By Reynard Loki
The exact origin of the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which started the COVID-19 pandemic, is still unclear. Early reports suggested that the virus jumped from an animal to a human at Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a "wet market" that sells live animals. On March 30, the international team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report of their recent visit to Wuhan to investigate the source of the virus and confirmed the "zoonotic source of SARS-CoV-2."
"Evidence from surveys and targeted studies so far have shown that the coronaviruses most highly related to SARS-CoV-2 are found in bats and pangolins, suggesting that these mammals may be the reservoir of the virus that causes COVID-19," the WHO report states. "In addition to these findings, the high susceptibility of mink and cats to SARS-CoV- 2 suggests that additional species of animals may act as a potential reservoir. … Several samples from patients with exposure to the Huanan market had identical virus genomes, suggesting that they may have been part of a cluster."
Virologists believe that these sites, which bring together a variety of live animals into close contact with humans, are ideal places for this sort of interspecies viral transmission. In 2002, for example, scientists identified the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in Himalayan palm civets, a small mammal, in wet markets in Shenzhen in southern China. SARS-CoV-2 is a strain of SARS.
"While there remains a need for more investigation, we are not surprised about the wildlife origin referenced in the report and we know enough to act now to reduce risks of future zoonotic pandemics," said Dr. Christian Walzer, chief global veterinarian of the Wildlife Conservation Society, in a press statement. "Some 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases reported globally are zoonoses, causing about 1 billion cases of human illness and millions of deaths every year. Of the more than 30 new human pathogens detected in the last three decades, 75 percent have originated in animals. Importantly, research has shown zoonotic-origin pathogens increase along the supply chain from source to market."
Wet markets are "unique epicenters for transmission of potential viral pathogens, [where] new genes may be acquired or existing genes modified through various mechanisms such as genetic reassortment, recombination and mutation," according to a paper written by a team of microbiologists from the University of Hong Kong and published in the journal Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases in 2006. They add that these markets, "at closer proximity to humans, with high viral burden or strains of higher transmission efficiency, facilitate transmission of the viruses to humans."
"Once you walk into one of these places, it's quite obvious why they're called wet markets," said Jason Beaubien, NPR's global health and development correspondent, on the radio station's "Morning Edition" show last year. "Live fish in open tubs are splashing water all over the place. The countertops of the stalls are red with blood as fish are gutted and filleted right in front of the customers' eyes. There are live turtles and crustaceans climbing over each other in boxes. Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. So things are wet."
In January, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Fred Upton (R-MI) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to address the public health risks posed by wildlife markets, called the Preventing Future Pandemics Act (H.R. 151). The bill "prohibits importing, exporting, purchasing, or selling live wild animals in the United States for human consumption as food or medicine."
It also directs the Department of the Interior to "hire, train, and deploy at least 50 new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement attachés around the world." Additionally, the bill obliges the United States to work with other members of the United Nations toward instituting a global ban on commercial wildlife markets and enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws. A companion bill, S. 37, was introduced into the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX).
"For the sake of our health, our economy, and our livelihoods, preventing the next pandemic before it starts is perhaps the most important thing we must do," said Rep. Quigley. "We were thrilled with the robust, bipartisan support the bill received last year and we're committed to building on that momentum to see this bill become law."
In addition to their threat to public health, wet markets are sites of extreme pain and suffering for so many animals. "Wild animals sold in commercial wildlife markets endure extreme stress and unsanitary conditions before being slaughtered," according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit based in Cotati, California, that works to pass state and federal legislation supporting animal rights. "As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, our continued exploitation of animals and our environment is fueling the next pandemic. Shutting down commercial wildlife markets—and the international wildlife trade—is critical both to reducing the risk of novel zoonotic disease and animal suffering."
"We must acknowledge the basic tenet that the more we destroy and intrude on nature, the more likely zoonotic spillovers will occur," said Dr. Walzer. "Zoonotic spillover events and subsequent outbreaks are inevitable, as the interfaces between wildlife and humans increase, primarily due to deforestation and agricultural expansion."
The cruelty to animals witnessed at wet markets points to a deeper, ethical concern about how we view and treat other species. In November 2020, during an interview with Euronews, Jane Goodall, the renowned British primatologist and ethologist, said that "we, in part, brought [COVID-19] on ourselves by our disrespect of nature and our disrespect of animals."
She added, "We push animals into closer contact with humans. We hunt them, eat them, traffic them, sell them as exotic pets around the world, we put them in factory farms in terrible close conditions and all these situations can lead to an environment where a pathogen, like a virus, can jump from an animal to a person, where it may cause a new disease like COVID-19."
Reynard Loki is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute, where he serves as the editor and chief correspondent for Earth | Food | Life. He previously served as the environment, food and animal rights editor at AlterNet and as a reporter for Justmeans/3BL Media covering sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He was named one of FilterBuy's Top 50 Health & Environmental Journalists to Follow in 2016. His work has been published by Yes! Magazine, Salon, Truthout, BillMoyers.com, EcoWatch and Truthdig, among others.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
By Edwina Hughes, Richard Waite and Gerard Pozzi
With people increasingly aware of the climate impact of their lifestyles, the spotlight is falling on the food we eat. Agriculture and related land-use account for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But not all foods are created equal, and plant-based foods are generally a lot less resource-intensive to produce than animal proteins. Take beef vs. beans: per gram of protein, beef production uses 20 times the land and generates 20 times the GHG emissions as beans.
Much attention is paid to unusual innovations aimed at offering a wider variety of food options with a smaller climate footprint — like crackers made from insects or algae protein bars. But large institutions that want to offer diners climate-friendly food options are finding it's more straightforward than expected. That's in part thanks to recent behavioral science research, which shows that small changes in menu language or creating delicious plant-centered dishes can greatly increase the uptake of sustainable offerings. In short, they've found it's already possible to eat tomorrow's climate-friendly diet today, through easy changes that don't compromise on flavor or cost.
New data from the Cool Food Pledge — a group of restaurants, cities, hospitals and companies that have committed to cutting GHG emissions associated with the food they serve by 25% by 2030, in line with Paris Agreement goals — show that members were able to collectively reduce emissions by 4.6% overall and by 12% per plate in just four years. Some members have reduced emissions even more quickly, showing big changes are possible within a short time.
Food consumption in restaurants, workplace canteens and school cafeterias has fallen dramatically during the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns. While the industry begins to revive amid calls for a "green" recovery, these results can serve as inspiration, showing what could be achievable when the wider food service industry picks up again post-COVID. When diners return, food service operators should seize the chance to ensure strong and engaging sustainability credentials are at the center of their menu offerings. Offering more plant-rich options is key to hitting climate targets since as they are generally much less resource-intensive to produce.
So what does that mean for organizations serving food? And how feasible is it? Lessons from Cool Food Pledge members show that meaningful progress toward a sustainable food future is simple. It's just a case of keeping the spotlight on what's delicious, cost-effective and low-carbon.
Here are the three main lessons:
1. Make It Delicious
Climate-friendly food doesn't have to be dull. Take the example of biotech company Genentech, which has 10,000 staff based in California, and an in-house culinary team creating chef specials. When it joined the Cool Food Pledge it changed the chef specials to plant-rich options — serving up even more vegetables, pulses and grains. Some of the new dishes included "Vegan Jackfruit, Okra and Seitan Jambalaya" with brown rice, Creole sauce and shaved scallions as well as "Charred Yucatan Vegetables" with an array of vegetables, stewed black beans, habanero pickled red onions and flour tortillas. Following positive responses from employees, demand for the new plant-rich options grew while demand for the more traditional, meat-heavier options declined. Between 2018 to 2019 alone, the company reduced the climate impact of each plate of food it serves by an incredible 33%.
2. Keep It Cost-Effective
Climate-friendly food doesn't have to increase costs — and can even reduce them.
In the health care sector, at UCSF Health, forward-thinking chefs decided to couple a more climate-friendly ethos with a cost-effective one while feeding patients and visitors. UCSF had a 100% beef burger that wasn't selling well, so switching to a 70:30 beef/mushroom blended burger in 2017 that sold better was a no-brainer. The Department of Nutrition and Health Services at UCSF Health realized the blended burger would cost less, the mushroom would ensure it remained flavorful and the reduction in beef would help UCSF Health hit its climate-friendly target for food.
At the same time, its central menu evolved from serving 20 entrees featuring beef in 2017 down to just three by 2020. This more plant-rich menu has proven both better for the climate and more appealing to customers. UCSF Health's total food-related GHG emissions dropped by 13% in just three years, the biggest reduction amongst the health care members of the Cool Food Pledge.
3. Explore the World of Plants
A welcome consequence of committing to a climate-friendly menu offering has been a surge in the quantity of vegetables, pulses and grains procured and served by member organizations. In fact, members purchased 12% more plant-based food items in 2019 relative to the base year. The University of Cambridge's University Catering Service, which manages 14 cafés and canteens and caters for 1,500 events a year, has phased out ruminant meat completely, and guests can enjoy Swedish-style Vegballs, Smoky Moroccan Chickpea Stew and sweet potato burgers instead. Emissions dropped by more than 30% even as the university served 30% more food, reflecting the significant change in the ingredients that make up the meals it is serving.
Having an Impact Isn’t Rocket Science
This variety of progress reflects the distinct environments in which these organizations operate and the different diners they serve. Many are cutting emissions even as the number of meals they serve grows.
While every dining facility will have its own unique operations, the Cool Food Pledge is providing structure and guidance to help the food industry lower the carbon footprint of food in line with climate science. Members are guided through a three-steps of "pledge, plan, and promote": they pledge to reduce food-related GHG emissions by 25% by 2030; they develop a plan to achieve their aims using the latest behavioral science; and by promoting their achievements, they are on the front lines of a growing movement that's slashing the impact that food has on the climate.
Reposted with permission from the World Resources Institute.
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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.
Concerns about the environment and pandemics like the coronavirus have made a growing number of people hungry for meat alternatives, The Guardian reported Tuesday. At the same time, the plant-based meat market in the country is growing to satisfy this need, and analysts say China could even become a global player in the industry.
"[W]ith a local abundance of non-GMO soybeans and huge capacity to process plant-based raw materials including soy and pea, China has the potential to play a major role in accelerating the plant-based meat trend around the world by increasing production and bringing down costs," Global Food Institute Asia-Pacific (GFI-APAC) managing director Elaine Siu said in a 2019 GFI report.
Meat consumption in China has risen significantly since the 1960s, when the average person consumed five kilograms (approximately 11 pounds) of meat per year, The Guardian pointed out. By 2015, that number had risen to 48 kilograms (approximately 106 pounds). In the U.S., for comparison, per capita meat consumption was 218.6 pounds in 2018, according to Dr. Derrell Peel at Oklahoma State University.
China still eats 28 percent of the world's meat and half of its pork, according to The Guardian. Its meat market is worth $86 billion. However, in 2016 the Chinese government announced a plan to reduce meat consumption by 50 percent in the country and urged its citizens to limit their meat intake to 40 to 75 grams a day. While the government has not done much to forward this goal since the initial ad campaign, it is notable because few countries have incorporated the issue of meat consumption into their plans to address the climate crisis.
At the same time, there are signs that the food culture in the country is shifting. The vegan market in China was expected to grow 17.2 percent from 2015 to 2020, the fastest growth rate in the world, Inside Retail Asia reported in 2016. In Shanghai, the number of vegan restaurants rose from 49 in 2012 to more than 100 in 2017, Business World reported.
Even among those who don't identify as vegan or vegetarian, the new interest in plant-based meat is catching on, GFI reported. While more than 90 percent of Chinese people surveyed by the institute did not identify as meat-abstainers, 86.7 percent of them had tried plant-based meat. In 2018, the country's domestic plant-based meat industry was $910 million and experiencing a yearly growth-rate of 14.2 percent.
This is evident in restaurants across the country, The Guardian noted. KFC in China sells vegan chicken nuggets, while Burger King offers an Impossible Whopper and Starbucks offers Beyond Meat products. Domestic plant-based companies are also getting in on the action. Hong-Kong based OmniFoods has placed plant-based pork in McDonalds in Hong Kong and Aldi, White Castle and Starbucks in mainland China. It also is launching in 13 other countries this year.
This represents a real growth opportunity for China and the world, according to GFI. The country is already a major exporter of plant proteins and has great capacity to continue being so. As of 2016, it had the capacity to process up to 79 percent of global soy protein isolate, 50 percent of global textured soy protein and 23 percent of global soy protein concentrate.
Within China, OmniFoods is opening a factory next year, and hopes to decrease the cost of plant-based foods, which are currently more expensive than meat alternatives. However, the CEO of plant-based mince-maker Z-Rou thinks he can persuade middle class consumers to adopt the new foods despite the higher price.
"They would even be willing to pay more as they know they're getting a healthier product that's helping ensure the future of the planet their children are inheriting," CEO Franklin Yao told The Guardian. "That's priceless."
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Transitioning to a plant-centric diet can help decrease your environmental impact while improving the quality of your diet. These six vegetarian meal delivery services make it easy to enjoy the benefits of a vegetarian diet at home.
Our picks for the best vegetarian meal plan services
Each product featured here has been independently selected. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Vegan Option - Purple Carrot
- Best Eco-Friendly Option - Splendid Spoon
- Best Organic Option - Sunbasket
- Best Pre-Made Meals - Sprinly
- Best for Healthy Eating - Daily Harvest
- Best for Giving Back - Mosaic
Following a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian dietary pattern is an excellent way to increase your intake of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, lentils, nuts, seeds, and beans. However, preparing nutritious plant-based meals can be time consuming and some people don't have the desire to cook meals every day.
Fortunately, there are a number of meal delivery services that are either entirely plant-based or offer vegetarian-friendly meal and snack options approved by nutritionists in addition to omnivorous choices. Some send you high-quality prepared meals while others make meal prep simple with recipe cards and quality ingredients like black beans, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, zucchini, quinoa, and more included in every box. You can also read our review of the best eco-conscious meal kit services for 2021.
How we chose the best vegetarian meal delivery services
To create our list of the best vegetarian meal kits, we compared each brand on a number of factors. These included:
- Organic ingredients - Are the meal options made with non-GMO organic ingredients and are they free from artificial preservatives and sweeteners? We looked for important eco-friendly labels from authorities like the USDA, Non-GMO Project and the Marine Stewardship Council for any pescatarian plans.
- Dietary restrictions - Do they offer entrees and meals that are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, paleo, keto, low-calorie, and low-carb?
- Pricing - How much does the service cost in total and how does that break down per meal? Can customers add a la carte items to their plan?
- Packaging - How are the meals packaged? Do they generate a lot of waste or do they use recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable materials?
Based on these categories, here are the 6 best vegetarian meal delivery services.
Purple Carrot is a completely vegan meal kit subscription service that offers options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks. Follow simple instructions to prepare flavorful, plant-based meals from scratch and Purple Carrot labels meals that are Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, <600 Calories, Nut-Free, High-Protein, or Quick and Easy meals that take 30 minutes or less to prepare.
Why buy: The Purple Carrot menu changes weekly, and is packed with delicious meals. You can enjoy vegetarian tacos, Thai, or Mediterranean, just to name a few options. Meals generally take between 25 to 40 minutes to prepare and start at $9.99 per serving. Read our full review here.
Splendid Spoon creates ready-to-eat, vegetarian options including smoothies, noodle bowls, soups, grain bowls, and wellness shots. Splendid Spoon offers five plans, including Breakfast + Lunch and Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, + Reset. The "Reset" is a one day plan that includes 5 plant-based soups.
Why buy: Customers can choose from more than 50 menu items that are gluten-free and vegan. Splendid Spoon offers a nice mix of comfort foods and healthy meals great for weight loss. Plus, their packaging is almost entirely recyclable. The Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, + Reset plan starts at $185.
Sunbasket is a certified organic meal kit delivery service that offers a variety of plant-based menu options, including vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian. Since it's a meal kit service, it's a perfect choice for people who like to cook. In addition to their tasty dinner recipes, Sunbasket offers breakfast, lunch, and snack options.
Why buy: These dietitian-approved vegetarian meals contain no meat and provide between 400 and 800 calories, at least 5 grams of fiber, and at least 10 grams of protein per meal. Sunbasket also makes a good choice for eco-conscious pescatarians because they only use wild-caught or sustainably sourced seafood. Meals start at $8.99. Read our full Sunbasket review here.
Sprinly is a plant-based meal delivery company that offers vegan-friendly, fully prepared, gluten-free meals that are ready to eat in three minutes or less. Most of the ingredients Sprinly uses are organic and nutrient-dense. Meals provide between 300–650 calories per dish.
Why buy: Sprinly's packaging includes 100% recycled cardboard boxes, insulation that is compostable, recyclable, and biodegradable, and recyclable plastic containers and ice packs. Meals start at $16.05 per serving, depending on the plan you choose.
If you're a smoothie lover, you've probably heard about Daily Harvest. This plant-based meal delivery service is known for their delish smoothies that come in mouth-watering flavors like Chocolate + Hazelnut and Acai + Cherry, but they offer many other tasty dishes as well. Keep in mind that some of these meals are low calorie and may need to add extra ingredients to make them filling enough.
Why Buy: Choose from over 80 chef-created, gluten-free, plant-based frozen options. Choose a plan and then customize a box with nutritional options like oat bowls, chia bowls, harvest bowls with quinoa, flatbreads, soups, and plant-based lattes. Prices range from $5.99 to $8.99 per item.
Mosaic is a smart choice for people leading busy lives. This plant-based meal delivery service provides customers with healthy veggie options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals are fully prepared and ready to enjoy in five minutes or less. Each meal contains between 5 to 20+ grams of plant-based protein and is made with nutritious ingredients.
Why buy: You can feel good about purchasing Mosaic meals. For every Mosaic box sold, the company works with a non-profit called City Harvest to rescue two pounds of healthy food and distribute it to people in need. The company also uses organic and local ingredients whenever possible. Mosaic has a $70 order minimum. Meals start at $5.
Why should you eat vegan and vegetarian?
Eating a vegetarian and plant-based diet is both better for your health and the environment. Studies show that vegetarian diets can lead to a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and can increase longevity, according to the Harvard Health Blog.
In terms of the benefits for the planet, a study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition finds that vegan diets produce 50% less greenhouse gas emissions and vegetarian diets produce about 35% less greenhouse gas emissions than diets that include meat. They also significantly reduce the use of natural resources like water and help protect against deforestation associated with pastures.
If you want to introduce more vegetarian or vegan meals into your weekly routine, try one of these six meal delivery services. They are a great place to start making a positive change for your health and the environment.
Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, holds a master's degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. She is certified in plant-based nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University.
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By Johnny Wood
Switching en masse to a plant-based diet is essential to protect wildlife habitats and prevent the loss of numerous species currently facing extinction, according to a new report.
At the root of the problem is cheap food. While cut-priced comestibles may seem like a good thing, especially for low-income households, market pressure to continually reduce food production costs forces many farmers to adopt unsustainable, intensive methods that harm the land and overuse valuable resources like energy, land and water.
The study by researchers at UK think tank Chatham House, supported by the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme, notes that the race to lower prices increases food waste and degrades soils and ecosystems, making available land less productive.
As more forests and wild lands are cleared to grow crops and raise livestock, the feeding, breeding and living habitats of numerous species also disappear. Unless we change what we eat and how it is produced, the report says, the planet's ability to support humans could come under threat.
New @UNEP, @ChathamHouse & @ciwf report on #food systems impacts on #biodiversity loss proposes 3 actions… https://t.co/T80QkoPdak— ipbes (@ipbes)1612804080.0
During the past half century, conversion of natural wild land for crop production or animal pasture has been the principle cause of habitat and biodiversity loss, the report, called Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss, says. Agriculture poses a threat to 24,000 of the 28,000 species documented as at risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
But what happens next to the world's endangered wildlife populations rests in human hands, and the rise in popularity of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products offers hope for the future.
Rearing crops in place of animals uses land and other scarce resources more efficiently, the report notes. While raising livestock adds to greenhouse gas emissions, switching to plant-based foods would free up grazing land that could be used for other purposes. A global switch to a predominantly plant-based diet would boost dietary health, help reduce food waste and eliminate the need to keep clearing new land for grazing. Switching the global population's diet to plant-based foods, for example, would free up 75% of the world's cropland for other uses.
Alongside changing dietary behavior, the report recommends protecting and setting aside more land for nature, avoiding converting it for agriculture. As well as preserving wildlife habitats from being destroyed, forests and wilded land serve as a natural carbon store absorbing pollution from the atmosphere, which helps counter the impact of the climate crisis.
Today's high-intensity chemical-reliant farming methods must be replaced by nature-friendly practices that support biodiversity and value sustainability over ever lower farm door prices.
It's important to note that the report is advocating a dramatic reduction in meat intake rather than replacing meat with plant-based foods. And, as the World Bank says, livestock farming supports the livelihoods and food security of almost 1.3 billion people. The Chatham House report says incentivizing more diverse agriculture could lead to more resilient farmer livelihoods.
Planting the Seeds of Change
Despite the compelling arguments for moving to plant-heavy diets, persuading the global population to abandon its love of meat will be no easy task. Around 80 billion animals are killed for their meat each year, UN figures show.
In 2018, almost 70 billion chickens, 1.5 billion pigs and more than 300 million cattle were slaughtered to serve our love of meat.
In general, meat consumption increases as incomes rise – so the richer the country, the more meat is consumed, according to figures from the UN and the World Bank.
But for some the role of meat is beginning to change as awareness grows of the health benefits of plant-based foods and the impact of business-as-usual farming on the environment.
The U.S. plant-based food market was worth more than $5 billion in 2019, up 11% on the previous year and 29% over two years. Sales of plant-based meat substitutes increased by 18% year-on-year.
Demand for plant-based foods could see annual growth of almost 12%, reaching a market value of more than $74 billion by 2027, according to a Meticulous Research forecast. While plant-based demand is increasing in most global markets, takeup in Asia-Pacific is expected to outstrip other regional markets.
Changing consumer aspirations and a growing appetite among investors to back plant-based ventures are among the drivers of global plant-based market growth, the research showed. How far, how fast and how much demand for plant-based foods increases in the coming years remains to be seen, but the future of myriad species depends on it happening quick enough.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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Bill Gates is out with a new book on how to solve the climate crisis. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: the Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need follows his general history of emphasizing technological innovation over policy changes. But, in an interview promoting the new book, he did propose one dramatic behavioral change: People living in wealthier countries should switch to plant-based meat alternatives.
"I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef," Gates told the MIT Technology Review Sunday. "You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they're going to make it taste even better over time."
In the interview, Gates gave shoutouts to Beyond and Impossible, two companies that have made headlines with their plant-based burger alternatives in recent years. (He is, in fact, an investor in both, the article noted.) While these meat alternatives currently represent less than 1 percent of the meat in the world, they have quality and cost roadmaps that make them competitive, he said.
On the other hand, he did not think that lab-grown alternatives like Memphis Meats, in which he also invests, were likely to be economically viable on a wide scale.
In the interview, Gates did not think that poorer nations would have to give up beef. In Africa, he said, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on lowering the emissions per cow using genetics.
"Weirdly, the US livestock, because they're so productive, the emissions per pound of beef are dramatically less than emissions per pound in Africa. And as part of the [Bill and Melinda Gates] Foundation's work, we're taking the benefit of the African livestock, which means they can survive in heat, and crossing in the monstrous productivity both on the meat side and the milk side of the elite US beef lines," he said.
His ideas may be a hard sell, however. The claim that the Green New Deal would force U.S. residents to give up hamburgers has been a major right-wing talking point, as TIME noted in 2019.
However, Gates thought a shift to plant-based meat was possible over time.
"Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand," he said in the interview.
Food & Living Vegan opined that his argument made sense from a climate perspective.
"Oxfam revealed that the richest 1% is responsible for double the carbon emissions as the poorest 50%, therefore even if it is just wealthy nations switching to lab-grown or synthetic meat, this will have a huge impact," the magazine wrote.
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By Martin Kuebler
Pulses, a broad category of edible seeds that includes pantry staples like lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas, are one of the world's most important food crops.
This underrated legume has featured heavily in diets around the world for thousands of years. Pulses are the main source of protein for people who don't eat meat — whether by choice or by circumstance — they're good for the environment, nutritious and tasty.
Environmentally Friendly Meat Alternative
Changing our diet, and how we produce what we eat, can have a huge and positive impact on the planet.
A recent key report on food and biodiversity loss linked global eating habits to around 30% of human-made emissions in terms of energy and fertilizer, making them a "key driver of climate change." It also highlighted the devastating impact of our food production on nature.
A big part of the problem is meat and other animal products. Though it might be a good source of protein, meat is terrible for the environment. Getting a kilogram of beef to your kitchen emits as much as 60 kilograms (130 pounds) of CO2-equivalent, according to a 2018 study published in Science. And with the world population set to surpass 10 billion in a little over 30 years, increasing demand for food — especially meat and monocrops like wheat, corn and soybeans — will further stress the climate, limited natural resources and biodiversity.
Pulses like peas and lentils, however, produce some 0.9 kg of CO2-equivalent for every kilo grown. And they provide a far higher protein yield per square kilometer than a herd of cattle or flock of chickens, meaning existing farmland can be used more efficiently and untouched forests can be spared.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted pulses as "a good alternative to meat," pointing out that they "can play a key role in future healthy and sustainable diets." In recent years, calls from environmental groups for people in the Western world to drastically reduce their meat consumption, has inspired a growing trend toward vegetarian and vegan diets.
In a September analysis, climate data provider Carbon Brief said "a global switch to veganism would deliver the largest emissions savings out of any dietary shift," preventing some 8 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions annually by 2050. Current food production is responsible for around 13.7 billion tons per year.
"It is now becoming clear that a plant-based diet is not just a crock," said Christina Ledermann, head of the German advocacy group Humans for Animal Rights. "The future of nutrition is plant-based, or there is no future."
Pulses Enrich Soils, Save Water
Pulse crops are very efficient when it comes to capturing existing carbon from the air and storing it in the soil. One analysis suggested that legumes can store 30% more carbon than other plant species due to their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil via root nodules.
These nodules, which are formed by rhizobia bacteria attached to the roots, absorb inert nitrogen from the soil. This symbiotic relationship helps increase microbial biomass and improve soil biodiversity, while also providing plants with nutrients and energy.
Nitrogen, along with phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium and magnesium, is one of the key macronutrients found in soil. And according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 190 million hectares (470 million acres) of pulse crops contribute to as much as 7 million metric tons of nitrogen in soils around the world every year.
This naturally produced fertilizer results in higher yields for pulses and other crops and implies a lesser need for polluting organic and synthetic chemical fertilizers, reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and preventing further contamination of soils and waterways. Bean crop residue — stalks, leaves and seed pods — can also be used as fertilizer, or as fodder for livestock.
Beans also get by with much less water, making them ideal crops for regions prone to drought. The FAO has estimated that growing a kilo of lentils requires around a third less water than a kilo of chicken, and just a tenth less water than a kilo of beef. Some pulses like pea and lentils also rely more heavily on rain and other surface moisture for their water needs, leaving more groundwater available down below for future crops.
Healthy Way to Improve Food Security
Pulses make up 75% of the average diet in developing countries. Countries in South Asia, especially India, are famed for their extensive use of pulses — which are also very healthy. Besides being an excellent source of protein, pulses are also high in fiber, have little fat and no cholesterol.
The FAO devoted an entire year to pulses in 2016 to raise awareness about how important the likes of lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are for billions of people around the world. And over the last decade, new seed varieties developed by programs like the Tropical Legumes initiative have made high-yield, climate-resilient pulses an increasingly important crop for smallholder farmers.
Pulses such as chickpeas and lentils are a key component of agricultural practices like intercropping, which help regenerate soils and foster the growth of other non-pulse crops. Planting them in rotation with other plants also helps ward off certain pests and diseases that only affect specific species.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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Eating healthy doesn't have to be hard, and it doesn't have to be boring. Meal delivery services have made it easier to serve up delicious, nutritious meals at home. And Purple Carrot makes it easy to eat a plant-based diet while helping the environment at the same time.
How We Review Meal Delivery Services
When evaluating each meal delivery service, we based our review on their food options, ingredient sourcing, packaging, and customer reviews to ensure that they are both good for you and for the environment.
- Dietary options - We considered both the quality and variety of the recipes and whether they offered vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.
- Ingredients - We looked to see how they sourced their ingredients, whether they were organic, non-GMO, and locally grown. We looked for important eco-friendly labels from authorities like the USDA, Non-GMO Project, and the Marine Stewardship Council.
- Packaging - A very important component was also the packaging for each meal. We wanted to know how much was recyclable or biodegradable, and whether the brand used recycled materials in their packaging.
- Customer reviews - Finally, we looked at customer reviews to see what users liked or didn't like about each service.
Purple Carrot Overview
Many people want to eat better, but they don't know where to start or how to properly prepare the variety of produce available. Purple Carrot takes the lead by providing all of the ingredients along with step-by-step directions to cook a meal packed with flavor but no meat. The Purple Carrot philosophy is not anti-animal, but rather pro-plant, choosing to focus on the potential of the vast array of edible plants available – which total more than 20,000 around the world. They make it easy for anyone to enjoy vegan meals with simple-to-follow recipe cards and ingredients.
Many of the products used in their weekly menu, from chickpeas, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and arugula to tofu and vegan cheeses, are organic and non-GMO whenever possible. Using all-natural ingredients is important and provides greater nutrition in addition to being better for the earth. All meals are vegan, and there are also gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-carb, and high-protein options to fit a variety of lifestyles and dietary restrictions.
Eating a plant-based, vegan diet is good for overall health. Consuming more plants and plant-based foods can help reduce risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Many processed foods are packed with preservatives and artificial colors and flavors; Purple Carrot sources natural ingredients so you know exactly what you are eating. Plus, with a meal delivery kit, you'll have all the ingredients you need which can help reduce food waste.
Purple Carrot's Focus on Sustainability
Ordering from a meal kit delivery service like Purple Carrot, Sunbasket, Hello Fresh, or Blue Apron can be more eco-friendly than purchasing a meal from the grocery store because it typically has a smaller carbon footprint. But Purple Carrot does even more. By emphasizing the use of plants as the foundation for each meal, is saving water. While producing one pound of vegetables requires about 40 gallons of water, producing one pound of beef requires about 47 times more water. And cutting out just one burger a week can save around 320 miles in carbon emissions, according to their site.
Products are sourced from farmers and vendors across the country and organic, non-GMO products are used whenever possible, but not everything they use is certified organic. Their meal options do not include any animal-products. The company adheres to Proposition 65 requirements in California and provides detailed nutritional information for each recipe. Consumers are informed about any potential risk to uphold the utmost commitment to safety.
Recycling Purple Carrot Packaging
In an effort to further reduce its environmental impact, Purple Carrot strives to use recycled and recyclable packaging. Some recycling may be limited by the type of plastics or products specific communities accept.
- Boxes: Their boxes are made of corrugated cardboard and can be broken down and easily recycled, or they can be reused and repurposed around the home.
- Cooling Packs: The cooling packs contain 100% non-toxic gel that can be safely disposed of in the trash can, and the plastic bag can be recycled. In addition, these ice packs can also be refrozen and reused.
- Liners: Both plastic and bubble liners are recyclable in communities that accept #4 and #7 products. The insulation inside the liner is compostable and can be safely thrown in the trash.
- Plastics: Ingredients come in a variety of packing including jars, bottles, and bags that include #1, #4, #5, and #6 recyclables. These containers can also be cleaned and reused for other purposes.
- Food waste: If you happen to have any food scraps such as banana peels or carrot shavings, they can be tossed in a compost bin where they'll help create nutrient-rich soil.
Purple Carrot is always looking for ways to provide more sustainable, eco-friendly packing and solutions.
Purple Carrot Meal Plan Pricing Options
When it comes to ordering, there are two main options available:
- Two Serving Plans: This is ideal for individuals or couples. Choose from a three- or four-dinner option with meals priced at $11.99 per serving and free shipping.
- Four Serving Plans: This is a great option for small families and priced at just $9.99 per serving. Shipping is free, and there are two-dinner or three-dinner vegetarian options available.
- Extras: There is also a variety of breakfast and lunch options, as well as plant-based snacks that you can add on to any package. These let you enjoy even more healthy vegan food before dinner time.
Choose from a wide range of vegan recipes and veggies to suit your taste. Spice things up with Roasted Red Pepper Shakshuka, enjoy a classic with Eggplant Florentine, or curb your craving for Mexican with Mexican Molletes with refried beans and Pico de Gallo. A popular breakfast option is the Loaded Avocado Toast. And plant-based snacks don't have to be dull either – choose from items like mushroom jerky, peanut butter cup truffle pouches, or sugar cookies.
Meal packages are customizable to fit your needs and interests. If it is going to be a busy week with less time for meal prep, you might add more breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, while lighter weeks might just be dinner. All of the ingredients are pre-portioned, and everything you need (with the exception of a few pantry staples such as salt, pepper, and olive oil) is included in your box. You also receive step-by-step directions for how to prepare each dish, leading to a stunning and tasty result.
Purple Carrot Pros and Cons
We love how easy Purple Carrot makes it to eat a plant-based diet, especially for those who are new to a no-meat lifestyle. Their recipes go way beyond new spins on salad, and could help customers learn fun and creative ways to introduce more vegetables into their daily lives. They also do a good job of explaining the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
There are two primary drawbacks to Purple Carrot, however. First, they do use a a lot of plastic in their packaging. You'll need to make certain that your local recycling program accepts all of the different types they include; otherwise you will wind up with a lot of waste. Second, while they do say that organic and non-GMO produce is used whenever possible, not all of their ingredients are certified organic. If you want to eat 100% organic, Purple Carrot may not be the best choice.
The primary benefit of choosing Purple Carrot for the environment is the chance to reduce your meat consumption and enjoy the eco-friendly aspects of a plant-based diet.
Enjoy Plant-Based Meal Kits Good for You and the Environment
Purple Carrot is the way to go if you want to integrate more plant-based meals into your diet. Even cutting out meat one or two times a week can be beneficial. Purple Carrot recipes are full of flavor and a variety of colors. If you're looking to "eat the rainbow," this meal delivery service can be a great place to start. Their subscription service makes it easy to skip a week or change up your order using their convenient ordering system. Each week, you get to choose the meals and extras you want, and the menu is always changing and adding new options.
Get out of your recipe rut and try some of the delicious vegan options available through Purple Carrot. Plus, you'll know you're helping the planet at the same time.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. His writing on natural health, nutrition, and supplements has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
While any ol' protein bar offers convenience, not all bars are created equal in terms of overall nutritional value and, certainly, overall level of sustainability and eco-friendly production. So, which are the best vegan protein bars on the market?
Finding the right protein bar can be hard, and the job is even tougher when you're a vegan. That's because many of the top bars on the market today are made with non-vegan ingredients, whether that's honey, whey protein, or milk.
We've done a little detective work for you, testing out some of the best, most filling, most sustainable, and more nutritious vegan protein bars available today. These are a few of our picks.
Our Picks for the Best Vegan Protein Bars
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, and low-sugar, Aloha bars are one of the best vegan protein bars if you want a healthy dose of protein (14 grams) without too many additives or synthetic chemicals. They come in several great flavors, too; our favorites are chocolate mint and peanut butter, but we encourage you to try any that sound good to your palette.
Each Shanti Bar has 17 grams of plant-based protein, making them a great option when you only need a nibble of something to get you from meal to meal. The vegan credentials are off the charts: Shanti bars are organic, gluten-free, sustainably sourced, and made without any refined sugars. The nut butter chocolate chip maca flavor is especially tasty.
We love the Vega 10g bars not only because of their simplicity, but also their great flavor. You can pick them in chocolate peanut butter, chocolate caramel, blueberry oat, or coconut almond, and we'll vouch that all are really yummy. With any option, you'll get 10 grams of plant-based protein, plus four grams of fiber. A great snack item for anyone who wants their protein bars to be vegan, dairy-free, non-GMO, and altogether tasty.
GoMacro's protein bars are both filling and energizing. We love using them to begin the day, as they help give us the push we need to start the morning's activities with plenty of focus and stamina. Each one is made with 10 to 12 grams of plant-based protein and is completely vegan. Again, there are loads of flavor options. Our top pick: blueberry with cashew butter.
Looking for a protein bar that's not only vegan-friendly, but also offers the natural power of hemp protein? Evo's product line is one of our favorites. These bars are noteworthy for offering plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, too, which can help naturally reduce inflammation. There are plenty of other nutrients packed into these bars, too, along with some excellent natural flavors, making them high on our list of best vegan protein bars.
If you're looking for simplicity, give Rise Bars a try. They're made with four simple ingredients yet have an impressive 15 grams of plant-based protein per bar. There's just something refreshing about these simple vegan bars, especially if you opt for a light flavor like lemon cashew.
7. 22 Days Nutrition Organic Protein Bar
If it's flavor you're after, the 22 Days lineup has a lot of enticing options: Peanut butter chocolate chip, salted caramel, fudge brownie, you name it. This is one of our top options for sweet tooths, but we'll also note how much we appreciate the balanced nutritional contents. There's even a high iron quotient here, which is something many vegan diets tend to lack.
It's right there in the name: No Cow bars are totally dairy-free, in addition to being gluten-free, kosher, and non-GMO. But boy, do they pack a lot of nutritional punch. Each bar comes with 19 grams of fiber, 20 grams of protein, and a scant 190 calories per serving. There's a lot to love about the No Cow bars, and we haven't even touched on the amazing array of flavors.
Raw Rev Glo makes some of the best vegan protein bars that are loaded with superfoods; you'll find amazing, plant-based nutrients here, along with delicious flavors and an appealing texture. Each bar has 11 grams of protein plus 13 grams of fiber, which means it has a high overall nutritional value. These bars are an altogether wholesome and eco-friendly way to add some protein to your daily diet.
Looking for a low-carb option? You'll find just a single net carb in each Pegan bar, yet there is plenty in the way of protein and fiber. Specifically, they are rich in prebiotic fiber, which can help you sustain that helpful bacteria in your gut, easing the digestion process. We also like that these bars offer some flavors you don't see from other brands, like the tasty ginger snap option.
Start Snacking on a Vegan Protein Bar
As you consider your options for different vegan protein bars, there are a lot of factors to consider, including flavor, total fiber content, and more. One thing you can feel confident about is that each of the bars we've recommended here is fully compliant with a vegan diet. And all are made with admirably earth-friendly practices.
These are bars you can feel good about any time you need to reach for that fast vegan breakfast or that afternoon pick-me-up. Try one of the best vegan protein bars today and see which ones you like the most.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, copywriter, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. As a writer and independent reviewer of CBD products, Josh covers the relationship between natural wellness products and the human body. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images
Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
"Tofurky and Thanksgiving are forever intimately tied in my heart," said Jan Dutkiewicz, a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School's animal law and policy program.
He said Tofurky was different from most vegetarian fare because it could actually stand in for a turkey roast.
"It allowed me to be at a Thanksgiving meal having a sort of centerpiece of my own and not just eating stuffing and nibbling on veggies and whatnot," he said.
Today, there are many more meat alternatives on the market. Some brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat work hard to appeal not only to vegetarians, but meat lovers too.
"The strategy has been to offer a product that's as close as possible in taste, texture, and price to the products that meat consumers are already eating," Dutkiewicz said.
Producing plant-based proteins generates much less carbon pollution than animal agriculture. So Dutkiewicz said making plant-based foods that appeal – even to meat eaters – can help reduce global warming on Thanksgiving or any day of the year.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
By Emily Payne
The World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that diet-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension lead to an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection. As the pandemic wears on, eaters are preparing more food at home and focusing on healthier meals. Cooking and recipe website traffic surged at the start of quarantine, as did curiosity for meat alternatives.
According to Nielsen data, plant-based meat saw a 264-percent increase in sales at the start of the pandemic. Whether or not this trend continues, it's clear that consumers are becoming more interested in plant-forward eating.
A plant-forward diet focuses primarily on plants like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds but does not eliminate animal products completely. Below are 10 common plant-forwarding eating myths.
1. Plant-Based Foods Cannot Provide Enough Protein
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that about three-fourths of Americans are eating diets low in fruits and vegetables, while more than half are meeting or exceeding protein recommendations. Meat is often touted as an eater's most important source of protein, but protein is found in all foods—even whole-grain pasta, oats, or vegetables. Beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are just a few protein-packed plants. One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, for example, compared to 22 grams in one serving of beef. By focusing on a diversity of whole foods, plant-forward eaters can consume more than enough protein each day.
2. Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Are Flavorless (and Have No Texture)
Tofu has long been a meat-alternative staple, but plant-based eating has much more to offer. Seitan, often called "wheat meat," is made by filtering the starch from wheat to create high-protein gluten with a similar texture to chicken. Tempeh is made by fermenting soy and can be marinated, fried, steamed, or eaten raw. It has a subtly nutty flavor, and companies like Lightlife, the largest U.S. tempeh manufacturer, also offer flavors like three-grain, flax seed, smoky, and buffalo tempeh. Countless combinations of beans, chickpeas, lentils, herbs, spices, and grains can be made into flavorful plant-based burgers, meatballs, ground meat, and even bacon.
3. Plant-Based Ingredient and Restaurant Options Are Limited
From restaurants to the grocery aisle, chefs and companies are responding to consumers' demand for plant-based options. In March 2020, The Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association calculated that total plant-based retail sales reached US$5 billion in 2019, growing 11 percent over the previous year, a rate almost five times faster than total U.S. retail food sales. And OpenTable reported that in 2019, plant-based reviews on its platform increased by 136 percent compared to 2017. From sliced bologna to ground Mexican beef, there's a plant-based option for virtually any meat craving.
4. A Plant-Based Meal Won’t Be as Filling
Processed foods are high in refined starches and sugar that are easier to digest, meaning they're less filling. Whole foods are naturally high in dietary fiber that breaks down slowly, keeping the body feeling full longer. With both fiber and protein, some plant-based proteins can even be more filling than animal meat options. Incorporating healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and coconuts also lends to a more filling dish. As long as there are plenty of whole foods, a plant-forward diet can fuel sustained energy throughout the day—and with fewer cravings.
5. Eating a Plant-Forward Diet Is Too Expensive
By focusing on minimally processed foods, shopping seasonally at farmers' markets when possible, and buying staples like nuts, beans, and legumes in bulk, many eaters save money by moving to a plant-forward diet. The rise in consumer demand for plant-based products also means more companies are joining the market and supermarkets are introducing their own private labels. With a more established supply chain, plant-based meat, cheese, yogurt, and egg alternatives can become more accessible to all budgets.
6. It’s Difficult to Eat Complete Proteins on a Plant-Forward Diet
The idea that plant-based proteins must be combined in the same meal to provide a complete protein is a long-standing myth. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that "the terms complete and incomplete are misleading in relation to plant protein. Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when caloric requirements are met." Even if consumed at different meals and times, the body will combine the essential amino acids it needs on its own.
7. Plant-forward Diets Are Nutrient-Deficient
Plants are some of the most nutrient-dense food options available. Dark leafy greens and legumes, for example, are rich with calcium. Beans and lentils are high in protein and fiber, low in fats, and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Many plant-forward eaters cook with nutritional yeast, which contains B12, a nutrient primarily found in animal products. Focusing as much as possible on a variety of whole foods will supply more than enough nutrients. A good trick is to eat the rainbow: colorful foods contain many essential vitamins and antioxidants, and different colors ensure a variety of ingredients (and flavor!).
8. Meat Alternatives Are Ultra-Processed and Unsustainable
As plant-forward eating becomes more popular, meat alternatives are appearing everywhere from baseball stadiums to fast-food chains. But many products labeled "plant-based" actually undergo the same amount of processing as typical junk foods, just without the use of animal products. With added processing comes a larger environmental footprint, as well. The best way to choose alternative meat is to check the ingredient label, opting for those with short ingredient lists of recognizable names. The Lightlife Plant-Based Burger, for example, is made from only 11 ingredients with nothing synthetically processed, and the company has committed to reducing its environmental footprint by 50 percent by 2025.
9. Children Shouldn’t Eat a Plant-Forward Diet
An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) notes that plant-forward diets can meet the nutritional needs of not only children but pregnant mothers, breast-feeding mothers, and infants. And educators agree; Los Angeles public schools adopted meatless Mondays in their cafeterias in 2013, and New York City, the largest public-school system in the U.S., began meatless Mondays in 2019. As plant-forward eating gains popularity, more plant-based alternatives children's favorite classics like hotdogs and chicken nuggets are reaching grocery shelves.
10. Plant-Based Products Are Always Healthier
Not all plant-based products are created equal. While french fries are derived from plants, they are also high in oil and salt. The plant-based Impossible Whopper may have fewer calories than the original Whopper, but it contains significantly more sodium. A frequent culprit of this is the veggie burger, deemed a health food but often full of sugars and unrecognizable ingredients. The key to a healthy and nutritious diet is minimally processed whole foods. Look out for plant-based products with a small ingredient list (which often translates to a more environmentally sustainable choice, as well).
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
McDonald's' ended a highly-publicized six-month trial of a meatless Beyond Meat burger April 6 without announcing any plans to continue or expand the partnership, CBC News reported Thursday. Instead, it simply removed the burger's information from its website.
Beyond Meat's shares plunged as much as 10 percent following the CBC story, as investors had hoped for a permanent arrangement between the alternative meat company and the fast-food giant, according to Business Insider. McDonald's stock was also trading down one percent, CNBC News reported. And some customers also expressed disappointment.
"I was really upset because it's the only thing on the menu that I could eat," London, Ontario-based vegan customer Jenna Walker-Cronk told CBC News. "I don't know how long it takes to get a product out, but I feel like, at this point, I'm not keeping my hopes up."
@aammyysmyth Hi there. Our Plant-Based Burger was being tested in several Markets until April 6th. We have no curre… https://t.co/UBEDYZdYeM— McDonald's Canada (@McDonald's Canada)1588115104.0
Both McDonald's and Beyond Meat insisted nothing about their relationship had changed.
"We're evaluating learnings from our recent test to inform future menu options," a McDonald's spokesperson told CBC News by email Thursday. "As we look ahead, we will plan to bring plant-based options to the menu at the right time for customers in individual markets."
Beyond Meat, meanwhile, said the trial had gone well.
"We can only comment generally and share that we were pleased with the test," Beyond Meat spokesperson Shira Zackai told CBC News by email Monday.
McDonald's ran two trials of the burger in dozens of restaurants in southwestern Ontario between September 30 of 2019 and April 6. It sold the burger as the PLT, for plant, lettuce and tomato, and said it was trialling the burger in Canada for a potential global rollout.
In a May earnings call, JPMorgan analyst Ken Goldman expressed doubt to Beyond Meat management about what the trial's end had meant, as Business Insider reported.
"[T]ypically if a test did well, the retailer wouldn't end it, they would expand it," Goldman said.
But Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said that the lack of expansion did not necessarily reflect on the trial.
"I can assure you there's no issue with McDonald's ... this is a way it's been planned and the way it's being executed. And there's been no change at all," Brown said. "I can't promise you that we'll see a massive expansion tomorrow. But there's been no change in information since we began this test and got good results in the beginning and got good results at the end."
It is possible that the lack of immediate follow-up had less to do with the trial itself and more to do with the fact that it wrapped up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's pretty hard to sort of make a decision on rolling out a product across the world, or even across America, when you're in the middle of a crisis," Toronto-based retail consultant Bruce Winder, who wrote a new book called Retail Before, During & After COVID-19, told CBC News.
Still, McDonald's lags behind its competitors when it comes to meatless offerings in North America. It has yet to offer a plant-based burger in the U.S., while Burger King has been selling the Impossible Burger for almost a year, CNBC pointed out. Impossible Foods also signed a deal this week to sell breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks, Investing.com reported.
"People are increasingly aware plant-based products are going to completely replace the animal-based products in the food world within the next 15 years. That's our mission. That transformation is inevitable," Impossible CEO Patrick Brown told CNBC's Jim Cramer June 23, according to Investing.com.
McDonald's, which offers meatless burgers in countries including Finland, Sweden, India, South Africa and Australia, has promised a meatless burger will eventually be on its general menu, CBC News reported.
🌱🍔 "I do expect that we will have plant based on the menu its just a question of when" -Chris Kempczinski, Mcdonald… https://t.co/btVNxx4Yvc— Vote (@Vote)1588263342.0
But for now, its North American customers will have to wait.
"It feels like [McDonald's is] behind everyone," Walker-Cronk told CBC News. "There's basically nothing else that I can eat there except for the french fries."
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