The Big Vegan Debate

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Happy New Year to all our Mindful Friends!

We are super excited for January.  Or should we say #Veganuary!

All our products are vegan and so of course we get asked about it all the time.
Are we vegan? Why did we choose to produce vegan foods?
Is a plant-based diet the only way?

Why Vegan? Small Changes, Big Impacts

All our products are vegan primarily because of the impact on the planet,
sustainability and human health.

We want to work towards a world that is healthier for all of us,

not just the lucky few and we are proud to be at the forefront of this discussion.

It is certainly a hot topic these days!

We strongly believe that as a society we need to fundamentally change how we

approach food and eating. We aim to inspire the world to see positive food
choices and shared experiences, as a way to build stronger human connections
and more sustainable lifestyles and that is really the point at which we come at
this conversation.

We are all beginning to really understand that mass consumption of meat and
other animal products is totally draining our planet’s resources. Looking further
into the numbers, (as the true geeks that we love to be!) we learn that if the
world were to adopt a vegan diet by 2050, real change would come about.

The global economy would benefit to the tune of $1.1tn savings in
healthcare costs and environmental savings of $0.5tn as well as a cut in
greenhouse gas emissions by a massive two-thirds.

It’s hard to argue with stats like that. But before you run off, let us assure you –
we’re not going to preach to you, that’s not our style. We’re not even going to ask
you to give up your grandma’s Bolognaise just yet. So bare with us, we’re
heading in the direction of small changes, big impacts.

Veganism is The New Black

Lets go back a bit… In the past being vegan tended to be pretty niche. Be honest,
5 years ago if we told you to close your eyes and think of a Vegan, we’d all come
up with the same picture – probably something slightly hippyish and a bit weird
– a diet of lettuce and lentils!

And now? We’ve seen a definite shift into the mainstream. More and more talk of
plant-based protein, #meatfreemondays, Chef Derek Sarno developing Wicked
for Tesco and Waitrose creating its own vegan shelf. Start-up legends such as
Beyond Meat’s ‘bleeding’ vegan burger, whose demand, by the way, outstripped

production capacity, are now being stocked at Tesco as well as being served in
trendy burger joint Honest Burger.  Not forgetting Impossible Foods’ plant-based
burger made with synthesized heme, strongly backed by over $400M of
investors’ capital. Not only is all this pretty inspirational for us as a fellow foodie
start up but it genuinely shows the world that being vegan is clearly not a fad
but a fast moving and long lasting value shift. A force to be reckoned with!
With vegan alternatives being so diverse and readily available those small
changes are surely becoming easier for all of us to make?

All the Vegan Ladies… (and Gents!)

And of course there’s #Veganuary. Launched as recently as 2014 #Veganuary is

now more popular than ever. In 2018 183% more people signed up to do
#Veganuary than the year before (apparently including the Beyoncé and Jay-Z!!)
and the numbers are expected to be even higher this year. (If it’s good enough for
Bey, it’s good enough for us!!). To us we genuinely believe this can only be a
reflection of how we collectively feel about where our food comes from and how
it impacts our health.

At Mindful Bites we love the fact that #Veganuary is putting ethical and healthy
eating on the agenda.

How can we all be part of the solution and not the problem? Can we all get involved in a way that works for us?

The truth is we know that if it came down to it, most of us would be able to lead a

healthy lifestyle fuelled by a plant-based diet. However we also recognize that for
many people, giving up all of our favourite animal-derived products may well be
impossible to imagine, let alone achieve. (There’s that Bolognaise we were
talking about!)

The Real Hard Facts

We respect the fact that for many people a totally vegan diet would be too

difficult to sustain on a day-to-day basis. However, there are also some harsh
realities to the meat industry that we cannot ignore. Current methods of mass
production to yield the vast quantities of meat we are currently consuming,
frequently disregard the life of the animal and the farmer as well as the
environmental impact. To make it worse, we hear that by 2030 developed
countries will have annual meat consumption of a huge 100kg per person!

We’re no farming experts but surely the food industry can’t cope if this actually
happens. Our guess is

Sadly, the food industry will cope but at what cost to the planet?

They will lower their standards even further and the already
inhumane methods of mass production will reach new levels of appalling
practice.

Add to this a few more facts:

  • 14.5% of all greenhouse gases are currently produced from livestock
    production
  •  43,000 litres of water are required to produce 1kg of beef
  •  If the grain used in animal feed were to feed humans instead of animals
    we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people in the world
  • It takes 20 times less land to feed someone on a vegan diet than a meat
    eater

It’s not looking great, is it…

Two Sides to Each Story

Is there another side to the story? The truth is of course yes. Recently, our
founder Stephanie was asked to take part in an event entitled ‘The Future of
Food.’ The panel was organised by the amazing Dr. Hazel Wallace (aka
@thefoodmedic) and superbly chaired by one of our all time faves Venetia
Falconer. During this debate, Stephanie was joined by dietician Ryan Andrews
and ‘Zero waste vegan chef’ Max La Manna. So much interesting information was
raised and just underlined to us that this is a complex issue with no clear cut
right or wrong.

They do all agree, however that not all land is actually suitable
for growing crops. With our ever-growing population we’ve got take advantage
of all available land. Animal farming has traditionally played an important
role in maintaining fertile soil and there is still scope for that with benefits for
both the land and farming. When livestock consume grass they are contributing
to the worlds natural cycles. Crop and livestock rotation is a sustainable method
of farming that also puts animal welfare at the forefront of production. It’s really
when the demand reaches unprecedented levels that the process needs to suffer.
If the quantities of meat we buy are reduced the methods used could be re
evaluated, more time and effort could be put into animal welfare and protecting
the environment.

Does Vegan Always = Best?

We must also point out that vegan doesn’t always equal innocent. Let’s be
honest, sugar and palm oil are both completely vegan products! Cane sugar is
responsible for multiple sins; including reduced wildlife biodiversity, polluted
rivers and seas, careless use of pesticides and fertilizers and damage to coral
reefs, while palm oil production (another huge topic of its own – remember that
adorable Orangutan from the Iceland Ad?!) is responsible for the destruction of
countless areas of rainforests.

On a personal level we also know that food can be linked to so many cultural
events, memories and experiences. We all have fond thoughts of a family chicken
dinner, a turkey at Xmas or an ice cream sundae on holiday. The reality of giving
up chicken soup when we have a cold or a Crème Egg at Easter probably feels
completely unsustainable.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

As far as we are concerned this issue doesn’t have to be so black or white. Must
we be either vegan or meat eaters? Is there a middle, more realistic ground?

Did you know the population is expected to reach a whopping 9 billion by
2050? Of course our food resources are going to come under strain if we don’t
start making some changes! So how about we simply make a start. Embracing a
totally vegan diet is not the only option to generate a positive impact, if most
people simply reduced the amount of animal products they consumed it
would be sufficient for a pretty massive change. We could, with small steps
quite easily all become part of the solution, rather than continuing to feed the
problem.

3 Meals a day… 3 Choices to make

We make a choice about what to eat at least 3 times a day. Sounds like a lot

when you put it like that doesn’t it?! Think back to the most recent choices you
made… what were the values behind those choices? Hunger? Ingredients?
Packaging? Doesn’t it stand to reason that if we are being truly mindful about our
food choices then we should be making an informed decision about each thing
we buy, cook and eat? We should be thinking through the wider impact of these
choices each time we make them.

In reality, we can all make some easy swaps. A non-dairy alternative to cow’s
milk in a cappuccino is hardly life changing, is it? And with 19% of the global
water footprint of animal agriculture being produced by dairy farming
your small choice could certainly make a big difference.

Going all vegan may be too tough for some, but how about also swapping one or
maybe two meat meals a week for a plant-based alternative? It’s not as hard as it
may have been in the past thanks to all the amazing alternatives and inspiration
now available. Products like Beyond Burger and Nush Almond Milk Cheese will
honestly surprise you that they are made 100% from plants. There are so many
awesome cookbooks out there so you definitely don’t have to sacrifice taste if
you cook vegan dishes. We use the Deliciously Ella ‘plant based cookbook’ over
and over again and Joe Wicks’s user friendly ‘Veggie in 15’ was at the top of our
Xmas list.

If supermarket trips or home cooking are not your thing, the talented guys at All
Plants have totally got it covered for you and if we find ourselves stuck for
motivation we head straight to Zanna Van Dijk and her formidable voice on
sustainable living and easy to implement changes. Her workouts are pretty
awesome while you’re at it!

From Farm to Fork

And if we are going to choose animal produce on some occasions, choose it
with intention. Do your due diligence. Be sure that it is of good quality and
produced with animal welfare in mind. Make it organic and free range. Follow
your chosen produce’s journey from farm to fork, satisfy yourself that both the
animal’s welfare and the carbon footprint involved is at the highest standard it
could possibly be. As an added bonus, these choices do not only have a positive
impact on planetary health but also your own human health as well. The better
quality the ingredients are the better they are for your body. By making your
decisions informed and mindful everybody wins.

Don’t get us wrong, we know these products can be more expensive but we
believe it’s for good reason. Sustainable production, animal welfare and non-
battery farming techniques take more skill, time and money. Surely that’s worth
paying a bit more for? The price we pay for looking after the planet’s health
and ours must be worth it in the long run.

We understand that not everyone can or will go completely vegan. We’re not
even saying that’s necessarily the right answer.

We’re in the midst of a dangerous experiment with our planet - how much can it take before it explodes?

Let’s not wait and see!

Small changes are the key as they are easy to embrace and likely to be kept long-

Small changes are the key as they are easy to embrace and likely to be kept long-
term. We don’t have to sacrifice your favourite family occasion, any religious
holiday or birthday party because we know we can’t keep that up. By embracing
the values surrounding the health of our bodies and our planet we can and will
make a difference. Farmers, wholesalers and supermarkets will begin to listen;
they only exist at the whim of the consumer. We must dictate the right way to
them. So let’s choose the world we want, let’s choose wisely and make at
least some of our choices vegan. If we all keep making small sustainable
changes, our bodies and the planet will surely thank us!

Here’s to a great 2019, our Mindful Friends – we are in this together, let us know
how you get on!

As always, Mindfully Yours xx

 

Incase you were wondering…

What we eat, what we read, what we meditate on:

Dr Hazel Wallace @thefoodmedic
Venetia Falconer @venetiafalconer Talking Tastebuds podcast
Ryan Andrews @ryandexterandrews
Max la Manna @eatingwithmax www.eatingwithmax.com
Beyond Meat @beyondmeat
Nush Foods @nushfoods www.ocado.com/browse?filters=nush-174114
Impossible Foods @impossible_foods
Deliciously Ella @deliciouslyella www.deliciouslyella.com
Joe Wicks @thebodycoach
Zanna Van Dijk @zannavandijk