Archive for April, 2007

eric

Eat Greener

Our third installment of our "Earth Day" series will focus on simple tips to eat greener foods.  It just so happens that eating greener coincides with eating vegetarian.  We have seen the positive impact that going vegetarian just one day a week has on our planet.  By following some simple guidelines there are additional ways to green up a vegetarian diet. 

Remember these are simply guidelines, not rules!  Make the effort to follow them when it is practical.  It would be best if we could follow these all the time, but sometimes it is just not feasible.  So, do it when you can, but you do not need to live your life by them to make a difference.  For example, try to adhere to them at home, but on Friday night when you go out for Mexican food, don’t worry about it.

  • Buy locally - all kinds of benefits can be had with this one.  It is probably the most important guideline to follow.  You support your local farmers, your food is fresh and the energy inputs, such as fuel to transport the food is negligible.  Most of the time this food is also grown organically.  With Spring here, what better time to visit your farmers market?  For listings of farmers markets in your area, click here.
  • Buy organic- probably the next best thing.  Your food has not been sprayed with pesticides and the ground it was grown in was not flooded with fertilizers.  Pesticides are not good for your health and fertilizers are not good for our planet’s health.
  • Buy seasonal- Let nature determine what foods are ready to eat, not the grocery store.  What’s in season in Chile may not be what’s season in Oregon.  Eating seasonal provides the best tasting foods.  Combine this with buying locally and the benefits of fresh, healthy great tasting food will abound.  To find out what’s in season in your area, click here.
  • Grown your own- You do not need huge plots of land and a tractor to grow your own food, just throw some pots on your back deck and start an herb garden or tomatoes or peppers or all of them!
  • Bring your own bag-  This is too simple not to do.  You will always have them if you keep them in the trunk of your car (or bike).  For more info read ban the bag.

These five simple tips can have a big impact on our planet.  Vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can make a difference by following them.  Not only do these guidelines benefit our planet….they also help to make us healthier and more connected with our food supply.

The first time anyone posted in the wannaveg forum was by a gentleman named Mortimor Von Sprout (aka, Andrew).  Andrew is a loyal reader,  commenter and friend of mine.  He has a bit of a creative side and came up the following bio and post for Mortimor.

The Bio of Mortimor Von Sprout
I hail from the small vegetable-rich land known as the Duchy of Water Cress, the world’s hot-bed of vegetarian resistance for centuries. The last animal killed within it’s borders was a dung beetle, who, in the year of our Vegi-Lord Seventeen and eighty two accidentally stumbled into the road and was crushed by a free roaming Tibetan Yak who had been evacuated to Water Cress to save him from Chinese poachers. I believe passionately in the right of animals to live, and of vegetables to be grown to their succulent best and consumed by the peace-loving Hippycrats of Water Cress. If, like me, you desire to tear asunder the oppressive regimes of the carnivores who mascarade as men, join me, and we shall topple them together!!

Here is the post:

Mortimor’s Post
Good day kind sirs, I would like to formally introduce myself and pledge my life and sizeable fortune to the war on meat eaters. I am the Honourable Mortimer Von Sprout the 4th, of the Duchy of Water Cress. If all goes according to our plans that we have neatly laid out on recycled hemp paper and drawn with renewable corn oil based inks, the war shall be swift and brutal and we shall feast on the flesh of these foul meat eaters before long…and yes, I am aware of the irony of that statement.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when Andrew decided to go vegetarian one day a week.  He’s been doing it for a couple months now and has the following to say about his experience.  No joking around this time. :)

What does going vegetarian one day a week mean to me? Is it a life changing commitment? Some sort of world altering epiphany? To tell you the truth, it’s really pretty easy. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a lazy, self-absorbed, set-in-his-ways kind of guy. My diet consists largely of whatever’s easiest to get my hands on at any given moment, and frankly, I don’t really like many vegetables. So when I was first presented with the idea of “going veg” it seemed like it would be a real pain in the a$@. In reality, it turns out it’s just the opposite. I was surprised by how much of what I already eat was one minor step away from being meatless, and by how much else was easy to get my hands on. Now, I realize that eating pasta without the meat sauce, or cheese pizza doesn’t make me a vegetarian gourmet, but it contributes a little to my health, contributes a little to the environment, and best of all it allows me to feel good about having done both those things without really doing much at all(In case you forgot, I’m lazy and selfish). Give it a try and you’ll be surprised how easy it is.

Many thanks to Andrew for his thoughts so far, I am glad you are enjoying the new change in your diet.  Keep up the good work! 

eric

Go Veg, Drive a Hummer

Just kidding, just kidding!  This is the second installment of the wannaveg.com ‘Earth Day’ series this week.  Today, we will take a look at one issue that I personally think needs to be added to our top ten reasons to go veg one day a week.  Let’s talk about gas.  Not the kind of gas that comes from eating bean burritos…the kind of gas that is responsible for global warming. 

At times it seems overwhelming just how much we hear about global warming lately.  The media is definitely focusing on it.  I am not about to complain though, because we need to hear about it.  

As an aside, yesterday my father and I were talking on the phone about how during the presidential elections two years ago, Global Warming was barely a blip on the radar, and other things took center stage (not getting into that).  We both agreed that in the upcoming 2008 election, a candidate will not stand a chance of winning unless they have a decent plan on what they’re going to do to combat Global Warming.  In my opinion,this a dramatic turnaround in politics in just two years.  I digress….back to the gases. 

Consider this:

  • Did you know that according to the EPA , cattle in the U.S. emit about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20% of U.S. methane emissions?
  • One cow can emit around 600 litres of methane a day.1
  • U.S. cattle account for 19 percent of global methane emissions related to human activities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.1
  • Methane has 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.  There just happens to be more carbon dioxide than methane. 2

These stats are only focusing on the methane that cattle from the U.S. emit from their bodies.  They do not tell the whole picture.  Other greenhouse gases are produced  "peripherally" to the animals themselves, such as:

  • Burning fossil fuel to produce mineral fertilizers used in feed production. (this is somewhere around 41 million tonnes of CO2 per year.)2
  • Methane release from the breakdown of fertilizers and from animal manure. (over 18 million tonnes of CO2 per year.)2
  • Land-use changes for feed production and for grazing. (somewhere around 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 per year.)2
  • Fossil fuel use during feed and animal production.2
  • Fossil fuel use in production and transport of processed and refrigerated animal products.2

Animals and animal production literally produce tones of greenhouse gases annually.   All said, emissions from animal agriculture contribute more to global warming than all the cars and trucks on the planet.  And, global warming is just one of the issues surrounding the way we raise animals.  Other issues such as land erosion, water consumption, pollution, impact on biodiversity, etc., are not being considered here.  For more information on these issues take a look at the United Nation’s full report.  It is a bit lengthy at 400 pages, but considers most of the inputs and outputs of animal agriculture.

By going vegetarian one day a week, you can reduce greenhouse gases from animal agriculture by approximately 1/7th.  It just goes to show that a modest change can have dramatic effects.  It is nearly equivalent to owning a Prius, except that the benefits are realized immediately and it costs $30,000 less.  However, going veg AND owning a Prius….wow!

References:
1.  Additive in Animal Feed Reduces Methane Emissions NationalAcademies.org

2.  Livestocks Long Shadow, United Nations chapter 3 virtualcentre.org

eric

Earth Day this Sunday

In honor of Earth Day coming up this Sunday, I am reiterating the mission of this site.  Choosing to go vegetarian, even one day a week makes a difference on our planet, our health and the lives of animals everywhere.  This week, wannaveg.com will host a series of Earth Day related stories, so be sure to visit everyday for new posts.  If there are any articles or stories you would like to contribute please let me know! 

For more information on Earth Day click here.  For events scheduled in your area this link may be a good place to start.  Otherwise just do a quick search on the Internet.

(from our ‘Mission‘ page)

The top 10 reasons why adopting a vegetarian diet one day a week will make a difference. In a year you will… 

* Save 84,000 gallons of water.

* Save 245 lbs of grain.

* Save 7,700 sq feet of rain forest. (That is equivalent to four good sized houses.)

* Reduce your contribution to the over 10,000,000,000 animals slaughtered for food.

* Save 15.5 gallons of gasoline, good for one fill-up!

* Not contribute to over 403 lbs of manure produced by food animals.

* Reduce your contribution to over 24,000,000 pounds of antibiotics that are added to animal feed.

* Save 87 square feet of topsoil from erosion.
   
* Reduce your impact on our quickly vanishing ocean life!

* Do not forget about your health! A vegetarian diet, even one day a week will help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and it may even  help to drop a few pounds.

– During this week, stay tuned for a couple of updates in the top ten reasons to veg one day a week.

eric

Tomacco

From Wikipedia:  In the Simpsons’ episode, the tomacco was accidentally created by Homer Simpson when he "planted a little bit of everything" and fertilized his tomato and tobacco fields with plutonium.  The result is a tomato that apparently has a dried, gray tobacco center, and, although being described as tasting terrible by many characters, is also immediately and powerfully addictive.

Homer was able to mix genetic engineering and irradiation into one plant….Monsanto must have a bunch of Simpson’s fans working for it.

eric

There’s Arsenic in the Chicken!

For the last fifty years, conventional chicken producers have been adding arsenic to chicken feed.  The arsenic kills parasites and gives the chicken flesh a pinkish color.  I am not a chemist or an MD, but I would suspect that arsenic does not have a FDA recommended daily allowance in our diets.  :)  This article delves into why this practice was started.

Via Chemical & Engineering News:-"…one of the most puzzling practices of modern agriculture is the addition of arsenic-based compounds to most chicken feed. The point of the practice is to promote growth, kill parasites that cause diarrhea, and improve pigmentation of chicken meat. But Tyson Foods, the U.S.’s largest poultry producer, stopped using arsenic compounds in 2004, and many high-end and organic growers raise chickens quite successfully without them. What’s more, McDonald’s has asked its suppliers not to use arsenic additives, and the European Union banned them in 1999." Translation: since the 1950’s arsenic compounds…mostly Roxarsone—4-hydroxy-3-nitrobenzenearsonic acid

continue at treehugger.com

eric

Rat Poison

This just in….The FDA Certifies GM Corn As Rat Poison (via Ethicurean).  Good news for pet food manufacturer Menu Foods, they will not need to import rat poison from China anymore.  We have it locally. 

eric

GM Food

This is a short on GM food (genetically modified, not Chevrolet).  It is quick paced and interesting.  One part of the video discusses a seed genetically modified by Monsanto that uses a protein to produce its own pesticide.  This seed MON863 was approved for human consumption in 2006 in Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United States.  Both the USDA and the FDA do not mandate that genetically modified foods be labeled as such.  Studies have shown that the GM corn causes liver and kidney toxicity as well as hormonal imbalances in rats.  In some cases the toxins in this corn cause cell walls to perforate.  (you can’t make this stuff up)

Greenpeace has recently released a document discussing the toxicity of this corn.  To find out more information on genetically modified foods, check out the Union for Concerned Scientists. 

eric

The Junk Food Vegetarian

The "french-fry vegetarian" can be a common occurrence among school age kids.  It can also be a problem for adults.  We all know or have known at least one person that has a poor vegetarian diet.  Their diets consist of fat laden, high calorie foods and do not contain enough nutrient dense vegetables, fruits and grains.  Of course there is a huge population of meat eaters that also have an unhealthy diet, but a poor vegetarian diet seems to attract more attention.  This is probably because vegetarian diets are generally perceived to be healthier than diets that contain meat. 

from the American Heart Association

Are vegetarian diets healthful?
Most vegetarian diets are low in animal products. They’re also usually lower than non-vegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.

To just quit eating meat and switch to a diet of processed, fatty food will not produce desirable results.  Like any diet/lifestyle, research should be done to ensure proper nutrition is maintained.  Here are some simple guidelines that should be considered.

* Keep your intake of sweets and fatty foods to a minimum. These foods are low in nutrients and high in calories.
* Choose whole or unrefined grain products when possible, or use fortified or enriched cereal products.
* Use a variety of fruits and vegetables, including foods that are good sources of vitamins A and C.
* If you use milk or dairy products, choose fat-free/nonfat and low-fat varieties.
* Eggs are high in cholesterol (213 mg per yolk), so monitor your use of them. Limit your cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day.
 

By doing this research and being sensible about the foods you eat, the vegetarian diet can be very healthy and beneficial.  With such a wide variety of veg food to choose from and because it is more mainstream now, becoming a vegetarian has never been easier or convenient.  Especially one day a week!

eric

Sustainable Corporate Cafeterias

Working for a large company has advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages is that there are cafeterias on-site, so if you forget your lunch or just want something different, you can walk over and choose from a variety of foods without having to drive anywhere.  One of the disadvantages is that the cafeterias are outsourced to huge conglomerate companies like Sodexho and Compass Group.  As such, much of the food is trucked in, frozen and conventionally grown.   Although, I have started seeing keywords like "sustainable" and "organic" on signs in the cafes (occasionally).

Last year Google saw the light and started their own version of what a corporate cafeteria should modeled after.  "Cafe 150" only serves within a 150-mile radius of the Google campus.  Talk about going local!   Could Google’s influence change the way all cafes do business? 

This article from the San Francisco Chronicle goes into more detail about Google’s cafes.



When chef Nate Keller opened the doors last week to his newest venture, Cafe 150, prospective diners lined up in droves.

For the opening, his changing menu of more than 30 items featured dishes such as a robust broth teeming with slices of beef skirt steak and hand-made yam noodles; clams sauteed with disks of handmade Chinese sausage and wisps of fresh basil; a sandwich bar with nine made from-scratch condiments, and grilled romaine lettuce, persimmon and poblano chiles; and composed salads such as wild rice and hazelnut, and crispy tofu slaw.

Keller is a passionate proponent of local, organic and sustainable food, and chose the "150" in the restaurant’s name to reflect the fact that ingredients will come from within a 150-mile radius of the restaurant.

continue at SFgate

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