Tag Archives: plant-based

New vegan menu options

Many restaurants are recognizing that they need to have tasty vegan options to appeal to those who are already vegan or vegetarian. They are also hoping to entice meat-eaters to give these options a try. The latest restaurant chains to add vegan meat substitutes include Donatos Pizza and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Donatos Pizza is introducing Vegan Pepperoni at nearly 170 locations nationwide, including right here in the northwest. The family owned pizza brand announced the new plant-based pepperoni launch this month in partnership with the plant-based meat brand, Field Roast. It all came about from a desire for the Donatos team to find a way to help their customers achieve their New Year’s resolutions. A lot of people aspire to eat more veggies, so Donatos Pizza decided to roll out plant-based pepperoni as an easy substitute for animal-based pepperoni.

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Menu items labeled for their carbon footprint

At the COP26 conference, running from Oct 31 to Nov 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, every item on the food menu had its climate impact indicated.  The COP26 conference is promoted as having the goal of promoting a global response to the climate crisis.  While many commitments have been made by various countries participating, most people agree that their promises won’t be nearly enough to reach the goal of only a 1.5 degree increase in average global temperatures, and this was particularly evident in the case of their approach to food. 

One of the most impactful ways that this goal could be achieved is by eliminating the consumption of animal products, especially beef.  To that end, many organizations and demonstrators have been pushing for the conference to provide only plant-based food during the event, to demonstrate their acknowledgement that meat and other animal products are so devastating to the environment.  While the conference organizers weren’t willing to go that far, they did come up with a novel way to educate attendees on the impact of their food choices.

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Starbucks launches Greener Stores

We may be seeing a lot more plant-based options from Starbucks in the near future thanks to its new “Greener Stores” concept – Starbucks’ sustainability campaign that aims to open 10,000 environmentally conscious stores by 2025. Starbucks is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and experimenting with sustainable, especially plant-based food and beverage options. Launched in 2017 alongside the World Wildlife Fund, the program intends to focus on promoting ethically sourced menus and prioritizing sustainable practice. That means more plant-based options.

For instance, at the Starbucks Shanghai Greener Store, over half the menu is plant-based. Oatmilk is used as the default option for most beverages. Starbucks has also introduced two new plant-based beverages, available for a limited time only – Salted Caramel Breve and Salted Caramel Flat White. The store offers a scrumptious variety of plant-based food offerings, including the debut of 15 new food items. A range of plant-based bakery, wraps, sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries are available to satisfy customers’ craving at any time of the day.

The Greener Stores concept falls under Starbucks’ mission to cut its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and they want to enhance its new planet-positive practices in order to achieve that goal. CEO Kevin Johnson recognizes the rising demand for sustainable and plant-based options in consumers worldwide, and says that the company would strive to meet this changing demand. “If I were to say what is probably the most dominant shift in consumer behavior, [it] is this whole shift to plant-based [products],” Johnson said. “And that is a shift both in beverage and in food.”

This all sounds pretty good. But it would sound even better if its Shanghai store were followed by one in Seattle. Come on Starbucks!

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.

Olympic cyclist powered by plant-based foods

Dotsie Bausch wins silver medal at 2012 Olympics

Dotsie Bausch credits her plant based diet with her gaining a spot on Team USA and subsequently winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics . 

At the age of 26, Dotsie Bausch was in therapy for eating disorders and drug addiction. Her therapist suggested that she find a sport she loved, so that she could spend more time exercising. She chose cycling and found a new passion.  Within a few years she was a professional cyclist, going on to win eight US National Championships and two Pan American Gold medals.

While training for the 2012 Olympics, she switched to a plant-based diet, after learning about the abuses of animal agriculture. Within the first 10 days of going plant-based, she noticed that she woke up feeling lighter and more energized, ready to get on the bike within an hour of getting up! She later went on to win an Olympic silver medal in women’s track cycling at the age of 40, a record for the competition.

“I had been competing professionally for about ten years before adopting a plant-based diet, but when I finally did (two years before the 2012 Olympics), it felt like rocket fuel. I was more energized and able to recover from workouts so much faster than ever before. As the oldest person to ever medal in my discipline, that recovery factor really helped me pursue and earn a spot on the Olympic team.” Dotsie said.

While she’s now retired from professional cycling, she still promotes a vegan diet, founding the nonprofit Switch4Good, which is focused on encouraging people, especially athletes, to drop dairy from their diet. She was featured in the 2019 movie, The Game Changers, and continues to give talks promoting plant-based diets.

Olivia Newton-John – plant-based to fight breast cancer

Olivia Newton John is using a vegan diet to help in her fight against breast cancer. 

Seventy two year old singer, Olivia Newton-John, is best known for her role in the musical film Grease back in 1978, but she also produced many solo hit single recordings in the 70s and 80s and has continued to record and perform throughout her long career.  She’s a four-time Grammy Award winner with five US number one records and another 10 Top Tens on Billboard’s Hot 100. She has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

She has been a longtime activist for environmental and animal rights issues. In 1992 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since become an advocate for cancer research and other health issues as well. She enjoyed a long period of remission, but in 2017 she was again diagnosed with breast cancer, and she switched to a plant-based diet to help her get healthier while being treated.  She shared that her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, is key in helping her to eat more plant-based foods. “I’ve been eating vegan because my daughter was visiting me and she’s a vegan.  I feel very good.  After having lived for years with different cancers, and having surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I thought it would be wonderful if we could find different kinds of treatments for people going through cancer” she said.

Newton-John recently launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation with her husband, John Easterling, to promote plant-based eating as a way to stay healthy through cancer treatment.  Her foundation aims to develop less damaging forms of treatment, as well as to support research into how a plant-based way of eating can help nutrition and health for patients.

There’s already a lot of research into how a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer in the first place and reduce your risk of recurrence if you’ve had breast cancer.  Let’s hope that this foundation finds evidence for the benefits of plant-based diets during treatment as well.

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom are “almost vegan”!

First celebrity singer-songwriter Katy Perry announced that she was 95% ready to go 100% vegan!  After having 9 Hot 100 Billboard number one singles, awards too numerous to mention, and now as a judge on American Idol, Katy Perry is one of the highest earning women in music. During her 2020 pregnancy (she gave birth to daughter Daisy Dove Bloom in August 2020), Perry revealed she was ‘grossed out’ by beef and that she wasn’t ‘really into red meat’.  She told followers that she loved the Impossible Burger so much that she invested in the company.

Now her husband, actor Orlando Bloom, has announced that he too is 90% plant-based. He says “I sometimes look at a cow and think, that’s the most beautiful thing ever!” and claims to only eat a piece of red meat once a month.  The Pirates of The Caribbean star added: “At some point in time, we’ll look back and not be able to believe we used to eat meat.” For breakfast, the star says he eats porridge with hazelnut milk, vegan protein powder, and goji berries. Additionally, lunch is ‘mostly plant-based’, consisting of vegetables.

We hope that they both keep transitioning their diets, and decide to raise their daughter Daisy vegan as well.

The pain that won’t go away

It’s called Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and it really hurts. Ouch!

Many type 2 diabetic patients experience persistent pain in their legs and feet. Later the pain can come from the arms and hands. The pain can come out of nowhere or come from a bump or bruise. It’s often described as burning, pins and needles, shooting, aching, jabbing, sharp, cramping, tingling, or cold.

It’s very hard to treat. No single drug exists to prevent or reverse neuropathic changes or to provide total pain relief. Partial pain relief is often the best that can be hoped for. Sometimes, the pain is so severe that opiates are needed, but they carry the risk of addiction.

Now for the good news. It turns out that a vegan diet, also known as a plant-based diet, can really help.

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Unilever moves toward plant-based foods

Another corporate giant, Unilever, has read the writing on the wall and is entering the plant based food industry. Unilever is a huge company, owning many well-known food products such as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Lipton’s Tea and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. So it’s a big deal when they announced that their sales target for plant-based foods would be around $1.2 billion by the year 2027.  This ambitious target is part of the company’s Future Foods initiative which commits the food giant ‘to make healthier and sustainable food affordable for everyone.’  It has also pledged to continue lowering calorie, salt and sugar content in its products.

In an online statement, Unilever wrote, “Animal agriculture is known to be the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels. [It is also] a cause of deforestation, water and air pollution, and biodiversity loss….Reducing our meat consumption is essential… We know that a diverse, plant-based diet is better for our health and the health of the planet. But if we want people to make the switch, we need plant-based options to be more accessible, affordable, and appetizing.” Unilever added that its sales target will result in a ‘wider range of vegan and vegetarian’ options.

The president of Unilever’s food and refreshment business said that the initiative will help the ‘world figure out how we can eat more plant-based…that way we may not lose the planet.’  She noted that in most developed countries, plant-based foods are currently only 5% of meat or dairy. Some predictions say that this could go to 50%.  Of course we hope that it goes much higher than that!

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