A series in which ordinary people talk about living a plant-based life
Our latest contributor is Ekaterina, a Russian physics student who believes that veganism is a cornerstone of sustainable living
Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m 24 and currently finishing my master’s degree in physics in Moscow, Russia. I moved away from home two years ago and now I live with my boyfriend. In my free time I like to volunteer at various events, mostly focused on being more sustainable; my favourite is helping out with recycling at a vegan market every month. I also really enjoy vegan activism and recently I tried drawing chalk messages, which I’ll keep doing from time to time.
You’re vegan now; were you vegetarian before?
No, but I guess I was a flexitarian for a few months. What I mean is I knew I was going vegan, that it was the right thing to do, but I needed some time to adjust and learn to stand up for my decisions. During that time I never bought anything non-vegan myself, but I ate animal products at parties and other people’s places a few times. I tried to justify it by telling myself that I wasn’t creating demand in these situations, but I stopped doing that as soon as I realised how messed up what we do to animals is. I can’t consume products of violence, it doesn’t matter who paid for them.
What led to that?
I’ve been trying to live as sustainably as I can for about four years now. I seek out new eco-friendly habits, and look at what I can improve in my lifestyle, and this was how I came across the zero-waste movement. I started watching some videos about it and one of the vloggers kept mentioning that she was vegan because she cared about the environment, and that you couldn’t be zero-waste if you consumed animal products. I looked up how bad animal agriculture was in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use, and energy consumption, and felt I couldn’t consciously contribute to something so terrible.
I knew that the end goal for me was being vegan, but, sadly, I couldn’t switch overnight. During that time the environmental arguments were the most important to me and I didn’t really think about ethics.When I finally let the ethical side of things sink in, I couldn’t possibly delay going vegan any longer. If you only care about the environment, an occasional piece of non-vegan cake is not that big a deal I think, but when you know of all the suffering that went into making it, you can’t possibly eat it.
How long have you been vegan?
It will be a year soon! About nine months at this point.
Do you see yourself ever going back to being an omnivore?
No, absolutely not. I cannot imagine what would have to happen to make me stop caring. How could I consume animal products being aware what it means? How could I consciously choose to contribute to animal abuse?
Are you a ‘healthy’ vegan? Often people assume we’re all fitness-obsessed, when the reality is that we come in many flavours and for many people life is an eternal hunt for vegan cake. What makes up your diet?
It depends. When I’m not too lazy and cook for myself at home, it’s usually very healthy. I never liked using a lot of oil, and, because I strive to live without producing any waste, I cook mostly wholefoods – that’s all you can buy without packaging. But when I go out to eat I don’t really care how healthy it is. I like an occasional greasy vegan burger or some vegan cake.
Where do you shop?
I go to regular shops for bulk fruits and vegetables, and vegan junk food once in a while. I buy my grains and legumes at a zero-waste shop, sometimes I get spices there, too. And when I want something special like vegan cheese or yoghurt I have to go to a vegan shop – regular supermarkets either don’t carry them over here, or they are ridiculously overpriced.
Do you consciously think about where you get your protein, etc, from?
Not really. I used to track what I eat in Cronometer, but after I was sure my diet is balanced enough I stopped doing it. Now I only check it maybe once a month, just for fun.
For many vegans, the initial realisation of facts that make us turn to a different lifestyle is pretty life-changing and alienating. We view things differently, from the supermarket shopping experience in a meat-eating world to the people around us. How was that change in mindset – the reality of being an outsider in many situations – for you?
Yes, it was shocking. Sometimes it feels surreal when I accidentally go into the meat aisle in a supermarket – there are literally corpses lying in the fridges and people are buying them. That’s just so weird. And there are live fish right next to the produce section in one shop I sometimes go to – it makes me feel so bad. It’s frustrating that they are still alive but I can’t help them. I’m used to being an outsider – Continue reading →