Earth Day & Passover-A Day For Celebration! This year Passover and Earth Day coincide. Why make a mention of it? Both Passover and Earth Day celebrate the Earth, its renewal, and the coming of spring. Earth Day, a day created in 1970 recognizing the environmental movement, calls us to celebrate our beautiful planet and take time to repair and give back. It should be a time that we reflect on how our choices affect the planet and its inhabitants.
Back in 1970, we didn't realize the level of impact our choices made in terms of climate change. Today we do. There is a connection to climate change that is often overlooked when we talk about Earth Day. Most of us think that we're doing our part by biking, purchasing a more efficient car, recycling, helping to clean up a park, and maybe planting a garden. But a MUCH larger impact comes from what is on your plate. A meat-based diet is draining on water and land use, as well as a huge consumer of energy. Which brings me to Passover....
Whether or not you celebrate Passover or Easter (or neither), both holidays are laden with heavy animal-based recipes. Most recipes focus around eggs, meat, and sugar, all foods that have gotten our country on its obesity, diabetic, heart disease path, and drain our natural resources. So why not switch up some tradition? Let's eat for the holiday, as well as eat for the planet!
Passover is a holiday bursting with symbols. Jews eat a large dinner called a seder on the 1st and 2nd nights of the eight day holiday. The term seder means order, and is used to tell the story of the Jewish people fleeing their Egyptian enslavement. The foods used during the seder are symbolic of the time of year in which Passover is celebrated, spring, as well as the events that took place during the time. Matzah is the unleavened bread Jews eat during Passover. It represents the speed at which Jewish slaves had to leave their homes in Egypt, having no time for their bread to rise. I'll let you in on a little secret, it doesn’t help us move quickly (if you catch my drift). Most grains and flours are avoided during this time, to further honor this aspect of the holiday. Matzah, along with several other traditional foods served during Passover can leave you feeling like you’ve eaten a ton of bricks. Literally, that’s what some of the recipes actually symbolize, the bricks used in the building of the pyramids by Jewish slaves. Charoset is one of the healthiest items on the seder plate made of apples, cinnamon, and nuts. It is used to represent the mortar used to build the pyramids. And the eggs, oh the eggs! Placed on the seder plate to show rebirth and the coming of springtime, eggs are in almost every Passover recipe. Eggs are high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Two items that lead us down a path of heart disease, and as Americans, we don’t need any more help in eating more saturated fat and cholesterol. So I say, let’s leave the eggs on the plate, and let’s lighten up those holiday recipes, and do what ancient tribesmen and women did, reinvent your future!
I suggest that traditions can be altered, and instead of the heavy holiday-use it as a time to celebrate the renewal of the planet, and the coming of spring with fresh and colorful foods. The same can be said for Earth Day. If we care for the Earth, then we must choose to eat lower on the food chain for both the planet's health and our own.
For swap outs for plant-based Passover, check out my post entitled Light and Healthy Passover. I have a link to all of my Passover recipes, but here's a whole meal: soup, salad, main dish, and a dessert!
Tzimmis-A traditional carrot, sweet potato stew made with prunes