Last week I was very honored to have an article published in T. Colin Campbell's Center for Nutrition Studies. Since today is Earth Day, I am sharing that article about the environment and how we can help to protect it.
A World Without Fish: The Link Between Personal Action and The Environment
Last year I received my Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s online course at eCornell. I was very excited to learn more about Dr. Campbell’s philosophy on food and the connection between food and disease. One thing I wasn’t expecting was an eye-opening lecture from Bruce Monger, PhD about the environmental impact of food production on the ocean. Bruce Monger, PhD teaches oceanography in the department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. He is also involved in numerous projects and studies involving whales and our ocean’s ecosystem.
One of the most enlightening details I learned from Dr. Monger was how nutrient runoff from agriculture, specifically fertilizer, which is primarily nitrogen, stimulates exceptionally strong growth of algae. So what is wrong with algae you might ask? When algae dies, bacteria consumes the dead algae for food, but that’s not all it consumes. It also consumes all the oxygen in the water. Simply put, the more nutrients you dump in the ocean, the more algae it produces which increases the amount of bacteria that eats the algae, and the oxygen in the water. This reduces the oxygen to zero and any fish you can think of needs oxygen to live. When a region’s oxygen is down to zero, the ocean floor is completely uninhabitable by any organism that requires oxygen for growth. This is called a “dead zone.” With the increasing use of fertilizer for factory farms, the more dead zones we have popping up around the globe suffocating our marine life.
Sadly, the agriculture industry in the USA is about to become larger. China is the world’s top dairy importer and American dairy farmers are seizing the opportunity to hawk their dairy products to Chinese consumers. According to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, shipments to China alone grew to $706 million last year, up from $137 million in 2009. Unfortunately, it gets worse. China’s largest meat producer has just acquired US pork giant Smithfield which is the globe’s largest hog producer. The deal is to send the USA made pork to China to meet their increasing demands for meat, relegating us to be one big factory farm for China.
The quickest solution to this imminent threat is to eliminate our own consumption of factory farmed products including meat and dairy. We are the solution the world is waiting for. We can take care of this problem. We have the power and what would be the downside? Our health would improve, our skin would glow, we would lose weight and reduce the risk of suffering from a chronic disease in our lifetime. It is that simple. Your personal actions can save yourself, marine life and the ocean. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Now on to delicious plant-based vegan food. I am always on the look-out for healthy meatless family dinners. I think this vegan chicken stir fry fits the bill. The kids will love the soft, sweet coconut buns and the stir fry is a great way to sneak lots of vegetables into your family's diet. I used a product called Beyond Meat Seasoned Vegan Chicken. All Beyond Meat products have non-gmo ingredients, are gluten-free and kosher. The chicken is made with pea protein and amaranth and should satisfy your meat eaters. Hope you enjoy this plant-based vegan recipe as much as I did. Always remember, every plant-based meal you serve has a positive impact on the environment and the future of our children. Happy Earth Day!
- 1 14-ounce can of light coconut milk
- 1½ tablespoons of maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¾ cup of self-raising flour (If you don't have self-raising flour - make your own by combining 1¾ cups regular flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt)
- 6 ounces of vegan chicken (or tofu)
- 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 mushrooms, any kind, sliced
- 1 small red fresno chili, chopped (optional)
- 1 small bunch broccolini, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (and extra for dipping)
- 2 tablespoons of lightly toasted sesame seeds
- Lime wedges to serve
- Put the flour, maple syrup and coconut milk into a food processor and process until a dough forms. Remove and lightly knead the dough on a lightly foured surface. You may need a little four because it is a wet dough. Roll out 4 to 5 balls of dough. Place the balls into paper muffin holders and place into the steamer basket with lid, in a single layer. I like to use a bamboo steamer. Place the covered steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, toss the chicken, mushrooms and chili with the hoisin sauce. Set aside.
- Heat a medium non-stick pan and lightly toast the sesame seeds. Set aside.
- Place the broccolini in a steamer and steam for 3-5 minutes or until bright green and still has some firmness. You could also place in a microwave-safe container and microwave for 1 minute.
- Heat the oil in the pan you used for sesame seeds. When hot, add the vegan chicken mixture and saute for 5 minutes. Add the broccolini and saute another minute or two.
- Place the chicken and vegetables onto a plate. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with some hoisin sauce on the side and lime wedges.
- Cut hot coconut buns in half and spoon vegan chicken mixture in, squeeze a lime wedge over it, a little extra hoisin sauce and eat.