How apropos that the baby Trump blimp floated freely over London, England again this month during an official state visit from the POTUS. If you haven’t heard, it hovered on the tail winds of a press release from the United States Department of Energy that has rebranded fossil fuels as “molecules of freedom.” Natural gas, specifically, is now being marketed as “freedom gas!” The huge balloon, crowd-funded by protestors determined to communicate that “Trump and his politics of hate are not welcome in Britain,” is actually buoyed by helium (much safer than highly flammable methane, the primary hydrocarbon in natural gas.) However, the reality that the USA’s absurd strategy for increasing natural gas exports is not satire, but a setback to necessary climate crisis mitigation, is not lost on anti-Trump demonstrators also naturally aligned with ‘Extinction Rebellion.’
Ironically, the US Department of Energy’s “freedom gas” announcement was made at the end of May in Vancouver, BC during the 10th annual Clean Energy Ministerial (overshadowing clean energy commitments by other nations, according to Forbes.) With communities around our province rallying to make Climate Emergency Declarations, it will remain necessary for the foreseeable future to keep pressuring our own pro-LNG government for far greater support when it comes to reducing damaging methane emissions, not least of all from this particular industry’s inadequately monitored, leaky infrastructure. And while fossil fuels and their extraction remain a leading cause of methane emissions, they aren’t the only source we should be concerned about.
Cows, for example, emit between 250 and 500 litres of methane per day. And so-called free-ranging, grass-fed cows contribute significantly higher amounts than their factory farmed counterparts. With more than a billion bovines already taking up space on the planet, it makes little sense for BC’s elected officials to also be deliberately propping up ranching interests. Numerous scientific studies have declared that a concerted effort to dramatically reduce dietary intake of animal products is absolutely necessary if we are to avoid the 1.5 C temperature rise the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has warned us about. And beef and dairy have been singled out over and over again as particularly problematic – especially when consumed out of habit, rather than necessity. It is imperative that far more attention be paid to the fact that while methane doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere, it is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. In fact, over a 20 year period it traps approximately 84 times more heat than CO2. Surely that’s a time frame we should be taking a lot more seriously given the mere decade the IPCC predicts we have left, at most, to avoid irreversible climate collapse.
According to a report from Environment and Climate Change Canada released in April, our country is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world. And yet there appears to be no recognition of this alarming fact in the BC government’s June 3rd pronouncement that it has accepted all 21 of the recommendations made by the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food report (chaired by Courtenay-Comox Valley MLA Ronna Rae) focused on “strengthening the local meat industry in British Columbia” and “industry growth.” Rather, “increasing the ministry’s budget to support Grow BC, Feed BC and Buy BC initiatives that increase capacity for this sector,” is highlighted as one example of so-called “progress” already underway.
Animal agriculture has always received a disproportionate share of government subsidies in Canada, totaling in the billions of dollars. On June 15th activists from across the country will be rallying in Ottawa under the umbrella of ‘Nation Rising‘ (a non-partisan political advocacy group) to demand change. As noted by the group, the ‘Canada Food Price Report 2019‘ forecasts that the price of meat will drop and that the prices of fruits and vegetables, including plant-based protein options, are expected to rise – despite growing interest in switching to more plant-centred eating. Nation Rising is asking the government to enact policies that align subsidies with the healthy eating recommendations advanced by Canada’s new Dietary Guidelines, in order to ensure that plant-based food is affordable and accessible to all. Citizens from coast to coast are encouraged to get involved by contacting their own regional politicians. Anyone with internet access can check out www.nationrising.ca for all the information they need to get started!
Homemade Oat Milk
If taking the climate crisis seriously means there isn’t time to waste getting on with the kind of changes called for, those of us with the privilege of choice certainly needn’t wait on bold political leadership to get started making a difference in our own lives at every meal. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Here’s a simple recipe that couldn’t be easier to make. I highly recommend homemade oat milk as an affordable, nutritious alternative to expensive organic nut varieties!
1 cup whole grain organic rolled oats (not steel-cut)
sweetener of choice (dates, maple syrup, stevia, etc.)
optional – 1/8th tsp. salt
optional – organic sunflower oil (if you’re wanting coffee creamer)
optional – additional flavouring (vanilla, cocoa powder, mint, pumpkin spice, etc.)
Use 2.5 – 4 cups water, depending on desired thickness. Combine all ingredients and blend. It’s actually best to ‘pulse’ blend, and not overdo it. This is a simple procedure, but over blending can result in an undesirable change to the consistency of the oat milk. Drink your unthickened milk as is, or use a nut bag, cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to drain liquid over a bowl and set pulp aside. Strained pulp is full of fibre and nutrients you don’t want to waste. It can be added to smoothies, muffins, or other baking (and frozen for later use, if you like). If you’re after a richer milk or creamy texture, simply add 1-3 T of organic sunflower oil (testing for desired consistency before adding more than necessary).
Unsweetened, plain oat milk can be heated and used in sauces, gravies, or any recipe you want to thicken (ie, perfect in vegan mac and cheese). Enjoy!