Meat Free Monday

    I am not a vegetarian, but when I heard about “Meat Free Monday,” I was intrigued. I had never thought about the environmental impact of raising livestock. Below are the facts presented by Paul McCartney, our favorite vegetarian cookbooks, and a meat free dinner recipe from Mr. Chow to get us off to a good start.


    Meat Free Monday

    Supporters of the campaign at the Meat Free Monday launch.

    From left to right: David de Rothschild, Lauren Laverne, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Richard Jones, Moby, Kelly Osborne, Stella McCartney, Yoko Ono, Sir Paul McCartney, Mary McCartney, James McCartney, Sam Taylor Wood, Kate Bosworth, Anouck Lepere, Monty Don, Tom Conran

    Hi Goopsters! Hi Gwyneth!

    Ok, here’s the story on Meat Free Monday. In 2006, the United Nations issued a report which stated that the livestock industry as a whole was responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole of the transport sector put together.

    I found this interesting particularly because people at the UN are not a vegetarian society and therefore, could not be accused of bias. They pointed out the following facts:

    • The Livestock industry produces gases that are extremely dangerous for the future of our environment.
    • The two main gases, methane and nitrous oxide, are considered to be more harmful than CO2 (methane is 21 times more powerful than CO2 and nitrous oxide is 310 times more powerful than CO2) so the data suggests that this is causing a highly dangerous situation for ourselves and, more importantly, for future generations.
    • Methane also remains in the atmosphere for 9 to 15 years; nitrous oxide remains in the atmosphere for 114 years, on average, and is 296 times more potent than CO2 - the gases released today will continue to be active in degrading the climate decades from now.
    • Livestock production is land intensive: a recent report by Greenpeace on land use in the largest meat producing state in Brazil found that livestock (cattle) production was responsible for vastly more deforestation than soya.
    • A third of all cereal crops, and well over 90% of soya, goes into animal feed, not food for humans. Eating less meat will free up a lot of agricultural land which can revert to growing trees and other vegetation, which, in turn, will absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
    • Livestock production is water intensive: it accounts for around 8% of global human water use. The estimated 634 gallons of fresh water required to produce one 5.2 ounce (150g) beef burger would be enough for a four-hour shower. For comparison, the same quantity of tofu requires 143 gallons of water to produce.
    • Livestock production is the largest source of water pollutants, principally animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures.
    • The meat industry is set to double its production by 2050 so even if they manage to lower emissions by 50%, as they have promised to, we will still be in the same position.

    With this in mind, my family and I launched Meat Free Monday in the UK, an idea which has been gaining support from people like Tom Parker-Bowles who, after a lifetime of denigrating vegetarians, recently wrote in his Daily Mail column, “I wince at the memory of my boorish antics” and who pronounced himself “intrigued” by MFM: “There’s no doubting the plain common sense of the message…Meat Free Monday is something to really savour”. Another supporter is Al Gore who stated that initiatives like Meat Free Monday “represent a responsible and welcome component of a comprehensive strategy for reducing global warming pollution and simultaneously improving human health."

    Even a number of schools have already done this in the UK with great success. The town of Ghent in Belgium has a meat free day and, amazingly, Sao Paulo has one even though Brazil is a large exporter of meat. In Sweden, the government is now labeling food to give the consumer the opportunity to understand the dangers of indiscriminate food consumption and there are many more examples appearing online.

    The point is that so many people these days are looking for ways to “do their bit” for the environment. We recycle - something we never would have dreamt of doing in the past. Many people now drive hybrid cars but most people understand that we cannot leave this important issue to the politicians of the world. Recently, at the Copenhagen Conference for Climate Change, this issue was not even on the agenda and so I believe it is once again left to us, the people, to do it ourselves.

    It’s amazingly easy to take one day in your week, Monday or any other day, and not eat meat. When you think about it, there are so many great alternatives, for instance, in Italian cooking, so many of the dishes are vegetarian already and Thai and Chinese cuisine are the same. All it means is that you have to think a bit about what you’ll eat that day but, in actual fact, far from being a chore, it’s a fun challenge.

    Having been a vegetarian for over 30 years, I find it very simple and in fact, tasty and most enjoyable.

    So there it is! Next Monday - don’t eat meat and do your bit to save this beautiful planet of ours. For more information, ideas and lots of meat free recipes, go to the official Meat Free Monday website.

    Thanks Goopsters! Thanks Gwyneth!

    Rock on ya’ll!


    Stella, Paul and Mary McCartney, founders of the Meat Free Monday campaign.

    For readers in the United States, the US based Meatless Monday campaign also has a website full of helpful hints and recipes to get you on your way.

    Meat Free Recipes from Mr Chow

    Our friends at Mr. Chow in London have provided a few of their recipes for a meat free Monday night menu.

    Mr. Chow
    151 Knightsbridge
    London SW1X 7PA
    44 (0)20 7589 7347

    Vegetarian ‘Squab’ with Lettuce

    This healthy, quick salad has great crunch and lots of refreshing flavors. It’s wonderful on its own and also takes well to simply prepared proteins; grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or tofu are great.

    Serves 4 - 6

    • 75 grams zucchini
    • 75 grams bamboo shoots
    • 4 Dried Shitake Mushrooms (reconstituted in water for 20 minutes )
    • 2 spring onions
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 pinch dried red chilli peppers
    • 1 tablespoon Chinese wine
    • ½ teaspoon white pepper
    • ½ teaspoon sesame seed oil
    • 3 - 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 Iceberg lettuce
    • Plum sauce to serve

    1.Finely dice the zucchini, bamboo shoots, spring onions and shitake mushrooms.

    2.Heat the oil in a wok to a medium heat. Add all the vegetables and stir fry until cooked ‘al dente’

    3.Add the salt, white pepper, chilli peppers, Chinese wine and Sesame seed oil to finish. Reduce without overcooking the vegetables. If there is still too much liquid, drain before serving.

    4.Trim the individual iceberg lettuce leaves to 10 – 11 cm diameter, dry and serve cold and crispy.

    5.Place a little plum sauce in the lettuce cup, add a spoonful of the vegetable mixture, and roll up into a parcel.

    Vegetarian Fried Rice

    This healthy, quick salad has great crunch and lots of refreshing flavors. It’s wonderful on its own and also takes well to simply prepared proteins; grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or tofu are great.

    Serves 4 - 6

    • 4 - 6 asparagus stems
    • 450 grams steamed or boiled rice
    • 2 egg whites beaten (optional)
    • 2 spring onions chopped
    • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
    • ½ tsp salt

    1.Break off tough stems of the asparagus and chop into 2 cm pieces, rinse. Stir fry in 1 tbsp oil for 1 – 2 minutes, remove from the wok. Add more oil to the wok if necessary and, when hot add the beaten egg whites to form a thin pancake. As soon as the egg is cooked remove from the pan and chop.

    2.Heat 2 – 3 tablespoons of oil in the wok, when hot stir-fry the white part of the spring onion, add the cooked rice and stir over a low heat until the rice is uniformly heated through. Add the asparagus, egg whites and salt and stir and mix all the ingredients together until piping hot.

    Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce

    This healthy, quick salad has great crunch and lots of refreshing flavors. It’s wonderful on its own and also takes well to simply prepared proteins; grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or tofu are great.

    Serves 4 - 6

    • 6 Bok Choy
    • 30 grams King Oyster mushrooms
    • 2 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster sauce
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp wine
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • ½ tbsp cornstarch
    • ½ tsp ginger and spring chopped finely and mixed together
    • 4 cups water
    • 5 tbsp vegetable stock

    1.Wash the Bok choy and cut into four, lengthways

    2.Slice the King Oyster mushrooms. Boil the 4 cups of water and cook the bok choy briefly for 30 seconds. Remove from Wok and drain. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil add the bok choy and 1 tsp salt, fry quickly, then remove and place on serving dish lengthways. Take the wok, add 1 tbsp oil, the ginger and spring onion mix and the mushrooms. Stir fry for 20 seconds and add the oyster sauce with the salt, sugar, wine, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and add the cornstarch to thicken. Pour onto the bok choy.

    Vegetarian Cookbooks

    If you need inspiration for your Meat Free Monday, we’ve rounded up our favorite vegetarian cookbooks.

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
    by Mark Bittman

    This is an approachable encyclopedia, informative and über-functional with lots of charts and variations on simple recipes. His ability to simplify even the most complex-sounding dishes never ceases to amaze.

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
    by Deborah Madison

    This is sort of the vegetarian bible for its breadth, variety and span of cuisines. The recipes are so specific that they’ll make you look like an old pro in the vegetarian kitchen.

    The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook
    by Jack Bishop

    A vegetarian cookbook with an Italian sensibility – here, vegetables are something to be celebrated on their own.

    Mollie Katzen

    The author and illustrator of the original Moosewood Cookbook - of the Ithaca, New York restaurant - Mollie Katzen, has a series of her own cookbooks that have a “crunchy” side to them a la ‘mushroom loaf.’ The recipes are delicious and easy to follow, though, if you’re new to vegetarian cooking. Some of her cookbooks are handwritten and have charming illustrations. Her latest cookbook, “Get Cooking” is especially useful.

    The Kind Diet
    by Alicia Silverstone

    Alicia Silverstone’s first cookbook highlights the benefits of giving up meat and dairy. However, this is not your typical “Diet” cookbook; the recipes are good.

    by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

    This cookbook takes the scariness out of vegan; as the Post Punk Kitchen gang says on their website, you’ll find no “fake” ingredients like soy cheese or egg replacements in here. The recipes are easy for new cooks to use and the book is user-friendly; chock full of refreshers on how to do the simplest things like make rice... or millet.

    Eating Animals
    by Jonathan Safran Foer

    This one’s not a cookbook but a very personal account worth mentioning of the acclaimed novelist’s decision to become vegetarian. The thorough investigation of factory farming, and his personal memoirs, make a strong argument for the cause.

    by Erin McKenna

    We’ve featured Babycakes before, but a vegetarian newsletter wouldn’t be complete without dessert. Erin McKenna makes even the unhealthiest treats healthy and often even better than the originals.

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