Saturday, April 26, 2008

Earth Day is Every Day!

I'm starting this post off with something totally unrelated...moist, fluffy, delectable, perfect Blueberry Coffeecake from Vegan with a Vengeance! I whipped it up in about 15 minutes the other night for the secretaries (excuse me, administrative assistants) at our school. Soooo good - go make it now! Or actually, read this important post first, then go make it.

Like I said in the title, Earth Day really is every day, at least for me. Like Christmas and Easter, too many people go all out and then forget the true meaning of Earth Day. I spent Earth Day (well the weekend before) at our city's annual event in a nearby park. Representing my local vegetarian group, I showed many people just how important it is to the planet, to eat veg!

Following are the top ten reasons why veganism (or vegetarianism) is incredibly important to the health of our planet:

1) Switching to a vegan diet (or simply reducing meat by 20%, as I've recently heard) is better for the earth than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid. Why? As quoted in the UN report, "Livestock's Long Shadow": "[Meat production] is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases - responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. " This is greater than all the cars and trucks in the world, combined. It produces 65% of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the global warming potential of CO2) and 37% of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2)."

2) If that weren't enough, land pollution is further intensified by raising animals for food. Animals produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population - 86,600 pounds per second. This cakes onto the earth, creating a kind of pavement that even hardy, native plants cannot grow through, starving the wild animal population in that area and ruining the land.

3) Don't forget about our water! Of course, everything that is deposited on land, eventually makes its way into our groundwater or the streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. The Sierra Club has documented "crimes, violations, or other operational malfeasance at more than 630 industrial meat factories in 44 states." Millions of gallons of liquefied feces and urine seeped into the environment from collapsed, leaking or overflowing storage lagoons, and flowed into rivers, streams, wetlands and groundwater. Hundreds of manure spills have killed millions of fish.

4) Meanwhile, most of the soybean and corn produced today are fed to these animals, since they cannot graze naturally on the land like they used to (it's more efficient to have them in feedlots). These crops require incredible amounts of fossil fuels and land space.

5) 23 times more land is required to feed a meat-eater than a vegan, because of this need to grow food, and then feed it to the animals. This land is often abused and over-used, leading to erosion and the disappearance of top-soil, not to mention sending chemical fertilizers flowing into our waters and land.

6) The beef in one Big Mac represents enough wheat to make five loaves of bread. Think of all the grain that could be used to feed people instead! Animals are naturally inefficient because much of their food is converted into energy for movement, excreted as manure, or used for the growth of body parts not eaten by people. Very little can become direct edible weight gain. The current "food shortage crisis" has more to do with food wasted in feeding animals, which are then sold to rich people and rich nations.

7) What about our water? We all know how precious our drinkable water is. Too bad that more than half of the water in the US goes to raising animals for food! It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. The production of one hamburger requires enough water for 17 showers!

8) How much are you paying for gas, now? Well, we know that most of the gas prices are as a result of companies' decisions outside our country, but producing a single hamburger patty uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles.
(This is Creole Eggplant Stew with Beans, from one of my many vegan cookbooks. Spicy and quick!)
9) Rain forests. All it takes is one word. We know now that people are working furiously to save the rain forests, and we hope that fewer meat products are coming from rain forested areas, but did you know that rain forests are now in danger because of the demand for soybean and corn crops.... to feed those animals?

10) Have you gotten this far? Now, think about the bald eagle, the tiger, the polar bear, the panda...
We all know and love these endangered animals. We cry out and take action when these animals come to harm due to human violence or negligence. Yet, how do these animals differ from the cow, the pig, the chicken, the fish? Don't all these creatures have a right to live - and shouldn't we celebrate that on Earth Day?

I leave you with some of the best reasons to go vegan or vegetarian for the earth - a long, healthy, and beautiful life with good food! (Did you know that the longest living person was a vegetarian?)

Here is my lunch for the week: A tabbouleh recipe with some artichoke hearts and white beans for more substance. Yum!

Next up, Olive Oregano Wine-Baked Tofu, from Dreena's Food Network recipe! Awesome!!!! Salty, savory, a hint of sweet and complete yum. I did let the tofu marinate for several hours in the fridge. Served with protein and calcium happy quinoa.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The fastest post from the west... I mean east!

How fast can I do this blog entry? How short? I had a professor in grad school who used to make us practice for comps exams by writing papers only one page long. Do you know how hard that is for a blabber mouth (or blabber typer) like me??
Well, I have a thousand more things to do today, and need to get this post off in a jiffy, so I will stop blabbing and start talking food.
First picture: Chickpea Spinach Curry from Vegan with a Vengeance. (Possibly my favorite vegan cookbook ever). This was AWESOME! So creamy and perfectly spicy, thanks to the mustard seeds. And, very, very easy. Go - Eat- Now! 4 stars!

Honey Tempeh Salad, originally a chicken recipe from Southern Living, I modified this with tempeh and agave nectar. The cranberries and pecans are perfect! 3 stars.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, from Sinfully Vegan. The PB didn't mix in too well, so they were really like regular (but fudgy, delicious!) brownies. 3 stars.

Wheat-less Banana Bread, from La Dolce Vegan! Very, very, ....flat! I think that there just wasn't enough batter. The recipe read, "1 cups" flour, but I didn't know what to do! A little grainy, due to the brown rice flour, but good flavor! I cut it into small "bites" to serve. 2 1/2 stars.

So, that's it for another week! Off I go to make more from V w/aV!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Quick and Easy!

This week was a rather lethargic one, as I have been bed-ridden (or couch-ridden) with some sort of strange dizziness. Not anemia, not real vertigo, so maybe an inner-ear thing. At any rate, I haven't been in the mood or had the physical capability to do any kind of cooking.
However, after nine days of this, I was done feeling sorry for myself and ready to get off my butt and see what I could do. So, here are three super quick vegan dishes that also would be great during the summer months! The first is my dad's 3 bean salad. I actually add a fourth bean (the garbanzo) and cut the dressing in half. It's basically this: six cans of beans, 1/2 red onion (chopped), 1/2 C vegetable oil, 1/2 C sugar, 1/2 apple cider vinegar. Mix and marinate overnight for the best flavor, mixing a few times if possible. You could probably cut down on the sugar, but otherwise, this has tons of good protein and fiber and is pretty low-cal, so eat it up!

This fudge, from Sinfully Vegan, is perhaps the easiest fudge I've ever made. In fact, it's the first fudge I've ever made! I'm very intimidated by the typical fudge recipes with their candy thermometer and softball stage, so this was right up my alley. It was creamy and yummy, but the cream cheese flavor was a little bit too strong. However, it was all gobbled up at my recent Veg Group meeting!

And last but not least, is this quick veggie-tofu stir-fry. My husband was craving a stir-fry, and actually asked for tofu in it! We worked together to cook the veggies, but I baked the Asian Tofu from the Candle Cafe Cookbook and tossed some black sesame seeds on top. About 20 minutes total cooking time - yum! Now, I have more time to spend....on the couch ;)....reading, of course!