I’ll forewarn you, this is a long answer to a short question : “what do you eat in a day?”. For this post, I've teamed up with a number of other bloggers, journalists and creatives who are a part of Ethical Writers Coalition to show that there isn’t just one way to eat sustainably. I’ve linked in all their food diaries just below my own, which, if you’d like to skip the explanation of ‘why’ I eat the way I eat, you’ll find the particulars at the end of the post.

** please note, the only reason this article is on veganism is that it is the only diet in which its members claim is the only answer for sustainable living.  This does not mean that every other diet option is more sustainable or less, each has its flaws and each needs to progress. I wholeheartedly support whatever diet choices any human chooses to make, so long as it is a conscious choice which considers the following points and ones I've missed. I am not against veganism, I personally choose to eat a plant-based, local, seasonal diet which is fairtrade and organic instead **

⟠ A PERSONAL HISTORY ⟠
I'm not a huge fan of being told what to eat ... My mum brought my sisters and I up on an organic vegetarian diet, in the pagan religion, as feminists ... thus, my main rebellion at the age of 16 was to become a cheerleader, start going to church and begin eating McDonald's cheeseburgers every chance I got.

Back in the early '00s, during the Atkins Diet regime, I had a bright pink shirt made that said 'I ♡ Carbs' across the front, because I had, and still have, zero interest in cutting carbohydrates from my diet. Bread in particular.

As the 'Carb Free' fad diets continued to rage through my 20s, various boyfriends over my romantic interactions of life suggested I cut bread out of my diet to maintain my optimal external attractiveness. Instead, I chose to cut them out, because, let's face it, the one consistent love in my life has always been, and might always be bread.

⟠ MY INITIAL SHIFT INTO VEGANISM 
As I moved into the sustainable blogging world in late 2015, the pressure to become vegan was evident. It was part of my self-education. I watched 'Conspiracy' and 'Earthlings' and a handful of other documentaries on the subject of eating ethical and sustainable. I learnt that Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. That it is the main cause of tropical deforestation. I saw animals in abattoirs being killed in horrific conditions. And I was convinced to give Veganism a try.

But I also married a Texan, and through him discovered that if you can’t separate someone from their guns, you’re certainly not going to be able to separate them from their steak. To improve their diets for the sake of humanity, we would need to offer some options 'better' than my mama's lentil loaf and store bought tofu. I found out that transitioning a beef eater to someone who instead eats chicken reduces emissions to 10% of the methane produced by beef. Reducing the AMOUNT of meat eaten also reduces one's personal footprint too. That meat eaters just needed to be conscious, not completely abstinent. I was also acutely aware that I was neither a nutritionist, naturopath nor a doctor and thus the idea of telling people what they ought to eat was out of the question for me. Sharing ideas on how to eat more sustainably was a possibility, but telling people to forgo food groups, was not.


WHERE MY ISSUES WITH VEGANISM BEGAN TO BLOSSOM ⟠
As I transitioned into Veganism, I was also trying to go zero waste, and it was a constant battle to find ways to marry the two lifestyles in a way that was realistic. Vegan food is covered in plastic, and most that plastic isn't recyclable, making my zero waste efforts somewhat redundant. Similarly, it was also important to me that anything I purchased, be it fashion or food, was produced in a fair trade environment. As I discovered, almost 95% of the pre-made vegan food I found in my local stores had no mention of Fairtrade practices on its packaging.

Finally, I had to consider intersectionality, especially when I travelled. Meat is an important part of history, tradition and cultural identity, it felt completely wrong to rock up to a country I was a guest in and start telling them how to eat. Those sharing my skin colour had done just that for centuries, and I had no intention of embodying the historical oppression of my skin’s collective ancestry for the sake of a middle-class Western movement. Sustainability was an issue as well, most vegan foods have been imported from hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. I wanted to reduce my personal Greenhouse Gas emissions and support my local economy by eating what was in season and produced locally.

⟠ YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT ⟠
They say you are what you eat. For a living, I write about the circular stories of things, I work countless hours each week trying to uncover the most sustainable products by looking at their lifecycle from cradle-to-cradle. Yet I couldn't untangle the story behind my own eating habits. The dots weren't connecting. I began to discover, with both what I eat, and the general world of sustainability. Nothing is black and white. It’s a big ole sea of grey, and here's why:

⟠ CRUELTY-FREE? ⟠
What veganism, (and to be fair what most diets) don't consider is the intersectionality which exists within our food culture. It becomes uncomfortably hypocritical to eat a 'cruelty-free' diet when the worker who grew your plant-based foods did so working in slave-like conditions. There are very few Fairtrade plant-based products beyond pure fruit and vegetables themselves. In fact, when I started to become obsessed with the idea, I found myself seriously disturbed when I walked the isles of my local vegan store and found coffee and tea were the only two products on the shelves with both the organic and fair-trade marks. White people already have a long history of treating nonwhite humans inhumanely, a tradition I'm NOT willing to carry forward or support. I felt and still feel, that fair treatment must include all living things, or it's not 'cruelty-free', so I began separating myself from packaged vegan products which meant I was separating myself from protein replacements.

⟠ THE REALITIES OF CROPLANDS WORLDWIDE ⟠
Another consideration also under the umbrella of intersectional veganism is the fact that not all countries have unlimited access to foods from around the world all year like those of us in Western countries do. Nor are all countries able to grow vegetables, fruit and legumes year-round. Around one-third of the world’s land is composed of arid and semi-arid rangeland that can only support animal agriculture. When attempts were made to convert part of the Sahel in Africa from livestock pasture to croplands, desertification and loss of productivity ensued.

Furthermore, an interesting study (sent to me by Eco Boost's Kate Arnell) which was published in Elementa Science in 2016 on the 'Carrying Capacity of U.S. Agricultural Land', suggests veganism is not the most sustainable way to eat. Researchers used biophysical stimulation models that compared 10 different eating patterns. The study looked at Grazing Land (unsuitable for crop growth, but great for feeding agricultural animals), Perennial Cropland (crops that live year-round / can be harvested multiple times before dying. ex// grains and hay), and Cultivated Cropland (growing veggies, nuts, fruit ect...). What it uncovered is that because the Vegan diet doesn't predominantly use perennial cropland, it would only be able to feed 735 million people, compared to the lacto (dairy but not eggs) vegetarian diet, which could feed 807 million people. Veganism actually came fifth, in terms of sustainability, out of the ten possible diets.




⟠ THE SOIL CRISIS ⟠ 
The study above is an important thing to understand and consider. Because veganism might reduce greenhouse gasses, but it won’t solve the ecological crisis we’re in. At the moment, scientists say we have about 60 years of topsoil (the life-sustaining stuff) remaining. Without it, we can’t grow any food or sustain any life.

Whether the American Dust Bowl, the vanished Anasazi, or the lost empire of Mesopotamia - humans have a long history of farming themselves to oblivion. We need to uncover what we can do to sustain agricultural capacity, which means we have to look much deeper than just ending factory farming. 

According to Professor John Crawford of the University of Sydney “It begins with reversing bad farming practices like tillage, nutrient mismanagement, removing stubble and over-grazing. We can add manure and consider using human waste from cities as fertilizer, instead of just flushing it all out to sea”. 

This study from the University of Guelph suggests that saving the planet “requires a significant shift away from annual -based 2 agriculture to a perennial -based agriculture centering on grass-fed livestock”, the research suggests that adapting ecologically sound farming practices will end factory farming because it will be cheaper than the current state which exists as a way to sop up overproduced cheap feed grain, removing the excess at the foundation of the paradigm and making way for more sustainable uses of land. 





⟠ ECO + ETHICAL ISSUES WITH VEGAN STAPLES ⟠
Now again, this could be an issue with any diet, vegetarianism included, it’s just that vegans are most famous for their affinity with these products, some of which reduce biodiversity, produce copious amounts of carbon dioxide, and use up heaps of water:
2. AVOCADOS it takes 220 gallons of water to grow ONE avocado … and avocados steaming from Mexico are associated with violent drug cartels in Mexico as well as deforestation.  The price per kilo of Avocado is equivalent to the daily minimum wage, making this food, which has been a staple to Mexicans for thousands of years, too expensive for them to eat. This year, Kenya had to  ban the exportion of avocados, because the country’s supply is now at risk.
3. ALMONDS are a water-intensive crop and are partially blamed for the droughts, and subsequent fires, in California
5. SOY crops (TOFU IS SOY TOO!) have been linked to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. 80% of that soy goes towards feeding livestock (which we need to reduce by reducing or omitting our meat consumption) but we also need to come up with some new staples that don't revolve around the crop. To be fair, there is unlikely to ever be an ingredient, that we can confidently claim to be environmentally benign apart from freeganism. There is the suggestion that the issues soy causes in the erosion of topsoil may not be reduced enough if the world went vegan, so it is key to come up with new staples if possible for non-meat diets. 

⟠ CONSIDERABLE ETHICAL OVERLOOKS ⟠
In the circular story of the ‘cruelty-free’ movement, several species are left out of the story. 
1. DEATH TO THE FIELD FAUNA In situations of machine farming, animals like mice, moles rabbits, snakes, turtles and so on are often killed or lose their habitat due to tractors, then there is the loss of habitat due to deforestation mass deforestation to clear the ground for single crops like palm oil and soy, both often found in Vegan products (and used to feed livestock, which is also responsible for deforestation), making no food truly ‘cruelty-free’.

2. FAUX VEGAN FASHION Many vegans wear synthetics or faux leathers which are toxic to produce and are not biodegradable at the end of their lifecycle and hugely harmful to the flora and fauna in each item’s creation. The dyes used in our garments, even if the garment is marked as ‘vegan’ unless dyed with completely natural dies are not cruelty-free. Furthermore, products produced by people being paid unfair wages in factories are not cruelty-free either’.

3. PLASTIC PACKAGING The majority of vegan protein replacement products (and vegetarian ones for that matter), and snacks come in plastic packaging. Why a ‘cruelty-free’ movement would be created without considering cruelty-free packaging for products is beyond me. Plastics harm the flora and fauna on our planet from extraction to creation and demise. Even if they’re recycled they still create pollution. NOT ALL PLASTIC CAN BE RECYCLED, and thus it ends up in the landfills and eventually, in our oceans where animals mistake it for food and eat it. If they eat enough, they can die for malnutrition, or get entangled leading to injury and sometimes death. At my own vegan store here in Paris, the majority of products on shelves and in the fridge, are housed in or contain number 3 +4 plastics which can’t always be recycled. Check your own products before you shove them in the recycling bin: http://learn.eartheasy.com/2012/05/plastics-by-the-numbers/





⟠ANGRY VEGANS ⟠
Perhaps the most uninviting part of being a vegan was the angry side of the vegan community. Sounds harsh, indeed, but to me, it felt the community was so strict, judgmental, angry and nonsensical, that it felt a bit like how Scientology is described. One wrong move, one question too far, one too many defences of ‘the others’, and you’re out of the club. I could name about 5 vegan bloggers who no longer communicate with me for defending another blogger when a vegan troll tilted his tornado her way.

I've had my angry moments too, sustainability is frustrating, but the truth is, not a single one of us is perfect at anything. The vegan diet and lifestyle, just like any other lifestyle under the umbrella of sustainability is chalked full of hypocrisy and confusion. We’re still figuring things out. And the most important part of figuring things out is knowing, and admitting, that it’s possible we could be wrong and being open to discussion. Our shared ignorance as a species is built by lack of education and understanding of the circular story behind objects and habits that allegedly support the movement we stand behind.

Anger, though I’ve been guilty of my fair share of it, has been proven throughout the history of our species to create pain, not change. Blind zealots, fired up under any doctrine, like the trolls most of us encounter on the internet, who are accusing and insulting instead of working on perfecting their own path and simply leading by example and education to encourage others to embrace positive change keep everything stagnant. If you feel it is appropriate to call someone a ‘cunt’ for not adhering to the strict guidelines you’ve set for yourself, you are not living a cruelty-free life.

There are thousands of legitimate reasons why a person might not be a vegan or 100% vegan (I’ll outline some below), thousands of reasons why a person might make so-called ‘mistakes’ or choose to allow themselves some leeway outside the home (I sure do). If we allow our egos to rise and make bullied judgments of others without considering the nuances and realities of a life someone else is living become an extremist not a maker of change.

And I want to be a maker of change. A positive one at that, if possible.

⟠ OPPRESSIVE JUDGEMENTS ⟠
As the white daughter of parents belonging to the British Isles, my ancestral history, along with the ancestral history of every person sharing my skin colour on this planet, has done enough stomping around telling other cultures what they should and should not do, how they should and should not eat, and so on. I have no intention of continuing that oppressive judgement under any circumstances. Indigenous people are not the problem. White people are, and they always have been. 

Just recently, in Canada, Kū-kŭm Kitchen, an Indigenous-owned and operated restaurant, was targeted by an online petition calling for the restaurant to remove seal from its menu. Seal meat which was sourced responsibly from the Inuit community. Despite none of its signers knowing much about Inuit culture, or the ethics and sustainability of hunting of seal, the petition gained almost 7,000 signatures. It is this sort of ignorance that had Greenpeace apologizing to the Inuit people back in 2014. And it will be this sort of ignorance that will bring us all to our demise.







⟠ MY PERSONAL STANCE ON MEAT ⟠
My personal stance with meat, of any kind, has and always will stand with Indigenous communities and their traditional practices. They haven’t forgotten to live off their natural resources. They have kept their traditions living in balance with the planet and its animals. Treating every living things with respect when alive and after. When it comes to meat, traditionally all of the animals that can be eaten is, and what cannot be used for food, is turned into useful, long lasting items. Tipis, water bags and drums made from the buffalo skin; the hide used for bedding, blankets, winter coat, and drums. The flesh used for food, the horns for spoons, knives and weapons. The sinew made bowstrings and thread, ribs fashioned into sledges for children and hoofs became rattles. Nothing wasted. 

We're so very far away from that culture, the one which followed a circular story of respect, and produced products which avoided harming the planet in its production, or its demise, where everything came from the earth and could return to the earth at the end of its lifecycle to biodegrade.

⟠ THE HEALTH REASONS NOT EVERYONE CAN EAT VEGAN ⟠

My sister-in-law is unable to digest soy, gluten, grains, nightshades and beans, my husband is currently getting tested for the same thing. Leaving them with limited options for protein apart from meat and certain veggies and fruit. My mum, who was a vegetarian for nearly 40 years, recently was informed by her doctors she had to start eating meat because her muscles were breaking down. So she did, because let's face it, she's done her part. 


There are also a lot of pluses to the vegetarian diet, for example, it is great because it has a higher content of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and many phytochemicals and a fat content that is more unsaturated. Same with vegan diets which in addition to having all the pluses of a Vegetarian diet, contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber leading them to have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease, which is awesome. Much of the missing micronutrients from both diets, like vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids can be replaced by supplements (which come in number 2 plastics). But work for many people. 

⟠ MEAT AS A TREAT ⟠
The reality is, we’re all different. The same. But different. Yes, everyone needs to reduce their meat consumption, and yes, if that reduction doesn’t include the personal choice of complete abstinence, that meat should come from a local, organic, sustainable, grass-fed source. If you’re someone who has decided to continue eating meat, then the recommended amount to aim for is no more than 500g per week. That’s less than one 70g (so like a single lamb chop) sized serving per day. If we all aim, to at the most, be eating no more than 500g per week, and the meat was treated as a treat rather than a necessary part of every single meal, that would be a HUGE step forward. 

One study found that simply conforming to the World Health Organization’s dietary recommendations would bring the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions down by 17% – a figure that would drop by an additional 40% should citizens further avoid animal products and processed snacks. Dietary changes most would barely notice but could make all the difference. Abstaining completely from any food group is a personal choice, what matters, is that we consume consciously and responsibly.
⟠ WHAT I EAT IN A DAY, AND WHY ⟠
So, these are just some of the reasons I’ve decided to call myself 'Plant Based', because it allows for flexibility, for reality, for ecology, for logic, to acknowledge intersectionality, and to respond to the needs of my body.

I aim to eat what is in season and produced locally, to buy my products package free in an effort to live a zero waste lifestyle. I try to purchase food that is organic AND fair trade, and personally choose to avoid dairy because my body is intolerant to it ... but I do dabble. I also avoid soy, avocados, and almonds due to their ecological impact on the planet (I still, regretfully, eat Quinoa Almonds and Cashews, as we bought a shit ton in bulk) and try to avoid all beef, pork, game meats and shellfish because my body has a lot of trouble digesting it. We eat vegan at home to ensure our meat, fish or dairy consumption is reduced to the odd restaurant outing or meals at the homes of others. 

I tend to graze throughout the day as I’ve got an easily upset tummy, and I try to drink a glass of water and a cup of Numi Organic (Fairtrade) tea between each ‘feeding’. 




[SNACK]
GREEN SMOOTHIE: Ethical Organic Italian Rice Drink, Salvaged Organic Fairtrade Bananas, Green Vibrance, Fairtrade Organic Cacao, Plant Protein Powder

[BREAKFAST] 
LAZY GAL’S LENTIL MUSHROOM MIX: This is basically an oat-free version of a Lentil Mushroom Walnut Ball using bulk lentils, along with local seasonal organic produce including kale, walnuts, mushrooms, garlic, herbs.

[SNACK] 
FRUIT & NUTS: An apple and an orange with a little bowl of walnuts, all of which are local, seasonal, organic, fairtrade and bought using reusable produce bags. 

[LUNCH]
TURNIP SURPRISE: Nobody likes turnips, but they showed up in my seasonal organic veg box so I cooked them with a bit of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then I covered it with some weird sauce my husband made and topped that with chilli pequen jam that my husband’s aunt made from scratch! (you can buy her son’s version at HEB in Texas!).

[SNACK]
VEGGIES: Cut up a carrot and a raw zucchini that came in my local, seasonal, organic veg box for the mid-day snack attack. 

[DINNER]
VEGGIE BURGER & FRIES: The burger is made up of my ‘Lazy Gal’s Lentil Mushroom Mix’, I just put it into a ball to make it look like a burger and ate it with some sweet potato fries using a recipe from Honestly Healthy.

⟠ WHAT 10 OF MY FELLOW ETHICAL WRITERS EAT ⟠

"What Sustainable Bloggers Eat: A Week of Easy Vegetarian Dinners"
"A Day Of Home Cooked Meals"
"How To Eat Sustainably: Being "Vegan" and Other Decisions"
"My Week of Meals - Food Inspo for Health Nuts"
"How Much Do You Think About What You Eat and WHY?"
"Why I Eat Paleo-Vegan to Stay Sustainable and "Model-Fit"
"What A Sustainable Travel Blogger Typically Eats"
"What Eco Influencers Eat"
"How I Eat In A Day"
"Eating Sustainably: What I Eat in a Day and Why I’m Not a Vegetarian"
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PHOTOS: 1, 3, 5, 7: Me  // 2, 4, 6, Shane Woodward