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May 05.31

A Vegan Challenge: My Ghost-free Journey Journal

Posted In: Charity Pot

This month, 30 LUSH employees from around Vancouver teamed up to take a ghost-free journey with our Charity Pot partners, The Ghosts in our Machine.

A ghost-free journey is an introduction to a vegan lifestyle, with coaches to help answer any questions that come up along the way, and an online forum to discuss anything and everything. The goal is to encourage everyone taking the journey to think critically about the choices that you make when it comes to what you eat, what you wear, and what you purchase, and to provide support for any challenges that might pop up. The journey lasts 5 days, and if you want to continue after that, you can. Because we had such a large group, our team organized a few extra events, including a pot luck lunch, a trip to a local vegan shoe store, and a big group dinner together at the end of the fourth night. I was nervous and excited to participate, and I am so glad that I did!

Here’s what happened on my journey:

Day 0 (Sunday night): Tomorrow is the first day of my ghost-free journey, and I want to make sure I’m ready! I plan to start where it’s easy: my LUSH stash! Looks like my Veganese, Blousey, and Snow Fairy are good to go, but my Cosmetic Lad and Love Lettuce are going to be on hold for the week. I never realized how much I take LUSH’s stance against animal testing for granted: I have a few non-LUSH products in my medicine cabinet that don’t contain animal ingredients, but I have no idea whether they’ve been tested on animals! Off to Google I go.

Day 1 (Monday): So far so good. I made a yummy quinoa pasta with sautéed vegetables and salad for dinner, and chocolate peanut butter cookies for the group potluck we had today. I’m glad that there are some experienced vegetarians and vegans in the group – there was some amazing food there! Everything from eggless egg salad to Chana masala to some amazing desserts: I was so full! Definitely the best lunch I’ve had in a while. Spent about 45 minutes online searching for vegan candies, desserts and snacks – definitely a weak spot for me! Luckily there are lots of choices, and some veteran vegans I can ask for help.

Day 2 (Tuesday): This afternoon was a trip to Nice Shoes, a vegan shoe store in East Vancouver. I spent some time thinking about the non-vegan items in my wardrobe – everything from silk to wool to leather, and the idea that “real” materials are higher quality than synthetics. It’s a belief I have held for so long, and going back and questioning where it came from, and whether it’s even true was really difficult – I feel like so many things I have taken for granted are being questioned right now. I feel shaken up, and I am so grateful I don’t have to do this alone.

Day 3 (Wednesday): Today our group had a discussion about animals in captivity: pets and zoos and aquariums and circuses. Should our pets be vegan (and should we have pets at all?)? I feel so torn – there are obviously serious problems with the pet industry – puppy mills, abused and abandoned animals, people treating animals like possessions, accessories, and commodities. At the same time, I can’t imagine my life without animals. I also can’t imagine feeding my dog a vegan diet. Should I be imposing my lifestyle choices on her? If it were up to her, she would absolutely keep eating meat. It also had me questioning my childhood visits to zoos, and even my visits as an adult to aquariums and wildlife parks. What about going to a zoo to see an animal that you would never get to otherwise? Is there such a thing as ethical treatment of animals in captivity? How do we encourage people to connect with and care about wildlife and conservation without being able to see it? More assumptions I have taken for granted are being questioned. Being ghost-free is so much more than skipping cream in my coffee!

Day 4 (Thursday): This evening was a group dinner at Graze, a newly opened vegan restaurant in Vancouver. We had the chance to discuss how the week had been going so far, and challenges we had run into. Food is such a social experience for me: going out to eat, sharing a meal with someone, and even bringing a coworker a coffee in the morning. This week has been different. I feel so lucky that I have friends that are taking the journey, and I know any treats they offer me are ghost-free, but it’s making me so aware of how difficult this must be for someone facing it on their own: every ingredient needs to be considered, every bite, every moment. Our office has Snack Club on Thursdays, and every week it’s up to someone to bring in treats for everyone. I had never even considered offering a vegan option in the past, I’m ashamed to admit – it had never even crossed my mind to list the ingredients of everything offered. Luckily, the team in charge of Snack Club this week offered some vegan options, and marked clearly which treats were ghost-free, and I could snack to my heart’s content. But I will be aware next week when it’s my turn to provide the snacks that there are options for everyone!

Day 5 (Friday): Today is the last official day of the journey. When I started, I wasn’t sure whether I would be continuing. I have eaten some amazing food, spent time with some amazing people, and had a chance to reflect on my footprint. I’m left feeling so inspired and impressed by everyone on this journey with me, and so grateful to have had support. I think my short-term plan will be to finish up what's currently in my fridge – I’ve got some cheese, and eggs, and a few other products containing dairy in there, and from there, cut back on the amount of animal products and byproducts I consume, and be considerate of the source: buying local, buying organic, buying free-range.

I know that going ghost-free is more than just being vegan – there are human ghosts in the machine to consider, and environmental aspects too, as well as making sure that what I’m consuming is good for me (Oreos are vegan, but that doesn’t make eating an entire bag of them for dinner a good decision!). I’ve signed up for a local organic delivery service for my produce, and will be visiting farmer’s markets to try to keep everything as local as possible. My dog will continue eating meat, but I will make sure to find the food with the most local and ethical ingredients I can find. I will definitely think twice about my choices as a consumer, and will be putting my money where my heart is from now on.