20 Plant-Forward Chefs Loving Vegetables This Valentine’s Day
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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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Hertsgaard
What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.
Will the White House Turn Green?<p>Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate question of the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has accelerated fossil fuel development. His climate policy seems to be, as he tweeted in January when rejecting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to protect New York City from storm surges, "Get your mops and buckets ready."</p><p>Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with a climate position so weak that activists gave it an "F," called Trump a "climate arsonist" during California's recent wildfires. Biden backs a $2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while slashing emissions—a Green New Deal in all but name. Equally striking, his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has endorsed phasing out fossil fuel production—a politically explosive scientific imperative.</p><p>The race will be decided in a handful of battleground states, five of which already face grave climate dangers: Florida (hurricanes and sea-level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods), and Arizona (heat waves and drought). <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/" target="_blank">Public concern is rising</a> in these states, but will that concern translate into votes?</p>
Will Democrats Flip the Senate, and by Enough to Pass a Green New Deal?<p>With Democrats all but certain to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate will determine whether a potential Biden administration can actually deliver climate progress. Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't. But since aggressive climate policy is shunned by some Democrats, notably Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, Democrats probably need to gain five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.</p><p>Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, are targeting six Republicans who polls suggest are vulnerable.</p><ul><li>Steve Daines of Montana, who denies climate science</li><li>Martha McSally of Arizona</li><li>Thom Tillis of North Carolina</li><li>Susan Collins of Maine</li><li>Joni Ernst of Iowa (bankrolled by Charles Koch)</li><li>John James of Michigan (also a Koch beneficiary)</li></ul><p>Republican Senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the Democratic candidates are physicians—not a bad credential amid a pandemic—who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent funded by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross urges a transition away from oil, though his openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve dims his appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives an 8 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters.</p>
Will Local and State Races Advance Climate Progress?<h4>THE CLIMATE HAWKS</h4><p>Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Washington has long been a graveyard for strong climate action. But governors can boost or block renewable energy; the Vermont and New Hampshire races are worth watching. Attorneys general can sue fossil fuel companies for lying about climate change; climate hawks are running for the top law enforcement seats in Montana and North Carolina. State legislatures can accelerate or delay climate progress, as the new Democratic majorities in Virginia have shown. Here, races to watch include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado.</p><h4>THE CLIMATE POLICY MAKERS</h4><p>Perhaps the most powerful, and most overlooked, climate policy makers are public utility commissions. They control whether pipelines and other energy infrastructure gets built; they regulate whether electric utilities expand solar and energy efficiency or stick with the carbon-heavy status quo. Regulatory capture and outright corruption are not uncommon.</p><p>A prime example is Arizona, where a former two-term commissioner known as the godfather of solar in the state is seeking a comeback. Bill Mundell argues that since Arizona law permits utilities to contribute to commissioners' electoral campaigns, the companies can buy their own regulators. Which may explain why super-sunny Arizona has so little installed solar capacity.</p><p>In South Dakota, Remi Bald Eagle, a Native American U.S. Army veteran, seeks a seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which rules on the Standing Rock oil pipeline. And in what <em>HuffPost</em> called "the most important environmental race in the country," Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, who favors phasing out oil production, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, which despite its name decides what oil, gas, and electric companies in America's leading petro-state can build.</p>
Will the Influencers Usher in a Green New Era?<h4>THE UNCOUNTED</h4><p>The story that goes largely under-reported in every U.S. election is how few Americans vote. In 2016, some 90 million, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly four out of every 10 eligible voters</a>, did not cast a ballot. Attorney Nathaniel Stinnett claims that 10 million of these nonvoters nevertheless identify as environmentalists: They support green policies, even donate to activist groups; they just don't vote. Stinnett's <a href="https://www.environmentalvoter.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Voter Project</a> works to awaken this sleeping giant.</p><h4>THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT</h4><p>Meanwhile, the young climate activists of the <a href="http://www.sunrisemovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunrise Movement</a> are already winning elections with an unabashedly Green New Deal message. More than any other group, Sunrise pushed the Green New Deal into the national political conversation, helping Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey draft the eponymous congressional resolution. In 2020, Sunrise has helped Green New Deal champions defeat centrists in Democratic primaries, with Markey dealing Representative Joe Kennedy Jr. the first defeat a Kennedy has ever suffered in a Massachusetts election. But can Sunrise also be successful against Republicans in the general elections this fall?</p><h4>THE STARPOWER</h4><p>And an intriguing wild card: celebrity firepower, grassroots activism, and big-bucks marketing have converged behind a campaign to get Latina mothers to vote climate in 2020. Latinos have long been the U.S. demographic most concerned about climate change. Now, <a href="https://votelikeamadre.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vote Like A Madre</a> aims to get 5 million Latina mothers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona to the polls. Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayak, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are urging mothers to make a "pinky promise" to vote for their kids' climate future in November. Turning out even a quarter of those 5 million voters, though no easy task, could swing the results in three states Trump must win to remain president, which brings us back to the first category, "Will the White House Turn Green?"</p>
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By Tony Carnie
South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.
Vincent van der Merwe at a cheetah translocation. Endangered Wildlife Trust
Under Pressure<p>Cheetah populations elsewhere in Southern Africa have not prospered over the past 50 years. In Zimbabwe, cheetah numbers have crashed from 1,500 in 1975, to just 170 today. Botswana's cheetah population has held steady at around 1,500 over the same period, but illegal capture for captive breeding and conflicts with farmers and the growing human population are increasing. In Namibia, there were an estimated 3,000 cheetah in in 1975; roughly 1,400 remain today.</p><p>In contrast, South Africa's cheetah numbers have grown from about 500 in 1975 to nearly 1,300 today. Van der Merwe, who is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Cape Town's Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild), says he's confident that South Africa will soon overtake Namibia and Botswana, largely because the majority of South African cheetahs are protected and managed behind fences, whereas most of the animals in the neighboring countries remain more vulnerable on mainly unfenced lands.</p><p>Wildlife researchers Florian Weise and colleagues have reported that private stock owners in Namibia still trap cheetahs mainly for translocation, but there are few public or private reserves large enough to contain them. Weise says that conservation efforts need to focus on improving tolerance toward cheetahs in commercial livestock and game farming areas to reduce indiscriminate trapping.</p><p>Van der Merwe says fences can be both a blessing and a curse. While these barriers prevent cheetahs and other wild animals from migrating naturally to breed and feed, they also protect cheetahs from the growing tide of threats from humanity and agriculture.</p><p>To simulate natural dispersion patterns that guard against inbreeding, the trust helps landowners swap their animals with other cheetah reserves elsewhere in the country. The South African metapopulation project has been so successful in boosting numbers that the trust is having to look beyond national boundaries to secure new translocation areas in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.</p><p>Cheetah translocations have been going on in South Africa since the mid-1960s, when the first unsuccessful attempts were made to move scores of these animals from Namibia. These relocations were mostly unsuccessful.</p>
Charli de Vos uses a VHF antenna to locate cheetahs in Phinda Game Reserve. Tony Carnie for Mongabay
Swinging for the Fences<p>But other wildlife conservation leaders have a different perspective on cheetah conservation strategy.</p><p>Gus Mills, a senior carnivore researcher retired in 2006 from SANParks, the agency that manages South Africa's national parks, after a career of more than 30 years in Kalahari and Kruger national parks. He says the focus should be on quality of living spaces rather than the quantity of cheetahs.</p><p>Mills, who was the founder of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group in 1995, and who also spent six years after retirement studying cheetahs in the Kalahari, says it's more important to properly protect and, where possible, expand the size of existing protected areas.</p><p>He also advocates a triage approach to cheetah conservation, in which scarce funds and resources are focused on protecting cheetahs in formally protected areas, rather than diluting scarce resources in an attempt to try and save every single remaining cheetah population.</p><p>"People have an obsession with numbers. But I believe that it is more important to protect large landscape and habitats properly," Mills said.</p><p>He suggests that cheetahs enclosed within small reserves live in artificial conditions: "It's almost like glorified farming."</p><p>"In the long run we have to focus on consolidating formally protected areas," he added. "Africa's human population will double by 2050, so cheetah populations in unfenced areas will become unsustainable if they are eating people's livestock."</p>
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