Climate change and a salad for harvest season

By  Robin Katright

As you’ve likely heard, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released recently. Averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. Unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

I get overwhelmed thinking about all the changes we need to make to the way we live on this planet, so I make salad. It’s satisfying, delicious, inexpensive, and healthy for me and the planet. Below is a recipe for one such salad.

Beluga (black) Lentils Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Before beginning, a quick caveat. Like all things, once you get into the nuances of reducing your climate impact through diet, it gets complicated. A vegan diet mostly made up of fruit shipped across the world isn’t better than eating a diet of local, organic foods, even if it includes meat and dairy. The climate impact of lentils is certainly less than beef (see for example this very equation-heavy analysis). Eating local, organic, less processed, and packaged foods all make a difference. 

Simple lentil salad

I’d suggest making a bigger pot of lentils than you need for this, and freezing the rest. Spread them out flat so they don’t freeze in a block and then transfer to a sealed container once frozen. I use them all the time in pasta sauce, or to add protein to a rice bowl.

I am not vegan, and I often serve this with sheep’s milk feta on the side. I find I use less this way than if I stir it in when I make it, and the salad lasts longer in the fridge too. Karma stocks feta from Best Baa Dairy, located in Fergus, Ontario. It is as sustainable as cheese gets, produced by happy sheep who graze outside all summer, and it’s delicious. But the salad is great on its own.

In a bowl, mix about…

1 cup cooked lentils (brown or green, not red, or it’ll be mushy)

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 cup swiss chard, thinly sliced (stalk and leaves)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper.

All measurements above are to taste. A confession: I never measure this salad, so don’t feel you have to! I often double or even triple this in a big casserole dish and season to taste. If you want more chard or less tomatoes, go for it. If it needs more oil or vinegar, go ahead. Got some basil? It’ll be delicious.