Thursday, October 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Vegetable-Garlic Marinara, Herbed Chickpeas, and Raw Kale and Carrot; World Vegetarian Congress California Recap

Today, I enjoyed our weekly stay-at-home Dads' gathering at our local airport, where there is an observation park. On Thursdays like today when I'm not teaching and in a rush to get back, we often stop at nearby Earth Fare grocery store. They have a nice Thursday deal whereby if an adult purchases from their prepared foods, a child can get a free meal (my daughter gets a spinach tortilla with hummus and vegetables, served with raw vegetables, fruit, and water, and enjoys the whole experience).

I ate lightly as I knew my wife would be hungry and I'd be cooking for and eating with her. I picked up from Earth Fare a tasty chickpea dish that had dill in it, mindful of being able to put a quality dinner together quickly. Once home, I made a simple whole wheat pasta and added fresh garlic, broccoli, and a little jalapeno pepper to a roasted garlic marinara sauce. After simmering the sauce, I added it to the pasta, and served along with the chickpeas, raw kale, and carrot. It was good - even my full toddler enjoyed eating some of our pasta and kale.

This was my first dinner since we returned late Tuesday night (really early Wednesday morning) from California (yesterday, I ate a bit with my toddler at Whole Foods Market and ate a little bit more later in the evening; my wife ate on her own). San Francisco is my favorite US city and I enjoyed several meals at my favorite restaurant, Millenium. I enjoyed Los Angeles (in spite of its traffic) more than in the past - it has an unbelievable at least 70 vegan and over 100 vegetarian restaurants! We ended our trip enjoying visiting lovely San Diego and a friend whom we hadn't seen in more than five years.

The World Vegetarian Congress was a success with great local organizing in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and excellent speakers like Neal Barnard, Brenda Davis, Vesanto Melina, Michael Klaper, Michael Greger, Colleen Patrick-Godreau, John Robbins, and many more. I had never seen or met John McDougall before; he spoke at both conferences, strongly advocating starch. Dietitian Jeff Novick gave the opening address in Los Angeles on nuts, showing his view that they are overrated and in fact are moderate or poor in terms of a healthy nutritional profile (he did say that if one is already on a healthy plant-based diet, one could admit an ounce or perhaps two of nuts a day with no significant issue).

The San Francisco folks already have videos from their conference available. You can see my introduction (at about the seven minute mark), with toddler in my arms (she got a round of applause for being a vegan since conception). I led a panel discussion on best international practices in promoting vegetarianism (including a vitamin B-12 toothpaste from Germay, government support in Indonesia and Brazil at the ministerial level, and much more).

Michael Greger gave perhaps my favorite talk on nutrition; if you're not already familiar with his excellent video series (he posts detailed nutritional videos every single day!!), do check out NutritionFacts.orgMiyoko Schinner is releasing a book about making vegan cheeses, and demonstrated an amazing fondue and other "cheese" dishes.

The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) has a long history, having been founded in 1908. I'm honored to have been on its Council since 2006 and, since 2008, have been its North American Regional Coordinator. Starting with this conference, IVU is now hosting its "Congress" (now just called "Vegfest") every year, not every other year. I've enjoyed the Congress in Canada, Scotland, Germany, and Brazil. Next year, we go to Malaysia; in 2014, we will be in Africa, then in Latin America, India or Southwest Asia in 2016, and in Europe (probably Eastern, perhaps Poland) in 2017. Join us!


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