pandas

8 Eco Wins We’re Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for appreciating the things that we’re grateful for, but when it comes to climate change, it can sometimes feel like there isn’t much to stay positive about. However, don’t despair – with so much happening around the world in the fight against climate change, we’ve found (at least) eight eco wins to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:


Ikea Will Eliminate Plastic Packaging By 2028

Ikea may be convenient in a pinch, but many of their smaller products are packaged in those plastic blister packs that are both difficult to open and are likely to end in the trash. Thankfully, Ikea is working to become more sustainable: by 2025, all new Ikea products will come in plastic-free packaging, with the exception of some food products that need to use it for food safety and to prevent food waste. By 2028, all existing products will also be packaged without plastic.

Where Ikea is currently using plastic in some food packaging, it plans to shift to recycled or plant-based materials rather than virgin plastic made from fossil fuels. 


Pandas Are No Longer Endangered

Source: Pexels

Giant pandas may be some of the cutest animals on the planet, but they’ve suffered for their beauty – poached for their fur and smuggled out of the country as cubs to other countries. In the 1980s, it was feared that they would go extinct as their numbers dipped to a thousand. However, after extensive conservation efforts, Chinese officials announced in September that pandas are no longer endangered! 

Since 2016, the number of pandas in captive-breeding programmes around the world has nearly doubled to 633, which is more than twice as many pandas needed to preserve genetic diversity, which is incredibly important for the survival of the species.  


Coral in the Great Barrier Reef are Reproducing

great barrier reef
Source: @victorhuertas_photo on Instagram

It seems like whenever we hear about the Great Barrier Reef, it’s bad news. However, it’s not dead yet – scientists have recorded videos of corals spawning off the coast of Cairns in Queensland!

Coral spawning is one of the ways in which corals reproduce; once a year, they send tiny balls containing sperm and eggs up into the water. These balls break apart, causing the sperm and eggs to bump into each other and new coral babies are born. 

Since 1998, the Great Barrier Reef has suffered five mass bleaching events, which have left only 2% of it unaffected. However, this spawning gives hope for the future of the ecosystem. 


The US and China Have Agreed to Work Together on Climate Change

In a surprise announcement at the recent COP26 summit, the US and China said that they would work together on an “agreement to ramp up their climate ambitions.” The two biggest greenhouse gas emitters agreed on a range of issues, including methane emissions, the transition to clean energy and de-carbonisation. While right now, the details are still vague, this is a promising development and could mean significant progress for the world in the fight against climate change. 


World Leaders Have Agreed to End Deforestation

deforestation
Source: Pexels

Also at the COP26 summit, more than 100 world leaders pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 in a massive deal that involves almost US$20 billion in funding! 

China, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, the US, Russia and the UK are some of the countries that have signed on to the Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forest and Land Use. Altogether, the agreement covers around 85% of the world’s forests. 

This is a massive commitment, since it involves some of the countries most responsible for deforestation, like Russia and Brazil. Hopefully, it leads to real change.


The EU Has Proposed a Ban on Products Tied to Deforestation

The European Union is already working on ending deforestation, with a draft law that would require companies to prove that agricultural commodities sent to the region are not linked to deforestation. 

These products include beef, wood, palm oil, soy, coffee and cocoa, and the law will cover these products gleaned from illegal deforestation and legal deforestation. 


Jeff Bezos Has Pledged US$2 Billion to Fight Climate Change

During a speech at COP26, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos pledged to put US$2 billion towards “restoring nature and transforming food systems.” Half of this money will go towards landscape restoration in Africa and the US, while the other half will be spent on reducing the carbon footprint of food production and cutting food waste. Bezos says that the US$2 billion will be given out by 2030. 

Amazon has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2040. 


A France-Sized Area of Forest Has Regrown Worldwide Over the Past 20 Years

forests
Source: Pexels

According to a study that was done earlier this year, an area of forest the size of France has regrown around the world in the past 20 years, a sign that regeneration efforts in some places are paying off. 

Since 2000, nearly 59 million hectares of forests have regrown, with the potential to soak up and store 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – this is more than the annual emissions of the US!


In our fight against climate change, we should celebrate all wins to avoid feeling hopeless about our lack of progress. No win is too small!

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8 Seriously Good Vegan Recipes For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather your loved ones and spread joy. However, the holiday produces a lot of waste, and while we’re not suggesting that you do away with your annual Thanksgiving dinner, there are some small changes that you can implement to make the affair a bit kinder to the planet, like cutting back on meat.

To give you some plant-based inspo for your Thanksgiving feast, here are eight vegan recipes, including sides, mains and desserts.


Vegan Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce
Source: @zardyplants on Instagram

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, water, orange zest and salt. Bring to a summer, stirring often.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!

Adapted from Loveandlemons.com


Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

casserole
Source: @makeitdairyfree on Instagram

Ingredients

  • 5 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 1 ¼ cup almond milk, more if necessary
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh sage leaves

Crumble topping

  • ⅔ cup whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup pecans, more for garnish
  • ½ cup walnuts, more for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with olive oil
  2. Use a fork to poke a few holes into the sweet potatoes. Place on the baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 60 minutes.
  3. Make the crumble topping: In a food processor, place the oats, pecans, walnuts, garlic, maple syrup, olive oil, thyme, rosemary and salt and pulse until just combined. Remove and set aside.
  4. Scoop the cooked sweet potato flesh out of the skins and place in a food processor. Add the olive oil, almond milk, ginger, salt and pepper and process to combine. Spread the mixture into the baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with the crumble topping, additional nuts, and sage. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is browned and crisp.

Adapted from Loveandlemons.com


Vegan Shephard’s Pie

vegan pie
Source: @yokos.kitchen on Instagram

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
  • 500g shiitake mushrooms, torn into large pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 parsnips, diced in small pieces
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon while miso paste
  • ½ bottle red wine
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the mashed potatoes:

  • 1.5kgs of potatoes, peeled and halved
  • Salt
  • ¼ cups olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 6 tablespoon vegan butter
  • ¼ cups roughly chopped parsley
  • Black pepper

Instructions

To make the filling:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sear until deeply brown, and then remove from the skillet. Lower heat and add remaining oil. Add onion, celery, parsnips,and butternut squash. Cook until it starts to become well browned, about 12 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes. Stir in the miso paste and immediately deglaze with the wine, and cook for one more minute. Add the mushrooms back in and stir in the lentils. Sprinkle everything with flour and stir.
  3. Cook everything for one more minute and then add the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are al dente, about 15 minutes.

For the mashed potatoes and serving:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until totally soft, around 15 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Mash the potatoes until smooth. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and thyme. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, for about one minute. Discard the thyme and pour the oil over the potatoes. Add butter and stir until completely combined and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Spread evenly over the vegetable filling and bake until there is very little liquid visible and mashed potatoes are golden, for about 35 minutes. Garnish with parsley and thyme before serving.  

Adapted from Delish.com


Roasted Cauliflower Salad

cauliflower salad
Source: @bw_naturopath on Instagram

Ingredients

  • Florets from 1 small head of cauliflower
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • ½ cup cooked lentils
  • Lemon wedges, for squeezing and serving
  • ½ cup tahini sauce
  • ¼ cup picked onions
  • ¼ cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
  • 4 dried apricots or dates, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped olives
  • Microgreens (optional)
  • Salt 
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the cauliflower florets with drizzles of olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned around the edges.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula and roasted cauliflower with a drizzle with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. Spread onto a platter and drizzle ⅓ of the tahini sauce on top. Sprinkle on the lentils, the pickled onions, nuts, apricots and olives. Drizzle with the remaining tahini dressing (or as much as you like) and top with microgreens, if using. Season to taste and serve.

Adapted from Loveandlemons.com


Vegan Mac n Cheese

vegan mac n cheese
Source: @cozypeachkitchen on Instagram

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 5 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ black pepper
  • 550g macaroni
  • Breadcrumbs for topping

Instructions

  1. Put the vegan in a pot and let it melt. Then add the flour and stir. 
  2. Pour in the coconut milk and the vegetable stock. Whisk out the lumps. Keep whisking until it starts to boil and then thicken. 
  3. Remove it from the heat and add in the dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and whisk in. 
  4. Separately, prepare your macaroni and then add to sauce.
  5. Transfer the macaroni and sauce to a baking dish.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  7. Sprinkle bread crumbs on the mac and cheese.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the topping is golden brown and crispy. 

Adapted from Lovingitvegan.com


Vegan Pumpkin Pie

vegan pumpkin pie
Source: @foodwithfeeling on Instagram

Ingredients

  • 1 can pumpkin puree (around 425g)
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 recipe vegan pie crust (this can be store-bought or you can follow this recipe)
  • Vegan whipped cream (optional, for serving)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare the pie crust if needed and place on a 23cm pie plate.
  2. In a blender, add the canned pumpkin, coconut cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt and cornstarch and blend until smooth. You can also whisk it in a bowl until smooth. 
  3. Pour the mixture into the pie plate lined with the pie crust. Spread the mixture evenly. Place the second pie crust on the pie.
  4. Bake in the oven for one hour. Let the pie cool at room temperature for 30 minutes then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least four hours or overnight. 
  5. Serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Adapted from Noracooks.com


Vegan Apple Pie

vegan apple pie
Source: @theloopywhisk on Instagram

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe vegan pie crust
  • 6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sorghum flour
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dairy-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon organic cane sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven at 220°C.
  2. Prepare the pie crusts and lay down on a 23cm pie plate. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples and lemon juice.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, sorghum flour, arrowroot starch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and toss the mixture until all the apples are coated.
  5. Place the apple mixture in the pie shell, including any of the juices that may have accumulated. 
  6. Place the second pie crust on top. 
  7. Use a knife to cut a series of slits in the top of the pie crust for the steam to escape.
  8. Brush the crust with almond milk and sprinkle with the cane sugar. 
  9. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 175°C and continue baking for another 45-50 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the apples are soft (insert a knife in one of the slits to test).
  10. Cool for at least 2 hours before serving. 

Adapted from Allergyfreealaska.com


Vegan Spiced Pumpkin Latte

pumpkin spiced latte
Source: @chris.says.nature on Instagram

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons sweetener
  • ½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup hot coffee or 1 double shot espresso
  • Ground nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together milk, pumpkin puree, sweetener, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is warmed.
  2. Pour hot coffee or espresso into a mug, then top with pumpkin-spiced mixture. Top with freshly grated nutmeg if desired.

Adapted from Minimalistbaker.com


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See also: 8 Simple Tips For A More Sustainable Thanksgiving

sustainable thanksgiving tips

8 Simple Tips For A More Sustainable Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things and people that mean the most to us. But while it brings plenty of cheer and joy, the same can’t be said for the planet – all that extra food, decor and packaging has a devastating impact on the environment. If you want to have a more eco-friendly, sustainable Thanksgiving this year, here are some simple but effective tips to keep in mind:


1. Check Your Fridge

Before you head to the shops, take stock of what’s in your fridge and freezer – you may already have some of the ingredients needed for your Thanksgiving feast. Then, be sure to arm yourself with a grocery list so you only buy what you need. You’ll also be less likely to make extra trips back and forth, thereby reducing your carbon footprint in the process.

Source: Pexels

2. Shop Local (As Much As Possible)

Get your veggies from the local wet market – fresh produce is lighter in terms of carbon footprint since it hasn’t travelled a great distance. As for the turkey, Hong Kong doesn’t have turkey farms, so this will unfortunately have to be imported. However, you can still find organic and ethically-sourced turkeys for a more conscious choice this Thanksgiving.

Tenderloin and Aussie Meat sell organic turkeys imported from France and the US respectively that are fed a diet of corn, soybean meal, and other minerals and vitamins with no hormones or antibiotics used, making for a healthier Thanksgiving feast.

3. Buy Only What You Need

Source: Pexels

If a recipe calls for four onions, buy four onions. Too often, we use the holidays as an excuse to buy too many things, but this will just cause more food waste.

Also, if your guests will be bringing food along for Thanksgiving, be sure to keep tabs on what everyone is bringing so that you can avoid making too much food, or making two of the same dish.

4. Avoid Excessive Packaging

Most produce available at supermarkets is wrapped individually, creating unnecessary plastic waste. Instead, get your fruits, veggies and other pantry staples from the wet market or at bulk food and zero waste shops. If you’ve got the skills, you could even make your own dinner rolls and pies instead of buying ready-made items in order to avoid excessive packaging.

See also: 8 Zero Waste Stores in Hong Kong

5. Go Plant-Based 

Source: Pexels

It’s true – going plant-based is one of the easiest and most effective ways to fight climate change. Although it may be difficult to convince your guests to go meat-free, what you can do is make plenty of plant-based dishes for the Thanksgiving spread. Some ideas include a vegan pumpkin pie, a roasted vegetable dish or simply use plant-based meat alternatives like Impossible, Beyond or OmniFoods – your guests might not even know the difference.

6. Take It To Go

Thanksgiving is all about sharing, after all. Having your guests bring their own Tupperware or reusable containers to take leftovers home. Some of our fave Hong Kong reusable container brands include LexNGo and Take Lifestyle. Stylish and sustainable, they’ll definitely help you and your guests avoid food waste whilst clearing up space in your fridge.

7. Make Use Of Leftovers

Source: Unsplash

Make a list of recipes that you can make with Thanksgiving leftovers to avoid food waste. For example, if you have leftover turkey, you can shred it and use it in sandwiches, or boil the bones to make a rich soup base. Get some leftover Thanksgiving recipe inspo from Martha Stewart, and don’t give yourself the chance to let leftover food go to waste. 

8. Donate Extra Food To Charity

If you really have too much leftover from Thanksgiving, you can always donate them to an organisation that redistributes food to the needy (like Feeding Hong Kong and Foodwise). This way, you’ll be doing good for your fellow humans and the environment.


There’s no reason that your sustainable habits should suffer because of holidays like Thanksgiving. Give thanks to Mother Nature for all its beauty by reducing your carbon footprint; your eco-friendliness could even rub off on your friends!

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