Category Archives: Vegetarian Living

Your dog can be vegan!

Yes, your dog can be a vegan! When it comes to diet there are three kinds of animals: carnivores that subsist on meat, such as cats, herbivores that subsist on plant foods such as horses, and omnivores that can subsist just fine on either on meat or plant foods such as dogs. Therefore, dogs can do just fine on a vegan diet and they can be even healthier than on a meat diet.

The domestication of dogs resulted in increased levels of enzymes especially designed to digest plant food and this has led to the classification of dogs as omnivores. Reinforcing this, a study looked at the effect of a vegan diet on 12 Siberian huskies involved in sprint-racing.  For 16 weeks, they fed six of them a meat-based commercial diet recommended for active dogs, and the other six a meat-free diet formulated to the same nutrient specifications.  Health checks were conducted by a veterinarian who didn’t know which diet each dog was fed. All dogs were assessed as being in excellent physical condition and none developed anemia or other detectable health problems.

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Blacks go vegan!

According to the latest research Black Americans are more likely to become vegan or vegetarian than their white counterparts. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 8% of African Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian compared to just 3% of the general population.

Many people of color say they have switched to a plant-based diet for the environment, for animal rights and for their health.  Increasingly, they realize that what they eat is important, and that they can do a lot to help avoid hospitals and keep themselves healthy by changing their diet.

Black cardiologist Kim Williams says, “I recommend a plant-based diet because I know…that plant-based diets are associated with lower rates of obesity and diabetes, high quality of life and longer life-expectancy, as well as less hypertension, dyslipidemia, peripheral artery disease, coronary disease, myocardial infarction, erectile dysfunction, heart failure, stroke and death.”

Of course there have been Black vegetarians for generations.  While Rev. Martin Luther King was not a vegetarian himself, he showed a growing concern with the plight of animals, as well as people, when he said “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake.” That concern blossomed into the vegan way with his wife Coretta Scott King, and also his son Dexter Scott King who said “Veganism has given me a higher level of awareness and spirituality”

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks maintained a vegetarian lifestyle until she passed away in 2005. “I have been a vegetarian for a few years. It was not hard at all to not eat meat. [Becoming a vegetarian] was something I wanted to do,” she said. Among her favorite vegetables were broccoli, greens, sweet potatoes and string beans.

Today, many famous Black Americans are good role models as vegetarians, including tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, footballer David Carter, music promoter Russell Simmons, musicians Erykah Badu and Stevie Wonder, actress Kimberly Elise, and many more.

Vegan Bikers!

These bikers are out to save the animals. The Vegan Knights Motorcycle Club takes to the open road in vegan leather and big black Harley motorcycles to roll up to dive bars and gather around meatless meals to talk about veganism with any locals who will listen, for the purpose of raising money for animal sanctuaries.

Vegan Knights cofounder and tough guy Burak Sarac explains exactly what it means to be a “tough guy ” on the road and a softie in the kitchen, or at mealtime. “I’m a tough guy, but I always remember the purpose of that tough guy. It’s standing up for the voiceless and for the animals.” He goes on to explain that being tough also breaking the mold. I’m going to be tough by making the tougher choice, breaking the mold, and doing the right thing.”

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Vegan diet saves money

A vegan diet can save you money, according to a new study. More and more people are interested in going vegan, yet there’s long been the notion that plant-based diets are inherently more expensive than following a more traditional omnivore diet – which is why some people may be hesitant to make the switch.

The study, published in a medical journal, found that eating a healthier and more sustainable vegan diet could actually slash up to a third off your food bill if you live in a high income country – like the US, Britain or Europe. The results came as a bit of a surprise for the researchers. If you look solely at the costs of the ingredients, a vegan diet actually costs a third less than the current “western” diets with high amounts of meat and dairy that many people consume in high income countries.

To put it into perspective, they estimated that the typical western diet costs about $50 per week per person. In comparison, vegan diets cost as little as $33. That means, over the course of a year, you could save almost $800 per person by switching to a plant-based diet.

However, the data used refers to the costs of basic ingredients – such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. They didn’t include ready-made meals or highly processed foods such as plant-based burgers. That means, if you want to realize these savings, go for minimally processed foods and try out some new recipes. Prepared foods do offer convenience, but there’s an additional cost.

Book cover for shopping guide

Of course, being a savvy shopper is key to saving money. Our shopping guide, In Pursuit of Great Food, will help you, or someone you know, reorient your kitchen around a plant-based diet.

Caring, courage and a little knowledge

October is National Vegetarian Month so we thought this might be a good time to talk about how you, or perhaps a close friend or relative, could actually become a vegetarian (I’m using vegetarian in the broadest sense of the word, including total vegetarian or vegan). What does it take? Of course, it’s different for each person, but there are three ingredients which are common to almost everyone, and those are caring, courage and a little practical knowledge.

Many people tell us, it’s all very well for you, but I just don’t know how to get started. So we thought we’d take this opportunity to explain what we see as the essential ingredients to becoming vegetarian. Let’s start at the beginning.

First of all, you have to care deeply enough about one or more of what we call the legs of the vegetarian table, and those legs are health, animals, global hunger, the environment and whatever spirit practice you may have.

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Vegan chicken nuggets for school lunch

Thousands of school children in six school districts in Washington and California have a new option on the lunch menu this year, Kickin’ Nuggets.  These vegan chicken nuggets are made by Rebellyous Foods, a Seattle-based startup founded by Vegetarians of Washington member, Christie Lagally.  The aim of her business is to develop affordable plant-based products for the food-service sector, focusing in particular on schools and hospitals, where they can make the biggest impact.

The nuggets are made from textured wheat with corn-based breading.  They qualify for two meat alternate credits under the National School Lunch Program and are nutritionally superior to animal-based nuggets since they’re lower in sodium and saturated fat and contain no cholesterol, hormones or antibiotics.  They also reduce the impact on the planet from raising chickens, while saving the chickens a lot of pain and suffering in the process.

“Schools play a pivotal role in shaping children’s dietary patterns, so we are thrilled to be able to offer Rebellyous Kickin’ Nuggets to help acquaint our diners with delicious plant-based options while teaching the importance of eating a wider variety of foods,” Frank Castro, Director of Child Nutrition Services at Dublin Unified School District, said. 

Let’s hope that many more school districts recognize the benefits to the children, the animals and the plant, of choosing plant-based nuggets, and they adopt the Kickin’ Nuggets more widely.

Vitamin D – Are you in the dark?

Vitamin DAs the days grow shorter and colder at this time of year, we get much less opportunity to expose our skin to sunlight. We all need to ensure an adequate Vitamin D intake during the winter months, since it’s almost impossible to produce Vitamin D in the skin at this time of year. In fact, there’s been a lot in the news recently about Vitamin D. You may be wondering what the fuss is about, and whether vegetarians and vegans need to worry about it more than anyone else, so we’ve gathered the latest facts to help you decide what to do.

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Top restaurants dip their toes

Top restaurants and chefs are embracing plant based cuisine. As they open up again after the pandemic, some of the top restaurants are switching out specific animal products for plant-based alternatives, while others are choosing to go all in as a fully plant-based restaurant.

Chef Josef Centeno recently replaced dairy with vegan cheese in multiple dishes at his Tex-Mex eatery Bar Amá in Los Angeles, CA. An acclaimed chef who holds a Michelin star at his other LA eatery Orsa & Winston, Centeno partnered with So Delicious to make the switch. Centeno—a nominee for Best Chef at the 2020 James Beard Awards—realized that he could switch out regular cheese for plant-based alternatives without sacrificing the texture or flavor, so he now uses vegan cheese in place of dairy in some of his most popular dishes, including Cheddar Almond “Queso” and Chile Relleno.

In 2018, Michelin-starred chef Alexis Gauthier removed foie gras at his French restaurant Gauthier Soho in London. Prior to the change, the restaurant sold more than 40 pounds of this especially cruel animal product every week. While he has offered a vegan menu since 2015, Gauthier decided to reopen Gauthier Soho as a fully vegan restaurant earlier this year after going vegan himself. 

Here in the US, the chefs at the restaurant “Eleven Madison Park” in New York were looking for a creative way to reopen their popular top restaurant and realized that the world has changed.  Chef Daniel Humm said, “It was clear that after everything we all experienced this past year, we couldn’t open the same restaurant. With that in mind, I’m excited to share that we’ve made the decision to serve a plant-based menu in which we do not use any animal products—every dish is made from vegetables, both from the earth and the sea, as well as fruits, legumes, fungi, grains, and so much more.”

While there’s no sign yet of any of Seattle’s top-rated restaurants going 100% plant-based, we are lucky to have several excellent vegan and vegetarian restaurants, such as Cafe Flora, Plum Bistro and Harvest Beat in Seattle, plus many more casual vegan eateries throughout the area.  We encourage all restaurants to try out the many plant-based alternatives available and find which would work best for their popular dishes, as a solution to the climate crisis and to reduce the suffering of animals.

Leather made from pineapple leaves!

Good news for vegetarians who don’t want to wear leather! Dole Sunshine Company (the world’s largest producer of fruit and vegetables) just announced a partnership with Ananas Anam, the British owners of the vegan pineapple leather brand Piñatex.

Ananas Anam will use leaf fibers collected and extracted from one of Dole’s farms in the Philippines—home to some of the largest plantations in the world—in its Piñatex products. The partnership marks a significant step towards Dole’s goal of zero produce loss by 2025.

Typically, the industry burns pineapple leaves or sends them to landfills, contributing to the production of carbon dioxide, methane, and other harmful emissions. By using pineapple leaves as a base for the production of its patented fabric, Piñatex simultaneously removes them from the waste stream and provides a sustainable alternative to high-polluting and destructive traditional leather.

The sheer scale of Piñatex and Dole’s new partnership also presents a unique opportunity for the companies to support developing farming communities, and to simultaneously increase output to match the growing global enthusiasm for vegan leather. This adds to the other forms of plant-based vegan leather that are being made from cactus, mushrooms and fique. What will they use next, we wonder?

Panda Express launches vegan orange chicken

Panda Express has launched a vegan version of its iconic orange chicken at test locations in the New York and Los Angeles areas.

Many people think of Panda Express as the place to go for American Chinese comfort food.  This left those people looking to avoid animal products in a bind, as they used chicken broth in many of their recipes.  Fortunately, the chain has responded to the growing demand for plant-based options.  In February 2019, the company added a number of plant-based items to its menu, like super greens mixed veggies, vegetable spring rolls, eggplant tofu and chow mein. 

Their latest offering is a rework of their classic Original Orange Chicken, which has been on the chain’s menu since 1987.  They’ve partnered with Beyond Meat to produce the new Beyond The Original Orange Chicken, which features a fully plant-based breading and vegan sauce.  Chef Jimmy Wang, executive director of Culinary Innovation at Panda Express explained, “we co-developed Beyond the Original Orange Chicken with Beyond Meat to capture the irresistibly crunchy texture of our signature entrée, while still giving our guests a plant-based option of the dish they know and love”.

While the new vegan orange chicken is only available at the limited test locations, its performance will inform Panda Express’ strategy of a wider launch.  “With this regional launch, we’re gathering insights and learning how we can improve the guest experience with this brand new product for a wide future rollout,” Wang said.  “We are confident that people will love the new menu item.”

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