Clean and Green: How can we take individual action towards a more sustainable, environmentally-conscious future through food consumption?

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Welcome to Clean and Green! For an introductory video, please see below. Enjoy!

WHY should we eat plant-based?

For the environment!

Eating plant-based provides a plethora of environmental benefits to the climate, and as human-caused climate change continues to accelerate, any action we can take is crucial. In the United States, land used to raise livestock for meat consumption takes up 18% of all U.S. land and is the main driver of habitat loss for species.

Additionally, many carbon sinks (which help to absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that would otherwise accumulate in the atmosphere)

c/o Forks Over Knives

For your health!

Eating plant-based not only helps the environment but dramatically improves your health, as well. Studies at Harvard Medical School indicate that following a plant-based model can significantly reduce your risk for developing cancer by improving immune system health: “Plants give your body what it needs to help fight off infection,” says Andrea Murray, MD Anderson health education specialist. “A plant-based diet strengthens your immune system to protect you against germs and microorganisms.” Any nutrients you currently get can be supplemented with a plant alternative such as tofu, tempeh, or beans. 

So, you’re convinced! What’s next? 8 Steps to Start Eating Clean and Green:

  1. Eat lots of vegetables. Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Make sure you include plenty of colors in choosing your vegetables. Enjoy vegetables as a snack with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.
  1. Change the way you think about meat. Have smaller amounts. Use it as a garnish instead of a centerpiece.
  1. Choose good fats. Fats in olive oil, olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
  1. Cook a vegetarian meal at least one night a week. Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
  1. Include whole grains for breakfast. Start with oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, or barley. Then add some nuts or seeds along with fresh fruit.
  1. Go for greens. Try a variety of green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens each day. Steam, grill, braise, or stir-fry to preserve their flavor and nutrients.
  1. Build a meal around a salad. Fill a bowl with salad greens such as romaine, spinach, Bibb, or red leafy greens. Add an assortment of other vegetables along with fresh herbs, beans, peas, or tofu.
  1. Eat fruit for dessert. A ripe, juicy peach, a refreshing slice of watermelon, or a crisp apple will satisfy your craving for a sweet bite after a meal.

Our society has emphasized a meat-centric diet and meal culture for as long as any of us can remember, so how should you get started on your path to eating plant-based? I’ve come up with some recipes to get you started…

The viral “Tik Tok” Feta Pasta: 

Ingredients: 1 carton of cheery/grape tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of olive oil, kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes, 1 8oz block of feta, 10 oz pasta (any type you like)

Preparation: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large ovenproof skillet or medium baking dish, combine tomatoes, garlic, and most of the olive oil. Season with salt and red pepper flakes and toss to combine. 
  2. Place feta into center of tomato mixture and drizzle the top with remaining olive oil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until tomatoes are bursting and feta is golden on top. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water before draining.
  4. To skillet with tomatoes and feta, add cooked pasta, reserved pasta water, and lemon zest (if using) to skillet and stir until completely combined. Garnish with basil before serving. 
  5. Enjoy! 

 

Curry Cauliflower Soup:

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 medium onion (diced), 1 medium carrot (peeled and chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 3 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2.5 lbs cauliflower florets, 4 cups vegetable broth, 4 cups milk, 3 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 lime (juiced)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Place 2 teaspoons coconut oil on a small rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven until melted (about 5 minutes).
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pot with a lid, melt remaining tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrot to pot and cook until onion is translucent and carrot begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes more, until spices are fragrant.
  3. Add 2 pounds of cauliflower to the pot along with vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and add milk. Cover the pot and continue simmering over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be sure to keep the heat below a boil throughout.
  5. While soup is simmering, remove baking sheet from oven and toss remaining ½ pound of cauliflower florets in the melted coconut oil. Return to oven and roast, stirring once halfway, until cauliflower florets are golden, about 20 – 25 minutes. Reserve to use as garnish for the soup.
  6. After simmering for 30 minutes, cauliflower florets will be soft and soup will be fragrant. Use and immersion blender to puree soup or puree soup in batches in a regular blender until very smooth.
  7. Add lime juice and salt. Taste soup and adjust seasoning as needed. To serve, garnish soup with reserved roasted cauliflower, cilantro, lime wedges and Sriracha sauce as desired
  8. Enjoy!

“These look delicious, but I’m so active! I don’t think my body can survive without meat!”

Believe it or not, some of the highest-profile athletes of our time follow plant based diets. If they can do it, so can you!

Tom Brady, superstar NFL quarterback and multi time Super Bowl winner, follows a “flexitarian” diet. This means his primary sources of protein come from beans and greens, but he snacks on some lean meats occasionally, as well. According to TB12 Sports, “In fact, Tom’s meals consist of roughly 80 percent plant-based foods and 20 percent animal-based foods. In months outside of the cold New England winter, that 80 percent might stretch up to 90 or 95 percent.”

Similarly, Venus Williams, American tennis legend, follows a full-on vegan diet. She does this in order to reduce joint pain and fatigue, which she says is very prevalent when she eats meat.

Finally, James Wilks, pro MMA fighter, swears so much by his plant-based diet that he even created the Netflix documentary “Game Changers” to encourage others to do the same.

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey! Don’t forget to comment down below, give my page a like, and, of course, eat clean and green! Here are my sources as well!

3 Comments

3 comments

  1. I’m going to try that pasta! Looks delicious!

  2. Hi Kaitlyn! I want to congratulate you on your project and website as it is very digestible (maybe pun intended! LOL) to the viewer and it offers small changes that can be done everyday to create positive change. I am hoping your project inspires many people near and far. Congratulations!

  3. Hi Kaitlyn, your presentation was amazing! I loved all the visuals. It kept me engaged while I learned so much. Even as someone who has been a vegetarian for years, the statistics you presented astounded me. I also appreciate that you left some recipes. I will be sure to try those out.

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