If you’re like me, the beginning of 2021 is cause for pause and reflection. People are dying, political chaos still agitates, and we’re all searching for better ways of living. Staying healthy and well-nourished, according to our beliefs and bodily predilections, is a good place to start.
Eating trends and diets based on transparency, nutrition, and environmental impact are all on the rise.
Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or carnivorous meat eater – we are asking for something more basic – food with purpose.
Vegetarian Diets Can Vary, but the Basis is Eschewing Meat
Most of my vegetarian friends don’t eat meat, fish, or poultry and avoid all foods that contain them. They may choose to nibble on cheese or whip up an omelet.
Their reasons to adopt this diet are all based on certain beliefs and choosing to eat with purpose. Their reasons may be to attain better health or concerns about animal welfare and the use of antibiotics and hormones. Many desire to eat in a way that avoids the impact meat production has on the earth’s resources, environment, and climate.
During these trying times, some adopt a vegetarian diet because they simply can’t afford to eat meat.
Some Choose to Eat and Live a Vegan Lifestyle
Veganism is vegetarianism taken to the extreme.
It’s a way of eating and adopting a lifestyle that excludes using all animal products in food, clothing, or any other purpose.
Vegans refrain from consuming meat, eggs, cheese, dairy, and even honey!
Their suede shoes and leather purses are discarded.
They ethically oppose ending a conscious being’s life simply to consume its flesh, drink its milk, or wear its skin.
Becoming a vegetarian is appealing and easier to do than ever before. One thing you should know already about veganism is that vegetables are important. Thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce – especially organic – it’s easier than ever to get clever with cauliflower rise and garbanzo flour.
The culinary influence of food cultures, such as Japanese, Indian, or Pakistani, are largely plant-based diets. Japanese Azuki beans, Indian curried Dahl, or Garbanzo Tahini use legumes instead of meat for protein. If you’re new to veganism you might be unfamiliar with legumes.
A team of scientists calculated that if every American ate beans instead of beef, we could come very close to meeting our 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals. Imagine kidney beans, black beans, navy, pinto, fava beans, chickpeas, baked beans, and lentils every day.
Now that’s an explosive idea!
Grains, when eaten with beans, can provide the same complete protein you get when eating meat. Whole grains such as brown rice, wild rice, rolled oats, refined grains like pasta, couscous, bulgur, white bread, crackers, rolls, wraps, white rice, and cereals like shredded wheat and all-purpose flour can all be incorporated into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What’s for breakfast when there are no eggs or bacon? At first you might be confused about granola vs. muesli vs. oatmeal nutrition. There are many options to satisfy your morning rumblings.
Others Harken to the Diet of Our Ancestors
Perhaps not as hot as it was a few years ago, the paleo diet is still popular and works with some body types. This regime embraces our Paleolithic-period ancestors’ diet, who lived between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago. Basically, what we ate before we adopted agriculture.
Those on a paleo diet eat more fruits and vegetables, free-range and grass-fed meats, and wild-caught fish and nuts.
Dairy, grains, legumes, sugar (with the exception of honey), and most vegetable oils are all forbidden, as are processed foods.
They believe that by imitating our ancestors’ diets, we can go back to a simpler, pre-agricultural utopia to avoid the processed foods that lead to obesity and diabetes – to consume more whole, unprocessed foods.
The environmental effects of meat production can be offset if one buys local, organic produce, and meats.
But still, didn’t our ancestors only live into their mid-thirties? How do we really know what they ate?
Thankfully we enjoy more culinary options and have more resources and knowledge available to us than our ancient ancestors did. We don’t have to follow a limited diet to find purpose in the foods we choose to eat.
Certified Organic is The Gold Standard of Food of Purpose
If you’re looking for transparency, animal welfare, environmental benefits, and avoidance of toxic inputs, USDA certified organic is your culinary hearth for 2021.
Choose organic for the health of your family and the planet. Organic food brings more nutrition, fewer chemicals and can mitigate climate change and foster healthier ecosystems.
Need some encouragement?
Find out how to creatively feed your family healthy and organic meals with The Organic Center’s favorite recipes. Every recipe comes with a side dish of science on the nutritional and environmental benefits of the organic ingredients. They include vegetarian and vegan options to explore some meatless delights.
However, regardless of how closely you follow a recipe it may not be very flavorsome if you don’t have some nice condiments.
It’s Stupendous to Consider the Role Agriculture Has Played In our History
Twelve thousand years ago, everybody lived by hunting and gathering. Then almost simultaneously across the globe, we homo sapiens began domesticating plants and animals.
Once we became farmers – everything changed. Agriculture represents the biggest shift in human history, bringing unparalleled changes in diet, culture, and technology, as well as social, economic, and political organization.
Farmers were able to have more babies, and, as the populations increased, so did the demand for more food and food storage systems. More native land was cleared. Great civilizations were built, inequality and slavery arose.
Crowded settlements hadn’t quite figured out how to deal with human and animal waste and the pests that led to increased illness and the rapid spread of infectious disease.
Today, our pandemic is one of the 75% of infectious diseases caused by zoonoses – diseases that are obtained and shared with domestic animals. Other examples include influenza, the common cold, various parasites like tapeworms, the bubonic plague, tuberculosis, typhoid, and measles.
The planet supported roughly 8 million people when we were pecking and hunting. With the advent of agriculture, the human population climbed to 100 million people just 5,000 years ago.
Today we have over 7.8 billion hungry people to feed. That means we need a shift in our food system.
I believe the days of extreme diets, unnecessary ingredients, and false promises are gone.
As we move forward into the new year, let’s make an effort to choose organic – food that has a purpose, serves society, and protects the environment and our health.
Here’s to a health-filled 2021.
© 2021, Melody Meyer. All rights reserved.