Category Archives: Vegetarian Living

WIC program adds vegan options

There’s a game-changing proposal to add dairy-free milk and cheese to the WIC (Women Infants and Children) program. Egg substitutes would also be included.

WIC is an assistance program that aims to safeguard the health of low-income women and children under the age of 5. About 6.2 million women and children participated each month in fiscal year 2021.  Designed to fill in nutrition gaps, the program provides free vouchers for foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, eggs and cheese. Currently, the only dairy-free alternative the program allows for is soymilk. Through the proposed revisions, WIC would expand the variety of dairy-free milks and egg-free options, including soy yogurt, vegan cheese, and tofu.

We applaud the proposed changes. The Secretary of Agriculture says, “USDA is committed to advancing maternal and child health through WIC, helping mothers, babies, and young kids thrive. These proposed changes will strengthen WIC—already an incredibly powerful program—by ensuring it provides foods that reflect the latest nutrition science to support healthy eating and bright futures.”

Besides protecting women and children from the harmful affects of the saturated fat and cholesterol, plant-based milks protect children who are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar primarily found in milk and dairy products. It is caused by a shortage of lactase in the body, an enzyme active in the small intestine that is needed to digest lactose. It is estimated that 36% of Americans and 68% of the world population have some degree of lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance affects people from certain ethnic populations and races—such as African-Americans, Native Americans, and east Asians.   

Black vegan chefs lead the way

Here’s some great news about the Black vegan chefs who are leading some of the biggest innovations in the vegan world. For many chefs, this new era of interest in plant-based cuisine feels like a timely opportunity to expand vegan fast-food concepts across the US, reaching new, curious consumers.

Lamarr Ingram and crew

For chef Lamarr Ingram, who runs Vegan-ish in Philadelphia, vegan cuisine is an opportunity for Black vegan chefs to share their food through a Black American lens.  Ingram believes that his identity as a Philadelphia native, and his familiarity with the community’s challenges and needs, enables him to better connect with those in his community which talking about the benefits of veganism. “All the benefits that come with a plant-based diet, I’ve been able to experience them in a community I’m from, and where people are suffering from a lot of health issues caused by what we eat” he says.  He points to the high number of chronic illnesses that disproportionately impact the Black community as his motivation to spread the goodness of veganism any way he can.

Toriano Gordon

On the other side of the country in Oakland, California, Toriano Gordon, the owner of a vegan BBQ and soul food restaurant called Vegan Mob, believes that restaurants like his are a gateway to vegan cuisine for customers who want to enjoy a fast meal, without the health risks often associated with traditional fast food. Examples of his food that attracts such a following includes fried lumpia stuffed with Impossible meat, onions and spices; a plant-based nacho cheesesteak: and candied yams brushed with a hint of cinnamon.

And in Dallas, Texas, Jovan Cole is serving vegan fast food like “shrimp” po-boys, cauliflower buffalo wings, and vegan mac and cheese at his pop-up food truck Vegan Vibrationz.  The truck has been so popular at the Dallas Farmers Market, that he’s preparing to open a permanent outpost in the nearby city of Plano.

Pinky Cole

One pioneer of fast-food vegan dining is Pinky Cole.  She owns a restaurant chain known as Slutty Vegan, with several locations across Georgia, Alabama and New York, and new locations in the works.  Her success, starting in 2018, is seen as thanks to its fast-food burger and fry offerings, playful menu names, and an unapologetically Black and carefree persona which she promotes on Instagram. Pinky is proud of the gradual change that has occurred in the vegan community since opening her first location.

Finally, in Miami, Christian Bernard draws from his experience of living in Costa Rica, New York and Miami at his restaurant, Eduble Chefs. He serves dishes such as a Still Smokin’ Chili Bowl and a vegan sausage fried rice.  For him, the importance of a vegan diet is in its reduced impact on the environment.

We love that so many creative chefs are developing delicious new ways of eating vegan food.

Climate labels catch on

Let’s label them! Labels signaling the climate or environmental impact of food products have emerged as a potential strategy to promote sustainable food choices in restaurant, cafeteria, and supermarket settings. According to a recent study, climate impact labels on a sample fast food menu influenced participants’ food choices in favor of more climate-friendly items. High-climate-impact labels on burgers increased non-beef choices by 23 percent. Evidence suggests that products labeled as environmentally sustainable may be perceived as healthier as well.

According to one researcher, climate labels are probably most useful in cases when climate-conscious consumers need a reminder nudge, or when climate-conscious consumers lack awareness in the first place. Labeling has become a big issue in the food industry. There are various labels for vegan and kosher just to name a few. For more information on labeling and food shopping see our shopping guide In Pursuit of Great Food.

The restaurant industry has documented increasing consumer demand for vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based items. Several major fast food chain restaurants recently introduced meat-free or meat-alternative menu items, and restaurant industry reports identified increasing sustainability as among the top restaurant menu trends. The climate label adds to other labeling strategies such as the green light, yellow light and red light labels for healthy eating. High–climate-impact labels may easily be adopted in settings like workplaces, universities, hospitals, and other anchor institutions with carbon neutrality commitments.

We’ve written before about the effect meat has on global warming and other environment problems such as water pollution. The climate label has the potential to increase public awareness of the massive impact livestock has on the environment.

Fast food restaurants of the future

The growing interest in plant-based foods is giving rise to new startup restaurant chains on the horizon. For instance, John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods Market, plans to build a plant-based restaurant chain. Mackey is listed as a partner in Healthy America LLC, Bloomberg reports, which aims to launch vegetarian restaurants nationwide. Mackey’s past success scaling a business promoting healthy lifestyles is attracting plenty of investor attention as vegetarian and vegan diets grow in popularity. Several former Whole Foods executives are already joining Mackey in his new endeavor.

Read more

Hotel chain plans to offer full vegan menu at every location

Selina, a hospitality brand specializing in digital nomad-style hotels, is planning to create a plant-based version of every menu item at all its 155 locations worldwide, including the United States, as it sees a growing interest in vegan lifestyles of the Millennial and Gen Z travelers that it often attracts.

They have partnered with an Israel-based vegan meat brand, Redefine Meat, to bring in more plant-based options.  The brand offers whole-cut vegan meats such as beef and lamb flanks, as well as ground meats made using 3D printing and AI technologies.  The brand, which has a goal of becoming the world’s largest meat company, says the new partnership with Selina hotels will help Redefine Meat reach a much broader global audience.

Read more

Congress urges fed facilities to offer a vegetarian option

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.

Read more

Local News – Kati Vegan Thai opens in Totem Lake

Tofu Satay from Kati Vegan Thai

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!

California allocates $100 million for plant-based lunches in schools

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.

Going to a meat-eaters barbecue?

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.

Read more

Local news – Cafe Red reopens, new vegan grocery

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.

Read more
« Older Entries Recent Entries »