Ben and Esther’s vegan Jewish Deli just opened on Capitol Hill. Oh yes, oh yes! Finally a vegan Reuben sandwich (vegan corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing ) on pumpernickel bread with real Kosher dill pickles. Try the bagel with vegan lox (smoked “salmon”), tomato, red onion, capers and dill with a schmear (a spread) of vegan cream cheese.
Look for the potato knishes (a round or square of dough stuffed with potato and baked or fried) and noodle kugel (a baked pudding). You can enjoy your meal with a babka (a loaf-shaped coffee cake made with sweet yeast dough to which raisins, chocolate, or nuts may be added). With the cold weather, warm up with some motzo (unleavened bread) ball soup. If you only want a couple of bites, you can nosh (snack) on a wide variety of menu items.
We’re happy to welcome a new vegan restaurant to our area. The Seattle Ben and Esther’s is the fifth location in the Portland based “Vegan Jewish Deli” chain. There are two in Portland and one in Oceanside California and San Diego.
Good news – more lawsuits are rolling back unconstitutional labelling bans on using meat-based terms. Last month, a federal court ruled that an Arkansas law that had banned makers of meat alternatives such as Tofurky from using commonly understood words to describe their products was unconstitutional. The law prohibited the labeling of any food product as ‘meat’ unless that food product was derived from livestock, and it banned such terms as ‘veggie sausage’ and ‘veggie burger’ from food labeling in Arkansas.
The Arkansas law, U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker explained in her ruling, unconstitutionally barred Tofurky from “convey[ing] meaningful, helpful information to consumers about the products they are purchasing, and Tofurky’s repeated indications that the food products contained in these packages contain no animal-based meat dispel consumer confusion.” In other words, no one is confused about whether Tofurky is turkey!
We’ve seen the same kind of thing in other states and other products but the meat, dairy and egg alternatives seem to be prevailing. Last year, a lawsuit filed by Upton’s Naturals forced Mississippi’s agriculture department, which had issued similar rules, to backtrack and amend the rules.
Is the meat industry getting nervous? They should be. The sales of meat and dairy substitutes have been soaring, hence the clamor to adopt rules against using some words to describe meat alternatives. Supporters of such laws typically claim they want to help consumers avoid confusion. However, research and commonsense suggest consumers aren’t confused by terms such as “veggie burger” or the like. Worse, linguistic bans generally prohibit accurate and honest labeling even if—as the federal court in Arkansas found was the case with Tofurky’s labeling—”the product [in question] also states on the label that it’s 100% vegan, plant-based or meatless.”
If you’d like to make a colorful stuffed winter squash the centerpiece and main dish of your vegetarian Thanksgiving, choose a large, meaty pumpkin; Boston marrow squash; turban squash; hubbard squash; banana squash; or the pale blue-grey New Zealand squash, which is my favorite.Read more
Can plant-based bacon taste like the real thing? Americans love their bacon, and it’s going to take a lot to get them to switch to plant-based versions. Vegan bacon brands have been around for years, and many of them are delicious. They’re made from a variety of products, such as soy, mushrooms, and wheat-gluten, with flavorings such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, herbs and liquid smoke to give that authentic smoky flavor. Many brands are readily available in grocery stores, giving us lots of choices, but none taste exactly like animal-based bacon.
A French company, La Vie, seems to have cracked the problem. French farmers are so worried about La Vie’s plant-based bacon that the French Pork Lobby have accused La Vie of unfair competition. The Pork Lobby claims that La Vie’s plant-based lardons are so similar to conventional pork alternatives that they must have copied the original flavor. La Vie is flattered by the comparison and thanked the pork lobby for the “nicest compliment”. Taking out a full back page advert in Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper, the bacon innovator directly addresses consumers first. “The pork lobby is attacking us because our veggie lardons are indistinguishable from pork lardons.”
Better Bean is a product we love. We asked them some questions to learn more about their products and how they got started.
How did your company get started?
Better Bean was born and raised in Oregon, starting with founder Keith Kullberg’s original recipe as a young college student at Oregon State University. Seeking a way to enjoy refried beans made with only plant-based ingredients, Keith developed a recipe that quickly became a favorite within his family years later. The only issue – it took nearly an entire day to prepare his beans from scratch!
Noticing that freshly prepared beans were not made available in stores, Keith and his daughters launched Better Bean in local stores and Portland farmers markets in 2010. Now sold nationwide, Better Bean strives to bring easy, tasty, healthy beans to all.
Tell us about the different products you have?
Better Bean offers a variety of freshly prepared, tasty bean products sold in the refrigerated section. Products range from various 15 oz beans, such as the Skillet Refried Red Beans, to 2.5 oz single-serve bean dips for snacking.
What makes your beans different?
We take care in every step of sourcing and making our beans. Starting with sourcing from NW regional farms that practice sustainable farming. These nutrient-rich beans are soaked to ensure their nutrients are available. We slow cook & infuse the beans with flavor from organic & regional vegetables. Finally, we add apple cider vinegar that further makes the beans easier to digest.
Can you tell us about the ingredients you use?
We source our ingredients from organic or sustainable farms as they grow better flavor. Our recipes are naturally delicious and nutrient-rich, not relying on sodium, fat, sugar (or worse, chemical additives) for flavor.
How about certifications?
All of Better Bean products are certified Non-GMO and Gluten-Free certified. In addition to these certifications, the product and facility are Soy-Free, Nut-Free, and Vegan. We know consumers value high-quality, organic products – that’s why Better Bean has recently added 2.5 oz single-serve bean dips that are both Certified Organic.
How can people use Better Bean products in their everyday life?
Beans are a delicious source of plant-based protein and can be a part of any meal! Whether you enjoy them as an appetizer with tortilla chips, as the star of your main course in a burrito bowl or tacos, or as a side dish that pulls the meal together – beans have a way of being extremely versatile.
Does Better Bean have any new news?
We are excited to announce Better Bean Uncanny Refried Black Beans are now carried by Imperfect Foods! Better Bean from Wilsonville, Oregon, makes fresh, kettle-cooked, ready-to-eat beans sold in deli tubs. They are a long-time supporter of the Seattle VegFest.
Better Bean’s Uncanny Refried Black Beans & Dip
Better Bean is happy to join a fantastic plant-based foods lineup from Imperfect Foods! Add a mixture of plant-based goodies to complement your produce order! Use code ‘BETTERBEAN’ for 30% off your first box from Imperfect Foods!
Revo Foods has created a 3D-printed salmon made from plants that is expected to reach the US market in 2023. The company, an Austrian plant-based food tech startup, currently sells packets of smoked “salmon” made from pea protein, algae extract and plant oils to mimic the taste and texture of real fish without the environmental impact. This new creation enables them to offer salmon fillets that can be cooked and served just like the fish version.
The new product is made with pea protein but is also also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, to ensure it’s nutritionally comparable with regular salmon, but without any cholesterol or toxins. The newly developed 3D printing production process will help improve the texture, so consumers are able to cook the whole-cut, plant-based salmon in various ways without compromising texture or flavor. The company’s website said this new process produces up to 86% less emissions than conventional salmon and uses 95% less freshwater. Of course, it also saves a lot of salmon lives.
The company’s goal is to produce vegan seafood to lessen human impact on the oceans and avoid consumption of seafood containing toxins and heavy metals, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They are expanding their product line to include salmon and tuna spreads and salmon and tuna sashimi in the future. We look forward to giving all their products a try.
Progress! The largest beef company in the world, JBS Foods, is launching plant-based bacon through its Colorado-based Planterra Foods brand. Even the meat industry realizes that plant-based foods are the future. The vegan bacon selection will roll out under the company’s Ozo brand. Soon, American customers will have access to juicy, crispy plant-based bacon with the True Bite Plant-Based Bacon, featuring Cracked Black Pepper, Spicy Jalapeno, and Applewood Smoke flavors.
Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, there’s a company making meat substitutes from the air! Talk about low cost ingredients! Elements of the air are whisked together with biological cultures until they produce protein within a matter of hours. According to Air Protein, the company pioneering this new technology, “ We believe climate change and food scarcity can be reduced by reimagining food creation. Our groundbreaking process is carbon negative, massively scalable, and can happen virtually anywhere.”
Air fermentation begins with the same building blocks that all plant life needs and renewable energy. The protein that the cultures produce is harvested and purified, then dried to remove water. The result is a super-clean, protein-packed flour—nutritious, versatile, and ready to be turned into any meat substitute. Finally, in a process much like the way you might turn flour into pasta, they apply culinary techniques to Air Protein flour to create textures and flavors that give air meat the same taste and texture as traditional chicken, beef, pork, and seafood.
Plant-Based seems to be the hot new term applied to food these days, but what doesn’t it mean? Can you be sure that a food labeled “plant-based” contains no animal products? Unfortunately, the answer is No.
Here at Vegetarians of Washington, we choose to use the term “plant-based” to mean vegan (avoiding all animal products) with a preference toward whole foods, but there is no standard definition of the term. The term “vegan” does have a clear definition – in dietary terms it denotes avoiding all products derived wholly or partly from animals, although it’s not a federal legal definition. The definition of “vegetarian” is similar but allows for, but does not require, dairy and egg-based ingredients to be included.
When it comes to combining flavor and plant power, National Veggie Burger Day every year on June 5th proclaims it can be done!
Packed with flavor, protein, and nutrients, veggie burgers show up at backyard barbecues, tailgate parties, and on the menus of even high-class restaurants. Grill them, fry them or bake them. Layer all your favorite toppings like onion, tomato, Romaine lettuce, ketchup, and mustard between a crusty roll or bun and take a big juicy bite. That’s one way to celebrate this flavorful day.
Don’t hesitate to add your favorite side dishes, too. For example, grilled cauliflower or broccoli, a zucchini noodle salad, or roasted vegetable salad with quinoa. Other options include grilled corn on the cob and sweet potatoes. Round out the meal with a crisp, cool beverage to complement your veggie burger.
National Veggie Burger Day was first established by Amy’s, an all-vegetarian food company, in 2007. But the veggie burger, a foundational food for many vegetarians and vegans, has an interesting history. According to the National Veggie Burger folks, recipes on how to make burgers without meat appear in print first appeared in 1969. In 1982, restaurateur Gregory Sams invented a veggie burger, which was introduced in London. Then in 1984, frozen versions of the VegeBurger began to appear in grocery stores. In 1992, the first branded veggie burger, the Gardenburger was launched in the frozen section of grocery story, and soon after the Boca Burger was born.
Here in 2021, veggie burgers of every kind are widely available, with taste and consistencies varying from “as much like meat as possible” to whole plant-food patties. Today’s veggie burgers offer a great variety of interesting ingredients, ranging from kelp to quinoa to mushroom to black beans. Some think that the veggie burger, and the variety of options available, is one of the things that has helped to propel the vegetarian movement to where it is now, and the popularity of the newest meat-like veggie burgers is certainly encouraging many a meat-eater to give it a try, creating new converts all the time.