Tag Archives: plant-based

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.

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Biggest beef co. launches plant-based bacon

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.

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Med students push for default veg option

Stanford Medical Students

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.

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College meals are going plant-based

Sodexo Food Service

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. 

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Local vs vegan – which is better for the planet?

Many people advocate buying local as a way to reduce the greenhouse gases causing climate change. Buying from local or regional farmers who grow and raise your food, so that it doesn’t have to be shipped a long distance, saves the CO2 used in transportation, but in fact doing so only saves about 10 percent of the total greenhouse gases that are generated in growing and processing most of the food we eat, according to an expert who has analyzed where most of the climate impact of our food comes from.

It’s the kind of food that ends up on the truck that determines the carbon footprint, explains Sandra Noonan, the Chief Sustainability Officer of Just Salad, a restaurant chain, and it is one more reason to switch to a plant-based diet. Supporting local farmers is always a good idea, but it doesn’t have a huge impact on our carbon footprint, since most of the greenhouse gases generated in producing food happen earlier than the final step of trucking it to your local market or store.

More important from a sustainability point of view than how far it has travelled, is what the food actually is. The big advantage here goes to plant foods. One new report published by Stanford University says that by shifting away from meat and dairy, we could lower our climate impact by 68 percent.

Buying locally sourced beef is almost never going to be a better option than shifting to a plate of all vegetables, legumes, fruit, and whole grains. Locally raised beef is still worse for the environment than buying broccoli or lentils that was grown further away and had to be shipped across the country to your store, although of course, locally grown plant foods are best of all.

Now, companies like Just Salad and others are adding labels to ingredients and the food they serve up, that shows the environmental impact of our dish, how much CO2 was burned, and methane was released in the growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting of our food from soil to bowl and beyond. It’s here that consumers will see the big difference between plant foods and animal foods. Let’s hope these new labels will help encourage more people to switch to plant-based options.

Illinois requires plant-based school lunches

The state of Illinois has passed a bill (HB 4089) in both houses, that requires a school district to provide a plant-based school lunch option to those students who submit a prior request to the school district.  It now just awaits the governor’s signature.

“All students deserve the opportunity to have a well-rounded, nutritional meal at school that meets their dietary needs,” said sponsoring senator Dave Koehler, D-Peoria. “For some kids it may be the only substantial meal they get that day, and they need to be able to make the most of it.”

We’ve written before about the New York City school district requiring Meatless Mondays and now Vegan Fridays, championed by mayor Eric Adams. Some schools in the NYC district have gone even further by providing only vegetarian lunches every day of the week.

While we wish that school lunches were plant-based for all students, Illinois has taken a good first step, enabling those students who want to have a healthy and animal-free lunch to get one.  

Asthma – the latest science

Childhood asthma is a major and growing public health problem worldwide. Adults get asthma too. The western, meat-centered diet may partly explain the “asthma epidemic” in the United States.

Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. The prevalence has been increasing at an alarming rate and has more than doubled in the last decade. Over 9 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma. That’s a lot of children. There are few things more upsetting than a sick child.

What is asthma? Asthma is a disease in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus and inflammation due to a hyper response to things that don’t really cause infections such as respiratory allergens. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out, and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.

Studies show that vegetarians have a reduced risk of asthma. Plant foods contain special substances called phytonutrients that can reduce inflammation and act as antioxidants which help give vegetarians an advantage.

Eating meat increases the risk of wheezing, a symptom of asthma, in children. Meat also increases the risk of disturbed sleep from wheezing and the risk of exercise-induced wheezing. Inflammatory compounds found in cooked meat have been found to give rise to a heightened risk of childhood wheeze. These compounds, known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs for short, are by-products of high temperature cooking, such as grilling, frying, or roasting, with cooked meat being a major dietary source. Milk has also been implicated as increasing the risk of asthma through a different mechanism.

However, you can reduce your risk of getting asthma in the first place by eating more vegetables and whole grains. A study lowered the risk of getting asthma by 42% for those eating more vegetables and 54% for those eating more whole grains, while consuming dairy increased the risk by 93% and intake of cured meats such as salami, pastrami and bacon, was associated with worsening asthma symptoms by 76%.

What if someone already has asthma? One study on people with asthma receiving long term medication, who were placed on a vegan diet for a year, found that in almost all cases medication was able to be withdrawn or drastically reduced. There was a significant decrease in asthma symptoms with 71% of patients reporting improvement at 4 months and 92% after a year.

This is not surprising since asthma may, in part, be an autoimmune disease. People who follow a plant-based diet have lower levels of inflammation, and lower risks of other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

It’s time that every doctor recommended that children avoid animal products, and that their asthmatic patients try a fully plant-based diet. See our professional level article on asthma.

Raising vegan kids – what you need to know

There are many benefits to raising your kids on wholesome plant-based foods.  It sets up a child for a lifetime of healthy habits. Many people are surprised to learn that the disease process that causes so many chronic diseases in adults start in childhood. You can help your child prevent many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer. At the same time, you are teaching your child to care for the animals and the earth through their food choices.

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Ukrainian trend toward vegan

A Ukrainian vegan dinner

Our hearts go out to all those suffering and for all the destruction in the Ukraine. While, understandably, most news is concentrating on the war, we thought this might be a good time to highlight the growing veg trend in the Ukraine.

There are 2 million vegetarians and vegans in the Ukraine and there are an increasing number of vegetarian restaurants to go to and plant-based products to buy. The magazine Vogue Ukraine proclaimed 2020 “the year of the vegan.” Indeed, it has never been easier to be vegan in Ukraine, and it will be a promising country for creating both a powerful veg movement and a competitive marketplace for plant-based foods, once this war is over.

Go Green plant-based steak

Recently, the Ukrainian company Go Green entered a crowded vegan food market, introducing the first plant-based steak produced in Ukraine. According to the company’s website, the steak looks and tastes like real marbled beef meat. The company also sells other popular plant-based products like vegan ground meat and patties that taste and smell like real beef or fish.  In the future, Go Green plans to introduce soy-based cheese and vegan meatballs.

You can find quite a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Kyiv, the capitol, and in other major cities throughout the country such as Odessa on the Black Sea, Kharkiv, the second largest city, Dnipro in the middle of the country and Lviv in the western part. In fact we were surprised at the number of veg and veg friendly restaurants in the Ukraine.  In the restaurants, typical Ukrainian made plant-based foods are offered, but you’ll foods from other parts of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

The Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine finally declared veganism as a healthy and appropriate diet for all stages of life. There’s also active animal rights groups in the Ukraine. We hope the country is able to hold onto these vegan and vegetarian trends sufficiently to reinvigorate them in the future.

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