Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Animals dying in Australia

KoalaProfessor Chris Dickman, of the University of Sydney, estimates the number of animals killed in the bushfires in the New South Wales region of Australia to be more than 800 million animals, with more than one billion animals impacted nationally. Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food, shelter and habitat. Fire is a painful way for an animal to die. These poor animals are victims of global warming, and a prime driver of global warming is eating animal derived foods.

So far Australia has lost 15 million acres (think twice the size of Belgium) of land to ravenous wildfires. Unprecedented is the scope of these current fires, touching almost every region of Australia and devouring more land mass than any previous bushfire in Australian history. Authorities and witnesses have likened the damage and evacuation measures to a war zone as fires burn through areas larger than some small European countries.

Fire_at_the_Top_End_of_AustraliaWeather conditions feeding the fires are historic. Australia suffered its hottest day on record with temperatures in Australia last month hitting 49.9 C (121.8 F), with the average annual temperature 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1960 to 1990 average. This extreme heat and drought create more tinder to fuel fires. The heightened intensity and frequency of wildfires falls in line with scientists’ predictions for a warming world.

If there was ever a time to take accountability for your individual impact on the environment, the time is now. As we’ve seen through various scientific studies eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on earth. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.

Oxford University scientist, Joseph Poore, says that “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.”  A United Nations report says that raising livestock causes more global warming than all the cars, trucks, ships, boats, trains and planes in the world all put together.

Learn more about the impact of meat consumption on climate change.

Meat Loaf goes vegan for Veganuary

Meat_Loaf

Rock star Meat Loaf being interviewed

Legendary rocker Meat Loaf recently announced that he has gone vegan for the month of January, dubbed “Veganuary” although he won’t be changing his name to Veg Loaf.

The 72-year-old agreed to promote the British chain restaurant, Frankie & Benny’s, new vegan menu items which include a vegan hot dog, calzone and “cheesy” potato skins. “When Frankie & Benny’s first approached me to rebrand to Veg Loaf I said no way in hell. But, I’d do anything for our planet and dropping meat for veg, even for just one day a week, can make a huge difference.”

Veganuary encourages people to try a vegan diet for a month at the start of the year. It’s typically tied to New Year resolutions as people look to change their ways and become more healthy. The month-long event is dedicated to trying to change people’s attitudes, help the planet and the animals, as well as improve your own personal well-being.

Golden Globes goes vegan

Golden Globes red carpetThe 77th annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday made history by becoming the first major awards show to go vegan. Every year, the chefs at the Beverly Hilton are tasked with feeding Hollywood’s finest at the Golden Globes: this year, the guest list includes Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Eddie Murphy, to name a few. So what do you serve a ballroom with so much star-power? Matthew Morgan, Executive Chef has an answer: vegan cuisine.

The menu was inspired: an appetizer of chilled golden beet soup—a perfect accompaniment to those gleaming statuettes. This was followed by a main course of King Oyster Mushroom scallops that, at least visually, are dead ringers for their pescatarian counterparts. The entrée was accompanied with wild mushroom risotto, Brussels sprouts, globe carrots, and pea tendrils. Dessert was a vegan opera dome with praline Gunaja crumble and caramelized hazelnuts.

Joaquin PhoenixThe vegan menu was the brainchild of actor Joaquin Phoenix, who also took home the best actor in a drama award for his performance in Joker. “First I would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for recognizing and acknowledging the link between animal agriculture and climate change, it’s a very bold move, making tonight plant-based,” he said during his acceptance speech.

Lorenzo Soria, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who helped organize the event said, “The decision to serve an entirely plant-based meal was embraced by our partners at the Beverly Hilton, and represents a small step in response to a big problem. By serving a 100% plant-based meal, we’re hoping to raise awareness around small changes that can have a great impact.”

Small changes make a big difference

Woman looking in fridgeIt’s the New Year and many people are resolving to make changes in their lives, especially concerning the food they eat. But we all know how that often goes!  We’re super motivated during January, but by the time February rolls around, the enthusiasm has worn off and we’re back to our old habits. So how can we make changes that are sustainable for the long term?

Dr. BJ Fogg, founder and director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, has been looking into this challenge, and he’s identified a formula for any successful shift in behavior. He suggests that the first step to a successful change is motivation. You need to pick a change that you really want to do, not just feel like it’s something you ought to do.  So think carefully through your motivation to change your diet, is it for your health?, for the environment? or for the animals? for example.  Find or print out a positive picture relating to that motivation and stick it on your refrigerator – perhaps it’s a picture of you when you were healthier and more energetic, a picture of a beautiful forest, or cute farm animals – something that will inspire you every time you think about food. Read more

Healthy holiday cookies

Cookies on baking tray

It is a tradition at this time of year for many people to bake cookies.  If you’d like to try baking healthier cookies this year, try some of the following from “Vive le Vegan” by Dreena Burton, reprinted with permission:

Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies

(makes 8-10 large cookies, or 12 smaller ones)

  • 1 cup                unbleached all-purpose flour (for a decadent cookie with classic taste and texture) or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup             cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp                 baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp              baking soda
  • 3 tbsp               toasted almond slivers
  • 3 tbsp               non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup             unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 tsp              sea salt
  • 1/3 cup             pure maple syrup (a little generous)
  • 1 tsp                 pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp              almond extract (optional)
  • 1/4 cup             canola oil (a little generous)
  • 2-3 tbsp            non-dairy chocolate bar, broken in small chunks, or chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp               toasted almond slivers (for topping)

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add the almonds, chocolate chips, sugar and salt, and stir until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup with the vanilla and almond extracts, then stir in the oil until well combined.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir through until just well combined (do not overmix).  Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Take 1 or 2 chocolate chunks and a pinch or two of almonds and gently press into each cookie.

Bake for 11 minutes, until lightly golden (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out).  Let cool for no more than 1 minute on the sheet (again to prevent drying), then remove them with a large spatula and transfer to a cooling rack.

Coconut-Lime Cookies

(makes 10-12 medium-large cookies)

  • 1/4 cup             unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unrefined sugar
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp   lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp            sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup        unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp                baking powder
  • 1 tsp                baking soda
  • 1/3 cup            pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tbsp        freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp                 pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp     coconut extract
  • 1/4 cup             canola oil (a little generous)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine the coconut, sugar, lime zest and salt, and sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup with the lime juice, vanilla, coconut extract and canola oil, and stir until well mixed.  Add the wet mixture to the dry, and gently fold and stir through until just well combined (do not overmix).  Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and flatten a little.  Bake for 11 minutes, until lightly golden (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out).  Let cool for no more than 1 minute on the sheet (again to prevent drying), then remove them with a large spatula and transfer to a cooling rack.

Peanut “Better” Cookies

(makes 8-10 medium-large cookies)

  • 1 cup                unbleached all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp                 baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp              baking soda
  • 2 tbsp               unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 tsp              sea salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1-2 tbsp natural organic peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup             pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp              blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp                 pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp               canola oil

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add the sugar and salt, and stir until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the 1/3 cup of peanut butter with the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined.  Add the wet mixture to the dry, stir through, and as it is coming together, stir in the remaining 1-2 tbsp of peanut butter (not completely; leave bits of peanut butter throughout the batter). Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and press with the tines of a fork to flatten gently and give that classic peanut butter cookie look. Bake for 11 minutes, until lightly golden (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out).  Let cool for no more than 1 minute on the sheet (again to prevent drying), then remove them with a large spatula and transfer to a cooling rack.

Shift to sustainable diet, report says!

Footprints - green

The latest report has just been released, in what seems like a steady stream of scientific reports saying that cutting out meat is a powerful way to fight global warming.

The report from the Imperial College London says, “In countries with high per-capita meat consumption, like the UK, a shift towards plant-based diets would deliver up to around a 73 percent reduction in diet-related emissions compared to current levels and would require 70-80 percent less farmland.”

The report goes on to say, “Shifting to more sustainable diets, with reduced meat and dairy and more plant-based proteins and foods, offers a huge opportunity for consumers to reduce their personal carbon footprints with no additional cost and would also deliver large health benefits and … cost savings to society.”

The report gives, as an example, that a veggie burger produces only one tenth of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to a beef burger. With so many choices of veggie burgers to choose from these days, from traditional favorites like the Boca Burger or the Gardenburger, to the latest meaty alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, consumers have fewer and fewer excuses for choosing beef for dinner.

 

New York bans Foie Gras

Geese for foie grasIn New York City, lawmakers recently passed a bill banning the sale of Foie Gras in restaurants and grocery stores. As voted on, the bill “would prohibit retail food establishments or food service establishments from storing, maintaining, selling, or offering to sell force-fed products or food containing a force-fed product.”  The bill calls for a fine of up to $2000 for each violation, but top chefs aren’t happy about it, and plan an appeal in the courts.

Foie gras is the fattened goose liver that is considered a delicacy in many high class restaurants. Unfortunately it can only be produced by force feeding geese. Animal welfare activists had campaigned for a ban on the grounds that the methods used to produce foie gras are cruel. The force-feeding begins when the ducks are fully grown, about 12 weeks after they’re born. A worker inserts a 6-inch (15-centimeter) plastic tube into the duck’s beak, squirting a soft mix of corn, soybeans and water to the top of the throat. They’re fed every eight hours for three weeks, and then slaughtered.

California banned the sale of foie gras in 2012. That law was challenged in federal court, but an appeals court eventually upheld it, and early in 2019 the Supreme Court declined to consider it further, thus making the decision final. This may pave the way for other states to follow suit. Chicago banned foie gras in 2006 but the ordinance was repealed two years later.

Several other countries have banned Foie Gras, and in India not only is the production banned, but also the importation. However, other countries, notably France, still produce it.

The treatment of the geese needed to produce foie gras is considered particularly harsh, and health groups note that it’s also very unhealthy for us. For anyone who enjoys the texture and flavor of foie gras, we encourage you to try this vegan foie gras recipe!

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