For all you film students out there, the movie Cowspiracy is looming over your horizon, if it has not already. As a brief summary, this film follows an environmental activist’s journey to expose a conspiracy about animal agriculture and its effects on the environment. The activist points directly to environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace, Oceana and many others that hide the fact that animal agriculture is significantly more detrimental to the environment than the overexertion of fossil fuels. The message of the film stands clear: veganism will help the environment.
It is no dispute that veganism is a hard thing to do. I tried going vegan after watching this film, but it became very hard to pursue my course of action with my love for various animal product foods. However, further research brought me to the fact that even little differences go a long way. The process of tending to cows and pigs uses up much more natural resources than animals such as chickens, so eating less red meat can go a long way. Even eating less meat in general can make a significant difference to bettering the environment.
This is not to say that veganism is impossible, but for those who still want to make some sort of environmental impact, eating less meat can be that thing. As one gets more and more comfortable with it, they can eventually start reducing the animal products in their food. It can be a sort of process towards veganism without going right off the deep end. I used to have the mindset that a meal is not complete without meat. Whenever I made salads, pastas, sandwiches, etc. I always felt that it was meat that would make me full. Even though Cowspiracy most definitely has its flaws, I’m glad that it brought my attention to an issue that I otherwise wouldn’t have noticed. Furthermore, if anyone else has looked at the UN’s most recent climate report and felt useless in combating climate change, this could be a start in playing your part.
So, how to start? Get rid of the stigma that we need meat with every meal. Focus more on fruits, vegetables and starches for the metaphorical meat of your meal, rather than the meat itself. Furthermore, you can find other forms of protein that make you feel just as full and healthy. If you love to cook, you can get creative with it! Scour your Instagram feed for different meal ideas that will allow you to start off with meatless lunches. Find yourself some vegan/vegetarian Instagram pages that will give you meal ideas, and find out the ones that you can incorporate with your meal rotations. Just to get you started, here are a couple of fast and easy recipes that will prove that you don’t need meat to have a great lunch:
Quesadillas with Kale Cashew Pesto
1 cup of kale
½ cup of basil
2/3 cup of cashews
1 tablespoon of white miso paste
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Two flour tortillas
3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup of goat cheese
- Put kale, basil, cashews and white miso paste into a food processor or blender and blend while streaming in olive oil.
- Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes as desired.
- Crisp the tortilla on a pan with medium heat with an even layer of cheese on the tortilla.
- When the cheese has melted on the tortilla, place another tortilla on top and flip it onto the other side.
- Once the tortilla is crisped, remove from pan and add pesto on top or use pesto as a dipping sauce.
Miso Pesto Ramen
1 pack of ramen noodles (Even the 25p ones from Tesco!)
4 cups of spinach
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups of cilantro (coriander)
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
½ cup of canola (rapeseed) or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon of Shichimi or chili oil
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of white miso paste
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- Put spinach, garlic and cilantro, miso paste and canola or grapeseed oil into a blender and blend until you reach a green sauce with a velvety consistency. Add salt and pepper accordingly.
- Boil ramen noodles on the stove until cooked completely.
- Strain the noodles and move to a bowl.
- Poor the sauce into the bowl of noodles and toss with tongs until the noodles are evenly incorporated with the sauce.
- Add the sesame oil and lemon juice and proceed to toss.
- Add the butter to the noodles and continue tossing until melted and evenly distributed.
- Top with sesame seeds, Shichimi or sesame oil — add both to really spice it up!