Alternative Meat Options

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Today is Earth Day. It’s also Monday.

It brought new meaning to #meatlessmondays.

On our nutrition segments this month, we chose to focus on sustainable food. Sustainably growing your food and eating in a way that is a win-win proposition for healthy humans and a healthy earth.

So it was the perfect day for me to talk about ways to replace meat in our diet. Relax! No one is saying you have to be vegan! But, I have mentioned once or twice the health benefits of decreasing or removing animal products from your diet.

Health benefits of a plant-based diet are numerous!

Foremost is heart health. Animal products are the only foods that have cholesterol. Period. Vegetables do not have cholesterol. None. of. them. So, if you have high cholesterol, reducing or removing animal products from your diet can stop the cholesterol you are taking in while getting rid of the excess you already have at the same time, bringing your numbers back to normal.

Animal foods are also high in saturated fat, the kind that clogs your arteries, resulting in the nightmare heart attacks and surgeries we hear about so often from friends and family. Now, you might be thinking, “wait a minute, we need healthy fats in our diet! All the experts tell us so!” It’s true, we do need healthy fats in our diet, but saturated fats are not healthy. Remember, if it’s solid at room temperature, it’s solid in you.

It’s also healthier for the world we live in to cut down on meat consumption.

For starters, we grow a lot of wheat and corn to feed the animals (cows, pigs, chickens). These are soil depleting crops. They are not rotated and the chemicals sprayed on them further damages the soil. Second, the runoff from the feedlots pollutes not only the soil where the feedlot exists, but the soil around it as well. This only further damages the health of people living around those areas. Lastly, there is so much meat produced in the US, both for internal consumption and for export, that it doesn’t all get used. Much of our unused meat ends up in landfills. I understand that some people don’t want to be vegan. They have their reasons. But what I can’t condone is wasting another life. If you want to eat it, buy it, prepare it, and eat it. But I just can’t be on board with bringing a life into this world to keep it enslaved in a feedlot, fattened up, and then killed, only to be thrown into a landfill. That simply breaks my heart.

So what did I talk about today on my nutrition news segment?

Well, I talked about the new meat alternative options made from pea protein, some still made from soy (though non-GMO verified), crumbles from nuts (no soy or gluten), and sloppy joe’s made from jackfruit. There were burgers that bleed (thanks to beet juice), bratwursts, “meatballs”, and sloppy joe’s. I have consumed some of these products at one point or another. However, my favorite still remain my black bean and mushroom burgers. They’re hearty, satisfying and simply delicious. And they aren’t processed. And I didn’t even get to mention the sustainable “tuna” fish. That might need to be another post….. Nuff said.

Happy Earth Day! Happy Passover! Happy Easter!

Vegetable Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups matzo meal
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric ground
  • ½ cup onion diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¾ cup mixed mushrooms porcini, shitake, Portobello
  • 1 15- oz can black beans I used a mixture of chili beans
  • 2 Tbsp flaxseeds ground
  • 3 Tbsp parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl combine flaxseeds and 6 Tbsp water. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
  2. If mushrooms are dehydrated, rehydrate in some hot water. Reserve liquid if needed.
  3. Combine matzo meal, pumpkin seeds, and turmeric in a food processor.
  4. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, beans, prepared flaxseed egg, parsley, salt and pepper.
  5. Combine all ingredients in food processor until a thick mixture forms. If it is too dry add some reserved liquid from mushrooms. If it is too liquid, add some more matzo meal.
  6. Form into patties and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake at 375oF for 25 minutes.