One of the single most convincing reasons to adopt a vegetarian diet has just recently popped up. Now, obviously this reason has been around for awhile, but it is just now being publicized. What I‘m talking about is the environmental impact of an animal-based diet. The first time I heard the connection between animal agriculture and global warming was in the report issued by the UN called "Livestock’s Long Shadow." This one report sent the blogosphere (myself included) and news agencies into a writing fury about the environmental benefits of going veg. Its message is extremely simple. Going veg can help save the planet.
When I decided to become a vegetarian in 1995, there were really only two widely stated reasons people chose this diet. There was the animal welfare reason and the health reason, and it pretty much stopped there. I imagine that there were more, but when people would ask why I went veg, they would only cover those two, and I didn’t really stop to investigate or explain any further.
Things have changed. Today, with the global warming frenzy in full swing (it’s for good reason, but still a frenzy) the animal-based diet has come under scrutiny by many, including a number of environmentalists. Now, there is a widely recognized third reason to go veg, because you care about the environment. The first two reasons alone are a compelling enough to make the change, but in the "Global Warming Age," vegetarianism has become much more socially accepted and encouraged, and just as importantly, its benefits are measurable on the local and global scale.
Each time we choose to go veg, we consciously make the decision to eat lower on the food chain, and therefore, more environmentally friendly, so going veg, mostly veg, partly veg or even one day a week can help. Preserving the environment and the world we live in is not about deprivation. It is about moderation and cutting back where we can instead of consuming where we shouldn’t. It is about raising awareness as to how our behaviors impact the world around us and how simple actions can and do have major results. So tell your friends, spread the word…host a vegetarian dinner at your home. In most cases, no one will miss the meat, and the impact of your action will be part of the solution instead of a contribution to part of the problem.
Last week, I posted an article on how Masterfoods, the UK manufacturer of Mars bars and other chocolate favorites, changed their recipes to include rennet from calves stomachs. Masterfoods had decided to switch where they bought their ingredients from and the new supplier was using rennet to produce whey. Whey does not need to be produced in this manner and most of it is actually made as a by-product of cheese manufacturing. This is how the previous supplier produced it.
Vegetarians in the UK were outraged, and rightfully so. They didn’t just sit around and moan about it though. They bombarded Masterfoods with phone calls and emails telling them how pissed they were about the companies’ decision. The Vegetarian Society also stepped in to issue statements to news outlets and raise public awareness about Masterfoods decision.
This was an successful campaign, Masterfoods listened to the complaints and switched their recipes back.
Fiona Dawnson, managing director of Mars UK, said, “It because very clear, very quickly that we had made a mistake, for which I am sorry. There are three million vegetarians in the UK and not only did we disappoint them, bet we upset a lot of the consumers.”
It just goes to show that companies are willing to listen and change their practices if consumers tell them what they are doing is wrong. This is not only a win for vegetarians, it also demonstrates that people are beginning to tune in to what they are eating and demanding that companies do the right thing. We have seen this recently with Burger King, Wolfgang Puck and some grocery store chains.
read the Masterfoods article here
Our friends across the big pond are celebrating their 15th annual National Vegetarian Week, next week, May 21-27th. The event is organized by The Vegetarian Society, the world’s oldest vegetarian society, formed in 1847. The goal of National Vegetarian Week is to raise awareness to the food, lifestyle and health benefits of the vegetarian diet.
This year the event will also focus on the environmental benefits to going vegetarian. This is a hot topic right now and it’s clear that a veg diet significantly reduces our impact on the planet.
Local events are scheduled throughout the UK next week, be sure to check out the website to find things going on in your area. For us here in the U.S. I’m not aware of any organized events, but what better time to give vegetarianism a try on your own? Theoretically, you could consolidate the next seven weeks of veg-one-day-a-week into one week. Just an idea!
So you’ve put in your time at the workplace and the boss man (or woman) is going to let you take some of that well earned vacation you have been saving. You pack your bags, book a flight, buy some sunscreen and you’re outta there. But…what are you going to do about your veg day once you arrive at your destination? I’ve compiled a list of links that will help you find many of the resources you may need during your travels. I will add these to the wannaveg.com/resources page.
Vegetarian Phrases- These are some common phrases in over 60 languages to help you communicate that you’re a vegetarian.
Restaurant and Health Food- Our friends at Happycow.net have an excellent resource for vegetarians on the move. The restaurant locater also allows people to post reviews and recommendations. I have personally used this site for my travels in the U.S. and Western/Central Europe. It is an indispensable tool.
Airline Food- This site has tons of information on vegetarian food in-flight. It also has detailed information on each airline’s policies and guidelines. As a personal tip, it’s usually best to bring your own, especially for short trips.
Hotel Chains- A list of hotel chains that "get it."
Veg Guide- This is a guide to help you plan your travels. For example, be flexible…if you’re a strict vegan, Mongolia will be more difficult for you than London.
Veg Database- This site covers accommodations, shopping, people and everything in between.
Carbon Offsets- That flight you just took across the U.S. dumped 1,900lbs of CO2 and used 100 gallons of fuel. That’s for your seat alone! You can buy alternative energy credits to offset your travels.
Do you have any more? Let us know about them and I will add them to the list.
For some of people, the thought of going vegetarian can be overwhelming. I am not talking about going vegetarian one day a week here…that is simple. What I am referring to is going veg all the time. Often times people new to the idea of becoming vegetarian ask questions like what will I eat, what about the holidays with the family, what if there are no options on the menu at a restaurant for me, what about the impending BBQ season? In the beginning these may seem like difficult questions to answer, but after experimenting with veg food for a short period of time, you will find the right answers that fit you.
Recently, I discovered a great guide written by Kathy Freston, who also authored "Vegetarian Is the New Prius." Kathy gives some easy to follow, practical advice on beginning a vegetarian diet and she helps to answer some of the aforementioned questions. She discusses several topics including ways to transition into the diet and advice on how not to get worked up over the little things.
You can find Kathy’s article at the Huffington Post.
It wasn’t so long ago that vegetarians were considered "weirdos". There was a stigma associated with the lifestyle as being unhealthy, weak, pale and of course liberal. Today, this stigma is gone, except for possibly the liberal part. Although many conservative people are waking up to realize the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
People choose vegetarian for many reasons, such as to make a positive impact on the environment or to improve their health or for animal welfare or a combination of all three. No matter what the rationale, the choice to become vegetarian is becoming widely accepted.
It is rare these days to sit down in a restaurant and not have a veg choice on the menu. Even the worst of restaurants will probably have a token veggie burger. Also, you learn pretty quickly what kind of establishments are veg friendly. I certainly wouldn’t go to Hooters and expect to find many, if any, veg options.
Grocery stores and specialty stores have come a long way in the last ten years. Entire stores are dedicated to vegetarian friendly food and even the regular chain supermarkets have a good selection of food to choose from. With more than eight million vegetarians in the U.S., this is a pretty big market to be overlooked. Many other countries have higher percentages of vegetarians, so the global demand for veg food is significant.
For more information, check out this article from AZ Central:
Vegetarians becoming more accepted at home, in restaurants
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:
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!
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!
I would imagine that if you are reading this site right now, you consider yourself at least a little progressive (if not a lot progressive). That is the reason the title of this story caught my eye. We know that there is a significant environmental impact caused by meat production. It really does not make much difference whether we raise animals organically or conventionally…they still use the consume amount of land, food and water. They also produce the same amount of waste. Yet many environmentalists still eat meat on a full time basis…this is a strange phenomenon.
This article on Alternet discusses many of the topics and questions associated with vegetarianism and animal food production. It can get a little deep but the information is good (the comments at the bottom of it are interesting as well). Even though it discusses going vegetarian all the time, just remember going vegetarian one day a week makes a huge impact without having to change your lifestyle or viewpoints. Check out the impact you will make on our mission page.
By Kathy Freston
March 14, 2007 - The report released this week by the world’s leading climate scientists made no bones about it: Global warming is happening in a big way and it is very likely manmade. The U.N. report that came out soon after made a critical point: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." And yet, so many environmentalists continue to eat meat. Why?
Being part of the solution can be a whole lot simpler — and cheaper — than going out and buying a new hybrid. We can make a huge difference in the environment simply by eating a plant-based diet instead of an animal-based one. Factory farming pollutes our air and water, reduces the rainforests, and goes a long way to create global warming. Yet for some environmentalists, the idea of giving up those chicken nuggets is still hard to swallow.
So, I thought I might discuss a few of the key concerns that my meat-eating friends offer in defense of their continued meat consumption. Here we go: continue reading at Alternet
The short answer is yes…but it takes understanding and compromise. There are times when the politics of food can cause some tension in a relationship, so being able to settle on a common ground is essential. This article from Newsweek is about just such a relationship, the only difference is the author is a vegan and her husband is a meat eater.
Feb. 26, 2007 issue - When my husband, Ken, and I were planning our wedding two years ago, we toiled over the menu even more than most anxious couples. As a Jewish vegan who doesn’t eat meat, poultry, fish or dairy products, I wanted to share vegan delicacies without feeling I was pushing an agenda. My Chinese-Japanese-Hawaiian husband wanted to be sure his relatives would have enough to eat, and to incorporate Chinese banquet foods.
In the end, our caterer served a gorgeous organic vegan meal, complete with Chinese long noodles (representing long life). We added line-caught wild fish, served whole to symbolize abundance and good fortune (in Chinese and Hawaiian tradition). After a Jewish blessing over wine and challah, Ken worked the room, teaching people to extract and eat the fish delicacies: the eyes and cheeks.
I became a vegetarian as a teenager, with the mixed motivation of loving animals and wishing to confound (and inconvenience) my meat-eating parents. Then, five years ago, I became a vegan. Today chili, stews and endless variations of salads are my staples. While Ken’s diet is more varied, his philosophy is simpler: without claiming any trendy labels, my husband is passionate about fresh, flavorful food. From fish cheeks to tripe and oxtail, he consumes everything, but he does so with appreciation and attention.
continue at Newsweek