In 2017, I became increasingly aware that my lifestyle was not in alignment with my values as a
person. I was eating a large amount of meat and dairy, I was using skincare and cosmetics both containing animal products and tested on animals, and I was buying clothes from retailers with questionable moral values. I also realised I was doing very little to ensure my negative impact on the environment was as small as possible. As a result, I was starting to feel very uncomfortable about my day to day life and towards the end of the year, I realised I was going to have to make some big changes.

Going vegan

Taking up veganism is actually an idea I have experimented with since 2016. For many years I’ve suffered with a lot of digestive discomfort and my research into this subject led me to believe that dairy could be behind this. I also suspected my love of processed meats, for example chorizo, was not helping. I’d tried to give up meat and dairy a few times, but always gave up very quickly, convinced I couldn’t live my life without cheese and chocolate.

However, going vegan isn’t just about improving my health anymore. The more I consumed animals and the more I learnt about the egg and dairy industries, the more I realised that my contributions to this just didn’t feel right anymore. I have also recently become more aware of the environmental impact that animal farming has, which has provided me with even more motivation to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

I am currently participating in Veganuary and I'm amazed that not only have I succeeded this far, I am both enjoying it and planning to continue my new lifestyle outside of January.

However, I suspect the reason I've been successful so far is because I haven't banned myself from non-vegan food forever. I'm going for afternoon tea later this month and haven't requested the vegan menu, and I suspect when I go to America my willpower to eat vegan will die a death. I personally believe that by eating vegan the vast majority of the time, I am already taking large steps to lead a more ethical life so I'm happy with this decision. I also think that over time as I get more comfortable identifying as a vegan and more used to shopping as a vegan, I'll find the idea of meat, eggs and dairy more and more repulsive and will eventually wean myself off it completely.

Going cruelty free in beauty

Removing animal products from my diet doesn't really make sense if I don't also remove them from my beauty routine as well. It makes even less sense if I also continue to use products that are tested on animals. In 2018, I will be phasing all animal tested and non-vegan beauty products from my makeup bag - even if I don't succeed with a completely vegan diet. Eating animals is one thing, using animals for vanity is another issue. I do currently own some products from brands that test, and products with animal products in them. However, I think wasting things I already own would also be a terrible thing to do so I will be phasing things out and replacing with animal friendly alternatives when I need to. 

I will also continue to buy from brands that are cruelty free, but their parent companies are not. I know this ultimately funds non-ethical brands, but it is incredibly hard to shop in a way that is truly ethical. For example, Superdrug's own range is very often vegan and always cruelty free, but it's owned by AS Watson which is not cruelty free. It also obviously stocks brands like Loreal which is not cruelty free. Supermarkets are another: they sell meat and dairy but I still support them by buying my vegetables there. The issue of "is there such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism" is one I want to explore in more depth at some point - but this post isn't the time. 

Working out how I can minimise my impact on the environment

Like thousands of other Brits, last year, I was traumatised by film footage of plastic floating in the ocean, narrated by national treasure David Attenborough. I'd always thought I was quite environmentally conscious, but ultimately thought that it was up to big corporations or cities like Las Vegas where the lights are always on, to do something about climate change. Of course, it's probably everyone having the "not my problem" attitude that has got us in this mess to begin with. 

One change I can say I've already made is I've stopped getting takeaway coffee in disposable cups. I've also finally started started turning everything OFF in my house when I'm not using it. I'm ashamed to say that since I've moved into a house where my bills are included in the rent, I have been very lax about my electricity usage in a way I wasn't when I had to use a pay as you go electricity meter. It's time for me to realise there's a bigger picture than my finances when it comes to electricity. 

The next step is for me to tackle the amount of waste I create. I depend too much on single use products like cotton wool and kitchen roll. 

Other non-Save The World! type goals

Whilst most of my goals this year seem to centre on not just improving my own life, but contributing to the betterment of the world as well, I do have a few that are purely selfish for me:
  1. Start exercise classes: I have a "Swim and Classes" membership at the local leisure centre but have never actually attended a class in the 10 months or so I've had it. Whilst I get my money's worth just from swimming, it'd be nice to get some variety in my exercise routine. 
  2. Start having driving lessons again: I initially believed I couldn't afford it this year but my calculations may have been wrong so I'm currently planning on starting my lessons again in February. It'd be nice to also pass my test in 2018 but we'll see. I also realise driving detracts from my environmental goals... 
  3. Other 30 Before 30 goals: other 30 Before 30 goals I'd like to make a start on or complete this year are my goals to visit new places in the UK, go to the Natural History Museum and keep growing my nails. 
Before I finish this post, I'd also like to note that I realise that I am in a place of privilege to be able to pursue these goals. This is not a post intended to guilt trip those who can't go vegan, or shame you into changing your lifestyle. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I personally was becoming uncomfortable with my own lifestyle and I needed to make some changes. If you feel the same, great. If you don't, carry on doing what you're doing. I just want to do the best that I can and you should focus on doing the best you can. 

What are your 2018 goals?