The vegan trend is catching on in Las Vegas now, especially since casino owner Steve Wynn has gone vegan. He's made sure that every restaurant in his casinos have vegan options or a vegan menu. Other casinos are doing the same according to this article about the vegan transformation. It will be nice to see what gourmet spin these restaurants can put on meatless fare. Since some of the top chefs in America run the restaurants, it could be spectacular and a nice way to use those casino chips!
In Chennai, India, property developers are building apartment buildings whose living spaces are leased only to vegetarians creating a unique community. The apartments are filling up at an amazing rate according to this article from the Times of India on vegetarian living in Chennai.
I think it would be fun to live in an apartment building like this. It would most likely be peaceful, cheerful, and feel like a real community. The article cites vegetarians who dislike the smell of meat and I have to agree. After being a vegan for a while, it is more pleasant to be around plant-based food preparation than meat-based meals, even if you are not eating the meat-based meals. This is why I like to visit vegan restaurants when eating out. It just feels more comfortable and enjoyable. I'm sure the tenants of the vegetarian apartment complexes in Chennai feel the same way.
According to the article, the leasing agents inform prospective clients that the units are for vegetarians and they have to indicate on the rental agreement that they are vegetarian. I think the next step would be to create an urban farm on-site to provide fresh organic vegetables for the tenants. I'm sure that day will soon come.
A big theme of my blog is finding ways to fit more veggies in your meals. This is a good practice because it's healthy and gives recipes more variety. Even as a vegan, I found that after a while I was using the same vegetables in my weekly recipes and needed to branch out to include new ones. My recipes already tasted good, so I was somewhat cautious about putting new ingredients in. In a way, after a while, you get comfortable eating what you like without variation, even when its vegan food.
One of the best ways to get used to new veggies in your meals is to sneak in different ones in small amounts. By finely chopping new veggies and rolling small amounts of them into a stew, salad, or soup, it makes it easier to become familiar with the taste and texture. New veggies might even enhance the flavor of stand-by recipes. There are more ways than this to get used to new veggies, but this is one of the best methods. This article explains more about hiding new veggies in your meals.
When I want to add protein to my meals where meat usually was, I use mostly fresh ingredients such as tofu, mushrooms, black beans, lentils, tempeh, and quinoa. I also count on the small amounts of protein in leafy green vegetables which add up when you eat them every day. I rarely use faux meats at home anymore, even though they are a source of protein, being soy based, because they are processed and usually contain more sodium than I desire.
This wasn't always the case, however. When I first stopped eating meat, I always had my kitchen stocked with Boca burgers, soy dogs, faux deli meats, and even faux sausage patties. I really depended on them to help me replace the initial cravings I had for the taste and texture of traditional American comfort food. It's hard to break an eating habit that you've had since childhood. It was also easy to stop into a supermarket while traveling on the road and buy faux deli meats to munch on when no veggie restaurant options were immediately available.
Unfortunately, becoming dependent upon processed foods is not making the true transformation that a vegan or vegetarian diet aims to produce. It also doesn't help with weight control either. As an aside, not all faux meats are vegan either, so that was another factor. Now, I avoid processed faux meats except when dining at vegan restaurants where it's the specialty of the house. Replacing meat-based protein with natural fresh plant-based protein is the best habit for a healthy diet.
Having said that, faux meats are instrumental in helping people transition from a meat-based diet to a plant-based one. Even if you are a still considering the transition, I recommend trying out a Boca burger or something similar. The taste is great and its still a better alternative to ground beef or pork. Even faux chicken products are becoming popular since the mimic almost exactly the real thing. This article lists some faux meat products which have gone mainstream. But try not to become dependent upon them and slowly make the transition to fresh protein ingredients and you'll really start to see the benefits of the vegetarian or vegan diet!
Quite a bit of research has been released in the last year, including this one from Tufts University described in this article, which suggest that berries have anti-aging properties. More specifically, they boost the strength of the brain to overcome age related disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease and memory loss.
The research focuses on the antioxidants which bright colored berries have such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries. The antioxidants in berries specifically help prevent cellular damage in the brain and even change the way neurons communicate.
Sometimes berries can seem a bit expensive especially when they are out of season, but it's always a good purchase to stock up and use them in salads, fruit bowls, or finger-food!
A couple weeks ago I posted that Germans were consuming less meat and eating more vegetables (Mehr Gemuse, bitte!)which is great considering they have a very meat based diet. As evidence of the change, Berlin is becoming a hub for vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Europe. This article lists three interesting places to eat if you are traveling in the city. It's nice to see the veg*n trend catching on in Europe!
When I became a vegan, I applied the eating philosophy to clothing as well. So I slowly got rid of the leather products I owned and replaced them with eco-friendly materials. This was easy for most items, like jackets, bags, belts, wallets, and many other things where leather showed up. This was not easy for shoes - especially dress shoes and casual loafers. In fact, when I finally did find a pair of dress shoes constructed from "man-made materials," they looked terrible - and I'm not even a shoe aficionado.
It got even worse with casual wear. The vegan shoes couldn't compete in style with the leather counterparts. So I ended up wearing my running shoes all the time and even found a way to wear them at work. It was frustrating since with today's technology there are probably several materials to make high quality and stylish shoes, especially for men, and have them reasonably priced. There is also a growing market for them.
According to this article on ethical footwear, there are now more options available, which is a good sign. One company listed in the article, Noah Italian Vegan Shoes, seems to be headed in the right direction with some trendy styles. It's good news and hopefully more companies will follow.
I have certainly railed against processed foods as being a factor in long term ill health. In fact, most people have a negative view of processed foods, but they are still consumed in large quantities. It may be confusing what exactly constitutes a processed food, especially when you have to make purchasing decisions in the grocery store. This article does a great job of explaining what are processed foods and how to separate good ones from bad ones.
It's evident that apps, mini programs for portable computing devices and smart phones, are the new way to access, manage, and apply information. As growth for iPads, tablet PCs, and smart phones increases, so will the demand for great apps. For the first time, notebook PC sales dropped from the high growth rate of 10% per year down to 4% last year, being overtaken by tablet PCs like the iPad.
This means that if you have invested in one it might be easier to integrate software programs into your daily life. For example, you can carry and iPad where ever you go, even the kitchen, and use apps, whereas the notebook PC and desktop usually have a fixed position in the home.
One good way to use apps is to monitor your eating patterns and nutrition. PC Magazine has listed 10 nutrition apps in the article which it considers useful. They help monitor carbs and fats and other components of your meals. While many people lose weight when they become vegetarian or vegan, if your carbs intake is still high, losing weight may not come naturally with the diet. Perhaps these apps can be useful for this purpose.
More vegetables, please! This is a phrase being said in Germany more often now as demand for meat has decreased by 17% and the appetite for vegetables has increased by 35% from 1991 to 2011. This article from Fresh Plaza provides the statistics.
This is an amazing change considering that Germany is home to wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, bockwurst, and speck. It's good news and German cooking is equally as good at making veggie meals as it is at making it's famous meat dishes. Maybe someday we'll be able to sit in a Munich beer garden and savor a perfectly grilled faux bratwurst with our stein of vegan Löwenbräu. Sehr gut!
Make Simple Vegan Meals