Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Go Veg? and GIVEAWAY!

Birthday Party for the Trees at imabima.blogspot.com

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.
Source: http://www.jewishveg.com/je.html

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.

Some of my other vegetarian-friendly posts:
Mushroom Barley Casserole
Five Great Vegetarian Cookbooks
Tortellini Tomato Soup (yum)
Why be a vegetarian?
Kosher Bacon?

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


Anonymous said...

I'm working on being a vegan. My family throws me curves. :)

I love coming here because you inspire me in so many ways.

The Egel Nest said...

Leave it to you to have an awesome Blog Tu B'shevat celebration!

Happy New Year!

The Egel Nest

Keli Ata said...

I'd just love to make a transition to going veggie.

One of my favorite meatless meals was my mom's. An Italian meal from the old country. She never knew the name of the meal, so whenever we were having it she'd just rattle off the ingredients:

"We're having tomatoes, potatoes, rice and green peppers." All sauted in a frying pan. Delicious. Yum.

Another was spinach pie, always served at the St. Joseph's Day table. All meals had to be meatless because Catholic tradition taught that when Italians were starving it was fava beans that prevented people from starving to death.

The great thing about St. Joseph's Day/meatless meals was that because everything was meatless, even the poor could contribute. Eating meatless was also supposed to remind you of the poor who often can only afford meatless food.

And while I am here--Happy Birthday to my favorite tree, the huge chestnut tree in front of my childhood home. In the fall when the chestnut fell to the ground we'd carve holes through them and make chestnut necklaces.

TY for allowing a long post.

Keli Ata said...

BTW, doesn't Judaism teach that in a war trees even of the enemies aren't supposed to be cut down? Why is that?

Ilanna said...

Tu B'shavat has always been a bit special for me, because I was born on Tu B'shavat. :) In fact my mom says that my user name ilanna means little tree.

Planting trees is something we like to do to honor people on a regular basis.

As for vegetarianism - I learn a new recipe every time I invite my friend over for dinner. He is a chef and I like to try and impress him when i cook dinner for them. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday trees!

John Sklar said...

As the IMA's Dad I must say that there are several good points to being a vegetarian.

1. More meat for me and Harry!
2. Vegetarians know how to make the best side dishes. (they call it an entree)
3. They show an appropriate concern for what they eat. I do too. I only eat the meat of vegetarian animals.

Phyllis Sommer said...

thanks, dad, for your snarky comments on vegetarians:-) i can always count on you!!!!!!

keli - we don't cut down even the enemy's *fruit* trees because we (and all humans) can eat of the fruit. we are allowed to cut down non-fruit trees to use in the siege. the fruit trees are for the benefit of people for sustenance... (and your recipe sounds yummy!)

Maude Lynn said...

My family does at least one meatless meal each week. OK, that's not true. I prepare one meatless meal each week; they eat it and don't know the difference!

windycindy said...

I have been a vegetarian since I could choose my own choices. Thanks,Cindi