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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

How to give thanks to Mother Earth

Published 11/24/09
By Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate

As we plan to sit down with family and friends this week to give thanks for all that we have, perhaps one of the biggest “Thank you’s” should go to Mother Earth for putting up with all of our blunders. Earth really has taken a lot of abuse from our species and yet keeps providing for us and all the other species. It’s not an easy task and it keeps getting harder.

So this holiday season what better way to honor our collective Mother than planning an eco-friendly holiday meal. And, the most eco-friendly meal starts by leaving animal products out.

While most people believe that urban sprawl is the most pressing land use issue in the United States, it pales in comparison to the ecological devastation required to keep animal products on our plates. According to the US Department of Agriculture, farming and ranching are responsible for 68% of all species endangerment in the United States. This is because crops use huge amounts of water diverted from streams for irrigation, cause erosion of topsoil, and fragment wildlife habitat. While a field of corn may be pretty to look at it, it is not good habitat for much of anything except maybe corn beetles.

Of course we need to grow food to feed ourselves but the reality is that most agriculture is completely unnecessary to feed the nation, because a full 70 % of all grain grown in the U.S. is used to feed livestock. According to the USDA report on land use, two crops, corn and soybeans, impact more of the nation’s land area than all urbanization, rural residential development, highways, railroads, commercial centers, malls, industrial parks, and golf courses combined; and nearly all of these two crops are fed to directly to livestock. The reason for this huge grain requirement is because meat production is the least efficient way to produce protein for humans.

It takes an estimated 2 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of turkey or fish, 4 pounds to produce 1 pound of pork, and 6 pounds to produce 1 pound of feedlot-raised beef.

I won’t even get into the environmental impacts of the massive amounts of manure that are produced by dairies, egg factories, feedlots, and other factory farms, or the copious antibiotics routinely used in animal agriculture.

So what to make?

There are tons of vegan recipes available online and everyone knows about Tofurky, but I’ll share a few of my favorites here:

Vegan Spinach Dip

1 pkg (10 oz) organic frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz) Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
1 cup Veganaise (vegan mayonnaise)
1 pkg Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 organic green onions, chopped

Combine all ingredients and chill about 2 hours. Serve with your favorite dippers.

Classic Cornbread Stuffing

1 loaf of Vegan Cornbread (recipe below)
2 cups onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups celery chopped
3 Tbsp margarine
1-1/2 cups green onion, sliced
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh thyme chopped (or 1 Tbsp dried)
1 Tbsp fresh sage chopped (or 1 Tbsp dried)
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable stock

  1. Cut the cornbread into 1-inch cubes and set aside for 1 hour to dry out, or dry in a warm oven.
  2. Lightly oil a 9x13-inch pan or large casserole and set aside.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the onion and celery in olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the green onion, garlic, thyme, sage, and sauté an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add cornbread cubes, parsley, nutritional yeast flakes, salt, and pepper, and toss gently to combine. Add enough of the vegetable stock to the stuffing to moisten but not make it soggy.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  7. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared pan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  8. For a crisper stuffing remove the foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Vegan Cornbread
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup soymilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Egg replacer equivalent to 1 egg

Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Combine soymilk, oil, and egg replacer in small bowl, mix well. Add soymilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into a greased loaf pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes our clean.

Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

4 large or 6 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
2 Tbsp margarine
1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Topping
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cups chopped pecans
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 2-qt casserole dish with non-stick spray (or wipe with canola oil).

Mash the sweet potatoes with the margarine until smooth. Add the soymilk, orange juice, vanilla, sugar, maple syrup, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

Pumpkin Pie

Have Ready:

1 Flaky Pie Crust prebaked for 10 to 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. (or use a Keebler readymade graham cracker crust)

Pumpkin Pie Filling
1-1/2 cups lite silken tofu (firm)
1-1/2 cups unsweetened canned or pureed cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Mix until smooth. Pour the blended mixture into the cooled crust. Smooth out the top. Bake the pie on the center rack of the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool before cutting.

Yield: 8 servings

Happy Holiday!

Blogging off,

Monica

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