Go Vegan for Environmental Awareness Month

There are lots of organizations that celebrate April as an environmental awareness month since it includes National Environmental Education week, National Parks week, Earth Day, Arbor Day, and Earth Hour.  Usually, in doing my part, I choose something new each year to start doing that will help preserve the environment or increase sustainability.  This year I've decided to go vegan!

I've always tended toward vegetarian fare to begin with, but after reading Veganist by Kathy Freston this month, I realized that the social responsibility aspect fit in line with my sustainability beliefs as well...Not to mention the health benefits!  To start, I've been cooking two to three meals a day that are vegan (no animal products).  I originally thought that giving up dairy was going to be the hardest part since I put cheese on everything.  It turns out that I got over it really fast, and I really don't miss it.  Of course, I am making substitutions in my meals with vegan products that act like their animal product counterparts.

I have to say, though, that this is definitely forcing me to try a large variety of foods that I never would have cooked with otherwise.  Things like quinoa, black-eyed peas, nutritional yeast, and udon noodles have now become staples in my pantry.  Eating this way reduces a number of problems including: the harmful impact on the environment that animal food systems create, carcinogens in the things we consume, animal cruelty in food processing plants, bad cholesterol levels, and many more.  If you know there's no way you can make such a drastic change in your diet, then try Meatless Mondays once a week. It'll give you a chance to experiment with your food, enjoy cooking whole foods, and give you a sense of doing good.  Here's an easy whole wheat pizza recipe to get you started.

Whole Wheat Pizza


* 1 teaspoon white sugar 
* 1 tablespoon instant yeast
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 teaspoon salt
*2 cups whole wheat flour
*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


* Stir together the olive oil, yeast, and salt.   Mix in the whole wheat flour and the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. 

*Using a mixer with a dough hook (or using your hands if preferred), knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). 

* When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 crusts. 

* Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. 

* Top pizza with your favorite pizza sauce, vegan shredded cheese, artichokes, peppers, spinach, and onion.

*Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

(Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com)

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