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Max La Manna On Veganism and Cutting Down On Waste

The pro-planet author and social media superstar shows us how to eat well with minimum waste...

Max La Manna On Veganism and Cutting Down On Waste

To be honest, veganism was a struggle in the beginning, until I researched different cookbooks and found deliciouslooking food which tasted amazing, too. We definitely eat with all of our senses, not just with our taste buds. More Plants Less Waste is a catchy title – I believe in order to reduce our impact on the planet, and carbon emissions, we need to do exactly what the book title suggests.

I grew up in an Italian-French household, where my parents instilled the idea that food should never be wasted. My siblings and I had to eat everything on our plates, or we would save leftovers for the next day. As I got older, I didn’t care where my food went, and never correlated or questioned the amount of food we waste, until one day when I was on my way home from work, I met a man begging for food. The food we waste leaves a huge impact on our planet – there are roughly one billion starving people on the planet, and in the UK alone we waste roughly £60 on food per month. Food that is wasted is not just wasted food – it’s wasted money, transportation, energy, water, land, packaging, and so much more.

To find my inspiration, I look at recipes and challenge myself to make them completely zero-waste. No packaging means no waste. It takes a matter of seconds to shift my focus and go ‘OK, I can do this’. What can I do with this broccoli stalk? What about these lemon peels? It’s a fun challenge that keeps me creative in the kitchen.

I believe that we have to be optimistic when it comes to the environment. We’re not going to change overnight – at the moment, it looks like it’s going to be a long and slow battle, but it doesn’t have to be. This isn’t ‘me versus you’ or ‘us versus the planet we live on’; we should all strive to understand how interconnected we are: the decisions we make are important for the planet’s survival. We have currently used up all of our planet’s resources for this year, and are tapping into our reserves. The Earth has a limit of what it can produce, so we should all make an effort to cut down on our consumption.

Sustainability can easily be factored into daily life. I look at everything I consume, and consider how it creates an impact. If I want to buy a T-shirt, I wonder: where was it made? Who made it? Is it a sustainable product? Will I love it or will I end up throwing it away? Everything we consume has an impact on us and every living being on this planet. We need to start showing appreciation and understand the value of the things we have, as we’ll then appreciate and value our own lives and those of others, too.

If you’re finding it tough to cut down on waste, the first thing to do is to accept that there is an issue. Spend some time considering the fact that we are facing a climate crisis, and you have the gift of deciding what you can do as an individual to limit your contribution to this. I’m a firm believer in the idea that making even a small change is going to create a big impact. So, what is that change for you? Is it single-use plastic, food waste, or flying? Make one small change to begin with, and you’ll slowly increase your eco credentials!

I think food should be two things – simple and delicious. I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking a meal that I will eat in 15 minutes. I love pasta, and I often cook it with steamed vegetables for a meal that’s easy and tastes great. I definitely believe that where possible, we should consider seasonality and shop locally. It reduces your carbon emissions, because we now live in a world where we can have mangoes from India and avocados from Mexico. I will occasionally still eat those foods, but it’s once in a while – eat locally, and you’ll eat sustainably.

I have a simple hack that helps me remain positive – turning my phone off on the weekends. What we are currently facing on this planet breaks my heart. Social media is a great tool for keeping up with the world, but I’m sure there are numerous issues going on that we have no clue is happening. We need to do our best, and some days are going to be better than others. To give my mind and body a break from it all, I simply turn off my phone on the weekends. I started an offline challenge called @48hourchallenge. Spend time in nature, go for a walk, read a book – we need to get back to nature and to the things humans truly love to do.

Max's Recipes...

1. Stems-and-all Green Burger

This hearty burger is a great way to use up any vegetables left in your fridge, and will leave you feeling full and content afterwards!

Max La Manna On Veganism and Cutting Down On Waste
Image: http://yellowkitebooks.co.uk

2. Spicy Cauliflower Walnut Meat

Filled tortillas packed with tasty goodness! What could be better? These make an exciting lunch or a light dinner; they're full of flavour, they're guaranteed to impress the most reluctant vegan!

Max La Manna On Veganism and Cutting Down On Waste
Image: http://yellowkitebooks.co.uk

3. Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

The ultimate treat, these are perfect for indulging at the weekend with a nice warm brew! They're easy to make, and will keep for a while in an airtight tin.

Max La Manna On Veganism and Cutting Down On Waste
Image: http://yellowkitebooks.co.uk

Looking for more vegan recipes? Fearne Cotton has some tasty plant-based offerings on the blog.