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400 Million Fewer Animals Killed in the US in 2014

Food Revolution Cow

Great news for the meatless and animal rights movements!  According to this Food Revolution Network article, people in developed  countries are eating less meat, and it’s already starting to show.  In 2014, 400 million fewer animals were subjected to industrial farming and slaughter.

I like meat, but I’ m trying to do my part for these animals and for the environment.  When I was in Wooster for the past two years, I bought very little meat, and what I did buy was from local sources.  I also found out last night that I can’t eat a huge steak (conventionally-raised beef) without feeling nauseous, though I’m not sure if that’s due to my feelings about factory farming or to a smaller appetite from dieting.

Whatever the reason, here’s hoping I can keep it up.

(The picture was originally taken from the article).

Environmental Working Group’s Seafood Calculator

You’ve probably been hearing lots of good things about seafood.  It’s healthier than red meat.  It’s sustainable.  It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower inflammation and triglyceride levels, boost effects of antidepressants, and reduce symptoms of ADHD in children, among other benefits.  So is this all true?

Not always.  Most of our seafood contains at least some mercury, the result of previously-unregulated heavy metals polluting our waterways.  Sadly, much of our seafood isn’t sustainable either.  However, there’s no denying the fact that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial, and that as long as you can avoid as much mercury as you can, you should be able to enjoy seafood.  So the Environmental Working Group (EWG) came up with a handy little program: the Seafood Calculator!  Located at the link below, it’s easy to use.  You enter your weight, age, sex, whether you’re pregnant or nursing, and whether you have a heart condition, and the calculator lets you know how many servings of each kind of seafood per week you can eat.

I tried it just now, and as a seafood lover, I was pleased with my results.  It turns out that some of my favorite seafood, like salmon, mussels, and rainbow trout, not only have relatively low mercury content, but are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  Shrimp, scallops, clams, catfish, and tilapia are low in mercury content but are also low in omega-3 fatty acid content.  The only fish I was told to avoid were shark, orange roughy, and swordfish.

Go to the link below to make your own seafood calculations:

Seafood Calculator

Eating Vegetables Makes You Happy?

According to a new study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with more curiosity, happiness, and creativity in daily life, possibly due to high levels of Vitamin C and of antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body.  Granted, it’s possible that better moods caused higher consumption of vegetables and fruits among the test subjects instead of the other way around, but it’s an interesting study anyway.

See the link below for the abstract of this article:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjhp.12113/abstract

How Much Sugar is in your Cereal?

How Much Sugar is in your Cereal?

Go to this Environmental Working Group (EWG) article to find out the most and least sugary cereal brands.

I checked myself, and it turns out Cheerios are one of the least sugary.  Phew!  Despite my sweet tooth, I could give up Applejacks or Froot Loops much more easily than I could give up Cheerios.

Anti-Appetite Molecule?

Anti-Appetite Molecule?

You heard right.

Read the article at the link to learn how a diet high in fiber suppresses appetite and may suppress obesity.

My Lent Experiment: A Failure?

Easter is this Sunday, Lent is almost over, and I am craving meat.

It’s pretty serious.  Yesterday, I felt like having fried chicken.  Last night before I fell asleep, I was fantasizing about eating barbecued ribs.  And right now, I’m thinking about how good a a lunchmeat sandwich or a hot dog would taste (the fact that the meat is processed is not bothering me).

In short, it doesn’t bode well for any kind of future as a vegetarian.

Even worse, I cheated three times.  I ate three dishes with meat in them, three times when I was having meals with my family, and they tasted so good that I didn’t even feel guilty about it until long afterwards.

From both a religious standpoint and a gastronomical standpoint, the experiment was a failure.  I didn’t stop eating meat for all 40 days, and while the vegetarian dishes I made were good, they weren’t enough to satisfy my huge, overwhelming animal-protein cravings.  Yet I’m not giving up.  I can recognize that I’m not ready to give up meat completely, but I can still reduce my meat consumption.  If I cook one meat or fish dish per month and make enough to serve three or four people, that means I’ll be eating meat for about three days a week, which should hopefully be enough for me.  Moreover, I can stop eating processed meats: no more salami or deli turkey sandwiches for me. (By the way, if anyone has some vegetarian sandwich recipes, please send them to me.  I love sandwiches.)

So even though this experiment was not a success, I still managed to gain something from it.  I gained recipes for delicious vegetarian meals.  More importantly, I gained a new understanding of my dietary needs, weaknesses, and willpower.

If anyone has some tips for reducing meat consumption, or stories about becoming vegetarians, I’d be happy to read them.

Tasty Tofu

Tasty Tofu

Tonight I cooked tofu for the first time, and I lucked out in choosing a very good recipe.  This stir-fry was quick and easy.  I generally prefer mild dishes, so I left out the red pepper flakes and the flavor was perfect.  The sauce was nice and tangy.

A question: does anybody have any good recipes for fried tofu that don’t require a deep fryer?  I remember trying fried tofu balls with marinara sauce in my college cafeteria, and they were delicious, almost like cheese balls.  I’d like to try making them myself, but only if I can pan-fry or oven-fry them.