There are many people out there wary of hopping on the environmental sustainability bandwagon. To them, all they can see is that doing it all will shoot their budget, and it’s simply something they cannot afford. Buying local and organic, as well as more natural, less processed can put your food budget through the roof. Greenpower can be expensive, and not everyone can afford to put solar pannels on their roof or go for geo-thermal heating. All the hype about environmentalism has some people dubious about it’s validity, and they’re not convinced that it’s not just a passing trend. Then there are the other people who take in all on, whole hog. Go big or go home. Ironically, going big often means simplifying life, but that’s another post in itself.
In the grand scheme of going green, it can be a challenge to know where to start. Most of us already recycle what we can, many compost, and a large number have switched over to energy saving lightbulbs. Great. But isn’t there more we can do? We’re not exactly reducing our environmental footprint by that much just doing those things. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a great start, but isn’t there more to be done? Obviously, as a single person on a budget, I can’t do everything. I can’t opt to buy only organic, unrefined, local ingredients. I’d be living on a loaf of bread with some honey and a container of yogurt a week. But one conclusion I have come to is, “as far is it depends on you,” or “in as much as you are able.”
I may not be able t afford to buy organic chickens, but I can cut down on my meat consumption. It reduces overall grocery costs, as well as reducing the resources needed to produce food. Animals are one more step removed from natural forms of protein like legumes. It takes exponentially more grain energy to raise and animal than the caloric benefit we get out of it, versus just eating the plants themselves. Plus, things such as cattle and their methane emissions are making a greater impact on global warming and energy use than your car is. (I’ll deal with the car later). So, my “as far as it depends on you” for meat is, eat 2 meals per day with protein, but no meat. It didn’t take me long to build up to it, you just need to find some new recipes and be creative in your thinking.
Meat-free breakfast options:
Eggs, Oatmeal, Dried/Fresh Fruit, Cottage Cheese, Yogurt, Cereal with milk or soy milk, Toast with berries and natural peanut butter, blueberry flax muffins– your options are endless! And notice, most of these are good protein options.
Taco salad with black beans instead of chicken or beef, vegetarian chilli, peanut-lime coleslaw, vegetarian pilaf, fresh multi-grain bread with goat cheese and veggie sticks, once again– the sky is the limit!
Homemade Tomato Soup, Asian grilled tofu stir-fry, tomato and brie paninni with honey mustard, black bean burritos, smashed potato salad, tomato basil cream pasta– you get the idea
Meat is not the be-all and end-all of food. For the next week, challenge yourself to go meat-free two meals out of three. Let me know how it goes!