Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Special Vegan Thanksgiving Event

People eating at a circular table
Lady with plate of vegan food

Celebrating Thanksgiving together with other non-meat-eaters is an important event on our calendar. We can’t gather in person, but we can still celebrate Thanksgiving together.

Join us online, Sunday November 22, 6pm to celebrate delicious food together. We have put together an exciting program for you, which includes all your favorite parts of our regular dinners, including socializing with people at your table, music, and a speech by President of Vegetarians of Washington, Amanda.

Of course, we’re not able to offer you the food this year, but you can use these special recipes to prepare your own feast and have it ready to eat during this event.

Check out our Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes. If you’d like to learn more about how to make these recipes, don’t miss Amanda’s Cooking Classes.

Register for this event

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month

The whole month of October is Vegetarian Awareness Month. The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of the many benefits of a plant-based diet for their health, the animals and the environment.

A study published by Vegetarian Times showed 7.3 million Americans follow a vegetarian diet, and there are now 1 million vegans in the United States and growing. Just as exciting are 23 million Americans who say they are vegetarian inclined. We expect that many of those inclined will eventually join the ranks of vegetarians and vegans in the United States.

The growth of vegetarians in the United States is reflected in the quickly growing sales of plant-based foods. Recent data shows U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11 percent in the past year, several times the rate of conventional food growth, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion. Plant-based milk leads the way followed by plant-based meat products. The overall quality of these foods has improved in recent years, leading to many non-vegetarians being willing to give these products a try and incorporate them into their diets.

New vegetarians and vegans are popping up everywhere these days. We’re hearing of vegetarian athletes, doctors, congressmen and cabinet members, teachers and truck drivers – a broad range of the community. Especially impressive is the recent growth of the number of vegetarians and vegans in the Black community, which has a significantly higher growth than among White people.  

We can increase awareness even more. If you, or someone you know, is considering a plant-based diet, this is the perfect time to give it a try. You can encourage others by sharing your own journey, sharing meal ideas, recipe sources and restaurant suggestions, and answering their questions without judgement. It is also helpful to suggest that they don’t need to do it all at once – they can proceed at their own pace and do the best they can – as the concept of making a big change to your diet can seem overwhelming at first.

You can also direct people to the many resources we offer including:

The important thing is to plant a seed, invite curiosity and encourage exploration, then give them time for that seed to grow! To start the conversation with someone new, see our article in this month’s newsletter on how to answer why you went vegetarian without offending someone

Lenny Kravitz goes vegan

Lenny Kravitz is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002. In his career, Kravitz has sold over 40 million albums worldwide, and he also played Cinna in the Hunger Games film series. Kravitz has lived in an Airstream trailer in the Bahamas for the last six months where he grows most of his own food in an adjacent garden and spends time working out in nature. In his refrigerator, Kravitz stocks mostly green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and cucumbers, and keeps garden-fresh fruit, including local soursop, on his counter.

“A great blessing of living here in the Bahamas is that I get to grow my own food,” Kravitz added, “So I have a garden where most of this food comes from. As you can see, I’m vegan and primarily raw.” 

In a recent interview, Kravitz, 56, shared, “My best shape is not behind me. It’s in front of me right now. We keep moving that bar as we get older,” adding that he is “very careful about what I put into my body and how I take care of my body.” 

Calcium and mineral mythology

Bok ChoyOne of the many myths we hear about when it comes to minerals is that you need to consume dairy products to get enough calcium. While milk, cheese and yogurt do have calcium, there are plenty of other choices and some distinct advantages for those who want to skip the dairy and get their calcium for plant foods. Plant foods, such as collards and kale, are often good sources of calcium, but don’t carry the price tag of saturated fat and cholesterol, or a grumbly tummy for those with lactose intolerance. Plant foods are also easier on the animals and the environment.

Some people may take time to get used to the idea after seeing all the commercials with celebrities wearing a milk moustache, but as you learn more about it, we think you’ll be reaching for the veggies as the best way to get your calcium. The chart below shows some of the many plant sources of calcium, with dairy milk included for comparison. See our fact sheet to learn more about how to get plenty of calcium in your diet.

Food Calcium mg per 100 cal serving Absorption rate
Bok Choy 870mg 53%
Collard Greens 609mg 52%
Orange Juice (calcium fortified) 320mg 52%
Tofu, set with calcium 287mg 31%
Kale 270mg 49%
Broccoli 215mg 61%
Cow’s milk (for comparison) 188mg 32%
Sesame seeds 170mg 21%
Cabbage 160mg 65%
White beans 72mg 22%
Tempeh 55mg 37%

See professional level article on ensuring adequate calcium.

Lizzo shares her vegan journey

The 32-year-old Grammy Award winning musician, Lizzo, is an American singer, rapper, songwriter, and flutist.  Born in Detroit, Michigan, she moved to Houston, Texas, where she began performing, before moving to Minneapolis, where she began her recording career. Lizzo’s first major-label EP, Coconut Oil, was released in 2016, and She attained mainstream success with the release of her third studio album, Cuz I Love You (2019), which peaked inside the top five of the US Billboard 200. 

Lizzo just reached her six-month anniversary of going vegan.  She had been vegetarian for seven years, but had resumed eating animal products following a year of touring.  This summer,  she took the decision to go totally vegan, and throughout the summer, Lizzo shared a variety of vegan recipes with her millions of social media followers, including her spicy vegan take on McDonald’s McChicken sandwich, Jamaican patties, and vegan ice cream bread made with Ben & Jerry’s new non-dairy ice cream flavor.  She advocates for body positivity by encouraging her fans to love themselves as they are.

Jackfruit – A great meat alternative

Jackfruit growing on treeResearchers say jackfruit, a large ungainly fruit grown across south and southeast Asia, could be a replacement for wheat, corn and other staple crops under threat from climate change. Jackfruit is the largest known tree borne fruit. Even a small jackfruit weighs in at 10-15 lbs, and farmers have recorded specimens of more than 100 lbs. A single tree can often supply over two tons of jackfruit per year.

Jackfruit can fill the gap on a number of counts, said Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, which works on sustainable agriculture. “It is easy to grow. It survives pests and diseases and high temperatures. It is drought resistant,” she said. “It achieves what farmers need in food production when facing a lot of challenges under climate change.” It’s also thought of as playing a role in alleviating global hunger. Originally from India, today jackfruit is grown across many parts of south and southeast Asia as well as Brazil.

Upton's Jackfruit

Featured at Vegfest! We were proud to feature Upton’s debut of their line of jackfruit-based meat analogues – one of the most popular foods we ever had at the festival.

At markets around the world, vendors slice open the big yellow orbs, cut out the fleshy bulbs of the inner part of the fruit, and sell them by the pound. Ripe, the fruit tastes like a cross between a mango and a pineapple. But young more neutral-tasting jackfruit can also be shredded, seasoned, cooked, and served up as an alternative to meat.

Young jackfruit has a great “chew.” The flavor is neutral, so it will adapt to any herbs or spices you choose to add. The pods are usually about 2-3 inches around and are very nice to add to stews. It can be chopped, shredded, or sliced, and formed into cutlets, steaks, burgers, and balls, or used as a meat crumble.

While like most fruit, it is low in protein, Jackfruit is great for the calorie conscious. For instance a serving of Upton’s Barb-B-Que Jackfruit has only 45 calories per serving and 4 grams of fill me up fiber. You can also buy young jackfruit in cans and add it to your own favorite recipes to get a great meaty texture. BBQ Jackfruit Taco Recipe

Putting the carbon back where it belongs

There’s an extra benefit to the environment when we go veg that’s not often talked about. We’ve written in the past about how much global warming gases are emitted by the animal agriculture, but there’s more good news. Once we stop raising animals for meat, the land they were using, directly and indirectly, could be allowed to return to its natural state and start absorbing carbon.

The extensive amount of land used to raise meat incurs a carbon opportunity cost, given the potential for carbon sequestration through ecosystem restoration. Soil carbon sequestration is a process in which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil carbon pool. As the ecosystem recovers, the native plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, and store carbon in their roots, thus increasing organic carbon in the soil.

This would have a huge impact. Raising meat has had a particularly detrimental impact on land since half the land on earth is used directly or indirectly for raising meat. A recent study showed that if everyone in the world went vegan, we could remove 16 years of fossil-fuel-based carbon emissions from the atmosphere by the year 2050. That’s enough to really turn around the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and start to reduce the rate at which the climate is changing.

Another factor not talked about is that the mass of animals raised for slaughter on Earth now outweighs all wildlife by a factor of 15-to-1. This causes massive damage to world’s ecology and leads to a reduction in biodiversity with the extinction of many species. With the land freed up from raising animals, wildlife would have a chance to recover increasing the chances of species survival. This would provide a broad benefit to the ecology and help normalize the natural food chain, making the soil and plant life healthier, which could then absorb further carbon from the atmosphere.

So a global switch to a vegan diet would both reduce the emission and increase the absorption of greenhouse gases, and enable the ecology and especially the soil to recover, creating a virtuous circle instead of a vicious decline in the health of our planet.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy

San Giuliano has been a regular participant at Vegfest. We were curious to know more about the company and the olive oil they produce, so we asked Jean Mollmann, their local representative, to fill us in:

First of all, what exactly is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or EVOO, is the raw juice of olives. There are a few grades of olive oil. “Extra virgin” is the highest grade and best olive oil, packing anti-inflammatory antioxidants and remarkable flavors. To be considered extra virgin, the olives must be washed in cold water and cold-pressed within 24 hours of harvest without using heat or chemicals (and contain less than .08% acidity). Second and additional pressings of olives lack antioxidants, flavor, and have undergone either a chemical or heat process.

San Giuliano’s EVOO is produced from 100% Italian olives, sustainably grown, cold-pressed, and bottled by San Giuliano in Alghero, Sardinia, Italy. It’s “Non-GMO Project” verified and certified organic under the European Organic Standards.

How did San Giuliano get started?

What began as a trade of milling olives in the late 1800s, in the town of Alghero on the northwestern coast of blue-zone Sardinia, Italy, is today a four-generation strong, sustainable agricultural farm and master producer of world-class extra virgin olive oil. Branded as San Giuliano in 1975, namesake for the lands where the olive groves reside, the Manca family attributes San Giuliano’s ongoing acclaim to their extensive experience, technical skills, and the values they place on their people, land, and tradition.  

Tell us something about the company today. How does it operate?
The lands of San Giuliano in the Mediterranean present a geologic composition and climate that is ideal for cultivating olives. Because San Giuliano is vertically integrated, we grow, harvest, press, store, and bottle under our complete supervision, ensuring meticulous oversight of the product lifecycle.

San Giuliano EVOO is rich in polyphenol (antioxidant) properties because it contains a high percentage of early harvest olives, is cold-pressed within hours of harvest, stored in climate-controlled stainless steel tanks, and bottled on-demand in custom bottles designed to preserve its nutrients and all its delicious flavors and nuances.

Why is San Giuliana so popular? What’s their secret?
Behind the brand of San Giuliano is the Manca family and a team who, through over a century of farming olives and producing extra virgin, have perfected the timing of harvests and the masterful blending of cultivars, and operate some of the most advanced mill technology in Italy. San Giuliano’s passion for producing excellence from olives represents generations of dedication to one of nature’s most amazing fruits. The secret to San Giuliano’s success, in particular, as summarized by President Pasquale Manca as, “We wake early, work hard, and we operate as a team.”

What’s next? Can you give us a hint of things to come?

With an eye to your great, great, grandchildren and beyond, San Giuliano invests in the future of olive oil production through regenerative agricultural practices, ongoing planting of olive trees, and by being a carbon neutral operation. The cultivars San Giuliano focuses on are those which are indigenous to Italy. In Spring 2021, San Giuliano will offer its first monocultivar (the juice of one type of olive versus a blend) to the North American market, in response to the growing demand for high quality extra virgin olive oil with distinct regional profiles.

Jason Wilson, James Beard award-winning chef and seed-to-fork restauranteur (Pacific Northwest), took special interest in San Giuliano after discovering their extra virgin olive oils. In 2019, Chef Jason visited the family’s lands and facility in Alghero, and has since become a vocal champion of the brand.

San Giuliano enlisted a team based in the Pacific Northwest to further its growth in North America. Their just-launched website www.ExcellenceFromOlives.com retails some of their award-winning olive oils. Recipes, resources and more coming soon. You can drop the Team a note at livewell@excellencefromolives.com. Salute!

Answering why I went vegetarian

Say No to Meat cover 1.0The following is an excerpt from our book, Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose, published by Healthy Living Publications.  This book includes answers to all the questions you may have about becoming a vegetarian, and is invaluable to new and existing vegetarians alike!

How can I answer why I went vegetarian without offending someone?

Stay positive and respectful. When someone asks you about being a vegetarian, it’s important to show that it’s a positive decision and that you enjoy eating this way, especially if you hope to influence them to become vegetarian themselves someday. Here are some suggestions on what to say:

“You’d be amazed at how many health benefits there are from eating this way.”

“When I learnt about how the animals are treated on most factory farms, I couldn’t bring myself to eat meat any more.”

“You probably haven’t heard too much about this, but in fact the raising of animals is very damaging to the environment, so I wanted to do something to help.”

Don’t get negative. If you give a negative or boring impression of eating vegetarian food, you can be sure that they will be put off for a very long time. Many people are also turned off by scary or horrific images, so it is usually counter-productive to say anything along the lines of the following:

  • “Let me tell you all about the horrible diseases you’re going to get by eating meat”,
  • “Here’s some gruesome pictures of how animals are treated on factory farms”
  • “People who eat meat are responsible for global warming, water pollution, burning down the rainforest and even global hunger.  How could you live with that on your conscience?”

Don’t come on too strong. Some people just can’t handle food issues. The most important thing to avoid is overwhelming a person. If they stop asking questions, or don’t show an interest in the subject, then move right along to a totally different topic. Sometimes, the message takes a few months or even a few years to sink in, after planting the seed.

A new way to farm without killing animals

Jay Wilde was born into the family farm with an environmentally-minded father who never engaged with business-like intensive farming such as the usage of artificial fertilizers and herbicides.  He inherited a dairy farm in England in 2011, so initially he produced dairy goods, before moving onto organic beef.  But in 2017, he and his wife Katja could no longer bear to send the cows to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death.  They made headlines by rehoming the cows at an animal sanctuary, and the UK Vegan Society worked with him to switch to alternative farming practices.  

Jay is now working with Refarm’d, an organization that works to give animal farmers a new business model that doesn’t benefit from the exploitation of animals.  They helped him to make a smooth shift into a booming market that is the plant milk industry, enabling him to keep his farm with the remaining 17 retired cows.  Jay and Katja Wilde spent time finessing their business model so that they could ensure producing oat milk was sustainable and profitable, while providing themselves with a cruelty-free source of income. While they had initially started producing organic vegetables, they found that a project producing oat milk was the ideal complement.

Geraldine Starke, CEO of Refarm’d, pointed out that the dairy industry is struggling, and this mostly affects farmers who don’t have a say on the price they sell the milk and therefore often sell for less than production costs, leaving them struggling to make it work.  “I believe to help our farmers, we need to help them get out of this system. And that’s what we are trying to do at Refarm’d,” she said. 

Seeing the need for change, more and more farmers from around the world are getting in touch with the organization. Under Refarm’d model, farmers continue feeding the population by providing a healthy and fresh, handmade product, made with local ingredients to customers local to them. The production costs are low and they help the farm over time to optimize their global costs so that farmers earn a better life with less effort. This shows a way for what the future of farming could look like.

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