By Anna Ben Yehuda
There has, arguably, never been a better time to be a vegan in America. As chefs across the country create menus reliant on fruits and vegetables in an effort to embrace health, eaters are getting used to the idea of entrées made entirely of vegetables (albeit souffléd, stirred and brined ones). In short: nobody will give you a dirty look if you ask to "hold the cheese."
With chefs of all calibers opening up restaurants dedicated to veganism, a compendium of some of the best seems necessary. Think of this as your personal bucket list that can double as a travel guide. Here are some of the best vegan restaurants in America, each highlighting different cuisines, cooking styles and overall dining experiences—and all worth traveling for.
Bunna Cafe in New York, New York
Nestled in a nondescript part of Flushing Avenue, within Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood, Bunna Cafe is a bustling Ethiopian vegan restaurant that doubles as a music venue. We highly suggest indulging in the feast for two (just $34), which will include all nine signature dishes: from the keysir selata (sauteed beets, carrots and potatoes served chill) to the enguday tibs (crimini mushrooms sauteed in peppers, rosemary, garlic, ginger and onion) and a rotator seasonal dish.
Bistro Vonish in Austin, Texas
Originally a monthly Supper Club dedicated to "elevating vegan cuisine," Bistro Vonish is now a trailer stationed on Austin's East 53rd Street. Expect a constantly shifting menu whose essence—delivering deliciously creative dishes made with vegan ingredients only—remains the same. They serve top-notch kolaches, those puffy pastries with fruits or vegan cheeses in the middle—so do make sure to try them all in different flavors. Suddenly, veganism sounds… doable.
Âu Lạc in Los Angeles, California
There's much to say about Au Lac. First of all, the restaurant goes beyond what is customarily expected from veggie-only restaurants, elevating the cuisine by embracing enticing Vietnamese flavors. Sure, the venue is found within a strip mall, but that doesn't prevent die-hard vegan celebrities from flocking to the space. Just looking at images of the food will make your head spin (think: salt & peppered battered yam shrimp, garlic basil rice noodles.) Bonus points: in addition to having a completely plant-based and vegan menu, the restaurant offers many gluten-free dishes. You should know that chef Ito, the genius behind the menu, has taken a permanent vow of silence.
Elizabeth's Gone Raw in Washington, DC
For $80 a person, diners will revel in this upscale dining experience (available on Friday nights only) within a historic townhome in Washington, D.C. Add another $60 and you'll receive organic wine pairings to go along with your decadent meal, which includes the likes of of crispy cassava cup made with gorgonzola cheese and cherry-chartreuse pearls, and royal trumpet mushroom and heart of palm crab cake. Remember, as the menu notes, that "any reference to conventional food is for context. The entire menu is plant based." You had us at historic townhome.
Bar Bombón in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
At Bar Bombón, the entire plant-based menu is made-to-order and imbued with Puerto Rican dishes with a twist. For brunch, expect sweetly delicious coconut-stuffed French toast while lunch and dinner may mean a harvest guacamole (butternut squash, sundried tomatoes, maple balsamic drizzle and spiced pepitas) and the Cubano club: blackened chick'n, smoked tempeh, avocado, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, grain mustard aioli and potato fries.
Plum Bistro in Seattle, Washington
If you can't decide which kind of food you're in the mood for, opt for Plum Bistro, dishing out vegan takes on all types of cuisines. From sweet potato gnocchi (broccoli rabe, wild mushrooms, garlic sage, white wine butter sauce) to jerk tofu and yam burgers (grilled Jamaican spiced tofu, yam, pickled cabbage, caramelized onions and tomato), Plum dishes out a variety of flavors—all plant-based, of course. The restaurant also boasts two take-out counters across town (one by the bistro and another in the Seattle Center Armory), a treat shop serving vegan brownies, ice cream and cookies and a food truck slinging out sandwiches and salads.
Plant Miami in Miami, Florida
If you're looking for upscale vegan cuisine, you've found your paradise. Here, vegan ingredients undergo the kind of culinary techniques usually reserved for high-end meat-focussed menus. Executive chef Horacio Rivadero and pastry chef Veronica Manolizi dehydrate, disassemble and then reassemble quinoa, eggplants and mushrooms to create menu items like the summer squash lasagna (spinach bechamel, walnut Bolognese, heriloom tomato kale pesto) and the Mediterranean bowl (almond falafel, sprouted hummus, smoked beets, buckwheat tabbouleh and tzatziki).
Avo in Nashville, Tennessee
Being the first fully vegan restaurant in Nashville (circa 2015) is a fact deserving of a spot on this list in and of itself, but add to that a vegan version of the Bushwacker—the city's classic rum-based milkshake—and you've got yourself a recipe for everlasting success. The kosher-certified menu includes a zucchini noodle pasta dish and the Southern bowl: brown rice, black eyed peas, seasonal squash, steamed kale, corn on the cob, coleslaw and roasted red pepper sauce.
Homegrown Smoker in Portland, Oregon
A full-blown vegan barbecue? You heard that right. Originally a cart but now a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, Homegrown Smoker smokes the likes of tofu fish fillets, soy-based chicken, seitan burgers and tempeh ribs. Choose the combo plate to try a variety of different flavors that will all make you wonder how in the world it isn't meat.
Seed in New Orleans, Louisiana
If you're craving classic New Orleans dishes but subscribe to a vegan diet, Seed comes to the rescue. The spacious eatery serves vegan regional favorites like eggplant po-boys, gumbo and artichoke cakes. Those craving outside-of-the-box-dishes can opt for the pad Thai made with cucumber and revel in the outstanding fresh juice cocktails.
Donna Jean in San Diego, California
The restaurant is named after chef Roy Elam's late mother. Since August of 2017, Donna Jean has been serving delectable vegan food made, partly, with herbs picked from the venue's own on-site garden. Definitley try the chickpea-flour-made socca pizzas, then move on to the mushroom risotto and cast-iron mac and cheese.
Chicago Diner in Chicago, Illinois
The early-adopter owners of this Chicago staple have been operating it as a meat-free diner since 1983. Their signature dish is a Reuben sandwich, made with corned beef seitan, grilled onions, sauerkraut, peppers, vegan thousand island dressing and cheese on marbled rye. Note: although most menu items are vegan, some are considered vegetarian only but are offered in vegan versions as well.
Shizen in San Francisco, California
Shizen offers creative vegan takes on sushi. The izakaya and sushi bar serves delicious yakimono (pan-fried dishes) like bean curd, asparagus and shishito peppers; nimono (braised dishes) like nasu agebitah and chilled oden; agemono (tempura dishes) like the shizen shiitake and croquettes; and even larger vegan dishes like spicy cold ramen, zaru soba and lily flower curry. Fun and trendy, but only open for dinner service.
By Chloe in Boston, Massachusetts
One of the most recognized vegan restaurants in the country, By Chloe first opened in New York City (it now has six locations there, plus two sweets shops), and opened its first Boston restaurant in the winter of 2017 (and the second one in the spring of the same year.) Inarguably responsible for propelling the vegan wave, the restaurant serves soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. In Boston, expect exclusive menu items that reflect the city's culinary tastings: vegan lobster rolls and clam chowder await.
J. Selby's in St. Paul, Minnesota
Physician-turned-restaurateur Matt Clayton brought this plant-based eatery to St. Paul back in 2017. Their "Dirty Secret" is their special take on the Big Mac. Also, try their take on a Philly cheesesteak. The "meat" in this burger is provided by the Herbivorous Butcher, a local plant-based butcher, while the rest is made in-house at J. Selby's.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly described J.Selby's "Dirty Secret."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
By Matthew J. Landry and Heather Eicher-Miller
When university presidents were surveyed in spring of 2020 about what they felt were the most pressing concerns of COVID-19, college students going hungry didn't rank very high.
Why It Matters<p>This is not just a matter of growling stomachs. This is a straight-up education and health issue.</p><p>When students don't really know if they'll be able to get enough to eat, it can lead to a series of problems that make it harder to stay in school. For instance, it can affect <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1359105318783028" target="_blank">academic performance</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6943-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sleep quality</a>. It can also lead to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318783028" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">poor mental and physical health</a> outcomes for college students.</p><p>Food insecurity can also result in disrupted eating patterns if there is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627945/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">not enough food or the variety</a> or <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6943-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">quality of what someone eats</a> is low.</p>
Campus Food Pantries<p>Previous strategies by <a href="https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/696254.pdf" target="_blank">colleges and universities</a> to fight hunger in their student bodies have varied widely. They include campus food pantries, emergency cash assistance and nutrition education through noncredit classes or workshopse.</p><p>These strategies were put to the test during the spring 2020 semester, when nearly <a href="https://hope4college.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Hopecenter_RealCollegeDuringthePandemic.pdf" target="_blank">three in five students</a> said they had trouble meeting their own basic needs during the pandemic.</p><p>College food pantries saw <a href="https://www.utrgv.edu/newsroom/2020/05/01-utrgv-student-food-pantry-seeing-recent-increase-in-demand-during-covid-19.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">big increases</a> in demand. Others said they <a href="https://www.theprospectordaily.com/2020/09/22/uteps-food-pantry-is-running-out-of-food/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">were getting less donated food</a>. This made it even harder to meet the rising food needs of students.</p><p>Campus food pantries largely rely on local or regional food banks, which have been dealing with <a href="https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/2020/10/04/indiana-food-banks-call-more-food-stamps-meet-publics-need/3523683001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">greater demand</a> than they are able to meet during the pandemic.</p><p>The many students who are attending college remotely will, of course, have less access to campus resources like food pantries.</p>
Federal Help<p>Other potential ways to get more food are government programs like the <a href="https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/recipient/eligibility" target="_blank">Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program</a>, known as SNAP. Yet the majority of able-bodied students are not eligible. Long-standing restrictions, like the <a href="https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/students" target="_blank">college SNAP rule</a>, prevent full-time students from receiving these benefits.</p><p>Such regulatory hurdles were created under the assumption that most students can rely on their parents to get enough to eat. However, college students have vastly different levels of financial support. Some students can rely on their parents for everything and others cannot rely on their parents for anything.</p><p>Decreased reliance on parental financial support is <a href="https://ir.library.louisville.edu/jsfa/vol47/iss3/5/" target="_blank">especially common</a> for first-generation students and students of color, who now make up <a href="https://1xfsu31b52d33idlp13twtos-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Race-and-Ethnicity-in-Higher-Education.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">45% of enrolled college students</a>.</p><p>Under normal circumstances, many college students might rely on part-time jobs to pay for their food.</p>
Short-Term Solutions<p>Universities and colleges can make it a priority to ensure students are aware of all available campus resources and services. They can also potentially help students apply for federal assistance benefits.</p><p>Campus food pantries are not a fully effective and efficacious solution for the scale of college food insecurity, but they can be a good interim solution to increase access to food for students.</p><p>Campuses without food pantries can start one, making use of resources the <a href="https://cufba.org/resources/" target="_blank">College and University Food Bank Alliance</a> provides. Schools with food pantries can try to get them to <a href="https://www.swipehunger.org/5campuspantry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reach more students</a>.</p><p>Universities and colleges can also lean on one another for support. The <a href="http://wp.auburn.edu/endchildhungeral/alabama-campus-coalition-for-basic-needs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs</a> is a great example of this. It brings together 10 universities across the state of Alabama collectively working to address student food insecurity.</p>
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Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.
Is More CBD Really Better?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2ODQyNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzYxMDMzN30.6B08i5QYW_Iq5bUf3qtm8oK8o6FKsRUZ74gdakgJ_TY/img.jpg?width=980" id="0ef5b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bac86abf3ce246742b18b0dc4052f4dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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The Truth About CBD Product Potency<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2ODMyNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDc2NTg1N30.OAm3iOTO_pKZLXi7KdJ7n0DGOFMdOmIYuG4ArGooFC4/img.jpg?width=980" id="d657c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ee016a81b29caa699b9185b64ce345d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie
Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?
Triangle of Mistruths<p>The myth created around plastic recycling has been one of simplicity. We look for the familiar triangle arrows, then pop the waste in the recycling bin so it can be reused.</p><p>But the true purpose of those triangles has been misunderstood by the general public ever since their invention in the 1980s.</p><p>These triangles were actually created by the plastics industry and, according to a report provided to them in July 1993, <a href="https://www.npr.org/transcripts/912150085" target="_blank">were creating "unrealistic expectations"</a> about what could be recycled. But they decided to keep using the codes.</p><p>Which is why many people still believe that these triangular symbols (also known as a <a href="https://sustainablepackaging.org/101-resin-identification-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resin identifier code</a> or RIC) means something is recyclable.</p><p>But according to the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) – which controls the RIC system – the numbered triangles "<a href="https://www.astm.org/Standards/D7611.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are not recycle codes</a>." In fact, they weren't created for the general public at all. They were made for the post-consumer plastic industry.</p><p>In other words, the symbols make it easier to sort the different types of plastics, some of which cannot be recycled – <a href="https://www.ecobin.com.au/understand-recycling-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">depending on the recycling facility</a>.</p><p>"Unfortunately, just placing your plastic into the recycling bin doesn't mean it will get recycled," says Lara Camilla Pinho. She is an architect and lecturer at the UWA School of Design who is researching novel uses of plastic waste.</p><p>"The recycling system is complicated and often dictated by market demand. Not all plastic is recyclable. We cannot recycle plastic bags or straws for example."</p>
Behind the Scenes<p>So, what makes recycling plastics so difficult?</p><p>"Essentially, there are two types of plastics – thermoplastics and thermosets. While thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded, thermosets contain cross-linked polymers that cannot be separated meaning they cannot be recycled," says Lara.</p><p>"Even thermoplastics have a limit to the amount of times we can recycle them, as each time they are recycled they downgrade in quality."</p><p>Even when plastics are recyclable, it is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/13/war-on-plastic-waste-faces-setback-as-cost-of-recycled-material-soars" target="_blank">often more costly</a> than simply making new plastics.</p>
Sugar, Seaweed and Mushrooms<p>If the conventional recycling system isn't working, what else can we do with all the plastic we've created?</p><p>Lara is looking for ways to add value to recycled plastics such as using it in the design and development of architectural products. She hopes to use these architectural products to help underserved communities that are disproportionately affected by plastic waste.</p><p>In addition to recycling, we also need to find ways to reduce our use of virgin petroleum-based plastics.</p><p>Bioplastic is one such product that has been getting a lot of hype over the last few years. And although they're better than petroleum-based plastics, bioplastics also come with their own <a href="https://phys.org/news/2017-12-truth-bioplastics.html" target="_blank">set of challenges</a>.</p><p>"There are already a lot of bio-based alternatives to plastic, such as bagasse – a byproduct of sugar cane processing," says Lara.</p><p><a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-mycelium-revolution-is-upon-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mycelium</a>, a type of fungi we most often associate with mushrooms, are also providing an interesting plastic alternative.</p><p>"In the field of architecture, mycelium is starting to be used as an alternative to plastic insulation, but also as compostable packaging and bricks," says Lara.</p><p>"The bricks take around five days to make and are strong, durable, water resistant and compostable at the end of their use."</p><p><a href="https://www.arup.com/news-and-events/hyfi-reinvents-the-brick" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hy-Fi Tower</a>, created by <a href="http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/living_about.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Living</a>, is an example of a building made from these bricks.</p><p>And finally, there's seaweed.</p><p>"[Seaweed is] cheap and can reproduce itself quickly without fertilizers. In architecture, there is use for seaweed as an alternative to plastic insulation but also as cladding," says Lara.</p>
More Money, More Problems<p>While all these alternatives are great, the main cause of our plastic dilemma is not scientific or technological, but economic.</p><p>As long as it remains <a href="https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-is-it-cheaper-to-make-new-plastic-bottles-than-to-recycle-old-ones/" target="_blank">cheaper to create new plastics</a> from fossil fuels rather than from bioplastics or from recycling, we're going to be stuck with plastic garbage islands floating in our oceans.</p><p>The true cost to our health and our environment has yet to be included in the equation. But once it is, maybe that is when the real shift will happen.</p>
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