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6 Ways Vegetarians Help the Environment

21 Apr

Global warming is a serious issue.  Our Planet needs our help and we must come to the rescue.  Even President Obama stated in a recent interview that global warming is not only affecting the environment itself, but it’s affecting our health.  Climate change is creating a longer pollen and allergy season, contributing to more asthma and upper respiratory problems.  Higher temperatures affect older people increasing risks for heat exhaustion and cardiovascular conditions.  Climate changes affect mosquitoes and that leads to increased exposure to diseases like malaria or dengue.  Increasingly variable rainfall patterns affect our water supply, so much that in places like California it is estimated they only have about 1 year of water left.  Doesn’t that shake you up in your pants??

Back when Earth Day started back in 1970… it was all about air and water pollution.  Then it evolved to Reduce, ReUse, Recycle… and now, 44 years after that initial Earth Day celebration, the same issues still apply.   Polluted air and water supplies, the need to reduce our waste, the need to use up less energy and use renewable resources…  Why are we still having the same conversation?  Have we not learned anything in the last 44 years?

My take… is that we forget the impact our own behavior can have on the whole planet.  We fail to see the changes in our lifestyles as triggers for global improvement.  We think so little of ourselves that believe that we can’t really make a difference.    We leave it up to government, up to corporations and we, as individuals, have great power in our hands.

Earth Day 2015

It is widely documented, how becoming a vegetarian, vegan or even reducing considerably the consumption of animal products is the cheapest and easiest way to have a positive impact on the environment.   I would like to recap some of those to help you understand the great power we have:

  1. Vegetarians help cool the Planet.  Raising and feeding animals for slaughter overheat the planet and use up a lot of resources.  If you take into consideration the methane from farting cattle, the gases released from their manure, the oil needed to take the carcasses to the market, the electricity needed to keep the meat cool…  at the end of the day, animals are poor converters of food to flesh.  Switching to a more plant-based diet minimizes greenhouse gases, which makes for a cooler planet, physically and figuratively.
  2. Vegetarians consume less water.  It might seem like a weird thing to say, when I always stress the importance of drinking water and its benefit to your health.  But hear me out…  Vegetarian author John Robbins calculated it takes 60, 108, 168 and 229 pounds of water to produce 1 pound of potatoes, wheat, corn and rice, respectively.   On the other hand, it takes approximately 15,000 pounds of water to produce one pound of beef.  Vegetarians consume less water in the sense people are consuming all the water it took to produce that piece of meat.  No wonder there are so many vegetarians in California, huh??
  3. Vegetarians reduce stress on the ozone layer.  If you’ve ever been close to a livestock farm, you know these are very, very smelly.  It’s said 2/3 of man-made ammonia, a major contributor to acid rain, is produced by livestock.  Seventy percent of the agricultural crops are grown for livestock feed and these are responsible for 37% of pesticide use in the US.  Even though pesticides and fertilizers are used in vegetable and fruit agriculture and there is a case to be built around the importance of organic farming, reducing demand on animals for slaughter would greatly improve the air and ozone layer quality.
  4. Vegetarians preserve ocean life.  Not only because vegans and most vegetarians do not consume seafood, but because vast quantities of excess nutrients from animal waste, factory farms, sewage and nitrogen compounds from animal factory farming pollute sea water taking up all oxygen in the sea water near the mouths of major rivers, to the point where little can live.  And these things do not get talked about on the news…  Certainly, oil spillage, like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, is not the only cause of water pollution and threat to ocean life.
  5. Vegetarians enjoy variety and promote biodiversity.   For decades, tropical rainforests, one of the most diverse and rich ecosystems on our planet, have been destroyed to use for grazing cattle and growing soya for chicken feed.  The World Wildlife Fund calculates that about one third of the world’s diverse eco-regions are threatened by the sheer quantity of animals being raised for humans to eat.   And also, people with a plant-based diet are more open to try new foods, rethinking their dinner plate to see rice, pasta or quinoa as a main dish, not just as a side.
  6. Vegetarians promote life and health.  According to The Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian saves the lives of approximately 11,000 animals in his lifetime.  A vegetarian sees no difference in the life of a pig as the life of the family dog or cat.  And even though there are multiple factors involved in someone’s overall health, it is highly documented that people on a plant-based diet have a lower risk of developing obesity, cancers, heart disease and other illnesses.

The bottom line is, people eat less food, drink less water, produce less gas and require less land than large livestock animals.  Growing food for animals and raising those animals in farms involves cutting down forests, using more fresh water, damaging the atmosphere and employing more food to create less.  If you really care about the environment, going vegetarian is the most sustainable decision you can make.

If going vegan or vegetarian is too much for you, even just reducing significantly the amount of meat and other animal products in your diet can have a positive impact.  For example, how about instead of doing Meatless Mondays, make it “meaty Mondays” in which you consume a small portion of meat only once a week.  I can’t believe I suggested that…  but when I read it I thought it was a great idea for someone to not feel the pressure of the “vegetarian label” while still making a positive lifestyle and economic change.

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Help me spread the word on the advantages of the Vegetarian Lifestyle on our Environment.  We can be the change we want to see in our world.  Please comment and share with your circle of friends…

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The food experience in Los Angeles it’s bigger and better than originally anticipated… #LBNC15

18 Feb

Yesterday, I mentioned all I wanted to munch on during my upcoming trip to Los Angeles… and my friends at the Lifestyle Bloggers National Conference #LBNC15, now in its 5th year, sent me a little note telling me – “Hey Madelyn!!!  There is MORE veggie-friendly goodness in your munching future.  Please check out these collaborators…”  And here they are:

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Amara Chocolate will be providing goodies in the form of Venezuelan Arepas with all the traditional fixin’s.  I hope they bring along some of their gluten-free corn-based arepas filled with cheese, black beans and sweet plantain.  To me that sounds like a great lunch!!!  And for a little something sweet, they’ll make churros with a variety of dipping sauces, like dulce de leche, condensed milk and my favorite, guava sauce!!!  Note to self – must bring exercise clothes because I might gain some pounds on this trip.

 

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And then… to appeal to my junk food side, Dirt Dog LA will be making their authentic hot dogs to our conference.  I’ve been told that if you’re in Los Angeles and you don’t eat a hot dog, you didn’t really visited Los Angeles.  And in true Cali form, Dirt Dogs LA has Veggie Dogs!!!!!  They serve them with grilled onions, red and green bell peppers over a variety of buns.  In all honesty, I like my veggie dogs with just a squirt of ketchup and mustard, but I am willing to give these LA veggie dogs a try.   And have you ever heard of Horchata Ice Cream? I haven’t and I hope one is in my near future…

 

And my friend Diana, now living in Sonoma County, is working as the pastry chef of Sam’s Social Club in Calistoga alongside Chef Kory Stewart.  We spoke yesterday and we already made plans to taste the great creations she and Chef Stewart are offering.  Let me tell you a bit of what I already have in mind – the house-made black truffle and white bean tortellini with rainbow carrots, cipollini onions and Piave Vecchio cheese sounds really good or the leek pancakes with avocado and jalapeno, hold the crab please!!!  And I would like to finish with Diana’s churros topped with dulce de leche whipped cream. Or just give me the dulce de leche and the whipped cream on the side and I’ll be a happy girl.  Can you believe the churros are also served as a breakfast menu item???  Decadent indeed…

Bueno people… I need to actually pack my bags now.  Will keep you posted as soon as I arrive on the West Coast.

I am going to Los Angeles!!!!!  To EAT!!! The Food Experience at the #LBNC15…

17 Feb

For years I’ve been meaning to travel again to California.  I have been there several times – once with my family when I was about 15 years old and then a few more times in Los Angeles and San Francisco for work.  But the last time I set foot in Cali soil was almost 10 years ago… and it’s just been way too long.

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For a few years now, California has been calling my name.  Reading magazine articles about the farmer’s markets in Los Angeles, looking at pictures on Pinterest on the latest and greatest veggie-centric restaurants in San Francisco, watching on TV about the vegetarian food trucks, chatting to other Cali-based bloggers on how many vegan options are there in menus and how knowledgeable the chefs and servers are about what a vegetarian is…  all those things and a few more is what has been luring me to visit.

When I learned about the Lifestyle Bloggers National Conference (#LLBNC15) in Los Angeles, organized by my online friend and blogger, Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco, I knew it was the perfect excuse to do some blog-related work, networking  and to live, even if for 10 days at least, the California experience.  And like I said to my friend Diana, now living in Sonoma Wine Country…  I am coming to California TO EAT!!!!  So let me tell you a little bit about the experience I am going into at the conference specifically:

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The Corner Bakery Café will supply the breakfast…  I am very much looking forward to trying their Chilled Oatmeal, or as they call it in Europe, Muesli. And I like that on their menu it’s labeled as Vegetarian, Gluten-Free and Low Fat.  Three pluses!!!

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Fresh Brother’s Pizza will be providing our lunch… and in true California fashion, their menu includes a MegaGrain Crust Pizza, which I am interpreting as an ultra, heavy duty whole grains crust; not the usual white, semolina flour crust here. And they also have a gluten-free crust made from rice, tapioca and potato crust.   Hello!!?!?!  Which pizzeria in Puerto Rico advertises openly they have gluten-free crust and are actually proud of it!?!?  They even have vegan cheese and sausages available… although I have a feeling, I will go for the real cheese one.  I am very much looking forward to this…

For the cocktail parties, Anepalco’s Café will be sharing their creations on the appetizer front.  Looking in advance at their menu, I hope they come up with some true vegetarian (as in no fish or seafood) options for me.  If they can bring an appetizer version of their salads – like the Colorada Beets or the Snow Arugula – I’ll be a happy camper.  Besides, I’ll be too busy talking and networking to be eating… NOT!! There’s always time to taste test!

I am also looking forward to visiting a few spots in LA, Sonoma and Napa:

I want to try chef Roy Choi’s new veggie-centric restaurant Commissary where my Puerto Rican friend Monti works sometimes…  maybe all the time.  I’ll learn more about it when we actually meet in person for a bite or two in the next few days.

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I was also dreaming to sit down and enjoy the fabulous Vegetable Tasting Menu at the French Laundry by chef Thomas Keller, but unfortunately for now, the kitchen is currently under renovation.  Chef Keller and I will have our rendez-vous on a future trip to Cali or maybe at Per Sé in NYC.  Time will tell… in the meantime, I’ll continue salivating over their menus online.

The rest… I am not planning too much.  I decided this would be a trip to “go with the flow”.  I will be in Los Angeles during the Oscars, so I may or may not be able to meet any celebrities or even a vegetarian/vegan Academy-Award winner. You know who you are…   It’s all up to Karma and the Universe.  But be certain, I will share as much as I can with you all.  Deal??

Are you familiar with Los Angeles and San Francisco and would like to recommend your favorite vegetarian fare or restaurant???  Please share with me in the comments section or on Facebook or Twitter.  Gracias!!!

If I had a Valentine… what would I cook for him?

15 Feb

I love going out to dinner to a nice, fancy restaurant as much as the next girl… especially, if someone special is inviting.  But experience has taught me that on Valentine’s Day or around that date, it’s the WORST TIME to go out to dinner.  There may be some exceptions, of course…  but usually during this time, restaurants are extremely crowded, putting extra pressure on all the staff.

To me,  it’s more romantic to plan something special at home.  Make something you know you’re extremely good at and that you know your partner will love – for the awesome flavors, but also for the effort and care you put into it. Besides, when you have dinner at home… dress code is optional. 😉

Unfortunately, this year, I am spending Valentine’s weekend with a nice construction crew who’s remodeling my tiny, little kitchen into a very chic and modern tiny, little kitchen. And to top it all…  no romantic Valentine for me this year.

But… let’s play pretend.  If I had a romantic Valentine to invite over for dinner, what would I cook for him to let him know how much I care?

This is my menu…

Vegetarian Valentine 2015

Start with a Spinach, Arugula, Figs and Blue Cheese salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

Main course would be the exquisite Baked Pasta with 4 Cheeses,  that usually floors anyone who has it for the first time.

On the side, and because we’re in Puerto Rico, I need to have sweet plantains with vanilla and cinnamon.

And for dessert, I would make a batch of Carob Syrup to dip some strawberries in…  I would even add a pinch of cayenne to keep things interesting.

 

Do you like my menu??  What are your go-to dishes if you want to show someone you care?

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Welcome 2015!!!

1 Jan

Welcome 2015 from KarmaFree Cooking

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