I am always on the lookout for healthy meal recipes, especially vegetarian meals and when I see ones I like, I must write them down (or copy and paste). I know a lot more people are like me, concerned about the food they eat, wanting to know where it came from and how it was grown, but they are also eager to eat food that is nutritious and keeps them healthy. Adding to this, more people are mindful of what the effects of meat production has on the environment. Therefore, many are changing their diet to a more plant based diet.
Not only is a vegetarian diet healthy for you, but it requires less energy, water and land to grow the plants, and less waste is produced particularly if they are grown organically. Our family decided to do Meatless Monday (well actually it is Meatless Wednesday for us) with another day of the week thrown in for good luck. It is important to us that we reduce our carbon footprint, but also improve our health. We have learned to cook with a variety of vegetables and to create interesting meals that the whole family enjoys.
Was it hard to change? Not really. Both my daughter and I adapted quiet easily, as I use to be vegetarian in my late teens and twenties, while my daughter tends to not eat a lot of meat. However, the men in our life did give us some push back. They were afraid that all they were going to get platefuls of steamed veg or salads, but once they could see the variety of meals that can be made, there has been no complaints. When starting out you need to plan your meals. This will help you avoid going back to the old reliable meals, especially if you are looking at the fridge thinking what am I going to cook. Decide what night(s) you are going to cook vegetarian and what ingredients you need. When you plan your week, you can do a weekly shop and take the stress out of shopping every day after work or the school run. Not only will you be organised, but you will be less wasteful, buying only what you need.
So, what are the benefits of going vegetarian. There are many - those that improve your health and those that help the environment. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Why you should eat more vegetables
Important sources of many nutrients. Vegetables (as well as fruit and grains) are packed with vitamins and minerals, essential for good health and to maintain our energy. Phytonutrients (antioxidants) found in many plants help to fight off many diseases and conditions.
Reduce your risk of getting diabetes. A UK study has found that increasing the amount of green, leafy vegetables in your diet may reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 14 per cent.
Important for Heart health. Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit may reduce your risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Vegetables such as potatoes, spinach, beans and tomato based products (pasta sauce tomato paste) are high in potassium, which may help to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Improves eye health. Dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and silver beet are high in antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. These are particularly important in lowering the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration – a leading cause of blindness in Australia.
Help maintain a healthy weight. Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories.
Happy gut. Many vegetables are high in fibre, keeping you full for longer and keeping your digestive system happy.
Why eating vegetables helps the environment
Meat production causes greenhouse gases. When a kilo of protein is produced from animals, throughout the whole process greenhouse gases are produced: Chicken produces 3.7kg, Pork produces 24kg, Cattle produces 1,000kg.
Meat production requires a lot of land. I am amazed to learn that we use 30% of the Earth for meat production. What is even more amazing is that we grow huge quantities of grain just to feed animals.
Deforestation. Much of the land deforested in the Amazon is used for cattle production. Even in Australia, we clear great masses of land to make room for animal production.
Air Pollution. When you compare the production of one kilo of animal protein versus one kilo of soy protein, 13 times more fossil fuel is needed for animal production. Then add the methane produced (approximately thirty million tons of methane).
Land and Water Pollution. Huge amounts of manure is produced from livestock. Around 500 million to one billion tons of manure are produced each year. That is three times the amount that the human population produces in a year. This manure, if not controlled can be toxic to the land, spreading pathogens and polluting our waterways.
Water use. Large amounts of water are required to produce meat and dairy products. To produce 1 glass of milk approximately 4 litres of water is required.
Energy use. Did you know it takes approximately ten times more energy to produce and transport livestock than it does for vegetables?
Our eating habits have a massive effect on the planet. I am not suggesting that you go vegetarian, but by eating meat more moderately, we can reduce the effects livestock production has on the environment. Eating a diet high in plant sources will reduce the risk of illness due to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and infections. Not only will you get the health benefits, but the earth will love you for it.
Have an earthly passionate day,
Attracta & The earthly passion team.