Category Archives: Vegetarian Living

Seattle Kombucha owner talks!

Wayne Greenfield

Seattle Kombucha owner, Wayne Greenfield, has been busy managing his rapidly growing business.  We caught up with him and asked a few questions:

How was Seattle Kombucha founded?

Seattle Kombucha was founded out of a need to create better tasting kombucha. When I was first introduced to kombucha in 2012 I got really excited. It was kind of like wine, but nonalcoholic and good for digestion. And, unlike wine, I actually felt better the next morning after drinking kombucha. Read more

Generals go vegan

General eats plant-based

General Steve Smith and his wife Lynn

In light of the recent Veterans Day holiday, we’d like to point out the significant progress the military is making in the veg direction. For example, there has been quite a bit of progress at the US Army base, Fort Sill. The Guns and Rockets Dining Facility at Fort Sill, Okla., is setting a new standard for healthy food options by offering a 100 percent plant-based entrée during every meal. The fort commander, Gen. Wilson Shoffner, said he will be having his first plant-based Thanksgiving meal! Read more

Queen forgoes fur

Queen Elizabeth

Good news!  One of the biggest celebrities in the world, Queen Elizabeth II has just banned fur from the royal wardrobe. Great Britain banned fur farming almost two decades ago because it was deemed too cruel. Now Queen Elizabeth will opt for faux fur in the future, according to her senior dresser Angela Kelly. According to Kelly, who has written a memoir, Elizabeth II has decided to officially ban fur from her royal wardrobe in response to changing societal attitudes. Read more

Disney’s new Plant-Based Dining Guide

Disney hummus dish

Like many of Disney’s food offerings, some of the vegan dishes are themed to match their location. This hummus dish served at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is called a “Felucian Garden Spread,” a reference to a planet covered in overgrown plants in the Star Wars universe.

Disney World is the iconic destination for family vacations, but the food available hasn’t always been the best for health, the animals or the planet.  Recognizing that parents are looking for more plant-based options for their families, Disney has recently launched a new online Plant-Based Dining Guide. They are in the process of adding over 400 new plant-based menu items to their parks and properties, starting with Disney World in Orlando, FL this October. Read more

Backpacking while vegan

Amanda and Doug backpacking - low res

I recently spent a weekend backpacking in the Mount Baker area. Backpacking differs from camping in that you have to carry everything you need for several miles, so you need to make sure your food is as lightweight as possible, doesn’t need refrigeration and is still reasonably balanced, nutritious and provides adequate calories for the exertion of hiking. I took some time planning the meals for our 2 night, 3 day trip.

We carried enough water for the first day, but relied on water from streams and lakes, suitably filtered and/or sterilized, for drinking and cooking the rest of the time. Some members of our group used a steri-pen which uses ultraviolet light to sterilize their water. We used a Platypus filtration unit that could finely filter 4 liters of water at a time, so there was no need to sterilize. It was good to have a selection of methods, since we found we had to trek quite a way from our campsite to find a good water source.

The range of commercial vegan foods suitable for backpacking is increasing rapidly.  Did you know that you can now select from 29 different packets of freeze-dried vegan meals at REI.com? Trader Joe’s has a great selection of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, including blueberries and raspberries, great for adding lightweight nutrition to your morning cereal, and even dried okra, a crunchy and nutritious snack.

However, I prefer to make most of my meals from scratch, even if it takes a little longer to prepare and to cook at the campsite, so I based my meals on what I had in the kitchen. I did order a container of dried soy milk powder which was useful to have with our breakfast cereal and in morning coffee.

To avoid refrigeration, it’s best to take grains you can quickly cook on a campstove. If you’re trying a new combination, I’d recommend that you experiment at home first, so that you get the flavoring mix right.

Grains that are quick and easy to cook:

  • Quinoa,
  • Couscous
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Quickcook rice (eg Uncle Ben’s boil-in-bag, )
  • Oatmeal (great for breakfast, but a bit of a hassle to clean the pot after!)
  • Pita pockets (to eat with a stew)
  • Dried potato flakes (not a grain, but a good source of extra calories to thicken a stew)

Protein sources:

  • Lentils (red lentils cook to a mush, green hold their shape) – 20 mins cook time
  • TVP – textured vegetable protein (meat-like consistency) – soak for 5 mins to rehydrate
  • Cashews, hazelnuts, pecan nuts

Here’s what I chose to take with us:

Breakfasts:

  • Morning 1: Quinoa with cinnamon, hazelnuts and dried blueberries – see recipe.
  • Morning 2: Oats with coconut and raisins, dried blueberries and raspberries, plus soy milk made from powder.
  • Tea or instant coffee

Backpacking lunch - low resLunch (we used leftover curried quinoa for one lunch): 

  • WASA rye crackers
  • Lilly’s shelf-stable hummus.
  • Primal Jerky strips
  • Go Macro bars
  • Dried mango

Mid-afternoon snack: Clif bar

Dinners:

  • Evening 1: Lentil stew with potatoes and carrots – see recipe
  • Evening 2: Curried Quinoa with cashews – see recipe
  • Chocolate and ginger biscotti, made by my friend Jan!
  • Tea

Additional snacks for emergencies:

  • Munkpack Flavored Oatmeal
  • Trail mix
  • Clif bars

The food worked out well. I carried a few additional snacks that fortunately weren’t needed, since it’s always advisable to have some additional food with you, just in case you get delayed and have to spend an extra day out in the wild.

The weather was very mixed, and we were glad to share a tarpaulin erected between trees to cook out of the rain, but all in all, our trip was a big success and we had some fabulous views when the clouds lifted!

 

 

How to switch to a plant-based diet

Untitled-1When I’m giving cooking classes, people often ask me what steps they should take to eliminate animal products, so here are some tips to help you get started.  You can choose your own pace of change – you can start with just one meal or you can jump right in. I encourage you to be willing to experiment and learn as you go. Enjoy the adventure!

Some initial steps to take to cut back on meat and fish:

  • Acquire a vegan cookbook, or find a website with interesting vegan recipes – vegetariantimes.com is a good place to start.
  • Find some new vegan recipes that sound appealing, and buy the ingredients.
  • Try replacing meat and fish with a plant-based alternative in some of your regular meals.
  • Look for vegan options on the menu at your favorite restaurant and try one next time you go.
  • Try a new restaurant – ethnic restaurants such as Mexican, Thai or Indian usually have plenty of good options to choose from.

Once you have a selection of about 10 delicious vegan meals you enjoy, you can rotate through them on a regular basis for the majority of your meals, adding new meals from time to time to increase the variety.

Plant Based foodsSteps to reduce other animal products in your diet:

  • Find one or more plant-based milks that you like and replace dairy milk with them.
  • Try some of the many plant-based yogurts and cheeses, and find some favorite brands.
  • If you’re a coffee drinker, find a non-dairy creamer that you like.
  • If you like eggs for breakfast, try a tofu scramble instead.
  • Explore the “natural” section of your regular grocery store if it has one, or explore a new grocery store near you that has a good selection of natural foods.
  • Check the ingredients of the packaged foods you commonly buy, and start to seek out vegan alternatives.

Speed of transition – How quickly to make the transition is really up to you.  If you’re ready to make the change right away, you can change your diet in just a few weeks. If you have a health concern you’re hoping to alleviate, remember that while a plant-based diet is helpful for several diseases it could take a few months to see significant results.  If you’re changing out of caring about the animals, you start saving them from the first bite.

On the other hand, if you feel like it’s the right thing to do, but you want to proceed at your own pace and just do the best you can, you could try one new meal or ingredient each week and assess how it goes over a year or so.

Consider other family members – If you have other family members to consider when making meals, you may want to have a family meeting to explain your wishes, and ask for their help in making your transition.  Get them on your team! It will be a lot easier for you if the refrigerator and the pantry are only stocked with healthy vegan foods for you to enjoy. If, however, others sharing your kitchen are not open to change, you’ll need to work out a plan based on who’s doing the shopping, who’s doing the cooking, and how much storage space you have available.  Offering to cook for others is a great way to introduce them to new recipes.

Amanda cooking feature 1.1

Amanda gives a cooking class

Learn to cook – It’s fun, healthier and more affordable than the alternatives. Using frozen precut vegetables and fruit, and jars of sauces for flavoring can save time and effort. If you’re not used to doing the cooking, consider choosing some individual frozen vegan meals you can easily microwave to get you started. 

Whatever path you choose is up to you. Don’t feel pressured by others to go slower or faster than you can handle. Vegetarians of Washington is here to help. You may find some of our books helpful in making the change. Say No to Meat answers many questions about why and how to make the transition. In Pursuit of Great Food – A plant-based shopping guide is handy to plan what to buy and choose the best brands and freshest foods. The Veg-Feasting Cookbook provides lots of recipes for every possible meal. If you’re based in the Seattle area, come to our monthly dining events and classes to get ideas and support for your transition, and don’t miss our annual Vegfest.

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