I had to grab your attention with a yummy food picture. This stuff is important, you guys. Maybe even more important than figuring out what is inside of those muffins and how to make them. Just kidding.
I will say that those muffins are animal-free and more eco-friendly than 99% of conventional dairy-filled muffins sold in grocery stores across America. And they are easy to make without hard to find ingredients. Wow, and I believe this is the first time I’ve used “eco-friendly” to describe a recipe of mine. Yet, those babies are all right. And if curiosity has gotten you about what is inside of them, then read the rest of this post and I promise you that the recipe will be posted at the culmination of the more important stuff I am about to discuss. Don’t cheat and scroll down to the end now. Don’t do it!!
Let’s make a difference and minimize or completely eliminate animal products from our diets. If I can do it, you can too! I know you love Mother Earth as much as I do! Come on, you do. Don’t deny it! I will help you learn how to make healthy, delicious, animal-free meals with the recipes on this website and in my book. Upcoming books too! While this article is purely educational, motivation to make positive lifestyle changes begins with knowledge. Knowledge is so delicious, like that muffin recipe. Don’t go down and look at the recipe now. Don’t do it! Let’s go on an educational adventure involving dinosaur statistics.
Statistics regarding the impact of black carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane alone are enough to convince me that eating animal products is not a good idea if our goal is to slow down the warming of the planet as hastily as possible. However, there is a lot more to this picture than greenhouse gas emissions. Think biodiversity loss, fresh water scarcity, forest decline, coral reef wipeout, and some highly impressive energy requirements required to produce current worldwide meat and dairy product demands. Don’t go hatin’ on coral reefs y’all. Rethink that hamburger, rethink it! That’s right, every time you eat something with animals in it, remember that you are hurting not only the animal in the meal and your own body, but the entire planet. How dramatic.
You’d imagine that the dinosaurs ate a lot, right? Nah, they had nothing on livestock.
Here are some statistics about the gargantuan energy input and other worthwhile-to-know facts about the true costs of meat production:
- 1) Factory-farmed animals take up an unbelievable one-third of the earth’s total landmass. [i]
- 2) Livestock currently use five times as much biomass as humans do, yet only provide us with 17 percent of human energy intake and 40 percent of protein intake. [ii]
- 3) Livestock now consume six times more than the dinosaurs ever did. [iii]
- 4) Livestock now outweigh wildlife by 8:1. [iv]
- 5) While the population of livestock continues to grow, ecosystems around the world are heading toward permanent damage as countries fail to achieve goals to protect animal and plant life. [v]
- 6) According to the USDA, factory farming is responsible for 68 percent of all species endangerment in the United States. [vi]
- 7) All over the world, up to 270 unique wildlife species are now being lost every day. [vii]
- 8) A worldwide no-meat lifestyle has been calculated to prevent over 60 percent of current biodiversity loss. [viii]
- 9) A diet of 100 percent protein from soy sources would have only 1 percent of the impact on greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 compared to a diet in which 100 percent of protein was from meat. [ix]
- 10) An omnivore uses fifteen times as much water as a vegan would use. [x]
- 200,000 liters to produce 1 kilogram of beef
- 2,000 liters = 1 kilogram of soybeans
- 900 liters = 1 kilogram of wheat
- 50 liters = 1 kilogram of corn
- 11) By shifting to a vegan diet, the world’s governments would save $32 trillion by 2050, or a full 80 percent of total climate mitigation costs. [xi]
- 12) If farmers in the Midwest switched from raising livestock to growing fruits and vegetables, $882 million could be generated in regional sales, with 9,300 jobs created and labor income increased by $395 million. [xii]
- 13) If everyone ate a plant-based diet, there would be enough food to satisfy 10 billion people. [xiii]
- 14) If current eating habits remain the same, half the world’s population will face grave food shortages within the century. [xiv]
While we should focus on curbing carbon dioxide emissions, this is no walk in the park compared to the simple act of switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Resolutions to cut back on CO2 are impossible without drastically weakening our economy; even the most innovative strategies fail to cut CO2 emissions by more than half. And who doesn’t enjoy instant gratification? Shifting in the meat-free direction will enable us to witness greenhouse gas reductions at a much faster, more noticeable rate than CO2 reduction strategies. [xv] The turnover rate for farm animals is 1 to 2 years, so decreases in meat consumption would lead to an almost immediate drop in black carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions. Moving away from fossil-fuel-burning activities from power plants and cars, on the other hand, can take many decades. Practically speaking, it’s much easier to go meat free than to fight powerful and wealthy corporations, such as the auto and oil industries. We all have it in our power to decide what to eat, but not all of us can afford to buy a more expensive yet fuel-efficient vehicle or live in an eco-friendly house. Reducing or eliminating meat is simple, and it is effective.
I’d also like to add that strategies to reduce livestock emissions, such as providing different food sources for animals and using manure for fuel, have been shown to reduce emissions by only a few percent and actually create more food quality and ethical problems than they would save. [xvi] Experts have reported that our only option is to significantly minimize animal product consumption. [xvii]
Okay, now as promised, here is that muffin recipe.
Golden Vanilla Bean Pomegranate Muffins w/ Chocolate Chips
Ingredients (makes 6-8 muffins):
½ cup nondairy milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 heaping tablespoons ground flaxseeds
½ cup almond flour
½ cup white beans
1 very ripe banana
1 tablespoon Earth Balance or another vegan margarine`
½ cup date sugar or coconut sugar
1 teaspoon Stevia (optional, but highly recommended for extra sweetness)
1 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla or vanilla extract (highly recommend ground vanilla)
1 teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup whole wheat flour or oat flour
1 cup organic fresh or frozen pomegranates (can use berries ~ if using frozen, thaw and make sure no pomegranate or berry juice isn’t included)
½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a muffin tin or line muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a cup or small bowl, mix together nondairy milk, baking powder and ground flaxseeds. Stir and let sit for a minute. Add all ingredients except for ww pastry flour, whole wheat flour, raspberries and chocolate chips to a food processor or high-powered blender (this includes the nondairy milk-flaxseed mixture). A food processor is highly recommended for this step. Process until the mixture is completely blended and smooth.
Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl and and stir in ww pastry flour and whole wheat flour. Mix until flours are thoroughly combined with the blended mixture and a nice dough is formed. Stir in berries and dark chocolate chips and mix them evenly throughout the batter.
Using a medium to small sized spoon, pour the batter into the muffin tins until each tin is about 3/4 full. Stick the muffin pan into the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the muffins have a slightly golden crust and are firm on the inside. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack before serving.
Eat them with the knowledge that the muffins are as delicious as they are healthy and eco-friendly. Gosh, I still can’t believe that I’m calling my muffins eco-friendly, but they are! If you make them, let me know what you think about them and/or this blog post in the comments.
Sciency References for you!
[i] One Green Planet, “Facts on Animal Farming and the Environment” (Nov 21, 2010).
[ii] FAOstat, “FAOstat: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” (2011): Retrieved from: http://faostat.fao.org/.
[iii] UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), “Livestock’s Long Shadow” (2006). Retrieved from: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf.
[iv] FAOstat, “FAOstat: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” (2011): Retrieved from: http://faostat.fao.org/.
[v] J. Romm, “Royal Society: There Are Very Strong Indications That the Current Rate of Species Extinctions Far Exceeds Anything in the Fossil Record,” Climate Progress blog (2010). Retrieved from: http://climateprogress.org/2010/11/09/royal-society-rate-of-species-extinctions-far-exceeds-anything-in-the-fossil-record/.
[vi] G. Wuerthner, “The Truth about Land Use in the United States,” Watersheds Messenger (2002). Retrieved from: http://www.westernwatersheds.org/watmess/watmess_2002/2002html_summer/article6.htm.
[vii] J. Hance, “Collapsing Biodiversity Is a ‘Wake-Up Call for Humanity’” (2010). Retrieved from: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0510-hance_wake_up.html.
[viii] Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, “Rethinking Global Biodiversity Strategies” (2010), p. 81. Retrieved from: http://www.rivm.nl/bibliotheek/rapporten/500197001.pdf.
[ix] N. Pelletier and P. Tyedmers, “Forecasting Potential Global Environmental Costs of Livestock Production 2000–2050” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2010, October). Retrieved from: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/43/18371.full.pdf.
[x] D. Pimentel, B. Berger, and D. Filiberto, et al., “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues,” BioScience [electronic version] 54, no.10 (2004, October): 913. Retrieved from: http://webpub.allegheny.edu/employee/t/tbensel/FSENV201S2010/Ag_Readings/Water%20Resources%20-%20Agricultural%20and%20Environmental%20Issues.pdf.
[xi] E. Stehfest, L. Bouwman, and D. P. van Vuuren, et al.,. “Climate Benefits of Changing Diet,” PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (2009, February 4). Retrieved from: http://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/2009/Climate-benefits-of- changing-diet.
[xii] D. Swenson, “Selected Measures of the Economic Values of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Production and Consumption in the Upper Midwest,” Iowa State University, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (2010, March). Retrieved from: http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/research/marketing_files/midwest.html.
[xiii] World Animal Foundation (n.d.), “Vegetarianism Eating for Life.” Retrieved from: http://worldanimalfoundation.homestead.com/Vegetarian.html.
[xiv] V. Stricherz, “Half of World’s Population Could Face Climate-Induced Food Crisis by 2100,” University of Washington News (2009, January 8). Retrieved from: http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=46272.
[xv] N. Mohr, “A New Global Warming Strategy: How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes,” (2012). Retrieved from http://www.earthsave.org/globalwarming.htm.
[xvi] R. Tieman, “Livestock: Burping Cow Is Just Part of the Problem,” Financial Times (2010, January 26). Retrieved from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bdde1dec-0a00-11df-8b23-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1EWd9Zq9e.[xvii] U.K. Food Ethics Council, “Meat Consumption Trends and Environmental Implications” (2007). Retrieved from: http://www.foodethicscouncil.org/system/files/businessforum201107.pdf.