Back when we started our Little Eco Baby journey at the end of 2017, I was eating meat, or one of its products, with every meal. I was at one end of a vast spectrum, and one I'm now not so proud of, but realise that the general population sit somewhere closer to the centre line. Once we started throwing the idea around about starting an ethically conscious business, we did what most people do and found ourselves down the deep dark rabbit hole of climate change.
We learnt that the livestock sector is reported by multiple sources to contribute (conservatively) over 51% of all greenhouse gases! Now, I live nearly 2 hours from where I work, drive a diesel ute, and my (only mine!) food consumption was our households biggest contributor to greenhouse emissions. Greater than the electricity, greater than the fuel, greater than the water. As I said, I was eating way too much meat, and realise this isn't usually the norm.
To lessen our environmental impact, and un-weigh my conscience, we decided as a family to ditch meat. I was all in and as many of my closest friends have often told me, I don't do things by halves.
Passionately driven after watching documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy and The Game Changers, Stacey and I were convinced there was a better way. And by the way, they are all definitely worth a watch!
Over time though, we've ditched meat in different capacities. I still eat a largely vegan diet, with the exception of our backyard chooks eggs. But Stace felt too run down eating the same meals, so has introduced a couple of meat meals each week when I'm away working night shift. This works for the kids too. Henry has a million food intolerances and meat and 3 veg is the easiest dinner for him. Mind you, the majority of their diet is still plant based, especially when I do most of the cooking.
This works for us, I feel like my body recovers much quicker from training and have energy to burn, and Stace and the kids are feeling nourished while not "missing out" and we are able to reduce our carbon footprint by... wait for it... NEARLY THREE QUARTERS!
I wholeheartedly admit that going from eating a majorly carnivorous diet to that of a vegan is extreme, but it doesn't have to be one or the other. Every piece of meat or animal product that you swap for plants reduces your impact on our climate. And if you think about it, only doing Meat Free Monday would reduce your carbon footprint by about 15%. Make it 2 days a week, there's 30%. It's an easy and great way to encourage a healthier diet, save animals, but most importantly, our planet.
One of our favourite go-to meals is Lentil Chilli which we use in tacos, burritos or nachos, whatever takes our fancy on the night.
Try it out and let me know how it goes.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a cook so my measuring skills have much to be desired so please adjust accordingly
2 Tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 capsicum, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 400g can lentils
1 400g can crushed tomatoes
1 400g can corn
1 400g can black beans (use whatever you prefer, kidney beans, mixed beans...)
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried coriander (feel free to leave this out if you are coriander adverse)
Beef stock (vegan) as required
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil on medium/high heat in a large saucepan or crock pot. Add onion and sauté till translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute or so.
2. Turn heat up to high and add in capsicum, zucchini and carrot. Cook for about 5 mins until capsicum is tender.
3. Add in all spices and stir through the veggies till fragrant.
4. Add in the lentils, tomatoes, black beans, corn and enough stock to cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until your desired consistency is reached. We usually let it go a bit longer if we are having tacos so that they aren't too soggy.
5. Squeeze in the lime juice and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Serve up with some smashed avo and cheese on your choice of chili delivery implement i.e. taco, wrap, corn chips, roasted sweet potato etc.