Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Vegan chocolate making

Pascha-Chocolate-Bars-AllBeing chocolate lovers, we wanted to know more about vegan chocolate. We caught up with Simon Lester, the founder of Pascha Chocolate and got a chance to ask him a few questions:

How did you get the idea of vegan chocolate in the first place?

When one of my daughters developed a serious, life-threatening food allergy my life changed.  All food items had to be examined and re-thought because cross contamination was serious and endemic.  The penny dropped when I thought back to my early career experience with Cadbury chocolate in the UK.  Read more

The end of effective antibiotics?

AntibioticsThis is serious. This could cost you your life! What if the medication your doctor gave you for an infection didn’t work? What if the second antibiotic didn’t work either? Blame the beef industry. According to a new study, sponsored by consumer and environmental groups, 23 out of 25 U.S. burger chains, including McDonald’s and Burger King, were found serving beef raised with the routine use of antibiotics.

Most of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to farm animals not people. In fact, 70% of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. go to food producing animals, and 43% of that goes to the beef industry. The result is that each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die as a result.

Here’s how it happens. Farmers routinely give cows antibiotics, often in their daily feed, to help them survive very harsh and unhealthy conditions on factory farms. The problems is that these antibiotics kill off only the susceptible bacteria, allowing resistant bacteria to take over. If a farm worker then comes in contact with the bacteria or gets infected with it, they will carry it into the wider community. Slaughterhouse workers can spread the resistant bacteria as well. Undercooked meat can also harbor these bacteria.

If you get infected with such bacteria, the antibiotic the doctor gives you might not work because the bacteria is already resistant to it. Other antibiotics may not work either. This is happening more and more frequently. Once bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, that means the ability of doctors to treat the infection becomes extremely limited, and that’s really scary.  It means that infections that were once really easily and commonly treated could actually now be fatal, and common medical procedures may no longer be possible because of the risk of infection without reliable antibiotics.

While some organizations are pushing for beef farmers to stop using antibiotics, they are finding this difficult to do while maintaining the intensive farming methods they currently use. However, this problem could be solved by many more people following a plant-based diet. Then there wouldn’t be a need for so many beef cattle to be raised intensively and fed antibiotics.  Avoiding meat would also be much healthier for us and much kinder for the animals, so everyone would win.

Go on a greenhouse gas diet!

Field of wheat

The world needs to go on a greenhouse gas diet! A recent study from researchers at the University of Oxford found that ditching animal products could reduce your carbon footprint by 73 percent.

Get ready for this. The lead scientist of the study says, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

That’s right! The food you eat is more important than the car you drive, the light bulbs you buy, the insulation in your house and all the other nonfood items you use.

Eating meat is crowding out the planet. In addition to greatly reducing your carbon footprint, researchers found that if everyone went vegan, global farmland use could be reduced by 75 percent. This would be an amount of land comparable to the size of the United States, China, Australia, and the whole Europe combined freed up.

Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction.

The new study, published in the journal Science, is one of the most comprehensive analyses to date into the detrimental effects farming can have on the environment and included data on nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries. The Oxford report comes on the heels of several other studies showing that raising livestock is a major factor of global warming. Let’s hope people are starting to take notice!

Harry Potter actress now vegan

Evanna LynchFree-spirited Luna Lovegood of the Harry Potter series possesses a quiet courage: She’s a nonjudgmental, gentle soul who takes the side of the oppressed simply because it’s right.

Evanna Lynch—the Irish actress who portrays her in the movies— seems to share those traits. Through her weekly podcast, The ChickPeeps, the passionate animal advocate gently encourages her fans to try plant-based eating.

After moving to Los Angeles a little over five years ago Evanna, now aged 25, found herself often being asked “Well why aren’t you vegan?” ‘It’s so common there,’ she says. She came across the book Eating Animals around age 20/21 when everything changed. Evanna says: Read more

Celebrating Cranberries

cranberriesThese sour red berries grow on a trailing shrub. You can buy them fresh in the Fall, or frozen at any time of year. Dried cranberries are a delicious addition to trail mixes. When buying fresh look for bright red shiny skins. Cranberries are a valuable source of iron, vitamin C and folic acid.

Cranberries are usually too sour to eat raw. First wash and remove any damaged berries. Then cook them with a little water and sugar, then puree them to make a sauce. Or you can add them to a recipe directly to add a contrasting flavor.

Recipes:

  • Harlequin Squash with Corn Bread Stuffing
  • Cranberry Corn Bread
  • Apple Cranberry Crisp

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Winter Squash recipes

Winter SquashWinter squashes are readily available at this time of year. They are nutritionally dense, supplying beta carotene, iron, and riboflavin, but best of all they provide endless options for creating tasty, satisfying meals. The best cooking method for almost any winter squash is to cut it in half, scrape out the seeds and then steam it or bake it in the oven. The flesh will then be soft and easy to scrape out or cut, to be used in a wide variety of delicious recipes.

Acorn, butternut and kabocha squash can be cut in half and filled with a delicious stuffing to provide the perfect centerpiece to any holiday table. The green and yellow striped delicata squash has sweet yellow flesh and a soft skin which can be eaten, eliminating the need for peeling. Spaghetti squash can be separated into spaghetti-like strands, making it an interesting addition to stews. And most familiar of all is pumpkin (baked, steamed or from a can), used in soups, stews, pies and even cookies!

Baked Squash Recipes

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Can “milk” be used on plant-based foods?

MilksUnder pressure from the dairy industry, the government is trying make it so that plant-based alternatives to dairy can’t use the terms “milk”, “butter” or “cheese” on their product labels. The excuse is that the consumer can’t tell the difference between dairy milk and soy milk, and so may be confused. It doesn’t take a PhD to know that almonds, coconuts, rice and cashews don’t come from a cow! Read more

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