If you’re looking for an ethical reason not to eat meat, then it’s hard to better the words of the ancient Greek historian and philosopher, Plutarch who, in his work Moralia wrote:
Human beings do not need to eat meat in order to live: it is a choice we make. One of the less strident motivations behind my writing this blog is to show that vegetarianism is not about losing something from your diet but about gaining a better self.
There are also, of course, plenty of health-related reasons for switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet – study after study has shown that it reduces the risk of conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers.
But, increasingly, there is a compelling environmental argument for making that switch.
The human population of planet Earth has already reached plague-like proportions and yet is predicted to grow by a further 3 billion within the next 40 years. At the same time countries with rapidly expanding economies, like China and India, are seeing their huge populations demanding more and more meat in their diets.
Simple arithmetic shows that these pressures make our current way of living and eating unsustainable.
The meat industry is responsible for huge areas of deforestation (around 6 million hectares per year, according to Friends of the Earth), and for major river, ocean and air pollution. It is also the biggest single contributor to global warming through greenhouse gas emissions (more than the combined contribution of cars, lorries, planes and all other forms of transport).
To produce the same quantity of animal protein as vegetable protein takes 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water. If the vegetable protein we grow to use as animal feed was instead fed directly to humans we could feed more than twice as many people as we do now.
If making the switch is too big a step, why not try having at least one meat and dairy free day each week. If everyone did that it would have a significant impact on the environment, on our health and on our pockets.
On to the recipe.
The short but glorious wild garlic season is upon us, and yesterday I went out foraging for this delightful ingredient with my wife Sara and my nephew Luke Smith (who, amongst many other talents, also writes a food blog – The Thriftchen – do please check it out).
This very simple recipe produces a vibrant, peppery oil which is great drizzled over pasta or risotto and also in salad dressings.
When foraging for wild garlic, please be careful not to pull up the bulb and only take as much as you need. And if you can’t locate wild garlic growing near you, you may be lucky enough to find it for sale at your local farmers’ market over the next few weeks or so.
wild garlic oil
250 g wild garlic leaves
350 ml extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash the wild garlic leaves and drain briefly on a kitchen towel. Place the leaves into a juicer and collect the juice. This weight of leaves will yield around 150 ml of juice.
2. Add the olive oil to the juice and pour carefully into a clean, sterilised jar or bottle. Shake well to combine. The oil will keep in the fridge for a few days. Shake well just before using.
Categories: dairy free, gluten free, raw, vegan
Tags: cancer, foraging, global warming, meat industry, obesity, pollution, sustainability, veganism
27 replies ›
- Green | My Kitchen Witch
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Thanks for a lovely and wise post! We call ’em ramps in our part of the world (where they grow everywhere this time of year). Formerly enjoyed only by mountain and country folk, they’ve become a darling of foodies and chefs in recent years. Cheers, Ben
Thanks Ben, I really appreciate your lovely feedback.
Yum. And I might do this with rocket leaves and mustard greens too, just for the gorgeous colour!
Hi Annie. That sounds good, and you’ll end up with a beautifully peppery flavoured oil too!
I am not a total vegetarian but eat very little meat and try to ensure that when we do it is ethically farmed. I do totally agree with your comments; a diet based on vegetables can be both delicious and varied. I’ve yet to try wild garlic but it grows in profusion in a wood nearby so will have to go out collecting 🙂
Thank you for commenting. Wild garlic is such a fleeting treat, you should definitely give it a try!
Wild garlic is so easy to grow in your garden. I have a shady patch at the bottom of the garden and started with only a few seedlings from a friend – it’s now really established and spreads every year so now I share it with neighbours. it’s always great to find new ways of using it as it’s a real spring treat
How great to have your own supply of wild garlic, although I do quite like the walking part of foraging for it.
I agree it’s a real Spring treat, all the more precious because its season is so relatively short.
A thoughtful and important message on the food choices we make. It will be a real sign of Spring when our woodland walks are scented by the smell of the wild garlic – hopefully we won’t have long to wait now before these tasty leaves are ready to pick.
Thank you for your comments. I live in Worcestershire, where the wild garlic, with its beautiful distinctive fragrance is now out in abundance. I think you are based some way to the north of me, but I hope it won’t be long before your lovely wild garlic is out too. 🙂
I am also Worcestershire based, where do you find wild garlic growing? It would be lovely to find some 😊
Hi Sophie. If you know anywhere where bluebells grow wild, there is every chance you will find wild garlic nearby. I will send you an e-mail to let you know the exact spot I get mine from 🙂
I was so pleased when, last weekend, we were walking in the woods and my daughter recognised and was excited to see it. Love the idea of wild garlic oil.
That’s lovely, Andrea 🙂
The oil is a fabulous green colour… you’ve got me tempted to give foraging for wild garlic a try, and that’s something I’ve never done before because I really don’t like the smell of the plant!
Hi Sarah. I hope you do give it a try and that you come to realise that you like wild garlic after all. 😉
I always enjoy this blog, and this post has motivated me to go out looking for some wild garlic. Having never foraged before, I had a quick a google for guidance on where it might be found, and found this article helpful. Thought I’d post it here in case anyone else is new to wild garlic foraging
(apologies that it’s the Telegraph, not my newspaper of choice but a good guide nevertheless!!)
Thank you for your comments, and thanks also for the link. I forage for my wild garlic in common woodland not far from where I live. The plant enjoys similar conditions to bluebells – damp and shaded areas – so if you know of somewhere local where bluebells usually grow, it might be worth starting your search there. Happy hunting!
I love using these verdant leaves too for Wild Garlic Soup when I see them… will try this recipe next thank you 🙂
Mmmm…wild garlic soup, a wondrous thing! 🙂
Hi can this oil be frozen please?
Hi Tracey. I haven’t tried freezing this oil, so cannot be 100% certain, although olive oil can be frozen without its quality being affected. Steve