Cool Eating: or, How a Vegetarian Diet Could Help Save the World

According to Gidon Echel and Pam Martin, at the University of Chicago, when it comes to global warming, reducing the amount of meat in your diet could be as meaningful as the car you drive. Here’s their paper (Download diet_energy_and_global_warming.pdf).

Echel and Martin argue that "there is an order of magnitude parity in fossil energy consumption between dietary and personal transportation choices" and add that "For a person consuming a red meat diet at ~35% of calories from animal sources, the added GHG [greenhouse gases] burden above that of a plant eater equals the difference between driving a Camry and an SUV. These results clearly demonstrate the primary effect, an effect comparable in magnitude to the car one chooses to drive."

Unfortunately, because it’s been thirty years since I took a math class, I confess I have trouble following their paper. It seems well-grounded and carefully thought out, but the caloric complexity leaves me in the dust, and the charts compress so much data into small graphs that they can be daunting, at least to literary types.

But it’s a serious idea worth your attention, and a ground-breaking concept I intend to track over the coming year. Along those lines, here’s the best veggie recipe I came up with in 2005, a slight variation on a San Francisco classic. It’s the only recipe good enough to convince my daughter to eat spinach, even though she’s been a proud vegetarian for years.

The Vegetarian Joe’s Special:

I package chopped frozen spinach, or 1/2 pound fresh, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fake [soy] hamburger. (12 oz. also works fine)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Thaw frozen spinach and drain well, or cook fresh spinach and drain well. Set aside. In a heavy skillet saute onion and garlic in oil until onion is transparent. Add fake beef and brown/warm. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir in reserved spinach. Keeping heat high, add eggs to the skillet, stirring constantly until eggs are blended and cooked. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

Note: Among the other amazing things about the veggie version of this recipe is that all the ingredients can be kept on the shelf or in the refrigerator indefinitely for emergencies, and it only takes about twenty minutes to prepare. Chopped mushrooms can also be added. A winner!

2 thoughts on “Cool Eating: or, How a Vegetarian Diet Could Help Save the World

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