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RECIPE | Vegetarian Power Balls: A game changer?


By Carol Dzadony-Mancini

"In the next 30 years, the food we choose to eat will have an impact with profound ramifications for our planet.

Meat and dairy will take a greater toll on the world's resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables."

These are remarkable words from author Michael Pollan. He's The New York Times bestselling author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and many other interesting books about the sociocultural impact of food.

But damn if a great cheeseburger and milkshake don't sound good right about now.

Since the dawn of the internet, and with most people turning to TikToks from across the globe for great life hacks, globalization hits home rather easily.

Is anything regional anymore? Local? Homegrown?

I'm to blame, too. I revel in my TikToks or blog being viewed across the pond. I want to be a global TikTok phenomenon just like the next person.

I love the convenience of having ripe avocados at my fingertips. The concept of a jackfruit being seen at a local grocery chain would have been unheard of 15 years ago... yet, I can't seem to find a "ramp" (Allium tricoccom) in my grocery store. On the rare occasion I do, they cost upward of $24.99/pound. Ramps – native to the Appalachian Mountains, north into Canada, west into Missouri and Minnesota and south to North Carolina and Tennessee. Growing ramps are commonly found in groups in rich, moist deciduous forests, but hard pressed to find them in local grocery stores. Why?

Whatever happened to eating local? Farm to table?

I try the best I can to buy from local farm stands and markets. I make conscious decisions to purchase humanely raised (and subsequently slaughtered) meats from reputable sources. It's a bit more expensive, but I also try to make many things from scratch, as the less processed ingredients put in our bodies the better chance we have to keep them healthy and my pocketbook a little fuller.

Ever hear of the food carbon footprint? Basically, a carbon footprint measures the amount of energy it takes to raise, grow and process your food. Meat is on the high end, and vegetables are on the lower end. So, is eating a vegetarian diet better for the planet?

Scientifically speaking, yes, it is.

Not a new concept – eating vegetarian or even vegan – the stricter vegetarian, but it is finding its way into mainstream America by leaps and bounds.

A vegan diet involves eating only foods comprising plants. Those who follow this diet avoid all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs. Some people also avoid eating honey. For some, being vegan is a dietary choice, while for others, it is a lifestyle choice.

Sometimes vegans make the choice from a healthier lifestyle standpoint. For others, it's a last resort due to allergies to certain foods.

Veganism has been shown to fuel highly competitive professional athletes even better than a meat-centric diet.

The documentary “The Game Changers” is a 2018 film about athletes who have plant-based diets. Experts in various fields weigh in on the subject and the film showcases success stories of athletes who have adopted such diets, highlights favorable scientific studies, and champions what the filmmakers argue are the benefits of plant-based diets for both athletes and non-athletes. It received generally positive reviews but was criticized by some nutrition, fitness, and science communication professionals for what they identified as scientific inaccuracies and perceived unbalanced support for strictly plant-based nutrition with several accusing the film of promoting misinformation and pseudoscience.

I forage for mushrooms, mostly chanterelles during the summer months. As I forage, I am sometimes startled by the scurrying of little chipmunks and squirrels. I imagine myself on one of those survival shows, like “Alone”, or “Naked and Afraid.” If I were hungry, could I kill a squirrel? Some grouse? A cow? A pig?

My answer? I'm not sure.

It's easy to pick out chicken thighs in the grocery store or grab a slab of bacon and not think twice about the animal that was slaughtered for that meat. Those Delmonico steaks with all their delicious marbling would eat perfectly medium rare cooked four minutes on each side and allowed to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. But do we know how the last minutes of that cow's life were before it ended?

Ever watch a bird get his neck wrung? I have. As a kid, my pap would kill the older pigeon he raised from hatchlings for his pigeon racing hobby with his brother (my great uncle) Arpy.

It's not a pleasant sight, by the way. However, it also didn't have a profound effect on me. I ate the pigeon soup Pap Rudy made with the recently decapitated bird. It was delicious. Perhaps because the last minutes of that pigeon's life were at home. And his end was quick and just.

Maybe that is the difference.

This by no way means saying I am going vegan. I enjoy cooking all types of food. I especially find triumph in cooking a steak to perfection. But what this does do is make me more conscious of how my food is raised, slaughtered and brought to market. Maybe I don't need that Delmonico steak. After all, colon cancer runs in my family and red meat has been medically linked to it. And I surely wouldn't be able to slaughter a cow or pig myself. If given that duty, I may go the route of kindness and stop eating meat altogether.

There is a difference.