Vegetarianism and veganism aim to lead an ethical lifestyle. What difficulties and surprises await us along the way? Leo Hickman, a correspondent for Britain’s largest newspaper The Guardian, spent a whole year living with his family as ethically as possible, and not only in terms of diet, but on three points at once: food, the impact of lifestyle on the environment and dependence on mega-corporations.
The experiment promised to be even more interesting, since Leo has a wife and three children of preschool age – they were all alarmed and intrigued by the experiment that the father of the family signed up for (and willy-nilly also took part in it)!
We can immediately say that Leo managed to realize his plans, although, of course, there is no certain indicator of “success” or “failure”, because, by and large, there is not much ethics in the way of life! The main thing is that looking back at the year of the experiment, Leo does not regret anything – and to a certain extent he managed to maintain even now the standard, the way of life that he adopted for the purpose of the study, for the duration of the experiment.
During the year of “ethical living”, Leo wrote the book “Naked Life”, the main idea of which is how paradoxically that although the opportunity to live ethically exists, and everything we need is right under our noses, yet the majority chooses an unethical life, due to their inertia and laziness. At the same time, Leo notes that in recent years, society has become more focused on recycling, more vegetarian products have become available, and some important aspects of vegan nutrition (for example, getting weekly “farmers’ baskets”) have become much easier to deal with.
So, when Leo faced the task of starting to eat ethically, live with minimal harm to the biosphere, and, if possible, get out from under the “cap” of large corporations and retail chains. The life of Leo and his family was observed by three independent environmental and nutrition experts, who noted his successes and failures, and also advised the whole family on the most difficult issues.
Leo’s first challenge was to start eating in an environmentally friendly way, including purchasing only those foods that don’t carry a lot of product miles. For those not in the know, the term “product mile” refers to the number of miles (or kilometers) a product had to travel from a grower’s garden to your home. This, first of all, means that the most ethical vegetable or fruit is grown as close as possible to your home, and certainly in your country, and not somewhere in Spain or Greece, because. transporting food means emissions into the atmosphere.
Leo found that if he buys food at a nearby supermarket, it is very difficult to minimize the use of food packaging, food waste, and eliminate food grown with pesticides, and in general, supermarkets do not allow commercial development of small farms. Leo managed to solve these problems by ordering the delivery of seasonal local farm vegetables and fruits directly to the house. Thus, the family managed to become independent from the supermarket, reduce the use of food packaging (everything is wrapped in cellophane several times in supermarkets!), start eating seasonally and support local farmers.
With eco-friendly transport, the Hickman family also had a harder time. At the beginning of the experiment, they lived in London, and traveled by tube, bus, train, and bicycle. But when they moved to Cornwall (whose landscape does not lend itself to cycling), willy-nilly, they had to buy a car. After much deliberation, the family chose the most environmentally friendly (compared to gasoline and diesel) alternative – a car with an engine running on liquefied petroleum gas.
After consulting with other ethical families, they found the electric car too expensive and inconvenient. Leo believes that a gas car is the most practical, economical and at the same time moderately environmentally friendly mode of transport for urban and rural life.
As for finances, having calculated his expenses at the end of the year, Leo estimated that he spent about the same amount of money on a normal, not “experimental” life, but the expenses were distributed differently. The biggest expense was the purchase of farm food baskets (while eating “plastic” vegetables and fruits from the supermarket is noticeably cheaper), and the biggest savings was the decision to use rag diapers instead of disposable diapers for the youngest daughter.