Congressmen and women want federal agencies to start offering vegetarian food options at all federal facilities—from cafeterias in federal agencies and military bases to museums and national parks.
Thirty two members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Biden, to push him to “strongly encourage all federal agencies to make a vegetarian entrée available everywhere that federal government cafeterias are serving meals—from federal agencies, museums and national parks to prisons and military bases.” This would, of course, be for the benefit of federal employees, but the general public might benefit as well. This is because plant-based meals are healthier than meats, so say the lawmakers.
The letter says that “Plant-based meals have dramatic health benefits for our people, lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Making a vegetarian entrée available at federal facilities will help federal workers and visitors get more protein and nutrients from plants.” It goes on to say:
“Providing vegetarian entrées at federal facilities can also advance the health of our environment by reducing the federal government’s carbon footprint. American livestock farming is a significant contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock and waste from animals together produce significant levels of methane emission, while fertilizers used to grow animal feed create substantial nitrous oxide emissions, which are 300 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Helping the population access plant-based options can help us lower our carbon footprint.”
The letter concludes by saying, “Let’s help make nutritious and delicious vegetarian entrées more readily available to federal workers, visitors, and Americans.” We have reported on the increase in plant-based foods at some military bases and in the Coast Guard, plus the increase in plant-based options in hospitals and public schools. particularly in New York. We’re often asked if we’re making progress? The answer is yes!
Kati Vegan Thai has long been a favorite vegan restaurant in South Lake Union area of Seattle. With a clean, modern decor, and core values that focus on fresh, local, organic ingredients wherever possible, with no artificial flavors, the restaurant attracts those who want an upscale sustainable vegan meal without outrageous prices.
They recently opened a new restaurant in the Totem Lake area of Kirkland, just near the cinema, with the same decor and values, giving those that love vegan food a wonderful new dining option. We’re excited to give it a try!
Here’s a great investment. California just approved a $700 million investment for public schools to improve cafeteria food service infrastructure with $100 million dedicated to expanding the plant-based and sustainable food offerings with the help of Impossible Foods, which just launched two new meatless options specifically for students. The additional $600 million will be allocated to compensating workers, increasing food budgets, and upgrading kitchen appliances. Participating public schools will receive reimbursement funding for their efforts in expanding the plant-based and sustainable food offerings.
California will become the first state to invest public funds into a plant-based meal program. The budget will allow schools to better cater to plant-based students as well as adapt to other dietary restrictions. This program will give students an opportunity to learn about healthier eating at a younger age.
Soon after California passed this investment, Impossible Foods announced that it would launch new selections developed for school lunch menus. The food tech brand – which acquired Child Nutrition [CN] certification last year for the Impossible Burger and Sausage – unveiled a fully cooked Impossible Burger Patty that can be easily reheated by standard cafeteria kitchen appliances. The kid-friendly patty promises a completely balanced nutritional profile and earned a CN label from the US Department of Agriculture.
In addition, the brand will provide new whole grain Impossible Chicken Nuggets, slated to become available in by the end of 2022. The new plant-based nuggets will contain five more grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein per serving, and 40 percent less saturated fat than conventional chicken nuggets.
Before California’s statewide plant-based program was signed into law, several smaller-scale campaigns have helped bring plant-based meals to kids nationwide. This February, New York City public schools initiated the “Vegan Fridays” project to help introduce students to healthier, more eco-friendly meal options. Catering to all 1 million students in the NYC public school system, the new program led by vegan Mayor Eric Adams will help provide students with plant-based meals that would otherwise have low access to these foods.
As July 4th approaches, many people think about hosting a barbecue at their home or in a local park. This cultural phenomenon is well-established as a meat-eaters paradise, but meat-eating hosts often struggle with what to provide for the plant-based eaters they may wish to invite. In fact, there are so many possible veg-friendly options these days that choosing what to buy can be daunting, as they just don’t know which to offer to their plant-based friends. A veg option that one person loves may not work for others.
Café Red, a coffee shop located on Martin Luther King Jr Way in South Seattle, recently reopened with a fully plant-based menu. The co-owners, Jesiah Wurtz and Haley Williams, are making a renewed commitment to community, with goods from local vegan companies. They are both vegan themselves, and feel that South Seattle is lacking in places to buy great vegan food.
Some vegetarian medical students at Stanford Medical School were frustrated recently, when they attended their White Coat ceremony where they are given a white coat and a stethoscope, to find that all the vegetarian options were already taken. This is evidently a frequent occurrence. Throughout their first year of medical school, they found that food options for vegetarians were in short supply at lunchtime and dinner seminars, orientations, club meetings etc. The impact on them is that they feel their cultural and moral values are not recognized and they are not able to reduce their impact on the environment.
Sodexo, a giant food service company, is increasing its plant-based offerings at hundreds of college campus cafeterias over the next few years, with the goal of reducing their carbon footprint by 34%. They are aiming for 42% of the menus to be plant-based at hundreds of colleges and universities by 2025.
The push to move toward more plant-based menus is being driven by an initiative between Sodexo and its longtime partner Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has been helping Sodexo to update their menus and animal welfare policies over the past 15 years.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Yorktown Training Center has embraced vegan food options in its dining facility. From passionfruit panna cotta to Beyond Bolognese, students at the training center can now delight in high-quality vegan dishes. They launched the vegan program during COVID-19, when vegan trainees were unable leave the base to seek alternative food sources, with Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Swoveland, a culinary specialist, serving as the brains and hands behind these dining options.
The menu is so popular that it attracts more diners than just the vegan students. Since Yorktown is one of the largest Coast Guard training centers in the country, the success of its vegan meal program is sure to have an impact on other locations. We have previously reported on other military installations offering vegan options, but overall there’s a lack of vegan options across U.S. military dining facilities and in rations. Sometimes a military member is forced to bring their own food to the field to self support, due to lack of options due to a lack of vegan Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).
Can a marathoner outlast a Tesla electric car? Vegan ultra-endurance runner Robbie Balenger has set his sights on running as far as a Tesla Model 3 on a single charge, estimated to be around 267 miles. He gave himself 72 hours to do this (plus minimal sleeping time). They both started the journey 250 miles away from the newest Austin, Texas, Tesla factory on Monday April 11th. Balenger has to also contend with 90 degree heat, some elevation gain, minimal sleep and even a few snakes.
In a recent press release, Balenger shared, “As a plant-based athlete, I have two key considerations when it comes to my diet: environmentalism and performance – and Tesla excels at both. Outlasting a Tesla will be the longest single effort I have undertaken. This excites me and terrifies me all at the same time, meaning I must be onto something good.”
They started out at 5am, and ran the first mile together. By the end of the first day, the Tesla had driven 242 miles and was out of charge. Balenger was at the 65 mile point when he heard that he had 57 hours left to close the gap. Last we heard, he was still going strong. We’re eagerly awaiting news of whether he was able to complete this challenge.
Balenger is not new to running, having completed 3,175 miles in 2019, running across the states in just 75 days to promote the benefits of a plant-based diet. “My goal is to inspire people all across this country to start paying more attention to what they put inside of their bodies, and to be an example of someone who has made a radical change and feels better for it,” the athlete said. He has also broken the record for the most laps run around New York’s Central Park in one day, when he ran 16 full loops in 18 hours and 7 minutes, breaking the previous record of 11 loops.
NASA has determined if we’re ever going to get to Mars, astronauts need to be able to grow their food. Animal foods are not a viable option. This limits them to vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes, the very foundation of a plant-based diet. This is the diet that vegans follow for a variety of reasons: environmental, health, their love of animals, or all of the above. The first colonists on Mars will be veganauts out of necessity, but will hopefully discover the other reasons along the way.
They will have to grow their own food, so the scientists are checking out whether this will work. The first-ever crop of chickpea plants has just made it into space. A mini greenhouse was sent to the International Space Station, where astronauts will grow chickpeas in zero-gravity in what’s been dubbed, Project “Space Hummus.” The question they are seeking to answer is, can you grow chickpeas, and other essential plant-based foods and proteins, without Mother Nature’s own sunshine, earth, and atmosphere? The answer had better be yes if we’re ever going to get to Mars. These chickpeas are being grown in a nutrition gel specifically designed for chickpeas. There is confidence among the scientific community that the plants will grow, based on light and soil, moisture, and oxygen in their controlled environment. But gravity also plays a role in the growth of vegetables, so in a zero-gravity environment, will the plants grow up to the light?
The only chance humans have of sustainable living is to figure out how to grow generations of food, long after what they bring in their spaceships run out. So far, scientists have grown nine vegetables in “simulated” Martian soil: tomatoes, radishes, peas, garden cress, rocket (greens), radishes, rye, quinoa, chives, and leeks. Chickpeas will be the newest frontier, as they hope to eat hummus on Mars!