‘Kroger To Launch Plant-Based Protein Section In Meat Aisle’

Maria Chiorando for Plant Based News:

US supermarket giant Kroger is trialing a plant-based protein section in the meat aisles of selected stores.

The trial, which will run for 20 weeks, will take place in 60 locations across Indiana, Illinois, and Denver this fall.

The timing for this is impeccable and I assume intentional: Impossible foods (aka the makers of the Impossible burger) will be available in stores this month.

The placement of these products in stores is interesting too. Ethan Brown, the CEO of Beyond Meat, has always wanted his products to be placed in the meat aisle. When the Beyond products were in the vegan and vegetarian section, he called that the “penalty box” in his Wired interview from 2013.

I wonder if Kroger will continue to keep a vegan/vegetarian freezer section if this goes well. I’d assume so, but it’d be interesting to see what more integration would do generally. Making vegan products more visible will naturally make these products more popular. Like end aisle caps and special displays, this could be a big moment for vegan foods as they move into flexitarians life.

Kroger is the USA’s largest supermarket chain, and is the third-largest retail company in the world behind Wal-Mart and Costco. This could drastically change the business of lots of plant-based companies.

‘FOUR COUNTRIES UNITE TO FORM VEGAN WORLD ALLIANCE’

First the Vegan-Carne Alliance, and now the Vegan World Alliance. I think Alliances are the new thing.

The Dutch Association for Veganism, Vegan Australia, Vegan Society of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Vegan Society of Canada came together to address worldwide challenges and share initiatives to fulfill their individual and collective missions.

I’m assuming partnerships like this have happened before, but I especially am interested in this bit:

Its first project is to create a uniform certification system for vegan food products.

This problem is not unique. It’s tricky labeling thing and giving certification. You can see this the confusion mostly clearly in how they label eggs — and most people not knowing the difference between cage-free and pasture-raised. I think most people assume the former means the latter.

Maybe a better analog would be Jewish certifications of Kosher. Veganism is often akin to religious thinking with stringent devotion and oftentimes fairly vocal folks involved—so I think there is definitely some cross-over. And often the generalities of what people consider “vegan” varies person-to-person. Veganism will likely need some variants to properly help someone buying keep to their ethical system. There will likely be wedge issues, like gelatin from non-kosher animals for Jews. Here’s a small bit from a write-up on My Jewish Learning about Kosher Symbols:

“While there have been some lenient opinions over the centuries regarding gelatin,” Rabbi Lopatin said, “current Orthodox practice, at least in the Diaspora, is to not accept gelatin from non-kosher animals. Therefore, supervisions which do accept the leniencies of gelatin from non-kosher animals are not acceptable to (Orthodox) community standards.” And once you have an organization that allows for gelatin from a non-kosher animal, the community might be nervous accepting that organization’s supervision on any food, even if it doesn’t contain gelatin.

‘The Heir to a Tofu Dynasty Finally Learns to Make Tofu’

Aaron Reiss writing for the NYTimes about the oldest tofu shop in New York City and its sequel of sorts:

Paul Eng decided to confront a reality he had been facing most of his life: He was the heir to a tofu tradition who had no idea how to make tofu.

Mr. Eng’s grandfather learned the trade in the 1930s from fellow immigrants shortly after he arrived in Chinatown. He went on to open up a small tofu shop on Mott Street, called Fong Inn Too, and developed recipes that would become well loved in Chinatown for more than eighty years. When Mr. Eng’s parents closed the shop in 2017, the recipes, never written down, disappeared with it.

At one point, while trying to recreate those recipes, Mr. Eng asked one of his parents’ former employees how much baking soda a particular recipe called for. He said, “A cup.”

“A cup, like eight ounces? Like a U.S. standard cup measure?”

“No,” the man said, “a cup.”

“Like a coffee cup?”

“No, this one cup that we had at the shop.”

The cup, naturally, had been thrown out.

We all have been or will be there. This bit is coming for us all someday:

Fong On was known not only for its tofu but also for soy milk, rice cakes, grass jelly and a dozen other traditional products. Mr. Eng didn’t know how to make any of them, and he had almost nothing to work with. “We had dismantled all the old equipment and nothing was written down.” Not even his family members could recall enough detail to recreate their old specialties.

I once had a friend whose grandma made a shortbread crumble cake using odd cups that had been collected throughout the years for the measurements. This friend told me it was the only thing she wanted if her grandma passed away.

In Chinatown, the craft was often passed from more established immigrants to those more newly arrived.

Born in New York in 1966, Mr. Eng was part of a different generation — so he turned to YouTube.

And naturally, vegans in NYC are already stopping by Fong On. The article even mentions one of my favorite food-lovers in NYC, Crystal Pang aka @veganeatsnyc, who of course has already found this spot.

I love that articles like this help share the story and history of tofu. I know we’ve all had bad experiences with tofu, and stories like this help people appreciate the work that goes into it — and hopefully take the time to see how to prepare it, whether plain or like Yotam Ottolenghi’s perfect Black Pepper tofu recipe from Plenty.

‘Johns Hopkins launches center for psychedelic research’

A group of private donors has given $17 million to start the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine, making it what’s believed to be the first such research center in the U.S. and the largest research center of its kind in the world.

This is massive news.

I haven’t read Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind, but I think I’ve listened to every podcast he’s been on in his press cycle. I think the book will be help America understand and destigmatize psychedelics. In it, he writes about the tremendous research that is showing the benefits of LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) for treating depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Read a short excerpt of Pollan’s book here.

‘When Vegan Influencers Quit Being Vegan, the Backlash Can Be Brutal’

From Cassidy Dawn Graves at Vice:

Last March, vegan YouTuber Yovana Mendoza posted a video on her channel, Rawvana, that rocked her followers to their cores.

“I definitely did not feel ready to talk about this,” Mendoza told the camera, her expression solemn.

She had garnered nearly two million subscribers for her raw vegan diet content, but had recently been spotted with a plate of fish and called out for her ostensible hypocrisy. In the video, which has since been made private, she explained that while six years of raw veganism “elevated [her] consciousness,” recently, her health had begun to suffer. She lost her period, she was “basically anemic,” and she was riddled with digestive issues. Eventually, she said, she couldn’t take it anymore, and started eating fish and eggs

The biggest problem with quote-unquote influencers of any kind is approaches and understanding can vary. They often are not experts but attract viewers who think they display an expertise. And what happens to their health is a display of that ignorance.

Eating an unhealthy diet of any kind will have adverse side effects. Not just a vegan one, and balancing a diet isn’t easy. Just look at the incredible amount of people in America with heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and on and on. Health problems happen to carnivores and herbivores alike.

What’s frustrating for me is that instead of continuing to be vegan in a more common capacity, they rescind their whole ethos because their extreme form of veganism left them with health issues.

At least, the article gets it right:

Of course, many vegans are perfectly healthy. “Most healthy people should be able to adapt to an all-plant diet,” says Marion Nestle, nutritionist, professor, and James Beard Award-winning author. She emphasizes eating a “variety of plant food sources, taking in enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, and finding a good source of vitamin B12.”

[…]

Nestle notes these problems are more associated with “starvation” than a standard plant-based diet, which “should not cause people to lose weight or have any of those issues.”

The revolt and anger in their comment section speak to the worst part of veganism, in my opinion. Yelling will never change someone’s mind. Unfollow and move along. There’s likely someone better out there anyway.

People need to come to a more plant-focused lifestyle in their own way. Whether it’s for the environment, the animals, or for our health — no one is going to switch teams because they were given an ALL-CAPS rant in their comment section or bluntly told-off in person. And though I do think having vigilant convictions is great for the self, we can’t wrap others in the blanket of our beliefs.

‘KFC’s Response to Chicken Sandwich Mania: A Bucket of Vegan ‘Chicken’’

After all the discussion of Popeye’s entering the chicken sandwich game, this was the more interesting story for our future:

Maybe that’s because KFC was too busy rolling out a product that is, in a way, the inverse of Popeyes’ new star: Beyond Fried Chicken, a plant-based fried “poultry” made in partnership with fake-meat startup Beyond Meat. Starting Tuesday, the faux fried chicken will be available from just one location — a KFC in Smyrna, Ga., northwest of Atlanta — in the form of nuggets or boneless wings, as the chain decides whether or not to broaden the test or to release Beyond Fried Chicken nationwide.

This ended up selling out in 5 hours. I’d assume it’ll be nationwide by early next year.

Herbs and Spices

Vegan Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton is expanding 14 new locations of Neat Burger over the next two years. In the write-up on Bloomberg, this part got me thinking.

Neat Burger will feature Beyond Meat Inc.’s vegetable-based burgers, mixed with its own herbs and ingredients.

That little bit made me realize how little I see restaurants playing with their Beyond and Impossible burgers by adding herbs and spices. I hope we see more of that.

It’d be nice to have a more unique experience at restaurants with the uniformity offered by Beyond and Impossible moving globally. Even at larger chains, it’d be nice to see a distinction between how Carl’s Jr. and A&W prepare their Beyond Burger.

‘Malnutrition Case Stirs Debate About Vegan Diets for Babies ‘

It happens every once in a while: A child being raised vegan develops serious health problems, setting off an emotional debate over whether such diets are suitable for the very young.

Experts say it is possible to raise healthy infants and children on a totally plant-based diet.

Like any diet for a child, all it takes is planning — and these parents didn’t plan. A reminder that the American Dietetic Association says: that appropriately planned vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegan diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.