Published Mar 17 2021 in
I was a pretty shameful vegetarian in 2020. Actually, I wasn’t vegetarian at all.
It seems like, when I’m happy and life is running fairly seamlessly, my vegetarianism is solid. As is my environmentalism and overall zest for life. But when I’m struggling with anxiety or depression, which I experienced for the first time in my life over this past year, I honestly give so many less shits about everything. Depression is no joke – you completely lose a sense of who you are, and your morals and goals seem to go out the window.
I remember learning something about the link between depression/survival and giving-a-shit in Socioeconomics, too. When people are just struggling to stay afloat, we’re not really thinking about what we’re eating or the environmental impact, but instead, just trying to survive. For me, it was eating whatever I could stomach just to get through the day. Sometimes it was grabbing a handful of cheese and crackers or a pepperoni stick.
I’m grateful to have come out the other side of it now. With a new and improved, stronger and wiser version of myself coming out the other end of it (funny/not-so-funny how that happens…). My core values have surfaced, and I feel like now that I love myself again, I have love to give to others, animals and the planet.
My goal for this year is to be roughly 90% plant-based! With the exception of eggs from my own happy chickens and the odd cheat moment.
But why go, plant-based? These are my motivating factors…
Compassion for Animals
There is nothing humane about the process of killing an animal – factory farms being the worst offenders. I believe something doesn’t have to die for us to live. After you’ve watched some video footage on slaughterhouses and the dairy and egg industry, you’ll understand. The whole system is absolutely twisted, and I just hate the idea that I’m funding the abuse of innocent animals.
Facts about factory farming:
- Four or more egg-laying hens are packed into a battery cage, a wire enclosure so small that none can spread her wings. Being held in such close confines, the hens’ peck at each other’s feathers and bodies.
- Pregnant sows spend each of their pregnancies confined to a gestation crate—a metal enclosure that is scarcely wider and longer than the sow herself. Unable to even turn around, sows develop abnormal behaviours and suffer leg problems and skin lesions.
- In factory dairies, cows spend their entire lives confined to concrete. Some cows are injected with the growth hormone rBGH to boost production, leading to lameness and mastitis, an udder’s painful infection.
- To facilitate confinement of these animals in such stressful, crowded, unsanitary conditions, painful mutilations like cutting off the horns of cattle, cutting off the beaks of chickens, and docking the tails of sheep, pigs, and dairy cattle are routinely performed.
Netflix movie to follow up with: Forks Over Knives
Eating Plant-Based is better for your health!
There is simply NO denying it – the evidence is there – a vegetarian or vegan diet is better for your health than high meat, specifically a red meat diet. Vegetarian diets have been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity. (Source)
Netflix movie to follow up with: Game Changers
Plant-Based diets are better for the environment.
The environmental impact of meat consumption is staggering, contributing to climate change, pollution, deforestation, depleting freshwater reserves and contaminating and over-fishing our oceans.
- In the United States alone, 56 million acres of land are used to grow feed for animals, while only 4 million acres produce plants for humans to eat.
- More than 90% of all Amazon rainforest land cleared since 1970 is used for grazing livestock.
- The livestock industry contributes to global climate change, contributing between 12% and 18% to the total GHG emissions. (source)
- 1 kg of protein from beef needed 18 times more land, 10 times more water, 9 times more fuel, 12 times more fertilizer, and 10 times more pesticides than the same amount of proteins obtained from kidney beans.
- Vegetarian and vegan diets have a much smaller environmental footprint: a diet that incorporates beef meet regularly showed the highest carbon footprint (3160 kg CO2eq). Vegetarian and vegan diets had the lowest carbon footprint (55 and 1015 kg CO2eq, respectively) (source).
Netflix movie to follow up with: Cowspiracy
Eating meat can cause viral infections and global pandemics.
Consumption of meat – especially wild meats – is believed to be related to virus infections, as many viruses have been found in wild meat trade markets (source).
We are living it, folks – there is an urgent need to change our dietary habits to avoid zoonosis, which could cause another global pandemic again sooner than late.
I get it – when you’re used to thinking and cooking a certain way, change is not easy; we are creatures of habit. There’s no judgment coming from over here because I am certainly NOT perfect.
I cheat, but I try, and I continue to educate myself on meat consumption’s health and environmental impact. I also continue to educate myself in the kitchen by trying new vegan recipes weekly (last week, I made these amazing vegan spanakopitas) while passing on my knowledge to my children to form new habits for the next generation.
If your mental health isn’t the best, it may not be on the top of your priority list right now. But when you’re ready, all I’m suggesting is try your best and don’t turn a blind eye to the facts – even going two-thirds vegan can cut carbon emissions by 60%! (source)
Any time someone asks me for my kombucha recipe I cringe a little because I don't really follow a recipe.
A few years ago, I followed the steps from a recipe online, I don't remember which one, and since then, I've just been winging it and it seems to work out find every time.
So when someone asks me for the recipe, I just ramble off the steps and tell them to head to Pinterest if they get confused.
But because I'm so kind, I’ve decided to finally share how I make kombucha. At least now I can tell people to head to my blog (which is obviously the best ;) )
Anyways, I know ya'll are sick of the back-stories that company recipes and DIY blog posts these days, so I’ll just get to it. Here's how to make Kombucha, accompanied by a handy, printable PDF to stick on your fridge. (For people whom like to know a little bit about what they’re making and why they are drinking it, scroll to the bottom).
How to Make Kombucha
What you’ll need
- 1 x Gallon Sized Jar
- 4 x Grolsch Bottles
- Large pot for boiling water
- Cheese cloth or coffee filter and elastic band
- 1 x SCOBY (the starter culture) - this gooey clump of yeast and bacteria is what is going to ferment your tea. You can buy a SCOBY from Amazon, or perhaps your friend is willing to give you one, or, you can "breed" your own from a bottle of store-bought kombucha.
- 14 cups Water
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Kombucha
- 1 x healthy, active SCOBY
- 7-8 Bags of Black, Green or Oolong Tea (I prefer black) or 7-8 tsps of Loose Leaf Tea
STEP 1: Boil water in a large pot, then add sugar and tea (I prefer black tea). Stir to the dissolve sugar.
STEP 2: Allow the tea to cool to room temperature, remove tea bags/leaves, then transfer to a gallon sized glass jar and add the SCOBY and kombucha.
STEP 3: Cover the jar with a breathable lid (tea towel, cheese cloth, flat bottom coffee filter), and secure with an elastic band. Allow to ferment at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.
STEP 4: Remove the SCOBY(s) and 2 cups of liquid for next batch (store in a jar in your fridge). Bottle the kombucha into Grolsch style bottles (this phase is the "second ferment"). At this point, you can choose to flavour your kombucha with fresh fruit juice (about an inch in each bottle), or just leave it the way it is. Let the bottles ferment on counter for another 3-10 days.
Note: The longer you leave it at room temperature, the less sweet it will become and the more carbonated it will be. This part is up to you and your taste preferences! Once it is at your desired sweetness and fizziness, transfer to the fridge. It will continue fermenting but at a much slower pace.
Notes, Tips and Warnings
- SCOBY killers: decaf tea, flavoured tea, honey, metal, antibacterial soap
- Use very clean equipment to prevent mold and other bacterial growth
- Keep away from other ferments to avoid cross-fermentation
- Grolsch style bottle are used because they let out carbon dioxide slowly while preventing oxygen from getting in. This prevents the bottle from bursting as the CO2 builds in the bottle (and creates the fizz!)
- While fermenting, the kombucha can attract fruit flies in the summer so make sure it’s fully covered
- Add whole fruit or fruit juice to the second ferment, about an inch in each bottle, for added flavour
- The longer you leave the bottles on the counter during the second ferment, the more fizzy and less sweet it will become!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made from green or black tea (or both), sugar, yeast and bacteria, and is believed to have originated in China about 2,000 years ago. It’s made by adding a colony of live bacteria and yeast, known as a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), to sweetened tea and leaving it to ferment for a few weeks until it turns into a slightly sweet, slightly tart beverage that’s separated from the SCOBY and bottled.
What is a SCOBY?
SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Which is exactly what it is - a slimy clump of yeast and bacteria. It reminds me of a wet, slimy ear… very alien-like, actually. Or like, a fish eyeball…in case you ever poked at those as a kid.
Is Kombucha good for you?
There is a lack of human trials and scientific evidence when it comes to determining the health benefits of kombucha (source). That being said, kombucha does contain probiotics which are beneficial for the body.