Today, I want to talk about making a difference.
As many of you may have read/guessed by now, I am an ethical vegan. To me, this is an embodiment of my values – living with the least amount of harm to others (ahimsa), with care and respect to all of God’s creation (Psalm 50:10-11), and contributing to a culture of life and compassion instead of suffering.
HOWEVER, I know that many people do not feel the same way I do. That is the nature of life – people disagree, and that is not something anyone can change. It would be foolhardy of me to attempt to convince every single person I know to become vegan, and I accept that. However, through respectful advocacy and informed discussion, I think there is a place for bringing important information to light. Information like:
1// 67% of all crops grown in the U.S. are used to feed livestock, whereas only 27% of all crops are eaten directly by humans (the remainder goes to biofuels and like uses).
2// For every 100 calories of grain fed to beef cattle, only 3 new calories are created via their meat.
3// The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations forecasts that meat consumption will grow to 455 million metric tons by 2050, especially in developing nations, creating an increasingly unsustainable demand on crops used to feed livestock + land used to house livestock.
4// In addition, 51% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are created by livestock.
5// Because of the inefficiency of growing crops to feed livestock to feed people, and because of the dire environmental impacts, the United Nations has made the following statement:
Although two-thirds of the world’s population depends on cereal or tuber-based diets, the other one-third consumes significant amounts of animal food products. The latter group places an undue demand on land, water, and other resources required for intensive food production, which makes the typical Western diet not only undesirable from the standpoint of health but also environmentally unsustainable.
However, what I think is the saddest statistic of all is that every day, 795 million in the world people go hungry. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Yet if all of the crops used to feed livestock were instead given directly to people, it would feel 4 BILLION PEOPLE.
795 million people do not have enough food every day, yet we currently already grow enough food to feed an extra 4 billion people.
Unfortunately, all of that excess food goes to livestock.
But with all of that being said, I still concede that the whole world going vegan isn’t a realistic goal. However, what I do think is realistic is to encourage others to make smart decisions about their food, and to take part in movements like #MeatlessMondays or #MealForAMeal. Although vegans get a bad rap for proselytizing, I don’t see how promoting #MeatlessMondays is inherently worse than encouraging people to recycle, or to adopt a rescue animal, or to donate old clothes to the Salvation Army!!
But where I start to get discouraged is when people say they can’t make a difference. That, as one person, they will not make a lasting impact on the world, or for a cause. This upsets me because it could not be more untrue. For example, take #MeatlessMonday – this movement involves giving up meat for one day, once a week. That’s it. Just one day. But if every American did #MeatlessMonday every week, it would save 1.4 BILLION animals a year. Billion with a B. Currently, there are about 319 million people in the U.S. So this translates to every single person – just by giving up meat for one day a week – saving four animals. And if that person goes vegetarian, that translates to 28 animals a year. This isn’t even including the environmental and health impacts of eating less meat! But for me, personally, if you can even save one life, THAT is making a difference.
Another benefit of going meatless – it saves money. Take these falafels – they were made with a can of chickpeas that cost 89 cents at the store, and a bunch of kale that cost $2 at the Farmer’s Market (#GirlOnABudget). While a jar of tahini can go for six or seven dollars, with just a bit drizzled on veggies or falafels, I can make it last for a a few months!
But in the end, if you take anything away from this post, it’s that vegan food is not only delicious and healthy, but eating in such a way can make a tangible difference on the environment, on your health, and on animal rights. Even by going meatless just one day a week, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
YOU are empowered to make a real change in the world!
- 1½ Cups Cooked Chickpeas (or 1 15oz can)
- 2 Cups Packed Summer Greens (I used half kale, half collard greens)
- ⅓ Cup Fresh Parsley + Cilantro together
- Juice from 1 Lemon
- Zest from same lemon
- 1 Small Clove Garlic, finely minced
- 4 Tbs Chickpea Flour (besan)
- 2 Tbs Hemp Oil (or sub Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- ¼ Tsp Cumin
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- ⅛ Tsp Salt
- ⅛ Tsp Smoked Paprika
- ⅓ Cup Tahini
- ¼ Cup Water
- ½ Tbs Sriracha
- Juice from 1 Lemon
- 1 Clove Garlic
- Pinch of Salt + Pepper
- ¼ Tsp Smoked Paprika
- Lacinato Kale as a wrap
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a food processor, combine all falafel ingredients (chickpeas, greens, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, chickpea flour, oil, and spices), and pulse until a textured meal is formed. Be careful of overprocessing - the mixture should still have small clumps of chickpeas in it!
- Using an ice cream scoop or by hand, separate falafel mixture into about 12 balls. Use palms to flatten into little disks.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly space out falafel disks.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.
- When falafel are done, they should be lightly browned on each side.
- Combine all ingredients into a high speed blender, and blend until smooth. Taste + adjust seasonings as necessary.
- I served my falafel in big leaves of lacinato kale, drizzled with plenty of sriracha tahini. But these would be delicious in pita or naan wraps, or just on their own!
Quote of the Day:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi
Song of the Day:
Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson