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  • Alicia Silverstone Demands Starbucks Drop Vegan Milk Surcharge. Again. 
    on April 12, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Actress and vegan activist Alicia Silverstone has had it with the vegan milk surcharge at Starbucks. In a recent letter the actress posted to her blog The Kind Life, Silverstone explained that she, along with other activists such as Alan Cumming, have been asking Starbucks to drop its vegan milk surcharge for many years as the extra charge makes more environmentally and animal-friendly options less accessible to the public. “These charges may seem small, but they penalize customers who are making humane and environmentally friendly choices,” Silverstone wrote. “It also penalizes people for issues they can’t control, like being lactose intolerant—which affects 65 percent of the population, predominantly people of color.” Silverstone renewed her demand—which she made public in 2019 on Twitter—after the coffee chain released its sustainability plan, which CEO Kevin Johnson announced after an audit found that dairy was responsible for the majority of the chain’s global carbon footprint. Starbucks has made recent advancements in adding plant-based beverages and foods to its menu. In March, Starbucks expanded Oatly’s oat milk to its nationwide menu—and, due to several factors, including unexpected customer demand, is now experiencing shortages of the vegan milk. And while the menu additions are a step in the right direction, Silverstone says it’s time for the chain to evaluate its stance on charging more for vegan options.  Debunking Starbuck’s reasons for vegan milk surcharges  Silverstone debunked Starbucks’ claim that it must charge extra for vegan milk—typically $.50 or more per cup—due to the higher cost it pays for plant-based milk as compared to dairy, pointing out that Starbucks’ profit margin on a cup of plain coffee is 90 percent. “With such a high-profit margin per cup of coffee, even after overhead, it is not an unreasonable request to stop charging for non-dairy milk,” Silverstone wrote, adding the “true cost” of animal-derived milk is greater than market prices due to taxpayer-funded subsidies the animal agriculture industry receives that keep prices artificially low. “If the true cost of milk were reflected by its carbon impact alone, it would cost far more than the surcharge we’re forced to pay on the sustainable alternative,” Silverstone wrote.  The longtime vegan actress also debunked an argument Starbucks has made about charging extra for all modifications, explaining that lack of standard vegan options on the permanent menu penalizes customers for modifying their drinks with plant-based alternatives. “If Starbucks hopes to meet its goal of reducing 50 percent of its carbon emissions, water use, and waste by 2030, then an obvious first step is to ensure that the environmentally friendly options are accessible to everyone by lowering the price of their non-dairy options, and not penalizing those of us who are already choosing the sustainable, kind products,” Silverstone concluded.

  • This Woman Turned Down $1 Million on Shark Tank; She’s Now Selling 1 Million Pounds of Vegan Fried Chicken
    on April 12, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    Vegan fried chicken company Atlas Monroe is set to become the largest manufacturer of deep-fried vegan chicken in the world. The news comes as Atlas Monroe recently acquired its own multi-million-dollar manufacturing plant at a two-story, 10,000-square-foot warehouse in San Diego, CA, with plans to open a second location this year.  With the expansion, Atlas Monroe founder Deborah Torres has maintained 100-percent ownership of the company since her appearance on reality investment show Shark Tank. In 2019, she was offered $1 million (an amount rarely offered on the show) from investor Mark Cuban and guest investor Rohan Oza for 100 percent of the company. Torres turned down that offer because she did not want to give up her brand because she believed the company would soon generate the same amount on its own. “The fact you guys are even offering a million dollars lets me know you do understand what we are worth,” Torres said on the show.  Vegan fried chicken for all Since then, Atlas Monroe has reached over $2 million in sales through its website, fulfilled tens of thousands of orders, and expanded to manufacturing vegan bacon, applewood smoked ribs, deep-fried and stuffed turkeys, signature sauces, and bakery items such as sweet potato and chocolate cakes. With the new manufacturing plant, the company is projected to manufacture more than 1 million pounds of vegan fried chicken this year. Atlas Monroe also plans to host monthly pop-ups (for pick-up only) in San Diego and its vegan food will be available through delivery apps such as UberEats, Postmates, and DoorDash in San Diego, Imperial Beach, and Chula Vista. Torres says she was unfairly represented on Shark Tank and is not letting that experience stand in the way of her dreams. “On [Shark Tank] there were many edits of conversations to make it appear that I wasn’t intelligent enough for obvious dramatic effects of the ‘shocking’ ending. I was completely blindsided when it aired and had no idea the effect it would have on my life,” Torres told VegNews. “I mean, if we are going to talk about it honestly, just imagine being a Black woman in America graduating high school at age 15 and receiving your first degree at 17 all to be made to look like an idiot on national television for the sake of views, when you were just trying to pursue your dreams—it was crushing to say the least. I think God works in mysterious ways because what was meant to harm me propelled me to where I am today—the proud and sole owner of the world’s largest vegan fried chick’n manufacturing company and 100-percent owner of a multi-million dollar manufacturing facility.”

  • New Vegan Caribbean Restaurant and Community Center Just Opened in Brooklyn
    on April 12, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    New vegan Caribbean cafe Aunts et Uncles recently opened in Brooklyn, NY. Created by husband-and-wife team Michael and Nicole Nicholas—known to many as Uncle Mike and Aunty Nic—Aunts et Uncles is a hybrid cafe-bar-retail space that aims to celebrate Caribbean culture with books, art, music, clothing, merch, and vegan food. The couple’s goal with the space was to extend the warm, loving, and welcoming feeling that occurs in their own home—where friends, family, and colleagues are often hosted for big dinners and holidays—to the community. Healthy vegan food Located in the Flatbush neighborhood, known as Little Caribbean, Aunts et Uncles offers an all-vegan menu because both Michael and Nicole are vegan, and they knew it was the healthiest option for their neighborhood. Dishes include the Lobster Roll (hearts of palm, vegan mayonnaise, fresh dill, on a pretzel bun); Wild Flower Salad (roasted purple cauliflower, wild rice, sauteed greens); E Classic breakfast sandwich (Beyond Meat sausage, JUST Egg, smoked gouda cheese, on an English muffin); and Mac and Cheese (made with almond and coconut milks and cauliflower, topped with white truffle oil). “The community—Mike & Nicole’s neighborhood for well over a decade—inspired to have a gather-and-chill space that gets their creativity flowing and that is also in their neighborhood,” Aunts et Uncles posted on its Facebook page. “Aunts et Uncles’ goal is to harness and incubate a vibe where creatives and visionaries and the everyday neighborhood family can exchange in a genuinely hospitable atmosphere that also features clean, plant-based, vegan meals. The concept is family that listens and supports; the lifestyle is curated, creative, visionary excellence that has a West-Indian heritage.”

  • This Dutch Sushi Chain Just Launched Realistic Vegan Fish
    on April 12, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Dutch chain Sushi Point recently added five vegan dishes to its menu at all 32 locations in the Netherlands. The new dishes include vegan Lemon Ebi Uramaki (julienned carrots, avocado, and sriracha mayonnaise topped with daikon cress); vegan deep-fried Lemon Ebi; vegan Lemon Eli Salad with salad mix, julienned carrots, avocado, and sriracha mayonnaise; and vegan Spicy Salmon rolls with spring onion and sriracha mayonnaise. Sushi Point also offers a Happy Vegan combo that includes 18 pieces of vegan Spicy Salmon, vegan Lemon Ebi, nigiri Miami, and edamame.  Vegan seafood All dishes are made with plant-based fish supplied by Dutch brand Vegan Zeastar from food company Vegan Finest Foods. Vegan Zeastar creates plant-based seafood that offers a taste and texture that mimics animal-based seafood. Its products include vegan Sashimi No Tuna, Sashimi Zalmon, Shrimpz, Crispy Lemon Shrimpz, Crispy Chili Shrimpz, Kalamariz, and Tasty Codd.  “Do you like sushi but do you eat vegan? Then your options at many sushi restaurants are unfortunately very limited. Fortunately, at SushiPoint you can choose a number of delicious Sushi variants that suit a vegan diet,” Sushi Point says on its website. “Although sushi is originally mainly oriented towards sushi variants with fish, our creative chefs have put together a balanced range of vegan sushi. So if sushi is also your favorite meal but you want to eat vegan, you can still enjoy delicious vegan sushi at SushiPoint.”

  • Vegan Pear & Plum Mini Farka Cakes
    on April 12, 2021 at 9:00 am

    This plant-based take on a traditional Jewish dessert from the Beyond Chopped Liver: 59 Jewish Recipes Get a Vegan Health Makeover cookbook is oil-free and refined sugar-free and features freshly cooked pears, plums, and apple juice with warming spices. Photo credit: Kenden Alfond