If you've been doing Meatless Mondays not because you're a vegetarian but for environmental reasons, it may be time to take your eco-friendly eating up a notch. It may not be as alliteratively appealing, but the time has come for Vegan Mondays (or Vegan any other day of the week).
A new study suggests that going vegan is the best thing you can do for the planet. The study, by researchers at Tulane University and the University of Michigan, determined that meat, eggs and dairy products account for almost 84 percent of the food-related greenhouse emissions in the United States. Fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains, and nuts and seeds make up only 3 percent of our greenhouse emissions. A majority of the remaining 13 percent is made up of beverages including water, coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks.
A vegetarian diet allows for ingredients produced by animals if the animals were not killed to create the products. So foods like milk, cheese, butter and eggs are all permitted. But, the animals that are raised to create those products consume a lot of resources which, in turn, contributes heavily to greenhouse emissions.
Vegans, however, do not eat any product that come from an animal, alive or dead. Since there are no animals in the vegan food chain, animal emissions are virtually zero when it comes to vegan food.
While most of us don't doubt the good a vegan diet can do for the planet, going 100 percent vegan may not be feasible. Adding more vegan meals into our weekly diets may be doable, though. It will help the planet's health, and our own health, too. Plant-based diets can help keep weight down, which in turn can help curb cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Vegan diets don't have to be just salads and tofu. They can be diverse and delicious. For your first Vegan Monday meal, try the Vegan Pumpkin Ravioli pictured above, or one of these other satisfying dishes.
This tasty looking ramen is 100 percent animal product free. (Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch)
Comforting with an unami-rich vegan broth and chewy noodles, this Vegan Ramen recipe includes fermented foods (soy sauce and miso paste), sea vegetables (nori), tofu and toasted sesame seeds.
Vegetable Hummus Wraps
Stuff a vegan tortilla with veggies, rice, beans and hummus, and you've got a filling Hummus Vegetable Wrap that's a portable meal.
Sweet Potato Toast
Sweet Potato Toast makes a base for any number of toppings for a satisfying breakfast or lunch. Try nut butter and banana, guacamole and salsa, vegan cream cheese and radishes, or any other vegan toppings that sound tasty.
This veggie-full simple dish is so satisfying. The hardest part about Ratatouille is getting the vegetables neatly in the pan. But, don't let perfect be the enemy of good here. Who cares if your veggies are in perfect concentric circles?
Polenta with Savory Tomato Chickpea Sauce
Hot polenta, chickpea tomato sauce and crispy slices of zucchini can be customizable depending on the type, and amount of Italian herbs you choose to use for Polenta with Savory Tomato Chickpea Sauce.
You can search Pinterest and recipe websites for more vegan recipe ideas. My go-to recipe site for vegan dishes is Glue and Glitter. Just the other night, my definitely-not-vegan teenage son made the Chocolate Green Shake Smoothie from the site, and he really enjoyed it.