I was thrilled to be on a WorldFest panel with my eco-vegan gal pals Rachel Avalon & Vanessa Meier to talk about sustainability and food. We had a great turn out and I even got to meet some Eco-Vegan Gal followers! Luckily, if you missed it, Vanessa and her amazing vegan fiancé Todd edited together some of the best parts of our talk - check it out:
Here are the points made in the video:
- Being vegan does not automatically make you eco-friendly. Even plant-based food can create a lot of waste and come from far away. However, it's still a step
- "Pesticides and herbicides, they're not really cruelty free. We're polluting our water, we're polluting our soil. If we making this compassionate choice to give up animal products, why not extend that further...If it's not organic it's still not completely cruelty-free" (Vanessa Meier)
- Look for food origin labels in markets to make sure you're eating as locally as possible
- Vote with your dollar and buy foods that are in season in your area, grown locally, and are organic (whenever possible). If you demand it, markets will supply it
- Farmers markets are a great opportunity to explore organic foods. Check out Local Harvest to find a market near you.
- CSAs are a great way to save money and time on organic, local food.
- Learn how to read the sticker on your produce. If it starts with the number 9 it's organic, if 8 then GMO, and if 3 or 4 then conventional. Remember: "if it's 9 it's mine, if it's 8 hate it, 3 or 4 it's just a bore" (Vanessa Meier). Always check the label because sometimes conventional foods end up in the organic bin.
- Your palate will change depending on what you eat, so if you're used to processed foods you might not like the taste of healthier, whole foods at first, but give it time because your body will look and feel better when you eat less processed foods. Check out Chef AJ's book Unprocessed for tips and delicious recipes that are free of salt, sugar, and oil.
- "Fake food = fake health. Real food = real health" (Rachel Avalon). Do be deceived by packaging always read the label.
- Don't buy something just because it's advertised as being "the best" - get information from multiple, trusted sources before believing the marketing
- New studies that chemicals are leaching out of plastics. "Plastic does not get recycled much in the United States - only about 25% gets recycled, and it's a really energy intensive process." (Vanessa Meier) Even when recycled, plastic can take many lifetimes to break down, and some never do. "The amount of toxins released when making a 16 oz peanut butter jar is 100% more than what would be released if you were making a glass jar" (Vanessa Meier).
- If you want to reuse plastic containers (which I don't recommend), don't put them in the dishwasher because chemicals can leach out from the heat. Also, don't microwave plastics or put anything hot in them.
- You can re-use glass jars from foods like peanut butter and pickles as containers and drinking glasses. I like to take them with me to get wet bulk items from markets (just make sure to weigh them first!)
- We all love Chico Bags, which make a great starter kit of reusable bags for produce and bulk items. Make sure to wash them on a regular basis. You can also make your own bags out of strap cloth.
- We also all love To-Go Ware utensils and carry them everywhere we go. Great conversation starter and way to subtly influence others to think green.
- "Focus on progress more than perfection and to not narrow your life and dietary choices into a box where you feel social isolated, where you feel angry and resentful or overly confused or overwhelmed. Food is such a pleasurable thing...there's no reason why you can't have a vegan diet that's sustainable" (Rachel Avalon).
- Make your own! Almond milk for example is super easy, fun, and minimal packaging. Cheat: you can even make it from almond butter
- "Convenience is a very ugly word to me and when you get the packaging it's because it's very convenient and we've got to get away from that and just make new habits" (Rhonda DeFelice, moderator). "You pay for that convenience. Don't ever think that you're not paying for it one way or another" (Rachel Avalon)
- "If you care about veganism you want to care about boycotting as much as possible GMO corn and GMO soy. They're so nasty on an environmental level, they're so nasty to other species, and there's no long term health impact studies that have proved whether or not they're safe, and chances are they're not." (Rachel Avalon)
- Local vs organic? We all agreed that organic is more important, though we all strive to buy mostly local as well. Chemicals last a long time and cycle back into the air and farm workers' health is at stake.
The three of us are great friends and really passionate about education on health and sustainability. We'd like to come up with a fun name to go by, such as The Eco Trio, The Eco Vegan Trinity, The Greensome Threesome, The Triplets of Greenville...any thoughts on that?