Being vegetarian –or at least eating less meat- has many advantages:
first it helps wild animals and their environment,
but it’s also healthier for you!
You don’t absolutely have to be vegetarian or vegan. If you can, good for you but if you really can’t don’t beat yourself up.
What you have to do on the other hand, is to respect the animal whose life has been sacrificed to provide your steak.
Those cows were very curious about me! They came from the far end of the paddock to check me out...
Don’t overdo meat: humans don’t need to eat meat every day.
There are actually lots of studies on the negative impacts for your health of eating too much meat.
Eating too much meat increases:
I hate the way we raise, intensively farm, transport and kill our farm animals. If you eat meat, use your green consumer power: pressure the industry so that animals are treated better all along their life.
At least if they are killed for us, they should have a happy life and be killed as humanely as it is possible to be killed (!).
Also happy meat that has been killed quickly and less painfully taste better, I’ve been told.
So if you have to have meat (we have only one life after all, and if meat is one of your great pleasure than it might just be too hard to stop altogether), here are my advice:
I know it’s more expensive but
1/ I’m convince it’s healthier for you and
2/ it’s better to have the quality than the quantity I think. (But then again, I never had to live on a tight budget and eat meat – I became vegetarian while still living with my parents.)
Now if you don’t like meat so much or think you can live without it, great, become a vegetarian!
On the top of been healthy for you (see above), the advantages of being vegetarian (or vegan) are numerous:
You are not involved in killing animals (and in exploiting animals if you are vegan). You are less involved in farm animal suffering (complete your vegetarian choice by buying free range eggs is a must do).
A vegetarian diet decreases the land needed for feeding humans (30% of the earth’s entire land surface is used for rearing farmed animals) and the associated deforestation and biodiversity loss.
Nearly 80% of land deforested in the Amazon is now used as cattle pasture!
Conservation International estimates than more than half of the most precious places on Earth (called biodiversity hotspots) are now seriously affected by livestock production.
Also farm animals are responsible all around the world for soil erosion and compaction.
Meat is responsible for 18% (other estimates actually say it’s more 50%!) of the combined climate change emissions. To give you a scale, this is more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
This is from the well known production of methane (yes, by cow’s farts) but also gas from all the manure, and fuel and energy used in transport and refrigeration. And of course all what is needed to grow the food to feed all these farmed animals.
Comparison of different diet carbon footprint. Vegan wins!
Meat lover loses!!
Credits: Shrink That Footprint
Lot of waste is produce by farm animals in the form of manure. Intensive farming and poor management can mean that nitrogen, phosphorus and nitrates escape to pollute underground water supplies and rivers.
Animal farming contributes to the release in the oceans of excess nutrients. This changes the balance and favours toxic algae bloom. In turn algae consume most of the oxygen in the water. These changes (high nutrients, low oxygen) prevent normal sea life existence.
Water is becoming a scarce resource. Analysts have predicted many wars will be fought over water in the future. Some countries (Israel for instance) have already demand in water that outstripped their resources.
What is amazing is that a large portion of our water footprint is actually due to producing our food (ahead of what we consume at home and even ahead of the industry)!
Producing meat requires much more water than producing practically any other food.
The vegetarian diet has been proven to be the most water efficient (see the water footprint of different diets).
We could feed more people (possibly twice as many!) if we were eating more cereals and less meat (in the United States, 70% of the grain is grown to feed farmed animals).
When you say you’re a vegetarian, way too often people (especially in restaurants) understand that:
I do get called "herbivore" again and again!
Thus they serve you a couple of cucumber and tomato slices, sometimes a pinch of grated carrots, on the top of a bowl of lettuce, and they think they have made a great vegetarian dish!
Well don’t be fooled: vegetarians love their food!
Vegetarian recipes often compensate for the absence of meat by adding lots of yummy ingredients.
Some of my
favourite vegetarian dishes I cook at home are below...
- A layer of home-made tomato sauce with lots of basil and onions,
- A layer of fresh baby spinach leaves,
- A layer of roasted veggies: pumpkin, eggplant, zucchini, mushroom and any of your fav veggies!
- A layer of pasta sheet,
- A layer of béchamel (white sauce) with lots of garlic and grated nutmeg.
Make as many layer as you can fit, finishing by béchamel.
Grated cheese on top! And in the oven…
Veggie quiches are very versatile: you can pretty much throw anything you like in them (even last night left over curry) and they will taste delicious!
I give you some ideas below but really you can just mix anything you like!
One of my long term favourite is with leak, which you cook with some butter and lemon in a frying pan. You make your dough and spread it in a dish (OK you can also buy the dough if you’re in a hurry!).
You add your egg mix: eggs, cream and/or yogurt or ricotta cheese works well too, nutmeg, and don’t forget my special ingredient: some mustard!
In the oven with grated cheese on top!
I also love many variations of this quiche (same principle, dough at bottom and egg mix on top!):
1/ Spinach and ricotta triangles, with or without feta or pepper cream cheese (I know, I do put cheese everywhere, sorry!), and roasted pumpkin and sun dried tomatoes. For this one add the egg mix with the spinach, spread on half of your dough, and fold.
2/ The layer pie: one layer of grated carrot, one layer of grated zucchini (it’s easier if you still precook them because they have lots of water which can spoil your pie…). You can add slices of mushrooms or tomatoes on top. I do mine with lots of garlic too!
This works so well with children! And it’s so quick!
- Spread your dough on the oiled oven plate (or take it out of the freezer!),
- spread mustard,
- add tomatoes slices (important: without the seed!! They are too wet… Keep the seed in a glass, it’s a nice drink!),
- and grated cheese and herbs (and chili flakes for adults).
Bake in oven till cheese is bubbling and ready to your taste.
Cook for 10 minutes in microwave your cauliflower, a bit less for your broccoli.
Make a béchamel by cooking onions and garlic in the butter first, then add your flour and milk, plus grated nutmeg and pepper. Chili flakes if you like.
In a large dish, place the broccoli and cauliflower in small pieces (no oiling the dish necessary), the béchamel and grated cheese.
Cook in oven.
Decrease the amount of meat in your diet (up to being vegetarian if you can!) and reap the benefits for your health, knowing you are actively helping the environment and wild animals living in it.