Before switching to a veggie diet, I used to think that I could never give up chicken and seafood. But then I realised that well balanced vegetarian and vegan diets on average are rich in fibre and antioxidants while low in harmful fats and cholesterol, are associated with a number of health benefits including a lower BMI, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancers. Concerned about not getting enough protein? I was too, until I learned that the plant world offers an endless array of wonderful protein sources such as beans, nuts and seeds, soy milk, super grains such as quinoa, vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, and countless others. In order to maintain ideal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios for optimum health, some excellent plant-based sources include English walnuts, chia and flax seed, and oils such as canola.
What’s more, the ecological impacts of meat-based diets are colossal. Factory farming is among the leading causes of pollution, depleting fresh water sources, anthropogenic climate change via immense greenhouse gas emission levels that exceed all of those emitted by the world’s planes, trains, ships, and cars combined, and deforestation. In fact, the negative environmental impacts of meat (and to an extent dairy) production are so severe that a recent report by the United Nations has urged that a global shift to meat & dairy-free diets will be an absolute imperative, especially in light of surging populations, if we’re to avert climatic and ecological disaster in the coming decades. So, in addition to improving your health, cutting meat from your diet or at the very least eating far less of it will also help you substantially reduce your ecological footprint. And you’ll save money, too!
Last but most certainly not least is the question regarding the ethics of meat and dairy production. The quality of life of the millions of animals processed like fodder in factory farms annually is of an especially abysmal sort. These innocent beings, creatures very much like us in so many ways, are subjected to unspeakable horrors on a daily basis and on a scale so extensive that some have referred to their predicament as a ‘modern-day holocaust‘. It’s not the eating of meat that’s necessarily the issue, in my view, so much as the way it is done at the industrial scale, which, as noted before, leads to a host of environmental and health problems in addition to being ethically unacceptable. Perhaps this is what Aldous Huxley had in mine when one of his characters in his phenomenal work, Island, notes that, to animals, ‘humans are the devil’.
With so many delicious and nutritionally rich recipes, meat substitutes, and ingredients to choose from, going veg is not only easy but thoroughly enjoyable. After being a vegetarian on and off for many years, I finally decided to make a full and permanent switch as a New Year’s resolution for 2015. Since then I’ve shifted towards a predominantly vegan diet, and I’ve noticed some astonishing changes. I get sick far less often than I used to, my stores of energy seem limitless, I have more stamina when I exercise, and I scarcely ever feel sluggish. Give it a try! It’ll be the best decision you’ve made in a while. From entrees to desserts, here are some of my all-time favorite vegetarian and vegan recipes that I’ve compiled over the years. Cheers to lifestyles that are beneficial for both people and planet!
“The quantity of nutritious vegetable matter, consumed in fattening the carcass of an ox, would afford ten times the sustenance, underpaying indeed, and incapable of generating disease, if gathered immediately from the bosom of the earth” (Shelley, 1813).
1. Veggie Bacon & Cheese Breakfast Baguette – Here’s a simple and incredibly tasty twist on a breakfast classic. Only 3 ingredients & a total prep/cook time of less than 10 minutes!
- Whole wheat or traditional french baguette cut in the size of your choice
- A slice or two of cheese (I use sharp cheddar for its strong and distinctive flavor)
- Two veggie bacon strips (I use the MorningStar Farms brand!)
- Place your veggie bacon strips in your toaster oven or conventional oven for the amount of time suggested on the box
- Layer cheese slice(s) in your baguette and place alongside your bacon strips to toast for about 5 minutes
- Place cooked bacon strips in toasted cheesy baguette and enjoy!
2. Fluffy Chocolate Banana Pancakes – For a healthier option, I often sub the all-purpose flour with wholegrain flour and the buttermilk with almond milk.
Desserts & Baked Goods: