Eating for the Environment

The Report

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has really made me nervous about the state of our planet and the environment. The report calls for a “radical transformation…(where) large swaths of land currently used to produce food would instead have to be converted to growing trees that store carbon and crops designated for energy use” and “such large transitions pose profound challenges for sustainable management of the various demands on land for human settlements, food, livestock feed, fibre, bioenergy, carbon storage, biodiversity and other ecosystem services”. I know it is hard to imagine how by changing our diets, we could actually change the trajectory of climate change, but perhaps taking this step could help us reduce our waistlines as well as our environmental impact.

Meatless Once a Week could be a solution

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry generates nearly 1/5 of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions which is more than what transportation contributes.

To make matters worse, producing meat also requires a huge amount of water. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. By comparison, soy tofu produced in California requires only 220 gallons of water per pound.

The livestock industry also uses almost 50% of the corn produced in the United States as feed for the animals. Maybe that land could be used for planting forests, growing organic fruits and veggies, and other carbon reducing foliage.

How to go Meatless Once a Week

One way to reduce our own carbon footprints would be to take one day a week and eat “meatless”. We can:

·       Eat one less burger a week. This is like taking your car off the road for 320 miles.

·       Eating one less meat-based meal with your family would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five weeks

·       Skip a steak dinner, and that would be like taking your car off the road for nearly 3 months!

Benefits of going Meatless Once a Week

Beyond environmental reasons, here are some other benefits of skipping the meat:

1.       Replacing an animal protein with more fruits and vegetables like having a burrito bowl with beans and veggies instead of beef or chicken, can help you increase your consumption of antioxidants and necessary vitamins.

2.       Reducing processed meat consumption is associated with lower incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

3.       It is more cost effective to buy non-animal proteins. A can of beans can cost less than $1.

4.       Plant-based protein is a way for you to get creative in the kitchen and experience different foods and different cuisines!

My Favorite Meatless Recipes for Fall

1.       I love to make a Tempeh Ruben with tempeh marinated in BBQ sauce on sourdough bread with avocado, tomato, and lettuce

2.       Roasted vegetable pasta:

Rachel Hartley Veggie Pasta.jpg

3.       Warming lentil and sweet potato stew:

ambitious kitchen stew.jpg

4.       Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl: Chop cucumber, red pepper, and tomatoes into bite sized chunks. Serve in a bowl with quinoa, chickpeas, a squeeze of lemon, hummus, and tzatziki sauce.

5.       Zucchini Meatballs:

thyme for health zucchini meatballs.jpg

Check out these bloggers for a great Vegetarian Recipe Roundup:

My Favorite Restaurants for Meatless Meals

1.       Flower Child: I love the Mother Earth Bowl, Forbidden Rice Bowl, and the pick 3 sides. I usually get Sweet corn and quinoa, heirloom tomato and watermelon, and Indian Spiced Cauliflower.

2.       True Food Kitchen: My favorite options are the spaghetti squash casserole, Edamame Dumplings, and Inside Out Quinoa Burger.

3.       Everytable: This is an awesome concept where great quality food can be bought at fast food prices. Tahini farro salad, cashew pesto salad, and chipotle chimichurri salad.

4.       Veggie Grill: This was my first all vegetarian restaurant and I still go there today. I crave the Mediterranean Supergreens Salad, Super Taco Salad, and the Masala Bowl.

5.       Sweetgreen: Anything here is amazing! I first had their salads over 5 years ago in Washington, DC, and I am still hooked.

6.       Tender Greens: I usually get the Falafel plate with butter lettuce and seasonal veggies or rice.

7.       Mendocino Farms: I could wax poetic about Mendocino Farms. It is where I had my first Tempeh Ruben, and I have never looked back. I also like the Vegan Banh Mi, Cous Cous Salad, and the Enlightened Falafel wrap as a wrap or a salad.

As daunting as it may seem, we can be a part of the solution, let’s spread the word! Use the hastag: #meatlessmonday to connect with others and find other recipes to help.



Salima Mangalji