Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Veggie Burgers can save the Environment

We’ve written before about how a vegan diet produces much less greenhouse gases, water pollution, soil erosion and ecological destruction. But some people wonder whether meat substitutes such as veggie burgers, dogs and chicken are any better. The answer is yes, they are much better!

A European study showed that the food and animal feed system is closely linked to planetary health, and that dietary shifts towards healthy foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, are needed for environmental sustainability.

The study also found that vegetable meat alternatives and vegetable milk alternatives have significantly less environmental impact than their animal-based counterparts. While they may not be quite as sustainable as unprocessed plant foods, the difference is small compared to the transportation and processing of meat.

In fact, if everyone in America were to reduce meat consumption by even a quarter, and eat meat substitutes like veggie burgers, it would save 82 million metric tons of greenhouse emissions each year. The Beyond Meat burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land and 90% less fossil fuel emissions, while the Impossible Burger uses 87% less water, 96% less land, and 89% less fossil fuel emissions than a quarter pound of regular ground beef.

So, there you have it. There are substantial advantages to eating meat substitutes, compared to eating meat. As the sale of meat substitutes continue to grow, we can expect the benefit to the environment to grow as well.

A plant-based diet helps fertility

We want to have children, but we’re vegan! Some people wonder how being vegan will affect their ability to conceive. The good news is that a healthy plant-based diet can actually help fertility.

Let’s start with the men. Meat, especially processed meat, has a detrimental effect on male fertility. The more meat a man eats, the fewer and less active his sperm. To dispel a myth, vegan men have the same testosterone levels as meat eaters. To dispel another myth, consuming soy does not affect testosterone levels in men. Boys raised on soy protein formulas showed no breast growth, no early puberty, no changes in their bones and no other signs of hormonal abnormalities. Vegan men have much less risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Vegetarian men produce 29 million more sperm per milliliter and the sperm are more active compared to meat-eaters, so a veg diet can definitely help with fertility.

Vegan women too have hormone levels comparable to those of meat-eaters. Vegan pregnancy has some advantages too. For instance, pregnant vegan women have a reduced risk of complications such excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and gallstones. Pregnant women following a well-planned plant-based diet also have a reduced risk of an infant being born with spina bifida, whereas a high meat diet doubles the risk of a baby being born with a cleft palate.

What about those turning to invitro fertilization? It turns out that eating plant protein increases the chance of pregnancy in IVF. Also a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil and low in red meat, has been shown to increase the chance of a successful pregnancy, so a healthy plant-based diet can make a big difference.

Many vegan men and women are fertile and give birth to healthy babies. Congratulations to them all!

Raising meat is a threat to produce farmers!

Raising meat poses a threat to crop farmers, their produce and our health!

Even at a distance, raising meat poses a danger to human health. A new report by the FDA highlights the danger of farm animal operations located close to produce growing fields. Bacteria from farm animals that cause food poisoning can travel over to the produce by water, dust in the wind or via the farmworkers. All kinds of produce are vulnerable to bacterial contamination.

Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating food contaminated with disease-causing bacteria or the toxins produced by the bacteria. These are intestinal bacteria and originate from the guts of animals, since only animals and humans have intestines. Given the large numbers of animals on a factory farm, and the waste they produce, it’s trouble waiting to happen. Bacteria that can cause food poisoning include Salmonella, Staph and E. Coli.

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Helping Black-owned restaurants serve vegan food

Rapper RZA

Many restaurants have struggled to survive during this past year.  Black-owned restaurants, which often serve as cultural hubs for their communities, have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and so a special program has been established to support them.  RZA, the rapper and founding member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, has worked together with the plant-based cheese brand Violife,  to establish a Plant Grants program, whereby five Black-owned restaurants will be chosen to receive a $20,000 grant to help with revitalizing their businesses by incorporating plant-based dishes into their menus.

RZA explains that “I’m partnering with Violife because we share a similar philosophy about eating plant-based, and we want to make plant-based eating more accessible, affordable and sustainable to all.” He added that “The influence of hip-hop and the culinary history of plant-based eating in Black communities contribute to a movement of embracing meatless options. I’m proud to support Plant Grants to continue this movement and make plant-based eating more readily available at Black-owned restaurants that are at the heart of communities.”

The program is designed to help the restaurants develop new menu items with plant-based ingredients and create dishes and recipes, so that more people will be able to choose to eat plant-based foods.  To help facilitate the transition, the program comes with a coaching element where 2 plant-based pioneers will guide recipients in adding plant-based options.  The program also includes marketing and publicity assistance. Grant recipients will be chosen based on a number of criteria, including their commitment to add plant-based options and engage their community. The Plant Grants program is open now through July 31 and recipients will be announced in September 2021. 

RZA has been working to promote vegan options for several years, along with Wu-Tang members GZA and Ghostface Killah.  They helped to promote the launch of the Impossible Slider at White Castle in 2018.  In a previous article, RZA explained how he became vegan for the animals.  This latest program is a creative way for him to promote vegan food choices, while helping black-owned restaurants get back on their feet after the pandemic. 

Saving the animals step-by-step

Factory farming is cruel and has got to stop. However, saving the farm animals is often incremental work in progress as we work for the day when the animals are free.

When animals are raised in factory farm conditions, they are crammed into small spaces, and held in very unhygienic conditions such that diseases can run rampant. They are sometimes subject to horrific abuse. They are treated like machine parts with no regard to pain and suffering, and yet animals can feel pain just like we do.

But here’s a step in the right direction. The Supreme Court recently rejected a challenge by the North American Meat Institute to California’s Proposition 12, the strongest law in the world addressing farm animal confinement.

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NBA star JaVale McGee promotes vegan lifestyle

JaVale McGee shoots for the hoop
JaVale McGee

NBA star JaVale McGee plays center for the Denver Nuggets.  He is using his passion for vegan food and his star power to help promote vegan food products and a foundation called JUGLIFE, which provides clean, safe drinking water in underdeveloped areas of the world.

McGee went vegan in 2016, and credits his plant-based diet with helping him “get up and down the court.” In 2018, McGee helped his team, then the Golden State Warriors, win an NBA championship title, which he credited in part to his plant-based diet.  He actively promotes plant-based brands to athletes and fans.  McGee was one of the investors, alongside legendary musician Snoop Dogg, to help Outstanding Foods close a $5 million financing round last year. 

In addition to his support of Outstanding Foods, McGee has been an athlete ambassador for vegan brand Beyond Meat since 2019 after he and a group of 13 other professional athletes invested in the brand—which also counts Snoop Dogg as an investor. “Shifting to a plant-based diet has been a literal game changer,” McGee said at the time. “And I’m excited to have my two favorite LA brands partnering to make plant-based eating not only delicious, but accessible.” 

Vegetarian Living – Going to Parties

Say No to Meat book coverWith the resumption of life after Covid-19, many are enjoying the opportunity to socialize and go to parties again. But if eating vegetarian or vegan is new for you, you may have some anxiety around how to maintain your food choices at parties.  This answer may be helpful to reassure you.

The 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!

What do you recommend when going out with friends or to parties?

Research beforehand and come prepared. When going out with friends to a restaurant, encourage them to choose a restaurant that you know has some veggie options you can choose. If you aren’t able to influence the choice of restaurant, it may help to look online beforehand to see from their menu what options are available to you. You may need to ask for something special to be made, if you can’t find a suitable menu item. Most chefs and restaurants don’t mind special orders, so it’s important to speak up. Another alternative is to eat beforehand, and just go along to enjoy the company.

Know before you go. At a catered dinner, ask beforehand if possible, whether the caterer has any vegetarian options. When going to a private party, it’s a good idea to mention to the host that you are vegetarian, so that they can cater for your needs if food is to be provided. Alternatively, you can just ask which dishes include meat when you arrive, so that you can be sure to avoid them, rather than putting your host to any special trouble.

Some people just need a little help. You may wish to offer to bring some food, so that you know you’ll have something to eat. At a barbecue, bring a package of veggie burgers or veggie hot dogs for the grill. A potluck is a great opportunity to show others how delicious vegetarian food can be, so it’s worth making a special effort to bring a particularly appetizing dish or two. You can pick something up from a natural foods deli section if you don’t wish to cook. Be sure to eat when you first arrive, since others may like your food so much they eat it all before you get any!

Abbot’s Butcher – an interview with the founder

We are keeping track of many different new vegan products on the market, and especially those offered by small new startup companies. Abbot’s Butcher is one such company. We caught up with Kerry, founder and CEO of the company, to find out more about their company and products.

Kerry Song, founder of Abbot’s Butcher

How did your company get started?

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and part of my path back to health meant making some real changes in my diet.

A lot of us think that being plant-based means you’re automatically making healthy choices. But so many of the plant-based foods on the market, especially the meat alternatives, are filled with synthetic chemicals, additives, artificial colors, flavors, gums and preservatives — highly processed ingredients that we just shouldn’t be eating.

So I set out to create a line of plant-based meats that not only have the depth of flavor and hearty mouthfeel we all crave, but that are made from ingredients we can trust. Ingredients that truly nourish and energize our bodies. 

That’s why, at Abbot’s Butcher, we craft our plant-based meats from pea protein, vegetables, herbs, spices, nutrient-dense oils, vinegars – just real food that we can feel good about and good after eating.

Tell us about the different products you have?

We have three different products –our “everyday essentials” that fit seamlessly into our most-loved, most familiar dishes. 

Spanish Smoked “Chorizo”: Crafted with garlic, chipotle peppers and a Spanish smoked paprika, this crave-worthy plant-based “Chorizo” is zesty and bright with a subtle smoky heat. It cooks up nicely, and it’s incredibly versatile – great for breakfast dishes like scrambles and burritos, or savory dinners like empanadas and enchiladas. With the rich, invigorating depth it brings to the plate, it’s the perfect way to spice things up. 

Slow Roasted Chick’n: This delectable plant-based Chick’n pairs a mild flavor with a robust, meaty tenderness. It browns nicely in a pan and stays tender when roasted. You can marinate it, add your favorite spices and seasonings, or simply cook up and savor as is. With this deliciously versatile Chick’n, you’ll be able to whip up delicious plant-based versions of all your most loved dishes.

Savory Ground “Beef”: Crafted with onion, thyme and porcini mushroom, this Savory Ground “Beef” has the earthy, umami flavor you crave. Bring back classics like Sloppy Joes and Shepherd’s Pie. Or enjoy all your favorites like Spaghetti Bolognese and stuffed peppers. With this rich and hearty Ground “Beef ”, you’ll find countless ways to elevate your most-loved recipes. 

Can you tell us about the ingredients you use?

All of our plant-based proteins are made from a combination of pea protein, vegetables, herbs, spices, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegars. We never use any soy, canola, natural or artificial flavors, gums or synthetic chemicals. Just real food you can feel good about and after eating.

What are the different ways Abbot’s Butcher can be used?

Our products are incredibly versatile – and can be simply swapped into your favorite recipes.

The “Chorizo” has a really nice richness and a subtle heat to it. It’s perfect in breakfast and brunch dishes like scrambles, burritos, hashes and omelets. It’s great in baked potatoes, hearty soups and chilis, and pastas with roasted veggies. Of course, the “Chorizo” is a natural fit into dishes like tamales, tacos, enchiladas and nachos. And if you’re looking for an extra boost of flavor and protein on-the-go, you can cook it up then chill it down to use throughout the week in salads and in bowls. 

The Ground “Beef” is extremely hearty, and has a nice umami depth of flavor. It’s perfect for recreating plant-based versions of classics like a Spaghetti Bolognese, Shepherd’s Pie, Sloppy Joe and Crispy Tacos. You can add new flavor components and make a Mediterranean Bowl, or a Thai “Beef” Salad, for example. You can also cook it up and savor throughout the week in salads, bowls, flatbreads, wraps and meal prep. 

The Chick’n is our most versatile protein. It takes on flavor exceptionally well, so can be used in all types of cuisines. You can crisp it up and enjoy in a BBQ Chick’n Pizza or Buffalo Chick’n Flatbread. You can add some sesame and ginger and enjoy in lettuce cups or a Asian Chick’n Salad. It’s great in tacos, enchiladas, tamales and nachos. You can recreate plant-based versions of classics like chick’n & rice casserole, enchiladas, lettuce cups or pot pie. Or simply crisp it up with a little sea salt and cracked black pepper and use throughout the week – on salads, flatbreads, in bowls or meal prep!

It sounds like a great product. Where can I find it?

In the Pacific Northwest, our products are available at all Metropolitan Markets and Huckleberries. We are excited to grow throughout this region, and are eager to learn more about grocers the plant-based community loves!

Outside of that – we’re with all Sprout’s Farmers Markets, and Whole Foods across California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. We’re in the South and Southwest, and we’re also on the east coast. 

If you prefer to order online, you can find our products through the Hungryroot – an incredible curated grocery platform that ships nationally!

Can you give us a glimpse of products that may be on the horizon?

We are going to be launching our fourth plant-based protein in 2022. It’s something we’ve been working on for quite some time and we’re excited to see it come to fruition. It’s another everyday essential – and something both meat eaters and vegans alike will love!

We also have a number of other products we’re working on. But whatever path we go down, and whatever products we create, we will always be committed to being 100% plant-based and clean-label. 

What are your future goals for the company?

As a team – it’s about growing thoughtfully! We’re building a brand that’s synonymous with quality, and that means doing the little things right. That ethos guides every decision we make – as a team and as a company. 

As a company and brand – our mission is to get quality plant-based meats into every household! We want to help grow the space, to expand the market, and to work together with other like-minded companies to create a kinder, more compassionate world. 

Interview with Better Bean founder

Hannah and Keith Kullberg

Better Bean is a product we love.  We asked them some questions to learn more about their products and how they got started.

How did your company get started?

Better Bean was born and raised in Oregon, starting with founder Keith Kullberg’s original recipe as a young college student at Oregon State University. Seeking a way to enjoy refried beans made with only plant-based ingredients, Keith developed a recipe that quickly became a favorite within his family years later. The only issue – it took nearly an entire day to prepare his beans from scratch!

Noticing that freshly prepared beans were not made available in stores, Keith and his daughters launched Better Bean in local stores and Portland farmers markets in 2010. Now sold nationwide, Better Bean strives to bring easy, tasty, healthy beans to all.

Tell us about the different products you have?

Better Bean offers a variety of freshly prepared, tasty bean products sold in the refrigerated section. Products range from various 15 oz beans, such as the Skillet Refried Red Beans, to 2.5 oz single-serve bean dips for snacking.

What makes your beans different?

We take care in every step of sourcing and making our beans. Starting with sourcing from NW regional farms that practice sustainable farming. These nutrient-rich beans are soaked to ensure their nutrients are available. We slow cook & infuse the beans with flavor from organic & regional vegetables. Finally, we add apple cider vinegar that further makes the beans easier to digest.

Can you tell us about the ingredients you use?

We source our ingredients from organic or sustainable farms as they grow better flavor. Our recipes are naturally delicious and nutrient-rich, not relying on sodium, fat, sugar (or worse, chemical additives) for flavor.

How about certifications?

All of Better Bean products are certified Non-GMO and Gluten-Free certified. In addition to these certifications, the product and facility are Soy-Free, Nut-Free, and Vegan. We know consumers value high-quality, organic products – that’s why Better Bean has recently added  2.5 oz single-serve bean dips that are both Certified Organic.

How can people use Better Bean products in their everyday life?

Beans are a delicious source of plant-based protein and can be a part of any meal! Whether you enjoy them as an appetizer with tortilla chips, as the star of your main course in a burrito bowl or tacos, or as a side dish that pulls the meal together – beans have a way of being extremely versatile.

Does Better Bean have any new news?

We are excited to announce Better Bean Uncanny Refried Black Beans are now carried by Imperfect FoodsBetter Bean from Wilsonville, Oregon, makes fresh, kettle-cooked, ready-to-eat beans sold in deli tubs. They are a long-time supporter of the Seattle VegFest.


Better Bean’s Uncanny Refried Black Beans & Dip

Better Bean’s Uncanny Refried Black Beans & Dip

Better Bean is happy to join a fantastic plant-based foods lineup from Imperfect Foods! Add a mixture of plant-based goodies to complement your produce order! Use code ‘BETTERBEAN’ for 30% off your first box from Imperfect Foods!

Veggie Burger Recipes

While many people enjoy a veggie patty bought frozen from the grocery store, it is not hard to make your own, and well worth the effort. Making your own veggie burgers can give you a lot of scope for experimenting with different flavors.

If you are planning on cooking it on the grill, you will want to ensure that your veggie burger holds together well. Potato starch (powder or flour) is a great ingredient to help bind the patty together, without using eggs. Cooking your burgers in a skillet or on a baking tray in the oven can allow you more leeway in its texture, which may be safer the first time you make them!

There are many veggie burger recipes available online, but here are two of my favorites:

Black Bean Burgers

Makes 6 moderate burgers, or 4 large ones

Ingredients:
• 2 slices of whole-wheat toast (or 1 cup breadcrumbs)
• 1 small onion – chopped
• 1 cup cooked brown rice
• 2 cups black beans
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• ¼ cup potato powder (or more)


Preheat the oven to 350 F, or warm up the grill.

Put all the remaining ingredients except the potato powder into a Food Processor. Pulse and mix until
well combined. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl, and sprinkle in the potato powder, kneading it
into the mixture until you have a soft dough. Add as much powder as needed so that it holds together
well.

Split the mixture into 6 balls, rolled in your hand, then flatten them to the thickness desired. If cooking
in an oven, place them on a baking tray, sprayed with oil to prevent sticking. Bake for about 12 minutes,
then turn over and bake for 10 more minutes. Cooking times on the grill will depend on the heat of the
grill. Spray the grill with oil first to prevent sticking. Turn over the patties when lightly browned, to
brown on both sides.

Serve alone, with salads, or as a traditional burger in a bun with all the fixings.

Chickpea Burgers

Makes 6 burger patties

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ½ cup cooked bulgur or brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup potato flour, or enough to make a stiff dough
  • Vegetable oil spray

Place the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 2-3 mins, until the seeds become fragrant and begin to pop. Grind them in a small spice grinder and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Place the beans in a food processor and pulse until chopped, or coarsely mash the beans with a potato masher, leaving some chunks.

Add the chopped beans to the vegetable mixture along with the cooked bulgur or rice, soy sauce, curry powder, cumin, salt, coriander and cayenne.  Mix thoroughly.

Stir in just enough of the potato flour to form a stiff dough.  Knead for 30 seconds and form into 6 patties. Lightly mist a nonstick skillet with vegetable oil spray. Cook the patties in the skillet over medium heat for about 2 mins, until the bottoms are lightly browned. Turn the patties over, and cook for 2 mins longer, until lightly browned. Serve hot.

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