Green Holiday Entertaining — and a Recipe for Vegan Latkes

When you throw a dinner or party for the holidays — whether for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year’s — you use a lot more of the earth’s resources than you do in day-to-day life. How can you reduce the ecological footprint of your feast without compromising on hospitality? Follow the game plan in Holiday Entertaining for a Small Planet, the December issue of This Green Life.

One of many recommendations is reducing the amount of animal products you serve — not just meat, but dairy and eggs. If you celebrate Hanukkah, try this recipe for vegan latkes (potato pancakes):

Here’s a printable version of the whole article:

Please share your own green holiday tips and recipes.

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7 Responses to Green Holiday Entertaining — and a Recipe for Vegan Latkes

  1. Sara Reilly December 10, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    Dear Sheryl, I enjoy your columns generally, but since you are informing the public, you really ought to read more widely on the controversial topic of how raising meat animals affects the environment. Pasture-fed, organically raised animals do not degrade, but rather can contribute to a healthy environment! A couple of great books to start with are: Richard Manning's "Against the Grain" and "All Flesh is Grass" by Gene Logsdon. Vegetarians owe it to themselves to read the seminal work, "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" by Weston A. Price. As a 15-year vegan veteran, I have experienced how adding animal fats to the diet dramatically improves health. Best wishes.

  2. Sheryl December 10, 2009 at 8:00 pm #

    Sara, the kind of meat the vast majority of people eat is factory-farmed and is highly destructive to the environment, as well as unethical in my opinion. Yes, of course, grass-fed and free-range meat is better, but we can't "produce" enough of it to sustain our current level of meat consumption. If we try, we will overgraze the land, which is devastating in a different way to the environment. (Did you know that's what John Muir was concerned about when he fought to save Yosemite?) So we need to cut back, which is all I'm saying. Most Americans wouldn't be able to afford the same amount of meat at pasture-fed prices in any case.

  3. Sara Reilly December 10, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    Grass-fed is not just "better," it is the answer to environmental degradation. Grass-fed can, and must, feed the world. Read the books and be amazed.

  4. ERock December 13, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks for this recipe! I'm going to try it out…

  5. Anonymous December 15, 2009 at 7:25 am #

    I am concerned that you suggest the use of real Christmas trees for a greener Christmas. Have you taken into consideration the extreme use of chemicals in raising those trees? Rachel P

  6. Sheryl December 15, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    Rachel,

    Synthetic trees are not just sprayed or farmed with toxic materials but made out of them.

    It's always possible a total life-cycle assessment comparing synthetic to real trees would find that synthetic trees are less harmful in the end, but as far as I know, this analysis has not been done. In its absence, environmental experts tend to recommend buying real trees.

    That said, I should have recommended that people get real trees with the "Organic" or "Certified Naturally Grown" label — which would obviously be better. Thanks for reminding me!

    Sheryl

  7. Anonymous December 18, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

    Sara, you are a victim of your culture, I am sorry to say. The topic would NOT be controversial if people were more interested in truth than preserving the status quo. There is no way to raise livestock, particularly cattle, without damaging the environment, especially considering the intense transportation costs that go into it now. And perhaps eating locally is not as bad, but our current economic system would not support "environmentally-friendly meat," even if it does exist. I am almost certain I have read more about this topic than you have, and I have read BOTH sides of the argument. At any rate, you are definitely going to have to give an explanation as to how raising animals can EVER "contribute to a healthy environment." I'm pretty sure the earth would be ecstatic if tomorrow we stopped breeding animals by the millions just so we can defecate their rotten dead bodies.

    Also, I am a vegan, and I know a lot of vegans… none of us have any health problems (I have not had so much as a cold in several years), yet everyone else I know eats animal fats and gets sick all the time. As interesting as your anecdotal evidence is, there have also been plenty of empirical studies done to disprove what you are saying. To my knowledge, no empirical study has yet found any negative health consequences of being vegan. And the vegans I know have been vegan for more than 15 years, I would hardly call you a veteran.

    Sara, I applaud you for being one of the few environmental bloggers who is willing to give the important issue of animal agriculture the time of day. I understand you will receive negative feedback, but the facts have to be said.