Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Crab harvest failing, try vegan instead

Earlier this month, Alaska announced that it had canceled the entire snow crab harvest for the year. The sudden shutdown of the snow crab season has left the state shocked.

The population of the species, which lives in the cold waters of the Bering Sea, has fallen below the regulatory threshold for the first time, so they cancelled the harvest in the hope of reviving the species. The crab count was 8 million in 2018 and fell to only 1 million in 2021. The sharp drop is due in part to aggressive commercial fishing, but climate change is a more likely culprit. These creatures thrive in water temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.  The worry is that the waters will not be cold enough to sustain these crustaceans.

We know that animal agriculture is a major factor in climate change. A UN report found that raising meat causes more global warming than all the cars, trucks, trains, planes, boats and ships in the world all put together. A report from scientists at the World Bank found that animal agriculture causes more global warming than all other causes combined.

Fortunately, there are healthier and more environmentally sustainable alternatives. Grab the vegan tartar sauce, because Gardein’s serving up their Mini Cr’b Cakes and F’sh Filets! Good Catch has plant-based crab cakes along with a selection of plant-based fish. Sophie’s Kitchen is a vegan seafood brand that offers breaded shrimp, crab cakes and a wide selection of plant-based fish. Omni foods makes delicious crab cakes too.  Other brands such as Loma Linda offer plant-based fish along with a wide variety of meat substitutes. From what we can tell there’ll be more brands of vegan seafood are coming soon. 

By switching to vegan fish brands, as well as vegan substitutes for other animal products, we can relieve the pressure on the fisheries, and reduce global warming caused by animal agriculture.  Let’s hope it happens quickly enough to save the crabs from extinction.

Covid and plant-based diets

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about following a plant-based diet and COVID. There are some things a plant-based diet can do it and something it can’t.  It turns out that a plant-based diet can significantly reduce the severity of COVID.

In one study, looking at doctors and nurses, a plant-based diet reduced the chance of getting a severe or moderate case by 73%, which we think is saying a lot.  Compare this to those individuals following “low carbohydrate, high protein diets” such as Atkins and others, which are typically high in food that comes from animals, who had an almost 4 times greater risk of moderate-to-severe COVID. Another study showed that among the elderly, those following a non vegetarian diet had 5 times the risk of having a severe case of COVID.

So what’s up with this? We think there are two things at work. A plant-based diet has been shown to reduce inflammation. Part of the damage COVID does is by inciting extreme inflammation. Studies have shown that those following a plant-based diet have a lower baseline level of inflammation. Second,  people with chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, have been shown to have worse outcomes when infected with the COVID virus. People who follow a plant-based diet have, on average, much lower rates of these diseases. Lower levels of baseline inflammation and lower rates of chronic disease combine to give vegetarians and vegans the edge.  

Can a good diet prevent you from getting COVID in the first place? Here the effect of the plant-based diet is much less pronounced. One study showed only a 9% reduction in the risk of getting infected in the first place. Based on the evidence, vaccination is very strongly recommended for the general public.

While 9% isn’t much of a reduction, with a disease as widespread as COVID it can still make a difference in preventing illness. A 73% reduction in the risk of getting a severe or moderate case of COVID makes a huge difference in reducing suffering and saving lives.

Ten compassionate reasons to skip the turkey

Almost 50 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t it be better if we had a Thanksgiving the turkeys could be thankful for too? We think so. To help you have a Turkey Thankful Thanksgiving, we put together 10 reasons to skip the turkey this year.

  1. Turkeys form strong bonds with their flock mates and even with humans and other animals. However, turkeys are bred at rapid rates for human consumption and never get to experience love and freedom like she does. Commercial turkeys never get the opportunity to spread their wings, run around in the grass, or be treated kindly. These birds are forced to live in dark, overcrowded buildings where they are often mistreated and ultimately slaughtered.
  2. Turkeys are kept in poor conditions . Conditions inside factory farms are so cramped, stressful, and filthy that birds often succumb to stress or their injuries and die before reaching the kill floor. Infections are common since thousands of birds are packed into one common living space without proper care.
  3. Turkey meat recalls. Turkey meat product recalls are not uncommon. They spread bacteria because they are forced to live in their own excrement inside bacteria filled buildings. These conditions increase the transmission of bacterial infections, which in turn contaminate the turkey products that humans consume.
  4. Inhumane slaughter methods. Over 200 million turkeys are slaughtered each year in the United States, and 99 percent of them are raised on factory farms. Inside these farms, which are large industrialized buildings, up to 10,000 turkeys are crammed into a single barn. As if the psychological damage of being kept in a stressful environment is not enough, turkeys are slaughtered in horrific ways.
  5. Dismal working conditions on turkey farms. In industrial agriculture, expectations are high to work quickly. When production speeds are increased, animals are not the only ones who are injured. The physical and mental health of workers is often compromised. Being a slaughterhouse worker is considered by some to be the most dangerous job in America.
  6. Health risks of eating turkey. We have been writing about the dangers of consuming meat but somehow turkey is still considered a “healthy choice.” It’s not a healthy choice.
  7. Turkeys are loving mothers. Turkeys form immediate bonds with their young, much like humans. Once their eggs are soon to be hatched, mother turkeys will not leave the nest under any circumstances. When the babies are born, turkey moms keep them close by under their wings until they are old enough to forage on their own.
  8. Turkey production is bad for the environment. Turkey farms, like other factory farms, produce a lot of pollution including water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  9. It’s a hungry world. Turkeys, like other farm animals, are food factories in reverse. The return only a fraction of the protein and calories fed to them as meat. Many people in the world have food insecurity. We can waste food by feeding them to animals.
  10. Delicious Turkey Alternatives ARE Great. Plant-based turkey alternatives have grown over the past few years. Plant-based turkey brands like Tofurky, Gardein, Quorn, and Field Roast can be found in many grocery stores.

While a lot of attention is given to other farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens, turkeys are often left out. Yet we raise 270 million turkeys each year. It’s great to skip the turkey for Thanksgiving. Even better would be to skip the turkey year round. Let’s make this Thanksgiving a new beginning for skipping eating turkey year round.

Los Angeles signs plant-based treaty

Major cities all over the world are being encouraged to adopt the Plant-Based Treaty to shift their communities to climate-friendly plant-based diets.  Los Angeles is one of the first cities, and the largest one in the US, to sign the treaty, following a meeting by the LA City Council last month where they unanimously voted to adopt the Plant-Based Treaty. 

This vote was taken prior to the C40 World Mayors Summit, where mayors of the world’s largest cities meet to discuss climate mitigation strategies, which took place in Buenos Aires last month.  It brought together almost 100 mayors from major cities around the world, including London, Hong Kong, and Copenhagen.  They met either in person or virtually.  A group of almost 200 organizations and businesses urged the mayors to shift their communities to climate-friendly diets, and to demonstrate their commitment by signing their city up to the Plant-Based Treaty and the Good Food Cities Declaration. Alongside these commitments, continued alignment with the 19 “best practices” that define the C40 group, including taxing high-emission foods such as meat and making plant-based foods the default option on menus, is expected.

The C40 has already identified that a mainstream switch to a plant-based diet is the most impactful change that cities can make. They’ve noted that lowering meat consumption from 58kg to 16kg per person by 2030 is critical for climate improvement, and that each city must be active in making plant-based foods more accessible to realize the goal.

New York has already begun to do this, by making plant-based food in its hospitals the default option.  Berkeley City Council made history in July when it pledged to remove all animal products from its menus by 2024. Amsterdam is also taking proactive steps, by encouraging its citizens to eat a plant-based diet at least 50 percent of the time by 2030.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also been highlighting the need for a shift away from meat and dairy as a key weapon in the fight against the worsening climate emergency.  “The IPCC consistently shows the vegan diet to be the optimal diet to fight the climate and methane emergencies,” Allie Molinaro, campaigns manager at Compassion in World Farming explained in a statement. 

“C40 cities are considered leaders on local climate action and can accelerate much needed progress by implementing best practices such as serving plant-based food at council events and using every policy tool at their disposal including public information campaigns, procurement, subsidies, investment, divestment, taxation, community gardens, and fruit and vegetable prescription programs.”

While Seattle’s mayor, Bruce Harrell, did attend the C40 conference, and received global recognition for Seattle’s work in funding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, building community resilience and increasing net zero affordable housing, the city has yet to make any commitment regarding plant-based diets.  Don’t get left behind, Seattle!!

Local news – new vegan deli

Ben and Esther’s vegan Jewish Deli just opened on Capitol Hill. Oh yes, oh yes! Finally a vegan Reuben sandwich (vegan corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing ) on pumpernickel bread with real Kosher dill pickles. Try the bagel with vegan lox (smoked “salmon”), tomato, red onion, capers and dill with a schmear (a spread) of vegan cream cheese.

Look for the potato knishes (a round or square of dough stuffed with potato and baked or fried) and noodle kugel (a baked pudding). You can enjoy your meal with a babka (a loaf-shaped coffee cake made with sweet yeast dough to which raisins, chocolate, or nuts may be added). With the cold weather, warm up with some motzo (unleavened bread) ball soup. If you only want a couple of bites, you can nosh (snack) on a wide variety of menu items.

We’re happy to welcome a new vegan restaurant  to our area. The Seattle Ben and Esther’s is the fifth location in the Portland based “Vegan Jewish Deli” chain. There are two in Portland and one in Oceanside California and San Diego.

Ben and Esther’s hours are 7 AM to 3 PM daily.

907 East PIKE ST.  Seattle, WA 98122

OPEN 7-3 DAILY

Vegan celebs making a difference

Many veg celebs give the veg world a big boost.  When they talk about vegan food many people listen and are inspired to try it, when they visit a restaurant people want to go there, and this can influence a restaurant to start offering vegan options.

So when a vegan celebrity, Lizzo, announced that she’s going to visit a meat and dairy-heavy restaurant, FoodChasers Kitchen in Philadelphia, the owners took on the challenge of making a vegan meal for the star and her guests.  They opened the restaurant on a Wednesday, when they are typically closed, and tasked the chef with creating a delicious vegan menu.

According to local outlet The Philadelphia Inquirer, the five-item, mushroom-focused menu featured vegan versions of FoodChaser classics such as plant-based cheesy grits topped with seasoned mushrooms; tacos stuffed with fried mushrooms, avocado, and pico de gallo; a meatball grinder made with portobello mushrooms and smothered in vegan cheese; a cheesesteak sandwich with mushrooms; and mushroom ravioli in vegan butter sauce. 

Lizzo enjoyed the food, while playing Uno with her guests, and you can be sure she talked about it on social media.  As a result the eatery has started serving some of the vegan dishes that were created alongside its regular menu.

Many celebrities are choosing a vegan lifestyle these days.  Some do it for ethical reasons, for the animals and the planet; others do it for their own personal health or their athletic performance. 

In Lizzo’s case, she chooses a vegan lifestyle for her health.  “I just feel better when I eat plants” she said. 

Whatever their reasons, celebrities talking about their vegan food choices, and requesting vegan options when they visit a restaurant, has an outsized influence on restaurants and their desire to include vegan offerings, which benefits all of us.

Tofurky wins in court

Good news – more lawsuits are rolling back unconstitutional labelling bans on using meat-based terms. Last month, a federal court ruled that an Arkansas law that had banned makers of meat alternatives such as Tofurky from using commonly understood words to describe their products was unconstitutional. The law prohibited the labeling of any food product as ‘meat’ unless that food product was derived from livestock, and it banned such terms as ‘veggie sausage’ and ‘veggie burger’ from food labeling in Arkansas.

The Arkansas law, U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker explained in her ruling, unconstitutionally barred Tofurky from “convey[ing] meaningful, helpful information to consumers about the products they are purchasing, and Tofurky’s repeated indications that the food products contained in these packages contain no animal-based meat dispel consumer confusion.”  In other words, no one is confused about whether Tofurky is turkey!

We’ve seen the same kind of thing in other states and other products but the meat, dairy and egg alternatives seem to be prevailing.  Last year, a lawsuit filed by Upton’s Naturals forced Mississippi’s agriculture department, which had issued similar rules, to backtrack and amend the rules.

Is the meat industry getting nervous? They should be. The sales of meat and dairy substitutes have been soaring, hence the clamor to adopt rules against using some words to describe meat alternatives. Supporters of such laws typically claim they want to help consumers avoid confusion. However, research and commonsense suggest consumers aren’t confused by terms such as “veggie burger” or the like. Worse, linguistic bans generally prohibit accurate and honest labeling even if—as the federal court in Arkansas found was the case with Tofurky’s labeling—”the product [in question] also states on the label that it’s 100% vegan, plant-based or meatless.”

Eliminate animal agriculture, stop global warming!

Cattle eating hay through bars in barn.

Eliminating animal agriculture over the next 15 years would effectively stop global warming in its tracks — largely halting the increase of greenhouse gases for the next 30 years, according to a recent study.

According to this study, the largest contributor to that decrease in warming the planet would be a massive expansion in prairie, forest and grassland as the global economy converts away from land-dependent practices like cattle-raising, said co-author of the study Patrick Brown. According to Brown, we have long known that animal agriculture is a potent source of greenhouse gasses, primarily as a result of methane and nitrous oxide released from livestock waste. The change in land use adds to that.

Read more

Let’s stop the flu

It’s flu season and many are choosing to get the flu vaccine. This choice is generally a good idea but should be made only after consulting your doctor. The vaccine is about 40% effective in preventing you from getting influenza. While getting the vaccine might keep you from getting the flu or lessen the severity it doesn’t stop the disease from occurring in the first place. Wouldn’t it be better to keep the disease from ever happening in the first place than relying on a partially effective vaccine to protect us? We think so and have written an article published in Juniper Online Journal of Public Health. We can actually stop the flu from developing thus preventing many people from getting sick or dying.

Read more

Vegan eggs – you have options

Eggs have often been considered one of the hardest animal products to replace, but increasingly there are some great alternatives available, both as commercial products and using basic ingredients.  There are plenty of recipes available online to help you use them.  Choosing what to use as an alternative depends on how you intend to use the egg – for a scramble, for an omelet, for pancakes, cookies, cakes or even meringue – it’s important to consider what you need the egg to do.

Commercial products currently available in the grocery store:

Just Egg – a liquid product that you can pour directly into the skillet to make yourself an omelet or scramble in just the same way as you would use fresh eggs.

Just Egg also make a Folded Plant Egg, which are pre-made patties that can be browned in the pan and served in sandwiches or on toast.

Follow Your Heart VeganEgg

This is a powdered egg replacement that comes in an egg carton-style package.  It is pre-seasoned, so there’s no need to add any salt.  Just add water and pour to make a great omelet.

Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk

Add water and oil then whisk together and let it stand for 3 minutes. This will give you a product very similar to the yolk of the egg.  It can be used in a scramble, on top of toast, or used in baking recipes.

Classic egg substitutions using basic ingredients

Mashed tofu

Recipes abound for the classic egg replacement of a tofu scramble. A tofu scramble can be made with cubed fried tofu, or by mashing a package of tofu, adding spices and vegetables.  Tofu Scramble Recipe

Silken tofu is also a great substitute for other dairy products, especially in desserts such as cheesecake. Baked Tofu Cheesecake recipe

Flaxseed or Chia seeds

For example, a standard substitute in recipes is a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, mixed into 3 tablespoons of water.  As the water absorbs into the ground flaxseed, the consistency becomes very similar to an egg, and this can be a great binding agent, in cookies for example.  Chia seeds also work in the same way, and give a gel like consistency when soaked. Added to your favorite baking recipes, this can work very well as a substitute for one egg, although it’s a good idea to find a recipe if you need more than one egg, since eggs also provide structure and lift when whipped and cooked.

Applesauce

Applesauce can help with replacing both eggs and oil, which is great if you’re trying to cut down on calories. For 1 egg, use ¼ cup of applesauce.  The pectin in the apples helps to bind ingredients together.  It does have a lot of moisture, so this works well for recipes that need a long baking time.

Mashed banana

Another ingredient which has a similar texture to egg is mashed banana.  This works great in pancakes or banana bread.   It is a great binder, but has a strong banana flavor. Pancake recipe

Pumpkin puree

Use ¼ cup of pumpkin puree for one egg in breads where the pumpkin will add moisture, sweetness and a rich color to your baking.

Baking soda and apple cider vinegar

When you need lift in your baked goods, the combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar produces bubbles that give a light and fluffy texture.  It may take some experimenting, but try ¼ tsp baking soda for every 1 Tbsp vinegar as a substitute for an egg.

Aquafaba (Chickpea liquid)

When you drain a can of garbanzo beans, or cook your own from dried chickpeas, save the liquid.  It is similar to using whipped egg whites, so can be used for making a vegan meringue.

The best bet when using any of these substitutes in baking is to let someone else do the experimenting for you, and follow a recipe!

« Older Entries