Category: Vegan


Saving the planet begins on our plates

By Midge Raymond,

It’s frustrating to go to an fundraiser for an animal rescue and find animals on the menu. Many organizations that believe in saving cats and dogs unfortunately do not believe in sparing cows, pigs, or chickens. Slowly, education and progress is happening — Animal Place‘s Food for Thought program offers wonderful tools to help organizations see that all animals matter — yet many organizations still resist.

Likewise, very few environmental organizations make the connection between animal agriculture (which is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined) and the environment — and yet this is a vital connection to make, especially during a time when our government is rolling back environmental protections. We as citizens and consumers can do so much good simply by making wiser choices — not only in how we get to work but what we put on our plates. Consider these statistics, from the Cowspiracy website (Cowspiracy is a must-see film about the connections between environmental degradation and animal agriculture):

  • Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatons CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
  • Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually, compared to 70-140 billion from fracking.
  • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of the water in the US.
  • 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
  • 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes; 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
  • Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted — we could see fishless oceans by 2048.
  • For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-catch.

There is good news, however: Increasing numbers of animal rescues see the myriad benefits of protecting all animals, and some environmental organizations do realize that saving the planet means being plant-based. I reached out to many of them to learn how they came to this realization and how they deal with those who challenge them … and most of all, to thank them.

All rescue and environmental organizations need to consider their food policies in order to truly do their best for animals and the planet. Oceanic Preservation Society executive director Louis Psihoyos puts it well: “You have to walk the walk in the environmental movement. I don’t believe in gray areas in this issue…People are starting to understand that the best way to make changes for the environment is to change what’s on your plate.” And GREY2K USA president Christine A. Dorchak says, “Helping dogs while hurting cows, pigs, or chickens just doesn’t make sense.”

I spoke with Barbara Troyer of Food for Thought, as well as the executive directors of Alley Cat Allies, Animals Asia, the Beagle Freedom Project, Foster Parrots, Grey2K, Oceanic Preservation Society, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, Sanctuary One, and the Washington Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies. I ended up so inspired by their passion for and dedication to the animals, the environment, and to making the world a better place. You can learn more about all these wonderful organizations in these two articles in Barefoot Vegan Magazine and in VegNews.

Dining well in San Francisco: Enjoy Vegetarian Chinese

By Midge Raymond,

Enjoy is an amazing vegan Chinese restaurant in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The restaurant is spacious and welcoming, but due to time constraints we opted for takeout.

It was hard to choose what to order from this all-vegan menu, which includes mock meats and seafoods in every form imaginable, from “beef” and “chicken” to “sea slugs.” In the end, we chose an order of spinach dumplings, which were soft, fluffy, and absolutely divine. We also had the Ma Pa Tofu, which is good if you like your tofu soft.

The broccoli “beef” is great, with loads of fresh broccoli and thin slices of mock beef. The Kung Pao “chicken” is spicy and loaded with peanuts, with mock chicken that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The veggie chow mein is also delicious.

This is a lovely spot to visit while shopping in Chinatown, and Enjoy also delivers if you’re in the city.

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Dining well in New York

By Midge Raymond,

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since the hardcover book tour for My Last Continent. It was not only a fabulous tour but so much fun to eat well along the way. I discovered one fabulous vegan eatery when I stopped in with friends at La Botaniste after my reading at Shakespeare & Co.

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This entirely plant-based wine bar has a fabulous menu. You order at the counter, and the bowls are made to order.

I had the pasta, with vegan bolongnese sauce — it is a gigantic, flavorful, and wonderful meal.

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I didn’t take photos of everyone’s food (it all disappeared very quickly), but everything was wonderful, from appetizers like hummus and red-beet caviar to the soups and rice bowls.

There is also a wonderful selection of pastries, cookies, pies, and puddings. It’s a friendly place with good wines and great prices, especially for New York.

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Dining well in Berkeley: The Butcher’s Son

By Midge Raymond,

The Butcher’s Son on University Avenue is a vegan deli but also feels like a “classic” deli, with its huge portions, its “meats” and “cheeses” behind glass cases, and the preparation of all the foods just over the counter.

It’s a small space, with about a half-dozen tables inside and a few more on the sidewalk outside. Sandwiches and salads (including bacon macaroni, creamy coleslaw, potato salad) are served all day, and brunch on weekends includes pancakes and a “steak and egg hoagie.” Appetizers include fried mozzarella, and there’s a kids’ menu and a mouth-watering selection of desserts, from cupcakes to cannoli.

The menu changes regularly, which is a good reason to go back as many times as possible. (If you’re looking at the menu online, check out the little camera icon to see what certain dishes look like.)

On the day we were there we had three delicious (and gigantic) sandwiches. (Important tip: Consider sharing meals so you’ll have room for dessert.)

I had the tuna salad sandwich on rye (I’d ordered the tuna melt but got this instead, and was not even slightly disappointed; I think I liked it even more than I might’ve enjoyed the melt). The sandwich comprises perfectly prepared and spiced tempeh tuna salad on rye with vegan mayo, mustard, onion, lettuce, avocado, and tomato. The bacon macaroni salad was delicious, and I got a side of bleu cheese (which normally goes with the melted version), and it was absolutely delicious — tangy with a crumbly texture.

We also sampled the chick’n pesto…sliced chick’n with pesto mayonnaise, hot cracked pepper chick’n, grilled mozzarella, and tomato. The bread was lightly toasted, the mozzarella perfectly melted, and the creamy coleslaw on the side was delicious.

And finally, the turkey grinder, which was even more gigantic than the other two overwhelmingly large sandwiches. This one is a toasted French bun with “grinder meat” (thinly sliced vegan turkey, gorgeously spiced), cracked pepper turkey, bacon, melted nacho cheese, pickled jalapeño, and iceberg lettuce. Because it was impossible to finish in one sitting, we discovered that taking home the leftovers is well worth it; it was just as delicious the next day.

For such a busy and popular place, the service is quick and efficient. And if you don’t save room for dessert, be sure to get some to go, along with plenty of vegan “meats” and dairy-free cheeses.

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Dining well in San Francisco: Shizen

By Midge Raymond,

If you’re a vegan who used to love sushi, you will rejoice over San Francisco’s Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya. As a vegan who never liked sushi, I nevertheless rejoiced upon visiting this lovely place, which has vegan raw fish and so, so much more.

The restaurant is tiny, and there is always a long wait (for our party, which arrived after eight o’clock on a Wednesday night, the wait was more than an hour and a half). But it’s well worth it.

For sushi lovers, there is a seemingly endless menu of vegan options — the carnivore among us loved every bite and vows to return again. Even if you’re not a sushi fan, there are a great many dishes to enjoy. As an appetizer, the garlic edamame is to die for.

For those who like miso and ramen, there are several delicious choices; I loved the soy ramen, which came with perfectly prepared noodles, a savory broth, and bacony-flavored tofu (which, to our delight, very much impressed the carnivore).

The rolls include Philadelphia rolls, California rolls, “tofuna” rolls, and so much more.

There’s also a dish known as the “Surprise Ending,” in which one (and only one) of the bites is incredibly spicy.

And all this is just the beginning; there are myriad more dishes, including tempura, stuffed mushrooms, gyoza (glorious fried dumplings), and sweet potato croquettes…and on and on. You’ll need more than one visit to enjoy all there is to offer here; we are already looking forward to going back.

 

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