- "It takes 441 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef... By comparison, it takes only 33 gallons of water to grow a pound of carrots. One 16-ounce steak uses the amount of water you need for 6 months of showers!" (The Kind Diet 2009, p.25)
- "It takes more than 11 times the energy to create animal protein than grain protein. When you take into account the fuel used for planting, watering, and harvesting of the grain a cow eats, its transportation, the energy used by factory farms, transportation of the cows to slaughter, and then the distribution of the meat to you... the average American eats 97 pounds of beef a year, our national burger-lust requires the energy equivalent of a mere 29 billion gallons of gas!" (The Kind Diet 2009, p.26)
- "The average American car produces 3 kilograms of carbon per day. The clearing and burning of enough Costa Rican rain forest to produce one hamburger creates 75 kilograms of carbon." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.27)
- "In fact, cattle grazing is the number one factor in the destruction of the rain forest, and we're losing 2.4 acres of it per second. That's 144 acres per minute. Seventy-five million acres per year! Rain forest used to cover 14 percent of the earth, but now it covers only 6 percent. You see, every hamburger requires a plot of land the size of a small kitchen to be cleared." (The Kind Diet 2009, p.27)
Those are just some of the disturbing facts I learned from Alicia's book. I highly recommend it as a good source for information on being eco-friendly when it comes to eating and also for the recipes.
Reason #1 for becoming vegetarian: better for the environment. After learning all of this information I couldn't continue to eat meat knowing how much damage it was doing to our planet. I will admit that deciding to become vegetarian or vegan is a very personal decision and it can be extreme for some people. I will never try to push this lifestyle on anyone but I would like people to take a step back and think about how much meat they eat. Even just consuming less meat than normal will help lessen the strain that the meat industry puts on our planet. I saw this amazing idea online somewhere of starting "Veggie Mondays". Every Monday try to eat anything but meat all day. It's only one day to commit to and it can be a great way to incorporate some creativity and culture into your cooking and your diet.
Another way we can lighten the stress on our planet is to choose better meats. Go to local farms or farmers market. Buy meats from farmers that do not overuse antibiotics and allow their cattle to eat grass instead of corn. Not only are you supporting people in your own community but you are buying food that has traveled less than 100km to get to you instead of 1000's of kms. You're also supporting ethical food production instead of giving your money to factory farming.
One of the biggest challenges I have found since making the jump to vegetarian and then vegan has been finding good recipes. I recently tried a recipe from The Kind Diet and am in love with it. Here is Alicia's chocolate frosting (The Kind Diet 2009, p.190):
-1/2 cup (4 ounces) Earth Balance Butter
-1/2 cup agave nectar
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 cup soy milk powder
To make the Fudge Frosting, use a mixer to cream the butter together with the agave nectar in a mixing bowl until very smooth. Add the vanilla extract and about half the cocoa powder, mix on low speed to combine, then add the remaining cocoa powder. Add in the soy milk powder, and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy. If it is runny, refrigerate the frosting until it sets up a little.
I used this frosting on cupcakes that I made from Kim Barnouin's Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. Keep tuned tomorrow for the cup cake recipe and "Reason #2 for becoming vegetarian".