New research suggests that if the desire was there, this country could grow food to feed over 700 million people — by focusing on plants. That could meet the needs of most of the world’s hungry population.
If U.S. farmers took all the land currently devoted to raising cattle, pigs and chickens and used it to grow plants instead, they could sustain more than twice as many people as they do now, according to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
We’re happy to see the growth of food made with plant-based ingredients. It’s never been easier to be a vegetarian. Our choices and access to plant-based foods continues to grow and grow. Here are the latest four pieces of news:
Plant-based food – the leading trend
At a recent Natural Products Expo, plant-based foods was the leading trend in the food industry. Environmental, health and ethical concerns related to the production and consumption of animal products has moved purposefully plant-based foods, once relegated to the vegan and vegetarian minority, into the mainstream. Innovative new meat and dairy alternatives are improving upon taste and texture all the time, therefore widening the appeal of a plant-based way of eating. Read more
A plant-based diet is a powerful way to substantially cut your risk of colon cancer. It’s long been known that vegetarians have a very significantly reduced risk of colon cancer. Several studies have shown that vegetarians reduce their risk of colon cancer by 46%-88%, they have a 54% reduced risk of polyps, and a 200% reduced risk of advanced polyps which can become malignant. Since colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, these percentages are very important. While we’ve known this for quite a while, we didn’t know why until recently – now we do! Read more
Plant-powered dairy alternatives have been growing fast worldwide. Sales have more than doubled in the last 8 years and there’s no end in sight. The growing availability and promotion of plant-based options to traditional dairy lines, particularly beverages, has helped boost this market, along with cultured products such as yogurt, frozen desserts and ice cream, creamers, and cheese. Almost all mainstream supermarkets now have some dairy-free alternatives.
A range of increasingly sophisticated flavors and blends of non-dairy milks from different sources are being launched. While soy-based beverage products remain popular, the market has expanded to include an increasing selection of alternative milks, using grains such as rice, quinoa, oats, and barley; and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and macadamias, as well as seed milks such as hemp and flaxseed. In just the past year two new primary ingredients for U.S. plant-based milks, pistachio and pecan, have emerged.
Seeing the success of these products, the dairy industry is getting nervous. In fact, the dairy sector has become so concerned about the success of plant-based milks that it recently prompted 32 Congressmen to write a letter to FDA. The letter, which requests the agency enforce their rule against non-dairy beverages carrying the term “milk,” was meant to prevent the dairy industry from losing further market share to plant-based alternatives. However, they tried this tactic with mayonnaise and it didn’t work then. We don’t think it will work this time either.
Try out some of the many new plant-based milks available in your grocery store. For tips on buying dairy alternatives check out our shopping guide In Pursuit of Great Food.
Doctors agree, a vegetarian diet is more than just a lifestyle choice: It can actually heal what ails you. We are encouraging medical schools to teach students the latest science, and doctors to prescribe vegetarian diets as indicated. Our medical resource, Plant-Based Diets in Medicine, provides well-researched articles to support them.
Miyoko Schinner, frequent speaker at Vegfest, has produced another great book, “The Homemade Vegan Pantry, the art of making your own staples” (Ten Speed Press, Random House, 2015). Miyoko is a renowned vegan chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host, and has been promoting delicious, decadent, and healthful plant-based foods for the past thirty years. Her previous cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, has been a top-selling book on Amazon, and has been called “The holy grail of the culinary world.” She is a co-host of Vegan Mashup, a new cooking show on public television, and stars in her own whimsical online show, Miyoko’s Kitchen.
Complete with full-color photos, The Homemade Vegan Pantry celebrates beautiful, handcrafted foods that don’t take a ton of time, from ice cream and pizza dough, to granola and breakfast sausage. Miyoko Schinner guides readers through the techniques for making French-style buttercreams, roasted tomatoes, and pasta without special equipment. Her easy methods make “slow food” fast, and full of flavor. The Homemade Vegan Pantry raises the bar on plant-based cuisine, not only for vegans and vegetarians, but also for the growing number of Americans looking to eat lighter and healthier, and anyone interested in a handcrafted approach to food.
Well Crafted Macaroni and Cheese Mix Recipe
Unless you were raised by macrobiotic hippies, you’ve had it. I’ve had it. And there’s no shame in saying it— we’ve all had macaroni and cheese out of the box. My kids would plead with me to buy it, and I was thrilled when the vegan stuff came on the market. Maybe you don’t crave it anymore, but it sure is convenient to have some on hand for the kids or the babysitter. But there’s no need to buy it, because you can make the instant cheese sauce mix yourself in just a few minutes! This version is richer than the variation that follows, utilizing glorious cashews.
1 cup cashews
¾ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup oat flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon organic sugar
2 teaspoons powdered mustard
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until a powder is formed. There should not be any discernible chunks or large granules of cashews, so this may take 3 to 4 minutes of processing. Store this in a jar or portion out into 1⁄3 -cup increments and put in ziplock bags and store in the pantry for a month or two or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
MAKES 1 2/3 CUPS, OR ENOUGH TO COAT THE EQUIVALENT OF 5 STORE-BOUGHT BOXES INSTANT MACARONI AND CHEESE
HOW TO USE WELL-CRAFTED MACARONI AND CHEESE MIX
Cook 1 cup of dry macaroni according to package instructions and drain. Combine 1⁄3 cup mix with 1 cup water or unsweetened nondairy milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then toss with hot cooked macaroni.
These mixes are also a great answer for turning yesterday’s leftovers into a quick casserole. Just combine leftover pasta, potatoes, or grains, some veggies, and any other odd scraps you think might be a good fit and mix it in a casserole dish with some of the cheese mix and water. You can add additional spices and herbs if you wish. Then bake it all up into creamy goodness. You can also use the mix to make quick sauces for veggies or add it to soups for extra cheesy flavor and richness—it’s quite versatile.
Robert Atcheson considers himself a tough guy. He falls squarely into the stereotype of an all-American tough guy too. He grew up on a farm in Iowa, where he helped his family raise and slaughter hogs and cattle. For a time, he worked in a restaurant that served standard greasy spoon fare: bacon, burgers and fried chicken. At age 19, he left home to spend four years in the Marine Corps, then joined the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department rising to the rank of captain.
So when his teenage daughter told him she was going vegan several years ago, he did what many tough (perhaps too tough) parents would do when faced with the same situation. He told her to either eat the food he cooked for her, or get out of the house!
While he ridiculed her at first, the encounter got him thinking. It turned out that his daughter’s desire to go vegan was supported by doctors, researchers, dietitians, fitness gurus, everyone except the meat industry itself. Then he remembered his father’s heart attack and his mother’s type II diabetes, and realized that he was headed for the same. At that moment he decided he wanted something better for his daughter, for himself, and for the whole country.
According to Captain Atcheson, “When you eat meat and other animal products, you’re playing a losing game of chicken with your health. It takes courage and discipline to ditch that crap and clean up your plate. So do what I did, and what many of my best officers eventually did, too: trade in that morning doughnut for a smoothie. Swap that chicken sandwich for a black bean burger. Your health — and your family — will thank you.”
We find it very encouraging that the health message of plant-based diets is reaching far and wide. Our thanks go out to not only to the Captain for this message but also to his courageous daughter who stuck by her guns and told him what he needed to hear.
This time it’s Google that’s changing its cafeteria for the better. For the last year and a half, Google’s food department has been on a mission to cut down on meat. A “plant-centric diet is good for the environment and is good for your health,” said Michiel Bakker, director of the Global Food Program at Google. “So if we can move more people to eat less meat and to enjoy more vegetables, the rest will follow.”
To get there Google is taking a gradual approach. Their first step is to substitute healthy plant foods that are rich in flavor, from ethnic cuisines from around the world such as Indian, Latin American, Thai and Greek.
They are currently educating their chefs about ways to substitute vegetables for meat, without making Google’s pampered employees feel like they’re missing out. “For example, there’s a way to grill cauliflower that gives it some of the same rich flavor found in grilled meats,” Bakker said. Google’s also turning to regional cuisines from places like India, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Mediterranean that use less meat than traditional Western diets.
While the new program started at its office in California, it’s slowly being implemented in Google’s cafeterias all around the world. Eventually, the company hopes to get its employees interested in food and how it relates to health and the environment.
A plant-based diet is not just good for health and the environment. It’s also good for the bottom line. In a study of workers, GEICO insurance company doctors found that those on a plant-based diet reported a 40-46% decrease in health-related productivity impairments at work. It turns out that veg diets are good for the environment, business and you.