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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including:better health, animal rights, public health,  food safety, frugal living, global food crisis, and the staggeringly huge impact of meat/livestock production on climate change/resource depletion.

farmed animals produce more waste in one day than the U.S. human population produces in 3 years). This excrement is a major cause of air and water pollution. According to the United Nations: "The livestock sector is... the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, 'dead' zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others."
Water used for farmed animals and irrigating feed crops: 240 trillion gallons per year -- 7.5 million gallons per second (that's enough for every human to take 8 showers a day, or as much as is used by Europe, Africa, and South America combined). According to the UN: "[t]he water used by the sector exceeds 8 percent of the global human water use." As just one example, "[O]n average 990 litres of water are required to produce one litre of milk." So drinking milk instead of tap water requires almost 1,000 times as much water.
It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein.
United Nations scientists, in their 408-page indictment of the meat industry, sum up these statistics, pointing out that the meat industry is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global," including "problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."
                       Be the change you want to see in the world (Gandhi)
                             Doug Belshaw..flicker

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

A few weeks ago Mokurai wrote this diary about Vegetarian fast food which I thought was a great idea.  After all, many of us have to eat at least one meal a day away from home and it's not always easy to find restaurants that fit our no/low meat diets.  It just makes it so much easier to reduce meat consumption if we have some convenient, low-cost and tasty veggie restaurant options nearby.  So I hope that today we can pool our knowledge of restaurants that are veggie friendly to help those who are just starting out on a low meat lifestyle.   I'm lucky that my work environment is veg friendly and we always have some Vegetarian/vegan selections available in our cafeterias.  But I don't usually have time to trek out to lunch so often bring my own.

In Mokurai's diary I commented that Starbucks is a dependable fast food option for me especially since it's everywhere and the hours are very accessible.  They always have some vegetarian bistro boxes or sandwiches and lately have had some good vegan options too.  My favorite Starbucks food item is their vegan sesame noodle bistro box.  It's awesome and perfect for a fast, tasty meal and their soy lattes are to die for.

There's also a restaurant somewhat close to my work that's part of the vegan Loving Hut international restaurant chain.  Just click on the link to find if there is one near you.  I see there's one in San Jose.  So for those of us planning to go to NN2013 let's plan to try to have a lunch meet-up at the Loving Hut!

To give you an idea of the selections at the Loving Hut I found photos of some of their entrees.  I couldn't track down any of their recipes so devised some that I thought might be similar. They tend to have a lot of pan-Asian selections but also have the usual American comfort foods veggie style.
        Loving Hut in Robinson Township
             creative commons..flicker..somenametoforget
SUMMER ROLLS
So easy and delish!  To make more hearty you could add some sliced smoked tofu and serve as a light lunch or supper.  Serves 4

For peanut sauce

    3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
    1 small garlic clove, minced
    3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
    1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    3 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
    1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
    1 teaspoon tomato paste
    3/4 teaspoon sugar

For summer rolls

    1 ounce bean thread noodles (cellophane noodles)
    1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
    4 (8-inch) rice-paper rounds, plus additional in case some tear
    2 red-leaf lettuce leaves, ribs cut out and discarded and leaves halved
    1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
    1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (preferably Thai)
    1/2 cup thinly sliced Napa cabbage
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    1/3 cup coarsely shredded carrot (1 medium)

Make sauce:
Cook onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in oil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 4 minutes. Whisk in remaining sauce ingredients. Simmer, whisking, 1 minute, then cool.

Make summer rolls:
Cover noodles with boiling-hot water and soak 15 minutes, then drain well in a sieve. Pat dry between paper towels and toss with vinegar and salt to taste.

Put a double thickness of paper towel on a work surface and fill a shallow baking pan with warm water. Soak 1 rice-paper round (make sure there are no holes) in warm water until pliable, 30 seconds to 1 minute, then transfer to paper towels.

Arrange 1 piece of lettuce on bottom half of soaked rice paper, folding or tearing to fit and leaving a 1-inch border along edge. Spread one fourth of peanut sauce over lettuce and top with one fourth each of mint, basil, cabbage, noodles and tofu if using. Roll up rice paper tightly around filling and, after rolling halfway, arrange one fourth of cilantro and carrot along crease. Then fold in sides and continue rolling. Transfer summer roll to a plate and cover with dampened paper towels.

Make 3 more rolls in same manner. Serve rolls halved on the diagonal.

note: Summer rolls may be made 6 hours ahead and chilled, wrapped in dampened paper towels in a sealed plastic bag. Bring rolls to room temperature before halving and serving.
         The Loving Hut Salad
                 creative commons..flr...SweetOnVeg
LOVING HUT SALAD

Mixed greens with sweetened walnuts, mini tofu cubes (which seemed to be tossed in pesto..yummy!), tomatoes and an awesome miso ginger dressing.
            Vegan Wonton Soup at Loving Hut Restaurant
                      creative commons..flr..SweetOnVeg
LOVING HUT VEGAN WONTON SOUP
This is a recipe I use often anytime of year.  Serves about 8

    1 T. sesame or canola oil
    1 T. finely chopped garlic
    2 cups thinly chopped scallions, divided
    About 10 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

    For the Filling:
    1 T. canola oil
    1 lb. crimini mushrooms, chopped finely
    1/2 t. garlic powder
    1 16-ounce box firm tofu (not Silken), crumbled
    1 1/2 t. lemon juice
    3/4 t. salt
    About 40 wonton wrappers (if vegan, make sure the wrappers are egg-free)
    1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
    1 1/2 cups sliced bok choy
    Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare the broth. In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add 1 1/2 cups of the chopped scallions and the vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow the broth to simmer while you prepared the wontons.

Prepare the filling. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the canola oil, adding the finely chopped mushrooms and garlic powder once hot. Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the crumbled tofu, lemon juice, salt and remaining 1/2 cup chopped scallions.

Fill the wontons. Set out the wonton wrappers on a dry surface, such as a counter, cutting board, or baking sheet. Place about 1 T. of the filling into the center of the wontons. Moisten the edges of the wrappers with water, using a pastry brush or your fingers, and fold: pull one corner to its diagonal and pinch, then pull the remaining two corners to the same point and pinch the edges closed.  Repeat until all of the wontons or filling is used.

Bring a pot of salted water to simmering. Just before serving, cook the wontons you intend to serve with the meal (leftover wontons can be frozen until a later date) in the salted water until they become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the wontons from the boiling water. Transfer 3-4 wontons to each bowl.

Add the bok choy and broccoli florets to the simmering broth. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables are bright green in color. Ladle the broth and greens over the wontons in the serving bowls and serve immediately with salt and pepper to taste.
             Loving Hut
THAI STIR FRY with LIME and LEMONGRASS
Fast, healthy and delish entree. A main-stay for me. Serves 2

    3 tbsp peanut or sesame oil
    1/2 block tofu, cut into small cubes
    3/4 cup green beans, sliced
    3/4 cup carrots, thinly sliced
    1 cup broccoli, chopped
    1 red bell pepper, sliced
    1 green bell pepper, sliced
    2 green chilies, minced
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 stems lemongrass, sliced thin
    2 tbsp lime juice
    dash salt, to taste

Saute the tofu in oil until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for a few more minutes, until veggies are cooked.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another minute or two. Serve over rice if desired.
        Happy Spicy Pizza with Daiya Vegan Cheese at Loving Hut Restaurant
                   creative commons..flr..SweetOnVeg
HAPPY SPICY PIZZA with Daiya Vegan Cheese

Okay,  you know how to make a veggie pizza using whatever vegetables are your favorites.  Just wanted you to see a Loving Hut pizza.   Make your own crust or buy one prepared and the Daiya vegan cheese is delish and melts beautifully.
      Portobello Mushroom Burger at Loving Hut Restaurant
PORTOBELLO BURGER
               creative commons..flr..SweetOnVeg

Loving Hut has a delicious veggie burger and the Portobello burger above on their menu.  Here's my favorite grilled Portobello recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times. Your guests will love these!  The wine makes these a special elegant treat.  

    6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed, gills scraped out
    2 cups Syrah red wine
    2 shallots, chopped (¼ cup)
    1 clove garlic, chopped (1 tsp.)
    8 black peppercorns
    2 sprigs fresh thyme
    6 toasted whole-wheat hamburger buns
    Soy mayonnaise, onions, tomatoes, and arugula for garnish

1. Poke holes all over mushrooms, making sure not to break them. Place in large glass baking dish.

2. Combine wine, shallots, garlic, peppercorns, and thyme in small saucepan, and season with salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes. Pour wine mixture over mushroom caps, and stir to coat. Cover, and marinate 2 hours.

3. Preheat grill or broiler. Remove mushrooms from marinade, and discard liquid. Grill mushrooms 5 minutes on each side, or until browned and juicy. Serve on buns with burger fixings.
         Chocolate Cake at Loving Hut Restaurant
              creative commons..flr..SweetOnVeg
VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE
You won't believe this cake is vegan so delicious.  You can save the world and still pig out.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water (or try 1 cup warm expresso)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp margarine (I use Earth Balance)
2 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

Note: if you don't care to make it vegan, or don't have soy milk or margarine, you can use butter in place of the margarine, and whatever milk you prefer in place of the soy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In an 8X8 square pan/dish, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a fork, making sure it is really blended together. Add the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar, and again, mix together so that it's really blended together. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.

Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on a rack completely (2 hours).

For the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring sugar, margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil. Stir frequently; then reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. It'll look gloppy, but it's just the bubbles! Remove from heat and stir for another 5 minutes.

Add vanilla, stir, and immediately pour onto cake. Glaze dries really quickly, so spread it immediately and add any sprinkles now. Let this cool for an 1 hour, if you can wait that long!

"All My Loving"   The Beatles

"A Day In The Life"   The Beatles

What have you all been cooking?  Do you have any favorite veggie fast food places?
Please share your recipes and fave Beatles music here!

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