Tofu. Cows. Deforestation.

Tofu. Cows. Deforestation.
​Soy is part of my diet. Whether I am eating air fried lemon pepper tofu, soy curl tacos, tempeh bacon sandwiches, or using soymilk in my lattes. Soy has been a staple ingredient for many cultures for eons. Soybeans are cheap to grow, a great source of protein, and can be formed into countless culinary uses. For those reasons, it is also the main ingredient in food given to farmed animals. 
70 percent of soy that is grown worldwide is used to feed cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and fish that are being raised for food. Only 6 percent is used for human consumption. 

I was shocked when I first learned that percentage, but then I remembered that soybeans are one the cheapest and easiest proteins to produce. 

So, what do soybeans have to do with deforestation?  Over the last century, the consumption of animal meat has risen. When the consumption increased, the number of soybeans for farmed animal feed increased.  That meant clear cutting forests and jungles to grow more soybean crops. Forests in areas such as the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil, Chaco and other South American forest regions are being used to produce more and more soybeans.  Cutting down trees in those areas is not only leading to deforestation, but the animals that call those forests home are losing their habitats. Even with all of that, it has been estimated that with the increase in the world population, food production will need to increase by nearly 70 percent to keep up with the growing population.  The clear cutting of forests is burdening the environment, not only with animal habitat loss, but also increasing air pollution, through both tree loss and greater transportation needs, and using more water to grow the increasing number of acres. 

Soy will always be part of many diets around the world, including mine, and in the feed of animals farmed for food.  But, by decreasing the amount of animals that are raised and slaughtered for food, it will reduce the amount of soybeans that are grown. Over time, that could allow trees to begin to replenish in regions that were cleared. It will also reduce the number of new forests that will need to be destroyed to plant new crops.  It will decrease the pollution caused by boats, planes, and trucks used to transport the beans. It will also reduce the amount of water needed to grow the plants. Instead of eating a hamburger, try a veggie burger. Instead of eating a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, try a tempeh bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. There are numerous ways of switching from animal-based meats. Here are a few recipes to get you started!

Vegan Bahn Mi Sandwich
Vegan Meatball Sub
Vegan Pepperoni
Vegan Tofu Steaks

Vegan Turkey Slices

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