It’s Veganuary once again, an initiative that encourages people to embrace a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle for the month of January as a means to protect the environment, animals and human health. Veganuary began in 2014 and participation has doubled every year since. Last year, 400,000 signed up for the 2020 Veganuary challenge. If you’re committed to reducing your eco footprint this year undertaking the Veganuary challenge is an effective way to do this since the animal agriculture industry is a high carbon emitting sector.
Now most people assume that the vegan movement is only about eating a plant-based diet. However, veganism is more than just food. Making cruelty-free choices encompasses every aspect of life: fashion, household and even skincare and cosmetics.
One area that is often overlooked is wellness, and more specifically, herbalism.
While most industrialised nations rely on Western medicine to tackle healthcare, some are turning to traditional medicine. As people become increasingly disillusioned with the bandaid solutions offered by Big Pharma and the modern healthcare system, there is rising interest in natural medicine and holistic health as evidenced by the growing number of holistic medicine and herbalism courses on offer.
Herbalism is a lot of things but at its crux, is the study and use of plants for medicinal purposes; the aim is to treat and heal the physical and spiritual well-being of a person. This ancient practice allows people, practitioners and patients, to reconnect with nature and their spirituality in ways that today’s healthcare cannot.
Long before modern medicine, humans have long relied on medicinal plants and herbs to treat various ailments; herbalism is a part of the human story and is a universal practice. Today, thanks to the internet, a whole world of herbalism and medicinal plant knowledge is open to us; there is an abundance of online courses, schools, books and other educational resources to learn from.
The practice of herbalism today shows the fusion between indigenous wisdom and modern science because these days, we mostly apply herbalism in a conventional way, no matter how traditional it really is.
There are amazing herbalists who have devoted their life to nature and who help us learn how to embrace the magic and wonders of plants. Instagram can be a great way to discover these wonderful herbalists for wisdom and inspiration. Here are a few:
Behind the Dr. Jacqui Wilkins is a mixed Yakama Indigenous womxn, a naturopathy doctor and medicine maker. She has a medicine garden and herb farm in Ontario where she grows different varieties of plants and shares her gift of making medicines through her shop called Xalish Medicines.
She crafts each of her medicines with love, reverence and gratitude to offer healing. Through her gifts, you can take charge of your wellbeing and discover the sense of connection and appreciation with Mother Earth.
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Adriana Ayales is the founder of Anima Mundi Herbals. She is a rainforest herbalist and medicine maker from Costa Rica where she has been immersed in the practice of healing and herbalism from a young age. Her knowledge in ancient herbal traditions is deep and vast.
Adriana’s goal is to bring ancient healing traditions to the modern world to create a farm to pharmacy experience and sustainable healing practice while preserving the sanctity of indigenous botany.
She also offers a free herbalism course which focuses on indigenous plant medicines and rituals from the rainforest that will help you learn how to prepare powerful plant remedies for healing as well as to help you connect with your higher consciousness.
Amanda David is a community herbalist and the founder of Root Work Herbals. She offers herbal courses, consultations as well as plant medicines.
Root Work Herbals offers community herbalism certificate courses which empowers individuals to deepen their connection to nature and to fully embrace the medicinal properties in plants. Course participants will learn to make their own medicines and find the courage to share their herbalism knowledge and offer this healing service to their community.
This kind of vegan medicinal knowledge isn’t about solving health issues but creating a community of people who prioritise caring for nature and building relationships with plants and people based on respect and love so as to re-establish an environment of health and wellbeing.
Herbalism is a practice that has been with us since the dawn of civilisation and who knows, maybe going back and relearning indigenous wisdom might just heal all of us as well as the planet.
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Cover image by Tatjana Baibakova.