As more people continue to embrace veganism and plant-based eating, it has become increasingly easy to do so with a growing number of plant-based options. An article in Supermarket News, recently reported that plant-based food sales, led by plant-based milk and meat, reached a record high of $7.4 billion in 2021. The growth comes as more people are deciding to make the transition to a plant-based diet to better align with their values.
According to vegan chef Jay Weiner, there are typically three reasons people choose to go vegan: One, they do it for the environment, as research shows consuming meat releases greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. In a study published in Nature Food, it was reported that meat is responsible for almost 60 percent of greenhouse gases from food production. In fact, the production of animal-based foods worldwide was found to cause double the global greenhouse gas emissions than the production of plant-based food. Second, they do it for their health. Unfortunately, many people realize that the food they’re eating is doing real harm to their bodies. The third, which is Weiner’s reason, is for the animals.
Weiner is co-founder of The Gentle Barn, a nonprofit animal sanctuary with locations in Santa Clarita, CA; Dittmer, MO; and Christiana, TN. “The Gentle Barn exists to connect people with animals so that they can see just how amazing and just like us that they are,” says Weiner. “The word vegan 20 years ago when I learned about it was thought to be a fad that would just disappear over time. However, we all know now that is not the case and is the ultimate way that we can all play an individual role in saving our planet.”
To help people get started, Weiner suggests following various vegan influencers and groups. He has outlined the steps in choosing a vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet on mygentlekitchen.com. The site also features a host of vegan recipes curated by Weiner. Here he shares a recipe for Vegan Street Tacos.
“It is no secret that the taco is the most beloved Spanish food in the U.S., seeing that we consume about 4.5 billion tacos per year,” says Weiner. “I have always loved going out and getting street tacos and just had to create my own. Using Beyond Meat for the protein tops off the flavor and constancy and takes it to the next level. You can use anything you like for the protein, and I hope you do, because tacos don’t ever have to be the same and offer you the ability to change them up on a regular basis. Be creative people!”
Vegan Street Tacos
Beyond Meat Crumbles Feisty
Salsa of choice
1 16-ounce can of Refried Beans
1 16-ounce can of Black Beans
Dressing of choice (I use my version of Pancho’s)
1 Yellow onion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Vegan sour cream
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Broccolini for garnish
1. Heat all beans, and mix your dressing or use purchased dressing
2. Sauté the protein with the chopped onions, garlic, salt, and pepper, and then sauté the broccolini in some olive oil with salt and pepper
3. Heat tortillas
4. Add all ingredients to the tortillas and plate with a lime wedge and broccolini
For more on The Gentle Farm and how it’s helping animals and people heal with cow hug therapy, visit our piece on how animals can boost our mental health.