By Kimberly Leifker
Veganism is the refusal to consume, use, or wear animal meat and products. This assortment includes eggs, cheese, butter, and honey. The lifestyle offers a variety of benefits to health. It is often adopted by for ethical or moral reasons. The vegan lifestyle offers many health benefits like decrease in cholesterol and heart disease, as well as weight loss. Not only is veganism healthy for your body, however, it is also particularly beneficial to the environment.
The vegan diet contains a revised food pyramid that includes four specific groupings. The largest group consists of whole grains: whole grain bread, cereal, pasta and rice. The next groups are fruit and vegetables. These groups are meant to be eaten generously and are most beneficial in receiving important vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin C. Legumes, nuts and seeds, and meat alternatives (like tofu) should be eaten moderately along with soy milk and yogurt or fake cheese. Lastly, fats, salt, and oils are meant to be used sparingly. The vegan diet is not actually lacking in necessary vitamins and minerals. Many dark vegetables like broccoli contain more calcium than would an item such as milk.
According to thinkquest.org, the average American consumes nearly twice their weight in meat each year. In addition, eating vegan greatly reduces the wastes, pollution, and deforestation caused by the mass raising of animals. The amount of resources, water, and energy needed to raise and maintain the livestock used for our food supply is great. Veganism reduces the amount of resources needed for food consumption because crops used to feed cows could be used to feed ourselves. In other words, we cut out the middle man. Cows need water, crops, and land--water and crops that could be used to feed people instead. Thinkquest states that, “in simplified terms, the beef in a hamburger represents enough wheat to produce five loaves of bread.” The amount of grain needed to feed the cow could produce five loaves of bread for a human to consume. Another environmental concern with a non-vegan lifestyle includes amount of CO2 released when transporting livestock. A study done by the University of Chicago Geophysics Department found that a vegan diet reduces CO2 emissions by 1,485 kg per a year (Eshel, G., and P.A. Martin, 2006).
So, perhaps eating vegan is just not viable for some people. After all, it does take careful planning to ensure that all vitamins and nutrients are consumed. However, if each American reduced their consumption of meat by just about one less dish of meat per week, enough grain would be saved to feed 225 million people--the amount that is estimated to go hungry in the United States each day (think quest.org). Choosing to eat vegan, vegetarian, or simply reducing meat intake are all options that prove beneficial for the environment. Veganism and vegetarianism reduce the amount of CO2 emissions, the amount of land, water, and resources available fo
r human benefit, and reduces pollution and waste.
Some vegan recipes:
Black Bean Burgers
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic (or simply use garlic powder)
2 slices of whole wheat bread
¼ t. salt
7-9 saltine crackers
Rinse and drain can of black beans. Heat them until soft. Mash them together. Crumble bread and stir into the beans. Add ½ onion, cloves of garlic (chopped), and ¼ t. of salt. Form patties out of the mashed beans. Roll them in the crushed saltine crackers to form a sort of crust. Grill or pan fry the burgers and serve as you would a regular hamburger.
1 pkg of yeast
1 ¼ c. water
2 t. sugar
3 c. flour
1 ½ t. salt (to taste)
1 T. olive oil
Mix ingredients. Let sit for 30-45 minutes. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375F.
1 lb. fresh mushroom (or) 2 cans
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 can olives
1 yellow pepper
½ can of spaghetti or pizza sauce
When crust has cooked for 10-15 minutes remove from oven. Spread half the jar of spaghetti or pizza sauce over the top. Chop mushrooms, garlic, olives, and pepper. Sprinkle evenly over the surface of the pizza. Place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 375F. Other variations of vegetables can be used as well. Some delicious toppings include: artichoke hearts, red, yellow or green peppers, and pineapple. Also, switch up the sauce by using BBQ sauce instead of pizza sauce. Pizza is a great way to get creative on a vegetarian or vegan diet!
Look for more recipes in our next issue! And in the meantime, if you are interested in more vegan recipes visit this food blog.