Go Green with Vegan Cuisine
QUESTION: In past interviews we have been discussing the health benefits of raw and vegan foods. You mentioned that there are environmental and social benefits to this form of eating as well. Can you elaborate a bit?
MARK: We hear a lot these days about global warming, food shortages, water shortages and rainforest destruction. Many people, including environmentalists, don’t realize that including more vegan foods in our diet is one of the most effective steps we can take to protect our environment and conserve the earth’s resources. A recent UN report called Livestock’s Long Shadow revealed that 18 percent of all greenhouse emissions come from the livestock industry. That’s more than the entire world automobile industry combined! This is incredible to me.
The environmental impact of a vegan diet is a fraction of that of a meat-based one. According to Conservation International, the average carbon emissions from an animal product based diet are 11 tons per year per person. The average emissions on a plant-based diet are 6 tons per year. Another interesting tidbit of information is that it takes approximately 3 ½ acres of land and 2500 gallons of water a day to support an animal product based diet. A plant-based diet utilizes only 1/6 of an acre of land and 300 gallons of water a day. According to the USDA, 1 acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of vegetables. This same amount of land can only produce 165 pounds of meat.
Animals are fed more than 80 percent of the corn and 95 percent of the oats grown in the United States. Each year, the U.S. livestock population consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more than five times the U.S. human population. Less than half of the harvested agricultural acreage goes to feed people. Combine this with the fact that over 60 million people die of starvation every year. This means that we are feeding grain to animals while our fellow humans are dying of starvation in mind staggering numbers.
QUESTION: Wow! I had no idea. That’s pretty intense information. Where can I go to learn more?
MARK: We have more information in our books, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw. You can also check out Diet for a New America, which is the source of much of the environmental information we share. Author John Robbins is a pioneer in the promotion of the health and environmental benefits of a plant- based lifestyle. His latest work, Healthy At 100, is a must-read in-depth exploration of health and longevity.
QUESTION: Can you share an environmentally friendly recipe for the holiday season?
MARK: Here you go, courtesy of Vegan Fusion World Cuisine
Sistah Jah Love Roasted Squash Soup
20 min prep / 35 min cooking / 5-6 servings
1 small Butternut or buttercup squash (1 ½ C cooked)
1 large Garnet yam, peeled & chopped (2 C)
1 medium Onion, chopped (1 C)
1 C Celery, sliced thin
2 Tbl Garlic, minced
4 ½ C Filtered water or vegetable stock
2 ½ C Coconut milk
2 Tbl Maple syrup, or to taste
3 Tbl soy sauce
½ tsp Curry paste
1 small Cinnamon stick
• Sea salt, to taste
• Black pepper, ground to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Rinse the butternut squash, slice lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place face down on a lightly-oiled baking sheet and bake until a knife can pass through it easily, approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Scoop the inside of the squash into a large blender.
2. While squash is cooking, place the yams, onions, celery, garlic, coconut milk, filtered water and cinnamon stick in a 3 qt pot, cook on medium high heat until yams are thoroughly cooked, approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes.
3. Remove cinnamon stick, add shoyu and maple syrup, place in blender with squash and blend. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix well and enjoy.
4. Garnish with black sesame seeds and a leaf of mint or cilantro. The flavor of this soup may vary according to the sweetness of the yams and squash, add maple syrup to taste.