Series: Vegan Lives
By: Marissa P @Nourish_routes
Zion Lights is the author of the fabulous new book – “The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting“. Marissa caught up with her to chat about her writing, family life, being vegan and living lightly on the planet. website
Can you briefly tell us a little bit about yourself and your current lifestyle.
I’m author of The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting and the Contributing Editor of JUNO magazine. Have a passion for books, science and the environment. I home educate two young children, so I mostly work from home. Daytimes are filled with muddy adventures and making art and the usual parenting things (nap-times, cooking meals, etc). I also occasionally blog at The Huffington Post and have a blog called Sustainable Science: A Biodegradable Family’s Journey. Both my work and home life are a bit chaotic but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way!
If you could describe your personality in 3 words, what would these be?
Determined, passionate, joyful.
What are your 3 favourite foods that you couldn’t live without?
Pizza, burritos, and chocolate 😉
Where are your 3 favourite places to travel to?
Dartmoor in Devon (UK), Germany (South: Bavaria, Lindau; North: Berlin), South of France (especially Marseille), but I love discovering new places as well.
Tell us a little bit about what led you to becoming vegan and what your main motivations are for following a greener lifestyle.
I became vegan in 2003, but it wasn’t a sudden decision for me: I wanted to be vegetarian when I was a child, but my parents were concerned about meeting my nutritional needs, so they asked me to hold off until I was older. There was a lot less outreach on the issues pre-Internet. My main concern back then was animal welfare and rights issues, and I was an active campaigner in those areas. So while I couldn’t become vegetarian straight away, I became a young activist instead, doing things like writing to product manufacturers at the age of 12 asking them not to test on animals any more. Later on, I founded the first Vegetarian and Vegan society at my university which I’m proud to say is still going strong, organised the first ever vegetarian fair on campus, got the campus restaurant to cook a regular vegan option, and other things.
Back to the original story, I quit meat as soon as I left home, and then at university I made a vegan friend named Chris, and when he explained his veganism to me it made complete sense, so I made the switch from veggie to vegan overnight.
“Over time, veganism has, for me, become about the much wider issue of climate change and the way that meat and dairy products are impacting the local and global environment.”
That’s not to say that I no longer care about animals – I do of course – but I also see a bigger picture now where animals are becoming homeless and extinct because of human behaviour that is fuelling climate change. Living an environmentally-friendly lifestyle as far as possible is a part of the same issue – of climate change. That’s why I address the issue of diet in-depth in my book.
Have you experienced any benefits since becoming vegan, and if so, what are these?
The best thing for me has been the vegan community that I’ve become a part of over the years. Over time you realise how much you have in common in other areas as well, and it warms my heart to know some very ethically-minded, green, activist individuals. I just wish they all lived locally so we could have weekly vegan pot lucks at my house!
How have you found bringing up a family who also adopt a vegan lifestyle?
I’ve been asked about this many times and honestly, it hasn’t been a struggle to raise them as vegans, but then I was vegan for many years before having children so I wasn’t worried about meeting nutritional needs etc through a balanced vegan diet and nor do I think anyone should be.
Can you tell us a bit more about your new book called The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting, and what inspired you to write it?
The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting is a science-based non-fiction book of practical ways for parents to lower their climate impacts, from reducing reliance on driving to choosing more ethical meals, with the aim of helping people to make greener lifestyle choices that are based on scientific research.
I was inspired to write it by my own parenting experience – I found it impossible to research everything I needed to know as a new mother, and found that advice from other people was often unhelpful or even the complete opposite to what has actually been found to help with a specific parenting issue or be the most eco option.
I wrote the book to help other parents who might find themselves in the same position that I was in, and also to help them to raise children who will have to deal with the coming and increasing impacts of climate change. With baby steps we can change the world.
What have your experiences been since writing and publishing your book?
I’ve had a lot of great media coverage – a feature interview in The Telegraph, a book overview in The Observer – to name two recent examples. This is great because it means that people are aware that green/ethical parenting is an issue that needs tackling and that using science is a really good way to cut through the confusion and hysteria that surrounds parenting in general.
What I’ve really been surprised at though is the level of support from readers and reviewers of the book. I had some idea from the endorsements I received that the book would be well received generally, but I didn’t really anticipate just how many parents are worried about the issues our children face and want to know what they can do to help them out – and that they’d get in touch to tell me this, and to thank me!
Also, a number of non-parents have been in touch to commend the book – in fact the biggest criticism I’ve had so far is that it shouldn’t be called a parenting book because it’s relevant to non-parents too!
What would be your advice to other individuals looking to embark on a journey towards greener living or even writing their own book in relation to their compassionate lifestyle?
When you publish a book you work with a publisher and getting on with the team is important. So I advise any budding author to pick their publisher carefully. I’ve been reading books by New Internationalist Publications since my university days so I already respected them and wanted to work with them. Many of their employees are also open to discussing vegetarianism/veganism if they aren’t already veggie or vegan themselves, which made me feel that they really understood the book. They also have great ethics and, from what I’ve seen, will not put profit before ethics. But I’ve heard of other less ethical goings on even with small ‘green’ publishers, so if you contact one and get warning signs, listen to your intuition!
Where can you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Where do you see veganism as a lifestyle in the UK and/or globally in 10 years’ time?
“I think that veganism will continue to become more popular, because it makes sense…“
…but that it might also encompass wider issues surrounding debates that are happening now, around for example consumption of palm oil. I also think that lab-grown meat and entomophagy – eating insects – may come to replace factory farm meat as we quit our wasteful, cruel, and environmentally harmful agricultural and factory-farm practices altogether, which may mean that veganism needs to be newly defined to show what it stands for.
At this moment, name 1 to 3 things that you feel most grateful for in your life?
My family, my friends, my home.
Zion’s book is Published by New Internationalist and is out now – RRP £12.99
However, VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION Associates can get an amazing £5 discount and you can redeem this through our website here.
It’s FREE to join the Association here.
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GREEN PARENTING
By Zion Lights
Finding it impossible to find a resource that could help her raise her own children with minimal environmental impact, or at least one that wasn’t penned by researchers with vested interests, Zion Lights, journalist and science writer, decided to do the research herself. The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting is the result – a practical new book that provides parents with balanced and proven advice on how best to reduce their impact on the planet while taking into account the health and wellbeing of their children. Covering all of the essentials from giving birth to feeding, travel to entertainment, Lights clearly and concisely breaks down the science into manageable chunks, dispels popular myths and incorporates straightforward action plans and tips for helping families to take a more environmentally-friendly option.
978-1-78026-248-2 – PAPERBACK – £12.99
978-1-78026-249-9 – E-BOOK