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The EcoWatch Guide to a Simply Tasty World Vegan Day

Food
The EcoWatch Guide to a Simply Tasty World Vegan Day
Combining avocado with chickpeas on your favorite bread can make a simple, delicious vegan lunch. kajakiki / E+ / Getty Images

Today, November 1, is World Vegan Day!

The Vegan Society defines veganism as "a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practicable — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment.


In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." In addition to protecting animals, a vegan diet has a number of health and ecological benefits. It can boost your gut microbiome and reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes, and one study found that it is likely the "single biggest way" to reduce your impact on the planet.

But if you're used to eating animal products with most meals, going vegan can feel a little overwhelming. That's why EcoWatch is here to help you out with a day's worth of simple, tasty meals in case you'd like to try it out!

Breakfast

Breakfast is simple. You can still make a cozy bowl of oatmeal, just used plant-based milk, like soy or coconut! Iosune of Simple Vegan Blog has one very user-friendly recipe that only takes 15 minutes. Her recipe uses soy milk, coconut or brown sugar, raspberries and bananas, but she notes that you can easily make it your own.

"You can use any plant milk, sweetener or fruit you want. Don't be afraid to add your favorite ingredients," she writes.

If you can't eat oats, buckwheat, quinoa or millet will also work.

Lunch

Going vegan doesn't mean you have to give up on your trusty sandwich. Bread at its simplest is vegan, though some recipes will include animal products. Just avoid any breads that list eggs, honey, royal jelly, gelatin or dairy-based ingredients like milk, butter, buttermilk, whey or casein in the ingredients. Sourdough, ezekiel, pita, kosher bread, ciabatta, focaccia and baguettes are all typically vegan!

When it comes to the filling, hummus is a tasty, creamy alternative to cheese and pairs well with grilled veggies or avocado.

PETA has a great recipe for a variation on this theme. Just smash chickpeas, avocado, cilantro, green onion and lime juice together in a bowl and spread it on your favorite bread!

Dinner

Noodle-based dishes are very easy to prepare using your favorite veggies and sauces. The Vegan Society shows how you can liven up a traditional tomato sauce and pasta meal.

"To make a ready-made basic sauce more interesting, you can add a variety of finely chopped and lightly fried vegetables e.g. mushrooms, red peppers, or onions," they write.

Their recipe also calls for adding tofu marinated in soy sauce to get a bit of that meatball texture.

Dessert

Congratulations! You've made it through World Vegan Day! To treat yourself, why not head over to your closest Ben & Jerry's? The ice cream chain will be giving out free scoops of Non-Dairy ice cream from 4 to 8 p.m.

Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy ice cream is made with almond milk and is 100 percent vegan-certified. It currently offers 12 Non-Dairy flavors, according to Newsweek: Caramel Almond Brittle, Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Monkey, Cinnamon Buns, Coconut Seven Layer Bar, Coffee Caramel Fudge, P.B. & Cookies, Peanut Butter Half Baked, Chocolate Caramel Cluster, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Salted 'n Swirled.

You can check here to see if your local store is participating. The offer is only available in the U.S.

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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