Eating Greens to Keep the Earth Green

By Kevin Sakaguchi 4-21-2014
An example of a meatless meal prepared by Sojourners staff. Photo: Ben Sutter/Sojourners

Editor's Note: Want more ideas for how to celebrate Earth Week? Click here to sign up for Earth Week updates through Friday:

One of the best things about food and cooking is sharing. From devouring cheap local eats with best friends to inviting people over for dinner or hosting a full on party, food brings people together. The Sojourners internship program practices this weekly.

As a long running Sojourners program, interns develop professionally as well as learn from living in community. This year, as a part of the 30th cycle of interns, we work together, live together, and, of course, eat (a lot) together. We share the foods that we love to eat with each other, but balancing personal choices and communal benefit can be tricky. Over the past eight months, we have eaten three to four communal meals a week with each other, totaling roughly 100 meals so far. We have learned and grown as a house in our understanding of the personal nature of food.

As a self-proclaimed foodie and wannabe chef, I have always loved that food incorporates culture, personal history, and sharing all in one experience. Food does fuel your body, but it also has representative qualities of you and your personal history. This is why I love food and cooking. The common diet motivational phrase “you are what you eat” takes on a new meaning when we understand that our food choices affect not only our bodies, but also affect the world in which we live. Coming from two farming families, my dad’s side from the orchards of California and my mom’s side from the farmlands of Colorado, I learned through their experience that our food choices have local, national, and global effects. Now, in my early twenties, living in an intentional community, and constantly learning more, I am realizing more and more how interconnected we are through food.

This week is Earth Week and as an intern community we are choosing to make concerted efforts to be greener in our choices to promote healthy bodies and ecosystems. This is the motivation behind Meatless Mondays. This global movement asks for restaurants, organizations, and individuals to go veggie on Mondays, being mindful of how our eating habits affect the globe. Joining Meatless Mondays helps:

1. Support a healthier planet: The meat industry is directly linked to our earth’s atmosphere. By cutting down on our production of meat and therefore greenhouse gases, ecosystems can improve. Healthier planet equals healthier people.

2. Improve individual health: Animal based proteins have been linked as a cause to heart disease, cancer, and many other chronic ailments. Going veggie can help reduce your risk of disease and illness.

3. Save green: As an intern community on a tight food budget, we know firsthand that purchasing meat can be expensive. By choosing cheaper protein alternatives, we can save cost every week.

Now it’s your turn!

Invite your friends and family over to your house and host a Meatless Monday meal this evening to kick off Earth Week. Take a snapshot of the event, tweet it (#meatlessmonday, #EarthWeek), post it, or do it for the vine. Please just share it! Be a part of this global movement for a healthier planet and people.

Here are some of the recipes that the Sojourners staff will be cooking tonight! Try our recipes and celebrate the start of Earth Week in community.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce (Lisa Daughtry-Weiss, Development team)

Grandma’s Slower Cooker Vegetarian Chili (Cindy Martens, Marketing team)

Six Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake (Liz Schmitt, Creation Care team)

Vegetarian Sushi Bowls with Creamy Wasabi Sauce (Katie Chatelaine-Samsen, Development team)

Spicy Noodle and Cabbage Stir Fry (Karen Lattea, Human Resources)

Shakshuka (Kevin Sakaguchi, Executive team)

And finally, two family recipes:

Tex-Mex Lasagna (Janelle Tupper, Communications team)

1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash cayenne pepper
1 15 1/2 ounce can pinto, kidney, or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen or canned corn kernels
1 cup tomato sauce
Cooking spray
6 small corn tortillas
1 cup nonfat or low fat cottage cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Saute the first seven ingredients. Add beans and corn. Layer the pan with tortillas, sauce, cottage cheese, and cheese. Bake at 375° F for about 20 minutes.


Quinoa Bean Burgers (Sandra Sims, Advertising team)

1/4 - 1/3 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup diced onions
2 tsp minced garlic (from jar)
2-3 mushrooms diced
1 carrot finely grated
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups water
1 can tomatoes
1 can fat-free refried beans
8-10 8" whole wheat tortillas
Shredded cheese (or non-dairy sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 13 x 9 cake pan with non-stick spray.

Saute the first eight ingredients. When done, pour these into quinoa and water, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes (or until most moisture is absorbed).

Stir in the tomatoes and refried beans. Heat until the beans have thinned and are mixed well with everything else.

Sprinkle a desired amount of cheese (or nondairy substitute) in the middle of each tortilla and pour 1/2 cup of the above mixture on top of the cheese. Fold in all four sides of the tortilla and lay in the coated pan, seam side down. You should be able to get eight burritos in a 13 x 9 pan. Lightly spray the top of the burritos with non-stick spray.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Kevin Sakaguchi is the executive assistant for Sojourners.

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