Principles of Eating Green- Mostly Vegetarian

I’m developing my Principles of Eating Green. Maybe this is the start to yet ANOTHER book, but for now I’m really using this blog as an idea bouncy-board.

I have 13 (ish) principles which I want to delve into further. 

  1. Mostly Vegetarian (emphasis on MOSTLY)
  2. Paleo-ish (emphasis on ISH)
  3. Eat whole, unprocessed foods- fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, unprocessed meat.
  4. Eat local- join a CSA/farm share, go to a farmer’s market, grow or raise your own food.
  5. Eat only grass-fed, pasture-raised, free-range meat.
  6. Choose seafood approved from Seafood Watch.
  7. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Stay away from center aisles.
  8. Do homemade foods instead of store-bought.
  9. Bring your own lunch instead of eating out.
  10. Do simple or single ingredients.
  11. Use natural sugars (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar) in moderation. A little goes a long way.
  12. Try to buy food unpackaged, or in as little packaging as possible.
  13. Get to know your food. Do a little research.

Today I want to delve into the first principle- Mostly Vegetarian.

First, I want to emphasize the first word- mostly. There is a lot, and I mean a LOT of evidence showing how great it is for the planet to eat less meat. And eating less meat is also beneficial for our health.

So, why do I emphasize MOSTLY and not advocate going completely vegetarian. For a few reasons. I personally believe you CAN consume meat in a sustainable way, but it’s difficult, expensive, and incredibly time-consuming. I will talk more about it in the 5th principle, but I will mention there are a lot of good farmers out there raising meat in humane, ethical, and sustainable ways. You just have to do the research to find them in your area. Most of the time, getting meat from the grocery store isn’t enough. Labels on our food packaging is very misleading.

I also know from experience that a vegan diet isn’t suitable for everyone. While designing an Eating Green program, I want to create something everyone can enjoy and sustain for the long term. There is no “quick fix” with our nutrition. It’s a lifestyle. So, if vegetarian diet isn’t suitable for every person, then honestly, I don’t feel it’s right to tote it as the end all be all.

And, frankly, I believe Eating Green should be an enjoyable nutrition program. And there are people out there who like eating meat. If you are someone who likes eating meat, or dairy, or fish, and you are looking for a healthy lifestyle to adhere to, I want to include you in the Eating Green program. Telling everyone that going strictly vegetarian is the healthiest diet, and best for the earth is setting several people up for failure.

I will say Eating Green is a mostly vegetarian program. That’s because the meat I advocate you buy is very expensive. I am going to go out on a limb and say you will not want to spend as much money on the same amount of meat you normally consume as you will need to for the organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, sustainably sourced protein promoted on this program.

There’s also the research from countless (and I do mean COUNTLESS) organizations toting the environmental benefits of reducing our meat consumption. When we eat less meat, we are cutting our carbon footprint significantly. Even more than by not driving a car. Seriously.

This is because there is more to producing meat than killing an animal and shipping it off somewhere. The amount of land needed to produce a pound of beef is six times the amount needed to produce a pound of grain. And that’s for factory farm cows, who don’t get to spend their days in pastures. That’s the amount of land required to FEED the cows. Then you factor in the water usage. One statistic claimed it took ten times the amount of water to produce a 10 ounce steak as it does for a salad. And then the processing of the meat, and then the shipping of the meat to the market. Then there’s the packaging, the antibiotics and preservatives added to ensure the meat stays fresh. It’s pretty exhausting. For the earth, I mean. I’m pretty sure the earth would LOVE it if we ate just a tiny bit less meat.

I also made a great discovery while cooking a special diet for my husband who needed less protein in his diet. Having kidney disease turned our lives upside down for a while. I didn’t know what to feed my husband. Thing is, even vegetarian proteins were no good for him. In fact, vegetarian proteins were a little worse, because they had more protein in less calories than meat-based proteins. Interesting, that is a fact which would sell more people on a vegetarian diet. You can eat more veggie-proteins and consume less calories while maintaining healthy level of proteins. But for Chris, we had to be careful, all the time.

I started fixing dinners with less meat, which was great, because feeding that man could often get super expensive. Less meat was cheaper for me. But then we discovered something interesting. When I made a stew, or a soup, even putting in less meat, it brought out the taste of meat more. It sounds weird, but when you eat less meat, the times you do consume it, it takes less to satisfy your taste for it.

I am a strong advocate for Meatless Mondays. I don’t practice Meatless Mondays every Monday. Sometimes I practice it on Thursdays, or Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I may practice a whole week of meatless breakfast and lunches, but have a little meat for dinner. But I do practice MOSTLY vegetarian.

Check out the guys at Meatless Monday. These folks know their stuff, and I’ve gained a lot of insight from following them. They give fantastic recipes to try, if you are new to eating meatless. And they are super positive about the impact going meatless, even just one day a week, can provide.

To get you started, I’ll include a great sample menu here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Breakfast

Ginger Peach Oatmeal Crisp 6 servings- 242 calories, Carbs: 39.1g, Fat: 8.1g, Protein: 4.5g

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp sugar or agave nectar
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 peaches, diced

Directions

  1. Lightly grease 8×8 baking dish
  2. In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseed with 3 Tbsp water. Stir together and let thicken for 5 minutes.
  3. Add milk, syrup, vanilla, and sugar with flax seed to a large bowl and whisk together. Add oats, spices, salt, and peaches. Stir together until well blended
  4. Transfer to a baking dish. Smooth down edges until surface is even
  5. Set temperature on oven to 350 F. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top
  6. Turn off oven and allow to passively cook for 5-10 minutes.

 

Lunch

Citrus, Avocado & Cashew Salad 2 servings- 381 calories, Carbs: 22g, Fat: 25g, Protein:6g

Ingredients

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare citrus by cutting off rind and outer membrane.  Slice into wedges over a bowl and reserve juices.
  2. Dice avocado into chunks and set aside.
  3. Divide greens between two containers.  Top each portion of greens with citrus, avocados, and cashews.
  4. Drizzle olive oil and any juice left over from slicing the oranges and grapefruit.  Season with salt and pepper.

 

Dinner

Cabbage Enchiladas  4 servings- 543 calories, Carbs: 45g, Fat: 12.3g, Protein: 24.4g

Ingredients

  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans of chopped green chiles
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • ½ cup shredded cheese, divided

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel the cabbage leaves – make sure to peel them gently, as you don’t want them to tear. Running cabbage under hot water as you are peeling seems to help a ton. Toss the cabbage leaves into the pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes. Remove and set on a paper towel to dry.
  2. Mix the beans with brown rice, cilantro, chiles, and ⅓ C shredded cheese. Season well with salt & pepper.
  3. Spread the enchilada sauce in the bottom of an 9×13 baking dish.  Place a portion of chicken mixture inside each of the cabbage leaves and roll up. Place each cabbage roll in the baking dish. Once done, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over them. Top with shredded cheese.
  4. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes.
  5. Top with anything you please. Salsa, hot sauce, jalapenos, avocados, cilantro, more cheese, freshly squeezed lime juice, sour cream and the list goes on! Enchiladas are so fun to make because you really can get creative and definitely make use of the veggies and pantry items you already have on hand.

 

Try out a veggie day. See how you feel eating just a little less meat. Your body will thank you for your effort to take care of it, and the planet will  breathe a little better with your effort to protect it as well.

 

 

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