Meat Free for the planet

So you wanna be meat free but need some motivation? From August first to the eight Meat Free Week are encouraging you to take a breather form your meat consumption and spend the week eating like a cow (as opposed to eating a cow). For some the idea of including more veggies on the dinner plate might be a bit tricky. Don’t feel bad if you are a rampant carnivore who shudders at the idea of eating like an animals with udders. We are largely a world consumed by meat consumption. If you don’t believe me please check out these stats from Cowspiracy, a doco of the Vegan persuasion that’s available on Netflix that has some good info for environmentalists in it.

  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 1% 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.


 Meat free for health

Ok so we have established that meat production isn’t all that great for the planet, but did you know that science is starting to reveal that it’s not all that good for us? One of the most famous studies into the effects of meat and animal products (dairy) on human health has been the China Study. This book was based on the ‘China-Oxford-Cornell Study on Dietary, Lifestyle and Disease Mortality Characteristics in 65 Rural Chinese Counties’ which concluded that there was a link between animal product consumption and higher rates of cancer and other ‘western’ health problems. While you might not want to rush out and buy a copy of this book, I highly recommend checking out the BBC documentary series ‘How to Stay Young‘ that puts science research to the test to discuss and trial ways that you can keep your body and mind young. Unsurprisingly it was shown that a diet rich in high quality plant foods (specifically purple plants for brain power) is better for you than processed foods and meat and dairy rich meals.  This documentary series also looks at the China study results and another observational study into the impact of vegetarianism in religious groups on overall health and wellbeing.


Do you need to be Vegan or Vegetarian?

What you do with your body is your own choice. If you feed it cheeseburgers each day there is a good chance you will get sick from all the processed stuff that goes into cheeseburgers (ever seen Supersize me?), but you may also be just fine. However, eating cheeseburgers isn’t really using you money to it’s highest good. Instead of sinking all your pennies into a mega-corporation you could share that money around to support more locally based produce and to help support local farmers. You should be able to think critically about the info and the products you are being shown and sold to come up with conclusions and solutions that work for you. However, it is really easy to include a little bit of veggie or vegan delight into your life without having to feel like you are ‘missing out’ on the meat and/or dairy. While being Vegetarian or Vegan might not be on your agenda it might be an idea to take on this little gem of advice from Michael Pollan

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I recommend checking out this book if you are interested in animal ethics and/or what impact the meat and animal product industry has on our planet (don’t worry, I’m not pushing a Vegan agenda, I’m not strictly Vegan myself…more on this at the linked post). Also if you love the look of the pic above you can find the recipe here.


Coleslaw made Vegan

This super simple recipe is an easy way to ‘switch out’ some of your animal products without anyone realising the changes you have made. What you will need is:

  • Two apples (I like Pink Lady ones for this but you can use any variety)
  • A large zucchini (hard to see in the pic above because I only had a quarter of one left)
  • Two carrots
  • Around a cup of Coconut yoghurt (click here for details on making your own but don’t add sweeteners they are gross when you use coconut yoghurt for cooking) but add as much as you want to get your desired creamy consistency.
  • A cup of chopped walnuts (also not shown in the picture above as I was being a bit lazy when I made this to go on my lunchtime veggie burger)
  • Half a cup of lemon juice
  • A tablespoon of dijon mustard (or to taste… depends on your love of mustard flavours)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Grate (or use a julienne attachment on a mandoline) your apples, zucchini, and carrots into a large bowl and mix well. Add the coconut yoghurt, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the walnuts just before you serve. If you want to up the nutritional factors you can add pretty much any veggies you like. I love using purple carrots in the mix and sliced capsicum works a treat! Adding pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds will also up the nutritional factor for Vegans. If you take this to a BBQ most people will comment on how delicious it is. It’s not a traditional coleslaw but people won’t usually pick the vegan factor it’s usually the apple that gets spotted as the point of difference.

Are you a meat-free-person? Perhaps you struggle to switch out your meat products to include more veggies and fruit? What’s been your biggest struggle? Share all below.

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