As we step into a new year, many of us are filled with the enthusiasm to make positive changes in our lives. One such transformative resolution gaining popularity worldwide is Veganuary.
Veganuary is an annual challenge that encourages individuals to adopt a vegan diet for the entire month of January. The goal is to raise awareness about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, health, and animal welfare. Participants are urged to explore the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, not just for themselves but for the planet as a whole.
Going vegan may seem daunting at first, but in reality, it’s simpler than you might think. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Veganuary is all about and provide practical tips on how effortlessly you can make the switch to a plant-based lifestyle.
Start with the Basics:
Begin by familiarizing yourself with vegan alternatives to your favorite foods. Plant-based milk, meat substitutes, and vegan cheeses are readily available in most grocery stores. This makes it easy to replicate the flavors you love without compromising on taste.
Explore New Recipes:
Embrace the opportunity to discover exciting and delicious vegan recipes. There’s an abundance of online resources, cookbooks, and food blogs dedicated to plant-based cooking. Experimenting with new flavors and ingredients can be an enjoyable and fulfilling part of your Veganuary journey.
Going vegan doesn’t have to happen overnight. Start by incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet and gradually phase out animal products. This approach allows your taste buds and habits to adjust at a comfortable pace.
Connect with Community:
Joining online vegan communities or participating in local events can provide valuable support and resources. Sharing experiences, recipes, and tips with like-minded individuals can make the transition smoother and more enjoyable.
Embrace Whole Foods:
Focus on incorporating whole, plant-based foods into your diet. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts form the foundation of a healthy vegan lifestyle. These foods are not only nutritious but also versatile and delicious.
Replace eggs in recipes with plant-based alternatives like applesauce, mashed bananas, silken tofu, chia seeds, or commercial egg replacers.
Replace meat with plant-based protein sources like tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), and meat substitutes like veggie burgers and sausages.
Eating Out as Vegan
Eating out as a vegan can be a satisfying experience by employing a few key strategies. Begin by researching restaurants in advance, looking for those with vegan options or menus. When ordering, clearly communicate your dietary preferences and don’t hesitate to modify dishes by omitting animal products.
HappyCow is a free app that has helped consumers discover vegan food options at 200,000+ restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores in 180+ countries.
Reading Labels and Ingredients
One of the most common and trusted logos denoting vegan products, especially in the U.S. is the Vegan.org Certification. The Vegan.org certification logo denotes that the product contains no animal ingredients and is not tested on animals. Over 1,000 companies and products carry the logo today.
While a “vegan” label on a food product provides clear information that the product is suitable for a vegan diet, the absence of a vegan label does not automatically mean the product is not vegan. Some products may be vegan but not labeled as such due to various reasons, such as a lack of certification or the company’s choice not to emphasize the vegan aspect.
To determine if a product is vegan, you should check the ingredients list and allergen information on the packaging. Look out for common non-vegan ingredients such as dairy, eggs, and honey. Additionally, be aware of additives or flavorings that may contain animal-derived components.
By making simple adjustments to your diet and lifestyle, you can contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate world. Remember, going vegan is not about perfection but progress. Every small step you take toward a plant-based lifestyle makes a significant difference.
So, challenge yourself this January and discover how simple and rewarding it can be to go vegan, even if it is only for the month.
Resigned and reauthorized every five years, the largest piece of food-related legislation is up next year, the Farm Bill. This bill determines policy and funding levels for agriculture, food assistance programs, natural resources, and other aspects of food and agriculture under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its impact on the farming industry, its related programs and industries, and the communities they support is tremendous.
The original Farm Bill was enacted during the 1930s as part of the New Deal and had three main goals:
- Keep food prices fair for farmers and consumers.
- Ensure an adequate food supply.
- Protect and sustain the country’s vital natural resources.
While each new Farm Bill is unique, and 18 bills have followed the initial one, the issues addressed in the last 2018 Farm Bill encompassed agricultural commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, extension and related matters, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance and miscellaneous. To the left is a chart of the $428 million dollars that went towards farm and program support in the last bill.
Discussions on what is due to be the 2023 Farm Bill have already begun at field hearings and producer meetings across the country, where stakeholders have been vocalizing their recommendations and priorities for the next Farm Bill:
- The American Soybean Association shared their soy industries 2023 Farm Bill priorities
- The National Association of Wheat Growers released their 2023 Farm Bill priorities
- The American Farmland Trust’s formal recommendation
- Native Farm Bill Coalition’s Successes from the 2018 Farm Bill and Opportunities for the 2023 bill
- Recommendations from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
The current baseline for Farm Bill programs for the next five years is $648 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s May 2022 estimates. A new estimate in spring 2023 will set the budget for the new Farm Bill.
Here is a quick rundown of what the process of passing the Farm Bill looks like:
Legislatively, it all begins with hearings in Washington, DC and across the country – these are listening sessions where members of Congress take input from the public and organizations about what they want to see in a new bill.
- AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEES
House and Senate Agriculture Committees each draft, debate, amend and change, and eventually pass a bill; the two committees work on separate bills that can have substantial differences.
- FULL CONGRESS / “THE FLOOR”
Each committee bill goes next to “the floor” – the full House of Representatives or Senate. Each bill is debated, amended, and voted on again by its respective body (House or Senate).
- CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
After both the full House and Senate have passed a Farm Bill – which can take a while, and may require a bill being sent back to committee for more work before passage, the two bills (House and Senate) go to a smaller group of Senators and Representatives called a “Conference Committee,” which combines the two separate bills into one compromise package. Conferees are typically chosen mostly from House and Senate Agriculture Committee members.
- FULL CONGRESS
The combined version of the Conference Committee’s Farm Bill then goes back to the House and Senate floors to be debated – and potentially passed.
- LAST STEP: THE WHITE HOUSE
Once the House and Senate approve a final Farm Bill, the bill goes to the President, who can veto it and send it back to Congress or sign it into law.
Once the Farm Bill is signed into law, it’s time for the Appropriations phase: Setting money aside in the yearly federal budget to fund the programs in the Farm Bill, which the federal government operates on a fiscal year from October 1st to September 30th.
Happening simultaneously with the annual appropriations process is Rulemaking. After Congress passes a Farm Bill, the USDA is responsible for writing the actual rules for how these programs will be implemented on the ground.
The recent pass of the Inflation Reduction Act will play a major role in the Farm Bill
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown says the Inflation Reduction Act should help jumpstart the 2023 Farm Bill process.
“When we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, we funded some farm programs ahead of time, something we’ve never done,” he says. “So, this Farm Bill should be more productive and more helpful both to consumers and farmers because we planned for it better than we have in the past.”
According to an analysis from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Inflation Reduction Act will provide about a 47% increase over previous Farm Bill levels.
And with the Biden Administration making Climate Change a federal priority, it is likely that the new Farm Bill will reflect such efforts.
No exception to previous years, the final draft of the bill will impact every American in a way that so few others do and will require immense collaboration and compromise on both sides of the aisle — and the final product will impact the food and beverage ecosystem for generations to come.
Have you ever brought home beautiful bunches of greens and herbs only to have them wilt away in your fridge?
Save your money and stop wasting food with simple storage tips!
Greens and Herbs:
Trim the stem ends, place in a jar of fresh water, and place the entire jar in the fridge.
This allows the veggies to re-hydrate and will stay fresh much longer this way.
Use this method for greens like kale and chard, fresh herbs like basil and cilantro, and even vegetables like asparagus!
Most veggies store best in the fridge.
Storing in a plastic bag or within the crisper drawer in your fridge will help keep in moisture and prevent your veggies from getting soft and drying out.
Some veggies such as tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onion, and hard squashes are actually best stored outside of the fridge in a cool, dry place.
Tip: Vegetables should be stored away from fruit in order to prevent them from ripening too fast!
When it comes to fruit most varieties will keep fresh longest if stored in the fridge, but when it comes to ripening they ripen best outside of the fridge.
Berries, lemons, and apples will all last much longer if stored in the fridge whereas tropical fruits like bananas and mangoes store best on the counter top.