Costco is now selling Beyond Burgers in bulk

December 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Those who love the plant-based Beyond Burgers can now rejoice — Costco, a chain of warehouse club stores, is now selling them in bulk at select locations. The roll-out started in Florida, New York and Texas, then followed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia and more, with eight-patty packs selling for about $15. In most grocery stores, a two-pack of the burgers retails for about $6. What’s in a Beyond Burger? While it looks, cooks, sizzles and somewhat tastes like a beef patty, Beyond Burger sources its proteins from pea, mung bean, fava bean, brown rice and sunflower. One patty contains 20 grams of protein, but it does not contain any cholesterol, a fact that has helped propel Beyond Meat as one of the largest vegan meat producers in the market. Earlier this year, the company became the first vegan meat brand to launch an IPO, catapulting its startup valuation to $3.9 billion. Related: Impossible Burger is now available in grocery stores Projections estimate the global plant-based market to bring in upward of $140 billion over the next decade as more health- and eco-conscious consumers reduce meat from their diets. Global concerns over industrial animal farming’s impact on the environment and climate are similarly shifting consumer choices, since livestock emerged as a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and the correlative burdens to land, water and energy. The popularity of plant-based foods is now compelling some of the leading U.S. meat producers to explore and invest in plant-based protein. For instance, Tyson Foods, once an investor in Beyond Meat, will also debut its own line of meatless products in the next few years to meet changing consumer demands. Then there’s Hormel Foods, which has recently unveiled its “plant-forward” vegan meat line called Happy Little Plants, with a flagship product that is soy-based and gluten-free with no preservatives or cholesterol. Besides the Beyond Burgers from Beyond Meat, Costco likewise stocks vegan meat selections from Nestle’s Awesome Burger and even Don Lee Farms’ organic and gluten-free Better Than Beef burger products. + Beyond Meat Via CNN Images via Beyond Meat

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Costco is now selling Beyond Burgers in bulk

Slippy turns ocean plastic into versatile and endlessly reusable cup sleeves

December 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Anyone who keeps up with news and current events knows that ocean pollution has become a major problem, especially considering the sheer quantity of plastic littering beaches and traveling through the waterways directly into marine wildlife habitats. So, the team at Slippy decided to use some of that plastic sourced from coastal areas to minimize another form of waste — cardboard cup sleeves. What is Slippy? Cardboard might be less harmful to the environment than other products, but it still requires the cutting down of trees, which provide us with clean air. The production process and post-consumer waste of cardboard sleeves could cover the entire state of Texas, so there must be a better, long-term solution for the individual sleeves on billions of coffee cups that are used for just moments and then tossed. Related: Scientists warn we are now entering the plastic age Zach Crain and his team developed Slippy, a cup sleeve that is not just reusable but is also made from recycled ocean plastic . The Slippy team launched the idea on a Kickstarter campaign , which was fully funded by 1,304 backers who pledged $41,664 toward the $10,000 goal. The entire project all started from the knowledge that once it has been produced, plastic never goes away. It takes generations to break down, adding pollutants to the soil along the way. Ocean plastic is even worse, because it ends up hurting marine wildlife. Recent studies even show alarming amounts of plastic inside the animals we rely on as food sources. Enter modern technology that can convert marine plastic into usable fibers. These fibers are typically a mix of ocean plastic combined with post-consumer plastic, and these fibers are now being used for a variety of products across many industries. Slippy took an extra step and is dedicated to creating yarn sourced 100 percent from ocean-bound plastic. That means more plastic removed from the ocean, specifically from beaches or waters within 30 miles of the coastline in areas with poor coastal maintenance systems in place. The Slippy is available in an assortment of finished fabric designs, all of which have a cone shape that fits snugly on a variety of cups, offering a non-slip grip and hand comfort for your morning brew or evening brewsky. Inhabitat’s review of Slippy While gathering more information on Slippy, the team offered to send me a sample for review. Once it arrived, I then ran around my house, slipping it over a variety of beverage vessels to truly put this cup sleeve to the test. Of course, the cone shape slides neatly onto disposable coffee cups, but as an environmentally conscious consumer, I avoid single-use cups wherever possible. The Slippy proved to be ideal for the stainless steel cups I keep in the freezer as well as bottles, cans, pint glasses, water bottles and pretty much every other form of cup I tried. There was a slight slip on cold beer bottles due to the cone shape, but it still worked well at keeping my hands warm and dry while holding the frosty beverage. The Slippy is great for keeping hands from getting too cold or too hot from the surface of cups, but my favorite part of this cup sleeve is that it keeps my drink from creating a puddle of condensation by absorbing the moisture from cold drinks. It’s honestly the best cozy I’ve ever had. They appear to be very durable and endlessly reusable, they grip the surface of cups nicely and they are pleasant to the touch (no squeaky, plastic feel). The Slippy will be a growing part of my gift-giving profile. + Slippy Images via Slippy and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Slippy. All opinions on the products and the company are the author’s own.

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Slippy turns ocean plastic into versatile and endlessly reusable cup sleeves

Impress loved ones with these homemade foods for holiday gifts

December 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Many eco-conscious people face a quandary over the holidays. In a consumer-driven society with too much waste and houses overcrowded with stuff, shouldn’t we axe the gift-giving tradition? Then again, our inner Santa-loving child may feel neglected, unloved or just ripped off by a giftless December. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: the gift of food . Everybody has to eat, and a food gift doesn’t hang around forever, taking up space. To make food gifts more special — and to save lots of money — consider making your own. Here’s a roundup of some ideas for handmade food gifts. Baked goods Fruitcakes are probably the most traditional holiday food gift. This recipe by Gretchen Price features lots of dried fruit chopped up into impressively small bits, and the loaf is strongly spiced with grated ginger, cloves, anise, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. Gretchen kindly suggests subbing apple juice for rum if you happen to operate an alcohol-free kitchen. However, while fruitcakes are traditional, many people find cookies more delicious. If you’re feeling extra creative, get out your cookie cutters and decorate with frosting, sprinkles and candies. Ellie of My Healthy Dessert offers a trendy spin on rolled cookies with her recipe for crispy matcha Christmas cookies . Scones, muffins and fruit breads also make good holiday gifts , but don’t make them too far ahead, because they’re best eaten within a couple of days of baking. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for foodies You could go a little healthier by making a fresh batch of granola for folks on your list. My basic recipe starts with preheating the oven to 450. Put about six cups of old fashioned oats in a baking pan, add a cup of raw seeds and a cup of raw nuts and mix them up. Then, combine about one-half to three-quarters of a cup of vegetable or coconut oil with the same amount of sweetener: brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave, maple syrup, molasses, etc. I might throw in ginger, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa and/or a little cayenne pepper, too. Once that mixture melts, combine it in with the oats and nuts. Stick the pan in the oven for 8 minutes. Take it out, stir and bake for another 8 minutes. If you want it well done, continue cooking but be sure to check it every minute or two after that to prevent burning. Candy If your friends, family, office mates and other gift recipients have a sweet tooth, it’s fun to make candy for them. Peanut brittle is delicious and easy with this recipe from Loving it Vegan. Use up extra candy canes with this peppermint candy cane truffle recipe from Where Do You Get Your Protein. For friends with slightly more adventurous palates, Vegan Gastronomy offers a recipe for chocolate-covered dates stuffed with orange cream and topped with orange zest, sea salt and shredded coconut . Nutty gifts Freshly toasted and spiced nuts are simple to make and more nutritious than cookies. All you need are raw pecans, walnuts, cashews or any other nuts, some vegan butter or coconut oil, sugar and/or spices. For a sweet nut, add brown sugar and cinnamon to your skillet of nuts. For savory nuts, experiment with paprika, chili powder, cumin or turmeric. Trail mix is even easier to assemble. Just choose some nuts, seeds and dried fruits from the bulk section of a grocery store, and pour it all into an attractive, reusable jar. Tamales Native Americans ate a food similar to modern-day tamales as far back as 8,000 B.C.E. Corn was considered the substance of life, and consuming it could be a spiritual experience. The love of tamales has continued through the ages and is now tied to Christmas celebrations in Mexico and the American Southwest. Making tamales isn’t especially hard, but it takes a lot of time. Consider doing what the tamaleras , or tamale makers like to do: throw a tamalada, or tamale making party. You’ll need a tamale steamer, access to Hispanic foods like corn husks and masa and a gathering of loved ones who also want to give the gift of tamales. Check out 18 vegan tamale recipes from Dora’s Table, including red chile jackfruit, jalapeño and cactus, and sweet pineapple tamales. Coffee syrups It seems like every financial advice article highlights how much money you could save by making coffee at home. Help your friends break their high-cost habits by gifting them with homemade coffee syrups. This is an easy and unusual gift. All it takes is water, sugar, extracts, a saucepan and a stove. Check out these recipes from Royal Cup Coffee for flavors like vanilla, peppermint, blackberry and cinnamon brown sugar. Related: 10 recipes you can gift in jars Infused oils Infused oils are another easy-to-make food gift. Luci’s Morsels tells you how to infuse olive oil with lemon, garlic, chili or rosemary in less than an hour. Hot sauce For the friend who just cannot get enough spicy food, homemade chili pepper sauce is a thoughtful gift. From ghost pepper to scotch bonnets, Chili Pepper Madness answers questions about crafting hot sauce at home. You might want to have a dedicated blender or food processor for this, unless you like your smoothies spicy. Spice mixes Custom-blended spice mixes are one of the easiest handmade food gift ideas. Your friends who like to cook quick dishes will thank you when your homemade jerk seasoning blend perks up their tofu , or your barbecue seasoning breathes new life into their kale and chickpeas. Real Simple offers 10 simple spice mix ideas. Chocolate-dipped treats For those on your list who believe chocolate makes everything better, dip some snacks in chocolate and call it a gift. Strawberries, nuts, pretzels — this is easy, messy fun. Melt dairy-free dark chocolate chips for the vegans on your list, dip the snack and let it cool. Use your creative license. Have you ever wondered what ghost pepper potato chips dipped in dark chocolate would taste like? Packaging for your homemade food gifts Think about what you can reuse here. Do you have extra mason jars on hand? Bottles you can wash thoroughly and remove the commercial labels? Excess Tupperware? Scour your nearest thrift shops for secondhand festive cookie tins or pretty tea cups to fill with truffles. If you like making food gifts this year, start a collection of your old jars, bottles and garage sale finds for next year. Images via Shutterstock

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Impress loved ones with these homemade foods for holiday gifts

Study shows how plant-based catering can greatly reduce events’ carbon footprints

December 5, 2019 by  
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A recent analysis published by the Center for Biological Diversity’s Catering to the Climate report finds that replacing meat with plant-based menu offerings at conferences, corporate gatherings and holiday parties can greatly reduce the impact of these events. Production of meat and dairy contributes to nearly 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which play a drastic role in the planet’s current climate crisis . The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has repeatedly warned that reducing meat consumption and its accompanying emissions can help countries meet their climate goals. In the U.S. alone, half of all consumed water goes toward meat production. Did you know that 80 percent of agricultural land is set aside for raising animals and feed crops? As a result, there is a vital need to improve current agricultural, food and environmental practices. One such initiative is to address the catering sector. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis Last year, revenues for catering surpassed $11 billion, with industry growth in the past three years accelerating toward an annual 10 percent climb. By shifting the catering sector away from meat-dominant menus and toward more plant-based items, there’s likely to be a noticeable dent in accompanying emissions. “Avoiding meat-heavy menus at holiday parties and conferences can make a surprisingly big difference for our planet,” explained Jennifer Molidor, the Center for Biological Diversity’s senior food campaigner. “With Earth-friendly catering that focuses on low-carbon, plant-based choices, we can save wildlife habitats and avoid a lot of climate pollution.” Through plant-based catering, a 500-person event could minimize its carbon footprint by 10 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the amount emitted by a car driving 22,000 miles. The move will also conserve 100,000 gallons of water from food processing and irrigation, save 5 acres of habitat from animal agriculture and prevent 17 tons of manure pollution . “Public demand for plant-based, low-carbon menus is growing quickly,” Molidor said. “Even small changes in purchasing, like replacing dairy with plant-based milks and cheeses, can bring substantial benefits to suppliers and their clients. When the event and catering industry serves plant-based menus, it’s an environmental and culinary success.” + Center for Biological Diversity Image via Pixabay

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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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12 easy vegetarian and vegan potluck dishes for Thanksgiving

10 vegan myths, debunked

November 18, 2019 by  
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Vegans and vegetarians are often the target of jokes, scorn, concern and/or fear by a majority culture that routinely consumes animals. The upcoming holidays are a prime time for omnivorous family members and friends to heckle a loved one who is vegan while brandishing a turkey leg or Christmas pudding. So, just in time for those awkward holiday encounters with family, here are 10 vegan myths, debunked. Tucson-based Alison Ozgur , registered dietitian at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa and an instructor for the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies , kindly assisted with her solid nutritional knowledge. Vegans don’t get enough protein. Every vegetarian and vegan has heard this approximately a gazillion times. “This is a common myth that needs to be eliminated,” Ozgur said. “Here in the United States, we have never had a protein shortage, and the sad truth is, protein is being unnecessarily added to many foods. Vegetables, fruits and grains all have ample amounts of protein for optimal health and achieving a healthy body weight.” If you’re consuming enough calories, she said, you’re getting enough protein. Vegans can’t get calcium without dairy. The dairy industry has long campaigned to convince Americans we will keel over if we don’t guzzle milk. Not true, said Ozgur. “Yes, dairy products contain calcium, but they can also contain artery-clogging saturated fat, cholesterol and contaminants. Fortunately, plant-based foods are a healthier option.” She recommends leafy greens like kale, mustard greens, collard greens and Swiss chard as well as legumes, broccoli, organic soy foods — such as tempeh and tofu — almonds and calcium-fortified plant-based milks. It’s too expensive to be vegan. Those turmeric smoothies, packaged organic kale chips and meals in upscale vegan restaurants can certainly break the bank. “Eating vegan can be expensive,” Ozgur explained. “However, the cost of treatment for chronic disease is far more expensive. A diet rich in nutrient-dense, whole plant foods is our first line of defense for disease prevention and reversal.” That said, if you forego the prepackaged options and buy staple dry foods like bulk beans, lentils and oats, you’ll save money. Many vegetables, such as carrots and cabbage, are also inexpensive. All vegans are white. If this were true, you wouldn’t find websites like Black Vegans Rock or celebrations like the Vegan SoulFest . Activist Aph Ko, founder of Black Vegans Rock , raised awareness about the many vegans of color by publishing a list of 100 prominent black vegans in 2015. Vegans of color also own vegan restaurants and write vegan cookbooks, just like white vegans, but with roots of their own. Non-white vegan traditions include Rastafarians in Jamaica, Jainism in India and the part-time veganism of Ethiopia ’s fasting season. All vegans are hippies. Depending on who you ask, being called a hippie could be an insult or a compliment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a more objective definition, “a usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic. Broadly: a long-haired unconventionally dressed young person.” So, if we’re talking about vegans in a society dominated by meat -eaters, there’s some truth in this myth. Vegans are rejecting mores of the established society and advocating nonviolence, at least against farm animals. As for being young, dressing unconventionally, living communally, having long hair or, as found in other online definitions of hippies, taking hallucinogenic drugs, we’d need to evaluate vegans on a case-by-case basis. Vegans are weak. You’d better not say that to Bryant Jennings, pro boxer, or karate expert Tammy Fry Kelly — they just might take you out. Then, there are the vegan charismatic megafauna, like gorillas and elephants . “There is no shortage of athletes and fitness enthusiasts who thrive on a vegan diet,” Ozgur said. “Plant-based foods can speed up muscle recovery time and decrease inflammation due to their high amount of antioxidants and phytonutrients.” She recommends the documentary movie Game Changers to see just how strong vegans can be. If I went vegan, I’d always be hungry/tired/sick. Not true, as long as you’re eating enough. “ If you decrease your daily calorie intake to below your body’s requirement, indeed you will be hungry, tired, sick and eventually dead,” Ozgur explained. “Choosing a colorful variety of whole plant foods nourishes your body and cells, thus increasing your immunity and longevity. Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of diseases, and numerous studies have confirmed that a plant-rich diet high in fiber is beneficial for disease prevention.” If everybody went vegan, cows and pigs would go extinct. What would happen if every paddock door was opened — if all the chickens pecking each other’s eyes out in tiny cages were freed; if farmed fish were tossed into rivers? Would sheep starve? Would hogs take over the world? “Billions of farm animals would no longer be destined for our dinner plates, and if we couldn’t return them to the wild, they might be slaughtered, abandoned or taken care of in sanctuaries,” journalist Paul Allen wrote on BBC’s Good Food website. “Or, more realistically, farmers might slow down breeding as demand for meat falls.” Allen theorized that the number of returned animal populations would fluctuate, then eventually reach a balance, depending on predators and available resources. “It’s worth noting that not all animals could simply ‘go free.’ Some farm breeds, such as broiler chickens, are now so far removed from their ancestors that they couldn’t survive in the wild. Others, like pigs and sheep, could feasibly return to woodlands and grazing pastures and find their own natural population levels.” Plants feel pain, too, so it’s just as bad to eat them. According to Jack C. Schultz, professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, plants “are just very slow animals.” They fight for territory, seek food, trap prey and evade predators, he said. It’s possible they feel pain, too, despite lacking a central nervous system, nerves or a brain. However, is it as unkind to eat a tomato as a cow? Everybody draws the line somewhere. For some people, all non-human animals are fair game. Many others think it’s okay to eat a cow but not a dog or cat. Vegans just draw that line even higher. As the PETA website points out, “We have to eat — it’s a matter of survival. And eating plants directly — rather than feeding them to animals and then killing those animals for their flesh — requires far fewer plants and doesn’t hurt animals, who, we already know for sure , feel pain.” If men eat tofu, they’ll grow breasts. Ozgur assured this won’t happen. “There is no valid medical evidence supporting men increasing breast size from eating soy foods,” she said. “This myth surfaced over 10 years ago when a man was diagnosed with gynecomastia from drinking three quarts of soy milk per day. Upon discontinuing his soy milk intake, his breast tenderness resolved. Asian men consume soy daily, yet do not experience gynecomastia.” Ozgur recommends choosing organic whole soy foods and avoiding soy protein isolates or fractionated soy ingredients. Images via Shutterstock and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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10 vegan myths, debunked

A tour of Seattle Chocolate elicits a deep appreciation for cacao

October 23, 2019 by  
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In 1900 BCE, Mesoamericans used cacao beans to make a bitter, fermented drink. By 1400, Aztecs traded cacao as currency. Spaniards later thought to add sugar. Nowadays, we just go to the store when we want to buy chocolate, divorcing the exquisite substance from its historic origins. But a tour of the Seattle Chocolate factory helps visitors deepen their appreciation of one of the world’s favorite treats. This woman-owned, Rainforest Alliance-certified company has put decades of thought into how to make its treats both delicious and sustainable. A tasty tour Seattle Chocolate started in Seattle in 1991. But the Nisqually Earthquake of 2001 destroyed the original factory. One of Seattle Chocolate’s investors, entrepreneur Jean Thompson, took over as owner and CEO. The company found a new, 60,000-square-foot factory in Tukwila, a town just south of Seattle. Visitors go to this nondescript building for the tour. It is hard to believe that something so plain on the outside turns out more than 30,000 colorfully wrapped chocolate bars per day. Our tour starts in the chocolate classroom, where guide Chris Hardwick talks to us about the history of chocolate in general and Seattle Chocolate in particular. In class, we learn it takes three to five years to grow cacao. Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast produce 70 percent of cacao beans. Midges pollinate chocolate, answering that age-old question, what are midges good for? Related: Fueled by chocolate — Ghana’s newest biofuel Hardwick explained that Seattle Chocolate has two directions, the line with the original name, and Jcoco, more of a culinary experimental brand. “Seattle Chocolate is a fruit-forward, acidic chocolate,” he said in the assured language of a wine expert. Jcoco is more likely to include ingredients like edamame or cumin. Hardwick passes around jars of cacao beans and nibs, so we can smell the terroir of beans grown in different countries. Because every good factory tour requires a hairnet, we don blue netting before continuing on to the next part of the tour: the factory floor. As well as chocolate bars, Seattle Chocolate is known for its 20 truffle flavors in bright metallic wrapping. High on the catwalk, we look down at workers bent over enormous boxes of truffles, scooping armloads into smaller containers. It’s a chocolate-lover’s fantasy come to life. The tour ends with a chocolate tasting. We sit at placemats with six chunks of chocolate to compare. The regular tasting includes varieties of white, milk and dark chocolate. The vegan version offers several types of dark chocolate. Hardwick guides us through a more mindful tasting process, rather than a simple devouring. The experience changes how visitors interact with this sweet treat — it makes them more appreciative of it. Tours are offered year-round. But if you visit on certain days in October, you can experience an exciting bonus — a haunted factory . The company website explains, “A troublesome spirit has escaped and is creating havoc for the Seattle Chocolate Factory! Help repair the damage while gathering clues to speak with Ixcacao, the Goddess of Chocolate. With her help, you’ll brave the dark factory and cast the fell spirit out.” Hardwick assured me this family-friendly tour is fun, not gory. Sustainability measures Seattle Chocolate carefully addresses social responsibility throughout the entire chocolate life cycle. It uses Rainforest Alliance Certified cacao to ensure just labor practices and good environmental measures in the countries the cacao is grown. In the factory, workers compost 25,000 pounds of chocolate scraps annually. They use non-GMO ingredients in the bars and truffles. Wherever possible, Seattle Chocolate sources ingredients like fruits, spices, mint and honey from local partners. Packaging is especially problematic for environmentally conscious companies. Seattle Chocolate has recently developed cellulose truffle twist wraps made from sustainably harvested eucalyptus trees . This is significant, as it churns out 12.5 million truffles a year, wrapped in about 8,000 pounds of bright truffle twist wraps. By mid-2020, all truffle flavors will be wrapped in the new cellulose material. Customers can throw the truffle wraps into their home compost piles, where they should break down in six to eight weeks. Giving back While the ordinary chocolate fan might question the presence of edamame beans in a chocolate bar, the Jcoco line isn’t just for foodies. Thompson created the line in 2012 with an underlying goal of feeding hungry families. The company donates a fresh serving of food to those in need every time somebody buys a Jcoco bar. So far, Seattle Chocolate has donated nearly 4 million servings of food to food banks in Washington, California and New York. In addition to tours, Seattle Chocolate invites the public in for events like tastings of new seasonal chocolate flavors or classes on pairing beer with chocolate. It hosts the haunted chocolate factory in October, and a large holiday party in December. + Seattle Chocolate Images by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority

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A tour of Seattle Chocolate elicits a deep appreciation for cacao

Designer invents self-testing HIV kit made out of recycled plastic

October 23, 2019 by  
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One of the largest obstacles in HIV prevention is the lack of clinics and resources in developing countries around the world. Now, British product designer Hans Ramzan has unveiled a solution that could potentially save thousands of lives. CATCH is a low-cost, self-testing HIV kit, partly made from recycled plastic, that is designed to help individuals check for HIV in their own homes, reducing the need to travel miles to the nearest clinic. As a leading cause of death around the world, HIV infected about 1.7 million individuals in 2018 alone , and nearly 40 million people are living with HIV globally. Despite these massive numbers, early detection is nearly impossible for many who live in rural areas that don’t have clinics nearby. Due to the lack of resources that would otherwise help patients detect HIV in its early stages, many people develop AIDS, which often leads to death. The situation is dire and has been for years, but CATCH might be able to change that. Related: New study claims climate change could be linked to heart defects in newborns CATCH is a low-cost testing kit that allows individuals to face fewer long trips to the nearest clinic. The innovative finger kit is extremely intuitive and can be used by anyone. In just three simple steps, people can check their status. The first step is to slide the disinfectant sleeve over the finger. Then, push down on the pipette/needle-top. and finally press the button to see the result. Made partly out of recycled plastic , the design is eco-friendly and affordable. The production price of one CATCH kit is £4 (approximately $5). According to Ramzan, the innovative design was inspired by his own experience of losing someone. “After witnessing my aunt pass away due to a life-threatening illness, it was heart-breaking,” Ramzan said. “If she had her illness caught earlier, perhaps her chances of survival would have been greater. That’s when something clicked — too many people are dying due to late diagnosis.” + Hans Ramzan Images via Hans Ramzan

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Designer invents self-testing HIV kit made out of recycled plastic

Stroodles lets you eat your straw

October 21, 2019 by  
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Now you can one-up your most eco-conscious friends. Instead of composting your straw after you finish your drink, now, you can just eat it. Stroodles , a new straw made out of pasta, solves the ethical straw problem. Made in Italy, the pasta straws are made out of only two ingredients: durum wheat and water. So vegans are in luck, but people with Celiac disease aren’t. Other than a possible starchy taste, Stroodles are flavorless. If you choose not to eat your Stroodle, it will decompose in days rather than a month, like a paper straw, or never, like a plastic straw. Stroodles are stronger than paper straws, lasting up to an hour or two in a cold drink without getting soggy. But don’t use a Stroodle in a hot drink, as it will turn into an ordinary noodle. Related: Tooth: the eco-friendly toothbrush made from recycled and biodegradable materials The UK-based company donates a share of sales to Ocean Plastic, an organization fighting plastic waste, and other charities. When they arrive from the supplier, workers manually sort the pasta straws. Those deemed imperfect or inferior are donated to food banks through City Harvest and, presumably, turned into spaghetti . According to the Stroodles website, “With Stroodles, you don’t have to change behaviours and compromise on your drinking experience. By stroodling your drink , you can do good, the easy way. We call this ‘drink-easy.’” Americans alone use about 500 million plastic straws per day. Around the world, countries, states and cities are banning single-use plastics, including straws. Stroodles has picked the right moment to turn the world on to pasta straws. As they claim, “Stroodles is not just another straw company! Stroodles is a movement. Stroodles is here to help fight plastic waste and straws are just our first channel of choice. We want to inspire the world and show how easy it is to do good – with just one Stroodle at a time.” + Stroodles Images via Stroodles

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Stroodles lets you eat your straw

Save the Duck introduces new winter line of outerwear

October 10, 2019 by  
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When you’re wearing clothing made from fur or leather, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it comes from an animal, but even vegetarians and vegans have an easier time closing their eyes to what’s hidden inside winter’s ubiquitous puffy jackets. Fortunately, brands like Save the Duck are making it possible for humans to stay warm and stylish without causing ducks pain and suffering. This month, the Italian clothing brand is revealing new designs. They’re kicking it off with a special brand dinner hosted by stylist Rachael Wang at the eco-luxury 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge . The collection features cruelty-free outerwear, including faux fur coats and feather-free down puffer jackets. Some of the new jackets are also waterproof. Save the Duck rounds out the collection with tees and sweats. The company promises, “In addition to providing animal free, ecological fabric, Save the Duck‘s penchant for bold color combines seamlessly with clean silhouettes and genderless, unisex pieces this fall.” You can choose basic black, but why not light up the winter in a bright yellow hooded puffer vest or a deep red fake fur coat? Related: The 2019 Redress Design Awards showcased the very best of emerging eco-designers Down is the soft feathery layer that grows closest to a duck’s skin, mostly on the chest. Manufacturers love the ease of working with these feathers, since they lack quills. Usually feathers are removed during slaughter, but ducks and geese being raised for foie gras or meat are sometimes plucked repeatedly while they’re alive. Save the Duck developed a synthetic down from recycled polyester they call Plumtech. The company designs all its jackets to be lightweight and easy to pack, as well as to spare the suffering of birds . The company Forest SRL owns the Save the Duck brand. Its roots go back more than a hundred years, to when tailor-turned soldier Foresto Bargi started experimenting with a water-repellent material he learned about during his time in the First World War. Now his grandson Nicolas Bargi runs the company. He launched the Save the Duck brand in 2011 to address people that are sensitive to environmental issues and sustainable living. One of his great victories was partnering with Kuntai A. Joisher, the first vegan Indian climber to reach the top of Mount Everest. Save the Duck managed to design a jacket that would withstand sub-zero temperatures and wicked winds. Even better, at press time the company estimated they helped save 17,975,456 ducks so far. + Save the Duck Images via Save the Duck

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Save the Duck introduces new winter line of outerwear

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