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15 February 2010

Vegetarian no longer eco. Who moved my cheese...?

Photo of Chocolate Tofu Mousse from Martha Goes Green Vegetarian Cookbook

In the world of eco-friendly, one thing is for certain... change!  Just when you think you have the goal posts lined up for what is the most eco-friendly choice, someone moves them.  This is not a criticism, we love the intellectual and ethical deliberations, but I'm not good at change.  When it comes to change, I turn like an ocean-liner...slowly.

It happened with palm oil and soy.  At first, it was virtuous to be replacing petrochemical oil with with a plant oil, for example producing a palm wax candle instead of a paraffin candle -- but then the environmental movement made us aware of the rainforest destruction being caused by palm and soy plantations.

Bamboo is the perfect eco-friendly material, a fast growing and self-renewing plant requiring no pesticides or fertilisers that can be used for food, clothing, paper and building -- but now we've learned that we need to look for "panda-friendly" bamboo.  This is bamboo that does not deprive pandas of a food source, like Moso bamboo, which has no leaf growth on the first five metres of the stem.

Recently, the WWF has released a report that shows a vegetarian diet is not necessarily better for the planet than meat.  The UK study found that many meat substitutes were produced from soy, chickpeas and lentils that were grown overseas and imported into Britain.  It found that switching from beef and lamb reared in Britain to meat substitutes would result in more foreign land being cultivated and raise the risk of forests being destroyed to create farmland. Meat substitutes also tended to be highly processed and involved energy-intensive production methods (quoted from the article at Times Online "Tofu can harm the environment..")

When I read this story, the first thought that came to mind was "who moved my cheese" again? One of our Biome team introduced me to this great change management concept.  Your "cheese" may be your career, a relationship, your neighbourhood peace and quiet, your environmental values.  For those of us who struggle with change, it may be worth a look.  Who Moved My Cheese? is about helping you to enjoy less stress and more success by learning to deal with the inevitable change.

The WWF study is not course-changing for us vegetarians, but it is a nudge to the bow.  It encourages everyone to think about where our food comes from and to eat more foods that are less packaged and less processed - the same principles for whatever diet you follow.

More reading and vegetarian recipe books at Biome.

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


Megan Evans said...

The Times article is a bit misleading... it implies that vegetarians must replace all meat with soy. The UK Telegraph ran the same story with the title "Becoming vegetarian can harm the environment"!
A more balanced summary can be found on the Meat Free Monday website, which has a direct link to the report.
(Can't post links in here, so just google "meat free monday wwf report")

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