During my recent visit to the Green Festival in Washington DC, I ran across a lot of individuals, groups, and organizations who had booths set up to get the word out about their various causes. Most of what I saw was to be expected. For example, some wanted me to sign their petition to get XYZ company to stop doing something stupid to the environment, or to encourage some person or company to do something better for the environment. At this point in my “going green” efforts, I’m not much into grass-roots activism, but I’m not opposed to lending my support to a worthwhile cause with a signature or an occasional donation. There was such a huge number of vendors and eye-candy to take in at the Green Festival, that I must admit I saved this area of the venue for last. As I’d expected, I ran short on time the last day of the festival and had to make a “mad dash” through a couple of aisles of booths. As a result, I came home with some brochures and information that I hadn’t really had a chance to investigate thoroughly at the event. As I browsed through my Green Festival loot at home, one of these brochures really struck me as an unusually out-of-the-ordinary cause.
At the risk of being politically incorrect, or stepping on anyone’s toes, I’ve chosen the PB&J Campaign as the “Strangest” booth of the DC Green Festival. And I mean “Strangest” in the best possible way. Then again, I happen to be a big fan of peanut butter and jelly. If your initial reaction is similar to what mine was, you’re probably wondering what the hell a PB&J has to do with living a more eco friendly lifestyle. It’s pretty simple really…
So, What’s So Special About Peanut Butter & Jelly??
Ok, the PB&J campaign isn’t strictly about eating this particular sandwich. Nothing really magical about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Although, it does have some appeal for me because it’s something I could (probably) teach my husband to make without burning down the house. We’ll see. A PB&J sandwich just happens to be a yummy example of a plant-based meal, which has less of an impact on the environment than an animal-based meal. The mission of the PB&J campaign is to encourage folks to eat more plant-based meals. A relatively simple, cheap, and healthy way to greenify your eating habits.
MISSION: The PB&J Campaign is working to combat environmental destruction by reducing the amount of animal products people eat. The PB&J Campaign approaches positive change one meal at a time by illuminating the differences one single dining decision can make.
How Our Food Choices Impact the Environment
Raising animals for food uses up a lot of resources. If you want a fat turkey on the table for Thanksgiving, someone is going to have to feed that bird first and fatten it up. The stuff you feed the bird has to be planted, grown and harvested, which also uses up natural resources. The idea of eating a plant-based meal basically cuts out the “middle-man.” Instead of feeding plant-based food to the animals and then eating the animals, just eat the plant-based meal yourself, thereby reducing the total impact of your meal. That’s a really simplified explanation, but if you want more details about how agriculture affects the environment, there’s a much more thorough explanation on the PB&J Campaign’s website.
Do I Have To Be a Vegetarian or Vegan?
Only if you want to take the idea that far. The lifestyle choices we make usually have an impact on the environment in some way. This is just one way you can make your lifestyle a little bit greener. If you like the idea of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, go for it! If you’re not willing to go that far, you’re certainly not alone. I’ve enjoyed my share of plant-based meals without swearing off meat forever. If you choose to adopt this idea as part of your green(er) lifestyle, you could simply choose to eat a plant-based meal once a week.
Does it Really Make a Difference What We Eat?
More than likely, the lifespan of the universe will not change drastically based on whether or not you choose to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch tomorrow. But we’re talking about small, easy lifestyle changes that add up to a greener lifestyle overall. Replacing one of your meals each week with a plant-based meal could be a part of your strategy. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the really simple ways to live a greener lifestyle because some changes just seem too insignificant to matter. However, the PB&J campaign claims that by eating one plant based meal instead of an animal based meal, you could:
- reduce your carbon footprint by the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions
- conserve water: Five plant-based lunches per month would save more water than switching to a low-flow shower head.
- Save 24 square feet of land from deforestation, over-grazing, and pesticide pollution
That’s a pretty substantial impact for such a small effort. In a nutshell, that’s why I like the idea of the PB&J campaign. It’s easy, it’s something I can enjoy, and it fits into my lifestyle without a big hassle. If you decide to give this idea a try, be sure to check out the other resources from the PB&J Campaign to find more info and plant-based recipes (no, PB&J isn’t your only option!).
Changing one meal each week to a plant-based meal seems like it would be a fairly simple way to make life a little more environmentally friendly. Is this the kind of change that would fit easily into your lifestyle? Or does it seem too insignificant to bother with? Maybe you’ve already made this idea part of your green(er) living strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!