Monday, March 28, 2011

Alicia Silverstone Wants Me to Go Vegan!

I'm pretty sure she wants you to go vegan too!  Last weekend I picked up her New York Times Bestselling book, the kind diet - A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet.  I don't usually pick up books with the word "diet" in the title - not that I don't need to diet - I just don't read those books.  It was the "Saving the Planet" part that caught my eye.

Well, I have to say I do like her book.  Not that I'm ever going to give up cheese though.  EVER.  Never ever.  Not in a million years.  Not this French girl :)  So I guess I'll never go vegan...however, reading the book has helped me recommit to reducing my meat consumption, which, according to Alicia Silverstone, will help save the planet!  (By the way, watching the film Food Inc., twice, had the same effect on me.  I cut back on meat, but what meat I do buy is organic.  If you haven't seen this documentary - you should!  It's pretty eye-opening.)

Silverstone's book has a heavy chapter on why meat is nasty for you, and how commercial farming of meat is really bad news for the environment.  The short version of it:

- All those cows are contributing to global warming & climate change because they emit so much methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas.  Apparently those cows are emitting a WHOLE LOT of it.

- The meat industry is creating too much um, excrement, fertilizer, and sludge and that waste is creating water pollution.

- It takes much, much more water to produce meat products than plant-based food.  One statistic in the book says it takes somewhere between 441 gallons to 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, while 1 pound of carrots takes only 33 gallons.  It also takes more fossil fuels than say, growing grains.  OK, that seems plausible.  Cows & pigs & chickens also eat a lot of food and much of the food that could be used to feed people is used for livestock.  I remember this from somewhere else too - on how much money the meat & corn industries get from the government.  That's a whole other post!

- Grazing cattle are destroying the soil of places like the American west.  Well, personally, if I am going to eat meat, I kind of want it to be grazing vs. locked up in a dirty barn or something.  What I don't want, is to be responsible for the destruction of the rain forest, which is what is happening in South America.  As more and more land is cleared for the raising of cattle, we're losing precious rain forest, which produces oxygen and is an important source of biodiversity, medicines, etc.

- The issue of messing with the ocean was brought up too - only I didn't really get that part.  Other than the part where she says the oceans are being over-fished.    

I also like the part of the book where she lists what she calls "kind" foods.  I'll consider them substitutes for the things I'd like to limit.  While some are fairly simple to find, the lists of Japanese ingredients was daunting to me.  However, walking into Whole Foods I found a section with many of the very new to me items like sea vegetables.  Hmmmm....now to get the courage to try them!

Some of the vegan recipes look really good too.  Especially the ones in the dessert sections :)

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