At the beginning of the year, most of us are thinking about our health, diet and exercise. Typically, our resolve to improve our daily eating and exercise habits quickly dissipates. But in 2011 the importance of remaining conscious of our eating habits can’t be overstated. We need to pay careful attention to this most basic element of our life support system because the world’s food supply is at risk.
Over New Year’s weekend we received a dark omen: thousands of Arkansas blackbirds fell dead from the sky. It happened again a couple of days later in Louisiana. Mass bird deaths, fish kills and many other odd mass animal deaths around the world have continued to make the news. You can also read about the plight of honeybees and colony collapse and the blight that’s destroying banana crops. Our food chain is clearly in trouble.
Thinking about solutions for the global problems we’re facing is daunting, so I try to focus on what I can do personally and locally. I guess it’s the same for most of us. It has to be easy for me to make it a habit.
So dust off that copy of “Diet for a Small Planet” or whatever resource you find useful, and start with small changes you know you can stick with. Then, as you succeed in incorporating small changes, keep expanding your repertoire for better eating.
I’ve been developing vegetarian versions of some of my favorite meat recipes. I like to keep it simple. For example, I can accomplish several goals by purchasing a block of plain, extra firm Twin Oaks tofu from my local food co-op. I use this delicious, inexpensive, low calorie, high protein soy substitute in many formerly meat-centered meals. With my purchase, I’m also supporting my local food co-op and the nearby Twin Oaks community that produces the tofu with “local organic NON-GMO soybeans; fresh, non-chlorinated and non-flouridated artisan well water; and the best quality organic herbs available.”
This is easy eating! I lightly saute a slice of the tofu in butter with some garlic, onions, and mushrooms, and season it with some A-1 sauce. Then I have a tofu steak to go with my baked potato and green beans. I’ve also tried sauteing sliced tofu with Thai Peanut Satay sauce for seasoning, which goes very well with whatever vegetables you like and rice or Thai rice noodles. Plain tofu tastes like whatever spices you put in it. Twin Oaks also makes fine herb, Italian or or spicy Chorizo tofu. Imagine the possibilities!
I’ve had some excellent results with substituting either red or white Quinoa in many recipes that call for ground meat like chili or spaghetti sauce. I’ve even tried making one of my favorite Persian dishes, Ghormeh Sabzi, with red Quinoa and vegetable broth instead of beef or lamb stew meat. I’m sure this recipe experiment will raise some skeptical eyebrows. Even I was surprised to find this video demonstration on how to make vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi.
Check out the Small Planet Institute’s website for more resources, links and ideas for steps you can take to create a sustainable life. Just get started, do what you can, and it will get easier. Feeling better is a great motivator. Eventually, you may discover that creating meat-free meals is even fun.