Sustainability, what can I do about it?

I’ve been watching documentaries and reading more and more articles about climate change, waste, my ecological footprint, sustainability, minimalism, fair products, plastics, vegetarian and even vegan lifestyle. And it’s coming up in my work as well.

It just makes sense to take your responsibility and it gets increasingly frustrating that so many people are unaware of their impact on our planet. Or even worse: just don’t care. Cycling in the forest around Nijmegen last week, I was just shocked to see the amount of plastic bottles and soda cans, apparently just thrown out of the car window. What the…?

So much of it has to do with awareness. Did you know if you stop eating meat your carbon footprint will be cut in half?

Taking care of our planet has always been something that I find important and obvious, but I have to admit that keeping yourself informed and taking that extra step is also something that easily fades to the background with all the day to day hustles of modern life. Watching documentaries like Minimalism, Cowspiracy and Terra recently (all on Netflix, go watch!) I really feel that I cán make a difference. So much of it has to do with awareness. Did you know if you stop eating meat your carbon footprint will be cut in half*?

Of course, I am not going to stop rain forests from disappearing by cycling to work and I am not going to do anything about the plastic soup in our oceans, just because I try to buy plastic free products. And yes, I hardly eat meat and no, I don’t have a car and hell no, I don’t throw plastic out of a car window. But I do live a Western lifestyle, with everything the world has to offer at my disposal. I order online, I travel by plane, I eat pineapples, my phone is made up of parts that are produced all over the world and when something breaks down I usually just buy a new one. There’s lots of room for improvement.

 

I do believe that if we all do our part, if we are aware of our own impact it adds up and then we could actually just make a difference. You can point your finger at where the money is, at all the global businesses that only care about profit. And you would be right. But those companies make what the public is buying. If we change what we want from them, they need to change what they offer.

Companies make what the public is buying. If we change what we want from them, they need to change what they offer.

Taking care of our planet has always been something that I find important and obvious, but I have to admit that keeping yourself informed and taking that extra step is also something that easily fades to the background with all the day to day hustles of modern life. Watching documentaries like Minimalism, Cowspiracy and Terra recently (all on Netflix, go watch!) I really feel that I cán make a difference. So much of it has to do with awareness. Did you know if you stop eating meat your carbon footprint will be cut in half*?

Of course, I am not going to stop rain forests from disappearing by cycling to work and I am not going to do anything about the plastic soup in our oceans, just because I try to buy plastic free products. And yes, I hardly eat meat and no, I don’t have a car and hell no, I don’t throw plastic out of a car window. But I do live a Western lifestyle, with everything the world has to offer at my disposal. I order online, I travel by plane, I eat pineapples, my phone is made up of parts that are produced all over the world and when something breaks down I usually just buy a new one. There’s lots of room for improvement.

woman on a red bicycle, wearing heels / illustration by Annemarie Gorissen
You can cycle all you want, but as long as you’re eating meat you’re not making much of a difference / illustration by Annemarie Gorissen

So that was my part in raising a bit of awareness. I have just ordered my first vegan cookbook. I have lots of vegetarian ones – I just love veggies anyway – that have plenty of vegan recipes as well. I only eat meat about twice a month and may stop altogether. So it’s not completely new to me, but I am curious to find out what I can do to replace the dairy products, fish sauce and all those cheeses I love to use in my veggie recipes. I’ll get back to you on that when I have tested some of the recipes.

In the meanwhile, here is one of my favorite I-wasn’t-even-aware-of-it-vegan recipes I’ve been making for years:

Vegan Pumpkin Salad custom recipe illustration
Vegan Pumpkin Salad / illustration by Annemarie Gorissen

PUMPKIN SALAD (serves 2):

Ingredients for the salad:

  • half a Hokkaido pumpkin
  • a small can of green lentils (cooked)
  • two hands full of rocket lettuce
  • 2 spring onions
  • sesame seeds, toasted
  • a pinch of sea salt

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • half of a red chili, seeds removed and chopped
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp of agave nectar (or honey if you don’t mind that it’s not exactly vegan)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (390 F). Wash and cut the pumpkin in half. Leave the skin, remove the seeds (and dry them to grow your own!) and cut into 2×2 cm cubes. Line a tray with baking paper and spread the pumpkin evenly on the tray. Drizzle olive oil and a bit of sea salt on top. Let it roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check with a fork to see if they’re completely soft in the middle. Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Rinse the lentils. Cut the spring onions in small rings. Roast the sesame seeds.

Take the pumpkin out of the oven and let it cool a bit. Take a big salad bowl and mix the pumpkin with rocket lettuce, lentils, spring onion and sesame seeds. Pour over the dressing (I usually don’t use all of it…) and dig in!

Enjoy! Happy you, happy planet!

*source: footprints by diet type

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