A Sloth Inspired Salad For World Vegan Day
November represents World Vegan Month, and World Vegan Day is celebrated every year on November 1st. Sloths are really the ultimate vegans, surviving on a natural diet of leaves, flowers, fruits and shoots in the wild! To celebrate with our leaf-eating friends, we have teamed up with Argentinian cook Andres Pacheco to develop the worlds first salad inspired by the diet of sloths!
Why our diet matters
Every single day you could save:
- 30 sq. ft. of rainforest from being chopped down
- 1,100 gallons of water
- 45 lbs of grain
- and 20 lbs of CO2
…just by changing the food that you eat!
It might come as a surprise that animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction. That includes clearing land for both cattle grazing and to make space for the vast crop plantations for livestock feed. Furthermore, livestock and their by-products are accountable for 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide – in comparison, the entire transport sector (including cars, airplanes, and boats) account for just 13%. We have all heard about the terrible effect that the palm oil industry is having on the Indonesian rainforest – but animal agriculture is shockingly responsible for 5 times the amount of deforestation when compared to palm oil (26 million rainforest acres: 136 million rainforest acres).
There is no question that the current levels of meat and dairy consumption all over the world are completely unsustainable. As a population, we simply cannot continue in the way that we are doing. But what is the solution? Are we all supposed to go completely vegan? And is that option sustainable in itself? I guess this is down to personal preference. We know that going vegan is very hard for a lot – if not most – people, and perhaps it isn’t even necessary. What if we all just make an effort to reduce the amount of meat that we eat on a weekly basis? Start off with ‘Meat Free Mondays‘ and start to experiment with plant-based meals. Why not start today with our sloth inspired salad – you can find all of the details below!
Sloth-inspired salad ingredients
For this salad we sourced all ingredients from a local farmers market here in the South Caribbean region of Costa Rica. Obviously all of the products here have been grown locally and so you might not find the exact same versions in your local grocery store or garden. However, each ingredient is easily replaceable with a simple alternative that you should be able to find without too much trouble. You will need:
- Leaves: lettuce, arugula, etc
- Edible flowers
- Cacao Nibs
- Olive oil
Sloths are ‘folivores’ which means that they survive on a diet of leaves in the wild. This is why leaves are the star of our sloth salad recipe! Butterhead, iceberg, loose-leaf, baby and romaine lettuce – there are a lot of different lettuce options! We chose a local variety of red and green-leaf with arugula, basil, Italian parsley, and cilantro. You can add kale, spinach, endives, escarole – you can try as many combinations as you like!
#2. Edible flowers
Sloths also love to eat flowers and buds, and so we can use these to add some sweetness and color to our salad! The buds that we used are called ‘Loroco’ (they taste just like asparagus), Bungavilas and Hibiscus. Did you know that hibiscus flowers are often referred to as ‘sloth chocolate’ because sloths love to eat them so much? They also have loads of good health benefits so don’t hold back when adding these to your bowl! Lots of very common flowers that you can find in your garden are actually edible AND delicious (roses, violets, daisies….), just make sure you check each type before eating them!
We all love avocado! This delicious, creamy tropical fruit tastes so good in sandwiches, smoothies (yes, you should try that too) and of course salads. We have to thank the extinct Giant Ground Sloths for the avocados in this recipe. The avocado is going to add some sweetness and a creamy consistency, especially if you choose more sour leaves like arugula.
#4. Cacao nibs
We like chocolate… and sloths like chocolate too! Wild sloths are known to enjoy eating both the leaves and the pods from cacao trees. Cacao is also one of the best crops for maintaining the health of the ecosystem as it is a ‘shade grown’ crop. This means that it grows underneath the natural rainforest canopy and does not contribute to deforestation! For our sloth salad we chose to use raw cacao nibs as one of the toppings.
5- Almond and cashew nuts
One of the favourite trees of two-fingered sloths is the beach almond – they enjoy eating both the leaves and the almonds. They also like to use wild cashew trees in Costa Rica too! For this reason we have included both almond and cashew nuts as toppings for our sloth salad!
6 – Carrots
Carrots do not grow in trees and so wild sloths do not eat these (of course). However, these root vegetables are widely enjoyed by sloths living in captivity all over the world – they are a unanimous favourite! We are using the carrots for our salad dressing. First, boil the carrots until soft. Once cold, use the blender to make a liquid sauce. Add salt, pepper and spice it up as you like!
The Final Sloth Salad Plate:
Sloths use a process of fermentation to digest the leaves inside their large, four-chambered stomachs, and so we recommend washing down your sloth salad with some sort of fermented beverage. Kombucha is a widely available favourite!