Diet options have always been plentiful in modern day, with eating habits ranging from veganism and vegetarianism to Paleo and meat based diets. However, the debates over which of these diets are more sustainable for the earth have continue without resolution, as valid arguments are often provided on both sides for a diet. For instance, vegetarians argue that eliminating meat from diets reduces pollution from industrial factory farms, while others argue that supporting properly raised agriculture and organic meat businesses is vital. Vegans argue that minimizing dairy consumption reduces the “fertilizer, agricultural machinery, fuel, irrigation, and pesticides” used to produce the grains that feed the dairy producing animals, while others argue that they are still supporting industrial farms, just ones of soy, and many vegan products come excessive packaging and demand high amounts of transportation. People in support of the Paleo diet argue that eating grains supports factory farming to ecological disaster, claiming “Meat isn’t unsustainable; factory farming is unsustainable.” However, those that question Palo’s sustainability argue that the diet’s encouragement of eating exotic nuts and unique vegetable oils causes high amounts of transportation from places such as South America, leading to a “bigger footprint.” Amidst all of these arguments aimed at varying aspects of the diet, an amalgamation of all of them seems to be the most sustainable diet option. According to Sustainable Diets, A “whole food diet,” encompassing fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, “is the healthiest and most sustainable diet you can choose. [In it], Plant foods are emphasized, but animal foods are included in the recipe collection. A sustainable diet can include clean and sustainably produced pasture raised meat, dairy and poultry, but in order to be truly sustainable the focus is on plant foods.” Thus a reduction of meat but support of organic faming, as well as limitation of factory farmed foods including meat and processed foods, seems to deal with the arguments against most diets and find a balance that is both healthful and ecologically sound.
Below are some Entrée recipes that follow this sustainable diet:
Blueberries with Cashew Sauce:
- Ingredients (serves 6):
- 2 pints fresh blueberries
- 1 cup cashews ( soak for 2 hours before for creamy consistency)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 TBS maple syrup or to taste
- pinch of sea salt
- 1-1/2 tsp almond extract
- Blend all ingredients except blueberries in a blender on high speed until smooth (2-3 minutes).
- Add additional water in small amounts to create desired consistency.
- Divide blueberries into two bowls.
- Pour as much of the sauce as desired over blueberries and chill for 1 hour before serving. Sauce yields about 1 to 1-1/2 cups. (profile is based on using all of the sauce.)
Polenta, Onion, and Gorgonzola pizza
- 3/4 cup polenta
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 TBS chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 medium onions, cut in half and sliced thin
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 TBS chopped fresh thyme
- 4 oz gorgonzola cheese
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a medium pot.
- Slice onions and let them sit for at 10 minutes to bring out their hidden health benefits.
- When water comes to a boil, add polenta slowly while stirring, and reduce heat to low. Continue stirring polenta and cook for about 10 minutes until it thickens. Wooden spoon should almost stand up in polenta.
- Spread evenly in shallow 8 “x 8″ cake pan, or 9” tart pan. Let sit to firm up.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Heat 1 TBS broth in a medium-size stainless steel skillet. Healthy Sauté onions in broth over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add garlic to onions and continue to sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped thyme and mix.
- Spread onions evenly over polenta and top with crumpled cheese.
- Place in oven until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
Red Quinoa with Corn and Peppers:
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (such as organic canola oil)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large red pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 2-1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- Heat oil in large sauce pan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent and slightly browned.
- Add quinoa, vegetable broth, turmeric, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne to the sauce pan and heat to a boil. When mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add the frozen corn and red peppers and simmer for 10 more minutes or until quinoa is done. You may need to add extra water during the cooking period as quinoa species vary in their water-absorbing capability.
More recipes like these can be found here. Happy cooking!
Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015
Photo by Tracy O from Victoria, BC (Blueberries 2) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons