If you think about it, if you want to live a simpler, more cost effective life, you don’t have to look much further than an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Saving electricity, using public transport or your bike instead of a car, reusing packaging instead of buying disposables, shopping at second hand stores instead of buying new items: all these things save you money and they are good for the environment.
A simpler, more conscious lifestyle will go a long way to getting you where you want to be, not only financially but also being content and happy. As Linda Breen Pierce said: “Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.” As South Africans we are often distracted by the hardships around us or we get caught up in a fast-paced, urbanized lifestyle and we forget to look at where we can improve our quality of life. Often we look to material possessions to make our lives better, but spending too much on things may result in becoming over indebted and will instead have the opposite effect.
When we think about going green and saving money we usually think about changing our light bulbs, riding our bikes or saving water. But what few are telling us is that one of the best ways to be eco-conscious, save on shopping costs and be healthier (less doctor’s bills – save even more) is by eating less animal products.
|Vegan Falafel Plate|
Corporations selling animal products are much more powerful than those selling fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes and therefore they are marketed as healthy and cost-effective when they really aren’t. Meat has been proven to be a big contributor to heart disease, hypertension, obesity, cancer, diabetes, bowel disorders, osteoporosis, and many other preventable diseases, and vegetarians are far less likely to be susceptible to these serious health risks. And you don’t have to worry about what you’ve heard about people getting sick when they don’t eat animal products: people who have been vegan for life are much healthier than omnivores. You just have to eat a variety of foods as plant-based foods have all the same nutrients as animal products, if not more.
Research has shown that you can feed thirty people from a hectare of crops, but only five to ten from the same space used for livestock farming. Fish are going extinct and endangered species are being compromised by fishing practices. Fish also absorb the impurities from the oceans and transfer them to humans when they are eaten. This means that simpler, plant-based food is far more sustainable than eating a diet high in animal products.
For many, going vegan seems extreme and like too much of a sacrifice, but there are many other ways in which you can prepare “low carbon”, and therefore healthy and cost-effective, meals and take the first step to healthier eating habits:
- Avoid switching on electricity-guzzling appliances like your oven and use the microwave or stove top (on the lowest setting possible) to prepare food instead. For more not-so-obvious tips on greening you kitchen, read this article.
- Don’t waste food. Make enough for two meals and find ways to make leftovers interesting.
- Cut down on meat and dairy consumption as much as possible. Beef is the biggest culprit as it takes thousands of liters more water and fossil fuels to produce than plant-based products, so start there. There has never been a better time to cut down on meat and dairy consumption with all the tasty alternatives available. You can search almost any recipe on the internet and find a vegetarian adaptation.
- Buy local and seasonal products.
- Grow your own vegetables, fruits and herbs. This cuts out the cost (for you and the environment) of transportation and packaging of the foods.
- Forage. That’s right, explore nature and pick up some produce along the way. Wild foods are rich in flavour and nutrients and free of pesticides. Read The A to Z of Foraging to get an idea of where to start.
How you save money is easy to see. Firstly, you save on electricity costs when you cook more than one meal and use electricity saving methods. You save on food expenses as meat costs a lot more than vegetables and seasonal veggies less than imported ones. Growing and foraging vegetables where you can and not wasting food are also major savers. You save on medical bills and save your health in the long run. Not to mention the steep price that animals have to pay when they are farmed to supply humans with food.
Good luck with your simpler eating journey. You will discover new foods and new ways to eat that are fulfilling and makes you feel more conscious of your body and the environment.