The PB&J Campaign: Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time

I’ve got a thing about peanut butter. I love it, almost to a fault.

So what better way to start off the new year than with a post about peanut butter? And not just about peanut butter, but about reducing the environmental destruction that comes as a result of our dietary choices.

Regular readers of Natural Papa have probably figured out by now that I’m a vegetarian (11+ years) and except for the use of honey, a vegan. But I don’t preach it to others, as I think people need to figure out what works for them and follow that diet (however, I am amazed at how many people don’t consider changing their diet when it is negatively affecting their health or their energy levels).

Here’s a cool campaign about simply reducing the amount of animal products you consume – not necessarily becoming a vegetarian or a vegan: the PB&J Campaign.

“Everything we eat comes from plants, whether we eat the plants directly or through an animal intermediary. The basic problem is that animals are inefficient at converting plants into meat, milk, and eggs. Relatively little of what they eat ends up in what you eat because animals use most of their food to keep them alive – to fuel their muscles so they can stand up and walk around, to keep their hearts beating, to keep their brains working.

That cow, pig, or chicken has to eat a lot more protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients than it yields in meat, eggs, or milk. The result is that it takes several pounds of corn and soy to produce one pound of beef, or one pound of eggs, one pound of milk, etc. This holds true even if we’re measuring calories or protein; it takes several times the calories or protein in livestock feed to produce the calories or protein we get from the meat, eggs, or milk”

At the heart of the campaign is a pledge to replace one or more animal-based meals each week with a plant-based meal. There’s no hard-sell on the vegetarian diet, just a simple calculation of water savings, CO2 emissions reduction, and land spared from from deforestation, over-grazing, and pesticide and fertilizer pollution.

And despite the name, you don’t have to eat a PB&J sandwich (although they are one of the tastiest creations around). Just pick something to eat that has less impact on the planet than an animal-based meal – even if it’s only once a day or several times a week.

Check out the PB&J Campaign and take the pledge.

Mmm… peanut butter.

Image: certified su at Flickr

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

14 thoughts on “The PB&J Campaign: Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time

  • January 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm
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    Very cool– thanks for sharing this! It’s amazing how much positive impact Americans could have on the environment if we cut back on meat.

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  • January 2, 2010 at 10:16 am
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    As someone with a peanut-allergic child, peanut butter is not our friend. Even being tagged by another child who has peanut butter laden hands can be life threatening to my little guy. That said, I highly recommend Sunbutter as a substitute that actually looks and tastes like PB. It’s made from sunflower seeds, a bit of salt and sweetener, and oil, same as PB. Unlike those creepy soynut butters, this stuff actually tastes good. It’s great for nut-allergic kids or for those who are going to be around them. And no, I don’t own stock in the company. I just love having a PB substitute for my (mostly vegetarian) family so I thought I’d mention it. 🙂
    .-= A Magical Childhood´s last blog ..100 Things =-.

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  • January 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm
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    great post! this is the kind of positive, fun campaign that can really create change in the world, i think — not only in green or alternative health circles, but more broadly.

    i (a lifelong vegetarian) completely agree with your approach regarding vegetarianism — it is something people have to come to, i think.

    but with the new findings popping up about the environmental effects of eating meat and dairy products, i think people who are really interested in a greener world have to start taking diet into account more.

    great post. fun and informational all at the same time!…. typical naturalpapa 🙂

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    • January 2, 2010 at 12:47 pm
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      Thanks Zachary-

      I’m in agreement with you – we can’t just buy a Prius or give money to Sierra Club or GreenPeace and expect to see lasting change. It has to come from our habits.

      Cheers

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    • January 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm
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      I’m glad to hear another dad say that. Haha – It’s also one of the cheapest dense foods to have around, I’ve found. We buy it straight from the grinder at our local food co-op, and I could eat it with a spoon sometimes.

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  • January 2, 2010 at 6:33 pm
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    You have written this seemingly with my family in mind. I told my wife this morning to put some peanut butter on her toast because she has a bad habit of eating terrible breakfast foods (white bread and coffee). I tried to explain the virtues of peanut butter as being packed with protein so she doesn’t have to make eggs or some other meat, tons of fiber so she doesn’t have to also eat a bowl of oatmeal (even though that’s pretty good too) and that it also has a bunch of good oil. Anyway, I had to go to the fridge and read the label to prove it to her. Seems peanuts are a neglected food.

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    • January 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm
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      Keith – I think it’s been maligned by some of the lower quality products that are out on the market – added oils and sugars and such. Plus, it does have a childish ring to it, as if it were just for kids.

      I know there are people with peanut allergies who shouldn’t use it, but rather eat the Sunbutter or almond butter instead. For those who aren’t allergic, a basic natural peanut butter – with nothing but ground peanuts as the ‘ingredient’ – is affordable and versatile. I await the day when I can have fresh-ground right in my house. I would love a source for a quality manual peanut grinder, because it really is so much better when fresh.

      Mmm… peanut butter.

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  • January 2, 2010 at 7:12 pm
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    After my son got he hang of solid foods at about 1 y.o. PB&J became a stable for him. I experiment with different types of “peanut” butter like cashew or almond.. just for variety and so he’s getting different nutrients… because I must admit we probably eat this delicious food 4+ times a week for lunch. With healthy bread and fructose-only (or homemade) jam, it’s such a great whole food! Love the simplicity!
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..What’s Happening …….. Wednesday =-.

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  • January 3, 2010 at 8:32 am
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    Derek, I’m totally with you on your campaign.

    My 2009 goal was to reduce my family’s meat intake. When I tell you that I wrote a post last year called “Beans are Better Than Steak”, prompted by my teenage son who didn’t like beans before 2009, you’ll see how much of a success the change was for my family.

    I know some have had success with Meatless Monday. I chose to reduce meat intake to once per day or less – most of our meals are home-prepared so this works for us. I also made sure we had 4oz or less in a portion and the majority of our meat comes direct from a local farm.

    Going vegetarian, as you say, can be too daunting, but cutting meat down is a great way to learn to love alternatives. I hope your meat-eating readers will try it.
    .-= Alison Kerr´s last blog ..2009 Best of Loving Nature’s Garden =-.

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  • January 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm
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    I *love* peanut butter. And, as a Brit, it has to be proper American style, and crunchy. I was a fussy child in the USA in 1976 who, in restaurants, would only eat PB&J sandwiches without the jelly!

    But there is a serious side – Peanut butter is usually loaded with palm oil. Palm oil is plant-based, yes, but plantations are the single biggest factor in loss of orangutan habitat in Malaysia and Indonesia.

    If you are going to eat peanut butter, please check out the labels. Palm oil, despite best efforts, is not yet sustainable, so best avoided – peanut butter with palm oil content is contributing to the extinction of one of the great ape species.

    Now, in the UK, I *think* the leading brand Sun-Pat is OK, and most other brands are not. Don’t be fooled by green labels such as “organic” or “Whole Earth”

    Enjoy peanut butter but enjoy it palm oil free. As singer songwriter Billy Bragg said – “Life is hard, sometimes you have to take the crunchy with the smooth”

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    • January 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm
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      Thanks for the reminder, Neil. As far as I’m concerned, if it has added oils or sugars, or anything else beside peanuts, it’s not peanut butter.

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  • January 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm
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    The classic peanut butter sandwich for me is peanut butter, sliced banana and a sprinkle of raisins. Put this on toasted sourdough and you have something really outstanding.

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  • April 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm
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    Love the campaign — but I hope you’re eating organic peanut butter. I just read that most of the peanuts grown in the US are winter crops grown in cotton fields. Cotton is the most heavily sprayed and treated crop grown.

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