Monthly Archives: June 2011

Vegan: Great For Kids!

Photo courtesy of

Bill Clinton and Mike Tyson have joined the ranks of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi in adopting a vegan diet, clearly signaling the popularity of the diet among adults. What I’ve been hearing as I travel around the country, though, is that more and more kids are adopting a vegan way of eating, and some parents who are unfamiliar with it are curious about this new trend, especially since it’s so different from what they grew up with. So how should you react when your child announces one day, “Mom/Dad, that’s it — no more meat, dairy, or eggs for me!”?

First of all, be really happy. Children today are in the worst physical shape of any generation in history. One in three is overweight. One in five has an abnormal cholesterol level while still in high school. One in three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A child who has decided to go vegetarian — or, better still, vegan — gains a measure of protection against all of these problems. And isn’t it a great thing that your child cares and is concerned about where his or her food comes from? Good job! Developing and acting on empathy is surely a good thing for everyone.

The American Dietetic Association, which reviewed all of the science on vegan and vegetarian diets, says that they are better for our children than diets that contain meat, dairy, and eggs. In the ADA’s position paper on plant-based diets, they write, “Vegetarian diets in childhood and adolescence can aid in the establishment of lifelong healthful eating patterns and can offer some important nutritional advantages.” As just one example, researchers studied a group of 1,765 children and adolescents in Southern California, and vegetarians were, on average, about an inch taller than their meat-eating friends.

That makes sense: Look at the many athletes who are now going vegan because it improves their endurance and performance: Mac Danzig, the Ultimate Fighting Championship winner, ultra-marathoner Rich Roll, tri-athlete Brendan Brazier, “Olympian of the Century” Carl Lewis, and football star Ricky Williams are but a few who nod to their diet as a big contribution to their success.

So as more and more of our kids adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet, we would be wise to join them. The American Dietetic Association explains: “Vegetarian diets are often associated with a number of health advantages, including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels, and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index (BMI) and lower overall cancer rates.”

And vegan food is very easy to work into your routine: You just find the meals that work for the family and can go into your weekly rotation. Some very simple options include bean burritos, baked beans and veggie sausage, lentil soup, whole grain breads, pizza made with Daiya (cheese made from tapioca) or any other kind of non-dairy cheese, vegetable soups and salads, oatmeal, rice, quinoa (a complete protein grain), and non-dairy milks like rice, almond, oat, or soy. You might also want to check out some meat substitutes like veggie burgers and dogs, etc. Every mainstream grocery store now stocks Morningstar and Boca products, both of which are great transition foods for the new vegan. Best of all, they are well liked by most kids.

Are you one of those parents (close to 100 percent, in my experience) who worries about your child’s eating habits? According to Dr. Neal Barnard, faculty member of George Washington University School of Medicine and President of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine:

Vegan children have better nutrition than other kids. This is in part because they are skipping the cholesterol and animal fat, and in part because as they search for new foods to eat (to replace the meat), they often discover and start eating healthy foods. While all kids are supposed to eat their veggies, according to the ADA, vegan and vegetarian kids actually do!

Here are two simple rules that ensure good nutrition:

  1. Each day, have foods from the four healthful food groups: whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), vegetables, and fruits.
  2. Include a reliable source of vitamin B12, such as any common multiple vitamin or fortified foods.

Let’s consider a few key nutrients that are critical for growing children. Here’s what Dr. Barnard says:

Protein: There is ample protein in grains, vegetables, beans, and bean products (including tofu and soymilk). If your child consumes a normal variety of these foods over the course of a day, she will receive all the protein she needs.

Calcium: Green leafy vegetables and legumes — or “greens and beans,” for short–are rich in calcium. This is particularly true for broccoli, collards, kale, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. Less valuable for calcium is spinach, because the calcium in spinach is poorly absorbed. You’ll also find plenty of calcium in fortified foods, such as fortified orange juice and most soy milks. And don’t fight over vegetables your child doesn’t like. Just serve the ones that do go over well. Tastes broaden as the years go by.

Iron: Greens and beans come to our rescue again. They are rich in iron. And vitamin-C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, tend to enhance the absorption of iron consumed in the same meal. If you are concerned, a daily vitamin-mineral supplement will have you covered easily.

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy blood and healthy nerves. It is not found in unfortified plant foods, although it is present in dairy products and eggs, which you may or may not be serving. But vitamin B12 is easy to find in many fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soymilk, and in all common multiple vitamins. I recommend that everyone — vegetarian or not — take a multiple vitamin or other convenient source of vitamin B12 every day. Studies show that meat-eaters often run low due to poor absorption.

Dr. Barnard goes on to say:

“If you are interested in trying soy-based meat substitutes, they may have health benefits. Girls who consume soymilk, tofu, or similar products on a daily basis during adolescence have significantly less risk of breast cancer in adulthood, compared to people who avoid soy. That said, soy products are not essential. There is plenty of good nutrition in the other beans, as well as in the broad range of vegetables, fruits, and grains.”

So how do you do it? Some of my friends “lean into it” as a family by starting off with Meatless Mondays and then progress to eating less and less meat, all the while getting more comfortable with adjusted menus. If your child wants to stick to a vegan diet while everyone else is catching up, you could serve him or her black bean burritos while the family has the regular with meat. You can use veggie meatballs (found in your grocer’s freezer section) in pasta instead of beef. And while everyone else is eating chicken with mashed potatoes, your child can enjoy Gardein chik’n (a plant-based high protein meat substitute that looks and tastes very much like chicken) and mashed potatoes made with non-dairy milk and Earth Balance non-dairy butter.
A stir fry with tofu, rice, and veggies is super fast and tasty for everyone, as is a hearty chili with beans and veggie protein crumbles (again, found in your grocer’s freezer). It’s really quite easy to “veganize” your favorite family traditions. Good snacks are bagels with peanut or almond butter, whole grain pretzels, or apples and bananas. And a great way to sneak in a veggie for your child is to make a smoothie with juice or non-dairy milk, blueberries and banana; then throw in a handful of frozen broccoli. You can’t taste the broccoli (I promise!) and because of the blueberries, your kids won’t see green!

Happy Eating!


Article excerpted from


Eco rickshaws to grace Ludhiana roads soon

 Ludhiana: Environment friendly eco rickshaws will soon ply on the roads of Ludhiana. Under the state funded Eco Rickshaw project, a camp was organised in the mini secretariat campus on Saturday to issue quick license of eco rickshaws.

Six applicants got their license made and loan approved while other will get the formalities done on Tuesday. The cost of eco-rickshaw ranges from Rs 9300 to Rs 10,500. Bank loans were also available at the camp. Municipal officials made the license on the spot.

The eco rickshaw weighs 20 kg less than the normal rickshaws. It has low-floor facility for women and elderly, FM radio, water bottle, stand for reading magazine or newspaper and space for luggage and first-aid box, besides a folded sleeping arrangement for traction men.

One rickshaw can save around 3 litre fuel per day.

Article excerpted from

Going Green: Pet owners can reduce, reuse, and recycle

ROCKFORD (WREX) – Winnebago County Animal Services has tips for people with pets, looking to go green.

It says there are simple things you can do, that are better for the environment.  Here’s a list:



  • Reuse plastic grocery bags as pooper scoopers. Be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your pet.
  • Choose a biodegradable cat litter or one that is made from recycled products.
  • Recycle as much packaging as you can or choose pet products with little or no packaging.
  • Reuse old fish tank water around your flower garden or to water your houseplants. Don’t waste it by flushing it down the drain.
  • Reuse the old water from your pet’s water bowl for your plants too.
  • Recycle cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls and cut into 1-inch rings to make great cat toys. Animal Services uses these for toys in our cat cages.
  • Recycle gently used pet supplies. Donate them to a shelter or a resale shop that supports animal rescue.
  • Recycle your aluminum cans and donate the money to a local shelter or rescue group.
  • Recycle old bath towels by donating them to a local animal shelter or rescue group.

WCAS also says adopting or rescuing a pet is also a green option. All adult cats are available this week for $15.  If you’d like more information go to


Article excerpted from

Six Steps to Sustainable Travel

Here at Context, Sustainable Travel has been one of the main themes of 2010 and it will continue to be in 2011.

Our efforts span from the basic recycling of paper, glass and plastic in our offices to sponsoring projects through our Context Foundation. However, to make a real difference, we strive to go even further. We believe that along with in-house initiatives, it is our role to educate travelers on what sustainable travel means, how it effects the cities and countries we visit, and what we can do to preserve them.

The web is full of suggestions, but we decided to make our own list of Sustainable Steps to Travel, a sort of guideline that will help travelers visiting our cities “tread more lightly”.

Context’s Six Steps to Sustaining our cities

While we understand the desire to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, these sites are overwhelmed by tourists, and thus often fail to leave you with a profound effect. If you wish to have a true understanding of the great cities of the world, you will gain much more insight at lesser-known museums, monuments and city neighborhoods, bustling with real life and culture.

With a few simple choices you can make your trip more environmentally friendly. Stay in an apartment rather than a hotel; walk or use public transit rather than take taxis; opt for green businesses; and consider offsetting the carbon produced by your travel.

Chain stores, large touristy restaurants, and tasteless souvenir shops give little back to the community. Locally-owned business which provide higher quality services and goods, and are often found just a few blocks away from major sites. This mutually beneficial exchange will sustain artisans and small authentic restaurateurs, and allow us to also find a genuine cultural momento.

Tourism has a way of being insular. Staying at hotels, eating in big impersonal restaurants, and visiting only the big, touristy sites do not provide us with many meaningful opportunities to interact with locals. Seek experiences outside of this structure. Search out things like workshops, language lessons, and adventures in real neighborhoods. Take a chance to chat with someone. You might get a new perspectives on the city.

See the differences between the destination and your home as an opportunity rather than an annoyance. We may not have ice in our drink or being staying in as large a hotel room as we are used to; however, we may find inspiration in the difference—maybe a spectacular view of some square or access to some unusual neighborhood. These are the experiences we can only have through traveling.

Preserving and maintaining the patrimony of these great cities requires financial resources. Look at ways to support sustainable efforts, such as donating to the French Heritage Society, the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, Friends of Florence or Save Venice. One excellent way is by supporting the Context Foundation, a pass-through organization that donates to these institutions and other worthy projects.

Article excerpted from

A vegetarian dish that even meat-eaters will enjoy

Grilled cauliflower steak with roasted vegetables and topped with a chipotle compound butter.
Grilled cauliflower steak with roasted vegetables and topped with a chipotle compound butter.

Peggy MacLeod of St. Petersburg, Fla., seeks the recipe for “a delicious and interesting vegetarian entrée — a grilled cauliflower steak with chipotle butter” that is offered by the Z Grille in St. Petersburg.

Chef Zack Gross of Z Grille said he developed the seasonal dish because he wanted a vegetarian entrée that had a meaty feel to it. “It’s really hard to make a dish that appeals to non-vegetarians and vegetarians that has different textures, but also has a lot of flavors,” he said. “I think this dish hits on all those fronts.”

There are a lot of steps, but none is difficult. If the prospect of making all the elements at once is daunting, try making the cauliflower at one meal, the squash at another and the mushrooms at a third. When you feel comfortable with each process, do them all to make the dish. Here is the recipe for the cauliflower steak with acorn squash skins, roasted shiitake mushrooms and chipotle compound butter. It will make more butter than necessary for the finished dish. Leftovers will last about a week in the refrigerator and would be good on other vegetables, meat or fish.

— Ellen Folkman, St. Petersburg Times


  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1 cup garlic, minced, divided use
  • 1 can chipotle peppers, drained and minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, minced (thyme, rosemary, sage; whatever you like or is fresh)
  • 1 cup oil (olive, canola or whatever you use for salad dressing)
  • 3 whole acorn squash, cut in quarters, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup Manchego, grated
  • 1-1/2 pounds of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Into butter, mix 1/2 cup garlic, chipotle peppers, cilantro, salt and pepper. It will turn a cool red color. Refrigerate.

Trim sides of cauliflower, then cut across head to make “steaks” that are about an inch thick. A head should yield at least two, maybe three steaks.

To make the marinade, mince herbs and mix with oil and 1/2 cup garlic. Carefully coat cauliflower with marinade. Allow to sit for at least two hours, but it can marinate overnight in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place squash on baking sheet and roast for about an hour. Remove from oven and turn on broiler. Sprinkle squash with cheese, then place under broiler to melt cheese, just 1 or 2 minutes. When finished, it should look like a potato skin.

Place mushrooms in a large skillet with tablespoon of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for about 15 minutes.

Heat grill (gas, charcoal or grill pan), and grill sliced cauliflower — as you would a steak — over very high heat. Flip the slices only once. Don’t play with it. They will be fragile and can fall apart. Grill about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

To assemble dish, put cauliflower on plate with 2 or 3 pieces of squash and a spoonful of mushrooms. Top the hot cauliflower with the chipotle butter and serve.

Note: Puree the cauliflower trimmings and add to mashed potatoes.

Makes: 4 to 6 steaks.

—Zack Gross, Z Grille, St. Petersburg

Recipe excerpted from

Go organic on the cheap

Jupiterimages. Go organic on the cheap

An organic lifestyle could not only save your health, it should save your wealth, too.

That thinking led one Black Hills merchant to stock his shelves with affordable organic items.

“Organic food should be cheaper,” said Vinny Alessi-Narr, who owns and operates Swan’s Organic Market in Hill City with his wife, Karen Swan.

The couple expanded their trading post a few years ago to include organic bulk products, produce, herbs and supplements. The Hill City business also features a small Internet café that sells organic eats.

Alessi-Narr maintains eating organic is possible without breaking the bank. He strives to make it so by pricing his inventory in a way that doesn’t stick it to customers.

Some items are hard to discount.

“But mainly, the basic stuff, we try to discount,” he said. “There’s almost no markup to encourage everybody to eat organic.”

If customers can purchase more for less, Alessi-Narr figures he’ll make up the difference through higher sales volume.

“Everybody will come in and buy more often,” he said.

Alessi-Narr, who is originally from Germany, said he believes everyone deserves to eat organic. But he finds the price tag often gives it an unfair rap.

“Organic has a bad reputation of being expensive,” he said.

Organic food generally costs more than conventional food because farms that avoid chemicals must employ more labor-intensive practices.

Even if consumers do have to pay a little more to eat organically, Alessi-Narr said, they’ll come out on top in the long run. He argues organic food offers buyers more bang – in the form of higher nutrients – for their buck, which translates to better health and fewer medical expenses over time.

“At the end of the day, you save money to eat organic,” he said.

One key to buying organically on a budget is searching out alternatives to the supermarket. Small niche shops such as Swan’s are one option.

Buying in bulk also keeps costs down. Bulk shipments save money, and those savings are passed on to the customer.

Breadroot Natural Foods Co-op in Rapid City offers an extensive organic bulk section.

“Our bulk area takes up over half of the store,” said Jessica Kerlin, a manager at the Main Street business.

Breadroot sells natural foods and household supplies to the general public and members. The store’s $20 annual membership fee includes a 5 percent discount, voting privileges and shares of stock in the co-op.

Members qualify for further discounts by helping out with everything from cleaning to cashiering.

The co-op’s REACH program additionally offers a dozen “super foods” available at cost.

“Our board of directors many years ago chose a few essential items – staples in your home that are nutritious and usually available every week,” Kerlin said.

These vital goods include raw almonds, apples, dried plums, flax seeds, grapefruit, kale, dried navy beans, Romaine lettuce and short-grain brown rice.

Bulk purchases may not be as attractive to shoppers with limited storage. If your pantry shelves can’t hold a year’s supply of dried fruit, consider sharing an order with friends. People who order through Breadroot can offer to split cases of goods with other members.

Save more money by buying in season. Seasonable fruits and vegetables are more affordable.

Breadroot and Swan’s try to support local farmers.

“We get the community bringing in local produce,” Kerlin said.

They also offer these tips:

Go online if you don’t know what’s in season. A quick Internet search should help you determine what to buy when.

Make in-season purchases go even further by looking for recipes that incorporate seasonable items.

Cooking, rather than reaching for costlier convenience foods, pinches pennies. Processed organic products are easily available, but buying them is a pricey approach to going organic.

Consider making meals from scratch. Fill your grocery cart with staples and minimally processed foods. With a little prep, some planning and the right recipes, you can whip up healthy meals that don’t bust the budget. “People say they have no time to cook,” Alessi-Narr said. “Sometimes you have to show them that stuff doesn’t take more time.”

If you’ve got the time, consider growing your own organic produce. Don’t have space for a garden? Try using containers. A packet of organic seeds costs more than regular seeds, but harvesting your own is cheaper than splurging on the fruits of someone else’s labor.

Ask for help if you don’t know where to start. Alessi-Narr said he’s helped more than one customer make over his or her refrigerator and pantry. “We can replace pretty much everything,” he said. “We sell everything organic, from the toilet paper to the cleaning supplies.”

The transition requires some commitment, but cost shouldn’t keep people from adopting an organic diet.

“Our main goal is for everybody to eat healthy,” he said. “It should not be only for the rich.”


Article excerpted from


Hundreds enjoy eco walk and car boot sales at FRIM

HUNDREDS of visitors took part in the Forest Research Institute Malaysia’s (FRIM) celebrations in conjunction with World Environment Day 2011 recently.The event, themed “Forests: At Your Service”, was held at FRIM Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.

The aim of the event was to promote a sense of responsibility among the public to play a more active role in the conservation of the forest and environment.

Observing keenly: Participants of the guided nature walk looking at fishes at the lake in FRIM.

FRIM director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Mohmod urged the public and corporate bodies to support forest conservation efforts in the country.

“The aim of the celebration is to strengthen public awareness on the importance of forests, not only to the economy and environment but also to the collective wellbeing of the people. We would like to take this opportunity to remind people of the various ecological, economic and socio-cultural services provided by forests.

“This includes regulating water, preventing floods, maintaining soil quality through provision of organic materials, reducing erosion and protecting soil from direct impact of rainfall, modulating climate and being home to rich biodiversity, among others.

“FRIM opens its doors to the public to enjoy its forest environment, providing nature education facilities and activities and it also welcomes collaborators with corporate bodies in various programmes including tree planting, recycling and environment education,” he said.

During the event, Latif also launched a collaborative programme between FRIM and HSBC in which HSBC staff will participate in field research activities related to forest and climate change which are being carried out at the FRIM Pasoh Research Station in Negri Sembilan.

“The Pasoh Forest Reserve under the care of this station is the most extensively studied lowland tropical forest in South-East Asia. The first research was initiated in 1964.

In focus: A participant during the Era Art Club colouring contest.

“Since then, FRIM actively promotes research, capacity building and awareness activities related to the field of ecology, including biodiversity conservation and climate change by providing necessary facilities and technical assistance.

“Under the FRIM-HSBC programme, the bank’s staff will be educated on the role of the forest in mitigating climate change so that they may do their bit for the community,” he said.

“We hope the collaboration will give recognition to the local forest research efforts, support environmental awareness in the corporate sector and together fulfil social responsibilities,” he added.

Latif said this after flagging off participants of the Eco Fun Walk during the FRIM World Environment Day celebrations.

Besides the Eco Fun Walk, there were many other activities organised for children, youth and parents to have fun together. There was a nature walk in the forest in FRIM with guidance from FRIM nature guides.

There was also a car boot sale and recycling counter where visitors could buy items or send their newspapers, bottles, aluminium cans for recycling.

For the kids, there was an Erra Art Club colouring contest for children aged between five and 12 as well as a storytelling session at the Perah Camp in FRIM Kepong.

Article excerpted from

%d bloggers like this: