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.
While not all their dishes are vegetarian or vegan, their recipes showcase diverse ingredients with powerful and traditional flavors. They bring vegetables front and center — and leave meat as a side dish, a condiment, or even off the plate.
"The sustainability reasons [to eat vegetable-centered] are evident because the production of non-plant based food is taking a clear toll on the environment," says plant-forward chef Hari Pulapaka.
Food Tank is highlighting 20 chefs proving plants are some of the most versatile ingredients for both everyday meals and special occasions.
1. Alice Waters
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.
2. Ana Sortun
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 imam bayildi (Turkish stuffed eggplant) and Syrian-style lentils with chard, she homes in the one or two warming spices that will elevate the star vegetable without overpowering its natural flavor.
3. Chloe Coscarelli
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 chocolate layer cake, blueberry cinnamon french toast, and maple bacon benedict, home chefs can satisfy their sweet tooth and their savory cravings this holiday.
4. Christina Arokiasamy
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 pineapple fried rice and goan coconut curry both highlight plant-based ingredients commonly found in Malaysia and blend sweet and savory elements.
5. Daisuke Nomura
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 onion steak as a new way to embrace the overlooked ingredient's flavor using new and modern styles of cooking.
6. Dan Barber
Dan Barber, Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barn 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 celery root recipes open up new possibilities for the vegetable a rich broth, cozy tea, or even a hearty braised dish.
7. Deborah Madison
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 lentil soup with berbere or risotto with beets, which add depth and color to a normally luxurious dish.
8. Derek and Chad Sarno
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 roasted and herb-crusted butternut squash tenderloin and coconut tartlets with clementine sorbet and lavender syrup embrace the flavor of plants and their potential in classic Valentine's Day preparations.
9. Erik Oberholtzer
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 gazpacho and poached salmon salad offer lighter takes on romantic meals.
10. Hari Pulapaka
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 savory vegetable bread pudding, beet-radish terrine with lentil-sesame hummus, or a Mediterranean and Middle East-inspired ricotta and spinach gnudi.
11. Jody Adams
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 floppy tomato lasagna and potato gnocchi gratin with wild mushrooms guide you through the process.
12. Joe Yonan
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 fusilli with white beans, cherry tomatoes, and corn sauce or falafel fattoush, 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 chocolate, red bean, and rose brownies and a salty margarita sour, topped with whipped chickpea aquafaba.
13. John Fraser
Eating vegetarian or vegan, according to chef John Fraser, "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 (here's the recipe) 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 potato fry bread recipe as "a zeppoli made love to a French fry and then got slathered in sour cream and vegetables."
14. José Andrés
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.
15. Makini Howell
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 habanero yam soup and spicy peach tofu and tempeh with charred purple beans.
16. Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby
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 potato scallops.
17. Romy Gill
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," she said. Gill, who now lives in the U.K., cooks lighter fare with Indian flavors, like red cabbage and pomegranate salad and courgette (zucchini) sabzi, a childhood favorite.
18. Selassie Atadika
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 gari foto celebrate African ingredients like gari (made from dried cassava) and the spice prekese.
19. Stéphanie Audet
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 coconut ceviche. 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.
20. Tal Ronnen
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 artichoke "oysters" with tomato bearnaise and kelp caviar, Ronnen offers eaters a plant-forward alternative to the well-known seafood aphrodisiac this Valentine's Day.
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
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By Brian Barth
Do the planet a favor and skip the roses this year.
Trace the path of a rose back from your local florist to the pesticide-drenched greenhouse in South America from whence it likely came, and you will quickly realize that beautiful red bud has had an outsize role in destroying the planet.
Unless you're in Florida or Southern California, February and flowers do not go together in the U.S. They are flown under climate-controlled conditions from tropical countries and then shipped in a refrigerated truck to retailers, racking up an enormous carbon footprint in the process. And the growing conditions in those countries are typically neither good for the environment, nor the farmworkers.
Compared to most food crops, cut flowers require higher doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to maximize production and keep disease at bay. And countries like Columbia, which produces the lion's share of flowers found at U.S. florists, aren't exactly known for environmental regulations and worker protections. Some of the most harmful pesticides that have been banned in this country are widely used in the floriculture industry of developing nations.
Most floriculture workers are women; numerous investigations have reported rampant sexual harassment and other labor abuses in the industry. One study found that approximately 8 percent of flowers in U.S. markets—that's one rose in 12—was cut by a child laborer. In Ecuador, another major supplier, 8 in 10 floriculture workers are children.
By the time Mother's Day rolls around, you can source fresh-cut flowers from your backyard, or a local farmer's field. But in the dead of winter, you might want to consider a more appropriate gift.
This way you can give your loved ones roses whenever they are in season. In the southern half of the country, many nurseries are already starting to stock these cold hardy shrubs. Elsewhere, order from a supplier that specializes in hardy heritage varieties and have it delivered to your doorstep.
Orchids aren't traditional Valentine's flowers, though they do have kind of a sexy look. Most importantly, they bloom for months on end, unlike a bouquet that is dead by the end of the week. And then they do it again! Truly sustainable.
Floral Bath Bomb
There's nothing more romantic than a luxuriating soak. Bath bombs—a tennis ball-sized pack of therapeutic salts, herbs, essential oils and flower petals—makes it all the more luxuriating.
Fragrant Massage Oil
This way you will at least have the scent of flowers in the air. Of course the oil is only part one of the gift. Part two, the massage, is even better.
Native Flower Seeds
Native species like yarrow, milkweed, bee balm and coneflower make long-lasting bouquets. Part of the romance can be planning a date on the first warm weekend of spring to plant them together.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
For the third year running, Climate Reality is teaming up with The Climate Coalition for the annual Show the Love celebration! Every year around Valentine's Day, we get together to really put our hearts into fighting climate change.
Show the Love is all about protecting the things we love but could lose to climate change. It's part of the ongoing effort to stand up for the people and places we love by demanding that our leaders make the switch to clean energy and by honoring everyday activists who are making that switch a reality.
Here are five ways you can join us and show the love this February:
1. Download a free #ShowTheLove Valentine's Day postcard. Print one out and send it to your representatives and elected officials to show the love for our planet, and call for climate action.
2. Make a green heart!! Get crafty with your kids or over wine with your friends. Green hearts will be popping up all over on Valentine's Day—make your own special heart and post it on social media using #ShowTheLove.
3. Take the quiz and find out: What kind of climate activist are you? Every one of us brings something different and important to the climate movement. So what kind of activist are you? Click here to take the quiz and we'll tell you!
4. Learn the basics of climate change. In this free-e-book, we outline the fundamentals of climate change in plain language, provide tips on how to take action, and list additional helpful resources. Whether you're learning about the climate crisis for the first time or simply need a refresher, Climate Crisis 101 is a great way to get started.
5. Share a green heart graphic. Help us build awareness about climate change on social media by sharing the graphic below on Facebook or Twitter (make sure to include #ShowTheLove).
Have more ideas or unique ways to join in? Let us know! Tweet @ClimateReality and tell us how you're going to #ShowTheLove. No matter how you choose to take part, we hope you can join in and speak out for climate action this Valentine's Day.