According to a new study, the growing demand for meat is the greatest threat to global biodiversity.
The study, Biodiversity Conservation: The Key is Reducing Meat Consumption, found that if demand for meat increases along current trends through 2050, the environmental cost of producing it would put species around the world at risk. As production efforts increase to meet demand, more land will be required to produce livestock and livestock feed. Researchers found that this need for more land is likely to lead to the destruction of diverse habitats, and by extension, to the extinction of many species of plants and animals.
“Now we can say, only slightly fancifully: You eat a steak, you kill a lemur in Madagascar. You eat a chicken, you kill an Amazonian parrot,” says Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York.
Some of the most diverse areas of the world, or mega-diverse regions, are particularly at risk as the demand for meat increases. Researchers identified the mega-diverse regions of the world and compared them to the regions most likely to be used for future meat production. As they worked, a startling trend emerged: the areas most rich in diverse species were also some of the most likely to be destroyed to make way for meat production. According to the study, “Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides.”
The researcher’s top recommendation to prevent habitat destruction?
(1) Reducing demand for animal-based food products and increasing proportions of plant-based foods in diets, the latter ideally to a global average of 90% of food consumed.
By eating less meat each week individuals can begin to reverse this destructive trend and help protect global biodiversity. Not only is eating less meat a healthy personal choice – it’s a change that can help protect the earth!
Click here to read more about this study and its important implications.
Labor Day is almost here, and that means friends and family will soon be gathering around the grill for picnics, block parties and backyard cookouts. This year, bring some delicious meatless recipes to your celebration with fruits, veggies, and even pizzas for the grill! Since Labor Day is celebrated on a Monday, here are nine hand-picked recipes from Meatless Monday Bloggers to help get you started. These clever and inventive ideas for a meatless Labor Day will have you firing up the grill in no time!
First time grilling a meatless meal, or just getting started with barbecue in general? We asked Karen Caplan, President & CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, for tips on grilling fruits and vegetables. Simple grilling hacks like making aluminum foil packets, re-purposing cooling racks from the kitchen, and using skewers for those unusually-shaped foods, are just a few of the methods she recommends. Click here to learn all her tips and tricks for using the grill to cook up delightful meatless dishes quickly and easily.
Hungry for more? Some folks just can’t wait to enjoy a savory burger straight off the grill. With meatless recipes for burgers of from lentils, beans, shiitake mushrooms, nuts, and squash, there are plenty of options to try in our 15 Mouthwatering Meatless Monday Burgers post. Remember: just because the grill is part of the Labor Day cooking tradition, that doesn’t mean meat is the only option!
Happy Labor Day!
This summer Sir Paul McCartney brought Meat-Free Monday to the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. The festival has a reputation of promoting social justice and sustainability, and with Sir Paul McCartney headlining, everyone was talking about cutting out meat once a week.
“We are facing big environmental challenges today and we need big solutions. Going meat free one day a week will take us a long way,” he said. “Denmark is a very environmental conscious country, so I would urge people at Roskilde Festival and beyond to give a meat free day a go. It’s easy, tasty and good for the planet.”
With a call to “Stop Global Shawarming,” Meat Free Monday Denmark joined forces with Sir Paul McCartney at the festival by serving delicious meatless shawarma and getting festival guests involved in the conversation.
What country eats more meat per capita than any other in the world? If you guessed the U.S. you were close, but the burger-loving United States actually finished second to…Luxembourg! That’s right, Luxembourg. The only Grand Duchy in the world. Small in size but big in terms of meat consumption, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Whether it’s Judd mat Gaardebounen (smoked collar of pork with broad beans), Thüringer (sausages that taste like a spicy version of German bratwurst) or Ardennes ham, Luxembourgers love their meat.
So we were both surprised and excited to hear that there was interest forming a chapter of Meatless Monday. We were even more excited to meet one of their members – chef and food journalist Anne Faber (of Anne’s Kitchen) who was in the U.S. in April promoting her second cookbook.
We sat down with her and started talking about what a logo might look like, and before you knew it a carrot was growing out of the words ‘Meat Free Monday’ and we were getting fired up about a future launch.
And now it’s happened! Meat Free Monday Luxembourg took to the streets during National Vegetarian Week, armed with lots of fruit & veggies, some delicious-looking muffins, and someone dressed up as a chicken. The charismatic Anne even managed to attract some media attention.
Known as the Cultural Capital of Europe, Luxembourg is now not only the home of music, fine art, and wonderful architecture – it’s also home to Meat Free Monday.
May it be good for the health of Luxembourgers as well as the health of our planet.
Miki Haimovich, one of the most famous anchorwomen in Israeli history, told TEDx IDC why she wanted to build an initiative for the greater good.“I felt the need to devote my time to something important,” she explained in her talk this summer. After seeing fellow vegetarian Paul McCartney launch Meat Free Monday in the UK, Haimovich decided to bring Meatless Monday to Israel.
Working with program founder Sid Lerner and her own network of contacts, the former news anchor began spreading the word about skipping meat once a week. Since launching in November 2012, her program has been extremely popular, gaining support from parliament (the first parliament to adopt Meatless Monday in the world), popular chefs, and public figures.
“It’s a great feeling not just to report the news, but to make news,” Haimovich says, “Especially… good news.”
Tempe, Arizona has officially joined the Meatless Monday movement! This month, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell issued the proclamation celebrating healthy eating and officially declaring Mondays “Lean and Green.” The goal of this proclamation is to encourage the public and businesses to go meatless once a week. Some school districts in Tempe have decided to jump on the Meatless Monday bandwagon and begin offering plant-based meal options every week in honor of the Lean and Green proclamation.
The Kyrene School District in Arizona has been interested in Meatless Monday for years, but in the past parents had pushed back against going meatless once a week. Two years ago the school had suggested going fully meatless for just two Mondays in December, and parents of students in the district opposed the plan saying that it didn’t give their kids enough options. This new promotion will focus on providing meatless options every Monday while still offering the typical menu. As Amanda Conti of the Kyrene School District explains, “We will have meat entrees still available to kids, but every day we will feature a Lean and Green item on the menu.” Participating in Meatless Monday means bringing more options to the table and demonstrating that delicious, nutritious meals don’t have to include meat every day of the week. Many organizations choose to emphasize meatless options on Mondays rather than eliminate meat from their menus altogether.
Lauren Kuby, a Tempe Councilwoman, helped the proclamation become a reality. “By saying, ‘let’s eat lean and green one day of the week, or even one meal of the week,’ that is not to close down the whole animal-agriculture system,” Kuby said. The Kyrene School District and the Tempe Union High School District will begin offering Lean and Green meal options this October. We’re looking forward to hearing more about their work and supporting the movement to cut out meat once a week!
To read more about Lean and Green in Tempe, Arizona, click here.
Make tasty meatless meals with summer produce all year long!
Summer is a wonderful time to sample new fruits and vegetables – but how can you enjoy those flavors all year long? Preserve your summer favorites quickly and easily by freezing them! Use one of these three methods to freeze your particular produce for the colder months.
Individual Quick Freeze
Begin by washing and drying small, fleshy fruits like fresh berries or tomatoes. Place each fruit on a baking sheet and lay flat in a freezer. Make sure each item of produce has space and isn’t touching its neighbors – if they are touching when they freeze, you’ll have to use them all at once. Allow the produce to freeze thoroughly over 2-4 hours. Once frozen, move your fruits to an airtight container or freezer storage bag. For more on freezing and using berries, click here.
Blanch and Freeze
Some fruits and vegetables like squash and zucchini should be quickly blanched before freezing. To blanch, bring a large pot of water to a boil and have a bowl of ice water standing by. Clean and chop your veggies, boil them for about one minute, then quickly remove and place straight into the ice water. Pat dry, freeze, and store. You can also blanch cooking greens in the microwave, and peaches can be blanched whole – just slit the skin of the fruit before boiling. For more about how blanching helps preserve your food, click here.
Freeze in Liquid
Fresh summer herbs can be easily preserved by freezing them in liquid. Clean your herbs and chop or dice them to a small, manageable size. Pour a teaspoon of each herb into the molds of an ice cube tray, and then add a cooking oil like olive or canola oil. Make sure the herbs are saturated with liquid, then allow them to freeze solid. Pack away your produce and keep frozen for later use. For more on preserving herbs, click here.
There are a few foods that shouldn’t go in the freezer, but many fruits and veggies can be preserved with minimal preparations and supplies. Thawed produce works wonderfully in a variety of recipes from soups and sauces to baked goods. For more information on what to freeze click here, and find out more about cooking with frozen foods here. Frozen foods can last several months in the freezer, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the flavors of summer in your meatless meals all fall and winter long!
Do you dine out on Meatless Monday? We wanted to help chefs and diners alike enjoy Meatless Monday more, so we asked what people loved best about meatless menus. Here’s what respondents told us they loved (or would love) to see featured in restaurants for Meatless Monday.
56 percent of respondents to the survey said they’d like to see seasonal specials on the menu. Showcasing the fruits and vegetables of the season at the peak of freshness is a wonderful way to design Meatless Monday menu options.
53 percent wanted to see discounted specials available on the Meatless Monday menu. Choice cuts of meat are pricey; Meatless Monday options cost less overall, saving you money on a delicious specialty meal.
40 percent of survey participants thought that tasting menus would be a wonderful way to sample a chef’s talents and choices when cooking meatless. Tasting menus are a special treat for diners and an opportunity for chefs to demonstrate their skills.
When our survey asked about menu options, respondents said that unique veggie burger options (39 percent), grilled vegetables (37 percent) and vegetable soup (29 percent) were their favorite ways to go meatless at restaurants. What meatless meal options do you look forward to when dining out?
In describing his own success with Meatless Monday, Executive Chef Jason Weiner said, “Meatless Monday is expanding our clientele, challenging our cooks, and supporting our local growers. Put simply—Meatless Mondays is win, win, win.” Chef Weiner features prix fixe Meatless Monday menus each week at Almond NYC and Almond Bridgehampton, and launched Meatless Monday in his new Almond Tribeca restaurant on August 10. Try his recipe for eggplant three ways for a tasty Meatless Monday treat you can make at home!
Over 200 respondents gave input for our survey on Meatless Monday in restaurants.
Try a New Twist on Eggplant this Meatless Monday
Fresh vegetables make for delicious meatless meals, especially now that eggplant is in season. If you’ve never had eggplant before, now is the time to try it – and if you have had it before, now is the time to try it in one of these exciting recipes!
Hearty and versatile, eggplant compliments a huge variety of spices and blends perfectly into a number of classic, multi-cultural recipes. We’ve collected eggplant recipes from Meatless Monday bloggers to help get you started exploring all the culinary possibilities this meatless staple has to offer. Get them now while they’re in season to enjoy their sun-ripened flavor at the peak of freshness!
Hungry for some more excellent eggplant recipes?
Download the Meatless Monday Eggplant e-cookbook from our friends at Dominex Natural Foods!
In the US, roughly 40% of our food supply is wasted – and a lot of it is perfectly ripe and healthy produce. The problem? It’s ugly. The same imperfect fruits and vegetables you might see at the farmer’s market just don’t make it to the grocery store. We caught up with Jordan Figueiredo to learn more about why.
Figueiredo is a passionate advocate for ugly produce. He started out posting pictures of deformed fruits and veggies with funny captions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; before long he was receiving pictures of “uglies” from enthusiastic followers around the world and sharing them with over 25,000 total followers. Food celebrities like Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, and Alice Waters sat up and took notice when Figueiredo made waves with posts about dancing carrots, grumpy peppers, and potatoes that look like rubber duckies.
Meatless Monday: What got you interested in food waste here in the US?
Figueiredo: Working in solid waste, I’ve dealt primarily with a lot of recycling and composting projects. That’s where I started seeing all the food that was being thrown away. Even with composting you’d see a huge amount of healthy, fresh food going to waste instead of being eaten. But consumer-end waste is a small part of the picture compared to waste in the food industry. About half of all food waste happens at the farm and in transit or distribution, it never even reaches the shelves or a restaurant, let alone a plate. Most of that waste comes from retailers’ strict cosmetic standards for produce. We produce more than enough food for everyone to eat healthfully, but we still have hunger and we have massive food waste.
MM: What are some of the benefits of eating the “uglies” instead of letting them go to waste?
Figueiredo: Uglies are really the same as other produce, so there are of course health benefits to eating more of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a report where they found that only 13.1% of American adults are eating enough fruit and only 8.9% are eating enough vegetables. That’s fewer than one in five adults eating enough produce to be healthy, all while we’re throwing out tons of produce.
Then there are the environmental benefits – about 10% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions come from producing, transporting, storing, and preparing food that never gets eaten. Producing food takes a huge investment of time and resources; wasting food means that effort was also wasted.
There are also economic benefits. Retailers are beginning to experiment with selling uglies in their own section at a discounted rate. Everyone wins with this set up, since the store makes money on a product that would otherwise be a loss and consumers gain access to healthy food at a reduced cost.
MM: What would you say are the public misconceptions about uglies?
Figueiredo: There is a certain amount of wondering if a weird piece of fruit is diseased, but the biggest misconception I see is that people think all rejected produce is really deformed, like the stuff I post on Twitter. Most rejected uglies aren’t that ugly, they’re just not the standard retail size. That means normal-looking foods like apples and cucumbers get tossed out for being an inch too tall or too short, without ever seeing the inside of a supermarket. Home-growers and people at the farmers market are already comfortable with uglies. If we could get reject produce in grocery stores at a discount or in its own section, more people would get comfortable seeing, buying, and eating it. That would be great for health and the environment.
MM: What gave you the idea to make your posts about uglies funny?
Figueiredo: I was really inspired by the humor and light-hearted nature of Intermarche and Marcel Agency’s Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign in France, and of course by the number of funny produce pics that were already out there. I thought “look how much attention Intermarche and Marcel brought to this issue with one campaign and one series of commercials. Maybe a constant, every day, social media campaign could do the same or even raise more awareness since it’s something people can see, have fun, and think about, every single day!”
The funny quips and hashtags that started for me at some point in January were just what I saw in the produce and thought would be funny to add to the image to make it even more memorable. Plenty of people have posted images of funny produce but, by making a joke, or statement, or reference to pop culture or human looks or traits, you can make an even deeper connection.
MM: Which vegetables tend to look the weirdest, or make the best posts?
Figueiredo: Oh, carrots are my favorite. There are so many pictures of weird carrots that look like people, I could post about them all day. I have to focus on other vegetables so my followers don’t have wind up with just pictures of carrots. Daikon radishes are also popular, some of them really look like people. One recent post looked like it was actually posing for the camera, it was very popular. With cherries in season now they’re pretty popular too, with little growths and weird shapes.
MM: What’s your favorite item at the farmer’s market?
Figueiredo: Pluots, or plucots, are just so sweet and tangy. I love them! They’re in season and they’re everywhere right now.
Pluots/plucots are a blended fruit: a cross-breed of plum and apricot. If you like either fruit, try these seasonal delights!
MM: Do you participate in Meatless Monday? What recipes do you recommend for meals that put the spotlight on produce?
Figueiredo: Yes! I do practice Meatless Monday. I try for it every week. Sometimes I slip up on Monday, so if that happens I make up for it on Tuesday. For meals I try to keep it simple – I spend most of my time on advocacy work, so that doesn’t leave a lot of time for cooking. I like simple meals, a bean and cheese burrito or a salad with tofu tossed in are my staples.
Make your own bean burritos this week for a fast and easy meatless meal.
At the heart of this campaign, there’s a call to action.
Seeing more ugly produce in the market (instead of the trash) means more healthy produce on the table. With more healthy produce available it gets even easier to cut out meat once a week and replace it with tasty meatless meals. To find out more about ugly fruits and vegetables and the projects Figueiredo is working on, click here.
Want to learn more about food waste? Visit the Sustainable Table: Introduction to Food Waste page from the Grace Communications Foundation for more information and tips on taking action.