Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Scientists report eating less meat necessary to prevent future food and water crises

In a new report released by the Stockholm International Water Institute, leading water scientists report that only a drastic global reduction in meat production and consumption will forestall future food and water crises.

The report, entitled Feeding a Thirsty World: Challenges and opportunities for a food and water safe world, was released for the 2012 World Water Week. In the report, it is noted that today nearly one billion people suffer from hunger and thirst, despite the fact that per-capita food production has steadily increased for decades. In order to feed the projected additional 2 billion inhabitants of planet earth expected by mid-century, more efficient use of soil, water, and other food production resources must be made.

All food production consumes water, but the production of meat consumes disproportionate amounts. For example, a pound of beef takes approximately 1,800 gallons of water to produce. For this reason, the report concludes that the current levels of meat consumption are unsustainable and will lead to both water and food shortages. According to the report:
The analysis showed that there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in Western nations (3,000 kcal produced per capita, including 20 per cent of calories produced coming from animal proteins). There will, however, be just enough water, if the proportion of animal based foods is limited to 5 per cent of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a well organised and reliable system of food trade. 
The report references previous research from the United Nations' Food & Agriculture Organization, on which the population projections are based. That 2006 report, Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental issues and options, discussed the negative impact of animal agriculture on global hunger and thirst, as well as the harmful environmental effects.

Both these reports from respected scientific and public policy organizations highlight the global impact of the "Western diet" and demonstrate that what we choose to eat has far-reaching consequences. Will we be facing massive famine and water shortages in 2050? Or will we choose to heed the warnings now and combat global hunger and thirst with a resource-efficient plant-based diet? You can make the choice to fight hunger today.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Vegan Sandwiches!

I had the pleasure of helping to cater lunch for representatives of many animal rescue organizations yesterday, on behalf of Compassion Barn. (Here is the news coverage of the event.) It's always a joy to me to introduce people to the vibrancy and wholesomeness of vegan foods, but especially so when it's for such a dedicated crowd of do-gooders. Then we took the leftovers to our hosts at the Loggerhead MarineLife Center and had the opportunity to explain the benefits of a vegan diet to many of the volunteers there. It was a good day for vegan cooktivism!

Anyway, I was asked about the recipes. Unfortunately, I was too busy to take photos of the food, so you'll have to use your imagination. Also, I may be somewhat imprecise in my measurements as I'm scaling down the recipes from feeding 40 people to a more reasonable amount.

Delicious Vegan Sandwich #1:  Grilled & Chilled Roasted Vegetables on Ciabatta with Basil Mayo

Step 1: Lightly roast the vegetables.

Ingredients:Any amount of zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplantOlive oilSalt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice the vegetables evenly, about 1/4 inch thick. (A mandolin slicer works great for this, but if you're like me, watch your thumbs. I am currently sporting a band-aid.) 

Place the veg in a gallon storage bag, and drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil (depending on how much veg you cut). Seal the bag and knead it gently with your hands to toss and coat evenly. Add a bit more olive oil if needed to lightly coat.

Spread the slices in a single later on a baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just cooked through, but still firm. Let cool 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a dish and move to the refrigerator to chill. 

Step 2: Make the basil mayo.

1 jar of vegan mayo (I used grapeseed Veganaise, but your vegan mayo of choice is fine)
1 bunch of finely chopped basil or 2-3 tbsp of basil paste (this is chopped basil in oil that can often be found in the produce department of your local grocery)

Just put the mayo in a bowl and mix in the basil! You can use it right away, or let it sit overnight for full flavor.

Step 3: Assemble the sandwiches.  

Slice the ciabatta roll, slather both sides with basil mayo, and stack the chilled vegetables in layers (a layer of squash, a layer of zucchini, a layer of eggplant). Serve and enjoy!

Delicious Vegan Sandwich #2: Cool Black Bean Wraps with Tomato-Corn Salsa

Step 1: Make the black bean spread

2 cans (roughly 3.5 cups) cooked black beans, drained
1/2 bottle of taco sauce (roughly 1 cup)

Run it through the food processor until mostly smooth.

Step 2: Make the tomato-corn salsa

3 cups fresh tomato, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 finely chopped bunch of cilantro
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of corn kernels, drained
Salt and/or lime juice to taste

Mix all ingredients. Season with salt and/or lime juice if you like.

Step 3: Make the wraps

Take the tortilla or wrap and swipe 2-3 tbsp of spread down the center. Top with 2-3 tbsp of salsa. Add some shredded romaine. Fold the top and the bottom of the wrap toward the center. Then roll from one side. Slice in half and serve.

That's it! There were a couple of other things that were served that were fantastic, but weren't made by me. (One of those things was a vegan creamy potato salad - Susan told me to mix the leftover veganaise into some German potato salad, and it was DELICIOUS!) 

Friday, August 10, 2012

News Flash for a Waitress: Bacon is Meat

My husband and I stopped for coffee this morning while we waited for the repair shop to finish with his motorcycle. He was in the middle of telling me a story when my attention was (somewhat rudely on my part) drawn to the next table. Here's what went on:

Father: What can my son eat? He doesn't eat meat or eggs?
Waitress: No eggs at all?
Mother: No. And no meat or dairy.
Waitress: Umm, maybe the French toast? No, that has eggs. How about a sandwich?
Teen: Do you have sandwiches that don't have meat in them?
Waitress: Well, there's the BLT. Do you eat bacon?
Teen: No meat.
Waitress: But what about bacon?
Father: *sighs* Is the pancake batter made with milk or egg in it?
Waitress: I don't think so. I'll go check.

At this point, I begged my husband's forgiveness for ignoring him, and he wisely told me to go tell the kid what he could eat - knowing I wouldn't be able to concentrate until the poor child was properly fed.    The parents looked so relieved to have someone who spoke their kid's language, and we quickly sorted his order, before the waitress even got back to inform them that yes, there are eggs in the pancakes.

Good deed for the day -- check!