Written by Nandia Batheja
In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month, we’ve put together this short guide going vegetarian: why to try it, where to learn the facts and what to cook!
Does a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Really Make a Difference?
So is it true? Does going meatless—even just once a week—really have that much of an impact on climate change and the environment?
In an article published by the Georgetown Environmental Law Review, author Christopher Hyner writes, “Climate change. Ocean dead zones. Fisheries depletion. Species extinction. Deforestation. World hunger. Food safety. Heart disease. Obesity. Diabetes. The list goes on. There is one issue at the heart of all these global problems that is too often overlooked by private individuals and policy makers alike—our demand for and reliance on animal products . . . According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), global agriculture—dominated by livestock production and the grains grown to support it—accounts for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions . . . The growing demand for animal agriculture is expected to be a major contributor to a roughly 80% increase in global greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector.”
If you’re feeling up to more statistics, here are some highlights of research cited by the now-famous documentary Cowspiracy:
- Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions
- Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2E limit by 2030, all from raising animals
- Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day
- Reducing methane emission would create tangible benefits almost immediately
- Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 20% - 33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today
- Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land and 45% of the earth’s total land
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction
- 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted, and we could see fishless oceans by 2048
- Animal Agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction
- 1,100 land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years
- More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour
- We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people
- 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries
Ahhh! And that doesn’t even get into the animal abuse or nutrition concerns of our meat industry.
But the good news is that you can do something about it, and it doesn’t mean going totally vegan and being on the front line of the next PETA rally in your area.
Even incorporating one vegetarian and/or vegan day a week, or one meal a day, can make a big difference. Small change practiced widely adds up quickly. It’s also significant to introduce your kids to vegetarian meals made with whole foods; they learn to enjoy those meals more and maybe even start to crave veggies!
Learning More About The Food Industry
If you’d like to go deeper into the facts but feel overwhelmed on where to start, Nutriciously published a list of the 22 Best Vegan Documentaries. For those of you with Netflix accounts, Decider has a list of the 10 Best Food & Health Documentaries available on Netflix.
And, for my readers out there (yay I’m glad you exist!), Bustle has a list of 10 Nonfiction Books That Tell You Where Your Food Comes From.
Seven Vegan and Vegetarian Recipe Blogs For Busy Parents
Okay okay, enough of all the background. Ready to get cooking? Here are seven places to find quick, simple and easy vegan and vegetarian recipes for your busy days.
- Perhaps one of my favorite food blogs out there: 101 Cookbooks has hundreds of simple, delicious and balanced vegetarian recipes. I’ve never made something from here that didn’t result in a chorus of Yummmms from whoever was eating it.
- Eating Well has a 30-Day Vegetarian Diet Plan perfect for people who want to go meatless for a month. Use these recipes every day, or enjoy them over time!
- Food For The Soul is a treasure-trove. Run by vegan, author and chef Ama Opare, this blog has interviews, information, recipes, courses, books and more!
- Veg Recipes of India is another of my personal favorites—the only place I’ll trust for Indian food recipes other than my mother and aunties. Ranging from simple to complex recipes, this site gets Indian food <3
- Tracye McQuirter, author, public health nutritionist, speaker and vegan of 30 years has a series of recipes on her website, and also offers books and nutrition counseling!
- Visit Post Punk Kitchen for vegan magic, run by Isa Chandra, chef and self-proclaimed “baketivist”.
- Naturally Ella, organized by recipe and by ingredients, takes a non-extreme approach to diet. Eat for your body, eat what makes you feel good, eat well.
Cheers to Vegetarian month, and to the delicious (meatless??) dinner you might cook up tonight. And if you’re ever low on inspiration, visit our Pinterest board for more veggie meal ideas!