Happy Earth Day!! Everyone who knows me knows I love two very important things: 1) Animals 2) The Environment. I spend a lot of time thinking about these two things and how I can help what I love and also help the world and people who live here otherwise. What is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to help the environment? The answer is actually quite simple…. eat less animal products and increase your consumption of plant-based products.
Recently released dietary guidelines encourage people to consider the environment when eating and choose more plant-based/vegan meals. This is very exciting for those who are ethical vegans, like me!
The document, which is several hundred pages long, reviews the most current diet science. The report finds that “a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.” Yippie!
A few facts, a vegan diet can benefit the environment in the following ways:
- Animal foods require immense quantities of petroleum to produce. For example, while it takes only two calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of protein from soybeans, and three calories for wheat and corn, it takes fifty-four calories of petroleum to produce one calorie of protein from beef! Less meat consumption means less natural resource consumption.
- Over two-thirds of all agricultural land is used to grow livestock feed. Only eight percent of land is used to grow food for us to eat. More plant-based foods can be produced with less land, thereby feeding earth’s growing population more easily.
- Can help minimize deforestation, many rainforests are cut to supply grazing land and feed for an unsustainable meat industry.
- Producing meat can create more greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to global warming more than everyday road transportation; including methane, nitrogen dioxide and CO2 emissions. Eating and encouraging more plant-based products can help off-set these emissions.
- Avoid further pollution of our groundwater/streams/rivers/oceans.
- Reduce overgrazing, erosion and protect topsoil.
- Reduce destruction of wildlife habitats & endangered species.
- Reduce use of antibiotics, growth hormones and other chemicals.
- Stop overfishing, it’s said that our oceans are on the verge of collapse. By adding more beans, greens, veggies, nuts, seeds and fruits to our diet we can protect our delicate ocean ecosystems and the abundance of species that inhabit it.
- Picking plant proteins saves up to 1,500 gallons of water per pound!!
For a few more details on this subject, please read these articles:
One almond takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow. Guess how much for once ounce of beef? See here for the answer:
A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, according to this UN report.
And now for an Earth Day recipe that’s delicious and will help you live a bit more lightly on the planet!!
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with White Bean Gravy
- 3 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and de-gilled
- 2-3 minced garlic
- 1/4 cup onion small dice
- 2 handfuls chopped kale
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
- 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Italian seasonings
Saute the onion and garlic on medium until translucent, add the kale and saute for another 5 more minutes, add the breadcrumbs, tomatoes, water and remaining ingredients and mix. Spoon the mixture into the cleaned and prepared mushrooms and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for 20 minutes.
White Bean Gravy:
- 1 can white beans, drained
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth, warm if needed.
Top the delicious stuffed mushrooms with the white bean gravy and enjoy!