Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

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.

Osteoarthritis – A plant-based diet can help

Osteoarthritic hip joint

Do your joints hurt? Maybe you have osteoarthritis? The good news is that a plant-based diet may be able to help.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine. Osteoarthritis has often been referred to as a “wear and tear” disease. But besides the breakdown of cartilage, osteoarthritis affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bone and deterioration of the connective tissues that hold the joint together and attach muscle to bone. It also causes inflammation of the joint lining.

Vegetarians have a lower risk of osteoarthritis. One study showed that even light meat consumption once a week increased the risk of osteoarthritis by 31% in women and 19% in men, compared to vegetarians.

People already diagnosed with arthritis can take steps to improve their diet quality as a possible route to reduce arthritis symptoms and maintain a healthy body weight. In one study, a whole food plant-based diet was associated with a significant reduction in pain compared to an ordinary omnivorous diet, with statistically significant pain reduction seen as early as two weeks after initiation of dietary modification.

The plant-based diet is thought to help in many ways. It helps maintain a healthy weight and lowers the level of inflammation. Plant foods also contain phytonutrients that help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Phytonutrients are substances, only found in plants, that while not vitamins, minerals or fiber, nevertheless can have a powerful benefit when it comes to health. Certain foods such as green peppers, cabbage, spinach, papaya and kiwi fruit have higher levels of phytonutrients that may help arthritis, while blueberries and strawberries have may also be of special value.

Giving up animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs, and replacing them with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, may be just what you need to feel limber again!

Vegan Ice Cream is all the Rage

It’s been hot lately so naturally many people want ice cream, but many don’t want the dairy that comes with it. If you like dairy-free ice cream, you’re not alone.  

Vegan ice cream is made from various natural plant sources such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and rice milk, and it’s getting more and more popular. Many flavors are available such as caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee, vanilla, and fruit. In 2019, caramel was the most popular, but the fruit flavors are growing rapidly.

According to one report, the global vegan ice cream industry was estimated at $520.9 million in 2019, and is expected to hit $805.3 million by 2027. Where there used to be only a few makers of vegan ice cream, its growing popularity has seen a number of companies enter the market. They know it’s the ice cream of the future. Meanwhile, us consumers have more and more varieties to choose from. You scream, we scream, we all scream for dairy free ice cream!

Back to School – 9 lunch ideas to eat at home!

Eating habits begin in early childhood. Plant-based meals provide excellent nutrition—they are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost kids’ health. Children who are raised on healthful vegan diets have a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions. Adolescents raised on a plant-based diet often find they have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight. They also have fewer problems with acne, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems than their friends who eat animal products.

Projections from the CDC show that 1 in 3 children will develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. More and more children are gaining excess weight, paving the way for health problems later in life. Twenty-five percent of children ages 5 to 10 years have high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or other early warning signs of heart disease. In fact, American children often have cholesterol plaque in their arteries before they finish high school. Plant-based meals promote health, because they are free of cholesterol, low in saturated fat, and full of fiber.

If children were going back to school in person, we’d be encouraging schools to provide healthy school lunches based around nutritious plant-based foods as much as possible.  But this year, it looks like most kids will be eating lunch at home, so it’s important to make sure you always have nutritious snacks and lunch ideas ready to go, while cutting back on purchasing junk food items that may be all-too-tempting.

The best foods to have ready for snacking are always going to be fruits and vegetables, with nutritious dips to have along with them.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Serve easy-to-eat vegetables along with hummus, guacamole, pesto, or a black bean dip.
    • Baby carrots
    • Snap peas
    • Prepared celery sticks
    • Cherry tomatoes
    • Red pepper sticks
    • Roasted cauliflower florets
  2. Mock tuna spread is great as a sandwich filler served on rye crackers or toasted whole wheat bread – see recipe.
  3. Roasted or grilled veggie strips such as zucchini, eggplant or red pepper strips are delicious in sandwiches, with hummus, baked tofu, or meat substitute products.
  4. Whole wheat wraps, with hummus, lettuce, grated carrot, and red pepper sticks, can be rolled up and sliced into child sized roll-ups.
  5. Of course, remember that the classic favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are plant-based.  Just choose a whole wheat bread, a brand of peanut butter without lots of additives, and a low sugar jelly or jam.
  6. Crackers can be served with a cheese substitute product.
  7. As the weather moves towards the colder months, prepared soups (such as Imagine Foods brand) or instant soup pots can be the basis of a nutritious lunch.
  8. And of course if you’ve had a healthy meal for dinner the night before, heated up leftovers make a great lunch!
  9. Having fruit prepared and easy to grab, such as grapes, melon slices, strawberries, and plums or other stone fruits, is a good way to encourage these choices to round out a healthy lunch, rather than chocolate or cookies.

With a little planning and intentional shopping, you can keep the fridge well stocked with foods to make easy lunches, and prevent the temptation to rely on snack bars and cookies for meals and snacks.

Veg diet needed to prevent ecological disaster

Sir David Attenborough is urging people to go vegetarian to save species from dying out, and to produce more food.

Sir David Attenborough at the Great Barrier Reef

In a new Netflix documentary, A Life On Our Planet, the veteran naturalist says: “We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters. “If we had a mostly plant-based diet, we could increase the yield of the land”

The growth of animal farming worldwide and the rise in demand for meat and dairy are considered key factors in deforestation, which is threatening the extinction of many wild species in the food chain, from insects to elephants and big cats.

According to Attenborough, “Our planet is headed for disaster. We need to learn how to work with nature rather than against it.”

Sir David Attenborough is an English broadcaster and natural historian. He is best known for writing and presenting the nine natural history documentary series forming the Life collection that together constitute a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on Earth. In 2017, Sir David revealed that he had stopped eating meat.

Learn more about the environmental cost of eating meat and animal products.

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