Panda Express introduces vegan options

March 14, 2019 by  
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Good news for suburban vegans and those who find themselves trapped in airports or mini-malls: The Chinese fast food chain Panda Express has added its first vegan entrees. Vegan diners at all 2,000 locations can soon safely chow down on Panda Express’ chow mein and eggplant tofu. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ( PETA ) has long been chipping away at Panda Express’ resistance to offering any dishes sans chicken broth or animal-derived seasoning. Supporters of the animal rights group contacted Panda Express 234,000 times about adding vegan menu entrees. But ultimately it was Vegan Outreach’s 5,000-signature petition that coaxed Panda Express into taking the chicken broth out of the chow mein. In February, the Chinese chain adopted reformulated recipes for its eggplant tofu and chow mein. Other vegan options now include spring rolls, a super green side of kale, cabbage and broccoli and vegan brown and white rice. However, as the restaurants use up old inventory, they might still be serving non-vegan versions through March. Vegans also shouldn’t expect separate cooking surfaces anytime soon. “While seemingly small, this change by Panda Express will make a big impact,” Taylor Radig, campaigns and social media manager of Vegan Outreach , told VegNews . “Not only will the chain expand its customer base to include vegans, but it will also contribute less to animal suffering by using more plant-based ingredients.” Panda Express now joins a growing list of fast-food chains that have added vegan options, including Taco Bell, Panera Bread and Carl’s Jr. Vegan Outreach, founded in 1993, introduced the petition as part of its work to end violence toward animals . According to the nonprofit’s website, “We focus on reaching the people who are motivated enough to make changes now — of which there are always many in our target audience who just need some additional encouragement.” Some of these folks might not be ready to venture into a vegan raw food restaurant, but they may be willing to try Panda Express’ eggplant tofu and chow mein. + Panda Express Via VegNews Images via Rick Obst and Willis Lam

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Vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives lets guests harvest their own food

February 25, 2019 by  
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Way out in the Indian Ocean, guests at a luxury Soneva resort are participating in the ultimate farm-to-table experience — and they even get to harvest the ingredients for their own dinners. The Soneva Fushi just opened Shades of Green, its new vegetarian restaurant at the exclusive Maldives resort. The seed for the vegetarian restaurant was planted when Copenhagen-based chef Carsten Kyster visited Soneva Fushi as a guest in March 2018. Kyster has worked at the River Café and The Sugar Club in London as well as traveling and working in Southeast Asia over the last 15 years. After eating a lunch made with ingredients from Soneva Fushi’s organic garden, inspiration struck. A year later, the 20-seat Shades of Green welcomes guests for intimate, plant-based dinners. Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants Before dining at the new vegetarian restaurant, guests take a guided tour of the garden , learning about the herbs, fruits and vegetables while picking dinner ingredients. They gather around a fire pit for an appetizer, then move to tables set beneath fruit trees to enjoy the remaining six courses. Dinner can last late into the night. Shades of Green’s menu will change with the seasons and is based around the colors red, green and yellow. Chef Kyster blends Maldivian and other Southeast Asian cuisines with Nordic culinary techniques, such as salting, smoking, pickling and fermenting. The meal is designed to fulfill six categories: cleanse, raw, crispy, grain, fire and sweet. For example, mangosteen kombucha paired with plums, beetroot vinegar powder and shiso leaves is a cleansing dish. A fire dish contains hotter ingredients, such as leeks and pepper sauce. Soneva Fushi is located within the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve coral reef . Guests in the 61 private villas enjoy amenities like an open-air cinema, a high-tech observatory, a glassblowing studio, private butlers and 500 different wines — and now, a vegetarian restaurant, too. + Shades of Green Photography by Julia Neeson via Shades of Green

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Vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives lets guests harvest their own food

Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

January 22, 2019 by  
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Sustainability is woven throughout Brae , a renowned restaurant and retreat nestled on a hillside of a 30-acre organic farm in rural Australia. Designed by Fitzroy-based studio Six Degrees Architects , Brae is best known for its seasonally inspired menu and talented chefs — the restaurant was named among the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2017 — and the idyllic establishment also boasts six eco-friendly guest suites designed to target net-zero energy consumption. Durable and recycled materials are used throughout the handcrafted buildings, which are powered with solar energy and use recycled rainwater. After Six Degree Architects completed Brae in 2013, the firm revisited the site to add a new accommodation building that would emphasize the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and seasonality. Completed in 2016, the six guest suites are housed in a structure referencing the archetypal utilitarian rural shed and built with simple and robust materials including recycled timber and brickwork, raw steel and brass. Local builders and tradesmen built the project, and the guest suites are carefully fitted out with bespoke, engaging objects to make each room feel homey and welcoming. “The restaurant is renowned for seasonally sourcing raw produce from either the property or local region,” the architects explained. “There was a desire to bring this careful, considered approach into the crafting of the rooms and restaurant. Simple robust materials, contrasting hard and soft, and a level of intricate detailing remind you that hands have made and shaped the buildings. The project purposefully plays off the materiality and self-build nature of old rural buildings, reinterpreting them into contemporary and luxurious interiors, framing views of the working landscape beyond.” Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants The guest suites are oriented for south-facing views of the landscape, while a landscaped berm to the north protects the building from view of the carpark. To achieve net-zero energy use during operation, the project is equipped with 48 solar panels that generate a daily average of nearly 44 kWh. Rainwater is harvested in two 40,000-liter tanks and reused for drinking and washing. Waste is broken down in a large worm farm. Thanks to these systems and passive thermal design, the 500-square-meter Brae guest suites have achieved a NatHERS energy rating of 7 stars. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Trevor Mein via Six Degrees Architects

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Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

These are the world’s top vegan cities

January 22, 2019 by  
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If traveling is a top priority for you in 2019 and you follow a vegan diet , there are some cities that are more vegan-friendly than others. Vegan website Happy Cow has compiled a list of the 10 most vegan-friendly cities in the world based on the number of fully-vegan restaurants, the number of vegan-option restaurants and their impression of overall vegan-friendliness. London At the top of the list is London, because the number of vegan restaurants in the city has exploded over the past year. It was the first city on the list to hit 100 completely vegan restaurants. A recent survey showed that more than a half million people are following the vegan diet in Great Britain. Related: Veganism on the rise, record number of sign-ups for Veganuary Berlin Because its vegan scene continues to grow, Berlin comes in at No. 2. There are now 65 vegan restaurants in the German city and 320 additional vegan options at restaurants within a 5-mile radius. New York City Many people consider the Big Apple to be the international food capital of the world, and its vegan scene is flourishing. There are now 64 vegan restaurants in NYC that range from fast food to upscale dining. Portland Veganism is a way of life in Portland , and that means the city has a wide variety of plant-based food options. You can easily find a vegan burger and a variety of vegan artisanal cheeses. There are also a number of vegan food carts and even a vegan bed and breakfast. Tel Aviv With an estimated 5 to 8 percent of the Israeli population being vegan, the country has the highest percentage of vegans in the world. The 31 vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv serve a variety of cuisines from Israel, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Some also have a Western influence. Rounding out the top 10 are Los Angeles, Warsaw, Toronto, Prague and Paris . + Happy Cow Image via 12019

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These are the world’s top vegan cities

An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant

November 7, 2018 by  
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New Delhi-based, multidisciplinary design practice Studio Lotus has transformed a portion of Jaipur’s lavish City Palace Museum into Baradari, a contemporary fine dining restaurant that pays homage to its rich architectural roots. Formerly used as a fairly nondescript palace cafe, the 14,000-square-foot property has been given a sumptuous revamp using traditional craftsmanship and artisanal techniques. The adaptive reuse project is not only a hybrid of centuries-old elements and modern aesthetics, but is also a historic preservation project that included careful restoration efforts. The royal family of Jaipur commissioned Studio Lotus to redevelop the neglected property into a fine dining destination with a private dining area, bar, lounge space, a quick service counter and back of house facilities to accommodate approximately 200 patrons. The design team began with a lengthy research and restoration phase, during which the walls were stripped of recently added plaster to reveal the original stone masonry. These walls were then restored and repainted using traditional techniques and materials, including cured slaked lime with crushed sandstone and brick . The restaurant is organized around a pavilion -like bar, created in the likeness of a ‘baradari’ (meaning a pavilion with twelve columns), that divides the courtyard into two zones and is built from handcrafted marble and glass. Traditional Jaipur craftsmanship is mixed with modern design throughout the restaurant, from the structural additions to flooring and furniture. The black and white marble floors, for instance, are a contemporary take on the traditional Rajasthani leheriya pattern, while the designs for the decorative art made from thikri (mirror) techniques were computer generated. Related: The Farm art hotel delights guests with recycled art and farm-fresh food Energy usage is also minimized thanks to a combination of low tech and high tech means. In addition to energy-efficient air conditioning and remote-controlled LEDs , the restaurant is equipped with rainwater harvesting systems and strategically placed water features that help create a cooling microclimate. + Studio Lotus Images via Studio Lotus

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An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant

6 tips to reduce your foodprint while dining out

November 1, 2018 by  
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When you eat at home, it is relatively easy to make choices that will lower your ‘foodprint,’ because you are in charge of the shopping, preparation and disposal of all the food. But when you eat out at a restaurant or grab takeout, it is much more difficult to eat sustainably. To make it a little bit easier, we have put together six tips to help you eat green while dining out or grabbing something to go. Ask questions Ask your server about the restaurant’s sources. What farms do they buy from? Is this dish in season? If the server doesn’t know, they can ask the manager or the chef. If the restaurant has a philosophy of incorporating seasonality into the menu, the workers will be more than happy to share the food’s origins, and the menu items will change with the seasons. Do your research to know what is in season where you live and what local restaurants embrace seasonality. When you are looking over a restaurant menu, also keep in mind your location and what is in season locally. If you are in a landlocked area, ordering ocean fish isn’t smart, because it certainly isn’t local. If you live in Missouri and it’s the middle of winter, tomatoes are not in season. Get a box American restaurants are famous for the extra-large portions of food that they pile up on plates, making it nearly impossible to finish the meal in one sitting. According to Sustainable America , the average restaurant meal is eight times larger than the standard USDA and FDA serving sizes, and 55 percent of leftover restaurant food doesn’t get taken home. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now Big meals mean even bigger waste. Instead of leaving behind food and letting it go straight to the trash, ask for a box. It will help cut down the food waste, and it gives you an instant lunch for the next day. If you don’t want to take leftovers home, consider splitting a large appetizer or entree with your dining partner. Choose farm-to-table Farm-to-table is one of the most popular buzzwords of the moment, and many restaurants have been more than willing to capitalize on the trend. More chefs have started to incorporate local and seasonal items on their menus, and some restaurants have even started growing their own food. Eating at a restaurant that locally sources its ingredients results in a major downsize of your foodprint, because there is no need to ship the ingredients across the country. Just make sure that the restaurant is truly farm-to-table — that’s when asking the right questions becomes important. Just say no If you don’t want that basket of rolls or chips they automatically put on the table, just say no. Tell your server not to bring it, so it isn’t wasted. The same thing goes for items on your entree. If you don’t want onions on your burger, tell your server to leave them off it. If you don’t want that side of coleslaw, ask for a substitution or tell them to skip it completely. Watch buffet portions To reduce your food waste at a buffet, use smaller plates. People who use large plates waste 135 percent more food than those who use smaller plates. Watch your portions when enjoying a buffet, or avoid going to one. Decline takeout bags, utensils and condiments When you order takeout, reduce your carbon footprint by bringing your own coffee or water cups, saying no to straws and plastic bags and declining plastic utensils and napkins. You can bring your own reusable container and see if the restaurant is willing to use it. Say no to extra condiments and seasonings. All of these to-go items might seem convenient, but they often end up in the trash. Instead, just grab the food, and use the cutlery, condiments and seasonings that you have at home. If you really do need some of the extras like sauces or condiments, only take what you need. When you dine out, you can eat sustainably by keeping these tips in mind. Just remember to choose the right restaurants, ask questions and minimize your food packaging and waste , and you will be doing your part to reduce your foodprint. Via Foodprint and  Sustainable America Images via Steffen Kastner , Thabang Mokoena  and Shutterstock

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A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

November 1, 2018 by  
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The sustainable builders at ArtisTree are known for creating some seriously beautiful and green structures. The company has just unveiled a charming treehouse located in a remote eco-retreat in Texas. Perched 25 feet in the air between two cypress trees, the Yoki Treehouse is an exceptional example of the company’s artistry and deep respect for nature. Located in central Texas, the Yoki Treehouse is Austin’s first treehouse resort at Cypress Valley. Designed to be a luxury retreat, the  treehouse sits 25 feet above a creek, which served as the inspiration for the design and name (Yoki is the Hopi Native American word for rain). According to Will Beilharz, founder of ArtisTree, “Water is life — one of our most precious resources, and ArtisTree treehouses are designed to let people experience nature’s resources more intimately.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home — and you can stay overnight Built with sustainable woods such as elm, cypress and spruce, the treehouse holds court high up within the tree canopy.  The retreat is comprised of a 500-square-foot suspended treehouse and a separate bathhouse, which sits on solid ground. The two buildings are connected by a 60-foot-long suspension bridge with various platforms to provide plenty of open spaces for enjoying the surrounding nature. In the main house, this strong emphasis on nature is apparent at every angle. The entrance is located on the roof, which doubles as an observation platform perfect for enjoying the lush green forest views and the babbling brook. There is also an open-air porch where the branches grow through the floor, further connecting the structure into its environment. Inside, the walls of the treehouse are clad in a warm birch wood, creating a cabin-like aesthetic. Again, an abundance of windows, including an all-glass front wall, allows guests to reconnect with nature. The interior design and furnishings were inspired by Japanese minimalism, while touches of Turkish decor add a sense of whimsy. The separate bathhouse was built with solitude in mind. It features a spa-like atmosphere, complete with a large Onsen-style soaking bathtub. Ample floor-to-ceiling windows offer guests a serene spot to enjoy a bit of bird watching or stargazing. + ArtisTree Via Dezeen Photography by Smiling Forest via ArtisTree

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A treehouse made from sustainable wood hides a luxurious interior

Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants

September 24, 2018 by  
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After over three years of planning, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has completed the new home for Noma, an award-winning, Michelin-star restaurant that was named four times as the best in the world by the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ rankings. Opened February 2018, Noma’s new restaurant location is just outside of Copenhagen’s city center on a lakefront site near the Christiania neighborhood. The 14,000-square-foot building is modeled after a garden village that consists of 11 single-story pavilions, each specially designed to realize chef René Redzepi’s vision for seasonal and local New Nordic cuisine. Last year, chef René Redzepi closed his original two-Michelin-starred Noma after 14 years of operation in a 16th century harborside warehouse. During the one-year closure of his restaurant, Redzepi worked together with architect Bjarke Ingels to sensitively reimagine a new property and an existing ex-military warehouse into “an intimate garden village” made up of a series of interconnected, agrarian-inspired structures centered around the restaurant’s heart: the 600-square-foot kitchen. “The new noma dissolves the traditional idea of a restaurant into its constituent parts and reassembles them in a way that puts the chefs at the heart of it all,” Bjarke Ingels explained. “Every part of the restaurant experience — the arrival, the lounge, the barbecue, the wine selection and the private company — is all clustered around the chefs. From their central position, they have a perfect overview to every corner of the restaurant while allowing every single guest to follow what would traditionally happen behind-the-scenes. Each ‘building within the building’ is connected by glass-covered paths that allow chefs and guests to follow the changes in weather, daylight and seasons — making the natural environment an integral part of the culinary experience.” Related: “The world’s best restaurant,” Noma, to close and reopen as an urban farm The historic, 100-meter-long concrete warehouse was renovated to house all of the restaurant’s back-of-house functions, including the prep kitchen, fermentation labs, fish tanks, terrarium, ant farm and breakout areas for staff. Three of the new structures are built of glass, with one serving as a greenhouse, another as a bakery and the last as the test kitchen. The dining spaces are located in other buildings constructed from a minimalist and natural materials palette that includes oak and brick. + BIG + Noma Images © Rasmus Hjortshoj

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Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants

A quirky bar in Shanghai is built from colorful recycled materials

September 24, 2018 by  
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A playful piece of Brazil has popped up on the streets of Shanghai in the form of Barraco, a Brazilian-themed bar designed by local practice Quarta & Armando Architecture Design Research (Q&A) and built with reclaimed materials sourced from demolition sites across the city. With ceilings constructed of colorful recycled doors and hanging swings used for bar seating, this whimsical hangout exudes a beach house feel with tropical drinks to match. The use of recycled and found materials also helps capture the “informal, messy and colorful atmosphere of tropical cities,” according to the architects. Slotted into a narrow rectangular site with a total area of 915 square feet, Barraco consists of an indoor bar and an outdoor bar protected beneath a large canopy. To keep the bars from descending into a confusing assortment of colors and textures, the designers grounded the project with a neutral background of bare concrete, timber and white gravel. Against this muted palette the firm then layered a “controlled chaos” of hanging plants , multicolored furnishings, corrugated tin surfaces and driftwood-like swings that hang from the ceiling. “The double nature of materials and textures reflects a double nature of use: the more quiet, dimly lit indoor bar sets provides a quiet retreat for an afternoon coffee, while the outdoor bar with projecting canopy becomes a part of Shanghai’s active streets at night,” Q&A said in a project statement. Related: Enchanting vertical garden is really a flora-filled bar in disguise “Seating areas are organized according to the same principle,” the architects continued, “with a set of movable low stools and beach chairs outside being the only furniture, besides the hanging wooden swings surrounding the bar, matched indoors by a set of comfortable armchairs and high-stools [that surround] a hanging table/door, which can be operated and pulled toward the ceiling to provide more space during a bigger party or event.” + Q&A Via ArchDaily Images by Dirk Weiblen

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A quirky bar in Shanghai is built from colorful recycled materials

13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island

August 20, 2018 by  
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On the heart of San Francisco’s man-made Treasure Island, a chic restaurant has popped up inside a series of recycled shipping containers. In a nod to the city’s history as a major port, local design firm Mavrik Studio crafted the new eatery — named Mersea after an Old English word meaning “island oasis” — out of 13 shipping containers and a variety of other materials found on the island, such as reclaimed wood. The decision to use cargotecture was also a practical one given the uncertainty of development on Treasure Island; the restaurant can be disassembled and moved when needed. A total of 13  shipping containers have been repurposed to create Mersea’s indoor bar and dining space that seats 60 people, an MRDK military-grade kitchen, bathrooms and a private dining area. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the restaurant with natural light and frame stunning views of the city skyline on clear days. Mersea also includes a golf putting green and bocce court. Environmental sustainability and recycling are key parts of the restaurant design. In addition to the repurposed shipping containers, the design team upcycled pallets and used reclaimed wood furniture pieces to create new seating. The herb garden is also made from recycled pallets. In homage to the old Treasure Island Bowling Alley, artist and carpenter Joe Wrye and executive chef Parke Ulrich constructed two communal tables from the former maple bowling alley lanes. Related: German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces Continuing the theme of recycling , the restaurant also teamed up with famous New York-based street artist Tom Bob, who furnished Mersea with unique and cartoonish artworks made from common and oft-overlooked street infrastructure elements like pipes, poles, metal grates and gas meters. The industrial installations — such as the jailbird constructed from pipes in reference to Alcatraz Island, which can be seen from the restaurant — complement Mersea’s light-filled, industrial setting. + Mersea Images by Sarah Chorey

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