So in June Bülent and I watched the documentary Forks over Knives which promotes unprocessed foods and veganism. It advocates a plant based diet with no refined oils and lower ingestion of oily foods, such as avocados and nuts. We were quite struck with the documentary. While Bülent mostly focused on the health benefits, what struck me was the sustainability. I was amazed how the amount of livestock we require in developed countries affects global warming (10 % of human based carbon dioxide emissions), deforestation, water pollution and soil erosion. According to a 2006 University of Chicago study, if an average American meat eater reduced their intake of animal produce to 25% of their total calories it would reduce their carbon footprint by approximately one ton. However, the largest impact on me was that if that if we ate the produce we grew, rather than using it to feed to farm animals that we will eventually eat, almost every one in abject poverty could be provided with more than they need to survive. When I worked in San Diego it was the first time I dealt with real hunger. Children who were so hungry they couldn’t concentrate in class. I used to carry granola bars in my purse, and had an unlocked file cabinet filled with them. If there is anything I could do to end hunger, I would work towards it, and so have given up meat for the most part.
While we have not adopted a true “plant based” Forks over Knives lifestyle, we have altered our diet. I love a good raw steak , and though I haven’t mentioned it previously, we have been living a mostly vegetarian lifestyle since July. Occasionally we slip (mostly when I am hormonally challenged and crave a steak rather than chocolate) , but for the most part we are vegetarians. We have also cut back our lactose and egg intake by at least 75 percent. Usually the milk in my coffee is the only milk product I eat each week. Occasionally I bust out the non-fat yogurt, especially if I have a funny tummy, but that is an exception.
I love meat, but really haven’t missed it. I feel lighter, and healthier. The grocery bill is also significantly lower. Now that we are eating only veggies and beans, I spend a little more time and energy finding the best and juiciest of whatever I am looking for. The most expensive organic beans are still way cheaper than meat. If I do buy eggs or milk I buy from smaller producers, free-range and organic. Since we are eating less of it, it hasn’t jacked up the bill either. It has definitely been interesting adapting our normal recipes to a vegetarian style. However, it is usually pretty easy and Bülent swears that the vegetarian version of Hünkar Beğendi I made was better than any other he has EVER had. (Secret: for a rich taste—instead of lamb: lentils and chipotle) I will have some vegetarian recipes coming to Close to the Kitchen very soon!