How to Easily Build Plant-Based Eating into Your 2021 Life

If 2021 is to be known for anything, could it be known as the year where plant-based eating becomes the “new normal?” 

The turning of the calendar page to the new year brings with it the usual wish to change things — something! Anything! Just make it better! While we eagerly anticipate the vaccine(s) for Covid-19 and their ability to realign humanity with a safe existence, there are other, smaller actions you can take to make a difference for your community and the world. Have you thought about being vegan for a day? Oprah certainly has. While the Queen of Daytime is known for her numerous efforts at sane eating, she has aligned with Suzy Amis Cameron to invite people to eat vegan for one meal a day. “It’s graspable, doable,” Winfrey says in an interview with Cameron on her Super Soul Sunday program.

In the program, which first aired in late 2019, Winfrey sits down with Cameron — author, activist, and businesswoman — to learn about Cameron’s well-received movement and book, One Meal a Day. (The book is forwarded by Dr. Dean Ornish, who we spoke to about the science behind indulgence in our December issue.) Changing one meal a day to a vegan meal saves 200,000 gallons of water and reduces your carbon footprint by the equivalent pollution of driving from New York to California, Cameron tells Winfrey. More importantly, the One Meal a Day movement tells us that switching to plant-based does not have to be a punishment. It is no more than dipping a toe into a plant-based life. If you’ve ever eaten a bowl of oatmeal with oat milk or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or pasta with marinara sauce, well then, you are already well on your way to living more consciously with the planet. Now all you have to do is add one of those meals to each day of the week.

To inspire your or your family’s one meal a day adventures and support our friends in the restaurant industry while we are at it, we thought a quick look at a few of the prominent chefs and restaurants around the Bay and the nation were worth a shout-out. 

Veggie Grill, Corte Madera

The Town Center boasts one branch of the veggie-centric chain where plant-based chicken sandwiches and nachos or avocado toast and mac n cheese are comfort food done in a fast-food setting.

Amy’s Drive Thru, Corte Madera

Though they are new to the Marin food scene, Amy’s quickly became a favorite for its organic approach and end-to-end commitment to sustainability. It is a quick stop for dairy-free shakes, bean-based veggie burgers and burritos. 

Wildseed, San Francisco

Part of Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group (Super Duper BurgersUno Dos Tacos), this Cow Hollow restaurant is beloved for its impeccable sourcing and a menu that follows the NorCal ethos of changing with the seasons to serve what is local and fresh. That means all-vegan dishes like Green Forest pizza with broccoli and smoked mozzarella and a donburi bowl with sweet potato and marinated mushrooms.

Baia, San Francisco

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Hayes Valley finally got its first plant-based restaurant courtesy of Matthew Kenney, the entrepreneurial chef and restaurateur with a global domain of plant-based restaurants. (He is perhaps best known for his Double Zero restaurants, one of which is in Brooklyn.) Yes, there is pizza on the menu (comfort food reigns supreme right now) but this chef is known for deep flavors (try the farfalle with mint pesto) and artful design.

Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco

Chef Bryant Terry started a chef-in-residence program at MoAD in 2015, curating discussions, dinners and programs to not only celebrate the diaspora of African-American food but bring awareness to a broad range of issues such as food justice and advocating for political change through the kitchen. The vegan chef recently authored Vegetable Kingdom, a cookbook to encourage vegan cooking at home.

VeganMob, Oakland

Chef Toriano Gordon brought vegan BBQ and soul food to the Bay Area’s barbecue epicenter, Oakland’s Lakeshore neighborhood. Smoky brisket, ribs and fried chicken are re-imagined yet similarly toothsome to their meaty counterparts. Try the Barbecuito which stuffs the brisket, smackeroni, slaw, baked beans, and guacamole into a rolled up tortilla for the ultimate mashup experience.

This article originally appeared on marinmagazine.com.


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Christina MuellerChristina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.