I felt that the Green UP challenge would not be complete without touching on  food. More specifically, I wanted to touch on Veganism and why a plant based diet is attractive for those that choose a greener lifestyle. I turned to two  amazing friends and asked them to write about their family adventure with food. Their adventure to becoming vegans is  heartbreaking but also so full of inspiration while somehow adding in a little bit of humour.

The Righteous Vegans

 

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 After his delivery and early in our grieving process, we decided something BIG needed to change in our lives.

On October 7, 2013, our lives changed considerably.  We found out that our son Rupert had died, 2 weeks before his due date. After his delivery and early in our grieving process, we decided something BIG needed to change in our lives.

After reading a few books (The China Study, Whole etc.) and watching a number of documentaries (Earthlings, Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, etc.), we decided to “go vegan”. The connection between switching to a vegan diet and Rupert’s death was/is not entirely clear, but at the time it felt right. Looking back, I guess we wanted to minimize the death and suffering of animals on this planet.

The “switch” was not without its drawbacks. Very quickly, we became righteous social justice warriors, spouting our moral beliefs from atop our soapboxes.

The “switch” was not without its drawbacks. Very quickly, we became righteous social justice warriors, spouting our moral beliefs from atop our soapboxes. It was all we talked about for months…. and we became exhausted. Despite our righteousness at the time, we were excited to be participating in a lifestyle that we felt passionate about and which improved our health. We lost weight, we were less “phlegmy” and our poops were better! We also felt good about minimizing our impact on the environment. For example, it’s estimated that transitioning to a vegan diet could reduce global food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 70% (Springmann et al., 2016 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). The environmental benefits of a vegan diet are immense, but we’ll save you the details to avoid dusting off our soapboxes!

If we are asked about our eating habits, we just say, “We mainly eat plants”.

When we began this journey, we tried on other names for our diet like “vegan lifestyle”, “mostly vegan” and “whole-food-plant-based diet” (which just rolls off the tongue), but we’ve settled on just not labelling it. If we are asked about our eating habits, we just say, “We mainly eat plants”.

 

When we eat out, we will occasionally eat animal-products if there are no good plant-based options. For us, it was important to recognize that for humans to live, other living things have to die….even on a plant-based diet. When we eat (animals or plants), we practice being grateful for whatever living thing had to die in order for us to eat.

 

It’s been 3 ½ years since Rupert died and 3 ½ years since we started eating mostly plant-based. Since then, we have had another son, Winsloe, who is nearly 2 years old and eats what we eat.

It’s been 3 ½ years since Rupert died and 3 ½ years since we started eating mostly plant-based. Since then, we have had another son, Winsloe, who is nearly 2 years old and eats what we eat. About 95% of our diet is plant-based, where we consume veggies, beans, nuts, fruits and grains. We have chosen to be open to eating other types of foods 5% of the time because, for us, it feels like a more practical lifestyle in the long-run. It gives us the flexibility to be dinner guests without only eating carrot sticks, and it allows us to engage local “raved about” restaurants…without only eating salad.

Importantly, re-examining our eating habits and looking more closely at the food industry has led us to look into other aspects of our lives that might be adjusted to further improve our footprint on this planet. In line with the “Green-UP” challenge, we have downsized from a 3 bedroom duplex to a 1 bedroom apartment and chose a very walkable neighborhood that allows us to either walk  or use public transit to get almost everywhere. We started an apartment microgreen garden that we use in our breakfast smoothies and, finally, we are composting! We also rarely buy new clothes (discussing the clothing industry could be entirely new blog post). Transitioning to a plant-based diet has been a positive experience for us, and we hope the planet feels the same way about it too!

 

By Dana and Austin Berquist

 

 

 

 

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