Student lunches overhaul

There’s some very encouraging news on school lunches.  Today, the House is expected to pass the biggest overhaul of the national school lunch program in 30 years.  The overhaul will increase nutritional standards and eliminate junk food in all federal school programs.  In addition, there will be funding for a program that encourages schools to buy food from local farms and start their own gardens, as well as a provision for a pilot program for schools to use organic foods.

More than 31 million children are fed by the federal school lunch program every day, which accounts for more than one third or one half of the total calories they consume.  With an epidemic of childhood obesity and the multiple chronic illnesses (diabetes, heart disease, etc.) that it creates, the move to improve the nutritional quality of national school lunch programs has turned into a high priority.

For more information, please read today’s article, “School lunch program likely to be overhauled” in the San Francisco Chronicle.

It’s turkey time again

Thanksgiving has long been associated with the consumption of turkeys.  The National Turkey Federation tells us that 31% of consumers this year will be eating a turkey for their Thanksgiving meal.  With this in mind, we encourage all consumers to educate themselves on the turkey industry.   Check out “Turkey Stats for Thanksgiving” which provides industry statistics and additional information and facts on turkeys. (We posted it last year, and it still applies with one exception: turkeys this year are averaging at 17 pounds, two pounds up from last year.)

We also encourage everyone to check out Farm Sanctuary’s “Adopt-a-Turkey Project, “ Ellen DeGeneres is its spokesperson this year and many other celebrities are speaking up in support of this important campaign.  Click all the links there.  You can also peruse great vegetarian recipes…and adopt a turkey while you’re at it!

On the meal front.  If you have adopted a taste for turkey as a traditional meal, but want to offer cruelty-free turkey alternatives this year, no worries!  There are delicious options available.  Check out Tofurky’s holiday products (the Feast, the Roast or the Gravy) or Quorn’s Turk’y Roast available in the frozen foods section of your local grocery store or Whole Foods market.  You’ll be amazed at how well they replace the meat you were accustomed to eating.

You can also consider a huge variety of holiday vegetarian dishes to make a sumptuous meal.  There are so many options, that just selecting a few for you to link is nearly impossible.  We suggest just entering “vegetarian holiday recipes” in your search engine and go from there!

Thanksgiving is all the more precious when it’s cruelty free…and you don’t have to sacrifice a delicious meal in order to make that happen. Isn’t that fabulous?

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

U.S. pushing cheese (while advocating against it)

The New York Times ran an article this past week regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s aggressive marketing push for cheese.  The article is titled, ‘While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales.” The article tells us that the push is being driven by an agency called Dairy Management, which is actually a creation of the Department of Agriculture.  It clarifies that “This is the same agency that is at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.”

For too long, consumers have been sold a message that dairy is good for us and that we need to consume it in order to build up on calcium.  The dairy industry is behind this message, but science and facts tell us otherwise.  In fact, a group of concerned doctors have come together to encourage the USDA to stop pushing cheese.

We encourage all consumers to be cognizant of the true impact of dairy in our diet and to make conscious food choices based on available scientific evidence, and not on a duplicitous marketing campaign.  For more information, check out the new book, “Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health,” by Joseph Keon.

If you’d like to take action, we encourage you to write a letter to the Editor of your regional paper (or submit an opinion piece.)  Also, alert your news media and encourage them to cover this issue for viewers and readers alike, who deserve to know the facts.

Giants win with veg menu

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on becoming World Series champs!  The diverse menu available at San Francisco’s AT&T Park made news during the World Series.  “Veggie hot dog” was the first menu item referenced by the Oct.27  San Francisco Examiner article, and Centerplate, the concession company at the park, issued a press release on the same day that listed “Nor Cal veggiesteak” among the first items of their World Series menu highlights.

We will always be proud of having been part of AT&T Park’s vegetarian revolution.  We were there when the very first veggie dog was sold there in 2002, and the concession manager, Sandie Filipiak,  has remained a champion for veggie fare at the park ever since.

Top 2 veg ballparks in playoffs

Early in the season, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced the Top Ten Veggie Ballparks for 2010.  At the top, for the fourth year in a row, was the Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park. Number two?  The San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park. Well, guess what?  These two parks will host the National League Championship Series, starting this weekend!

A little Giants fan noshes on a veggie dog

The San Francisco Giants made it through the playoffs,  defeating the Atlanta Braves in a 3-2 victory yesterday.  They will be playing the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League Championship Series starting this Saturday, in Philadelphia.

If you are a soyhappy baseball fan, planning to attend one of those games, be sure to check out the many veggie and vegan options at both of these ballparks.  Click on the team name in our Venue Reference Guide to see a listing of their most updated vegetarian concessions.  WHile you’re at it, contact the ballpark operations director, the guest relations rep and the concession manager to let them know how much you appreciate their vegetarian options.

Who will you root for in the National series this weekend?

Honoring Gandhi, non-violence and animals

Today, October 2, is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, a day that is celebrated internationally as a day to honor his practice of Ahimsa, or non-violence.  Gandhi preached non-violence on all counts and Ahimsa was the weapon he used to free India from British rule.   It was a way of life that included a vegetarian diet.  These are two of his many famous quotes:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
“I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”

“According to the ancient mythology, Ahimsa is a binding code of conduct that bans on hunting, butchery, meat eating and use of animal products provided by violent means,” writes Sohoni Das in the San Francisco Hindu Examiner.

To this end, October 2 has been designated as “World Farm Animals Day:”

A  day dedicated to exposing, mourning, and memorializing the more than 58 billion cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, and other land animals who needlessly suffer and die every year in the world’s factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Since 1931, the world has also celebrated October 4 as “World Animal Day:”

October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.  It is intended as a day of celebration for anyone in the world who cares about animals. It is not restricted to any one nationality, creed, religion, political belief or ideology.

We encourage everyone to honor Gandhi’s memory and his effective and powerful practice of Ahimsa by looking toward the animals, not just on October 2 or October 4, but every day of the year.

funding for school salad bars

We received some exciting news from the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.  Thanks to a combined effort from Whole Foods Market and Chef Ann Cooper’s Food, Family, Farming Foundation, schools currently participating in the National School Lunch Program can now apply for a grant to start their own salad bars!  Applications are welcomed through November 1, 2010.

For more information and to apply for the grant, check out The Salad Bar Project.

battery cages & salmonella

On Tuesday, we posted an item in this blog titled, “egg recall prompts questions,” which provides links to two national TV news segments discussing the issues relating to the recent salmonella outbreak in eggs.  Today, the San Francisco Chronicle features a front page article, which asks, “Is factory farming unsafe?” The focus of this article is on whether cramming birds together inherently creates unhealthy conditions for the birds, and for the eggs they produce.   For further reference, the Humane Society of the United States offers a list of studies to further prove that yes, these conditions increase salmonella risk.

Beyond the clear science of disease risk in these birds, we ask this question: how could unhappy, unhealthy and adrenaline fueled animals, deprived of space, light and natural living conditions possibly create a healthy food supply?

The European Union has already outlawed battery cages as of 2012 and their largest supermarkets stopped selling eggs from battery caged birds in early 2009.

Vegan Las Vegas

Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn has mandated that all his casinos offer multiple vegan options on their menus.  Dishes now available at his casinos include such items as Summer Vegetable Gratin, Napoleon of Savory Tofu with ratatouille and fried eggplant, Risotto con Verdure di Stagioni…and many, many more.   Read AOL’s feature article, “Casino Mogul Takes Gamble on Vegan Dishes.”

“This would be like having vegan menu options at every food outlet at Disneyland,” said Elizabeth Turner, editor-in-chief of Vegetarian Times.

If you’d like to share your thoughts/comments on this article, you can send an email to the writer, Steve Friess.

Also, check out the menus and share your comments with Wynn Las Vegas hotels (Pick your category in the brown box, guestcomments or dining, and make a call or write them an email.)