A Plant-rich Diet is Good for You and the Planet

A Plant-rich Diet is Good for You and the Planet

Changing to a plant-rich diet can change you and the planet for the better!

Did you know that our eating habits are increasing greenhouse gases and harming our health? You hold the key. It is time to open this door. Changing to a plant-rich diet can change you and the planet for the better! Yes, nourishing ourselves with plants can change everything.

The Western diet comes with a steep climate price tag.

The Western diet comes with a steep climate price tag. The most conservative estimates suggest that raising livestock accounts for nearly 15 percent of the global greenhouse gases emitted each year; the most comprehensive assessment of direct and indirect emissions say more than 50 percent.” #1

At the same time overconsumption of animal protein also comes at a steep cost to human costs. On average a person requires 50 grams of protein a day. A plant meal can contain the protein we need. Many in the United States eat more than 90 grams of protein per day. This overconsumption goes hand in hand with health problems.

What would be the benefits if the world changed to a plant-rich diet?

Studies have shown that if 70% of the people adopted a vegan diet and 63% adopted a vegetarian diet (includes cheese, milk, and eggs) the combined impact would be huge! There would be a 70% reduction in emissions. That means if we take the low end of the current emissions above at 15% it would be reduced to 3.75%. The models show that it would also reduce global mortality by 6-10%. This reduction in emissions would save lives and reduce medical costs. Wow, this is definitely worth the changes. #1

What is a good planetary diet?

Well the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brought scientists together from around the world and asked the question: “Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries?” The answer is yes! We can! To do this, we need to move to a healthy eating approach which is symbolized by a plate that is half full of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The other half contains whole grains, plant proteins (beans, lentils, etc.), unsaturated plant oils, and modest amounts of meat, dairy, sugars, and starchy vegetables. (eatforum.org>eat-lancet-commission). It is very different from our food consumption today and will require us to make a series of changes.

 

Five things you can do to reduce your footprint and increase your wellness.
  1. Eat more vegetarian meals. To help, we shared two fabulous vegetarian cookbooks: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman and The Modern Cooks Year by Anna Jones. 
  2. Shop local farms and farmers’ markets.
  3. Enjoy nature and support it: walk in parks or forest, grow trees and native plants (or support organizations doing so).
  4. Reduce waste, especially plastic: reusable bags, straws, recycle, and compost.
  5. Reduce driving/flying and increase walking and biking.

#1 Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Edited by Paul Hawken; section Food, page 39.

5 Benefits of Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

5 Benefits of Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

Eat Better Food and You’ll Feel Better.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat.”  It actually dates back to the 1800s and it means if you eat good food you have better health.  Sounds simple, right?  Actually it is.  You just have to make joyful changes to your diet to add more fruits and vegetables and lower your meat consumption.  

Eating a plant-rich diet is good not only for your personal health but also for the health of our planet.  While there are numerous reasons for eating a plant-rich diet, we’ve spotlighted our top 5 reasons below. 

Explore our interactive infographic below to learn more.
Now is the Time to Adopt the Flexible and Healthy Planetary Diet

Now is the Time to Adopt the Flexible and Healthy Planetary Diet

The Planetary Diet is an eating approach symbolized by a plate that is half full of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The other half contains whole grains, plant proteins (beans, lentils, etc.), unsaturated plant oils, and modest amounts of meat, dairy, sugars, and starchy vegetables. It is a flexible and healthy diet. It is very different from our food consumption today and will require us to make a series of joyful changes. 

The Planetary Health Diet Image
At OPL, we love when we can make joyful changes that are good for us and the planet.

Changing our diet to include more veggie meals is one such change.  This change uses significantly fewer planet resources than meat meals.

Let us explain: Imagine we had a farm that produced 20 pounds of grain. It would require a lot of resources to grow our 20 pounds of grain, including land, fertilizer, water, equipment, transportation, and labor. It would also create some pollution. While that is a lot of resources, it would take us 20 times more resources to create beef. This includes more resources: land, antibiotics, water, equipment, transportation, labor and it creates a lot more pollution. So now we have used all these resources and instead of 20 pounds of veggies, we have one pound of meat and lots of pollution.  

EAT-Lancet Commission Logo

“Today, food is a defining challenge by contributing to both poor health outcomes and severe environmental degradation.”

EAT-Lancet Commission

eatforum.org>eat-lancet-commission

Since we care about people and the planet, we need to make joyful changes. The best part about changing your diet to reduce meat is that it is healthier for you and lessens the burden on the planet (land, water, and air)!

With this knowledge, we begin to ask big questions about how to have enough food for everyone and care for the planet.  To help us explore these questions, we are fortunate enough to have the planetary diet created by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health that brought tougher 37 world-leading scientists from across the globe to answer the question: Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within our planetary boundaries? The answer is yes, but to do so, we need to make joyful changes.  

To get started, below we are showcasing two vegetarian recipes from two home chefs. Sarah Biddle shares with us Vegetarian Chili with Homemade Tortilla Chips. Sam Shane shares with us Wild Mushroom and Pea Bolognese over Fresh Pasta. Both are tasty, substantial meals that will satisfy your hunger and taste buds.  

Let us know how the recipes came out at your home. Please share your favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes. 

Sarah Biddle Image

Vegetarian Chili with Homemade Tortilla Chips

Home Chef Sarah Biddle and OPL Community Member

 Just sauté the vegetables and put all of the ingredients in the crockpot in the morning, let the crockpot do all the work, and enjoy!

Total Time: 6 hours in the crockpot

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

 Ingredients

  •     ½ cup olive oil
  •     1 onion, chopped
  •     2 garlic cloves 
  •     2 bell peppers
  •     1 jalapeno chopped
  •     1 zucchini (or whatever vegetables you have!) 
  •     1 can of black beans, rinsed and liquid drained
  •     1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and liquid drained
  •     1 can kidney beans, rinsed and liquid drained
  •     1 can diced tomatoes
  •     4-6 tablespoons chili powder, depending on preference 
  •     2 teaspoons dried oregano
  •     2 teaspoons salt
  •     2 teaspoons ground cumin
  •     ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  •     1 tablespoon hot sauce 
  •     Tortillas 
Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic; sauté until they soften, but don’t brown, for about five minutes.

  1. Add the peppers and celery and sauté until lightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Set your slow cooker to low. Add the beans, vegetables, diced tomatoes, spices, and hot sauce. Stir to combine and cover. Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream (optional) and enjoy!

 Tortilla Chips 

  1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2.     Cut each tortilla into 8 chip-sized wedges and arrange the wedges in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  3.     Drizzle olive oil, salt, and chili powder over the chips. 
  4.     Bake for about 7 minutes; flip all of the chips and bake the other side for another 8 minutes or until the chips are crisp but not too brown. 
Sam Shane Image

Wild Mushroom and Pea Bolognese over Fresh Pasta

Home Chef Sam Shane and OPL Community Member

Total time: 2 hours           

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

  •           1 tablespoon olive oil
  •           1/4 cup minced onions
  •           Salt
  •           Freshly ground black pepper
  •           2 cups sliced assorted wild mushrooms
  •           1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  •           3/4 cup frozen green peas
  •           1 recipe of Shane Family Bolognese, warm and in a saucepan (see recipe below)
  •           1 pound cooked fresh pasta, hot
  •           2 ounces fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
  •           1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Mushroom and Pea Bolognese

Instructions

In a sauté pan, heat the oil. Add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute. 

Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté for 2 – 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Stir in the garlic and peas. Sauté for 1 minute and remove from the heat. 

Turn the mushroom mixture into the Bolognese and mix well. 

Toss the pasta with the sauce. Mound the pasta into shallow bowls and garnish with cheese and parsley.

Shane Vegetarian Bolognese
Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

  •           13 tablespoon Olive Oil            
  •           1 cup small diced carrots
  •           3/4 cup small diced celery
  •           1 cup small diced onions
  •           3 teaspoons paprika
  •           6 tablespoons bacon bits or cooked veggie bacon crushed
  •           3/4 pound veggie beef crumbles
  •           1/2 pound veggie sausage crumbles
  •           1/2 cup dry white wine
  •           1 tablespoon minced garlic
  •           2 tablespoons Italian tomato paste, diluted in 10 tablespoons veggie stock
  •           1 cup soy milk
  •           Salt and black pepper

 

 Instructions

In a sauce pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.   Stir in the carrots, celery, and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables for about 3 – 5 minutes or until the vegetables are translucent.  Add the paprika and stir for 30 seconds.

In a mixing bowl, combine the bacon bits, veggie beef crumbles, and the veggie sausage crumbles. Season with salt and pepper.   Add to the sauteed vegetables and cook until the crumbles are cooked through and incorporated.

Stir in the wine, garlic,  and diluted tomato paste, and reduce the heat to very low. 

Cook partially covered for 2 hours. From time to time stir in a tablespoon or so of the soy milk; by the end of the two hours the soy milk should be incorporated. 

Season with salt and black pepper.

Rebel Chef Inspires Delicious Veggie-forward Recipes

Rebel Chef Inspires Delicious Veggie-forward Recipes

In Dominique Crenn’s book, Rebel Chef In Search of What Mattered Most, I was drawn deeply to her chapter on “The Ethical Kitchen.” It is impressive how this honored chef who sees food as poetry makes vegetables the center of her elegant dishes. While she is not a vegetarian, she understands that “too many people eat a meat-centered diet, when for the health and for environmental reasons, meat should be a secondary ingredient.” I love her message: think before you eat, and consider where the food comes from. It is well-documented that industrial farming is not only inhumane to the animals, it is also harmful to the environment and ourselves.

Rebel Chef Book Cover

 

An OPL Recommended Book — Rebel Chef, In Search of What Matters.

Author:  Dominque Crenn

You can read our brief synopsis of this book here.

As a French chef living for decades in the United States, Dominique sees how we “like to buy cheaply and discard, creating unneeded waste.” All of this comes into play in her amazing vegetable-forward meals, where she makes vegetables shine in new, creative ways and works to avoid food waste.

Dominique Crenn’s book inspired me. While I will never come close to being able to create the dishes (out of my league), it motivates me to think about the ingredients in my vegetarian dishes and how to make them shine. The more vegetarian dishes I eat, the more I crave them. Here are two of my go-to vegetarian recipes. Additionally, we have two more from our home chefs. Enjoy! 

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