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Diet Change for Climate Change

diet change not climate change vegan friendly sushi

The 1st of November is the start to World Vegan Month, but also World Vegan Day. And no, World Vegan Day isn’t just a day when vegans get a bunch of carrots and a sack of potatoes from their loved ones to congratulate them for being vegan. World Vegan Day is not only dedicated to vegans, but rather a day for people to share their experiences with veganism as well as to raise awareness around the benefits of a more plant-based diet. 

Society loves to joke that vegans always make sure to tell you that they’re vegan, and people often just assume that vegans are simply tree hugging animal activists. But people have different motivations for their vegan lifestyle choices.  The 3 main reasons are; 

The Animals, 
The Planet or for 
Health reasons.

Personally, I became Vegan for the Planet after learning about the unsustainability of a meat-filled diet. Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to the climate crisis, being responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gases. Not to mention the exponential deforestation rates which result from agriculture required to sustain meat-filled diets. Knowing that what I choose to have for dinner not only impacts the planet I live in, but the planet my kids and grandkids will see through, is quite a substantial motivator to eat more plant-based, don’t you think?

Corporations changing for Climate Change

Everyday we are faced with decisions which have an associated climate cost. Will we drive to a fast fashion store to buy a new outfit for the weekend or will we walk to the second hand store around the corner and choose something with a little more character? Will we have roast lamb for dinner, or will roast veggies do the trick? As individuals we have the power to make small changes, but corporations play the greatest role in driving climate change. There’s been much finger pointing between the largest corps, which is often accompanied by a stench of virtual signaling. But which corporations are truly walking the climate change walk and who are just looking to be invited to a COP26 talk? 

Mark Schneider, the CEO of the world’s largest food company and producer of dairy products, Nestlé, spoke out about the benefits of eating less meat and dairy for not only our health, but the planet’s too. As one of the greatest producers of carbon emissions, I’m sure that Nestle’s plans to launch a plant-based protein to ‘replace every animal protein out there’ has Greta Thunberg smiling from ear to ear. Nestlé has already launched a vegan-friendly KitKat in Europe and a plant-based version of Cadbury’s classic bar is about to go on sale in the UK this month. 

Last month McDonald’s launched their vegan McPlant burger in the UK. While I’m a big believer in supporting small vegan businesses, one isn’t always going to find a cute vegan cafe in Brakpan, but you may find larger chains, such as McDonald’s, with new vegan options that aren’t just a super sized portion of chips, which is definitely one small step for vegan and one large step for humankind. Corporations produce almost everything we consume, making their decisions large role players in our decision making. Corporations not only need to shift their product offerings to meet the massive shift in consumer demand towards plant-based options, but also to help make consumers’ dietary decisions that much easier.

Being vegan is easier than we think

I remember when I first jumped aboard the renewable energy powered Veggie train a couple of years ago. The thought of not being able to enjoy something as tasty as my dad’s braaied tjops or my granny’s famous Christmas gammon made me shiver in newly purchased mushroom leather boots. “Am I going to have to eat wilted spinach for breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to meet my daily requirement of iron…”’ I thought.

Thankfully, nowadays, most shops in Cape Town have dedicated vegan sections and vegan alternatives to everything you may miss from a carnivorous diet. “Why do you want vegan alternatives if you hate meat so much?” – the question I often get asked when I slap my Romeo & Vero  Vegan Ribs on the braai. Sorry Susan, but just because I don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean I don’t miss the flavours of meat. Being vegan no longer means just eating lentils and greens or being forced to order a plate of chips from a restaurant because they don’t cater for vegan diets. Choosing to eat a more plant-based diet is truly much easier and tastier than it was a year ago, nevermind a decade ago, and with all the scientific evidence  which points out the importance of decreasing our animal product consumption to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, is it not the perfect time to try a plan(e)t based diet, if not even just for a day?

Going vegan might seem daunting at first, and when you’re hungry it may be a little bit more complex than asking yourself “chicken or beef?” Why not celebrate this World Vegan Day by challenging yourself to make a small change in your diet. Start by going vegan one day a week, or trying a vegan meal at your favourite restaurant, or even better, try a vegan restaurant. Here are my favourite picks to help a vegan transition be made easier.

Veganism made easy

Plushi – Vegan Sushi

I’ll start with my favourite vegan brand, and no it’s got nothing to do with the fact that I co-own it, well… maybe a little. Giving up sushi was probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in my transition, but Plushi satisfies every craving, if not, surpasses every and any sushi I’ve ever eaten. If you’re a little sceptical of fish-free sushi, then order on Fridays, for #FishFreeFridays where you get 25% off your order.

sushi for a vegan diet

How Bao Now

Weekend markets are always filled with layers of aromas, all luring you in. Oranjezicht City Farm Market is no exception, luckily, many of these aromas are also vegan. My favourite has to be the Jaca Boa from How Bao Now. The most incredible play on a pulled pork Boa made with slow cooked BBQ jackfruit created by top-class chefs Carla Schulze and Matt van Den Berg.

Pizza Shed

Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you pizza, which for me, is pretty close. Most pizza places offer vegan options nowadays, but Pizza Shed gets it just right! Their Neapolitan style Vegan pizza, topped with tomato, caramelised onion, salsa, pine nuts, avo and olive oil is happiness in a box! Order directly through their website and save 15%!

pizza for vegan diet

Patiala Brew & Q

This beautiful hidden gem is tucked away in Constantia with delicious food and ice-cold beers made on site in their micro-brewery. They have such a wide variety of vegan options, but my favourite has to be their vegan pancakes served at their Sunday Brunch.

vegan for the planet

Vegan options big chains offer

Whether it’s the local after-work drinks, take out or the kids’ favourite restaurant. Big South African restaurant chains have caught onto the growth in veganism, and they’re not shying away from stepping up to the (dinner) plate.

The Houdini Burger from Hudsons
Big Cheesy Nachos with vegan cheese from Fat Cactus
Plant-based Whopper from Burger King

Sweet Treats

The donuts from Grumpy and Runt have to be the best in the biz! Not to mention their subs and sandwiches. Their new ice cream truck is also serving up the best ice cream Sundaes just in time for summer.

The bagels from Dolce Bakery are almost as good as their cruffins. My favourite has to be their Lotus Bischoff Cruffin. For anyone with a sweet tooth like mine, this guy is your number.

Whether you’re interested in trying out veganism for the month, maybe a day, or even a meal, making just one change in your diet will have an impact on climate change, no matter how small you may think it is.

About the author

Business woman Carin Brink on why vegan for the planet

Carin is a nature enthusiast with a passion for sustainability. While completing her Masters in Environmental Science, Sustainability and Society, she also co-founded and owns vegan sushi company Plushi, as well as a boutique marketing agency, Peeled Orange Agency. 

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