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Vegan meat is the future to a greener Earth

There was a time in my life when I tried to go vegan.  I gave up meat and turned to tofu and a lot of soybean based products in the hope to replace the meats with a more plant based and healthier option.

I failed.

The tofu taste was disgusting to my sensitive palate and even now, the thought of its scent makes me very, very sad.

So imagine my amazement when I found out about Beyond Meat, the 2009 founded company that just won the 2018 Champions of the Earth Award, which is the UN’s highest accolade for the environment along with, Impossible Foods. Both are producers of revolutionary plant-based meats which are alternatives to beef.

What is even more interesting is that these plant-based meat alternatives are outperforming grass fed beef in the fast food arena around the world, including the USA and Canada.

This is great news for anyone who understands the need to preserve and nurture the Earth as livestock cultivation is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

This is a distressing fact in and of itself as greenhouse gases are basically responsible for and the hole in the ozone layer and thus climate change.

With the advent of these plant based meat alternatives having proven to be sustainable choices, it means that being ecologically conscious no longer translates into  giving up on taste and enjoyment.

“This proves that positive climate action can taste even better!” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment said. “Saving the planet requires something of a gastronomical rethink in some parts of the world, and Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods prove that this doesn’t mean our taste buds are making the sacrifice.”

Founder  and Chief Executive Officer of Impossible Foods Dr. Patrick O. Brown, explains that he knows that the big global problems are not the responsibility of someone else and agreed that in order to save the planet, it would be important to pleasantly appeal to the world’s tastebuds.

“This problem wasn’t going to be solved by pleading with consumers to eat beans and tofu instead of meat and fish. And it wouldn’t be enough just to find a better way to make meat; to succeed we would need to make the best meat in the world.”

The vegan meats by these companies have already outperformed grass-fed beef burgers by at least 40% at Luna Grill, and were sold out at Taco Bell in the USA, as well as at  A&W locations in Canada and was recently added to a burger chain in Italy, called ‘WellDone’.

So how can a vegan meat switch really make any difference? Is it just because it tastes better?

Well not only has many reported that the vegan burgers actually still taste like burgers, but this seemingly simple food choice equates to a greener world.

Here’s how.

Americans switching from beef to plant-based patties would be the equivalent of taking 12 million cars off the road for an entire year–or saving enough electricity to power 2.3 million homes.

A study coming out of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, which conducted a ‘cradle- to- distribution’ life cycle assessment of the popular vegan burger, discovered that the Beyond Burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less energy, has 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a quarter pound of U.S. beef. That means a 41-square-foot plot of land can produce just one beef burger for every 15 Beyond Burgers.

 

 

 

How to survive Thanksgiving as a vegan

Thanksgiving is hell for vegans.

It is essentially a meat-driven holiday revolving around the ritual slaughter of turkeys — a celebration of cultural and animal domination. But, sometimes boycotting isn’t an option, especially when your family celebrates in style. Instead, why not try to subtly manipulate your family and friends into eating delicious vegan food and enjoying a turkey-free feast.

I dream of one day attending a Thanksgiving where everyone is vegan, but for most animal lovers, this is not a reality. Instead, I offer you a survivor’s guide on how to maintain (and possibly enforce) your vegan ways at Thanksgiving. First off, prepare yourself for countless jokes coming your way about your turkey-free values. People have a tendency to focus on veganism at holiday dinners for some reason. I choose to respond by cracking a meat-eating joke or ignoring it all together. Only if someone seems genuinely interested in my choice to be vegan, do I decide to talk about it.

The next step is to bring your own food with you. There is no need to sit there looking sad with an empty plate of salad come dinner time. This will also give people the opportunity to try good vegan food, proving that most vegans do eat in a godly fashion. It also allows you to enjoy your delightful meal and stick up your nose at meat eaters (one of my favourite pastimes).

However, I do not recommend making Tofurky. It is an odd moulded blend of soy protein and often doesn’t taste good. Instead, why not ditch imitation meat-filled turkey and make another meal entirely? For the last couple years, I’ve made an apple, fennel and sage lentil loaf, and it is mouth-watering. Another option is a vegan lentil shepherd’s pie, which combines your protein option with mashed potatoes. So yummy! Pair either option (or whichever protein option you opt for) with a vegan gravy to make everyone jealous.

It is very difficult to find pre-made vegan gravy in the store, which is a blessing in disguise. Store gravy is full of preservatives and fats. To make it at home, add vegetable stock with a variety of spices, olive oil, garlic and shallots, and that’s it! As for side dishes, try to coordinate with the host prior to the holiday to inquire whether they are willing to ditch butter for the mashed potatoes and instead use olive oil or coconut butter. If not, make your own and don’t let the host have any. Vegan green bean casserole is another easy side dish, with coconut milk in place of cream.

Finally, dessert! One of my favourite foods in the entire world happens to be pumpkin pie. I remember my first thanksgiving as a vegan before I figured out that I had to make my own food and I sat nearly in tears while everyone around me chomped down on their slice of pie. Thankfully, there is a vegan option you can make that is easy, healthy, and delicious. It uses pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and oats. If you want to opt out of making the crust, they have a vegan option at Whole Foods that is surprisingly affordable.

When I was younger, I dreaded holiday events. Now, I look at it as an opportunity to help other people realize that vegan food can taste delicious too. It also sparks a conversation about eating meat — a conversation people would otherwise not be having. The other day, I ended up talking with my boyfriend’s 11-year old cousin at a family event about being vegan and why. You never know the impact you could end up having, and it is important to eat with non-vegans for this very reason. Good luck, and remember you are saving a turkey’s life. That alone is enough to make me feel a little better on Thanksgiving.