Happy World Vegetarian Day! What, you haven’t heard of it? I shouldn’t be expecting a card in the mail? When is Hallmark going to pick up on this lucrative holiday? Think of all the fruit basket and edible arrangement sales that could be generated. We are sitting on a crunchy vegetarian goldmine here. What a boost this could be to our economy!
But seriously, I had not heard of this day either until I read about it in one of my nutritional newsletters. I’m going to celebrate it by educating my friends and family about the benefits of a meatless diet. I’m not asking anyone to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. I’m not delusional! I’m just asking that you take a closer look at what you eat and how it affects the environment and your health.
So you may not have heard about World Vegetarian Day, but what about Meatless Mondays? There are several different awareness programs promoting the same idea all around the world. In the United States, Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative in association with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their goal is to help reduce meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet. Paul McCartney heads the environmental Meat Free Monday campaign in the U.K, raising awareness of the climate changing impact of meat production and consumption.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Yoko Ono, The Huffington Post, and Lance Armstrong are all advocates of a Meat Free Monday. Even Mario Batali, king of sausage, is helping to raise awareness. All the cool kids are doing it.
Research suggests that going meatless, even one day a week, conserves water, reduces carbon footprints, and lowers saturated fat intake. Excessive saturated fat intake has been linked to several chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and various cancers.
According to the United Nation’s Food And Agriculture Organization, the meat industry generates nearly 1/5 of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Curbing meat consumption by 20% would have the same effect as switching to an ultra efficient hybrid vehicle. The U.N. also found that current meat production methods cause nearly half of all stream and river pollution.
So let’s make a deal. How about each and every one of you pledge to go meatless one day a week? In return, I will be more open to eating the free range meat that I prepare once a week. It will be like a carbon offset. If enough of you go meatless, you’ll more than make up for my once a week “lapse”. I also promise to not wrinkle my nose when you bite into that sausage…
Each week, I’ll post a new Meatless Monday recipe for you to try at your leisure. After our usual weekends of unhealthy habits, let’s all start fresh on a Monday with positive, healthy, socially conscious diet choices.
Please leave a comment and let me know if you’ll take the pledge!
**It doesn’t even have to be on Mondays if that isn’t convenient for you. Pretend its Lent and do it on Fridays! To create a better future for our world, we all need to contribute by making changes to the way we live. Going meat-free just once a week is one little thing you can do to make a big difference!
Recipe: Veggie Tamale Pie
1/2 cup dry polenta or corn grits
1/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-oz. can tomato purée
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
2 tsp brown rice flour (you can substitute corn starch)
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in saucepan. Stir in polenta, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often. Stir in cheese. Set aside.
Filling: Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook 5 minutes. Add zucchini, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook 5 minutes more.
Stir in beans, tomato purée, and corn. Mix rice flour with ı/4 cup cold water; stir into zucchini mixture. Cook 3 minutes, or until mixture thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Spread Filling into 8-inch-square baking pan. Spread Topping over Filling. Place casserole on baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes, or until filling bubbles and top is golden. Let stand before serving.