I am not 100% raw or vegan. For more than 5 years, I’ve been a vegetarian that does enjoy the occasional fish dish when dining out. In the kitchen, I prepare primarily raw, vegan and veggie recipes using local Ontario ingredients as much as possible. I absolutely love shopping at my local grocery store, The Sweet Potato, and Toronto Farmers’ Markets during the warmer months. My vegetarian journey started at age 20 after conducting a project in my Social Context of Business class at McGill University in which I investigated the meat industry and experimented with eating plant-based foods. This was the first time I consciously thought about my food – where it comes from, how it’s grown, the amount of labor involved, and its impact on both my health and the environment. Choosing to become vegetarian simply makes sense for the way in which I want to live each day and I’ve discovered that eating healthy, delicious and socially responsible food energizes and propels me forward.
By 2050 we’ll need to feed more than two billion more people. In 2014, National Geographic established a dedicated campaign on The Future of Food (www.NatGeoFood.com) that evaluates how we can provide enough food for an increasing population without overwhelming the planet. Nat Geo’s May cover story “EAT: The New Food Revolution” by Jonathan Foley focuses on five steps to meet future food demands while protecting and conserving the earth’s environment. The pertinent fact to consider is that agriculture is one of the largest contributors to global warming. Agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined (mostly from methane given off by cattle and rice farms, nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and carbon dioxide from the cutting of rain forests to raise livestock or grow crops). Foley’s five-step framework for the future of food includes the following:
The framework at hand is not an easy one to adopt. Making small changes each day, however, can have an impact. Each day we make several decisions about the food we eat. Often it’s done quickly based on taste and satisfying our grumbling tummy. But what if we all became a bit more thoughtful about the food on our plate? What story can it tell? Start by evaluating each of the ingredients in your meal. Where did it come from? How was it grown? What labor was involved? How far did it have to travel to get on your plate? How do you feel after eating this meal? Do you feel like taking a nap or are you energized and alive?
Food should revitalize, excite, and unite us. By teaching raw and vegan culinary classes, I hope to inspire others to eat and create delicious and healthy meals that focus on the 4 Raw Hearts – Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts/Seeds, and Sprouted Grains/Legumes. While I’m not 100% raw or vegan, I’m drawn to eating and preparing plant-based foods because I believe this is the way of the future. When I eat raw, I feel my best and find my level of energy and mental clarity is highest. Raw food is about eating food in its most natural state – it’s uncooked as heating food above 118 degrees Fahrenheit destroys much of the natural enzymes and nutrients in your food. I also have a greater connection to the food that I’m eating as it’s unprocessed and unrefined, I know where it’s from and there are no ingredients that I don’t know how to pronounce such as azodicarbonamide. Wholesome, natural foods are in abundance but as food is big business there are so many temptations leading us astray to crave foods high in sugar and fat. Let’s get back to basics – if we focus on making the food process simple in our own homes, schools and communities, we can maintain our health, happiness and the earth for future generations.