When you think of a sustainable diet, do you think of bugs? Normally, we wouldn't. But this provocative post from our sponsors at Ecocleen did. It's so interesting, we wanted to share it with you.
It's clear to many people that as the world's population rapidly grows (it's expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2060), many aspects of our current way of life simply aren't sustainable. Our meat-intensive diet is just one of those things.
Enviro Impact of a Meat-Based Diet
Many people have become concerned about eating burgers, not only because they can be high in calories and saturated fat, but because producing meat takes a big toll on the environment. Let's start with 13 - that's the number of pounds of grain (5.9kg) needed to produce just one pound (450g) of meat. Meanwhile, it takes 11 times as much fossil fuel to make animal protein as the equivalent plant protein.
While many vegetarians believe that killing animals for meat is morally wrong, many also give up meat because of these environmental concerns. But while it's clear that we need to find a greener way of feeding ourselves in the future, the answer to our grumbling stomachs doesn't necessarily need to exclude animal matter.
Danielle Nierenberg of The Food Tank suggests 13 important ways we can reduce the environmental impact of growing, processing, marketing, and disposing of our food. Take a look at the list. I hope you'll add your own recommendations!
1) Eat more colors The colors of fruits and vegetables are signs of nutritional content. The American Cancer Societyreports that richly colored veggies like tomatoes can help prevent cancer and heart disease. Eggs that have brightly orange-colored yolks are also high in cancer-fighting carotenoids, and are more likely to be produced by healthier chickens.
2) Buy food with less packaging Discarded packaging makes up around one-third of all waste in industrialized countries, impacting the climate, and our air and water quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’sanalysisof different packaging for tomatoes found that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) clamshell packaging increases tomatoes’ associated carbon emissions by 10 percent. What's better? Choose foods you can buy in bulk, and bring your own bags - even to the produce aisle.
3) Choose seasonal produce Many farmers markets, including the New York City Greenmarkets, offerguidesabout which products are in season. Locally sourced, seasonal products can also be found at major grocery stores. Or sign up for a weekly CSA, which provides a mix of fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year. Other programs, such asSiren Fish Co.’s SeaSAin San Francisco, offer seasonal meats and seafood.
The Forum focused primarily on women because women spend 85
cents of every dollar in the marketplace – and we’re not just buying cheese
doodles and diapers. As I say here on CCTV, the national television network of China, we buy more clothes.
More food. More cosmetics and personal care products than men. We also
buy more electronics, more home furnishings, almost as many tools, just as many
cars. Women are spending billions of dollars, day in and day out, year in and
But even with all that clout, we won’t be able to use this
power of the purse effectively until we achieve true gender equity
worldwide, points that both Ban Li, Deputy Counsel of the Shaanxi
Women's Federation, and Liane Shalatek, Associate Director of the
Heinrich Boll Foundation North America, made very powerfully.
Lisa Jackson's luncheon keynote address was the highlight of the day for many people. As a mom, scientist, and long-time public servant, Lisa has a unique appreciation for the impact consumption has on us as individuals and on society as a whole. She spoke movingly about being the first African-American to serve as head of the EPA and how important it is to bring women as well as people of color and low-income populations into the conversations we're having about pollution and climate change.
Lisa noted that her favorite law is the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act because it empowers people to protect themselves wherever they live. She is also proud of technology EPA has shared with the city of Shanghai to help monitor air pollution there.
Lisa agreed that the way we use both the purse and the pocketbook can inspire manufacturers to reduce pollution and energy consumption.
Farmers markets, roadside stands and bins in the grocery store are full of the ripe ingredients that combine to make recipes from La Tartine Gourmande, a new cookbook from Beatrice Peltre that emphasizes fresh, organic and seasonal cooking. The book itself features everything I like in a collection of recipes: simple directions, straightforward lists of ingredients, and beautiful photographs, thanks to the pictures taken by the author herself.
The recipes include breakfast, lunches, dinners and desserts "to inspire." They're as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to taste. And many of them, like the vegetable "tian" described below, offer a perfect alternative to meat on Meatless Monday or any day.
Serve your tian with a fresh green salad tossed with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, a sprinkling of sea salt and a twist of cracked pepper. If your diet is gluten free, take another 5 minutes to make some whole-grain couscous. Otherwise, use a slice of whole grain bread to sop up the juices left in the bottom of your dish.
Summer Vegetable Tian
The following recipe serves 4. If that's all you need, you can still double up and freeze what you don't eat, or cover and serve again later in the week.
By the way, a "tian" is a dish from the south of France. It features layers of summer vegetables baked slowly in a low-temperature oven so that the flavors and scents of all the vegetables combine without losing their individual taste. I first tried it at a neighbor's dinner party. As delicious as it was the day it was cooked, my neighbor said it was even more flavorful the next day when the left-overs were re-heated.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme or regular thyme
1/4 cup chopped basil
5 garlic cloves minced
2 Italian eggplants (280 g; 10 oz), sliced into thin rounds
2 zucchini (400 g; 14 oz), thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
Salads and cold soups offer a delicious eco-friendly and healthy alternative to meat. Here's my favorite recipe for gazpacho, a refreshing tomato-based soup made from ingredients you can easily find locally grown at the farmer's market or your grocery store. Serve cold or at room temperature with a simple salad of mixed greens and a sprinkling of grated carrots, plus a crunchy crusty bread to sop up the soup when you get to the bottom of the bowl. For a little protein on the side, hard boil some eggs or grill several slices of marinated tofu. Another option? Drizzle olive oil on a mound of fresh goat cheese, dust with freshly cracked salt and pepper, and spread on the bread. Good for "meatless Monday" or any day of the week.
Gazpacho (serves 8 people as an appetizer or 6 for a meal) ...
Before you fire up the barbecue for your 4th of July picnic, take a minute to read Ten Reasons Why You Should Eat Less Meat. Then, instead of automatically serving up hamburgers, hot dogs, steak or chicken, get creative! Need some help? Try this recipe for a delicious veggie burger courtesy of the wonderful vegan cookbook, The Happy Herbivore, by Lindsay S. Nixon.
Black Bean Burgers
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste
Breadcrumbs (buy at store or make your own - toast whole-grain bread until dry, then pulse in food processor)
Whole-wheat hamburger buns
* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease grill pan, or cookie sheet if you prefer to use your oven.
* Pulse beans in food processor until mashed well, or mash manually using a potato masher or fork.
* Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in cilantro and spices, plus salt and pepper.
* Add breadcrumbs as necessary until the mixture can be handled and isn't terribly sticky, about 1/4 cup.
* If after 1/4 cup it's still too sticky and difficult to work with, refrigerate 5 to 10 minutes
* Shape mixture into three patties.
* Lightly spray each patty with cooking spray and grill or bake 7 minutes.
* Flip, re-spray,and bake 7-10 minutes more until crisp on the outside and thoroughly warm.
* Serve immediately on buns, along with lettuce, tomatoes, and whatever other condiments you prefer.
Note: This recipe makes three burgers; double to make six.
What do you eat when you want to eat less meat? (If "Eat less meat" is NOT on your list of how to live healthier and greener, better read Ten Reasons to Eat Less Meat.)
Many folks used to whipping up burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken nuggets, or pepperoni pizza fear they'll have the diet of a rabbit if they can't put a big juicy steak in the middle of their plate.
In reality, given the abundance of delicious fruits, vegetables, and grains sold in most supermarkets, making meat a bit player at dinner rather than the main event is easier than you think. Here's how you can get started.
* Meatless Monday - If the idea of giving up meat "cold turkey" throws you into a tizzy, why not start with one day - like today? You won't be alone. The "Meatless Monday" movement is gathering steam as folks like Sir Paul McCartney climb on the meat-free bandwagon.
* Eat meat as an appetizer rather than the main course - Psychologists and dieticians have frequently observed that people derive the most satisfaction out of the first bite or two of whatever they're eating. (Think about it: that first taste elicits an "mmmmm - delicious." The last one? "Ughh - I'm so stuffed.") Could that be true of you, too? If so, relegate meat to appetizer status. Here are a few recipes to get you started.
* Find vegetarian meat substitutes that satisfy your tastebuds as well as your growling stomach. I'm partial to grilled tofu, pan roasted walnuts and pecans, and lentils and garbanzo beans ground into veggie burgers or tossed in soups and salads. Seitan and tempeh could be on the menu, too.
Vegetarian meals can be just as simple -- or complex -- as any meal you'd make with meat. These three cookbooks provide delicious recipes worth giving a try.