The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

June 7, 2010

Plastic-Free plus Meat-Free = Easy

People keep asking me if going meat-free is going to make it harder to be plastic-free since so many meat-free foods come packaged in plastic.  Foods like veggie burgers, Tofurkey, seitan, tempeh, etc.  But why should it? I gave up processed foods when I gave up plastic. I see no reason for anything to change now.

Plastic-Free groceries

My solutions…

Fresh produce from the farmers market:

Fresh fruit stand

Fresh bread…

Fresh bread

Bulk bins:  Beans, lentils, split peas, all kinds of grains & nuts.

Bulk beans & Legumes

Fresh tofu from Whole Foods in my own container.

Hodo Soy Beanery bulk tofu

And when I want to grab something and go, I’ll just keep bringing my reusable containers. The new sushi vendor at Whole Foods didn’t want to put my veggie sushi in my LunchBots container, but I can be very persuasive when I’m hungry.

Sushi in LunchBots container

There’s no conflict between going plastic-free and meat-free. At least not where I live.

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10 years ago

The industrialization of bread-baking was a formative step in the creation of the modern world. Otto Frederick Rohwedder is considered to be the father of sliced bread. In 1912 Rohwedder started work on inventing a machine that sliced bread, but bakeries were reluctant to use it since they were concerned the sliced bread would go stale. It was not until 1928, when Rohwedder invented a machine that both sliced and wrapped the bread, that sliced bread caught on. A bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri was the first to use this machine to produce sliced bread.

Gregg Pollo
12 years ago

Thank you, very useful. I wasnt actually a big fan of Spinach for many years (ok, that’s a total understatement, I hated the stuff), but after shacking up with a vegan I kind of had to put up with it, and have slowly come to absolutely love the stuff. Spinach curry is undoubtedly my absolute favourite! I even found adedicated spinach recipes website which is my new favourite site now, you should have a look!

13 years ago

I totally agree that vegan=simpler! And I’ve only been at it for about three weeks (I was previously a junk-food vegetarian for eight years). I love that no matter how far you think you’ve gone there is always something to learn. I was thinking: I could never give up garden burgers but would love to in order to cut down on packaging and processed food. Well, duh! I can make them from scratch and freeze them! I also buy lots of canned beans and pre-packed bags of rice, quinoa, oats, etc. Second duh! Bring glass containers to the Whole Foods bulk aisle. And why on Earth was I bagging produce in individual plastic bags?? I’ve been bringing my own shopping bags for years but didn’t think about produce bags. And once I did it just seemed like the stupidest thing ever! I just found your site today and I am in LOVE. It’s 2 am and I have to be up in four hours but I cannot stop reading. I commend you for what you’re doing.

13 years ago

Jealous about the bulk tofu! But my husband did learn how to make homemade seitan and that stuff is yummy (especially when you batter and deep fry it, lol).

We’re not a plastic-free household, but we do try to limit our use of plastic and unnecessary packaging and waste in general. We still get a few plastic-contained treats (Sweet & Sara marshmallows, mmmmm) and we at least recycle the cartons, but overall we’ve noticed another dramatic drop in garbage since we went vegan. Plus, ALL our food waste is compostable. That makes our life a lot easier!

I think a lot of people would be surprised how much easier some things have been for us since going vegan. Our grocery bill is less, we eat a lot healthier automatically, I actually find cooking and the prep to be easier, and discarding of food waste and packaging is easier. Of course, eating out or with others can get a bit inconvenient at times, as can be finding non-food vegan products, but that’s something that gets much easier after the first few months. And, since we started eating more whole foods before going vegan (for many reasons), we’ve probably had a much easier time going vegan than some processed food addicts. It seems like it’s all connected.

13 years ago

You’re lucky to have good bulk tofu. I used to buy tofu in bulk at our local co-op but the last few times it was rancid, so I went back to the plastic container stuff. I just learned to make my own tofu so I’m doing that now and have dramatically cut down my plastic intake as a result. Next up is tempeh, it’s not really processed food, it’s fermented soybeans. I just got a culture in the mail and can’t wait to try it out.

Also, I’m jealous that your Whole Foods will package the food in your own containers! Mine says that they can’t because of health code reasons, so I don’t buy any of their pre-prepared food. :(

I haven’t had any real problems removing most of the plastic from my food purchases. Sometimes this means I have to wait every few months to stock up on bulks that I can only get when I go visit my parents because, amazingly enough, upstate NY has a way better co-op than Boston.

Pasta is really the most difficult to go plastic free. First off it’s more expensive to buy in bulk than in the individual containers, which is the only thing I’ve found this to be true for. I actually found some rigatoni at $1.40/lb at the co-op in NY, so I decided to buy 20 pounds hoping I’d eliminate the plastic. (This is how it comes in the bulk orders that the co-op uses to fill the bins.) It came in a big cardboard box, but inside was 4 5-lb plastic bags. Still, it’s better than 1-lb bags. I know I could make my own pasta but it’s one of the things I really don’t have the patience for, and I don’t have a pasta-maker that does shapes.

13 years ago

Hi Beth! How did you handle paying for the sushi- was it by weight? And if so, did you get a tare weight for your lunch bot?

I’m working up my courage to try something similar…

Beth Terry
13 years ago
Reply to  Juli

Juli, as I recall, they did weigh the container first. Berkeley Whole Foods does that. I wouldn’t have had a problem getting any other prepared food in that container except that the sushi vendor is actually separate from Whole Foods and had to decide whether or not they could do it. They were new and probably hadn’t gotten that question yet.

13 years ago

I find that having a veggie family enables us to use *less* plastic, but I do really wonder sometimes how you do it, and I really admire you.

Some of my favourite foods come in plastic, and I guess I’m just not ready to give them up – pickles from India, certain herbs and spices which I can’t buy bulk from our health food shop, and so on. And I’ll admit I even like a drink of Coke every now and then, and am not willing to pay quadruple the price for those little individual glass bottles.

I don’t know. Maybe my levels of what is acceptable and yours are just different. But if it helps to get me out of Hell, I’m pleased to say I’m gradually phasing out all our Tupperware, and moving to glass storage jars for our bulk foods.

And you know what? The stuff tastes better when stored in glass, so I’m wondering if even “safe” plastic is actually safe after all, if we can *taste* the difference?

13 years ago

Lovely post – but I think you have a typo in the first line.

Beth Terry
13 years ago
Reply to  Jesse

LOL. Don’t you know that going meat-free makes it harder to go veggie-free? Because then, really, what is there to eat? Okay, I’m off to fix it now. That’s what happens when I haven’t had enough sleep.

13 years ago

Horray that you can get tofu in bulk! That’s great! Unfortunately, we do not have that here. I hope you’ll share any amazing recipes you come up with! I’m still searching for a good homemade veggie burger recipe!

Beth Terry
13 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer

Amanda’s in Berkeley makes the most awesome veggie burger. It’s made with walnuts and mushrooms. I think I’m going to try a modified version of this one: using walnuts instead of pecans.