Going vegan can be a huge missed steak. However, eating meat today has a costly impact on the environment. The global human population continues to climb and there could be around 10 BILLION people on the planet by 2050. Scientists measured various effects of food production from greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, biodiversity loss for converted farmland, and excess phosphorus productions from fertilizers. Managing all of these properly without causing excess harm to the environment is unmanageable at the rate we consume meat.
Hundreds of millions of people do NOT have access to clean water, and livestock guzzle tons of fresh water before and after being slaughtered. In short, the less livestock, the more water there is to go around. Aside from the animals themselves drinking the water, it takes around 400-500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.
Livestock globally cause more air pollution than all modes of transportation combined. Lancaster County Pennsylvania, my home town, is ranked the 15th worst air quality in the United States. Lancaster, as you might know, is known for the amish and it’s farms. So why on earth would a wholesome, suburban, hill covered county like Lancaster have worse air quality than a bustling city? One of the many causes for this is because of the concentration of agricultural and livestock production. Air pollution matters, because it invisibly causes risk to the lungs of the young, and the old.
I’m not writing this as another vegan activist trying to get you to stop eating meat altogether, instead I offer an achievable idea that everyone can implement into their lives. I am advocating for more flexibility, flexitarianism actually. For people who can’t give up meat, but want to eat better for the environment, this is the best way to go.
Flexitarians have no clear cut rules to follow, it’s a lifestyle not a diet! That’s what makes this choice so easy for people that want to eat green.
How Do You Eat Like a Flexitarian?
The goal is to eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while replacing the Western meat centered plate. The goal is to include, rather than restrict foods into your diet and it’s easy, as long as you remain flexible. Eating this way can help in decreasing meat consumption (which preserves the natural environment), decrease water use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Flexitarian’s can still eat icecream, pizza, and donuts as far as I’m concerned as long as you are mindful about what it is that you are consuming.
Following a vegan or vegetarian diet is far from being the be all end all to climate change, although it does offer up some surprising facts and statistics about the world we live in today. 70% of grain grown in the US feeds livestock. It’s estimated that 700 million tons of food that could be fed to people are instead given to animals every single year.
Here are my e-tips for nutrient rich foods without involving animals
Proteins: chickpeas and other legumes, tofu, other soy products, lentils, hemp tempeh, nuts & nut butters (peanut, pecan, macadamia, almond, cashew)
Non-starchy veggies: spinach, green beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, beets, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, zucchini, tomatoes (enough w/ the it’s a fruit crap)
Starchy veggies: sweet potatoes, cassava, corn, squash, beans (pinto, black, kidney), squash, peas… Fruits: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, oranges, limes, lemons, pomegranates, kiwis, peaches,
Grains: quinoa, buckwheat, whole grain or gluten free breads, faro…
Nuts, seeds: almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, cacao nibs, seeds (sunflower, chia, pumpkin, flax, fennel, sesame, poppy, hemp, mustard), pine nuts Healthy Fats: avocados, olives, coconut oils, nuts… Plant-based milks: almond, cashew, walnut, coconut, soy… Herbs, Spices: nutritional yeast, mint, basil, cinnamon, dill, parsley, ginger, sage nutmeg, chili, cumin, turmeric… Condiments: low sodium soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salsa, mustard, ketchup without sugar, pesto, hummus, guacamole, hot sauce, maple syrup, bbq..
One Week Flexitarian
Here is a possible week of meals on a flexitarian diet Monday Breakfast: Toasted avocado toast with lemon, fried egg over medium Lunch: Mediterranean style quinoa bowl Dinner: Tomato soup, grilled cheese w/ side salad of choice
Tuesday Breakfast: Green smoothie (One of my recipe’s in link at the bottom) Lunch: Hummus toast topped w/ cucumber and feta Dinner: Lentil pasta with garlic shrimp butter sauce
Wednesday Breakfast: Overnight oats topped with berries, coconut shavings, and seeds Lunch: Cucumber and or avocado sushi with miso soup Dinner: Blackened chicken, sweet potato fries, green beans
Thursday Breakfast: Yogurt with granola Lunch: Cranberry, walnut, apple salad Dinner: Roasted buffalo cauliflower, celery, carrots and a vinnaigrete salad
Friday Breakfast: Mango smoothie bowl Lunch: Tofu tacos with cilantro, avocado, beans, cheese, tomatoes, etc… Dinner: Stuffed Bell Peppers and mac & cheese
Saturday Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, and cooked onion potatoes Lunch: Peanut butter, banana honey sandwich on whole grain or GF toast Dinner: Zoodles with creamy cashew sauce, spice rubbed chicken
Sunday Breakfast: Banana Pancakes and coffee Lunch: Broccoli cheddar soup Dinner: Veggie Stir fry over rice
All of these meal ideas were random that popped into my head while creating this post… Obviously everyone has their own tastes and preferences, but a simple google search can help you get any recipe with or without anything you might not like into the mix. Click HERE for my Green Smoothie Recipe!
I personally tend to avoid meat so I didn’t include any recipes in my week plan. However, eating a burger or a steak shouldn’t be against the rules every once and a while if you just pay attention. Flexitarianism isn’t cutting meat off cold turkey, it’s whatever limit you make it out to be. If you are interested in this lifestyle send me a message to let me know how you want to join this movement!
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