Careers in Solar Energy

January 21, 2020 by  
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The solar energy industry is booming across the United States … The post Careers in Solar Energy appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Careers in Solar Energy

We Earthlings: Glass Recycling Helps the Environment

January 21, 2020 by  
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What connects us all? Nature and our shared relationships through … The post We Earthlings: Glass Recycling Helps the Environment appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: Glass Recycling Helps the Environment

How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation

January 2, 2020 by  
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From high-tech indoor farms in France and Singapore to mobile apps connecting urban growers and eaters in India and the United States, here are more than a dozen initiatives using tech, entrepreneurship, and social innovation to change urban agriculture.

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How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation

How zip lining impacts tree health, according to experts

December 24, 2019 by  
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Outdoorsy people have long enjoyed hiking on remote trails or rafting on rivers. But aerial views have been harder to come by, until the recent popularization of zip lines. Although varieties of zip lines have existed for hundreds of years, they have become widespread in recent years. It’s a popular outdoor activity, but how does it impact trees? Zip lines originated 2,000 years ago in mountainous areas of China , India and Japan, where people first used them to transport supplies from one place to another and to traverse dangerous areas. Later, European mountaineers navigated between high points with zip lines. In the 1970s, wildlife biologists built zip lines in the Costa Rican rainforests to cause minimal environmental disturbance during their studies. These Costa Rican ziplines soon caught the attention of tourists, and entrepreneurs latched onto the idea, opening recreational zip lines in Costa Rica and then other parts of the world. Related: Inside the Mohicans — an Ohio treehouse empire The United States’ first recreational zipline, the Haleakala Skyline Tour in Maui , launched in 2002. Fewer than 20 years later, commercial zip lines operate in at least 72 countries on six continents, with more than 400 zip courses in the U.S. alone. Obviously, zip lining is popular with people. But what effect does it have on trees and forests? Inhabitat spoke with four zip-line experts to get their views on the subject. Designing a zip course When planning a zip course, designers look at topography, using hills, valleys and water features to their advantage. “People like to zip line because it makes them feel like they’re flying,” said Jon Johnson, owner and builder of Zipline Utah in Deer Creek State Park. “So, if you think about a bird flying through the air, you don’t want to fly over a parking lot. That’s no fun. You want to find some piece of ground that has unique features and aspects to it.” In Ohio, Larry Gerstner, co-owner of Hocking Hills Canopy Tours , had some advantages when he designed their second zip course. “I’m a civil engineer by trade,” he said. “When we had our first course built, it was built by Bonsai, which is maybe the leading [zip course] builder in the country. I worked with them when they built it and picked up a lot of information to go with my engineering background.” Since Gerstner already owned the property, he was familiar with its features when he designed the second course. “It’s more taking the terrain and the trees and using them to the best advantage. You need to start out high and end up low. We don’t have enough fall to do the whole thing. So all of our courses have a walk in the middle where you gain some elevation, so that you double-use the elevation.” Gerstner took advantage of the unusual Hocking Hills topography to end one zip line inside a shallow cave and cross a river several times. Attaching cables to trees The biggest danger to trees comes from attaching cables and bolts to them in order to hold up platforms. According to a report by the engineering firm Robson Forensic , “Drilling any hole into a tree creates a wound that makes the tree more susceptible to infection and decay.” So trees need to be chosen carefully. They should be healthy , sizable and of a species that can compartmentalize damage and limit the spread of decay around a wound. “We need to protect them as much as we can, and we do love our trees,” Gerstner said. Hocking Hills Canopy Tours hired an arborist to evaluate its trees and pick the best candidates for platforms. Gerstner explained that when attaching platforms to trees, they stack bolts on top of each other so that the cambrium, or growth tissue of the tree, is only disturbed in one spot. “You’re only taking a little bit of the tree that you’re using out of commission for a brief period. It does grow back around that.” Other attachments to the tree use oak blocks to minimize damage. “We cut oak blocks and put them around the tree, and put our cable through the oak blocks so that it never touches the tree and the tree can grow.” Putting a cable all the way around a tree would kill it. “We also ‘guy’ the trees, so that where we have the force of a zip line on the tree, we’ll have a guy that goes the opposite direction that holds that force, so there’s nothing really pulling on the tree,” Gerstner said. “The tree has to be able to move back and forth some, but we limit that moving back and forth to keep it strong.” Ongoing tree health Once a course is in use, staff and arborists frequently inspect trees to ensure health. Adventures on the Gorge in West Virginia operates Tree Tops Canopy Tours, a 10-zip course with five sky bridges that wind through an ancient hemlock forest. According to Roger Wilson, CEO, its Bonsai-constructed course uses the block-and-cable system. “As trees grow, the blocks and cables can be readjusted with minimal impact on these ancient trees.” In Trinidad, ZIP-ITT Adventure Tours operates a course including an 800-foot line with a stunning view of Macqueripe Bay. “We would like to think that we have enhanced many of the trees in our area as we continue to look after them, including regular spraying for termites,” said Matthew Devaux, ZIP-ITT’s director. Gerstner watches his Ohio forest closely for sick or dead trees. “So it’s not quite a natural thing. We take better care of it. It’s a managed forest.” In Utah, the way local wildlife interacts with zip lines has surprised Johnson. Unlike canopy courses that are built in trees, Johnson’s platforms are all on constructed towers. “We get a lot of hawks and a lot of bald eagles,” Johnson said. “We’ll see them swoop down and catch a fish in the lake. We’ll find half-eaten fish on our towers. They use our towers as perches.” Getting in touch with forests Zip lines are more than just an adventure. They can be a powerful way for people to connect with forests. “We would like to think we have brought an awareness to the green environment and that feeling of being one with nature as you zip around our course,” Devaux said. “Moving into Macqueripe 6.5 years ago, we brought such an awareness to our staff, who now understand the effects of littering and the impact it has on the environment. They are now like ambassadors for the area, which is a great achievement for ZIP-ITT. The team has embraced keeping the forest clean and educating those who come about the area and the flora and fauna we enjoy because of it.” Many zip guides make sure to slip some education into the adventures. Gerstner said that most of the Hocking Hills guides are ecology majors who talk about tree characteristics during the tour. “We get a lot of people from the city, and they’ve never been in the forest,” Gerstner said. “They get a bird’s eye view of being up in the trees. Most people never get that in their life.” Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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This container home in Brazil helps its residents disconnect

December 24, 2019 by  
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The 2,766-square-foot Hanging House was designed by the architects of Casa Container Marília in the rural area of ??Campos Novos Paulista, Brazil. About 80 percent of the materials used in construction were recycled , including the primary maritime shipping containers that make up a majority of the structure. The home also lacks two major modern amenities — televisions and Wi-Fi — to encourage a digital detox. The Hanging House sits elevated from the ground, so the windows are level with the native trees abundant throughout the property. This also lessened the impact on the landscape. The wooden deck balconies blend in with the branches of the trees as well, making it feel much like a treehouse. It earns its name from the numerous hammocks that hang from the ground level, one of many places where the homeowners can kick back and relax. There is a modular green roof attached to the container home as well as a rainwater storage system that reduces the need for excess irrigation around the property. The interior doors on the first floor were made with reused plates of the containers. Following the completion of the project, 70 percent of the debris left over — mostly made up of wood and steel scraps — was also reused. No outside soil was brought to the site, and a minimal amount of concrete was used in the foundations to preserve and protect the soil drainage and root patterns. Related: This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online All of the walls are insulated with a thermoacoustic blanket, and the interior has a cross-ventilation system with wide openings to encourage airflow. Nestling the house under the trees also provided the building with plenty of shade. Thanks to this air exchange and thermal arrangement, the house has no need for an air conditioning system, even on the hottest days of the year. The container home has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a beautiful kitchen that opens up to the living spaces. The interiors are dressed in timber, creating a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. In an effort to allow residents to disconnect from the outside world and better connect with the surrounding nature, there are no televisions or Wi-Fi available on the property. + Casa Container Marília Images via Casa Container Marília

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This container home in Brazil helps its residents disconnect

Greta Thunberg is Time magazines 2019 Person of the Year

December 13, 2019 by  
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Time magazine has just announced its 2019 Person of the Year, and it is Greta Thunberg. So far, the 16-year-old is the youngest individual to receive the recognition, thanks to her youthful activism that has brought global attention to the planet’s climate crisis . It all began when she skipped school back in August 2018 to hold a strike in front of the Swedish Parliament. As Time magazine described it, “In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the United Nations, met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.” Even the Collins Dictionary lexicographers selected ‘climate strike’ as the word of the year, in honor of Thunberg’s idea. Related: New York allows students to miss class for the climate strike Time’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, elaborated, “Thunberg has become the biggest voice in the biggest issue facing the planet,” namely climate change and its environmental repercussions. While climate action and its attendant politics are not entirely new, Thunberg’s difference, according to Time magazine, is that “she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.” In 1927, Time Magazine inaugurated the annual accolade, first calling it the Man of the Year award, which has since evolved into the Person of the Year award. The recipient is often the most influential person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year,” in other words, a newsmaker honored for shaping or defining the year. Earlier this year, Thunberg was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize but did not win it. Another honor, an environmental award held by the Nordic Council, was instead given to Thunberg, but she declined it, saying “The climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start to listen to the current, best available science.” + Time Via BBC Image via Shutterstock

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Greta Thunberg is Time magazines 2019 Person of the Year

Ark tiny home blends off-grid capability with elevated design

December 13, 2019 by  
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These days, designing an off-grid tiny home doesn’t have to mean forgoing attractive design. Built by Willowbee Tiny Homes , the Ark was designed to go completely off the grid thanks to a full solar package, a fresh water holding tank, a gray water holding tank and a composting toilet. Furthermore, all of these incredible sustainable design elements are wrapped up in a breathtakingly gorgeous living space. Built on a 26-foot-long wheeled trailer, the Ark is ready to move into virtually any landscape. Constructed with durable materials, the tiny home is capable of withstanding nearly any type of climate. The cedar-clad home has a tight envelope comprised of high-quality insulation that keeps the interior warm and cozy, even in cold weather. Related: This tiny farmhouse features a quaint reading nook The Ark was also designed to be a powerhouse of off-grid living . The pitched roof is equipped with a solar array on each side, which allows the tiny home to generate all of the clean energy it needs to operate. Additionally, the house is installed with both a fresh water holding tank and a gray water holding tank to reduce water waste. Besides its impressive green design elements, the Ark is one of the most attractive tiny homes that we’ve ever seen. With bright white walls and even brighter blue accents, the interior space is unique and contemporary. There’s also no shortage of natural light streaming in from a bounty of windows and skylights. The off-grid tiny home features a roomy living area with storage built into the L-shaped couch, which can be folded out into various configurations . Just steps away, home cooks can whip up impressive meals in the kitchen that includes full-size appliances and electric-blue cabinetry. There are two sleeping lofts on either side of the small building. The master bedroom is accessible via a floating staircase, while the second loft is reachable by a ladder. Downstairs, the bathroom features an enviable, full-size bathtub, a washer and dryer combo and a composting toilet to round out the list of sustainable amenities. + Willowbee Tiny Homes Images via Willowbee Tiny Homes

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Ark tiny home blends off-grid capability with elevated design

6 helpful ways to give back to nature this Thanksgiving

November 28, 2019 by  
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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it is the best time to reflect on our planet and give thanks for nature and all of its glories. What better way to celebrate our world and its wildlife than by offering a helping hand? Here are some ways to give back to and celebrate Mother Earth this Thanksgiving . Save a turkey While Thanksgiving traditionally means turkey at the table, those who are vegetarian, vegan or simply interested in protecting turkeys can instead adopt or sponsor a turkey. Sanctuaries and rescue organizations devoted to the turkey exist across the United States and United Kingdom. The Adopt-a-Turkey initiative has become a popular Thanksgiving endeavor. By choosing to adopt or sponsor a turkey, you can help fund the care of this fine-feathered friend. Related: Make your own tasty vegetarian turkey for Thanksgiving with this recipe To help a turkey, visit Animal Place , Barn Sanctuary , Catskill Animal Sanctuary , Dean Farm Trust Turkey Rescue , Farm Sanctuary , Friend Farm Animal Sanctuary , Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary , Hillside Animal Sanctuary , Spring Farm Sanctuary , The Gentle Barn , The Retreat Animal Rescue & Sanctuary or Woodstock Farm Sanctuary . For a more comprehensive directory of farm sanctuaries that are also safe havens for turkeys, view Vegan.com’s farm animal sanctuary directory . Give a retired Military Working Dog (MWD) a home MWDs are retired from active duty. Many have either worked in the field or trained with other MWDs, making them unique bearers of particularly honed skills. All adoptable MWDs have already passed rigorous behavioral tests to ensure they are temperamentally a good fit for civilian adoptions.  Because the MWD actually served in the United States military, a MWD is more than just a canine — he or she is a military veteran. When you adopt a MWD, you’re also providing a home to a military veteran and war hero. Organizations that can help you rescue or rehome a MWD include Mission K9 Rescue , the MWD adoption program at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland Air Force Base and the United States War Dogs Association . Be sure to also inquire your nearest military installation to see if they have any retired or retiring MWDs available for adoption. You also have the option to foster a military working dog . If fostering is more appealing, contact the 341st Training Squadron’s MWD Foster Program at JBSA-Lackland here . Name a species Every year, new species are discovered. Typically, the first person to discover the plant or animal gets the honor of naming the species. But there are still countless other organisms requiring scientific names. For a fee, the general public can name a newfound organism. By naming a new species, you complete the dual kindness of helping the scientific community establish a binomial nomenclature identification for a newfound living thing while simultaneously honoring the person you named the newfound organism after. Of course, giving a newly discovered species a name of your choice increases public awareness of biodiversity, raises much-needed funding for ecological conservation efforts and helps spread the science of taxonomy. Organizations with programs devoted to naming new species include the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Discover Life in America (DLIA) nonprofit and the German nonprofit organization BIOPAT . Volunteer at a seed bank You will undeniably make a hands-on contribution when volunteering at a local seed bank. Seeds are deposited for safekeeping in case of unforeseen global emergencies. The seeds can be replanted at some future time to ensure survival, rather than eradication, of certain crops . Today, there are about 1,500 seed banks worldwide, the most famous being the “Doomsday Vault” in Norway, or Svalbard Global Seed Vault . AgProfessional offers a list of the planet’s 15 largest seed banks, where you can learn more about efforts to conserve plant biodiversity. Some seed banks with volunteer opportunities include Irvine Ranch’s Native Seed Farm , London’s Kew Gardens , the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (MARSB) , Miller Seed Vault at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens , the renowned Native Plant Trust conservation organization, Portland State University’s Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank and the True Harvest Seeds charity. Monitor vulnerable plants and animals as a citizen scientist Citizen scientists help gather data to inform researchers about the protection and management status of flora and fauna species. Regular monitoring of plants and animals, especially vulnerable and rare ones, is essential to determine their population trends. In turn, agencies at the local, state and federal levels gain insight and implement needed modifications to habitat management and conservation plans. Related: 6 ways to give back this Thanksgiving and beyond For instance, the Smithsonian Institution and the Nature Conservancy have robust citizen scientist programs to assist with the monitoring of species distribution, abundance and threat by invasive species . Some, like the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI) , annually have openings for volunteer plant hunters and junior citizens curious about botany.  Meanwhile, Zooniverse is the largest platform devoted to animal- and plant-centered citizen scientist collaborations. Perhaps one of the most popular citizen science monitoring programs is Plants of Concern , administered by the Chicago Botanic Garden. Similarly, the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN) is another volunteer monitoring program that provides better understanding of the interrelationships between humans and ecosystems. Participate in the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) Field Book Project For those fond of history, especially natural history, consider volunteering with the Field Book Project . Field notes and diary entries, from the Victorian era and earlier, still need to be identified, cataloged and digitized. Volunteering with this endeavor guarantees access to original records of scientific discovery and primary source material notes on specimens and native environments from centuries ago. Your volunteer efforts with the Field Book Project will help increase the visibility of these long tucked-away scholarly resources that need to be rediscovered and shared with the global biodiversity research community. Images via Taminwi , Rikki’s Refuge , Sgt. Barry St. Clair , Hans Hillewaert , Elena Escagedo , Glacier NPS and Biodiversity Heritage Library

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Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act is signed into law

November 27, 2019 by  
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In a bipartisan win, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act has been signed into law, making serious harm to “living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians” a federal crime. The law also includes a ban on the creation, sale and distribution of any electronic image or digital recording that depicts acts of animal cruelty . The measure was jointly introduced by Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL). The Humane Society of the United States has expressed support for how this anti-cruelty bill has “sailed through the House of Representatives and the Senate with almost unanimous support.” The bill was supported by 302 House cosponsors and 41 from the Senate. It was then signed by President Trump on November 25, marking a defining moment that establishes federal protections for animals . Related: The PACT Act hopes to ban animal cruelty at the federal level “PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” said Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “The approval of this measure by the Congress and the President marks a new era in the codification of kindness to animals within federal law. For decades, a national anti-cruelty law was a dream for animal protectionists. Today, it is a reality.” Prior to this federal law, only state laws existed against animal cruelty. But the previous lack of federal legislation on the matter made it difficult to prosecute cases of animal cruelty that spanned different jurisdictions and across several states. Meanwhile, the text of this new federal legislation does itemize some exceptions, such as “(A) a customary and normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry or other animal management practice; (B) the slaughter of animals for food; (C) hunting , trapping, fishing , a sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by federal law, predator control or pest control; (D) medical or scientific research, (E) necessary to protect the life or property of a person; or (F) performed as part of euthanizing an animal.” The Animal Wellness Action, one of the groups involved in the bill’s passage, issued a statement praising lawmakers after the law was signed. “We’re thrilled to see the first anti-cruelty statute in American history signed into law and applaud the President and Congress for providing the voiceless with a level of protection never seen before,” said Marty Irby, the group’s executive director. “The PACT Act will allow federal authorities to crack down on the most egregious of animal abusers and help keep American pets safe from harm.” + PACT Act Via NPR and Humane Society of the United States Image via Pixabay

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Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act is signed into law

12 easy vegetarian and vegan potluck dishes for Thanksgiving

November 20, 2019 by  
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Sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet on a holiday that revolves around poultry doesn’t have to be a bummer. With the idea of potluck Thanksgiving dinners gaining more and more popularity in the United States (Friendsgiving, anyone?), this can be the perfect opportunity to expose your meat-eating friends to your plant-based lifestyle and provide some healthier alternatives to classic Thanksgiving staples. Pumpkin gnocchi Making your own gnocchi is a great way to show off your cooking chops without doing a ton of work. Swap out the potatoes for nutrient-rich pumpkin and replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat and almond flour. This simple recipe from Kale Me Maybe uses ghee, a type of clarified butter, for the sage sauce along with garlic. Ghee is a staple of Ayurvedic medicine and is often made using low heat, allowing it to retain more of its natural health benefits. Related: 6 yummy organic pumpkin recipes you can make for Thanksgiving Roasted Brussels sprouts Perfect for larger groups looking for a traditional Thanksgiving vegetable side, roasted Brussels sprouts can be whipped up and topped with any number of vegan or vegetarian ingredients. Slice off the stems of the washed sprouts. Then, cut the sprouts in half, making sure to remove any brown leaves off before roasting them with salt, pepper and olive oil in the oven until they are crispy. Top with lemon zest and cheese for a vegetarian option, or toss with chopped pecans and cranberries for a hearty vegan dish. Green bean casserole with crispy onions This recipe from OhMyVeggies puts a healthy spin on the classic side dish (usually packed with sodium and processed ingredients, like condensed canned soup and bagged fried onion strings). Use fresh green beans and mushrooms along with soy milk or almond milk to veganize your green bean casserole. Pomegranate spinach salad Nothing says autumn quite like tangy pomegranate seeds, and this recipe from Cooking Classy combines them with fresh, sliced pears and nutrient-dense leafy spinach. Even better, the dressing uses apple cider vinegar (we suggest using the organic , unfiltered kind to get those gut-friendly enzymes). Vegetarians can make the recipe as-is, but vegans can swap the honey for agave and leave out the cheese. Glazed carrots Sliced carrots can be roasted in the oven, cooked in a slow cooker or sauteed on the stove with either butter or olive oil for a simple Thanksgiving side dish. Add salt and pepper to taste along with a touch of balsamic vinegar to give it an extra bite. No matter how you cook the dish, consider leaving the skins on the carrots instead of peeling them off — they are loaded with vitamins and minerals (just make sure to thoroughly wash the carrots). Related: 6 vegan and vegetarian turkey alternatives for Thanksgiving Stuffed mushrooms These bite-sized treats are sure to draw a crowd of meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Play with different ingredients depending on your audience, but make sure to top it all off with plenty of fresh herbs to compliment the savory mushroom caps. Everything about this vegan stuffed mushrooms recipe from Blissful Basil screams festive, from the diced walnuts to the sage to the cranberries. Butternut squash soup With a sweet, flavorful base made from coconut milk , butternut squash and curry powder, this soup is the perfect comfort food for any Thanksgiving potluck guest. Check out this recipe from the Minimalist Baker that incorporates cinnamon, maple syrup and chili garlic paste for an extra sweet-and-spicy kick. Vegetarian stuffing Thanksgiving is incomplete without a side of delicious stuffing to soak up the rest of the meal, but it typically isn’t a vegetarian-friendly dish. This recipe from the Vegetarian Times calls for cubes of whole-grain or sprouted bread and a variety of herbs to get that same stuffing taste without the meat juices. Use a medley of mushrooms for an earthy flavor, throw in some chopped nuts for an extra crunch or add dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness. Swap the butter for olive oil if you’re sticking to a vegan recipe . Wild rice pilaf Another great side option for larger groups, this wild rice pilaf recipe from One Green Planet is packed with fiber and whole grains. With the added autumnal flavors of dried cranberries, baked butternut squash and fresh squeezed citrus fruits, this Thanksgiving side is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Creamed kale Spice up your classic creamed spinach recipe by swapping the traditional greens for vitamin-packed kale and using soaked raw cashews instead of cream and butter to make it vegan. This recipe from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen uses shallots and garlic for a burst of fragrance and flavor and can be made in large batches for bigger potluck groups. Vegan cauliflower risotto With riced cauliflower becoming all the rage in vegetarian and vegan cooking these days, why not elevate the classic cauliflower rice into a hearty risotto? Check out this recipe from Foolproof Living that uses a unique combination of tahini, miso paste and nutritional yeast to give the dish a savory, cheesy flavor without any dairy. Vegan spinach artichoke dip This recipe from Nora Cooks combines spinach and fiber-rich artichoke hearts to make a hearty dip. The secret to this dish is in the cashew cream, which gives the dip its cheese-like consistency, and nutritional yeast, which keeps it satisfying without any dairy products. The best part? It only takes about 30 minutes to make. Images via Shutterstock

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