I have been thinking a great deal lately about where I am on my whole food plant based journey. I suppose everyone’s reason to move away from animal based foods and their attraction to a plant based lifestyle is quite individual and quite unique. For me there were a lot of reasons why I chose this path. Mainly and primarily I was concerned about health and I had a strong urge to find a way of feeding my family and myself that would allow our well-being to thrive and blossom. I would love to tell you more about that aspect of my journey in another post perhaps. But today I wanted to focus on the second reason as to why I shifted to a more plant based lifestyle: my wish to honour the earth.
I know there is a lot of debate as to whether man (and woman)’s demand for agricultural produce places a greater strain on the environment than man’s wish for animal based foods. You can find lots of articles on the net supporting either position. And I suppose ultimately, it is about what research resonates most with you. For me a couple things are quite clear: the way that we consume meat now is completely unsustainable and so destructive. The earth cannot support this growing demand; it is completely impossible. And I feel very, very strongly about that.
Eating a piece of meat once a week and enjoying a slice of smoked salmon on occasion is one thing, but daily consumption of dairy (in tea, coffee and with cereals), meat (ham on your toast, sausages for lunch) and fish (salmon for dinner) at every meal is too great a demand for this earth to manage. And I know I don’t want to be a part of that.
So, is a plant-based life style better? Is it more sustainable? Is it more real? Is it more ethical? Initially I thought yes! Apart from non-organic fruit and veg (i.e. where pesticide use is of the score) – completely and totally yes! It makes so much more sense to me and instinctively feels much more 'right'; personally I think the research to back up this position is much stronger too. So overall it seems like a much better way of honouring the earth, right?
But if I look back at the last 18 months of eating a mainly plant based diet, I do feel I need to ask myself some big questions. My and my family’s consumption of cashew butter, dark chocolate, avocado, quinoa and coconut water has gone through the roof! Sure, lots of these superfoods have been produced organically and we are quite mindful of these things. But ultimately these products have travelled huge distances. You know, and I think: surely that can’t be it either. I need to step off my high horse and take a really good look at what I’m doing to the environment.
I am a closet rebel I suppose and I want to think that the choices I make are mine, and mine alone. That I am eating these superfoods because they are delicious and because I want to eat them. But then I reflect and wonder – these products that come from far away and cost an arm and a leg at the health food store – have I just fallen into a marketing trap by buying them an abandoning what I've got available on my doorstep? What about the superfoods in the UK? I know pears are so untrendy and it pains me to pass by pear trees and just see the fruit fall down and rot. The same goes for appletrees, they are all around me, but no one really cares about them. But pears, apples, carrots and parsnips are superfoods in their own right.
And what about the potato – I know health conscious people snuff at her and I’d certainly not advocate going overboard because the potato is quite starchy and if you are watching your weight, it’s one to approach with caution. BUT, she’s full of potassium and fibre and yumminess. Ultimately, all these foods are beautiful, nourishing, ancient and I feel I need to treasure these local produces more, rather than crave and want things from far away lands I’m perhaps not truly entitled to (at least not in the quantities I am consuming at the moment).
My answer, now, today, here? I don't quite feel able to give up on all my exotic products just yet – I’ve got a stunning recipe which includes cashews coming up next week ;)) BUT I do need to contain my consumption of these items big time! And I feel it would be hypocritical of me to criticize carnivores on the ‘environmental argument’ if I continue eating as I have been. So if I am preaching moderation to them surely I must put my money where my mouth is and do the same with my exotic plant based food addiction!
So my pledge and aim: to cherish my local fruit and veg more, eat more seasonal food and consume things from further afield less often and with greater appreciation. Perhaps allowing local fruits and vegetables to dominate the plate and having foreign products take a supporting role. I guess that’s what I tried with today’s juice recipe – apple, beetroot and carrots (stunning combo by the way), are just enhanced with a touch of exotic ginger. I am proud of this recipe! Enjoy!
SEASONAL ABCE JUICE (R, V+, NF, GF, P, CHF, GRF)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1 greedy big person and 1 little person
3 (organic) beetroots (about 400g)
6 small (organic) carrots (about 350g)
3 (organic) apples (about 350g)
1 piece of ginger to taste (I used about 3cm long)
Wash all the ingredients. Top and tail the beets and carrots and remove the seeds and stalk of the apple. I don't remove the skin, except for the very tough bits of the beet, but the choice is yours. Then cut and juice all the ingredients and - yumminess:).