On Valentine's Day, people celebrate all kinds of love. And chefs and foodies around the globe are showing how indulgence can often be both healthy for people and the planet. These innovators are making the case that flavorful, locally sourced plant-inspired dishes are perfect for special occasions — and also versatile for everyday mealtimes.
1. Alice Waters<p>Waters is a chef, author, and food advocate, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. Waters is the author of 15 books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II, and the memoir, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook. With the belief that chefs should pay attention to the wholesomeness of food — including how ingredients are sourced — Waters is credited with providing the foundation for the plant-forward movement. Waters' recipes and menus offer occasional lapses into indulgence perfect for Valentine's Day including sweet corn soup and winter squash tortellini.</p>
2. Ana Sortun<p>Ana Sortun is the chef at Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her menu focuses on Turkish and Middle Eastern classics distilled down to their traditional elements. She is also the owner of Sofra Bakery in Cambridge and Sarma Restaurant in Somerville, Mass. Many of the vegetables used at Sortun's restaurants are grown locally — on her husband's farm. Sortun is well-regarded for her mastery of Mediterranean spices — her 2006 cookbook, simply called "Spice," is a bestseller. In her recipes for <a href="https://www.saveur.com/turkish-stuffed-eggplant-imam-bayildi-recipe/" target="_blank">imam bayildi (Turkish stuffed eggplant)</a> and <a href="https://oldwayspt.org/blog/chef-ana-sortun-oleana-shares-kitchen-secrets-and-new-cookbook" target="_blank">Syrian-style lentils with chard</a>, she homes in the one or two warming spices that will elevate the star vegetable without overpowering its natural flavor.</p>
3. Chloe Coscarelli<p>Vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli believes that vegetable-forward dishes can still be mouthwatering, rich, and playful. Now with four cookbooks and nearly a dozen television appearances, Coscarelli has become a prominent figure making the most of plants and their natural flavors. With recipes like <a href="https://chefchloe.com/recipes" target="_blank">chocolate layer cake</a>, <a href="https://chefchloe.com/recipes" target="_blank">blueberry cinnamon french toast</a>, and maple bacon benedict, home chefs can satisfy their sweet tooth and their savory cravings this holiday.</p>
4. Christina Arokiasamy<p>Chef Christina Arokiasamy, who was raised in Malaysia and now lives in Washington State, served as the first Malaysian food ambassador to the United States. Her family members have been spice merchants for five generations, and her show on the Cooking Channel, The Malaysian Kitchen, focused on traditional Malaysian flavors. Arokiasamy's recipes for <a href="https://themalaysiankitchen.com/2019/10/08/vegetarian-pineapple-fried-rice/" target="_blank">pineapple fried rice</a> and <a href="https://themalaysiankitchen.com/2019/10/08/goan-coconut-curry/" target="_blank">goan coconut curry</a> both highlight plant-based ingredients commonly found in Malaysia and blend sweet and savory elements.</p>
5. Daisuke Nomura<p>Chef Nomura is internationally praised for plant-forward takes on creative Japanese style cuisine. Having earned two Michelin stars, Nomura's recipes are sure to impress any loved one with plant-forward innovation, including his spin on an American Valentine's classic: instead of a beef steak, Nomura's recipe suggests an <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/daisuke-nomura#recipe" target="_blank">onion steak</a> as a new way to embrace the overlooked ingredient's flavor using new and modern styles of cooking.</p>
6. Dan Barber<p>Dan Barber, Chef and Co-Owner of <a href="https://www.bluehillfarm.com/" target="_blank">Blue Hill</a> and <a href="https://www.bluehillfarm.com/dine/stone-barns" target="_blank">Blue Hill at Stone Barn</a> and the author of The Third Plate, was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef. In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. Barber is hailed for his plant-forward initiatives including his Row 7 seed company that breeds seeds for better flavor. Barber's plant-forward <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/dan-barber#recipe" target="_blank">celery root recipes</a> open up new possibilities for the vegetable a rich broth, cozy tea, or even a hearty braised dish.</p>
7. Deborah Madison<p>Chef, cooking teacher, and author of 14 widely-recognized cookbooks Deborah Madison specializes in seasonal vegetable recipes. Through these recipes, Madison — recognized as the originator of the plant-forward trend — hopes to highlight farmers market produce and heritage varieties of vegetables. Having cooked at restaurants like Greens in San Francisco, Madison has surprised many non-vegetarian and non-vegan diners with bold flavors and filling meals. Dive into Madison's cozy <a href="https://www.latimes.com/food/recipes/la-fo-deborah-madison-in-my-kitchen-cookbook-20170206-story.html" target="_blank">lentil soup with berbere</a> or <a href="https://www.marthastewart.com/316404/beet-risotto" target="_blank">risotto with beets</a>, which add depth and color to a normally luxurious dish.</p>
8. Derek and Chad Sarno<p>Derek Sarno is Executive Chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation at Tesco and co-founder of Wicked Healthy, a plant-forward blog founded with his brother Chad Sarno. The co-founders develop recipes that allow eaters to indulge with smokey, deep, and nearly guilt-causing flavors — all while maintaining a plant-forward diet and mission. Their recipes like <a href="https://wickedhealthyfood.com/2019/12/27/wicked-herby-crusted-roasted-butternut-squash-tenderloin/" target="_blank">roasted and herb-crusted butternut squash tenderloin</a> and coconut tartlets with <a href="https://wickedhealthyfood.com/2016/09/11/coconut-tartlet-with-clementine-sorbet-and-lavender-syrup/" target="_blank">clementine sorbet and lavender syrup</a> embrace the flavor of plants and their potential in classic Valentine's Day preparations.</p>
9. Erik Oberholtzer<p>Erik Oberholtzer is a chef, social entrepreneur, and food activist whose restaurant chain Tender Greens makes it easier for anyone to enjoy seasonal, plant-forward home cooking at affordable prices. And as a board member for The Rodale Institute and a Food Forever Champion, Oberholtzer supports regeneratively grown and biodiverse crops in diets around the world. His recipes for <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2BK-eGryp0" target="_blank">gazpacho</a> and <a href="https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/poached-salmon-salad-with-lettuce-and-asparagus-50185996" target="_blank">poached salmon salad</a> offer lighter takes on romantic meals.</p>
10. Hari Pulapaka<p>Hari Pulapaka is the Executive Chef and Owner of the acclaimed Cress Restaurant in DeLand, Florida, and is a tenured professor at Stetson University. Pulapaka's self-described cuisine is "globally inspired" and "vegetarian focused" and is intended to showcase food that "nourishes the body and frees the soul." In his forthcoming book Sinfully Vegetarian, Pulapaka will feature plant-forward recipes that leave eaters feeling spoiled and craving for more. Inspired by Pulapaka's menus and recipes, eaters can indulge in <a href="http://sinfullyvegetarian.com/" target="_blank">savory vegetable bread pudding</a>, beet-radish terrine with lentil-sesame hummus, or a Mediterranean and Middle East-inspired <a href="https://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/meyer-lemon-ricotta-and-spinach-gnudi-with-green-garbanzo-bean-hummus-tomato-jam-and-spiced-almonds" target="_blank">ricotta and spinach gnudi</a>.</p>
11. Jody Adams<p>Jody Adams, a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef, highlights local vegetables at her restaurants in Boston, where her menus feature housemade pastas, roasted beets, and spanakopita. Adams — who holds a degree in anthropology from Brown University — put it best when she said, "It's the beautiful, raw ingredients that determine what food tastes like — not how fancy the kitchen is." Try something new in the kitchen this Valentine's Day, like making your own pasta: Adams' comforting recipes for <a href="https://www.bostonchefs.com/recipe/jody-adams-floppy-tomato-lasagna/" target="_blank">floppy tomato lasagna</a> and <a href="https://www.starchefs.com/chefs/JAdams/html/recipe_03.shtml" target="_blank">potato gnocchi gratin with wild mushrooms</a> guide you through the process.</p>
12. Joe Yonan<p>Joe Yonan, the Washington Post's food and dining editor, thinks we should all eat more beans. In his new book, Cool Beans, Yonan shares 125 recipes that highlight the versatility of the wide world of protein-packed legumes. Many of the recipes, like <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vegetarian-recipes-hummus-ratatouille-margaritas-and-more-from-washington-posts-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">fusilli with white beans, cherry tomatoes, and corn sauce</a> or <a href="https://modernfarmer.com/2020/02/cook-this-cool-beans-by-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">falafel fattoush</a>, use ingredients you might already have canned in your pantry. Right in time for Valentine's Day, Yonan even serves dessert and drinks, with recipes like <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vegetarian-recipes-hummus-ratatouille-margaritas-and-more-from-washington-posts-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">chocolate, red bean, and rose brownies</a> and a <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vegetarian-recipes-hummus-ratatouille-margaritas-and-more-from-washington-posts-joe-yonan/" target="_blank">salty margarita sour</a>, topped with whipped chickpea aquafaba.</p>
13. John Fraser<p>Eating vegetarian or vegan, <a href="http://www.nixny.com/" target="_blank">according to chef John Fraser</a>, "should feel more celebration than sacrifice." That's why he opened Nix, which is now New York City's only Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant. There, he serves dishes ranging from cauliflower tempura (<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-dish-chef-john-fraser/" target="_blank">here's the recipe</a>) to kabocha squash dumplings, but his menu changes depending on what's seasonally available. Fraser shows that plant-forward dishes can be fun — he describes his <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qkn9aw/potato-fry-bread-with-sour-cream-and-cucumbers" target="_blank">potato fry bread recipe</a> as "a zeppoli made love to a French fry and then got slathered in sour cream and vegetables."</p>
14. José Andrés<p>José Andrés is often credited with bringing the tapas-style dining concept to America. The founder of 31 restaurants and World Central Kitchen, which provides meals to those affected by natural disasters, wants to bring vegetables forward in American diets. By making vegetables the center of dishes, and relegating meat to side dishes or condiments, Andrés hopes to give plants the recognition they deserve for their role in eaters' health and happiness. Andrés's recent cookbook Vegetables Unleashed includes cozy, luxurious recipes like potatoes cooked in compost, vegetable paella, and fennel bouillabaisse.</p>
15. Makini Howell<p>Chef Makini Howell from Plum Bistro Seattle designs innovative dishes that reflect upon her experience being raised in a vegan family. With powerful flavors, Howell works hard to make plant-forward synonymous with delicious. Howell's recipes offer adventurous eaters an opportunity to integrate more spice into their Valentine's Day meal plans with a <a href="https://recipes.oregonlive.com/recipes/habanero-yam-soup" target="_blank">habanero yam soup</a> and <a href="https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/home-and-family/recipes/makini-howells-spicy-peach-tofu-and-tempeh-with-charred-purple-beans" target="_blank">spicy peach tofu and tempeh with charred purple beans</a>.</p>
16. Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby<p>Chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby opened and operate a small restaurant group of vegan establishments in Philadelphia — including Vedge, V Street, and Wiz Kid — and Washington D.C.'s Fancy Radish. As James Beard-nominated chefs, Landau and Jacoby's passion for veganism injects love into their cooking; and similar plant lovers can feel inspired by their menus and recipes that explore rutabaga fondue, eggplant braciole, and even <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwExuSgTJ5M" target="_blank">potato scallops</a>.</p>
17. Romy Gill<p>When chef Romy Gill was growing up in India, meat was reserved for celebrations and special occasions — and even when she did eat meat, it was a side dish at most. So every recipe in her recent debut cookbook, Zaika, is vegan. "I wanted to show that in India, plant-based cuisine is something people don't do just for the sake of it—it's a way of life," <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2019/12/warming-dhals-zingy-salads-interview-romy-gill" target="_blank">she said</a>. Gill, who now lives in the U.K., cooks lighter fare with Indian flavors, like <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/recipes/red-cabbage-pomegranate-salad-romy-gill-cooking-instructions-a9008271.html" target="_blank">red cabbage and pomegranate salad</a> and <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/recipes/romy-gill-recipe-courgette-sabzi-indian-vegetarian-a8361056.html" target="_blank">courgette (zucchini) sabzi</a>, a childhood favorite.</p>
18. Selassie Atadika<p>Midunu, the name of chef Selassie Atadika's restaurant in Accra, Ghana, means "let us eat" in the Ewe language. Midunu represents "nomadic" dining, meaning meals are served pop-up style at a new location each time. Atadika said she is reminded that plant-forward cooking is healthier for humans and the planet when she looks at the traditional foodways of nomadic African groups. Now, at Midunu, Atadika sources much of her produce and grain from local farmers living off the land. Recipes like her <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/selassie-atadika#recipe" target="_blank">gari foto</a> celebrate African ingredients like gari (made from dried cassava) and the spice prekese.</p>
19. Stéphanie Audet<p>Before Stéphanie Audet became a restaurant chef, she was a vegetarian food consultant, creating plant-based recipes and menus for restaurants. These skills have come in handy in her kitchens: A restaurant she opened in Hawaii was devoted entirely to raw indigenous ingredients. When she became the executive chef at LOV, in Montreal, Canada, in 2016, she created an entirely vegan menu that featured creative but approachable recipes like <a href="https://quench.me/mavericks/stephanie-audet-lov-maverick-chefs-2018/" target="_blank">coconut ceviche</a>. Recently, she moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where she opened Senhor Uva. At the natural food and wine bar, her small plates focus on seasonal and local vegetables.</p>
20. Tal Ronnen<p>The plant-based chef to the stars, Tal Ronnen earned his fame while cooking for Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Arianna Huffington, and for the first-ever vegan dinner at the United States Senate. Ronnen's cookbook Crossroads is based on recipes from his Los Angeles restaurant of the same name, which opened in 2013 to showcase high-end vegan dining with Mediterranean flavors. With an inventive recipe for <a href="https://www.plantforward50.com/chefs/tal-ronnen#recipe" target="_blank">artichoke "oysters" with tomato bearnaise and kelp caviar</a>, Ronnen offers eaters a plant-forward alternative to the well-known seafood aphrodisiac this Valentine's Day.</p>
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By Tara Lohan
Despite the warning signs — climate change, biodiversity loss, depleted soils and a shrinking supply of cheap energy — we continue to push along with an economy fueled by perpetual growth on a finite planet.
You refer to the age you see coming up when there’s less cheap energy available as the “Great Simplification.” Where does that term come from and what does it mean?<p>The idea for this report first came from a series of guest lectures I did for a class at the University of Minnesota taught by [energy and systems expert] <a href="https://www.postcarbon.org/our-people/nate-hagens/" target="_blank">Nate Hagens</a> [a Post Carbon Institute board member]. Great Simplification is the term he was using in his class, but it ties well to anthropological work looking at social complexity in relationship to energy.</p><p><span></span>Societies that have less energy available organize themselves differently, and so the Great Simplification is this idea that as energy becomes more dear we'll need to use less of it. And our highly complex and globally integrated societies will begin take on forms that are simpler over time. That means less complex trade networks, less specialization in jobs, less bureaucratic hierarchies.</p>
When I try to envision what this Great Simplification would look like, I think of either preindustrial society or at least pre-World War II. What does it look like to you?<p>I remember traveling through Europe and seeing the contrast between a modern European city and someplace like a World Heritage site that is still a living city, but it was built centuries ago and there never was a suburban expansion around it. And so you basically see this countryside that you can walk to from the city center.</p><p>That's how people lived prior to the industrial revolution in most parts of the world. And if you go to somewhere such as rural Bolivia, that's what it still looks like. I think that's maybe what the long-term consequences of fossil fuel depletion will look like. But what happens in the messy middle is much harder to figure out.</p><p>To think about that, the report looks at places that have already started getting abandoned in the upper Midwest because they lost the industrial clout they used to have from the steel industry and the auto industry. So you can sort of see this process unfolding already. You may have a partial abandonment of some areas and then maybe also reclaiming of them partly for food production. Big suburban houses may instead have more people living together to share expenses and share work.</p>
It seems like today in the United States very few people know much about farming or producing food in general. How do we start to close that knowledge gap?<p>I feel like we have two kinds of threads going right now. On the one hand, there are a lot of school gardens and farms taking off and there's more being done for horticulture programs, shop programs and home economics. There's a bit of a skills revival happening. But on the other hand, there's also a big focus on teaching every kid how to code, or kids being on their personal entertainment devices all the time instead of getting outside in nature.</p><p>Part of what I hope the report does is to make people aware of this skills gap and try to prioritize learning not just about self-sufficiency but how communities can work together.</p><p>I don't expect the people reading the report will suddenly perform voluntary simplicity and try to find a commune to live on somewhere. But what I do hope is to inspire people to become change agents — to be ready for when the energy system forces a transition and start setting up systems that are pre-adapted to an energy-scarce world.</p>
What are some of the ways that people can support this kind of transition work and re-localization without being an actual farmer or food producer?<p>If you're a rural landowner there's a big opportunity. Farmers on average own only half the land they use. So, if you own that land, who do you choose to lease to? Are you actively trying to find a farmer who's oriented towards more regenerative, more organic, more local and regional systems?</p><p>If you have money there are also lending clubs that can help support local food systems and entrepreneurs. Then there might be people who are politically connected and know folks on the city council or in the planning department and can push for changes in codes or policies, like for instance, if there's a local law that doesn't allow you to capture rainwater or have a front yard garden.</p><p>Maybe you can support the local soil and water conservation district or the local conservation group that's trying put biodiversity back on farmlands. Farms are full of amazing habitats that can be great places to rebuild ecosystem services, protect watersheds, get insect, bat and bird populations back up — that will serve food production in the long run.</p>
It seems like these kinds of changes that you’re talking about could seem scary to a lot of people. What are the parts that inspire you the most or you think will be most exciting about re-localization?<p>I think that these coming times of great challenge and stress will force people to work together in ways where they have a shared sense of purpose, [like the veterans] at the American Legion Hall who had some experience together 40 years ago when they were in their 20s that bonded them and they know deep down that this person sitting next to them is someone they can trust.</p><p>Even though it's going to be difficult, we will find tremendous meaning in our shared experience that could be wonderful. And that's something people are missing right now.</p>
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