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For some, St. Patrick’s Day is an excuse to drink green beer.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Cheers, lads and lassies!
But St. Patty’s can be a chance to do much more.
Aside from being the day to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint and wear green so we don’t get pinched, the 17th of March can be… our catalyst to GO green!
I talk about how vegan food is good for the environment a lot on this blog, and today, I’ve compiled some great evidence that demonstrates why.
Plus I’m going to share my Ultimate St. Patrick’s Day Menu with you!
Let’s Go Green!
When “going green,” most people think to:
- switch their light bulbs to energy-efficient ones
- use cloth bags instead of plastic
- try to carpool or bike
And those are all great things to do. Please, do them!
But none of that is as good for the environment as switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Why is that?
To begin, I turn to Dr. David Brubaker of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
Back in 1999, he said:
The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.
That simple statement sums up the major problems:
And it’s only gotten worse since the last millennium. Demand for meat worldwide has increased (despite being down 12.2% in the US in the last 5 years!).
We only have one Earth, and to keep her healthy for future generations, we need to seriously reduce the environmental devastation that factory farming is causing.
And to do that, we need to consume fewer factory farm products (aka animals).
If fewer animals are raised for meat and other products like cheese and eggs, fewer resources will be used, and there will be less pollution to boot.
Therefore, someone who doesn’t eat animals or their products is causing less environmental destruction by default. Isn’t that awesome?!
According to the 2006 United Nations report Livestock’s Long Shadow, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions (which contribute to global warming in a major way) than the entire transportation sector.
Trucks, trains, planes, ships, and the more than 1 billion cars all together don’t cause as much environmental destruction as animal agriculture. Scary, huh?
Aside from the global warming aspect, producing meat and animal products is a hugely inefficient use of resources.
According to Meatless Monday:
- An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. In contrast, soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
- …about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.
According to this VegNews Magazine article, just last month (February 2013) the UN’s Environment Programme released a new study titled Our Nutrient World that called for developed nations to cut meat consumption in half if we want to stop destroying our planet.
“’Unless action is taken, increases in pollution and per capita consumption of energy and animal products will exacerbate nutrient losses, pollution levels and land degradation, further threatening the quality of our water, air and soils, affecting climate and biodiversity,’ warn researchers.”
So what does this all mean?
It means we have a tremendous opportunity to make like Captain Planet and fight for the environment every single time we eat – by simply choosing veg meals!
Delicious, easy, healthy, good for animals, AND good for the environment? For goodness sake, why NOT?!
And it’s not all or nothing. Participating in Meatless Monday, eating a few vegan meals a week, or going totally veg – they ALL make a difference. The important thing is that we DO something, no matter how small, for the sake of our Earth and the future inhabitants of it.
Now let’s green that food routine for this coming Sunday!
Here’s my Ultimate St. Patty’s Day Menu for you (with links to recipes!).
Breakfast: Green Smoothie and Oatmeal sprinkled with (green!) pistachios
You can put anything you want in your green smoothie, as long as there’s spinach and/or kale to make it green! Here’s what goes into mine (all organic ingredients):
Sarah’s Green Smoothie
- 1 large slice of pineapple
- 1/2 an orange
- 1/5 of a cucumber (I chop it into 5ths so I’ll have some for each weekday)
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 cup of spinach
- 5 baby carrots
- 3 lacinato kale leaves
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 cup ice
- 1/2 cup water
I blend it all up in my Vitamix ’til smooth and gulp it down!
Snack: A perfect, beautiful, green apple.
Appetizer: Pea and Mint Dip from Food Life Balance
Dinner: Thai Green Curry with Veggies and Tofu from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Dessert: Monster Mint-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes from Chocolate Covered Katie
To Being (and Eating) Green!