This wonderful clip was commissioned by Animal Aid – one of the largest and longest established animal rights groups in the United Kingdom. In less than two minutes it explains how eating vegetarian for one day a week could help the environment from a logical point of view. It was created by the award-winning, London-based design/motion company Taylor McKenzie to help launch the Meatless Monday campaign.
According to a post on the Animal Aid website, livestock farming and animal slaughter are now recognized as a significant contributor to many environmental problems. They report that the United Nations stated that it is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the entire transport sector combined. Other environmental groups say the figure could be more than 50 percent.
In my opinion, this video is a perfect way to educate and inspire others to at least think about the meat industry. It drives the point without relying on graphic images of animal torture or judgmental messages which often turn people off to vegetarian causes. Instead, it encourages all to eat meat-free just one day a week – certainly doable even to a devoted meat-and-potatoes person – and the message is neither heavy nor guilt-ridden. The accompanying music – a loop of the lively piano intro of Moby’s “In My Heart” – works in perfect synch the upbeat theme.
The phrase “vegetarian” is often misrepresented by those who do not quite understand it. Although there’s proof that vegetarianism goes back as far as the 8th century B.C. — before the mid-1800’s non-meat eaters were often known as “Pythagoreans” or adherents of the “Pythagorean System,” after the ancient Greek “vegetarian” Pythagoras — the actual name and definition was established in September of 1840 by a reformed British politician named Joseph Brotherton and others at the initial meeting of the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom. (Another interesting fact: Brotherton’s wife Martha is credited to have written the first vegetarian cookbook, A New System of Vegetable Cookery, in 1812.) In 1908, the International Vegetarian Union was formed to unite similar organizations within Europe and later the world. It still is going strong – most of the facts for this post come from their website; a fantastic resource for information, articles and recipes from around the globe.
The original definition of “vegetarian” was “with or without eggs or dairy products,” and that classification is still used by the Vegetarian Society today. However, it is an umbrella term. As vegetarians’ dietary restrictions evolved – due to ethical, health or religious beliefs – so has some people’s classification of “meat”. For example, within the kosher law (which can be very complicated) only certain warm blooded animals are restricted and fish (with the exception of shellfish) is not considered meat at all and can be served with dairy. The idea that fish is not meat is quite common, but not within vegetarian guidelines. Slaughter by-products, such as gelatin, lard and animal rennet, are also avoided within the vegetarian diet.
With that in mind, here are the different types of vegetarians. Take note that all terms are always in reference to diet only. There are vegetarians who wear leather and may or may not use non-food animal by-products, but are at the very least the first description below:
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Is defined as an individual who does not eat meat, poultry, fish or slaughter animal by-products, yet consumes eggs and milk products. Latco and ovo come from the Latin words for milk and egg respectively. This is the most common type of vegetarian in most Western countries.
Ovo Vegetarian: Same as above with the elimination of milk products.
Lacto Vegetarian: Same as above with the elimination of eggs.
Vegan: Excludes all animal products including eggs and milk products as well as non-slaughter animal derivative products such as honey. True veganism extends diet restriction with the elimination for use of all animal by-products including clothing (such as wool and silk) household items (beeswax, bone china and down) cosmetic ingredients and more. The actual term “vegan” was defined in 1944 by Donald and Dorothy Watson who founded the British Vegan Society on November 1st of that year. The American Vegan Society was established in 1960.
Recently other definitions have been added to the mix. Almost-vegetarian and Pseudo-vegetarian have been used to describe someone who avoids meat from warm-blooded mammals (beef, pork, lamb, etc) and poultry, but still regularly eats fish. However, by true vegetarian standards they are not. They are called Pescetarians, a term combining the Italian word for fish (pesce) and vegetarian. Raw Foodism, a diet based on uncooked vegetables, fruits, nuts and other food not heated over 104 degrees, can be either vegetarian or not as some who follow it eat sushi, sashimi and other raw meats. Fruitarians take veganism a step further as they will only eat fruits, nuts and other foods that can be harvested without killing the plant. For example, apples and nuts are acceptable as they are picked off a tree; carrots are not as the entire plant is consumed. Certain foods which are considered vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes and peppers are included as they also are grown from the plant.
Macrobiotics is based on eating unprocessed foods like grains, beans, nuts and other raw foods with restrictions on refined products, sugar, additives and chemicals including pharmaceutics. The basics of this diet often cross into vegetarianism, as a lot of the food and philosophy are the same, but as plenty of vegetarians have no problem eating sweets, macrobiotics allow fish and poultry on occasion.
The terms carnivore and herbivore have been used as well, but they do not relate to humans. Carnivores (which include animals such as tigers, lions and like) eat mainly flesh while herbivores (deer, cows and various reptiles) graze solely on plants.
To complicate this more, certain foods are restricted due to religious beliefs – for instance some Buddhists avoid onions and garlic – yet in some Eastern cultures it is completely acceptable to eat cats and dogs.
This post is intended to be a starting point for the uninitiated to understand the basics. For more detailed information, check in with some of the sites located in my links section or consult with your favorite search engine. And, watch for more “educational” based posts in the future.
Linda’s Kitchen: Simple and Inspiring Recipes for Meatless Meals
by Linda McCartney, first published in 1995
Linda’s Kitchen was the first vegetarian cookbook I ever bought. As I purchased it so long ago, I’m not sure if I bought it before or after I started going veg or if I was attracted more by the Beatles connection. Nonetheless, Linda’s Kitchen is a beautiful cookbook which I refer to often.
One of the most striking things about this culinary collection is the photography. As Linda was a very talented photographer, I could understand her wishing the images be just right. (Take note she did not take the photos herself. From my own experience, food photography is an art within itself and professional looking photos require a specialist along with stylists, lighting designers, etc.) The recipes are categorized by course – soups, side dishes, main, pasta, rice & potato, etc. – as well as by season. The book also includes a basic Q&A about vegetarian basics, non-meat protein sources and basic nutrition (which helped me a lot back in 1995 as there was minimal internet access then).
As Linda and her family lived in England, the book features vegetarian alternatives for British pub dishes – including Toad in the Hole and Shepherd’s Pie – in addition to international cuisine such as paella, curries, moussaka and dhal. Italian, Mexican and general comfort food are presented with everyday ingredients with simple directions. Some entries are actually too effortless and obvious like nachos and potato skins. Others are very heavy with an abundance of cheese, cream and deep frying, but like any other recipe they could be altered to lighter counterparts. I really like the salad section as it offers entries with an interesting combination of fruits, vegetables and legumes.
So if you are looking for a good intro to vegetarian cooking – as this was for me – Linda’s Kitchen is a basic cookbook which will also appeal to non-vegetarians who just want to cut down on meat. Perhaps Linda used her and her husband’s status to promote vegetarianism as a normal lifestyle through this, which it accomplishes, but in the end you will still find many meatless and tasty options to prepare for anyone.
Here is a video clip with Linda preparing her version of Chilli Non Carne, one of the 200 recipes featured in the book.