Today may or may not have something to do with hugging a herbivore.
PETA have officially confused the heck out of me with their ‘Hug a’… day. Some sites say that the 26 of September is a good day to hug a Vegan, while others suggest you may want to wait until the 27th and hug a Vegan and/or a Vegetarian. Or you could just give up on the whole hugging thing and wait until the first of October to celebrate World Vegetarian Day. Regardless of what day it is, or is-not socially correct to hug people based on their food choices I gonna do it today anyway. I am hugging Vegan author Aine Carlin to say thank you for being the source of some of my most favourite meals!
What’s the deal with plant based diets and sustainability anyway?
We all know that cows, sheep, ducks, chickens, pigs and pretty much any other animal we choose to gnaw on were pretty cute before they were sacrificed for our plates. There is loads of merit in opting out of consuming flesh (and animal products) because you don’t want to eat our fellow beings. Folks who opt out of eating meat because they have great big kind hearts should be hugged extra tight for being super nice. Others aren’t so keen on consuming animal products due to health concerns. A pivitol document for people prescribing to this line of thinking is The China Study. A study conducted over 20 years by Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine that concluded that the consumption of animal products is associated with increased chances of chronic disease. Scary thought hey?!
However, many people out there who are turning down a steak and opting for nut milk in their coffee are doing so from a place of environmental concern. I’m one of these people. No, I don’t identify as an specific type of diet… not because I’m trying to be cool or some kind of aloof-food-snob-weirdo, it’s just because I don’t fit in any of the categories. Most of what I eat would be considered a Vegan diet, and much of this is to do with the fact that my body doesn’t love animal products. However, I do on occasions eat hard cheese (soft cheese makes me so sick), because as a person with garlic intolerance it’s difficult enough to try to find something vegetarian that isn’t laced with garlic on a menu when dining out without adding ‘Vegan’ to the mix. I will on occasions eat sustainable seafood species that my Mr. catches while kayak fishing (there is a good app for sustainable seafood species in Australia here)
One of the best exposes into link between environmental impacts and consumption of animal products I have seen of late is the documentary ‘Cowspiracy‘ (which has been trending on Netflix). It follows the journey of Kip Anderson, an environmentalist, as he try to uncover the truth about the environmental impacts of meat and dairy products. In his quest he comes up against a variety stakeholders who don’t seem keen to help him spread word about the potential issues associated with consuming these products. Some of the facts he uncovers include:
- Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.
Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame.
Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
- Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.
- Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
- 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver.
A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
- 130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person in the US.
- For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.
Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.
40-50 million sharks killed in fishing lines and nets.
We could see fishless oceans by 2048.
- 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.
The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.
While this all seems a bit doom and gloom (and actually isn’t even scratching the surface of the list of facts available at Cowspiracy here) there the good news is that cutting back on your consumption of animal products can make an immediate difference
A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food.
Of course what you choose it eat is entirely up to you and as a person who adheres to no specific ‘label’ when it comes to eating (my friend who eats in a similar manner has heard called it selectarianism) I’m not interested in promoting one specific way of eating. Especially as we see more cases of Orthorexia Nervosa appear in our media streams. But if you are interested in cutting back a good place to start is Meatless Mondays. Also you are welcome to try this AMAZING recipe that I have adapted from one that was given to me by my local fruit and veggie market.
Raw Vegan Key Lime Pie
To Make the Base You will Need:
1 Cup Almond Meal
1 Cup Fresh Dates
2 Cups Shredded Coconut
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until you get a dough like consistency. Press into muffin tins (line if you like my muffin tray is silicone so I don’t bother). Set aside in the fridge while making filling.
To Make the Filling You will Need:
4 ripe avocados
1 tbsp lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1/2 coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Cube avocado and place all ingredients (except the cinnamon) in food processor and blend until smooth. Do not over-blend as the avocado will discolour. Spoon into your muffin tin bases and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Chill until ready to serve. These pies taste even better the following day!
Do you have a favourite animal product free recipe? Perhaps you have some thoughts on cutting back from meat and animal products? Cheese addict?
Share all your thoughts with us below!