Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vegetarian Week in the Guerilla Kitchen

If you've read this blog before, you know that I'm generally very interested in meat-free meals, partly out of sheer curiosity and partly as a means of being a more responsible resident of the planet Earth. (And if you haven't read GK before, Hi! My name is Genevieve and I'm sort if a pretend-sometimes-not-really-vegetarian). So, since much of the food I prepare is meatless anyway, Brady and I decided to take on the challenge of one full week, meat-free, and chose this week for the experiment.

I'm not going to delude myself into believing that I could, or will give up all meat forever and always, but there are so many reasons today to consider cutting back on our individual meat consumption. Historically, the more we are able to produce, the more we consume, and become accustomed to consuming, to the detriment of our health and environment. Today, there is nearly three times as much chicken meat available per capita in this country than in 1950, with individual beef consumption reaching a staggering 90 lbs per year, representing a steady increase from the opening of the first McDonalds restaurant about twenty years earlier. The point is, we haven't always eaten this way, and the amount of meat that many of us are eating is far beyond what we have evolved to need for optimum health. One of my biggest beefs (hah, hah) with meat production, though, is the amount of water needed to get a steak from the "farm" (factory) to your plate. If every American ate beef one less time this week, we could save over 467, 592, 039, 000 gallons in just seven days* - Over 4.5 trillion gallons. And that would be pretty cool, right?
Click here for the full-sized version

Like many people, I grew up in a household where a meal wasn't considered "complete" unless it involved some form of meat. My parents had the best of intentions, of course, like most do: They wanted their kids to get the best nutrition possible so that we might grow up to be strong and healthy adults. But knowing what we now know about the global effects of meat production and alternative protein sources, maybe it's time to be more conscious about these choices. We love and admire them, but we are not our parents, after all.

This veggie-week idea presents a bit more of a challenge for Brady since he tends to grab lunch near his office, but thanks working on the UPenn campus, there are lots of delicious veggie options. Thank goodness for those ethical-vegetarian college kids.

I am certain that I will not be able to blog about each dinner individually, so here's a run-down of the plan for the week:

Saturday: Arugula & alfalfa sprout salad with chickpeas, walnuts and strawberries
Sunday: Portobello mushroom cheeseburgers
Monday: Chickpea-salad pita sandwiches
Tuesday: Sesame-peanut noodles with broccoli
Wednesday: Quinoa corn chowder
Thursday: Black bean taco salad
Friday: Tofu scramble with peppers, onion, carrots & spices
Saturday: Cheese tortellini with fresh peas, summer squash & red onion

Looks good, right? I don't think I'll be missing meat at all. Maybe you don't feel the need to go all-veggie for a full week, but maybe you'd like to commit one or two days to alternative protein sources. Take a shot at it - small changes make a big difference.

Quote of the Day: Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ~ Albert Einstein

*Calculation based on the US & World Population clock (311,728, 026) x 1,500 gallons per lb. of beef from water-use infographic.

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