Can One Zero Waste Vegan Save The World?
Updated: Aug 22
Ever since my eyes were opened to the realm of factory farming and plastic pollution, there’s no turning back from the zero waste vegan way of life.
On Saturday the 20th of June, I was invited to have a chat with Epicure, an initiative by students of Taylor’s University focusing on sustainable food. Without my affiliation with The Green Guerrilla, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. For that, I’m grateful.
Here’s the link to replay the IGTV, but I’m going to touch on a few points again in this post.
My Introduction to Veganism & Zero Waste
It started with curiosity.
Where did my food come from? How was it made?
I can’t remember exactly how those questions came into my mind but at that time I was interested in improving my health. The fact that I was studying Plant Biology also helped. It had somehow planted a seed in my head.
That was around four and a half years ago.
I wasn’t very environmentally-conscious but that changed when I watched Cowspiracy. I learned more, reduced my meat intake and incorporated more vegetables on my plate. 9 months later, I made the complete switch to eating a vegan diet.
The start of my zero waste journey, on the other hand, wasn’t as clear cut. But I was starting to become aware around the same time as I discovered veganism.
But I think that zero waste is more difficult to implement into one’s lifestyle compared to veganism.
Plus, I found out from Shelbizleee that “zero waste” is actually an industry term meant for producers or businesses to manage their waste before the products get to the customers. So it was never a sole responsibility of an individual. It’s an economic term, essentially.
But anyway, my introduction to both vegan and zero waste were revelatory and inspiring.
The Actual Struggle When Starting Out
It’s not the acquisition of food or products that was difficult but rather dealing with the perception of other people.
Once you change your lifestyle away from the norm, there are bound to be questions and remarks.
You have to prepare yourself for that.
I’m not surprised if this is one of the main reasons that people do not want to embrace this lifestyle. They may not want to deal with the changes in society.
But if you are equipped with knowledge and reason, there shouldn’t be a problem.
However, once you see the world through a different lens, it will mess up with your emotions.
Once you know the suffering an animal goes through to get to a plate, you’d wince every time you eat with your non-vegan family or friends.
And when you see plastic being dumped by the roadside, your heart will sink like the Titanic.
For me, it was more of a mental struggle, as I had virtually no problem stocking up vegan food or bulk shopping when I was starting this journey.
Is Being Vegan Healthy? Is It Costly?
People need to stop thinking that eating vegan or vegetarian means not getting enough nutrients.
Each plant has carbs, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
It’s just how much of those components there is in each plant. So if you eat a lot of plant foods, chances are you’ll get enough nutrients your body needs.
If you eat primarily wholefoods on a vegan diet, it is healthy.
But if you eat lots of processed junk food, then it is not so healthy.
In terms of cost, it really depends on what type of food you eat.
If you buy basic whole foods like potatoes, beans and vegetables, they are considered cheap.
But if you include processed veggie burgers or imported goods, then it’s bound to be a tad bit expensive.
Or look at it this way — if you can spend RM22 (~USD 5) at Nando’s than I’m pretty sure you can afford Sala Vegan Restaurant.
I think that pointing out “cost” is just an excuse for people to not try it out.
Can One Person Going Vegan And Zero Waste Make A Difference?
Yes and no.
As an individual, the difference you make might not be apparent at first. It may only be for the purpose of not feeling so guilty and motivating you to contribute better to society.
Even though one individual may not stop the business of factory farms or clean up the entire ocean, one individual action does create a ripple effect.
That ripple effect will impact the people around you.
They will at the very least be aware of what you stand for and why you do what you do.
Once they’re aware, it’s only a matter of time for them to hopefully get on the bandwagon.
We can see that there are increasingly more people jumping on the bandwagon of sustainable living. Those are the people who you should band together with and make a bigger difference.
That’s when you can see the power of community.
Collective action will only happen once individuals are aware and willing to take action in their own capacities.
Together, the individuals will be stronger and have the potential to make a systemic change.