Meat Consumption Drops, Go Meatless Mondays!

23 01 2012

Better For You, Better For the Planet

 

 

 

 

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, sometimes it feels like the whole world is in love with meat, and just can’t get enough of it. Hours of TV time are dedicated to slow-mo glamour shots of melty bacon-cheeseburgers, and the people around you fret about your need for animal proteins. Depending on where you live, your restaurant options may be limited.

But things are changing for the better, veg-heads, they really are.

In fact, US meat consumption is down.

Yes, according to The CME Groups (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) Livestock Report, the consumption of domestically raised meats hit 189 pounds per person in 2007, then began a rapid decline, and is expected to drop to 165 pounds in 2012. The group, of course, sees this as a bad thing, and they analyze a number of factors that play into it.

The costs of producing meat are up, so the price had to go up. When oil prices soar, the costs of growing and trucking food for the animals, as well as transporting them to and from the slaughter go up. Our new wrinkle is the diversion of corn to ethanol, which means corn is more expensive, too.

Meat producers are actually exporting more of their products, and charging more for them as a result. Pork exports jumped 40% in 2008. Unfortunately we have exported out Western ways to countries like China, where meat consumption is rising.

So, cutting back on meat is not putting farmers out of work, yet. They are just shipping it out of the country. Don’t forget, there has been a terrible drought in Texas, which has wreaked havoc on their beef industry.

The CME group is unhappy about the US government’s role in advising people to eat less meat, and concludes that groups who advocate against eating meat for animal rights, environmental, and health reasons are finally having an impact.It sure took some time, as the experts have been advising less meat consumption to all the people with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and all the other diet-related ailments that plague us for years.

Of course, the fact that major meat recalls and mass food borne illness outbreaks have become far too common may also play a role. There are just so many good reasons to give up meat.

Campaigns like Meatless Monday are putting the idea of cutting back in the public consciousness at just the right moment, when meat prices are up and people may not have as much to spend, anyway. Fingers crossed, maybe this year will see an even bigger drop!

As somebody who has been playing my small role in educating people about the healthy alternatives to the Standard American Diet, I am glad to see this shift.

Bravo Americans who are getting the message. Keep up the good work.

MEATLESS MONDAY ANIMATED VIDEO

 





The Latest Numbers on Meatless Eating-Yes, It Is Growing

12 12 2011

Chopped Salad with Thousand Island, Big Vegan Style

For much of my life, I liked believing that there were lots of vegetarians out there. I wanted to believe that our numbers were swelling exponentially, every day. Even when I was the only vegetarian I knew, I held out hope that if I got in a car and drove far enough, I would get to some veggie nirvana. Back then, we didn’t really have any numbers, and anyone you talked to was stuck with their own experiences. If you worked in a Coop or a vegetarian restaurant, you might think half the world were vegetarians. If you lived in a small town in the Midwest, you might not know a single one.

Well, thanks to the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) we have numbers. If you have been feeling like vegans are getting some attention lately, well, their numbers have doubled since 2009. Extrapolating from the results, 7.5 million people call themselves vegans. There are 15 million people who call themselves vegetarians, and still eat dairy and eggs .

In the latest poll, done by Harris Interactive for VRG over the phone, between March 30 and April 3 2011, it becomes clear that even as the numbers for dedicated vegetarians and vegans grow slowly, the numbers for people who eat vegetarian often are growing much more quickly.

These numbers show a real mainstreaming of the idea that you can enjoy meatless meals, even if you love meat. Basically, 17% of Americans don’t eat meat, fish poultry at many meals but less than half, 16% more than half. That adds up to about a third of the American population opting for meatless some of the time.

The number that said that they eat meat at every meal was 48%, which is still a little scary, since that is a lot of animal foods for anyone to consume. I didn’t think anybody was still eating it at every single meal, which shows how much I know.

Other interesting results confirm a few things that you may have suspected. There are more vegetarians out West (think California) than down South (think Texas,) and more women than men are vegetarians, but not by much. A hopeful number is that equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats are veg-heads, possibly the only thing the two parties can share, these days.

So, after all these years in the vegetarian movement, it’s nice to hear that our numbers are growing. Every little bit helps, and we have to give credit to everyone who has done her part to build awareness and make veg look appealing and do-able. From the animal rights activists, to the chefs and authors, to the hot celebrities who endorse a plant-based diet as they look great on the red carpet, everybody has a role to play. Powerful books and films have been getting the word out, and people like Bill Clinton have put a face on the miraculous cure of a good diet. Campaigns like Meatless Mondays have helped put the veggie option in front of millions of people, and many of them are choosing to go that way, at least some of the time.

So, be of good cheer, in this season of giving, since we give the world a present every time we don’t eat meat. Our message is getting out, my friends, and that is something to celebrate.





Thanksgiving is Almost Here, Bring a Big Salad!

20 11 2011

The Pepitas and Pomegranates Make it Pop!

The big day is almost here. If you have already been testing and planning, you’ve been sampling some festive fare. If you put the whole thing off for the last minute, well, you still have time. We’ve shared (virtually) some Roasted Sweet Potato Fries with Peanut Sauce, Wild Rice, Apple and Walnut Stuffing, and maple-Dijon Glazed Brussels Sprouts.

Today, it’s time to talk Turkey.

Homemade Mock Turkey Roast with Stuffing

For those of you who miss the turkey on holidays, or just want a home-style vegan meal anytime, this is a good way to mock up a bird. It’s really not much trouble, now that we can use gluten flour to make mock turkey with no kneading required—and lots of tasty, chewy goodness. Serve it with Basic Mushroom Gravy and all the traditional trimmings.

It’s great fun to share your vegan food with family and friends, so go for it. The salad will certainly win some converts. Enjoy!

Mock Turkey

2          tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½         cup/60 g minced onion

2          cloves garlic, minced

2          cups/255 g gluten flour

1          cup/115 g chickpea flour

½         cup nutritional yeast

1          tsp salt

6          oz/170 g reduced-fat or regular firm tofu, drained and pressed

1          cup/240 ml vegetable stock

¼         cup/60 ml tamari

½         tsp ground sage

Stuffing

1          cup/55 g cubed bread

1          tsp extra-virgin olive oil

½         cup/60 g chopped onion

¼         cup/60 ml vegetable stock

½         tsp ground sage

½         tsp dried thyme

½         tsp salt

2          tbsp walnuts, chopped

The Mock Turkey in a Wide Loaf Shape

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C/gas 4. Oil a 3- to 4-cup/720 to 960-ml metal bowl or a small loaf pan. Put a teapot of water on to simmer for the bain marie later.

2. To make the mock turkey: In a small sauté/frying pan, heat the oil, then sauté the onion and garlic until soft and sweet, 5 to 10 minutes. Mix together the flours, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl. In a blender or food processor, puree the tofu until very smooth. Add the stock, tamari, and sageto the tofu and blend. Add the onions and all the oil from the pan and puree. Stir the contents of the blender into the flour mixture until smooth. Scoop about two thirds of the dough into the oiled bowl.

3. To make the stuffing: Put the bread cubes in a medium bowl. Heat the oil in a small sauté/frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until soft and clear. Add the bread, stock, sage, thyme, and salt and stir until the bread is soft. Stir in the nuts.

4. Press the stuffing into a ball (or if you are using a loaf pan, into an oblong) and press it into the center of the mock turkey dough, then cover it with the remaining dough. Flatten the top, brush it with oil, and cover with foil. Put the bowl in a baking dish and pour in boiling water to make a bain marie. Carefully transfer it to the oven and bake for 2 hours. When the “turkey” is quite firm, take it out of the water bath, then put the bowl on a rack to cool. Run a paring knife around the edge to loosen it, then invert it onto a cutting board or platter. Slice the “turkey” and serve it with gravy and trimmings.

Big Salad with Caramelized Pumpkinseeds, Pears and Pomegranate

From The New Vegetarian (Chronicle Books)

Serves 6
This is a great wintertime salad, with the pomegranates that only appear around the holidays and pears and pumpkinseeds. Vegans can just leave out the cheese and enjoy the crunchy spiced seeds instead. To take seeds out of the pomegranate, cut through the skin from stem to tip, dividing the fruit in quarters. Hold it over a bowl and pull apart the sections, then tear apart the pieces, gently freeing the seeds.

Score the skin in quarters, then break open

1 cup pumpkinseeds, raw
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large romaine lettuce, washed and dried
2 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 large bosc pears, sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh mint, optional
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice concentrate
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave or organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted pumpkinseed oil
1 small pomegranate, arils (seeds) removed

the pith around the arils floats in water....

1. Make the pumpkinseed topping up to a week ahead. Heat the oil for a minute in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the pumpkinseeds and toss in the pan over high heat, until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the brown sugar and toss constantly until seeds are coated with melted sugar (careful-it will burn easily). Quickly mix in the spices and salt, then spread on a plate to cool. Cool completely and store in an air tight container until ready to use.
2. Make dressing in processor by mincing garlic and mint. Add pomegranate concentrate, lemon, honey and salt and pulse to mix. Gradually drizzle in oil with machine running.
3. Wash and dry romaine, then slice across the leaf in 1/2 inch wide strips. Arrange on plates or in bowl. Top with shallots, pears and cheese. Drizzle over the dressing and top with the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. Serve right away.





Dinner and Dessert at the Big Vegan Potluck!

1 11 2011
Take the Tour, Comment to Win

Well, dear reader, it’s week three, and time for some totally satisfying, delicious vegan main courses and yes, DESSERT!

Welcome to the party a new wave of talented visiting chefs, all of whom bring the magic mojo to their kitchens all across America.

This week, each of the new posts has a FREE BOOK to give away, if you post the winning comment. I am still giving away a book here, so comment by the end of the week and you will be in the running for a FREE BOOK!.

For even more fun, tomorrow you can visit the Chronicle Books website, where I will be guest blogging about the potluck, and the wonderful staff at Chronicle will have posted their own in-house potluck results, for Big Vegan fun ala San Francisco.

Eating plant-based was never so fun, with all these lovely bloggers who have taken the time to post photos and articles. It’s truly a Big Vegan feast, served in bits and bytes.

DAY 3:

Green and Red Spaghetti

Sandra Gutierrez

http://www.sandraskitchenstudio.com/

Bengali Curry of Cauliflower and Kidney Beans

Robin Robertson

http://veganplanet.blogspot.com/2011/11/big-vegan-virtual-potluck.html

Spanish Chickpea Fritters

Julie Hasson

http://www.juliehasson.com/2011/11/big-vegan/

New Potato Rendang with Green Beans

Pat Tanumihardja

http://theasiangrandmotherscookbook.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/rendang-recipe/

Sundried Tomato-Kale Calzones AND

Pumpkin Cherry Bundt Cake

Leinana Two Moons

http://vegangoodthings.blogspot.com/2011/11/double-big-vegan-whammy-calzones-cake.html

Peanut Butter Tart with “Ganache”

Tara Desmond

http://crumbsonmykeyboard.com/2011/11/01/call-it-what-it-is-peanut-butter-tart-with-ganache-recipe/

DAY ONE:

Baguette French Toast Stuffed with “Cream Cheese” and Topped with Apples

Leinana Two Moons

Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

Maple Barley Granola with Pecans

Robin Asbell

DAY TWO:

Mango-Jícama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas    

Susan Russo

http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/2011/10/cookbook-review-big-vegan-by-robin.html

Armenian Red Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice

Bryanna Clark Grogan

http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/10/big-vegan-potluck-day-2-armenian-lentil.html

Korean Miso-Tofu Soup

Nancie McDermott

http://nanciemcdermott.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/big-vegan-potluck-with-korean-miso-tofu-soup/

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa

Jill Nussinow

http://www.theveggiequeen.com/blog/

Please read, comment, and take a moment to scroll through these wonderful blogs. Every one of these writers has great articles, recipes, and books that might just make you a regular reader.

Follow them all on twitter, too. This week we have twitterers Julie Hasson  @everydaydish, @TaraMDesmond, Sandra Gutierrez @sandralatinista, Robin Robertson @globalvegan, and Leinanan Two Moons @vegangoodthings.

Week two’s writers  twitter handles are Susan Russo @foodblogga, Bryanna Clark Grogan @veganfeaster, Nancie McDermott @nanciemac, and Jill Nussinow @theveggiequeen.

Week one’s are Caron Golden @carondg and Leinana Two Moons@vegangoodthings, and of course, me, @robinasbell.

Don’t forget to comment on all the posts if you want to win a copy of Big Vegan. If you are a twitter user, you can also tweet why you go vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan by midnight November 4 to enter to win a copy.





The Environmental Impact of Your Food May Surprise You

11 09 2011

Just One Planet

If you still had questions about the impact of the consumption of meat, you got more answers in the last couple of months.

In August, Al Gore finally weighed in. Gore’s emphasis on transportation in his lectures and film, An Inconvenient Truth, had left many of us wondering why he didn’t mention the role of global meat production in climate change. Since the film came out in 2006, Gore has kept silent as Peta staged protests at his events, and various organizations asked him to speak publicly on the impact of meat on the environment. Finally, in an interview he acknowledged the role of ag. “Industrial  Agriculture is part of the problem,” he said, and went on to discuss the clearing of forests and reliance on synthetic fertilizer as well. Better late than never.

It was about time, since The Environmental Working Group came out with a new report, called the Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change, which compares the carbon footprint of all the protein-containing  foods.

http://breakingnews.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/

The report didn’t pull any punches, and ovo-lacto vegetarians will be sad to hear that cheese is number 3 in environmental impact, just behind lamb and beef. Next in line were pork, salmon, turkey, chicken, tuna, eggs, and then plant foods, although yogurt and milk were down in the lower impact group with things like beans and nuts.

The metrics they used were pretty sophisticated, taking into account all the environmental effects and costs. It’s a fascinating report, and they really added in everything, start to finish, from the gas used to grow and transport animal feed to the emissions that come from the animals’ waste, to the refrigeration at the sales point. It’s interesting to know, just to nail down numbers for all these things. It all adds up.

The group also makes the important distinction between local and grass fed animal products and industrial ones. They urge that anyone who wants to eat meat and cheese will do far better by choosing those that eat only grass, not trucked in high energy grain, and that are not trucked or flown long distances to get to you.

Still, what it all comes down to, is eat plants, save the planet. One person eating one less burger a week is like taking your car off the road for 320 miles, on up to if the whole US population ate no meat or cheese just one day a week would be like not driving 91 billion miles.

So, if you are a meat eater, try meatless as much as you can. Eat small amounts of local, grassfed, and stretch it with plants. If you are ovo lacto, go local, and go vegan some nights, to reduce your impact even more.

We only get one planet, and it only seems polite to save a little for the next guy.








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