Tag Archives: plant-based

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.

Read more

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!

Big News from McDonald’s: the McPlant Burger and Chicken

This is important. McDonald’s has almost 14,000 restaurants in the United States (and 39,000 world wide) and is finally rolling out vegan options to all its stores.

McDonald’s is developing what it calls a plant-based platform called the McPlant that will debut in markets around the world early next year. McDonald’s confirms creation of McPlant plant-based burger and the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which will debut in 2021. McDonald’s has finally joined the plant-based burger battle and Chicken Sandwich War.

The plant-based chicken sandwich announcements were part of the company’s new growth strategy called “Accelerating the Arches.” The strategy includes a commitment to the core menu. In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products. Interestingly, instead of buying existing products and incorporating them into their menu, McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s and by McDonald’s. They’re going it alone.

Compared to some other fast food chains in the U.S., McDonald’s has been something of a laggard. Burger King has worked with Impossible Foods to launch the Impossible Whopper, and Beyond Meat has partnered with KFC on a plant-based nugget. These two leading alternative protein makers have done a fairly good job of carving up the fast food market to date — but the McDonald’s entry with its exclusive formulation must come as a blow to these companies (and the other startups that were hoping for a bite of the McDonald’s food empire).

The veg movement is making progress. Some of us thought we would never see the fast food restaurants serve vegan meals in our lifetimes, but it seems that all the major chains are now embracing the concept, making it much easier to find vegan options on the road and hopefully encouraging many more people to give it a try.

Rebellyous Foods takes on the Chicken Nugget industry

Christie Lagally, CEO of Rebellyous Foods

Christie Lagally, a Vegetarians of Washington member, started her career as a Boeing engineer, but she also cared passionately about avoiding animal products, so in 2017, she founded a new Seattle-based company, Rebellyous Foods.  This company aims to develop delicious and affordable vegan products for the food-service sector while creating machinery that can be used by other plant-based companies to help scale their production. 

Kristie Middleton, Vice President of Business Development at Rebellyous Foods at Rebellyous Foods, said: “Americans ordered 2.3 billion chicken nugget servings and 1.5 billion servings of chicken strips. The world’s largest foodservice providers have all committed to getting more plant-based options on their menus, but many foodservice operations don’t have the budget, trained staff, or equipment to cook from scratch. They need easy one-to-one replacements for their most popular options like chicken nuggets and strips. That’s where we come in.”

Over the past 3 years, Rebellyous Foods has ramped up production and been selling their nuggets to commercial food outlets such as hospitals and schools since February 2019, with clients such as Cornish College of the Arts and Swedish Medical Center. More recently the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) in Northern California partnered with Rebellyous Foods to add vegan chicken nuggets to its lunch program, and the company has just raised $6 million in investment for a production operation that can produce their plant-based nuggets in huge quantities.

But with the COVID-19 epidemic, the business of providing nuggets to cafeterias, schools and hospitals has shrunk, so the company decided to expand into providing consumer packaged goods.  They have made a launch into retail in the Seattle area, with a long list of independent Seattle grocery stores now listed as places where you can purchase family packs of Rebellyous nuggets. If you’re a chicken nugget fan living in Seattle, why not give these new nuggets a try !

Watch a short video about Rebellyous Foods.

Reducing the risk of thyroid disease

Thyroid woman

An enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter

A plant-based diet doesn’t just reduce your risk of heart disease or type 2 diabetics, but has benefits for the health of your thyroid as well. The thyroid gland is critical for maintaining a healthy body. Thyroid hormones have functions ranging from control of metabolism, heart beat and reproductive function.

Millions of people in America suffer from hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, most commonly in the form of Grave’s disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which are autoimmune diseases.  Those following a plant-based diet are much less susceptible to autoimmune diseases in general and thyroid disease is no exception. Vegans have been shown to experience a 22% lower risk of hypothyroidism, and a 51% risk of hyperthyroidism.

However, there are a few things those following a plant based should do for optimal thyroid health. Most vegans get enough iodine in their diet, but many don’t!

Iodine deficiency can lead to a variety of medical problems at all ages. This is a special concern for pregnant women. Children of mothers having an iodine deficiency during pregnancy may have mental retardation, deaf mutism, spasticity and short stature. Congenital hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency is the most common cause of preventable mental retardation in the world. Iodine deficiency may also be a factor in the development of breast cancer, so consuming sufficient iodine may help protect against this all too common cancer.

It’s important to get enough iodine your diet. There’s usually enough iodine in the different foods we eat. Some foods that are a good choice for iodine include black eyed peas, navy beans and whole wheat bread. If you’re not on a sodium restricted diet, iodized salt, as is commonly sold in the supermarkets, can be very helpful and has a good track record of preventing iodine deficiency. However, the salt in commercially prepared food is not iodized.

It’s also important not to get too much iodine. Seaweed can contain high levels of iodine. It’s fine to eat various kinds of seaweed as long as it’s in moderation.

The message is clear. A plant-based diet will reduce your risk of both hyper- and hypothyroidism. Getting an adequate amount of iodine will enhance the health of your thyroid gland even further.

See our professional level article

« Older Entries