I get it. I can’t think of anyone who wants to be told what to eat. I do, though, know many people who want to make a meaningful difference. I bet that includes everyone who is reading this post. It’s difficult in our society, especially in cities like ours that lack sufficient public transit, to not drive our gasoline-powered vehicles. Solar is not a viable or affordable option for everyone. The benefits of recycling are questionable. But, in order to fuel and nourish our bodies, we all eat. Most of us eat three meals a day and enjoy a little something in between. That provides us with three opportunities a day – at least 1095 times per year – to make a thoughtful choice for the earth, for our bodies, and for our fellow non-human Earthlings.
According to Project Drawdown, “If 50–75 percent of the world’s population restricts their diet to a healthy average 2,250 calories per day and reduces meat consumption overall, we estimate at least 43–68 gigatons of emissions could be avoided from dietary change alone. If avoided deforestation from land use change is included, an additional 21.8–23.5 gigatons of emissions could be avoided, making healthy, plant-rich diets one of the most impactful solutions at a total of 64.8–91.5 gigatons avoided.”
Full disclosure: I, myself, adhere to an almost vegan diet. I am not perfect. I sometimes eat the eggs that my rescued hens give to us. I will sometimes eat cheese when a host has thoughtfully prepared a meal for me, not completely understanding the full meaning of “vegan.” For me, the goal is not perfection. The goal is making the most thoughtful and compassionate choice that I can each time I bring a fork to my mouth. And if you know how much I love food, that’s a lot of thoughtful choices! My reasons for becoming and staying vegetarian and mostly vegan have evolved over time. Admittedly, I think the choice was easier for me because I decided I cannot nourish myself at the expense of other beings. Exploitation and inhumane treatment of animals is concrete. You can witness it as it happens. The creation of emissions and increased deforestation are more abstract and distant, at least if you are not living in the rainforests. But abstract as those consequences may seem, they are real, and they are devastating to the planet. For whatever reasons you are making thoughtful food choices, you have almost limitless opportunities to make a difference for yourself, for the planet, and for others, human and non-human alike.
I suggest starting small and making it fun. You do not have to prepare a tofu and vegetable stir fry with bland brown rice! That isn’t even appetizing to me. Start with small substitutions. Try re-thinking common meals you often have in your home. Let’s take tacos, for instance. Instead of ground beef, take a look at other options. There are so many wonderful ground beef substitutes available now. You could try Gardein or Beyond Meat crumbles. Let’s face it. What really makes it yummy is the tasty taco seasoning. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, in our home we are now slicing up portobellos and sautéing them in the seasoning in lieu of the meat. Now you not only have those south of the border spices, you get the earthiness of the mushrooms, too. Yum.
You may want to make some plant based substitutions for breakfast. Historically, morning meals have been more problematic because it can be tough to replicate eggs. Now, there is a pretty cool product called Just Egg, which, believe it or not, is made from…mung beans! I was a doubter, but they really do scramble up and have the texture of eggs. You can check out the details at the JUST website. Again, if you are up for some more adventure, you can try tofu scramble. The secret to tofu is to make sure that you squeeze it. It must be pressed to get all the liquid out. That way, you make space for it to absorb the flavoring you are adding. Minimalist Baker has a great recipe for a southwest scramble. As for the “meats,” if I’m in a hurry, I will grab Beyond Meat’s Beyond Breakfast Sausage. If I have a little more time, I love to make my own tempeh bacon. Check out Tasty’s recipe here.
Every time we sit down to eat, we absolutely can make a difference. Wherever you are or choose to start on your plant-based adventure, take small steps, have fun, and be kind to yourself along the way. Celebrate your successes!
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We would love you to join us on Zoom on Monday June 20, at 7:30 PM for our Climate Action Team monthly meeting! Email Jon Reese at email@example.com for details.