A few interesting statistics about meat consumption and its affects on the environment:
- If you eat one less burger a week for a year, it’s like taking your car off the road for 320 miles or line-drying your clothes half the time.
- If your four-person family skips meat and cheese one day a week for a year, it’s like taking your car off the road for five weeks or shortening everyone’s daily shower by three minutes.
- If your four–person family skips steak one day a week for a year, it’s like taking your car off the road for almost three months.
When it comes to being a vegetarian, I am the black sheep of the family. While my meat consumption has been steadily decreasing and my husband and I are avid Meatless Mondayers, most of our other dinners do include beef, chicken or fish. Not so with my sisters: my middle sister has been a vegetarian for over six years and my younger sister had joined the vegetarian ranks earlier this year.
And recently, my younger sister, inspired by the concept of Meatless Monday, had came up with a unique idea of taking the meatless concept even further and going vegan once a week. Since she already doesn’t eat meat, every day is a Meatless Day for her. So here’s another take on Meatless Mondays, from a vegetarian perspective.
I didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying the Vegan Pumpkin Chili that she had made, but the few delicious pictures she texted did leave me salivating. This dish has been added to my rolodex of Meatless Monday recipes.
The original vegetarian recipe is from the A Beautiful Mess website (also below). My sister made it extra delicious by adding eggplant (at the same time as onions) and vegan by skipping the cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper
1 can pinto beans
1 can red beans
1 chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can pumpkin puree
A pinch of cumin, cinnamon and red pepper.
In a medium/large pot heat the oil over low heat. Dice onion and bell pepper, mince garlic. Add to the pot and turn the heat up to medium. Saute until onion begins to soften. Chop chipotle pepper and add to the pot, if you like it spicy add a little of the sauce too. Add diced tomatoes with juices, pumpkin and all the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse the bean and add to the pot. Once everything is warmed through check to see if you need to add any salt or pepper.
This past Saturday, my sister, hubby and I attended the Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals. The day turned out to be wonderfully sunny and beautiful (a nice surprise, it being October and San Francisco), which made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. The magnificent backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge and the happy collage of families, kids, and doggies enjoying the beach, the water and each other added even more magic to it.
Over a hundred people came to the walk – armed with posters, t-shirts and songs. It was quite motivating to be in the company of so many others who not only care about animal welfare but are taking it further by living vegetarian and vegan. And it wasn’t just individuals who were there in full force, numerous vegan restaurants and brands, from wine to dog food made a showing as well.
Hearing Gene Baur was the highlight for me. As a meat eater I was a little worried about going to a vegan-hosted event and felt somewhat like an imposter in the midsts of dairy-free parfaits and meatless hot dogs. I needn’t worry! Gene’s speech and the overall mood of the gathering was very positive, focusing more on the benefit of eliminating all animal products, rather than the horrible and heinous meat eaters. I felt welcome, not judged and most importantly motivated to do more.
My only disappointment was that vegetarianism was not mentioned as a path to improving farm animal welfare. I believe that humane buying decisions when it comes to cheese, eggs, dairy, etc have a HUGE and positive impact on farm animals and should be promoted and celebrated. As ideal as it would be for the world to go vegan, it is a lofty goal, and veganism is likely to remain a small, albeit growing movement. While I agree that veganism, hands-down, has the greatest benefits for the animals and the environment, vegetarianism has the potential to reach many more people!
And while I don’t expect vegans or vegetarians to promote any sort of meat consumption, I personally believe that reducing meat consumption and buying only humanely raised meat also improve farm animal welfare and has an even greater potential for acceptance.
Now back to the me doing more part. I’ve written several posts about finding myself having meatless meals more and more often these days. Farm Sanctuary’s walk has invigorated me to take my meatless eating to the next level. While Meatless Mondays are now second nature, the other six dinners usually consist of meat or seafood, so starting this week we are implementing a second meatless dinner on our weekly menu.
Even though I read about animal welfare issues every day and write about them weekly, hearing someone who has made a decision to become a vegan 18 years ago and then dedicated his life to improving farm animal welfare by creating several sanctuaries and spreading the word, is that much more motivating and change-inspiring!
Today is a Sunday and our dinner menu is, surprisingly, meatless!
This wasn’t planned, it kind of just happened when we were grocery shopping and decided to try the fried kale and goat cheese pasta dish I found on FoodGawker (and also to suffice my recently-developed kale obsession). We had already planned on doing tofu tacos tomorrow (Monday), and voila, two meatless dinners in a row!
In fact, that is not the first time that’s happened. Since implementing Meatless Monday I’m noticing that more often our meals don’t include meat. Just like with any other habit, once put in practice, eating less meat has subtly made its way into our lives. Habits, bad or good, tend to be that way. Flossing and working out becomes easier, the more I floss and work out. Food choices that at one time seemed lacking, like drinking non-fat milk or eating meatless dinners, are now part of life. And they taste better!
And it’s not just me. I recently came across research results showing that diners’ enjoyement of meatless dishes increased with frequency of consumption. For example, “liking due to ‘mere exposure’ increased significantly more with tofu, i.e. the more people ate it, the more they liked it.”
Yet another reminder that less is sometimes more. Especially when it comes to meat.
Given several insightful responses to this post, I have corrected my misconception that organic = humanely raised. Most often it does not and I shouldn’t use the terms interchangeably.
The other day I had a very heated conversation with an individual who found the concept of eating humanely-raised animals hypocritical and stupid (I’m paraphrasing, as his choice of words was much more colorful and much less appropriate). It was akin to another angry conversation with a chef at a German restaurant in San Jose, who furiously berated my choice to choose humanely-raised and just like the German chef, this individual had two basic points:
- Organic farming (i.e. humanely raised animals) can’t feed the world
- If you care so much about animals then don’t eat them, but if you’re going to kill them anyways, who cares how they lived
I strongly disagree on both!