Whether you like it or not, the commercialized ‘Day of Love’ is soon to be upon us. Valentine’s Day does not hold the same sentiments it once did. There are many religious stories about the origins of Saint Valentine that mainly stem from the rituals practiced by Romans in order to ensure fertility. The romantic element to Valentine’s Day arose hundreds of years later in France and England where February 14th was commonly believed to be the first day of birds’ mating season. It has since spiralled into a commercial moneymaking opportunity but despite this, the significance remains; to show (even more) appreciation and love for your partner.
It doesn’t usually occur to think about the environmental impact of such a day and despite it being a ‘Day of Love’, the planet struggles to feel much ‘amour’. After Christmas, Valentine’s Day sees the second largest amount of cards sent around the world. An astronomical 150,000,000 red cards are posted annually, devouring not just millions of trees but gallons of oil in land and air miles too! In order for us to give flowers as gifts, masses of red roses are cut and shipped from warmer climates, creating tremendous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps as an environmentalist, you should consider abstaining from Valentine’s Day this year? Or perhaps you should dream on. Can you really imagine yourself turning up to your date’s place empty handed in the name of the planet? We’re not quite ready for that in 2016!
But how else do you reduce your Valentine’s Day carbon footprint? Of course, you could hand-make a card and you could ensure you buy locally sourced flowers, but a far simpler change; could also be made; by cooking a meal with a much lower carbon footprint! When you think about Valentine’s Day, a candle lit dinner for two springs to mind, cooked by the amateur of the two chefs of course. Nothing says Valentine’s Day like steak, chips and a glass of red! Hold that thought…
The chart illustrates the negative correlation between meat consumption and carbon footprint; therefore eating just one meatless meal really will make a difference. Some 40% of the world’s land surface is used for the purpose of keeping all 7 billion of us fed — albeit some of us more than others. Around 30% of that land is used not to grow grains, fruits and vegetables but to raise chickens, pigs and cattle that we gobble up daily.
The environmental impact of meat and dairy production is alarming. Agricultural emissions are thought to account for more than 30% of global emissions. As well as being pollutant, meat production requires extensive amounts of land not only to raise the animals, but also to grow feed for them. Since 1970, almost 90% of the Amazon rainforest has been cleared in order to graze livestock, which has had detrimental effects on many ecosystems and even local societies.
Some 795 million people across the world (mostly from developing countries) do not have enough food to lead a healthy and active lifestyle yet 1.3 billion tonnes of grain are fed to farm animals every year. Today, 1 billion people do not have access to safe, clean water however it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef… Why has Western society become so used to eating meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? And why isn’t more being done to change mentalities if only a little?
Perhaps you’re not quite convinced to going veggie full-time, but in order to combat climate change, moderation is key. Lets start with Valentine’s Day, by cooking your partner a vegetarian or vegan meal, you will not only show them love, but also the planet (and of course the animal that would’ve originally ended up on your plate!). See how it goes, you might enjoy getting creative at dinnertime and become a part-time vegetarian. Initiatives like Meatless Mondays have been proven to be effective. Every little really does help so love your planet and your partner this Sunday. Happy Veggie Valentine’s Day!
Here are some delicious and simple recipes I have selected but if none take your fancy, see the attached link for lots of Valentine’s inspired vegetarian cuisine.
Vegetarian: Grilled Figs with Goat’s Cheese
Vegan: Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta
Vegetarian: Beetroot and pesto pizza
Vegan: Courgette and Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Pasta
Vegan Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake
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