I have posted before about being a vegetarian. I do not usually proselytize about the veggie life -- in fact, I know that many people will never give up meat (hi Dad! hi Harry!). But that doesn't mean that eating a plant-based diet, even a few times a week, isn't a good idea for all of us. One of my favorite "earth-saving" tips is to eat a meat-free meal at least once a week.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Animals raised for food are responsible for 18% of global warming emissions -- more than transportation.
- Most of the 78 million acres of razed rainforest worldwide is to be used as grazing land to produce meat for North America. This leads to global warming, desertification, and driving 80% of the earth’s species to extinction. Every hamburger is the equivalent of 55 square feet of razed rainforest.
- Producing plant foods is 5-50 times more energy efficient than producing animal products! A pound of steak is the equivalent of burning a gallon of gasoline.
Judaism has always been interested in preserving our environment. Psalms 24:1 teaches: "The earth is God's in all its fullness." Our tradition holds the concept of "bal tashchit" -- do not waste, and this applies most especially to the fruits of the earth. If we shouldn't waste, then perhaps occasionally we should feed ourselves using means which do not use as many resources...
In honor of Tu B'Shevat, which is next Tuesday...can you do it? Can you go meatless once, twice, three times a week? One week each month, can you go meatless? What's the challenge you're willing to take to save even one tree, one acre of forest, one little bit of fresh air?
To get you started, here's one of my favorite veggie recipes (that doesn't use tofu!)...from one of my favorite cookbooks, the Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas (find this recipe and others at her website):
Seitan “Meat and Potatoes” Stew
6 to 8 servings
Seitan, a high-protein food made of wheat gluten, gives this stew a “meaty” texture. Prepared seitan is readily available in most natural foods stores as well as a growing number of well-stocked supermarkets.
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1/2 to 1 lb sliced mushrooms (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt-free all-purpose seasoning (like Spike or Mrs. Dash)
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds seitan cut into bite-sized pieces (the more the yummier)
- 1 cup frozen green peas, completely thawed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat half of the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onion is golden. Add 3 cups of water along with the potatoes, carrots, bouillon cube, and seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the potato and carrots are tender. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the seitan pieces and saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until most sides are nicely browned and crisp. Once the vegetables are done, use the back of a wooden spoon to mash enough of the potatoes to thicken the base of the stew. Stir in the sauteed seitan and peas. Add a bit more water if necessary. The consistency should be thick and moist, but not soupy. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper (use salt sparingly, if at all, since the bouillon cube and seitan add a salty flavor), then serve in shallow bowls.
Mushroom Barley Casserole
Five Great Vegetarian Cookbooks
Tortellini Tomato Soup (yum)
Why be a vegetarian?
Don't forget the Tu B'Shevat Giveaway!
Eco-Libris is trying to balance out our books -- planting a tree for every book. They've generously offered to plant 10 trees for one lucky reader, with accompanying stickers to put into your own books to proudly show your "tree offset" and your commitment to the environment. Check them out -- they offer gift cards and easy payment via Paypal. Their blog is full of great greeny stuff.
How can you win?
1. Make a comment here or on any of my Tu B'Shevat posts. Say something nice about trees or the earth. Make a meatless pledge? This is your entry! You can enter each day - once per day. Come back and visit all week for this and other giveaways.
2. For an extra entry, post on your blog or tell a friend about this giveaway and Eco-Libris and link back to me. Use my button:
<a href="http://imabima.blogspot.com"><img src="http://i214.photobucket.com/albums/cc126/imabima/tubshevatparty.jpg" border="0" alt="Birthday Party for the Trees at imabima.blogspot.com"></a>
3. Don't forget to give me a way to get in touch with you if you win!
4. This giveaway ends on Tuesday, January 15th (that's today) at 9pm Central Time. Winner will be announced Wednesday morning, along with the next Tu B'Shevat Birthday Giveaway!
Come back all week for the Tu B'Shevat Birthday Party and more green green green....hug a tree!
Previous Tu B'Shevat Birthday Party Posts:
For the Love of the Trees