- Do you think being vegan is a necessary step for a zero waste lifestyle?
- Is is more difficult or easier to live zero waste when you are vegan?
- Do you supplement vitamin B12?
- Is there a zero waste option for plant-based milk?
- What blender do you use to make your plant-based milk?
- What is the zero waste vegan butter substitute of your choice?
- What about zero waste vegan whipped cream?
- What about zero waste vegan cheese substitute products?
Do you think being vegan is a necessary step for a zero waste lifestyle?
For me, being vegan and living a zero waste lifestyle are both part of something bigger: trying to not live at the expense of others. Both concepts do complement each other well, but also have a very different focus. For most vegans, it is about treating animals ethically and to not support animal cruelty. It might not be about the environmental impact of factory farming. Neither do I condemn zero wasters who buy animal products, since the focus of zero waste lies in eliminating the plastic and non-recyclable waste generated and NOT, as many assume, to live a zero impact life. It is a very individual choice, and sometimes only a matter of where to start from. There are many options to reduce one’s impact on the earth: go for what suits the most your lifestyle!
Recently, it has come to my attention that many non-vegan zero wasters have gotten some hateful mails or comments because they (still) consume animal products. This really makes me so so sad. Of course animal products also have a horrible carbon and water footprint, but quite frankly, zero waste is primarily about shrinking your footprint by reducing trash. People still drive cars, travel, and yes, some still consume animal products. Telling zero wasters they are unethical because they consume animal products is like telling vegans they are not real vegans because they still buy products packaged in plastic or things that contain palm oil – both of which are not only very harmful to the environment, but also endanger animals!
Besides, zero wasters aren't the real problem here. All non-vegan zero wasters I know only eat little meat, eggs, or dairy products exactly because they care about the environment, and in fact, most meals they consume are vegan anyway! Nobody is perfect. So some try to do good by cutting out trash from their daily routines, some by cutting out animal products. It's a different focus, but we all want the same thing: Making this planet a better place.
More in my article "Am I a Bad Zero Waster if I Am Not Vegan (or the Other Way around)?"
Is is more difficult or easier to live zero waste when you are vegan?
It really depends. As a vegan, I don't have to argue at the counter to get them to put my meat or cheese in my own container. However, I also don't get my "dairy products" like plant-based milk or vegan yogurt in a glass bottle or jar, but have to make my own. Which is fine, really, because I don't like yogurt and oats milk is made in less than 30 seconds anyway.
Do you supplement vitamin B12?
Yes, we take a vitamin B12 supplement, but as with everything, we try to reduce the waste we create as much as possible. We take these Jarrow lozenges because they are 100 lozenges per bottle and highly dosed (1000 µg) and absorbed by dissolving them in your mouth. So we take one every 3-4 days and really keep it in our mouths instead of chewing and swallowing them.
This way we need 2 bottles per year (we only have 1 in our trash jar because my husband wasn't taking them properly). One of my Instagram followers did tell me that HealthAid (at least I think it was HealthAid) had vitamin B12 supplements (also 1000 µg) in glass instead of plastic bottles. I looked it up and their bottles come with 50 or 100 tablets each. However, the pictures either only showed the paper packaging or you couldn't really tell if the brown bottle was glass or plastic. We will definitely try to get our hands on some when we have gone through our supply (which is still 1.5 bottles...).
Update January 2022: Our local health food bulk store now sells vitamin B12 as a liquid supplement in glass bottles. One bottle lasts the two of us more than a year. So far, we are on our second bottle. In the beginning I used to take the supplement according to the description on the bottle.
At our annual blood test (we try to get our blood tested once a year to make sure we don't have any deficiencies) it turned out my vitamin B12 levels were actually too high, even though they were at a medium level the year before! My GP told me to quit supplementing B12 for half a year and then restart at a much lower dose. My partner Hanno's levels were quite high, too, but he was at the lower end the year prior. So we dialed down the dose to about a third of the recommendation.
Is there a zero waste option for plant-based milk?
Plant-based milk is probably one of the easiest things to make yourself! You do need a decent blender though. I usually go for 7-10 g of whatever base (soy, nuts, oats) per 100 ml water.
- Soak for 4 hours if you want to use soy or nuts. I am lazy, so I don't necessarily pre-soak the nuts. But I also have a powerful blender.
- Soy only: Boil in water for 20 minutes.
- Blend with water for 30 seconds. Add some ice cubes for oats milk to prevent it getting slimy.
- Strain or if you are as lazy as I am, don't and enjoy the extra nutrients. I never strain for: Using the milk in cereals or baking. I sometimes strain for: Guests (especially when offering it with coffee LOL), or when I make myself a matcha latte.
My favorites vegan milk options are:
- Oats – they are a local product (in Germany), cheap, nutrient-dense, have a neutral taste, and above all: super convenient! No pre-soaking, no pre-cooking. It only takes me 1 minute to make oats milk – and that includes taking the ingredient out of the pantry... 90% of the plant-based milk I use is oats-based.
- Walnuts – they are a local product (in Germany), you can even go pick some in forests or parks, I love the taste, and they don't necessarily require pre-soaking.
- Almonds – I just love the taste, but they are not regional here, so we have reduced our consumption of almonds drastically. Do note that almond milk tastes a lot better when the almonds are pre-soaked (at least in my opinion).
- Raw peanuts – I just love the taste, but nope, not local either 🙁. You should pre-soak, but you don't have to cook them like soy beans. However, if you are like me and you get a mild allergic reaction to raw peanut milk (as I do to most nuts and pollen), you can try to boil the peanuts for 20 mins.
What blender do you use to make your plant-based milk?
We have a Vitamix blender. But you can also make plant-based milk in other blenders, if you soak the nuts for a few hours before blending. For oat milk I suggest you use rolled oats, then you won't need to pre-soak them even using a less powerful blender.
What is the zero waste vegan butter substitute of your choice?
I don't use vegan butter, margerine or shortening because it usually contains palm oil, and organic palm oil ≠ sustainable. Some organic brands don't use palm oil, but – no surprises here – they are not plastic-free in their packaging.
Many readers have sent me recipes and tips for vegan butter substitutes, ranging from using coconut oil as a substitute or recipes mixing cocoa oil with other oils. Both are great and healthy oils, however, they had to be imported from the other side of the globe!
have been blogging about vegan baking for 5 years, and I have found that I don't really need a solid fat for making all sorts of super yummy amazing cakes, muffins, cookies, or whatever! I am good with sticking to locally produced canola oil, and even though I did love working with butter cream when it comes to cake decorating, I have never really liked the taste to be honest.
What about zero waste vegan whipped cream?
I have never used a lot of whipped cream, not even pre-zero-waste, maybe once a year. So not really a big loss here. I do know there are recipes out there for homemade vegan whipped cream, but have never had the urge to test any of them.
What about zero waste vegan cheese substitute products?
I have never seen any vegan cheese substitute products that were not covered in plastic. There are many great recipes out there for homemade vegan cheese. We have only tried making vegan cheese once or twice though because we hardly ever crave cheese.