‘Climate Change and the American Diet’

A new study from Yale’s ‘Program on Climate Change Communication’ came out with some interesting statistics. I’d click the link and futz around a bit, but I think these were the juiciest parts:

More than nine in ten Americans (94%) say they are willing to eat more fruit and vegetables, and six in ten (62%) say they are “very” willing to do so. More than half of Americans (55%) say they are willing to eat more plant-based meat alternatives (products made with vegetables such as soy, potatoes, peas, etc.) and 54% say they are willing to eat less red meat (beef, lamb, pork).

More than four in ten Americans say they are willing to use dairy alternatives (soy milk, almond milk, etc.) instead of dairy-based milk or cream (46%) and/or to consume less dairy (42%).

One in four Americans (26%) say they are willing to eat lab-grown meat rather than meat taken from animals.

Those are the nuts and bolts of ‘The Now’ of plant-based eating. People are interested — when they understand the effects of diet on the climate and its overall taste improves. People are willing to eat more plant-based meats when they cost less than real meat. Subsidies are too important here. Beef and dairy are subsidized in a way that essentially is like giving steroids to Goliath.

These are all good signs and honestly better than I expected. For your ‘TL;DR’, their executive summary is available here.

(via VegNews)

‘Why Cauliflower Wings Started Appearing on Every Bar Menu’

Alicia Kennedy for Tendlerly:

I’ve been trying to figure out the origin of the cauliflower wing as a bar food staple to no avail. In the early 2010s, vegan bloggers had begun to figure out that hunks of the vegetable could be breaded, fried, and dunked in hot sauce just like the tofu and tempeh wings of yore, with PETA putting out their recipe way back in 2012. The folks behind Brooklyn vegan restaurant Toad Style, who’ve recently brought their cauliflower wings back onto the menu, tell me they remember seeing them at a Super Bowl party in 2013 — it turned them from Buffalo tempeh lovers into cauliflower believers.

I’m almost positive the first I had them was at Mohawk Bend, which opened in 2011. The item was a staple on their menu from the get-go and always recommended by servers (because it’s delicious, duh). It was undoubtedly the first place I saw it in LA. Within a year or two, I saw it on the menu at Sage down the street — and now it’s everywhere.

I can’t think of a vegan dish that’s traveled further and faster. This was THE vegan evangelist before Impossible and Beyond burger came into our world. And it’s still doing work. It really is everywhere, and the universality has made for more variety and exploration — aka more joy. Tempura-style, beer-battered, new sauces, and more and more… and every single one has been a wonderful addition to a dish that is still in its infancy.

As we crest into a mildly healthier world, though still fried, this vegetable is giving everyone a crunchy, lighter option in our deep-fried existence.

‘The Next Big Thing From Korea Isn’t KPOP, But Plant-Based Meat Unlimeat’

Unlike other plant-based meat, which is found mostly in the form of hamburger patties, Unlimeat comes in the form of thinly sliced fillets. […] Created from “ugly produce” that is often discarded, the company spent many years developing and cultivating a sustainable, alternative-meat product. 

As the world gets flooded by vegan burgers made by beef companies, it’s nice to see a product with a new utility. I’m ready to go eat some Korean BBQ with friends.

‘The Best Way to Hack Your Lunch Salad, According to 11 Food Experts’

Lots of great tips here in this Grub Street piece. I like Garrison Price’s:

“If I’m hungry and pressed for time after a workout, my go-to is usually Sweetgreen. My own salad concoctions revolve around arugula (spicy), romaine (crunchy), raw beets (high in folate), broccoli (anti-inflammatory), sunflower seeds (vitamin E), almonds (biotin), avocado (B5), and spicy cashew dressing (healthy fat). I’m obsessed with seeds and nuts because they are good for you and filling, but also add great texture to the salad.”

Texture is king in a salad, and I feel like most places leave the croutons to bear the burden. I think seeds and nuts are crucial, and second only to the dressing. I usually add hummus to thicken mine up and give it a bit more body too.

‘The Plant-Based Movement to Transition Farmers Away from Meat and Dairy Production’

Nadra Nittle for Civil Eats:

As contract farmers struggle to stay financially afloat and concerns about animal agriculture’s role in climate change mount, MFA launched its Transfarmation Project in November to help farmers currently raising animals on a large scale grow crops such as hemp, mushrooms, and hydroponic lettuce instead. The group will include investors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers in an effort to provide alternatives. During the first phase of its fledgling project, MFA plans to help 10 yet-to-be named individuals leave factory farming behind.

“We decided to create a platform where we would have this conversation about our current factory farm system and how to get the people who want out involved in the plant-based space, whether it’s hemp or even solar and wind energy,” said MFA President Leah Garcés. “I’m not pretending that taking 10 farmers out of factory farming is going to end it, but we’re trying to work collaboratively and be constructive about creating new jobs for those who want them.”

As America’s preferences move away from dairy, I hope programs like this will lay a framework for how to move forward.

‘How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon’

Dan Kois for Slate:

On Monday the New York Public Library, celebrating its 125th anniversary, released a list of the 10 most-checked-out books in the library’s history. The list is headed by a children’s book—Ezra Jack Keats’ masterpiece The Snowy Day—and includes five other kids’ books. The list also includes a surprising addendum: One of the most beloved children’s books of all time didn’t make the list because for 25 years it was essentially banned from the New York Public Library. Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, would have made the Top 10 list and might have topped it, the library notes, but for the fact that “influential New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore disliked the story so much when it was published in 1947 that the Library didn’t carry it … until 1972.” Who was Anne Carroll Moore, and what was her problem with the great Goodnight Moon?

When I read stories like this, I think of the (often silent) gatekeepers in the food world that have helped shaped our culinary universe. Where would Impossible be if David Chang wasn’t the first to put it in his It-Spot, NYC restaurant Momofuku? Where would vegetables be if Pollan or Bitten weren’t politely advocating for them to fill our plates in the NYTimes? Would France or even Europe be exploring veggies if Alain Passard hadn’t made his 3-Michelin-starred L’Arpege go all vegetables in the early 2000s?

It’s hard to say, but it’s fun to think about.

‘Why is vegan shōjin ryōri cuisine so deeply compelling?’

This is a really nice breakdown of one of the most celebrated veggie-focused meals on the globe. And, yes, it’s the opposite of the extreme. It’s the anti-Doritos. I’ve only had meals like this a few times, and the flavors were soft and subtle in way that I’ve probably never had before or since.

‘The Meat-Lover’s Guide to Eating Less Meat’

Mellissa Clark for the NYTimes:

Becoming vegan would be the most planet-friendly way to go, followed by going vegetarian. In my case, those diets would be a professional liability, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I’ve got the willpower to stick to either one. I love meat and dairy too much to give them up entirely. But eating less of them — that I can do.

On the upside, eating less meat and dairy means there is more room on my plate for other delectable things: really good sourdough bread slathered with tahini and homemade marmalade, mushroom Bourguignon over a mound of noodles, and all those speckled heirloom beans I keep meaning to order online.

She has 6 good tips for people who are starting to dip their toes into the plant-based world.

Japan’s Vegan Olympic Dreams and Intimate Dumpling Dinner Parties with Chef Kajsa Alger

Episode 7 of the Vegan-Carne Alliance podcast is live.

For our seventh episode, vegan-food lover C.W. Moss talks with Chef Kajsa Alger. We hear about her life and work directing culinary at places like Veggie Grill, and how she’s helping Japan get vegan-friendly for the 2020 Olympic games through the Gunma Vegan Project (15:01), the joy of Mad Misha’s intimate dumpling dinner parties (38:05), and how novels sometimes help menus take shape (52:43).

Find it on:

‘How conventional soy farming starves honey bees’

Jessica Fu writing for the New Food Economy:

A significant, multi-year study […] provides new evidence that commodity crop production can be detrimental to honey bees, putting colonies at risk by depleting their access to food. […]

Now, by examining the health of honey bees in Iowa soy fields, scientists have showed precisely how damaging that lack of variation can be. Soy is one of the U.S.’s most highly produced and exported foods.

In 2018, farmers harvested 4.54 billion bushels of the crop (for reference, a bushel of soy weighs 60 pounds), with the Midwest contributing to the vast majority of this output. The industry’s rise, however, has come at the cost of traditional habitat: In Iowa, the second-largest soy producing state, the expansion of farmland has driven a steep decline in native tallgrass prairie. That, in turn, has depleted both the quantity and variety of food sources available to honey bees, according to the new research[.] […]

Typically, bees are supposed to produce honey for their colony from spring through fall in order to have enough food to survive the winter. What the researchers found, however, was that colonies adjacent to soy farms were turning to food stores for sustenance as early as August, and that by mid-October, all of them had wiped out the gains that they had made in the spring and summer. That’s like clearing out your fridge and pantry right before a power outage—and it means those hives would be far less likely to survive.

Ninety-eight percent of soy that is grown in the US is used for animal feed. One percent is grown for human consumption.