Meatless Monday: February 6, 2012
So I wanted to start a Monday tradition of sharing yummy meatless recipes and encouraging our readers and members to give up meat (at least) one day a week. Meatless Monday is a term I’ve heard more over the last 1-2 years and thought I would adopt it for the blog. I'm not telling you to give up meat completely, but why not go meatless once a week and think about how your dietary choices influence your environmental footprint.
What does eating vegetarian have to do with the environment?
I’ll mention just 3 of the many links between meat consumption and environmental degradation.
1. Fossil Fuels
2. Forest Depletion
3. Water Usage and Pollution
- More than 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the US go towards animal agriculture. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuel input as a calorie of plant protein. This means that ten times the amount of carbon dioxide is emitted as well. Where does all this waste occur? It is mostly a matter of transportation and production. Fossil fuels are needed to produce the crops that are fed to the livestock, then those crops need to be transported to the feedlots, then those animals need to be transported to the slaughterhouse, then to the processing plant, then to your grocery case. Going vegan is even better for the environment; some accounts (New Scientist) claim that adopting a vegan diet does more to reduce emissions than driving a hybrid car. I’m not asking you to give up everything, just take one day a week to think about dietary choice from this new perspective.
- The United States imports roughly 200 million pounds of beef from Central and South America every year. Aside from the fuel used in transport, grazing land is needed for all of these animals. That grazing land comes from clear-cutting forests and rainforest. A Smithsonian study estimates that the necessity for more grazing land means that every minute of every day, a land area equivalent to seven football fields is destroyed in the Amazon basin. This isn’t only a problem for “other countries”, In the United States, more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut for animal agriculture.
- Animal production consumes an amount of water roughly equivalent to all other uses of water in the United States combined. One pound of beef requires an input of approximately 2500 gallons of water, whereas a pound of soy requires 250 gallons of water and a pound of wheat only 25 gallons. With the water used to produce a single hamburger, you could take a luxurious shower every day for two and a half weeks. The EPA identifies agriculture as a major water pollutant. Agricultural pesticides and nitrates used in fertilizers and manures seep into our groundwater, eventually spilling out into the oceans creating so-called “dead zones” (expansive areas so toxic that neither plant nor animal life can survive) viewable from space in places like the Gulf of Mexico where the Mississippi spills out into the sea. Besides the chemicals used in cultivation, accidental pollution though chemical spills and manure dumps are an ongoing source of water pollution from feedlots.
Ok so for the good news. Come back here to the Piedmont Environmental Alliance Blog every Monday for a delicious vegetarian (often Vegan) recipe that will knock your socks off and have you saying “Hamburger who?”.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I thought I would start off with a lovey dovey soup recipe:
Red Pepper Soup w/Balsamic Reduction
(Vegetarian Times Feb 2012)
Vegan, Gluten Free
1 Cup Balsamic vinegar
¾ cup agave nectar
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 med red onion, diced
½ med sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 med Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
1 lrg shallot, diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups low-sodium veg broth
2 lrg red bell peppers, diced
- To make Balsamic reduction: bring vinegar and agave nectar to a boil in a small sauce pan. Reduce heat to medium, simmer for 15 mins, or until thickened. Cool.
- To make Soup: Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add red onion, both potatoes, and shallot, and cook 5-7 mins. Add cumin, red pepper flakes and garlic. Saute’ 3-5 mins. Add broth and bell peppers; bring to a simmer. Cook 30 mins, or until peppers and potatoes are softened. Blend soup in batches until smooth (if you have an immersion mixer this will work nicely). Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle each serving with Balsamic Reduction.
I want to hear from you if you like the recipe. Do you have a favorite vegetarian/vegan recipe that you want to share? Let me know, I'll post it and give you credit. Red peppers have a special place in our house so this is what I will be making on Valentine's Day, maybe with some "creamy" risotto!