Interested in exploring veganism or vegetarianism? There has never been a better time for environmentalists to go veggie with so many compelling ethical, ecological, and health reasons for eating lower on the food chain. Recently the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the animal agriculture sector “generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.” That makes the animal agriculture industry one of the most significant contributors to global warming. Think of eating veggie as the new Prius for global warming.
Making a difference from our refrigerators is the place to start…and the Twin Cities is just the place to do it. We are fortunate to have a plethora of excellent resources for going veg in a fun and tasty way.
Are you scared your options for veg dining may be limited to bland vegetable stir-fries or spaghetti marinara? Fear not, there are eight all-vegetarian restaurants, and literally hundreds more that are veg-friendly. You’d be hard-pressed not to find good veg cuisine. If you’re just starting out, try looking for animal-free versions of your favorite comfort foods. Among places to find such options are Hard Times Cafe, Triple Rock, or the Seward Cafe, where you can indulge in everything from vegan biscuits & gravy to mac’n’cheeze to sloppy joes and even chili cheeze fries. Expanding your dietary horizon is a key element in going (and staying) veg. Most ethnic restaurants in the Twin Cities have amazing veg options, ranging from spicy garbanzo and lentil Ethiopian dishes, amazing Indian curries, tofu and mock duck (seitan) Vietnamese and Chinese entrees to Mediterranean falafel, hummus, and tabouli.
Besides dining out, you can do all your grocery shopping at one of the Twin Cities’ many natural food co-ops or even find natural food sections at your local Cub or Rainbow Foods. Here you can find your basic produce and other staples, but also veg specialty items like faux meats, non-dairy ice creams, and vegan prepared frozen meals. And if you’re shopping for animal-friendly clothing, books, and sweet treats, try the all-vegan Fast and Furless boutique in St. Paul.
However, eating is only one half of the equation. Community is the other half. The local animal and vegetarian advocacy non-profit group Compassionate Action for Animals hosts regular social events, including potlucks, restaurant dine-outs, and even a book club. They also provide excellent educational resources on the cruelties involved in factory farming. Another local organization of like-minded folks is EarthSave, who offer monthly potlucks and an acclaimed vegetarian Thanksgiving Feast.
If you’re serious about making the switch, you’ll certainly want to do research on your own to learn more. Check out some books, surf the web, and talk to others. As we eat more vegetarian and vegan foods and decrease our demand for animal products, we will surely see a positive shift in the way our society relates to our fellow creatures, our Earth, and each other.
10 Reasons to Eat Local Food
by Jennifer Maiser, Eat Local Challenge Participant
1. Eating local means more for the local economy.
2. Locally grown produce is fresher.
3. Local food just plain tastes better.
4. Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.
5. Eating local is better for air quality and pollution.
6. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.
7. Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story.
8. Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination.
9. Local food translates to more variety because a farmer does not have to produce food with a long life shelf, he/she can try various small crops of different varieties.
10. Supporting local providers supports responsible land development with growing food on it instead of developing it.