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Posts Tagged ‘plant-based’

We do not have a plant-based diet in our house, although I’ve been taking baby steps in that direction as far back as the early 1970s when my little sister (now departed) gave me the Frances Moore Lappé book Diet for a Small Planet. This was when my sister was still in college and studying to be a poet. Long before she went to medical school and became a doctor.

I used to make an eggplant, mozzarella, and brown rice dish from that book. It was yummy but took too long to make. I’m a lazy cook.

Still, I keep being reminded that the effort is important — for example, when Robyn Vinter wrote for the Guardian in October about the environment summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Vinter reported, “Plant-based dishes will dominate the menu at the Cop26 [Conference of the Parties no. 26] climate conference. … The low-carbon menu includes 95% British food, especially locally sourced Scottish produce, and each menu item has an estimate of its carbon footprint, ‘helping attendees make climate-friendly choices.’

“Delegates will be served dishes such as potato, leek and rosemary chowder, smoked salmon and ‘a spiced mushroom and onion burger served with a vegan tomato mayo, slaw and shoots.’

“Caterers are using sustainable suppliers including Edinburgh’s Mara Seaweed, which is abundant, entirely sustainable and does not require fertilizer, fresh water or soil to grow, and carrots and potatoes from Benzies, which uses wind turbines to power their cool storage, biomass to provide heating and recycles the water used. Hot drinks will be served in reusable cups that can be washed 1,000 times, which organizers say will save 250,000 single-use cups.”

How does the list at the Guardian sound to you?

” Winter squash lasagne (0.7kg CO2 equivalent emissions) – celeriac, glazed root vegetables and winter squash, with a vegan cheddar.
” Organic kale and seasonal vegetable pasta (0.3kg CO2 ee) – spelt fusilli, field mushrooms, kale and seasonal vegetables.
” Braised turkey meatballs (0.9kg CO2 ee) – with organic spelt penne pasta in a tomato ragu.
” Organic spelt wholegrain penne pasta (0.2kg CO2 ee) – with a tomato ragu, kale, pesto and oatmeal crumble.”

Mmmm. Maybe it’s worth the effort.

Meanwhile, at the Harvard Health newsletter, you can read why a plant-based diet is also better for your health. Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN, says, “Plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.

“What is the evidence that plant-based eating patterns are healthy? Much nutrition research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet has a foundation of plant-based foods; it also includes fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt a few times a week, with meats and sweets less often.

“The Mediterranean diet has been shown in both large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function. Vegetarian diets have also been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity. …

“Here are some tips to help you get started on a plant-based diet.

” Eat lots of vegetables. Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Make sure you include plenty of colors in choosing your vegetables. Enjoy vegetables as a snack with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.
” Change the way you think about meat. Have smaller amounts. Use it as a garnish instead of a centerpiece.
” Choose good fats. Fats in olive oil, olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
” Cook a vegetarian meal at least one night a week. Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
” Include whole grains for breakfast. Start with oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, or barley. Then add some nuts or seeds along with fresh fruit.
” Go for greens. Try a variety of green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens each day. Steam, grill, braise, or stir-fry to preserve their flavor and nutrients.
” Build a meal around a salad. Fill a bowl with salad greens such as romaine, spinach, Bibb, or red leafy greens. Add an assortment of other vegetables along with fresh herbs, beans, peas, or tofu.
” Eat fruit for dessert. A ripe, juicy peach, a refreshing slice of watermelon, or a crisp apple will satisfy your craving for a sweet bite after a meal.”

To read McManus’s meal suggestions and her answers to readers with specific diet problems, click on the Harvard Health newsletter, here. More at the Guardian, here. And don’t forget to investigate Diet for a Small Planet, here.

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Photo: Pattie Mitchell via Upsplash
You can help reduce global warming when you think twice about the food you buy.

The pandemic has hurt my tentative efforts to help the global climate by cutting back on lamb and beef. This sounds lame, but with online ordering, I feel less able to be creative about meatless meals. I need to see the produce up close, not the market’s idealized photo. Guess I better get over that: online shopping looks like being my mode for quite a while yet.

Meanwhile, as Ali Withers reports for the Climate Solutions initiative at the Washington Post, a Danish grocery chain is making it easy for customers to watch their carbon footprint.

A major supermarket chain in Denmark is offering shoppers something extra at checkout: an estimated amount of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from their groceries.

“COOP DK, the Danish cooperative that controls one-third of the country’s grocery market, says it is trying to educate consumers with an eye toward nudging them to cut back on meat and dairy, two categories of food that produce the most greenhouse gasses linked to climate change. …

“Shoppers can use an app that gives them a personalized carbon footprint tracker that displays roughly how much CO2 it took to produce the tomatoes, yogurt or cold cuts in their baskets. The tracker, which rolled out in June, also allows customers to compare their footprint to the average shopper.

“ ‘What people need to understand is just that animal-based products have a higher [climate] impact,’ said Thomas Roland, who leads corporate social responsibility for COOK DK. …

“Animal agriculture is a major source of both carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gasses that are driving the rapid warming of the planet, scientists say. …

“Since the stores stock more than 100,000 items, they took a few shortcuts by selecting a benchmark item — 2.2 pounds of white rice, for example — to be representative of all types of rice because, as Roland explained, the variations in rice production, transportation and packaging are relatively small. Similarly, all pork is counted in the same way, regardless of farming methods. …

“So far, 21 percent of the chain’s 1.2 million app users have checked their carbon footprint, Roland said. …

“When they first discussed the idea of a carbon tracker, top executives at COOP DK were concerned that it could affect the chain’s bottom line. …

“Roland said, ‘Our biggest concern was that we “chased” some customers out of our shops only to find that they buy all their meat at competitors. But that, luckily, doesn’t seem to be the case. Curiosity wins, as customers actually want to see the footprint of their total basket and not “cheat.” ‘

“The average Dane is responsible through his or her food choices for the emission of about 6,614 pounds of CO2, or 18.1 pounds a day, according to COOP DK.

“That’s almost six times the amount recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Health. The commission’s 2019 peer-reviewed study by 37 scientists found that a person’s nutritional CO2 footprint should be closer to 3.1 pounds per day, if humanity is to prevent the average global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. …

Barnemad, a cooking site that displays the CO2 equivalence of a recipe’s ingredients, is among a growing number of ‘climate cookbooks’ that are part of a Danish trend to promote low-carbon eating, organic foods and nutrition. …

“Leading meat and dairy suppliers are cautiously welcoming the footprint tracker, although it could result in a decrease in sales. …

“The pork producer Danish Crown doesn’t oppose climate footprint trackers, its top executive said. ‘It’s early days for these tools,’ said Jais Valeur, CEO of Danish Crown, which also exports meat to China, Japan and Britain. ‘But still, it’s a sign of what’s going to come here on the climate path, and we need to pay attention to this. It’s not like we’re against it. Meat has become so cheap here in Europe and in the Western world, and there you see an overconsumption.’ …

“Both [dairy producer] Arla and Danish Crown are trying to reduce their carbon emissions and position their products as low-carbon.

“Arla is aiming to shrink its CO2 footprint by 30 percent by 2030. And Danish Crown says it will halve CO2 emissions from the 12.5 million pigs it raises and slaughters in Denmark by 2030. The company is setting up baselines and individual climate plans for each of its pig farmers. …

“Farmers, for the most part, are embracing the opportunity to lower their carbon footprint, although, as Valeur notes, there are no financial incentives. …

“Kim Kjær Knudsen is a third-generation pig farmer who is trying to cut carbon emissions from his farm of 100,000 pigs outside Copenhagen. He has invested in biogas projects, reduced the acidity of his slurry, installed new ventilation systems and is buying more local feed.

“ ‘I think this will define my future in the next 10 to 15 years,’ Knudsen said. ‘It’s important to make some steps now [that] will move us in a good direction … if I can put a calculation on my meat to say, “Actually, we can produce meat here in Denmark that is 50 to 80 percent better for the environment than they can do somewhere else in the world.” ‘ “

Gotta love those Danes — ahead of the curve on so many good things! How do they do it? More at the Washington Post, here.

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