FUNNY THING about the lists of "helpful planet-saving tips" that show up as Earth Day (Sunday) approaches: They rarely include, much less spotlight, the daily action that could have the most impact: cutting down your meat and dairy consumption.
The United Nations has repeatedly stated that we must drastically change our eating patterns, given that somewhere from 18 percent (if you credit the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization 2006 estimate) to 51 percent (Worldwatch Institute's estimate, 2009) of greenhouse- gas emissions are attributable to animal agriculture.
Just last week, a new study found that stabilizing emissions of just one greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, would require us first-Worlders to halve our meat intake by 2030. And no, "buying local" or "grass-fed" won't cut it, as James McWilliams explained a day later in a New York Times op-ed.
I won't even go into all the nonclimate-change-related ways livestock farms compromise the quality of our air and water. The point is, if you want to help the planet, at least on Earth Day, take a look at what's on your plate.
The good news is that some eco-friendly venues are making it easier to combine good deeds and good feeds. This is not a comprehensive list, but here are some promotions I found by asking around:
A Full Plate (1030 N. American St., 215-627-4068, afullplate.com) is going all out on Earth Day with a Green Hash special, a combo of chopped, seasoned green veggies — "especially the just-harvested asparagus from Greensgrow farms" — topped with your choice of eggs or tofu scramble. Also on special Sunday is "fiddlehead pie." And everyone who brings their own to-go containers for takeout gets 10 percent off.
Meanwhile, Hip City Veg, the "fast casual" vegan spot that opened Monday off Rittenhouse Square (127 S. 18th St., hipcityveg.com) — and is already hopping— will give out free samples of its signature green smoothie and knock a dollar off the price of a full beverage. HCV uses compostable dinnerware.
Jar Bar (113 S. 12th St., 215-923-1600, jarbarphilly.com) is a raw vegan place focusing on juice, smoothies and sandwiches. Check out this "V for Veg" special: Bring in this column (in any form!) and get an Earth Juice blend — based on their $5.50 "Clean" juice — at a one-day price of $4.22. Get it? As part of the promotion, you can also enter a drawing for a free, three-day juice cleanse.
The Good Karma Cafe (928 Pine St., 215-901-0906, thegoodkarmacafe.com) gets into the Earth Day spirit (though this was not the only location that told me, "For us, every day is Earth Day") with an earth-friendly special: a free cup of coffee if you bring in your own cup.
Upscale Vedge (1221 Locust St., 215-320-7500, vedgerestaurant.com) will note the holiday on Monday (the restaurant is closed Sundays) when its "Dirt List" of vegetables fresh from the ground will be renamed "The Earth List."
Also on Earth Day, there will be a free screening of the fun, hip documentary "Vegucated," which follows three meat- and cheese-loving urbanites who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. It's at the Rotunda (4014 Walnut St.) at 2 p.m. Info, getvegucated.com or 215-573-3234.
V for Venture: Earth Day weekend is also the kickoff of the 4th annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, a weeklong amalgamation of independent fundraisers focusing on vegan baked goods. Temple Promoters of Animal Welfare will host one from 11 a.m. to 3 p0.m. April 26 at Tyler School of Art at Temple University. There's still time to get in on it; info at veganbakesale.org. n
Vance Lehmkuhl is a cartoonist, writer, musician and 10-year vegan. "V for Veg" chronicles the growing trend of plant-based eating in and around Philadelphia. Send your veg tips to VforVeg@phillynews.com and follow @V4Veg on Twitter.