By Eco-Vegan Gal Whitney Lauritsen
In my opinion, being vegan isn’t just about eating foods that say that they’re vegan. A lot of vegans, the first thing they do is they get really excited about finding meat alternatives, so they go to the freezer section and they find fake beef and chicken and pork, et cetera, which is great. That stuff tastes great, and it’s wonderful when you’re transitioning because your palette’s still changing. But what I would encourage a lot of vegans to do is to start eating healthier because I don’t think vegan means healthy. I also don’t think vegan means environmentally friendly. I think that if you want to be healthier and more sustainable, you need to pay a lot more attention to what you’re eating and you really need to learn how to cook.

And trust me, I was not a big cooker until recently, and it’s not that hard. The web is just full of recipes. There are cookbooks – vegan cookbooks – all over the place. If you’re gluten-free and soy-free like me, there’s plenty of that. So what I recommend is that you start to read labels. Look for things that are organic primarily. Very important. Local – so finding foods that grow locally within a couple hundred miles of you or at least in your state. Most natural food markets will say, especially Whole Foods, they’ll actually tell you exactly what state that food was grown in, which is great. This makes a huge environmental difference, and it’s also fresher.

And likewise, I encourage you to buy foods that are in the produce sections. This is fruits; this is vegetables. Usually next to the produce section is the bulk section, especially in natural markets. You can get anything from like, legumes – so beans, lentils, nuts. You can get all sorts of grains. You can get bulk pastas. You can get all these great things, and these typically tend to be healthier. So again, make sure those are local and organic, or at least organic.

And that saves packaging. If you want to buy packaged foods, a lot of these foods come packaged. Try to find things that are in recyclable or biodegradable containers. I would avoid plastic, if possible, if you really want to be eco friendly. In fact, plastic actually has a lot of negative health side effects as well.

So yeah, being vegan can be on so many different levels, but if you want to be healthiest and sustainable, start reading labels and start educating yourself on how food is made, where it comes from, and really figure out what’s important to you.

 

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