Change the world Wednesday

We only have on planet.

We only have on planet.

This week I am again following Reduce Footprints and the Change the World Wednesday challenge. For some this challenge could be very hard to handle, for me this one is easy as both parts of the challenge are part of my every day life. Instead of choosing an option I thought I would show how I made the changes to get to where I am.
This weeks challenges are:

Option 1: This week drive less, or not at all. Consider walking or bicycling. Plan out trips so that the least mileage accomplishes the most. Plan at least one day when you leave the car parked and perhaps stay at home. Avoid quick trips to the market or driving your kids around when they could walk. If you must make a trip, consider public transportation and carpooling with a friend.

Option 2: This week, for at least one day go vegan or vegetarian. Yep, meatless for a day….longer if you can. Search the internet for great recipes, you’ll also find wonderful dishes (tried and tested) right here on this blog

OR: if you are an Eco-Superstar, do both activities….perhaps for the whole week.

At one time both portions of this challenge would have seemed impossible to me, but not anymore.

We're off on another family walk.

We’re off on another family walk.

The biggest struggle for me in giving up my car was that loved both driving and the convenience of having my own car. But as the price of owning a car rose I began to cut back on my use of the car until the expense of owning it was greater than the cost of gasoline. I knew my needs were few and if an item couldn’t be found locally either I didn’t really need it or could acquire it by using public transportation or by shopping online.

My town is easy to navigate without a car.

My town is easy to navigate without a car.

The only problem I had concerned how I would visit my son who lived out of town. I took an average of 6 trips per year which totaled 1200 miles on the car. After much thought I gifted my son, who lives nearby, with the car on the condition that I could borrow it for these trips. Once that was decided I felt a huge burden lifted from my life and couldn’t be happier with my decision. I get much more fresh air, have met many friendly people, and was just told this week by my granddaughter that riding in a car is boring, walking is more fun. Hopefully she will remember these walks and not rush to have a car when she is of age.

Boys will still be boys.

Boys will still be boys.

Making the transition to a vegan diet from the typical SAD lifestyle I grew up with was in some ways harder than giving up my car. I first eliminated animal products from my diet in 1986, a time when in my area the term vegan was basically unknown and to be a vegetarian was akin to belonging to a cult. I made the choice based on my health not knowing if it would help but knowing I had to try.

I began by making little changes to foods I ate regularly. Chili could no longer have meat in it, but a bowl of beans and tomato sauce just didn’t work. I began to add rice into the bean mixture and found it added just the right texture to allow me to enjoy a bowl of chili again. After that I began to add vegetables to dishes to give more flavor. Onions were so often used that I was certain I could almost smell onions from my pores.

I learned vegetables tasted much better freshly picked.

I learned vegetables tasted much better freshly picked.

I experimented with faux meats and other commercial foods but due to the cost quickly gave up on that. Today I am not a true vegan. I occasionally eat eggs and will even allow myself a dab of butter. Honey is something I can’t see myself eliminating as it has plenty of medicinal properties, but I don’t use it every day. My meals are now very different from what I knew previously, they are simple yet satisfying.

Have you cut down how often you drive or changed your diet? Will you be joining in with this weeks challenge?

31 thoughts on “Change the world Wednesday

    • Alex, I never thought I would see the day when I would be happy not to own a car, but I am. I saw a car as a way to have security from standing on street corners alone waiting for a bus. Now I love the freedom and being closer to nature by not having one any longer.

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  1. Love your solution for the car! In fact, I was once the beneficiary of such a scheme: my parents bought a car, left it with me, but took it on extended camping trips when they were in the country. Later, when my children were born and my parents moved to around the corner, we shared that same car, and did a lot of trips, grocery shopping, etc. together. As the idea of Sustainable Towns and TransitionTowns spread, I’m hopeful that transportation alternatives to the car will spring up everywhere.

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  2. Love your post … and love the great discussions that followed. So often green living is about balance and making the effort wherever we can. You’re an Eco-Superstar and do so much. But even the small efforts … people who reduce their driving instead of giving it up or eat a few meatless meals instead of going vegan … do so much to help the earth. Thanks to you and all your readers for such great efforts!

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    • Thank you, Small footprints. I enjoy your challenges, one week like this one, I can feel good about where I am….the next I find myself seeing areas that need improvement and am thankful it was brought to my attention.

      I have the greatest readers here. Everyone is so conscious of their impact and each is trying to lower their footprint, I learn so much from them. I agree, every small effort is one that helps.

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  3. We have two cars at our house for two people, so not so good on that front. However, Rom rarely drives and now uses a bus pass instead. We drive to work together and combine errands. So, some improvement. We have been veggie people for a year, and are not quite as dependent on dairy as we were at first, so a vegan diet doesn’t seem so extreme.

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    • Dar, you and Rom are so inspirational. I enjoyed hearing your story of going vegetarian. You even maintained your eating while on vacation!

      downing 2 cats isn’t as important as whether you stop to think before jumping in a car and your efforts to carpool, Rom using public transportation, all make a huge impact.

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  4. I wish I could give up my car, but unfortunately I live out on a peninsula and there is only a convenience store (and not even within walking distance). I would never make it grocery shopping! But I am trying to eat a healthier vegetarian lifestyle. My husband is excited about it as he already is concerned about his red meat consumption. So I’m getting pretty creative with salads, soups and grains. We haven’t crossed the tofu line yet – we’ll see how that goes! :)

    Lovely post!

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    • Kelly, I never could have given up my car if I hadn’t moved back to town so I can definitely understand your reliance on yours.

      I think its great you are trying out new foods and recipes to lower your reliance on animal foods. I enjoy soups which I think I will make today as its cold and rainy. I have eaten a few things with tofu, but have yet to try a recipe with tofu at home. Love to hear your experience if you do try it.

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  5. Having to walk Ruby everyday is terrific for getting me to walk to places instead of driving, it’s really my main form of exercise. I was totally vegetarian for a few years but became very thin and lacking in energy. I know this doesn’t happen to everyone though and I was careful to eat lots of beans and nuts. Since I had chemo, I have discovered I have to eat chicken, fish or eggs a couple of times a week or I have extreme tiredness. On the days we don’t eat meat, I love to eat soup with beans or lentils or chickpeas or we’ll have an egg based dish with lots of fresh salads.

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  6. I just started driving 6 years ago at 48, not about to give that up because I love it, and because there is no transport into town from here. I only go once a week now and love being at home pottering, feel no need to go anywhere. For many years I harboured a desire to drive the length of our island on a horse and cart, just for the experience….wouldn’t do it now though, too many weirdos out there!

    Was vegetarian for many years, vegan for less than a year, but never felt 100 % healthwise, just eat a little meat now and vego twice a week.

    Great you gave your son your car and that you can borrow it :)

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    • I think you earned the right to drive waiting so long to learn! I was itching for a license and car before I even reached that magical age of 16. You have done so much to lessen your impact on the earth driving once a week is pretty negligible in terms of doing damage.

      I wonder some days how we can all have the same parts making us up but have such different needs when it comes to diet. We have to eat what makes us feel healthy. I’ve heard many who feel worse on a 100% vegetarian or vegan diet and vice versa.

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      • :) My first husband didn’t believe I would be a very good driver, too nervous etc lol. When he died I had a car sitting in a garage and my son took me out a few times. Then I met Roger and he taught me, it’s very liberating!!

        Apparently on the blood type type I should be vegetarian, dairy free etc – tried it all just eat a little of everything now but mainly fruit and veg, Seems to be suiting me. We shop pretty much on our doorstep so I reckon we’re doing alright :)

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        • i have 2 daughters-in-law who never wanted to drive and have issues with anxiety when driving in the cities. I’m glad you had patient people to teach you.

          I read the blood type diet many years ago and found I was supposed to est a vegetarian diet, I had already switched my eating to vegan at that point so I found it funny.

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  7. I’m chuckling about how you loved driving but gave it up, and I HATE it, but can’t give it up entirely just now. I still drive only around 1000 miles per year, and the vast majority of it is for my cats. If I didn’t have to haul their food & litter, and take them to the vet, and drive across town to get medicine, I could see going car free, but I don’t think it would be cost effective at this point. Maybe someday… I’ve actually heard that a new car sharing service is coming to Denver and that they might actually include my neighborhood this time, so perhaps there is hope on that front.

    I’ve been around the block with the vegetarian thing more times than I can count, and I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that a person who is allergic to almost all seeds & nuts, has to limit legumes & milk products, and can’t eat soy or anything fermented, is just never gonna make it as a vegetarian! I still hate the whole idea of eating meat, but I’m just soooo much happier and healthier when I do.

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    • Cat, how funny that you hate driving, but I have to tell you I hated driving in Denver, along with LA, St Louis and a few other big cities. I like the open road and small towns much better.

      I don’t think there will ever be one diet that fits all. I can’t drink certain alcoholic beverages or eat much from animals or I end up in the hospital with kidney complications. You’ve mentioned your allergies before but I had bo idea how extensive they were, must be hard checking for that list of possible ingredients before taking a bite.

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  8. well, you have done so well, Lois…

    We, have made steps (in the right direction)…In fact, from fifteen years ago, huge changes, in what we eat. From when I was married thirty some yrs ago, huge. (when we got married my husband did not eat vegetables… I would make them, and he didn’t eat them. Finally I asked him why he didn’t eat them, as he had at his Mom’s. He replied, oh no, she always made them, but he always just pretened to take them…sigh)..Any way, now he is a huge veggie eater, and we all eat much less meat..I think we have quite often gone many days without meat…

    Driving, well, we have gotten quite good at plotting out (in our minds) a number of errands, and usually managing a sort of circle..Does save some gas.

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    • Lynn, your husband cracks me up. What a great actor he was if even you thought he was eating the veggies at his mother’s home. I didn’t eat many myself when I was younger now I love them. You have really come a long way.

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  9. I gave up driving a few years back due to cost. In Canada, a vehicle makes a big difference, especially if you live in rural areas or far from family (I’ve always lived far from towns as much as possible and far from family due to circumstances; our family is quite far-flung). I would never have a car; too single-purpose for me. I prefer an extended truck so i have secure cargo space and can move myself or others when needed, pick up animal feed (no animals at present, but I hope in future), in some cases move animals, too. But I’d consider vehicle-sharing with someone I knew well and trusted. Just now, I live over 12 hours drive from my youngest son (in Vancouver, BC) and quite a bit more from my older son (on Saltspring Island, part of the Gulf Islands between Vancouver city on the mainland and Vancouver Island). Busing is expensive and takes much longer and the trains are more expensive yet and not that frequent.

    What I really prefer (and used until I was nearly 30, when I finally gave up and learned to drive) is horses. But it’s not as safe to ride beside the highways now; drivers aren’t educated and many act dangerously, thinking it’s funny to spook your mount. Maybe if I end up in the woods near a small village one day . . .

    As to food, I’ve been eating as healthily as possible since my early 20s, although that altered at times due to financial constraints. I rarely ate meat for many years; now, living with my Mum and Aunty in their suites, I eat mostly what they do, with more veggies, though. I recently began making and using kefir, which I love in smoothies and use for baking when the temperature permits. So far, so good, but 30+C is coming! I used to make my own yogourt and breads, but we have no space and I don’t have a place of my own, so for now that’s on hold. The kefir jars sit on top of the fridge and don’t get in the way, so that’s been good.

    Like you, I don’t fuss when offered foods I don’t eat by choice; I just bless them, eat them and let it go. So far, that works well for me. To me, people are most important.

    As to the challenge, I’ll re-blog this in case some of my followers are interested, too. I couldn’t get the link to work, but that may be temporary. So I’ll just re-blog your post. I can’t cut down on driving; I have an annual bus pass and walk when possible. If I need to go somewhere that’s hard to get to on the bus, a friend will always take me. And as to food, I will go meatless for a couple of days, but not ’til after Tuesday night, when I will be back upstairs at my Mum’s place. My Aunty eats best when I eat with her and eat mostly the same as she does. She’s 93, has mild dementia and has lost weight (she was skinny to begin with, so really needs to eat as well as possible). No issues when I’m up at Mum’s; she’s used to my bigger veggie intake. So next week it is.

    Thanks so much for sharing this; I think it’s worth doing, or at least thinking about. ~ Linne

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    • Linne, how do you get around now being so far out? How great you were able to get around with horses for so long. I met a woman a few years back that was traveling the country side, just her and two horses, one to carry her the other her few supplies. I thought that would be a wonderful trip, but wondered if she had found any ignorant people who tried to spook her horses.

      Yes, people are the most important thing in the world, but at the same time my health is important too so I try to go easy on foods my body doesn’t like.

      I hadn’t realized you were a caregiver for family members, that is a very hard thing to do and I commend you for being there for your mother and aunt. Take care of yourself too.

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  10. I don’t drive nearly as much as I used to. I also plan my outings to be the most efficient in miles and often go days without even leaving home. Good thing I like being at home. I often make my own bean salad with different types of beans together and also add green or other peppers and onions and an Italian type dressing. A friend buys bean salad by the gallon at Costco.

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    • Hi, Nancy. I love brans done almost anyway and in the winter months use them in plenty of soups. I find I enjoy being at home also, being that we make our homes to fit our needs and personalities for me, at least, it’s where i am most comfortable. After years of having to be some where it’s nice to be home.

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  11. Inspirational – given that you admit you loved driving! There is something liberating about being able to drive, but there’s so many great side benefits from walking too. I don’t think I realised you were vegetarian/almost vegan, keep on learning things here!

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    • Sarsh I really do miss the fun I had driving before the environmental concerns came to my attention, I used to race as well, cars we a part of my identity.

      Yes i eat a mostly vegan diet, but if i am at someones home i dont make a big deal of it and will eat what is offered. Animal foods don’t agree with me much after all this time.

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