Category Archives: Vegetarian Living

Menus matter

There’s a perception among some that meat eaters will always pick a meat-centered meal, when at a restaurant or other eatery, but that’s not always the case. Two studies suggest that adding some messaging and increasing the number of veg options, can make a big change when it comes to encouraging a meat eater to order a vegetarian meal. Simple changes to messages on restaurants’ menus can double the frequency of customers choosing plant-based options instead of meat, research on the impact of food on the climate crisis has found.

Meat consumption remains stubbornly high in the US—the average American gobbled down 264 pounds of meat in 2020—and is rising quickly in countries such as China. However, many people are receptive to the idea of switching to vegetarian options in order to help the environment, the research found, with messaging on restaurant menus a potentially significant way of shifting behavior.

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Vegan Fridays for NY City schools

Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York

All New York City schools are debuting Vegan Fridays. Following the adoption of Meatless Mondays by all 1,700 public schools in NYC in 2019, they are now adding an additional day each week when all meals offered will be vegan, with such options as bagels and jelly, veggie tacos, Mediterranean pasta, black bean and plantain rice bowls and more.  The meals will phased in, with non-vegan options available for children upon request, and will be available free to the 930,000 children who attend NYC public schools.  Due to federal guidelines, dairy milk will also continue to be available.

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Vegan friendly Disney

Visiting the Disney World Resorts just got a lot more vegan friendly. Following the launch of their plant-based dining guide back in 2019, which helped those seeking healthier, animal- and eco-friendly plant-based options find them at Disney’s themeparks, they’ve now added hundreds more plant-based options. They highlight these items on menus with a specialty plant-based icon: a green leaf. This same icon is also on food carts and kiosks to help guests find plant-based snacks and treats, such as fan-favorite, the vegan version of a Mickey-shaped pretzel.

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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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