The Benefits of Going Vegetarian for a Day (Week/Month/Year/Lifetime)
You may have heard that a global reduction in the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods would have huge benefits for the planet. What you might not know is just how radical these impacts would be. Take a look at these statistics:
According to a Huffington Post article, If everyone in the U.S. went vegetarian for one day, we would save:
- 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months
- 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed everyone in the state of New Mexico for more than a year
- 70 million gallons of gas, enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico, with plenty to spare
- 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware
- 33 tons of antibiotics.
In that one day, the U.S. would also prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France. It’s staggering to realize just how much of an impact each one of us can have, and this last piece of information is possibly my favorite: If just once a week every American substituted a vegetarian meal for a chicken entree, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.
Every vegetarian meal that you have reduces your impact on the planet and can even help improve your health. Lucky for us, the number of restaurants that serve excellent veg dishes has increased significantly in recent years. If you’d like to try to cut down your meat consumption, taste the offerings and ambience at some of NYC’s best vegetarian or earth-friendly meat-serving restaurants.
Red Bamboo, Greenwich Village
140 West 4th St. (between 6th Ave. & Macdougal)
Known for its very convincing “mock meat,” Red Bamboo serves up unique takes on soul and southern food with its fusion menu of Asian, Creole, and Caribbean staples. Russell Simmons recently took Al Roker here to show him the perks of a vegan lifestyle and Al had a hard time believing his meal wasn’t actually “meat” and was instead made using The Wong family’s signature soy protein. Check out the video here.
Angelica Kitchen, East Village
300 E 12th St. (at 2nd Ave.)
This enduring health-food hot spot has been serving fresh, delicious food since 1979. Ingredients are grown ecologically and are fairly traded, and the restaurant uses renewable energy sources and a high-quality backwash carbon system to filter their water. Their active composting assures as little waste as possible. Try the Dragon Bowls (rice, beans, tofu, steamed veggies) that get their kick from dressings like creamy carrot or black sesame wasabi.
Blossom Vegan Restaurant, Chelsea
187 Ninth Ave. (at 21st St.)
Established in 2005 to creatively bring vegan dining to a fresh, new, and delicious level, Blossom offers fresh organic ingredients from local farms and small distribution companies. All of the dishes here are completely animal free. The flagship Chelsea location has expanded to two other Manhattan neighborhoods, the West Village and the Upper West Side, to bring Blossom’s animal-caring, health-conscious cuisine to food lovers across Manhattan.
The Little Beet Table, Flatiron
333 Park Ave. South (Between 24th and 25th Streets)
The Little Beet Table is the full-service offshoot of Chef Franklin Becker’s hit lunch spot, The Little Beet, which opened in the Theater District in January 2014. Having exceeded his goal to provide the three core elements of a great restaurant—quality food, design, and hospitality—in the quick-service world, Becker opened the doors to his full-service version in November 2014 to rave reviews. Its vegetable-focused, gluten-free menu and local/seasonal ethos is served in a space with mixed-and-matched chairs, potted plants, and exposed wood beams.
Govinda’s Kitchen Lunch, Downtown Brooklyn
305 Schermerhorn St. (at Nevins St.)
This place is pure Brooklyn and there’s absolutely nothing else like it. Vegetarian lunch is served cafeteria-style Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 am until 3 pm in the basement of a Hare Krishna Temple. The main course rotates daily, and you’ll find Eggplant Thursdays are a local favorite. All the dishes are made in-house, including the bread and cheesecakes.
The Shanti Shack, North Williamsburg
85 N. 3rd St. (at Wythe Ave.)
This cafe is located inside the Kula Yoga Project’s Williamsburg studio. The menu changes everyday, but you can expect to find top-notch and nicely presented food all geared towards helping you to, in their own words, get your personal house of peace on.
Jungle Cafe, Greenpoint
996 Manhattan Ave. (at Huron St.)
With its warm and casual ambience, including tree-trunk table legs, Jungle Cafe provides an unforgettable dining experience. Founded in 2014 by members of the Golden Drum cultural center, the restaurant offers a delicious vegetarian buffet and made-to-order dishes along with fresh juices and smoothies.
Little Park, Tribeca
85 West Broadway (at Chambers St.)
Little Park is a neighborhood favorite of mine that offers great vegetarian options such as their beetroot tartare, fried avocado squash, green tomato tartine, stuffed eggplant, and cauliflower risotto. Chef/Owner Andrew Carmellini gets his super fresh ingredients locally and from organic farmers and those that have free-range poultry, grass-fed meat, and line-caught fish.
If the idea of a day/week/month/year/life of vegetarianism piques your interest, you might be interested in checking out Cowspiracy, which explores the true environmental impact of animal agriculture.