Archive for the 'Food' Category


October is World Vegetarian Month

Not that we need a specific month to be or become vegetarian, but if we did…October would be that month.  October 1st has been designated by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) as World Vegetarian Day and the entire month is dedicated to vegetarian awareness and eductation.

Even if you’re not a vegetarian or never plan on becoming one, reducing your intake of meat will make big impacts on your health, the health of the planet and the lives of animals worldwide.

NAVS has a specific page dedicated to non-vegetarians.  Since our mission at wannaveg is to encourage meat-eaters to go vegetarian one day a week, I thought it would be good to list their ideas.

Eat meat-free for the day or throughout the month
Learn how a vegetarian diet can benefit you personally
Try the meatless options available at local restaurants and eateries
Discuss vegetarianism with your interested friends, family and co-workers
Host a meatless meal or potluck for your friends
Eat meatless meals on a regular basis

To find out more information on World Vegetarian Day/Month, check out NAVS webite.  There you can find out how to organize an event, attend an event or just go it alone.  No matter what your decision, try going veg for the month of October!  It’s easier and tastier than ever to adopt a veg diet…even one day a week.

talking with my handsI had the pleasure of being able to speak to a group of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at Creekside Elementary School here in San Diego on Tuesday night. The topic of discussion was a recent article written by Michael Pollen for the New York Times, entitled “Why Bother.” His article discusses quite a few issues, but the main theme seemed to be about the importance of “doing something” to benefit our environment and ourselves (and more specifically, starting your own vegetable garden). Pollen includes some interesting facts about human specialization, personal responsibility for the environment and the bane of cheap energy.

So…the kids and I talked about a couple of simple (but important) things that Pollen pointed out in his article: Growing your own garden and going vegetarian one day a week (eating less meat). They were enthusiastic and really knew a lot about both topics. It was refreshing to see that many of them were already growing their own fruits and vegetables at home. The students understood that having a garden symbolized more than just growing food. They knew that it saves money, brings neighbors closer, produces less greenhouse gases, creates less waste, increases independence, it’s good excercise, and the list goes on.

participantsThis was the first time I’ve ever spoken to an audience (nevermind, young students) about these topics, but I felt it went very well. The kids were great participants in the conversation and I was shocked at how much they already knew about the environment and food. I left the school feeling encouraged that the next generation are more aware of their actions and will hopefully be good stewards to this planet.

Thank you Creekside Elementary for giving me the opportunity to speak with you.


Ditch the Beef and Go Local

A study released by Carnegie Mellon University has found that if you want to green up your dinner table; cut out the red meat.  The study found that eating vegetables and (alternatively) other kinds of animals such as fish and chicken creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than eating from local sources ONLY.

“We suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than ‘buying local,’” the researchers write. “Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse-gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food.”

However, it’s important to note that buying food from local sources still significantly reduces food related greenhouse gases. By combining these two methods together (cutting out the red meat and buying locally) you will make a big difference in your “food footprint.”

Read more about it here.

I normally don’t post information on companies or products, but I felt that Johnny Rockets (famous for being a “burger joint”) needed a pat on the back for recognizing World Vegetarian Week (May 19-25th).  Mr. Rockets is offering a free “Streamliner” veggie burger with a purchase of something else (check out the link for details).  This offer is available for the whole month of May, so if you’re in the mood for a burger, check them and let them know that veg food is in demand!

Get you coupon, great recipes and other info at


Farm Subsidies Database

Want to see what your state/county receives in government farm subsidies? The Environmental Working Group has compiled a huge database that lists great details on who is receiving commodity based subsidies and the amounts they are receiving in your state.

About EWG

The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to using the power of information to protect human health and the environment. To learn more about we what do—and the many issues like farm subsidies, cosmetics, tap water, organics, and non-stick chemicals that we research

View the database here.

Hi everyone! I haven’t posted in the last couple of days because Meg and I were camping/hiking in Sequoia National Park. It was really beautiful and peaceful….but now it’s back to the grind. I figured today was a good day to catch up on the news.

Humane Meat: A Contradiction in Terms- huge numbers of compassionate people have joined the ranks of the vegetarians. Some, however, have looked instead to meat from animals treated less badly, which they call “humane meat.” This raises three questions. First, is there such a thing as truly “humane meat”? Second, would consuming only humane meat satisfy the demands of ethical living? And third, do we, as individuals, have good reason to promote “humane meat” rather than vegetarianism? (huffingtonpost)

Even Kenyans Are Effected by Our Food Bill- As the United States Congress debates an omnibus farm bill, it is considering a small change that advocates say could make a big difference to the world’s hungriest people: allowing the federal government to buy some food in Africa to feed the famished, rather than shipping it all overseas from America. (NY Times)

A Factory Farm Near You- This is a good editorial from the NY Times and it includes a link that shows an interactive map of factory farms throughout the US…..Once upon a time, only a decade or so, it wasn’t hard to know where factory hog farms were because they were nearly all in North Carolina. But since those days, the practice of crowding together huge concentrations of animals — hogs, poultry, dairy cows, beef cattle — in the interests of supposed efficiency has spread around the country. (NY Times)

The Localvore’s Dilemma-  Sometimes buying local food helps in the battle against climate change. Sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes, it’s just too confusing to decide. (The Boston Globe)

Internet Junk Food- Brands such as McDonald’s, Starburst, Haribo and Skittles are using the Internet to target children now that new rules from the media regulator Ofcom have made it difficult to advertise during children’s television. (Guardian Unlimited)



Go Vegetarian To Save Money?


I woke up this morning, powered on my computer and found today’s story staring right at me on the MSN homepage (I know, pretty boring of me to have MSN as my homepage, especially because I don’t use anything Microsoft on my home computer…but I like MSN!). It’s rare that this happens. This article from MSN money explores the financial benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet. Even if you adopt it one day a week!

The article explores how much cheaper vegetarian proteins are compared to meat.

Most of the staples of a vegetarian diet are cheap. In fact, most of the world’s people eat a mostly vegetarian diet made up of inexpensive commodities such as beans, rice and corn. If you drop red meat, poultry and fish from your diet, you’ll find plant proteins cheaper than the equivalent amount of animal protein.

Here are a few practical tips on how to save money with a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet:

  • If you include an occasional piece of flesh (of whatever kind) in your diet, try to limit yourself to four or five ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • If you want to buy private life insurance, wait until you’ve been on a vegetarian diet long enough to improve your key health indicators (body mass index, cholesterol, etc.). It could save you thousands of dollars when an insurer reviews the results of your physical.
  • Buy vegetable protein in bulk. Dried beans, rice, oatmeal and other similar commodities last a long time if properly stored, and they are far cheaper in larger quantities.
  • If you get discouraged by the blandness of a vegetarian diet, buy cookbooks that explore Indian, Malaysian, Chinese or South American cuisines. Mixing novel spices and ingredients may perk up your taste buds and make the transition easier.
  • If you can’t afford or prefer not to buy organic produce, remember that most experts think the nutritional benefits of eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables outweigh the possible negative effects of pesticide residues.

Read the whole article at MSN Money.

Also on MSN…Is a Vegetarian Diet Healthier?


Veg Product Guide

In the past I’ve featured some of my favorite meat substitues (great for the grill). Today, I discovered this excellent resource that gives alternatives to all kinds of products and food made from animals.  They even include pet food!

Vegan and Vegetarian Products Guide


By now we all know that animal agriculture places an enormous strain on our planet. Between greenhouse gases, pollution, deforestion, soil erosion, cruelty, the list goes on…we have a very compelling reason to go vegetarian, even one day a week. Check out this statistic found by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan.

A kilogram of (…conventionally farmed…) beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Now consider the impact of going vegetarian just one day a week. By making this simple change in the way you eat, over the course of a year you will save 15kg (35lbs) of meat. Based on Mr. Ogino’s research, that’s like driving a car for 45 hours and leaving all the lights on in your home at the same time…more time than a standard work week! This is a pretty easy thing to do and our planet (and every living being on it) will appreciate it.

A kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

On the days that you choose to eat meat, consider eating grass-fed beef. A 2003 Swedish study showed that organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 per cent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 per cent less energy.

For more information, check out the NewScientist article.

steamed buns

China has decided to block some pig and chicken “products” from entering their country from the United States. This decision doesn’t boad well for the animal factory operators at Cargill and Tyson. China is a huge market for offloading “variety products” that we don’t eat here….such as pigs ears and chicken feet. Losing this market may cause a big blow to the U.S. Pork industry. But never fear, these dubious companies are not going to take this lying down. No sir! They may file a trade dispute to force China to resume purchasing products from them. Not only that, but back in May, President Bush ‘urged’ the Chinese leaders to accept our meat products. You’d better watch out China!

So, what’s all the fuss about? Well, China recently discovered that salmonella-contaminated chicken and other products with growth agents or other additives were being exported from the United States. Growth hormones, eh? Here is what some guy from Cargill had to say about that.

Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said one growth additive in question, ractopamine, was common in the U.S. pork industry and had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “While it has not been approved for use in China, we understand that steps are underway to get those approvals,” he said in an e-mail message.

It’s good to see that they are taking steps to get these growth hormone approvals underway. I would hate to think that the U.S. wouldn’t be able to share our Salmonella-growth hormone tainted food “products” with the rest of the world. When it comes to things like this we are NOT a selfish country.

China may put plastic filler (melamine) in pet (and people) food and serve cardboard to unsuspecting passersby on the street….but they are not willing to accept some disgusting food from the United States. I guess even China has limits.

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