I am a flexitarian. What does being a flexitarian even mean? Essentially I’ve been eating MORE vegetarian meals. Not only can vegetarian meals be cheaper and tastier, I don’t have to worry about cooking meat thoroughly to prevent potential food poisoning; I also dislike overcooked meat. However, when I have these cravings for a few slices of bacon or a 4 ounce slab of beef, I just go for it. Recently, I watched a webinar on how a plant-based diet is a sustainable choice to preserving the environment. Not only did the webinar further support what I already knew, but I was blown away by some of the things I learned. First, here’s what I currently do to recycle/reuse/reduce:
-I am conscientious of how I dispose of trash and what can be recycled.
-I take reusable bags with me to the grocery store.
-I unplug any chargers during the day and turn off the lights when I’m not in the room.
-I wash my clothes in cool water. In the summer I air dry most items.
-I take shorter showers.
The webinar pointed out that how we eat also has a big effect on our precious earth. I found out that:
-If all of the world’s 7 billion people consumed as much as the average American, it would take 5 Earths to sustain them.
-Each American uses 20 acres land and water biocapacity per year.
-Each year, the US sends 500 million tons of solid hazardous waste to landfills and adds 3 million tons of toxic chemicals to air and water.
-The average American produces 1,609 pounds of waste each year.
-Americans consume an average of 2,200 standard two-ply napkins per year — or the equivalent of more than six napkins per day.
-If you shorten your showering time down by three minutes, you would for a savings of 513 pounds of CO2 every year.
A diet high in animal protein has a large impact on our environment from the fertilizers and pesticides used, the processing, the traveling, and the food required to feed our animal food. Not only that, animals are inefficient at converting their food into protein, so fewer resources are used when you eat plants.
Now think about the waste the animals are adding to the environment:
-They generate more than 335 million tons of dry manure waste each year—too concentrated to apply to land.
-Potential for pathogens, dust, arsenic, dioxin, antibiotics, and other pollutants. -Air quality: ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, microorganisms, dusts, endotoxins; linked with respiratory conditions.
-Antibiotic use in feed additives contributes to resistance.
–Inhumane conditions. Has anyone seen Food inc? OMG, I can’t eat chicken because of what I saw.
-It takes 1,600 – 2,500 gallons water to produce one pound of feedlot beef but only 257 gallons for soybeans, 501 gallons for chickpeas, 146 gallons for corn, 290 gallons for oats, 34 gallons for broccoli, and 26 gallons for tomatoes
-if I ate one less hamburger a week, over a year it’s like taking my car off the road for 320 miles or line drying your clothes half the time. If everyone in the US skipped meat or cheese once a week, over a year it’s like taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
This article says that if consumers were aware of their meat and dairy intake’s impact on the environment, they would most likely change their behavior.
Why am I not a full time vegetarian? Because I love the taste of quality meat and seafood and it’s ok. Similar to strict diets, when we are too restrictive about our food choices, it can backfire. Here are some ways I’ve been able to go vegetarian :
- I plan for vegetarian meals. I want to make sure to include several food groups to keep me full so I pick ingredients that are whole, minimally process and full of fiber.
- I often forget about beans as a great source of protein, in addition to tofu, which I am more familiar with. It’s been fun trying new bean recipes and I like the versatility beans lend to a dish. Plus it’s a source of iron and fiber!
- I shop for my veggies and fruits first. If I do cook with meat, I buy a small amount and treat it like a condiment rather than the main ingredient.
- Be positive. I think about the positive effects my food choices are having on the environment. I think of the health benefits a mostly plant diet will do for my body. I think of the tasty new recipes I will try because of this lifestyle change. I think of the savings I accrue when I don’t buy as much meat.
- I choose vegetarian meals when I dine out too! I still drool when I think about the gnocchi in mushroom cream sauce I had at Tuscan Kitchen.
- For the health of it! Personally, I noticed a positive change in my skin by eating more vegetarian meals. I also noticed I feel less bloated and that I have more energy from my fruit and veggie smoothies.
- For me, while I am working on eating more vegetarian meals, I am also learning about composting as a way to turn food scraps into something nutritious that can be returned to the earth. It’s the circle of life afterall. Any advice would be appreciated!!
Lastly here’s the egg noodle recipe my friend cooked up for me and I wanted to share!