By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
If you like me were glued to the TV this week to watch the 50 year anniversary of mans' landing on the moon, you may have heard Michael Collins, the astronaut who made the trip but didn't walk on the moon, describe earth as "a beautiful oasis, something to be preserved". I was struck by how beautiful earth must have appeared viewed from a spaceship 384,400 km away. A place to be preserved, with colour and life, a safe place to call home.
I have written about eating healthy food for almost 2 decades now. In particular I encourage people to eat more vegetables. Today my message is the same as it ever was except now there's a greater urgency to eat vegetables for the health of the planet as well as our bodies. I feel sad that 50 years on despite the brilliance of mans' landing on moon, we largely ignore this oasis called earth.
Also this week I watched - with some alarm - a story on the news about meat being made in the laboratory. Thin steaks grown from animal cells are being developed as a sustainable and humane replacement for factory meat production but with each steak costing approximately $70 "cell-based" meat still has a way to go before achieving scale. However creepy it may sound, to sustain the growing population and mans' increased appetite for meat, a lab grown alternative is probably a good thing. I can't help thinking however a more natural, and simple solution is to invest resources into vegetable consumption. For the good of man and the planet, eating more vegetables, beans and pulses is without question the safest, healthiest and most economical place to start.
Last year scientists warned that if the world is to stave off dangerous climate change, beef consumption in western countries needs to drop by 90%, replaced by five times more beans and pulses.
Deforestation to make way for livestock, along with methane emissions from cows and fertilizer use, creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the world's cars, trucks and airplanes. Meat rearing practices have produced the worst species extinction crisis since the dinosaurs were wiped out with man and livestock making up 96% of all mammals on the planet. And don't forget the effect land clearance has on the pollution of streams, rivers and, ultimately, the ocean.
We can't afford to eat too much meat. That's what I was told when we were growing up. The Sunday roast was a great treat and stretched into the next day in a big potato stew made with stock, dripping and leftover bits of meat.
Today we really can't afford to eat much meat, even if our wallets are stuffed full of money. It's a win win for everyone if we learn to accept that. Accept that it's no macho badge of honour to eat 400 g steaks each a night. If you do eat meat, fill half the plate with vegetables and a quarter with meat. Consider taking the lead from those who enjoy alcohol free nights during the week with a few meat-free nights as well. Make one, not two chickens feed 6 people and turn the carcasses into stock for soup the next day. Bulk up minced meat with masses of veggies to add fibre and extra nutrients to the meal and make patties from lentil and sweet potatoes with mushrooms for that sought after umami -meat flavour we crave so much.
Why not introduce a domestic carbon credit scheme into your household? This is especially useful for parents whose children are reluctant vegetable eaters. With children wielding placards about global warming and protecting our planet for their future this could be the opportunity you've been looking for to get your kids to eat more vegetables.
Any trick's worth it and this is a particularly worthy trick.
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