hooray veggies

I've been toying with the idea of going vegetarian for awhile now. The thing that always holds me back is that reoccurring craving of a cheeseburger. I love a good cheeseburger. However, when I cook at home, more often than not, I end up making meatless dishes, because it's quicker, cheaper and more difficult to screw up/give myself food poisoning.

When I was a child, my father became vegetarian, so in a sense, I've already done it for a period in my life. All I really remember was the lack of a tasty tofu dog in 1993. Of course I'm not sure any tofu dogs are made for eight-year-olds.

Anyway, I was at a Greek restaurant last week, enjoying some spinach pies and a vegetable pita sandwich, when the idea came back to me. Lent is coming up next week, why not give up meat? It's already not an option for some of those days, why not just go all out?

Once I made up my mind I took to the kitchen to do a rundown of all the meat products I need to keep frozen or eat before next Wednesday. Thanks to that I've been eating sausage jambalaya for four straight days and finally finished today. I separated all of my bookmarked recipes so the vegetarian ones are in a special folder.

And now I'm on my last hurrah - getting in my last cravings before it's veggies and seafood for six weeks. I have to admit, my last hurrah isn't that hardcore - a turkey sandwich tonight and chicken nuggets for lunch tomorrow.

Treehugger had a great article today about being a weekday vegetarian, where as the name implies, you only eat meat on weekends. It cuts down on meat consumption enough to make an impact, but you won't have to swear it off forever. Paul McCartney has also started a Meat-free Monday campaign, though it's not as much of an impact as cutting out meat five days of the week.

Reducing meat consumption helps to slow global warming, reduce carbon emissions, fight global hunger and improve animal welfare. Plus, it'll save you money and possibly keep you from getting sick. In these times, it's not complete culinary torture to give up meat - there are so many delicious vegetarian dishes. It's not just tofu or bust!

So, February 17 - April 4. Let's do this!

gifts with heart

I discovered World of Good during my Christmas shopping this past season and fell in love with the entire site. Every item they carry is eco-friendly, fair trade or sustainably produced. And they have so many great things.

Since this is the Wednesday before Valentine's Day, my eco-friendly tip is to check out the site if you need gift ideas. Though with shipping times, I probably should've done this LAST Wednesday!

Anyway, they have a huge variety of items that are great for any sort of gift you need to buy. And you'll feel good knowing your gift is doing good in the world, whether supporting workers in India, or using recycled materials. It's always a bonus when you can help multiple people with one gift!

collected stuff

Cleaning out my Google tasks list and I came across a ton of links I saved for the purpose of blogging.

I just realized I never wrote about Discovery Green in Houston, Texas. I was there for Halloween weekend, Taking the Walk, and we passed this beautiful area with some sculptures that I took a picture of. When I got home, I did a little research and found the area is called Discovery Green and is an official Houston Green Space. It's LEED Gold certified and is a 12-acre park that is neighbors to the Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park and the convention center. There are a bunch of different features of the park, and if I wrote about them all, we'd be here for days. Check out their site to see just how awesome it is.

Amazon has a fantastic compilation that supports 1% for the Planet. I previewed the tracks earlier and cannot wait to purchase the whole album. There are 41 tracks and it's only $7.99. Please check it out; all proceeds go to 1%. And one of the bands is from Louisiana - glad to see Sons of William representing Louisiana on a compilation like this.
Ecosia is a search engine that donates their revenue to saving the rainforest. You can install the search engine to have it become your default and do good each time you have a search urge, which face it - WE ALL DO.
I wrote a post on my personal blog last Mardi Gras about just how much trash the holiday and its parades generated.
The rest of it? I don't know if it's possible to truly make Mardi Gras a
green holiday, unless every parade-goer intends to change their own habit. It is
impossible to convince every person along the route to pick up their own trash
once they leave. It seems like common sense, but sometimes I feel I'm
overestimating a large group of people. It's an idea I do not like, but people
have to want to change themselves, and I'm not sure the Mardi Gras crowd is the
group to turn green. If they intend to set up camp on the sidewalk with a card
table full of food, they are going to use disposable plates/forks/napkins/cups,
and chances are, everything not in a trash bag will end up on the ground.
Well, there's a group I found recently, known as the Green Monkeys, and I was visiting their website when I noticed one of the events on their calendar is for February 16. They will be picking up the trash left behind by Mardi Gras parades, accompanied by wagons and a marching band. They'll recycle the cans and donate the money to EarthShare Gardens. When I read it, I wished I would actually be in town for Mardi Gras this year (instead, hola, Tejas!) but I'll just have to be there in spirit.

restaurant "gifts"

Alright, I know it's Thursday. And I only have a decent excuse for not posting last night. I took the afternoon off work because I wasn't feeling well and promptly slept most of it away. And then I was just lazy.

Anyway, here we go on this week's eco suggestion.

Take what you can from restaurants! Now before you go putting plates and spoons in your purse as you leave, continue reading. Restaurants are pretty notorious for bringing a stack of "extra" napkins the height of the Sears Tower. But if you don't use them all, they all still get thrown away. So take the ones you don't use! What's the point of letting unused napkins go in the trash? Bring them home, keep them in the car or in your purse, or put them in your desk drawer. Napkins will always find a way to get used. Extra straws? Extra plastic utensils (which are really a beast unto themselves)? Bring them with you!

Sugar/Splenda packets are also fair game, if you request some and they bring you more than enough. But I can't advise dumping the whole sugar caddy in your bag. Sorry!

And if you're in a fast food restaurant, don't throw those extra seven ketchup packets away! If they give you a handful, use the whole handful, even if that means six months later you're using that last packet that's been sitting in your fridge.

The whole point is to use what the restaurants gave you and would throw away if left behind. They can't use your leftovers for public health reasons, but you can use them! And napkins and ketchup packets add up quickly and come in handy. Right there, you've saved a ton of waste from landfills, without costing you anything more than the price of dinner.
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