AARP Promotes Veganism

Yet another sign of veganism’s increasing acceptance among the general public: the interview with Bill Clinton in the Aug/Sept. issue of AARP The Magazine.  Titled “My Lunch with Bill,” it’s all about his vegan diet, and filled with superlatives.  “I’m struck with a dazzling kaleidoscope of a dozen delicious dishes,” described with obvious delight by author Joe Conason.  “We sit down and with great relish start passing plates back and forth.”  And from Clinton: “I have so much more energy now!  I feel great,” adding later, “I decided to pick the diet that I thought would maximize my chances of long-term survival.” Continue reading “AARP Promotes Veganism”

Vegan Dining in Kansas City

Just back from a trip to Kansas City to attend my nephew’s wedding, I can offer some suggestions for great vegan dining there.  We stopped for brunch at all-vegan Cafe Gratitude in downtown KC Missouri, not far from the beautifully renovated Union Station.  The Cafe’s dishes are all identified by affirmations, such as I Am Courageous, I Am Humble, I Am Trusting, I Am Fulfilled, etc.  When waitstaff deliver someone’s order they repeat the affirmation of the dish, beginning the statement with “You.”  That is, when I ordered I Am Extraordinary, the server placed it in front of me saying, “You are extraordinary.”  It’s a nice touch.  The “Extraordinary” dish is well-named: a sandwich featuring toasted chipotle-maple coconut “bacon” with cashew aioli, lettuce, tomato and avocado on a bun.  The menu features a number of raw entrees as well.

We ordered additional meals as carry-out for the wedding reception that evening.  The reception was catered by a local BBQ restaurant, and nothing was vegan.  Even the roasted veggies were mixed with grated cheese!  While other guests were eating a low-fiber, high-fat, high cholesterol meal, I was enjoying I Am Fortified: quinoa with sauteed veggies and kale, topped with a handful of sunflower sprouts and a delicious garlic-tahini sauce.  Cafe Gratitude also has restaurants in California. Continue reading “Vegan Dining in Kansas City”

Reducing Food Wastage

I grew up in a clean-your-dinner-plate kind of family, with parents whose food limitations during the Great Depression and World War II rationing had taught them to value food highly.  That ethic has stayed with me, so I have been shocked over recent months to learn of the gargantuan amounts of food wasted, some of it, especially in restaurants, still perfectly edible.

I first became aware of the problem when I read the book How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee.  In the section about reducing the carbon footprint of food, the number one suggestion was not to waste it. That was ahead of any mention of what you eat, how it was grown, or how far it travelled.  Then recently, the topic was again brought to my attention in a blog post by James McWilliams (I highly recommend following his blog “Eating Plants”).  He cites a study finding that consumers throw out an astonishing half the food they buy! Continue reading “Reducing Food Wastage”

Get Vegucated!

Tesla, one of Vegucated's three featured participants, making friends with a chicken

I’d been hearing great praise for the documentary Vegucated, and this week was able to see it at a vegan potluck/movie event.  Three average meat-eating New Yorkers agree to go vegan for six weeks and have their experience filmed.  They get lots–and I mean lots–of support and expert advice. It begins with the filmmakers, who show them vegan advocacy films, take them grocery shopping, dining out, and to a farmed animal sanctuary.  Their “vegucation” is also provided by such luminaries as Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Howard Lyman, Dr. Milton Mills, T. Colin Campbell, and other speakers and participants at the Vegetarian Summerfest, which the three attend as part of the experiment.  How fortunate they were to get this kind of solid information and encouragement, compared to those of us who went vegan years ago and had to figure it all out for ourselves!  Viewers, of course, get all the same encouragement vicariously by watching the film, and can find more at the Get Vegucated website, including the movie trailer; Vegan at Heart, a four-week-long daily email coaching program; tips on making social connections with other local vegans; the DVD available for purchase ($19.99); and info on hosting a screening.   Continue reading “Get Vegucated!”

In Vitro Meat–Are You Salivating Yet?

A news story this week reports that a lab-grown or in vitro burger will be available from a science lab in the Netherlands by October.  The burger grown from animal stem cells will cost $330,000 to produce, and scientists working on it say that it will be at least 20 years before the process will be efficient enough for large scale and cost effective production.  Such meat is not imitation meat or a meat analog, but actual meat grown from animal stem cells.  It promises to reduce animal suffering, because such meat cannot feel pain, as well as avoid the environmental impact of livestock agriculture.  Because no animals need to be fed, no grain supplies are needed.  No manure is produced.  Apparently there is considerable interest these days among researchers, and increasing funding available, to bring such products to market.  Learn more about the current state of research, production and expected impacts here.

The human health impact of such meat is unknown; growth hormones and antibiotics may be required for large scale production.  Presumably the amount of fat and other undesirable components can be controlled in a lab setting; researchers want to make it healthier than conventional meat. Time will tell. But whatever words come to mind at the prospect of in vitro meat, at least to me, “yummy” is not one of them.

Food Activism in the ‘Hood

Vegetarian activists have long known that one of the most effective ways to persuade people toward a plant-based diet is by serving them delicious food.  Besides being effective, it’s also totally non-confrontational, and you don’t need to know the fine points of the issues, like why even well-managed grazing is detrimental to the environment.  Just pass the plate.

My neighborhood association gets together with a nearby church for a combined annual picnic on the church lawn in September, which includes a bake-off contest.  Two years ago I entered for the first time with killer vegan cupcakes decorated as professionally as I could manage.  I learned that the judges seemed to prefer plainer looking desserts, overlooking mine and another even fancier offering to award the prize to a very ordinary peach cobbler.  Last year I couldn’t attend the event, but this year I came back with a bake-off entry I thought more likely to succeed.  I presented a vegan chocolate mousse pie (recipe below), in a store-bought crumb crust, decorated with plain coconut flakes, and not actually baked at all.

I won!  Continue reading “Food Activism in the ‘Hood”

Meat Is Boring, Say Top Chefs

TIME magazine recently proclaimed some heartening news in “Where’s the Beet?: How Big- Name Chefs Are Shrinking Their Customers’ Carnivore Quota.”  Six top chefs were interviewed, all saying they are preparing less meat in their restaurants.  Two of them, Mario Batali and Jose Andres, say that meat is boring.  “After four bites of a big steak, I’m tired of it,” says Batali, who plans to open his sixteenth restaurant soon, this one in New York City and entirely vegetarian.   Andres, with six restaurants in Los Angeles and Washington, describes a combination of fruits and vegetables as “a rainbow of possibilities.  It’s more interesting than any meat.” Continue reading “Meat Is Boring, Say Top Chefs”

Making Meat-Eating Look Green

In the current (July/August) issue of Mother Jones, Associate Editor Kiera Butler questions the “greenness” of eating plant foods vs. eating meat in “Get Behind Me, Seitan: Why the vegetarian-equals-green argument isn’t so cut-and-dried.” Right out of the starting gate, Butler tells us that until recently she had been a lifelong vegetarian.  Wow, lifelong– that’s unusual and, among longtime committed vegetarians and vegans, enviable.  Yet Butler tells us this in the context of being in a restaurant ordering a burger, that is, a dead-flesh type burger.  What gives? Continue reading “Making Meat-Eating Look Green”