animals, Food, Food Industry, Uncategorized


As we approach the end of year, I think back on some of the books I’ve ready in 2018 and which ones people with similar interests would also enjoy. To that end, here are some of the best books I read this year:

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

Nike co-founder Phil Knight weaves a gripping story of how his athletic empire was built though passion, trial and error, actual trials, luck, an enormity of work, and even the occasional lie to his banks and suppliers. What became clear to me in reading it is that Knight wasn’t driven by money, though Nike has made him a multi-billionaire. Other factors, from simply wanting to win to seeking approval from his father and coach, were far bigger drivers for him. But Knight also clearly viewed what he was doing as a mission to help others. More of my thoughts on the book here.

Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance

Yes, Musk’s story of going from janitor to billionaire is impressive. Yes, his work ethic and engineering-oriented mind make for fascinating stories. But the real issue that kept striking me is that Musk doesn’t seem that motivated by making money for himself, though of course he’s done that in droves. Rather, his entire reason for existence is to use business as a way to help solve some of what he sees as humanity’s most pressing problems. More of my thoughts on the book here.

Quirky, by Melissa Schilling

Melissa Schilling’s book explores common traits among some of the most successful innovators of all time. The litmus test for Schilling to enter such a coveted club is much higher than merely hitting the innovation jackpot and changing the world one time. For Schilling, being a super-innovator means being serially successful in a variety of fields. Think Einstein, Franklin, Edison, Tesla, Jobs, Kamen, Musk, and yes, of course, Curie, and these are the folks to which Schilling devotes her study. More of my thoughts on the book here.

Rescuing Ladybugs, by Jennifer Skiff

Humanity is often very skilled at inflicting suffering on the rest of the animals with whom she shares our planet. This book tells the story of several individuals who are doing their part to try to stop that suffering and help create a kinder world for all animals, humans included. I really enjoyed reading these tales of the different ways people have been called to give a voice to powerless animals. Perhaps the most poignant quote for me in the book:

“The history of the world will, one day, be defined by the people who witnessed the tragedy of impending extinction and were able to turn humanity’s destructive patterns into creative solutions.”


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animals, Food, Food Industry, Uncategorized


It seems so unlikely that a cold Nordic country where it’s very difficult to grow fruits and vegetables would become a “hotspot” for those who prefer to eat a plant-based diet. However, there are those who are determined to manifest that goal, turning their icy homeland into a plant-powered Valhalla.

Eat among tomato plants

In the tiny enchanting town of Reykholt, you can go to a restaurant in Friðheimar, a special greenhouse that grows 10,000 organic tomato plants using natural geothermal heat which protects them from the freezing temperatures and biting wind. They don’t just specialize in plant-based cuisine, but in tomato-based cuisine in particular. Check it out.

An all-plant-based hipster hangout

Kaffi Vinyl in the heart of Reykjavík is a combination of a bar, a cafe, and a record shop. How fnu to be able to listen to musical offerings while feasting on tamarind-glazed tofu with a sweet potato and carrot puree, or roasted chickpeas and cauliflower, or a pasta with thyme, mushrooms, and cashew cream sauce. Save room for some decadent peanut butter cashew cheesecake as well.

A former ship workshop that was turned into a restaurant

Slippurinn is reached by boat to Heimaey, the only inhabited place in the Westman Islands of Iceland. Its talented chef, Gísli Matthías Audunsson, has a gift in the art of preparing sophisticated vegan dishes such as a celeriac nut and sunchoke steak with grilled peppers and pine. Foraging results in fantastic kelp chips, other dishes from “weeds.” Sounds fantastic.

An eight-course feast focused on plants

Nostra in Reykjavik offers an all-vegan menu that includes confit leek and onion broth, carrot that was cured for 12 hours, lemon thyme and bay leaf sorbet, a cocktail made of Arctic thyme, and more.

So if you want to go where vegan eating is hot, think about going to Iceland.


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animals, Food, Food Industry, Uncategorized


So you want to give plant-based eating a try. A lot of folks do it because they want to help lighten their footprint on the planet and the animals who inhabit it. But perhaps even more people do it because they want to lighten the burden they’re placing on their own bodies. In fact, a whole food plant-based diet has a vast array of health benefits.

Why do plants do a body good? Turns out, lots of reasons.

Give Yourself Better Odds

People following a plant-based diet have lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other leading killers of Americans. As Dr. Michael Greger points out in his bestselling book How Not to Die, if you want to live longer, the evidence shows that eating lots of whole plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, mushrooms, and whole grains, for example) and few animal products is the way to go.

Lower Body Fat

Vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower body masses than their meat-eating counterparts. In a country plagued by historically high rates of obesity, this can help be the difference between major health problems or longer lifespan.

Less Inflammation

You probably already know that inflammation doesn’t exactly do a body good. If you doubt it, read this. So, what foods are anti-inflammatory? Unsurprisingly, plants are the champs here.

From berries and beans to fruit and flax, the diet that prevents inflammation doesn’t include many foods from animals.

Even More

These are just a few of the favors you’ll do yourself if you eat lower on the food chain. If you want to be reminded of even more reasons, sign up for this daily short video from Dr. Greger with cool info on more benefits of powering yourself with plants.

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animals, Food, Food Industry, Uncategorized


Do a search for “plant-based” or “vegan” and prepare to be inundated. Demand for information about how to enjoy more meat-free meals has never been higher, but at the same time, there have never been more sources available out there. What’s an aspiring herbivore to do?

No doubt there are many awesome resources out there, but here are some of my personal faves: – the all-encompassing site put out by Dr. Michael Greger, author of the mega-bestseller How Not to Die. For years he’s been producing a video a day (literally every single day) reviewing the scientific literature on everything from the benefits of soy to the perils meat-heavy diets.

Plant Based on a Budget – Okay, so I have a personal bias here as the site’s run by my fiance Toni Okamoto. But seriously, there’s a reason it’s so popular: really good recipes and videos that show how easy it to save dough by eating veggies.

World of Vegan – Just how easy is it to be vegan? Long-time animal advocate Michelle Cehn helps you with more resources than you can imagine on her very useful site.

Kristie Middleton – The author of Meat-Less, Kristie’s a guru of helping institutions incorporate more plant-based meat into their offerings. But her site is great for helping individuals like you too, with easy recipes for everything from your homemade oat milk to nacho cheese made from potatoes and carrots. (I’ve had it–seriously: it rocks.)

HappyCow – Traveling and not sure where to eat? This site (and the app, which I highly recommend) has your back. Just enter a zip code or city into the site’s search engine and see all the places that will make eating vegan food fun and delicious. I use it pretty much in every new city I’m ever in.

If you’re already convinced of the “why” to choose plant-based, these sites are great for offering you the “how.” In addition, I’d recommend making friends who share the same passion. New behaviors are far more likely to stick if you surround yourself with others who practice them!

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Food Industry

McDonald’s Dips Toes in Plant-Based (Nordic) Waters

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McDonald’s saw overwhelming success when it first tested its plant-based burger in Sweden and Finland last year. While there isn’t yet any news as to how soon the company may introduce something similar to its menus in the United States, the success of this burger overseas bodes well for us Americans who’d love nothing more than to enjoy a plant-based feast at the Golden Arches.

The head of McDonald’s food strategy in Sweden, Staffan Ekstam, stated that the test conducted in Finland blew all of their expectations out of the water, and that they were happy to have the patty on their menu for the 400,000 guests who visit every day. And impressively, they offered the burger at a competitively low price that was less than the average McDonald’s menu item and considerably cheaper than their Swedish rival Max.

Of course, the big question everyone’s asking: How does it taste? Reports indicate that the burger’s quite good. One friend of mine who enjoyed it even told me it was among the best plant-based burgers he’s had. It’s complemented by the classic ingredients of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and an eggless vegan “McFeast Sauce” served on a sesame seed bun, which no doubt helps.

Time will tell how soon we may be able to enjoy something like the McVegan in the U.S. Considering that the word “vegan” in the US is often a turnoff for mainstream consumers, let’s hope McDonald’s comes up with a better name but as great a burger.