A month of “eat less meat” meals

For the month of September, we’ll be posting for VeganMoFo. It is a challenge to undertake a month of blogging (and cooking!) vegan meals. It is an area that causes difficulty for the average person to know how to replace standard meat-centered meals.

Obviously, there are a lot of concerning articles about climate change, and many angles to approach. However, the personal one that each of us can undertake, and makes a huge difference is choosing what we purchase and put on our plates.

We can dispute all day, about whether we should eat meat or should not eat meat. But, what is indisputable is that all of the billions of people on earth can’t eat meat at almost every meal. As one of the worst offenders, this country needs to change drastically. There are ways to ease into it, start with Meatless Monday, try one vegetarian meal a day, or vegan before 6. Don’t do it because someone shouts at you to “Go Vegan!”. Take these steps because our future is at stake. I can’t think of a bigger cause, because this issue affects all of us- the animals and the people: homeless, transgender, feminist, gay, wealthy and poor. Fires, droughts, floods, record heat levels, the climate isn’t going to improve on it’s own.


Fast food- better get with the times!

While we definitely support completely vegan places (I have written about them here), there are times when we need to go to a specific location and want to also support those who offer good veg options!

It has been so great to see fast food restaurants like Chipotle doing so well, with their healthier menu, and vegetarian/vegan options. They are always full. Something about their cilantro lime rice, and salsa is just SO good. I usually go for a vegan bowl and they give you (A LOT of) free guacamole. The sofritas is a great option for those who like the taste of meat- it is a tasty spiced tofu.

Café Yumm is another example of a great business model. They are expanding like crazy, and even have one drive-thru in Salem. All their locations are in Oregon, except one in Seattle by Pike Place. If you haven’t tried it, they make a pretty delicious tempeh skewer.

Another favorite place to eat is Laughing Planet. I believe they are currently only in Oregon, but am sure they will expand, or have similar places follow their model. They give you a possibility to substitute tofu or tempeh I believe on their special items that have meat. Their vegetarian meals are truly delicious. One of my favorites is the Cuban bowl. Fresh smoothies and juices round out their menu- and vegan cookies.

Those are my top three choices. If we have to do a really fast drive thru, the only option I will consider is Burgerville. They at least have a veggie burger option, although it leaves something to be desired. There are seasonal vegetables, and it is local. They are a step in the right direction.

Hopefully, Amy’s Drive-Thru which just opened in California will be a huge success and open in all the States. With items such as Vegan Mac n Cheese, vegan pizza, veggie bowls and burritos, this is a game changer!

I’m adding in one newcomer, that is all vegan. I am SO excited about Next Level Burger, opening in Portland soon. Their Bend, OR location must be doing really well. I will have a separate post about them once I get to try it out. This can show how plant-based food can be mainstream and delicious. I want to try every thing on their menu!

As for the older Fast Food chains, I don’t give them much hope in this changing market of people wanting healthier options, and more visibility and awareness of their participation in factory farm’s pollution and cruelty.

McDonalds has been steadily losing money, which will surely be the trend for a lot of the fast food chains as awareness grows about factory farming and the ingredients.

I recently went to Jack in the Box for the first time in many years. We were with friends, late at night headed to Seattle, and that was what we went with. I was shocked to find that all of their salads contained meat. When I asked if my daughter could get a taco without meat, I was told that wasn’t possible, it was already in it. Seriously? It can’t be more cost-effective to include an ingredient than leave it out. But, when you are talking about pre-packaged convenience, they go for what they think people want. I will NEVER go there again, just because they offer zero choices. Add to that list- Arby’s and countless others I am sure.

With all these large chain fast food restaurants, people don’t want to know how the nuggets are made. Pink slime, meat glue, no thanks!

Even if it costs a bit more, I hope you’ll try these places and support them in making a difference. That will encourage the others to change their practices if they want to survive.



Evolving eat less meat

My husband and I are transitioning our business over the summer from being a boutique design agency specializing in wine and food, to new ventures focused on environmental issues. We are doing this in less of a business plan model, and just trying multiple ventures and seeing what works.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous to give up billing $100/hour, but it definitely aligns with our hearts and family, and we will figure out how to make it work financially. So far Jonathan has been focusing on more environmental/green projects, and I will be more in raising awareness of how food choices affect animals and environment.

What I have learned through the last 3 years, and especially this summer, is that I am not comfortable in being fully vegan. I have tried to find the right moniker for my eating style- vegan light, hardcore vegetarian? I find it is very difficult for the general populace to imagine going from eating meat and/or dairy multiple times a day, to having none. If veganism is a religion- then there is no halfway, and no reason for them to try unless they fully embrace the ideals. I am still fully aware of how I was eating meat fairly recently, and would have possibly continued if I had not started learning about the issues. Although I began for health reasons, and my daughter wanting to be vegetarian. I now have multiple, much more important reasons.

If  the message “eat less meat” is a message that is more easily acceptable and received, then that is the direction to embrace to effectively make change. Only when one’s mind is open to listening about the reasons why we all need to eat less meat, can there be understanding. The message, “You need to be 100% vegan” will immediately close that person’s mind.

In my life, I have chosen not to be religious because at an early age I learned that it causes division (my mother and father are different faiths). By choosing one religion, the others are false. Any dogmatic ideals create this tension. The basic tenet of all major religions is compassion towards others, especially those less fortunate. I believe this extends into our treatment of all animals regardless of how you feel their status relates to humans, exotic animals, or companion animals, as fellow earthlings.

If we can all strive for compassion, the overall burden will be less for the animals, our earth, our children. And that is what eat less meat is about. Not an “all or nothing” attitude, but a common goal of reducing and changing factory farming, creating more options for people who are trying to eat less meat, and giving everyone a way to help make Earth be physically survivable in the near future. Yes, that may sound drastic, but it has come to that point with drought, climate change and population growth that drastic steps must be immediately taken.

And that is why we are taking a “sabbatical” from earning money to pour our time and efforts into what we feel is the most important undertaking for our children, who will most certainly be affected.

Eat less seafood…

Credit: Wearechange.org
Credit: Wearechange.org

Like something out of a horror movie, “The Blob” is growing and getting stronger every day. This toxic algae bloom is a serious issue, and while we wait and debate over whether it is normal cyclical pattern, or a sign of climate change- time to cut back on the sushi.

If this doesn’t concern you, consider that half of the salmon in the Columbia River have died due to the unusually hot weather and drought conditions.

Everyone will soon be eating less seafood whether they want to or not.

Now is the time to do everything we can to reduce the global warming, slow it down. As individuals, we can choose to eat less meat, every day. And yes, seafood too. While I hate to be alarmist, we must take swift action. Ignore “The Blob” at your own peril.

A great victory for the animals

Industrial animal operations have long been given free reign to do whatever they wanted, with no visibility to the public. Those who attempted to simply photograph any of the scenes risked serious criminal charges. With Idaho’s ruling, factory farms may have to actually be accountable for the way they treat animals and their operations, and hopefully is just the beginning of other States following suit.

Paul McCartney once famously stated, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian”. I think this is the first step.

Read the NPR article!

investigation at Bettencourt Dairies' Dry Creek facility in Hansen, Idaho. / Mercy for Animals
investigation at Bettencourt Dairies’ Dry Creek facility in Hansen, Idaho. / Mercy for Animals