Conscious living

Conscious living is a very widespread topic and can refer to a lot of different areas of life. I finished my masters degree in environmental sciences and gained most of my understanding about conscious living through my studies. With small changes in our own behaviour, which most of the time are really easy to integrate into everyday life, it is possible for each and every one of us to change more than we think. After all we live on a planet, that, like every other system, can only bear a certain amount of weight until it collapses. So it is our job to keep our environment and our ecosystem in general intact as long as possible.

The starting point of my own consideration concerning conscious living was my own diet. I have been a vegetarian since I was 14 years old but this diet became more and mpre some kind of habit and not so much a conscious decision that I really questioned. Then some allergies were diagnosed and I started to really think about nutrition and food in general. I started to develop an understanding for the impact the products we consume have on our body and our environment.

So why vegan?

The vegan diet does not contain any products that originate from animals. There are numerous reasons  to become a vegan. The conditions in animal farming are horriblle for the animals and most of the time also for people working in the industry, there are health benefits from vegan food and there are also the negative influences live stock and the meat industry in general has on our environment.

That climate change is happening is a known scientific fact and we hear a lot in the media about CO2 emissions and fossil fuels being the cause of it. But not only CO2 plays a major part when it comes to the human impact on climate change. There are also other greenhouse gases that have a significant influence. The most important ones being methane and nitrous oxide. The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed in 2005 that the global rise of those two gases was mostly caused by the increased food requirements and the therefore intensified agriculture. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which drafts up the current state of knowledge concerning climate change on a regular basis, published numbers in 2007 that made clear that our agriculture worldwide was responsible for 60% of the nitrous gas emissions and 50% of methane emissions in 2005 (IPCC, 2007). So each and every food product we consume is responsible for a certain amount of emission but the difference between products is immense. Animal farming and dairy production produces by far the highest emission amongst all products when comparing kg of product. In genereal livestock breeding emits 7,1 Gt CO2 equivalent every year according to the FAO, which accounts for 14,5% of total antropogenous emissions. The lions share of these emissions is caused by cattle breeding with 65% of the 7,1 Gt of CO2 equivalent.

When we consciously consider these numbers the logic conclusion is that the less animal products we consume the less emissions are caused by the food we buy. From my point of view it does not have to be a question of all or nothing for everyone but the more often we take an active decision for a product that was produced without the involovement of animals and therefore a less emissionintensive product the more emissions we save and the more we gain as a society.

And why glutenfree?

In western civilization the consumption of white flour and especially wheat increased by enormous amounts in the last decades. On the one hand this excessive consumption is a problem for our body and on the other hand the amount of gluten in the grains we consume is far higher than it used to be. In earlier times there was a variety of different grains and also of different types of wheat. To ones that are still somehow known today are einkorn wheat, emmer and kamut. The standard though is highly processed wheat that was bred to have a high amount of gluten to have the perfect features in baking. The result of that development is that our bodies have to deal with that unnaturally high count of gluten in the wheat products we consume each and every time we eat them. Therefore my first advice is to alternate different grain types and to go for wholemeal as often as possible. To counteract the overexcitement of our system by gluten I do think that it also makes sense for people without celiac disease or an allergy to wheat or gluten to decide for a glutenfree alternative from time to time. Nature gave us a variety of grains that naturally do not contain any gluten and its good for our body to have nutritional variety. So why not go for rice, millet, buckwheat or even amaranth or quinoa every once in a while?

So every product we buy has an impact and we are faced with a lot of decisions everyday concerning the products we buy. So I go for ecological products, the regional alternative and is this vegetable seasonal at the moment? These are just some of the questions we are faced with. Sometimes we actively consider some of them but on other days we just consume whatever we crave at the moment. So I am trying to think aout the consequences I am causing by my actions as often as possible and I want to mativate you to try and do the same. It sure can be fun to learn about seasonality of vegetables and rebuilding a relationship to our food as modern day society seems to have lost it throughout the way.

So with this blog I would like to give some suggestions to live your life in a more consious way little by little. From our own nutrition to waste issues, conscious consumption in general and how we deal with energy there are many interesting topics to talk about. It always starts with our personal consciousness. Only then we can chnage our behaviour and start taking action one step at a time towards a more coscious way of living.