The Cayman Reporter shares tips and ideas to help you save the planet with suggestions on how you can go greener every day. In this series, we’ve shown you how easy it is to grow your own fruit and veg. Now we want to show you how ditching meat can go a long way to help save the planet.
Many people give up meat because they feel an emotional connection to animals and don’t want to see them harmed when it’s just as easy to just eat plant-based food. Some people say they feel healthier as a result; some lose weight, which is nearly always a good thing in this overweight Western world in which we live. But going vegan, where no animal products (such as eggs or milk) are consumed at all can also help save the environment.
An article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph earlier in the year talked about how agriculture was one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (more than all transport). In particular, rearing livestock for animal-based products required far more land, water and energy than producing grain, the article stated, a whopping 27kg carbon dioxide generated per kilo of beef compared to 0.9kg per kilo of lentils. According to a 2016 Oxford study, the adoption of a vegan diet globally would cut food-related emissions by 70 percent, the article said.
According to the U.K.’s Vegan Society, (www.vegansociety.com), food (and land) security is becoming a major issue. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that one in nine people are chronically undernourished. With the world’s population expected to increase from seven billion to reach nine to 11 billion by 2050, one of the most urgent questions we now face is how we, as a species, will feed ourselves in the 21st century, the Vegan Society says.
Studies indicate that a varied vegan diet requires about a third of the land needed for conventional Western diets; 3.5 billion humans could live off the food currently fed to livestock, the Society states.
But how easy it, to go vegan in this meat-dominated world?
Seventeen year old Cayman Prep and High School student Amy Palmer made the bold move to go vegan in April, and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I went vegan because I wanted to see if I could do it, to see how hard it would be. I hoped it would make me eat more healthily, and, especially, encourage me to eat more fruit and vegetables than I was before,” she said.
Amy says it wasn’t that difficult to give up any foods because there are so many vegan alternatives to the foods that she would normally eat.
“Although I wasn’t even vegetarian before, so my diet changed quite drastically which did take some time to get used to,” she said.
Amy confirms that food preparation has been easier than she expected.
“It wasn’t too hard to prepare vegan food especially for me because I prepared most of my own food anyway so I was used to eating different meals to that of the rest of my family,” she said. “Most of all, I like the vegan burgers because they taste very similar to regular meat.”
Eating out has not been a problem for this young vegan.
“If you are eating out and want to remain vegan in your restaurant choices, there are lots of vegan options at restaurants that are really good. Or, if you cannot find something on the menu, you can usually ask the restaurant to prepare you a dish without cheese to make it vegan,” Amy commented. “Bread & Chocolate has to be my favourite restaurant because it is totally vegan. Their breakfasts are particularly good, especially their Sunshine Pancakes which is buckwheat and walnut pancakes, served with fresh fruit and syrup which you can have with house-made coconut ice cream.”
Although only intending to go vegan for a month, Amy said she has continued to stay vegan because she said she eats a lot healthier and feels better for it.
Indeed, there are loads of great vegan alternatives if you want to ditch the dairy as well as the meat. Try all the great dairy milk alternatives that are stocked by all the supermarkets – such as almond, hazelnut and oat milk. There are also some great cheese alternatives as well as dairy free yoghurts. Make your own dairy free ice cream by blitzing frozen bananas, a touch of honey and maybe a handful of fresh berries or head to Gelato & Co in Camana Bay for non-dairy fruity sorbets.
As far as meat-free alternatives, you can make simple changes to your diet such as swap burger meat for some black beans mashed up with some chopped spring onions and maybe a little chopped Scotch bonnet to give it a zing. Mash it into a burger shape and then fry like an ordinary burger. Or, try the Morning Star Farms range, found in the freezer section of supermarkets. They make great vegan alternative chicken nuggets as well as sausages and burgers.
Curries are another easy vegan fix – use a good selection of vegetables such as onions, sweet potatoes, spinach, peppers and squash and lots of great spices such as turmeric, mustard seeds, coriander and chilli power. Add coconut milk and simmer and serve with brown rice and there you have it – a delicious, meat-free meal. Stir fries are another great vegan choice – add some chopped peanuts or cashew nuts at the end for that all-important protein. Or you can always head to Bread & Chocolate for their Island Bowl – a favourite among the vegan fraternity that includes spicy jerk tofu, black beans and kale, with hot sauce on the side.
Turning vegan doesn’t have to take great effort. With a little imagination and determination we can all do our bit to help save the planet.