Vegan Food on a trip to Stockholm and Copenhagen

It’s been a great year so far, in terms of trips, and it’s been an interesting challenge to find sustainable vegan food while exploring too!

After going home to Italy in February, I went back to Sweden with my Canadian pals. Last year we went to Gothenburg, this time we went to Stockholm and Copenhagen for a few days at the beginning of May.

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Vegan Food on Holiday in Normandy

Hello Everyone!

I’m back from another trip, this time to Normandy, and it was lovely!

I’m still trying to be more sustainable, ethical and  healthier by having vegan food and it was the first time I attempted to do this in France, land of butter… and steak.

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Vegan Food on Holiday in Florida

Hello everyone!  🙂

As usual it’s been too long since my last post and not writing for so long has been putting me in a bad mood.

However, after a complete computer fix in exchange for looking after my mate’s fluffy pet while she’s on holiday, I can now use my laptop again 😀

I last wrote just before our holiday to Florida and since then I have been diverted, disconcerted, inspired and intrigued by many things, so I thought I’d start by telling you a bit about the holiday.

It was the first time many of us set foot in the U.S.. As mentioned in my pre-holiday post, I got some lovely vegan treats for the flight as I wanted to eat vegan food on this holiday to the U.S.

The main reason is that thanks to several newsletter subscriptions and by generally reading environment and  food-related articles, I am aware of existing U.S. laws that allow cruel and non-sustainable practices for food production.

This includes the use of toxic substances, antibiotics, animal growth enhancers, keeping pigs in tiny gestation crates where they try to survive without even being able to take one step or move in any way and, unfortunately, a lot more.

You can find out more about this topic by reading:

7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here” (here being the U.S.)

Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals

Cruelty to Animals

It may be gruesome but it’s what goes on every day, and as consumers who drive demand we can stop this cruelty by not eating meat – or even better – any intensely farmed animal product.

 

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida's East Coast

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida’s East Coast

So I started off the holiday by having Pret a manger’s Superfood Salad at the airport, which has humous, roasted peppers, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa, omega seed sprinkles, salad leaves and a French dressing, it’s really tasty and healthy (and vegan too).

We had previously chosen vegan meals for me to have on the plane and honestly, they looked a lot better – and according to my boyfriend tasted better – than the ordinary meat options (which I’m afraid looked like congealed cat sick).

I had a vegetable and lentil curry and then a really nice grated carrot sweet dessert. As a snack they gave me a humous sandwich and a packet of dried fruit, my boyfriend’s mum also said my food looked nicer than theirs 🙂

For a proper U.S.-style start of the day, on our first morning we went to Golden Corral for breakfast, where you can enjoy a multitude of cold and hot dishes without limit for only $10. For the breakfast meal, they have everything from tacos to fresh omelettes and pancakes cooked as requested and also a chocolate fountain(!). You could actually have a chocolate-covered deep-fried chicken wing, if you so wished.

I asked the people behind the buffet counters if they knew which dishes were vegan but they simply replied with another answer, such as “What?” or “What does that mean?”.

However the manager was really helpful and pointed everything that didn’t contain meat or fish (their baked beans have meat in them), didn’t have eggs, cream, hadn’t been cooked in butter and so on. I ended up having fries (chips) with lots of salad, tomatoes, a taco shell and orange juice. 🙂

Being a family holiday, our first day out was at Disney World – Magic Kingdom, the original Disney theme park.

Prior to the trip I had looked up several websites to have an idea of what kind of food would be served at Disney and if there would be any vegan versions.

The best source I could find was “Eating Vegan at Disney World“, a post from Cadry’s Kitchen blog.

This post is great, full of detailed information on what’s vegan and where you can find these vegan meals. The comments on the post are also full of additional advice to eat meat-free and cruelty-free meals while at Disney.

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

Cinderella’s Magical Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

One of the highlights was definitely the vegan burger I had from Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom park. The lovely man at the till showed me the ingredient list when I asked if the vegetable burger was vegan and told me the fries/chips were cooked in vegetable oil, so I actually had a lovely meal! (several other times I simply had pop corn or Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels as the only vegan option available nearby).

You can have this lovely burger with corn on the cob, apple slices or French fries. And the great thing is that you can also help yourself to fresh lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and more at the buffet 😀

It was such an amazing meal, especially after running around all day going on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain…

Here is a very detailed review of Pecos Bill from the disneyfoodblog.

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

 

We had another lovely Disney meal at the Katsura Grill in Epcot, in Japan (or rather in the Japan world area in Epcot).

I had vegan sushi – it was quite funny as I once again asked the manager if there were any vegan options and he said: “Is seaweed vegan?” so there was a vegan option after all 😀

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot - I had vegan sushi and green tea

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot, Katsura Grill – I had vegan sushi and green tea

Here’s the disneyfoodblog review for this restaurant, together with lots of pictures.

 

On our first Saturday in Florida, we went out to the East coast to St. Augustine. This town is the oldest continuously occupied European-established port in the continental U.S.

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

We went there after first stopping at the beach for a quick swim – the beach in this post’s first photograph.

At lunch time we went to Harry’s, a New Orleans-style restaurant. Our entertaining waiter told me straight away that all of their sides (as none of the mains were remotely vegan) had meat or were cooked with butter, so I ordered fries/chips and he said I could order a plain salad too.

My boyfriend and his family had seafood, fish cakes, burgers etc. whereas my meal was rather plain in comparison, but I was happy to stick to having a vegan meal, and that salad was lovely and refreshing 😛

Vegan Lunch at Harry's - Fries and Salad

Vegan Lunch at Harry’s – Fries and Salad

 

Another night, we went out to another restaurant: Outback, a steakhouse.

Our waiter was absolutely amazing and did everything in his power to make sure I knew what I could have from the menu, he even asked the chef to make a vegan version of their fried onion dish and then I had “a bunch of vegetables with no butter”, as another waitress put it.

It was all delicious! I had never seen such a helpful waiter before – ok, tips are pretty important in U.S. restaurants so that may be why all waiters are great – but he really was exceptionally lovely.

On yet another night out, this time in Downtown Disney’s House of Blues, the waiter asked the chef if he could “veganise” the grilled vegetables flatbread and the House of Blues salad omitting the cheese, so I another lovely tasty vegan meal.

 

 

Going to Walmart was very exciting: I’ve heard a lot about this supermarket chain so it was nice to go to one!

I wish I  had more time to discover all the vegan options available, but I managed to get some Skippy chocolate & peanut butter and also found some vegan Amy’s Kitchen meals.

This brand started because Amy’s parents wanted to make both healthy and convenient food. I tried one of their best sellers, the black bean vegetable enchiladas, which were full of flavour and vegan, low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and free of dairy, lactose, soy, gluten, nut and corn.

Amy's Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

Amy’s Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

While at the supermarket we also stocked up on lots of fresh vegetables, which was great in such hot weather and while on holiday, when it can be pretty easy not to eat enough fruit and vegetables.

I also tried Cinnabon cereals with Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk for breakfast. 🙂

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Another interesting thing for me was to look at different products’ ingredient lists.

I do it regularly here in the U.K. anyway, to know if something is vegetarian, vegan or simply out of pure curiosity, and I was pretty amazed to see the sheer amount of “stuff” that is added to something as simple as bread. We bought one type of bread with a savoury topping that must have had about 25 ingredients, most of which I had never heard of before and couldn’t even pronounce.

That’s another thing I appreciate about living in the U.K., it seems like there is an effort to make food, even if processed, with less artificial flavouring and colours, additives, preservatives etc; whereas several products in the supermarket had “Made with Artificial flavours” written in bold, on the front of the packet as if it were a good thing. It’s a little confusing. Why almost advertise the fact that an already processed food contains potentially harmful chemicals?

Here are additional sources about food additived used in the United States:

Sustainable Table – Additives

Food Additives Banned Abroad but Eaten in the U.S.

 

This holiday showed me that with a little determination, you can eat following your principles and/or needs wherever you want. You can still have fun and enjoy exploring a different country and meet exciting people along the way without feeling like you’re missing out.

Upon my return to work, my colleagues said I had lost weight and looked very healthy. I felt healthy while I was there too, never bloated or too full. Next time I go I’ll try to visit some vegan restaurants too.

I only saw a fraction of Florida, let alone the United States, and I look forward to exploring new places next time.

 

What do you do to be more sustainable on holiday?

Would you change your eating habits in another country for its laws?

Meet Sam from Fair Marquit Value – Eco Tourism

Just hours before hopping on an enormous metal bird to the land where orange juice is the official national beverage (how cool is that? And by the way I hope I will be offsetting my trip’s carbon footprint by eating vegan, as a start!) I would like to post another article.

It is written by Sam Marquit, an independent green contractor and co-author of Fair Marquit Value from New York who focuses on sustainable building by using ecological materials and new eco-friendly technology.

If I had the chance to have a new home built as I wished or if I could purchase a property I know I would love it to be as sustainable and as energy-efficient as possible.

Go to Sam’s Fair Marquit Value page to learn more about him and what he does. I found the articles about the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification and creating energy while having a shower particularly interesting.

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Silver Linings: Greening Our Way to Prosperity

The economic downturn hit the construction and contracting industries pretty hard. As a contractor, I’ll be the first to say that it can be hard to find a lot of positives in the situation. I’ll also say that if there is a silver lining, it is in the recent upswing of eco-friendly projects that have started to see the light of day.

Across the globe, a number of public and private initiatives have begun to incentivize companies and organizations to make positive environmental choices. Designed to connect the advances being made in research with the market, Eco-Innovation-Europe is one of these programs. Through Eco-Innovation, “green” ideas ranging from production to products, services, and processes are given the opportunity to be commercially viable. The five-strand initiative includes various aspects of recycling, sustainable building products, water treatment and distribution, and a focus on the food and drink sector. In addition, the greening of pre-existing businesses is a major part of Eco-Innovation, and one that may help the EU meet its environmental objectives while boosting economic growth.

One of the largest hotel chains in the world, The Marriott is an example of a major established business taking the lead on the green-front. Taking advantage of a new corn-by-product made room key, The Marriott purchased 24 million “green” keys to replace the more common plastic cards. Biodegradable and recyclable, these new key cards are expected to prevent as much as 66 tons of plastic from being dumped into landfills every year.

For the most part, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Luckily for the rest of us, one of the most popular hotels on the Strip isn’t trying to keep its green practices a secret. Recently named the “Most Eco Friendly Hotel in America,” the Palazzo Hotel and Resort is pioneering multiple green initiatives ranging from the ability to reuse its own waste to solar paneled heating and a state-of-the-art water recycling system. With the amount of travel the city sees each year, it’s encouraging to see new green Las Vegas hotels going up each year.

The green initiatives and building projects that have accompanied the slow economic recovery have proven a definite boon. Yet the embrace and support of green initiatives by organizations are just as important. Perhaps eco-friendly building and sustainability practices are not just the secret to saving the planet, but the key to reinvigorating the economy as well.

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How eco is your holiday?

How eco is your holiday?

What do you think about eco-friendly hotels?

Do you focus on sustainability when travelling or going on holiday?

 

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I was also in contact with Rob from destiny USA regarding the benefits of the LEED certification for larger businesses.

Have a look at their link: is LEED Certification Effective: a Case study of Destiny USA in order to find out more about Destiny USA and the rating system which focuses on sustainable builds.

Sustainable locations, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovations in design…these features are all considered in order to obtain a high rating.

And look at the advantages:

Destiny USA

Destiny USA

I think rating systems like these are very helpful to ensure that new buildings are sustainable and consider the effects that their construction and energy requirements have on the environment.

This way water, energy and materials can be used unwastefully, reducing a negative effect on the building’s surroundings.

 

What do you think of using certifications such as LEED to set a high sustainability standard for constructions and businesses?

Do you think they should be promoted to raise people’s awareness on objective sustainability levels?

Blackfriars Railway Bridge: The World’s Largest Solar Panel Bridge

London Blackfriars Railway Bridge is the largest solar panel bridge in the world.

The only other solar bridge in the world is the Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane, Australia.

London Blackfriars Railway Bridge crosses the river Thames close to the Tate Modern Gallery on the South side (right on the picture) and it is situated West of the Millenium Bridge which leads to St. Paul’s further East (on the left, with the impressive dome).

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on new Blackfriars bridge. Photo from The Guardian

This is another green project for London that was ready just in time for the Olympics, it was closed for 3 years to increase its capacity (60% more passengers each day), include a step-free access, refurbish the platforms to welcome 12-carriages services… It’s the first mainline station to span the Thames and have exits on both sides of the river.

Every morning on my way to work the train stops at Blackfriars station. I witnessed the station’s changes during the past few months, changes  that showed how modern green technology can be combined with a 125-year-old Victorian bridge harmoniously.

The roof is now covered with more than 4,400 photovoltaic solar panels which will produce 900,000kWh each year, 50% of the station’s energy and reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes a year.

The bridge also has rain harvesting systems and sun pipes for natural lighting.

The platforms’ walls are currently full of interesting signs which display how eco-friendly London Blackfriars has become after its refurbishment, so I took a few pictures:

Network Rail rebuilt the station on top of Blackfriars Bridge

Use of barges took 2,000 lorry journey off London Roads

 

First of all, all the material needed was transported on water rather than on polluting lorries

 

 

4,400 solar cells = 50% of the station’s energy is completely clean and sustainable

 

The solar cells produce enough energy to power 300 homes

 

 

Even the timber from the scaffolding didn’t go to waste

 

Blackfriars Bridge: Good at Recycling

Additional links:

Architettura Eco Sostenibile

Thameslink Programme

Thameslink Programme Facts

Renewable Technology

What do you think of this project?

Can you think of examples of cities and towns that could benefit from similar green projects?

Inspiring Spring Trips – Sustainable Travel

Every morning, on my way to the train station, I look at the trees’ blossoms and people’s flowery gardens as if it were my first Spring, it all looks so lovely!

Winter’s gone and it’s gradually getting warmer, and I really feel me and N should go somewhere new.

I looked at some National Geographic pictures and it’s so hard to decide where to go: we need to think of a budget (we definitely can’t couldn’t go too far at the moment… Australia: see you another time!) , taking time off work, how to get there, accommodation…

This year’s a very busy year for the U.K.: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, and there has been a great emphasis on British tourism.

This Visit Britain ad sums this year’s emphasis on British tourism:

…but I bet they’re going abroad this year! 😛

But perhaps we should keep it local…

Coast Path, Wales, National Geographic Picture

I’ve never been to Wales, and this part of the 870-mile Coast Path looks so beautiful…

Lake District, Picture from Google

I would also love to go to the Lake District again, I only went to one of the lakes a few years ago, during a trip to Whitehaven, North West England, where my nan, granddad, mum and aunts used to live when my mum was little.

It looks stunning, that would be a real break from my computer-screen filled days.

Herringfleet Windmill, The Broads, England – National Geographic Picture

The Broads includes Great Britain’s largest protected wetlands, this landscape is man-made after centuries of excavation and the diggings slowly filled up with water. It doesn’t look like England, so that makes it really intriguing.

Or maybe we could (quite literally) push the boat out and go to Ireland…

Inishowen, Ireland – National Geographic Picture

If you are looking for a greener holiday you can also check B&Bs, hotels, farms and campsites on Organic Holidays.

Are you planning any Spring trips or holidays this year?