know I’m not alone with my eco-anxiety struggles, and thus I thought about creating a series that further explores different ways to live more eco-friendly while sharing my best tips on adopting a more sustainable lifestyle.
I’m going to start off by discussing everyone’s favourite dinner party subject.. i.e. veganism. People who practice veganism aim to eliminate the consumption of all animal products from their lifestyle but this article mainly focuses on the diet aspect. Plant-based diets continue to be a hot topic but the bottom line is that our planet cannot sustain our current rate of meat and dairy consumption. According to a study conducted at Oxford University, veganism could be the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact (Nemecek & Poore, 2018). However, eating habits tend to be extremely personal and certain dishes are often part of ancient traditions or rituals, and thus I’m not aiming to condescend carnivores but rather make the idea of a fully plant-based diet less intimidating. In addition, I’m certainly not a nutritionist but I’ve been vegan for four years and (to the great surprise of my grandparents) I’m still alive instead of having died of nutrient deficiency. So here are my best tips on reducing you meat and dairy consumption:
- Start Small
If you are interested in reducing your consumption of animal products, taking small steps will most likely produce better and healthier long-term results. Changing an entire diet impulsively rarely works and in the worst case scenario can lead to lack of important nutrients or drastic weight loss. Many start out by deciding to eat plant-based one day a week and then slowly over time, as they get introduced to new vegan-friendly alternatives, can start considering completely leaving a certain animal product out of their diet. Hence in my opinion finding good substitutes and learning new recipes is the key to reducing your meat consumption. Therefore, the first thing I would recommend to a person who’s interested in a vegan diet is as simple as finding a really good vegan restaurant to test out which leads me to..
- Lund’s Vegan Hotspots
Plant-based restaurants and alternatives have increased rapidly over the past few years and fortunately Lund has followed along. Here are some of my favourite vegan restaurants based in Lund for you to try out:
Herbivore: A completely plant-based restaurant near Lundagård on Bredgatan that offers sustainable comfort food. A bit on the pricier side but during lunch hours they offer today’s special at the price of 109 sek. Perfect for afterworks and cozy lunches.
Minù: Raw vegan bakery at Saluhallen, 100% the best raw cakes I’ve ever eaten. Perfect for takeaways.
Truefood Cafe: Vegan soul food and treats at Saluhallen, a really cozy interior. A great place to fika with friends.
- Wermlands nation serves vegan brunches every Saturday at student friendly prices. And for Sundays Smålands nation also does a vegan brunch called Kalles Cafe. I haven’t checked it out yet but I’ve heard it’s delicious. In addition, keep an eye on other nations’ lunch menus too as they often include vegan dishes on some days of the week.
- Find Inspiration
In addition to eating out, you can find sources of culinary inspiration from watching cooking shows and videos online. The internet is filled with plant-based recipes and cooking tutorials ranging from tasty cauliflower curries to attempts at making vegan fried eggs. There is a vegan substitute for 99% of meat dishes nowadays so one tip could be to try to find a recipe of your favourite meat dish and recreate the vegan version of it. It might turn out to be a total catastrophe but there is a chance that you actually enjoy it. Otherwise it might be safe to stick to naturally vegan recipes. My favourite plant-based content creators include Madeleine Olivia and Niomi Smart who have plenty of videos showcasing everything they eat in a day, easy everyday recipes and affordable vegan dishes.
- Where do you get your protein from?
One of the most common questions vegans get asked is: “Where do you get your protein from?” If you are looking into changing your diet, it’s understandable to be worried about building a balanced diet but luckily there is a great variety of different plant-based ingredients loaded with protein. However, in case you don’t fancy googling them here’s a brief list of commonly used plant-based sources of protein: Chickpeas, green peas, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, oats, tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame, nutritional yeast, spelt, quinoa, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, artichokes and all the hundreds of meat substitutes that range from vegan bacon to hamburgers.
- Be flexible
Finally, I want to emphasize that if you wish to reduce your ecological footprint, completely giving up on animal products is not necessary by any means. It’s true that we as a society have to drastically decrease our meat and dairy consumption but there is certainly room for flexibility. Don’t stress out too much about labels like pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan etc. and figure out what feels good to you. You can decide to eat plant-based 354 days out of the year and then go all out on kräfskiva. You’re the only one who knows what diet works you and what you’re comfortable with. Therefore, in order to reduce your consumption of animal products it’s not necessary to become a full-blown vegan. However, it is necessary for people to start slowly becoming more conscious of their consumer decisions, since the consequences of our eating habits reach far beyond our plates.
Nemecek, T. and Poore, J. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 360(6392), pp.987–992.