In 2009, Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney launched the Meat Free Monday campaign as a simple and straightforward idea to show everyone the value of eating less meat – and to make it easier for us all to do so.The simple concept of one day without meat got me thinking, I’m not a vegetarian, but one day without meat is not too difficult. My book veg. has been one of my best selling books and by adding nuts and other bits, its easy to add the protein meat would provide in the diet.
National Nut Day in the UK is promoted by Liberation Foods CIC, the pioneering farmer-owned Fairtrade nut company. October 22nd is well-established as National Nut Day in the USA and the organisers want Britain to ‘go nuts’ in the same way!
This year’s focus is on switching to nuts to help the environment. If we in the UK eat less meat and highly processed veggie foods – our planet will benefit. This will keep a lid on greenhouse gasses and won’t use up our valuable land resources.
For people who already eat plenty of meat and dairy products such as most people in rich countries, nuts and ‘nutty’ legumes – like Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts and walnuts – are a good nutritional alternative to meat says Dr Donal Murphy-Bokern, independent agri-environmental scientist and author of several studies on food system impacts.
“One of the keys to sustaining our planet is for those of us in the richer half of the world to switch some meat consumption to relatively unprocessed plant-based products such as nuts,” says Dr Murphy-Bokern.
“For every calorie consumed, the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of the meat and dairy component of our diets is nearly four times that of plant-based components.
“Cattle and sheep release large quantities of methane gas as they digest their feed. And livestock generally require 4 – 8 kg plant protein in their feed for every kilogram of protein produced. The overall result is that much more resources are used in meat-based diets, and very significant pollution problems are caused to our air and water by livestock farms.”
Dr Murphy-Bokern believes that when we reduce our meat consumption we often tend to replace some of it with other high protein foods such as nuts.
Both meat and nuts have the pleasant savoury taste described by the Japanese as umami – the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
“Just as we seek some sweetness in diets, it is reasonable to speculate that people naturally migrate from one ‘umami’ taste to another, so when cutting down on meat they are likely to transfer to nuts or another umami food,” says Dr Murphy-Bokern.
“Using plant-based ingredients high in umami is a feature of traditional cuisines which are low in meat. Reducing meat consumption by half in the average ‘western’ diet is not difficult – and nuts are a high protein and environmentally friendly option.”
National Nut Day celebrates all that is great about eating nuts. As well as being a delicious snack and cooking ingredient, nuts are:
• Highly nutritious – a source of vital fatty acids, omega fats, protein and many vitamins and minerals.
• Good for the environment – switching our main source of protein from meat to nuts whenever we can helps to reduce carbon emissions. In addition the trade in Brazil nuts helps to preserve the Amazon rainforest.
• Good for the soil – legumes such as peanuts bring vital nitrogen to replenish the soil as they grow.
• Good for our health – the UK Government’s Chief Medical Officer says 18,000 premature deaths from heart disease would be avoided every year if we cut our meat consumption by half. Nuts are a good value form of protein which can help us do this.
• Available as Fairtrade! UK nut lovers can now buy Fairtrade Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, walnuts and almonds in many supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose plus other outlets.. This means the farmers and gatherers are protected by the guaranteed fair deal which comes with Fairtrade.