A Vegan Korean Fried Chicken Taco Tells the L.A. Story In One Bite

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a vegan korean fried chicken taco tells the l a story in one bite - A Vegan Korean Fried Chicken Taco Tells the L.A. Story In One Bite
a vegan korean fried chicken taco tells the l a story in one bite - A Vegan Korean Fried Chicken Taco Tells the L.A. Story In One Bite

The intersection of Korean-American and Mexican-American street food occurred in the fall of 2008, next to the curb outside of an L.A. club, where chef Roy Choi’s Kogi Taqueria truck first began to sell its original fusion, the Korean taco. The concept of spooning Korean barbecue onto corn tortillas, dressed with the fiery flavors of taco truck salsa bars was dreamed up by Kogi partner Mark Maguera, executed by chef Choi, and broadcast via Twitter to Los Angeles, and then the world, as a modern food truck revolution swept over the planet. A year before, in Koreatown, the heart of L.A.’s substantial Korean community where the flavors of Kogi Taqueria had been marinating, Kyochon, the first Korean Fried Chicken chain, arrived from Seoul. Although fried chicken on a taco wasn’t new, the KFC taco was inevitable. And so, too, was the eventual vegan Korean fried chicken taco, a modern twist on a now-famous Southern California classic.

In the 60s, a late-night mom-and-pop restaurant in Tijuana’s red light district, Kentucky Fried Buches, opened with just one item on the menu: fried chicken necks. For over 50 years, KFB delighted hungry diners looking for a tasty after-hours snack of crispy skin with a little chicken meat attached on a corn tortilla, dressed with a spicy red salsa, which inspired a couple of L.A.-based food trucks, namely, the Santa Rita, Jalisco truck.

In recent years, a young Latino chef, Jonathan Pérez of Macheen gained a following for his spicy fried chicken tacos, topped with a piquant buttermilk fried chicken dusted with a proprietary blend of ground chile peppers, and slathered in a guajillo chile ranch dressing. While not influenced by these rare fried chicken tacos in Mexican culture, Koreatown’s Michindak, or Crazy Chicken, has added another chapter in L.A.’s evolving Mexican Korean street food mashup. “Charlie, my ex-marketing manager, came up with the idea in 2019, and he had so much love, fascination, and passion for L.A. street truck food, tacos and burritos,” said Joseph Park of Michindak. Park attributes the rise in the popularity of Korean Fried Chicken in all its forms to the year 2019, when K-Pop, Korean dramas, and young Korean YouTubers spread Korean culture to a wider audience.  

Food trucks in L.A. helped create fusion cuisine

It’s no coincidence that the food truck scene begun by Kogi in 2008 was heavily influenced by Mexican-American street food, with many trucks adding tacos as a menu item—Argentine tacos, Thai tacos, and several trucks that followed Kogi, doing Korean tacos. The intermingled flavors of Latin America and Asia in our restaurants inspired by ramen franchises from Tokyo, CDMX-style al pastor specialists, and dim sum houses, are the culinary DNA of such hybrids, like the KFC taco, that is a tale of Los Angeles cuisine, on a corn tortilla.

Located in an outdoor kiosk on the corner of West 6th and South Catalina, inside one of Koreatown’s numerous strip malls jam-packed with specialty and regional Korean eateries, is Michindak. Their Korean fried chicken kiosk serves KFC with 5 levels of spice, from original to the ultra spicy Michin in a piece combo, in fried chicken sandwiches, capitalizing on L.A.’s obsession over hot chicken sandwiches, and their big chicken tacos. Chicken strips in a spicy batter are double-fried, Korean-style (also a technique used in Baja-style fish tacos), coated with honey orange sauce, and dusted with Hidden Valley Ranch powder. They are wrapped in corn tortillas with slaw, pickles, and a habanero sauce. Your very spicy taco is cooled by dipping it in Ranch dressing, yet another L.A. trend, that of dipping tacos is part of the dish. 

From the age of alfalfa sprouts, vegan Indian food, the Self-Realization Cafe, and H.E.L.P. in the 60s, to plant-based meats, to the popularity of the vegan traditions in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines in the 90s, L.A. has led the way in vegan culture. While avocado toast was, for a moment, its symbol, the region’s vegan roots run much deeper. The first plant-based restaurant, aptly named, The Vegetarian Restaurant, opened on 3rd Street in the 1890s. Today, plant-based meat dishes and vegan substitutes are everywhere from cafes to five-star restaurants, even on Mexican taco trucks, and in the foodie web of Koreatown. 

“In Korea, KFC is more serious, I mean, there are Michelin-starred chefs that have gone into perfecting the dish, which is everywhere in Korea, but here, things like chicken sandwiches, and tacos are very California,” said Matt Kang, Korean-American editor of Eater LA. And in California that includes vegan versions of our favorite dishes such as Jesse Boy’s Korean fried cauliflower, or the V-KBBQ tacos at Tacos Tu Madre in Westwood, or vegan menu items on taquerias sprawling from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.

Whatever your fusion favorite, the only way to wrap a taco in classic Angeleno style is with fresh-made corn tortillas. L.A. is known for the best corn tortillas in the country with several producers selling ones made with nixtamal, using organic corn. It’s the perfect wrapper for a spicy plant-based KFC taco tossed in a flavorful gochujang sauce— a uniquely and healthy L.A. mix of Korean and Mexican street food made vegan.

How to make a vegan KFC taco

Try your own vegan Korean fried chicken taco at home with this recipe created by celebrity chef Nyesha Arrington using LikeMeat Chicken.

Korean Fried Chick’n Tacos

30 mins to prep

20 mins to cook

Yields 46

Ingredients

  • 1 package LikeMeat Like Chick’n Pieces, thawed in refrigerator

GOCHUJANG GLAZE

  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayo
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon korean chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

KOREAN-STYLE PINK PICKLED RADISH

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch pink radishes, cleaned, stemmed, and thinly sliced

AVOCADO CREMA

  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated with Microplane
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1/3 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1/3 cup picked cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

KOREAN FRIED CHICK’N

  • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup ice-cold sparkling water

TO SERVE

  • 10 6-inch yellow corn tortillas, warmed or toasted over a burner
  • 1 1/2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped (such as scallions and cilantro)
  • Toasted white and black sesame seeds (optional)

Preparation

    GOCHUJANG GLAZE

  • 1

    In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup water, gochujang, mayo, brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, chili flakes, salt, and black pepper. Whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.

KOREAN-STYLE PINK PICKLED RADISH

  • 1

    In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring 1/4 water, sugar, vinegar, and salt to a boil until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

  • 2

    In a jar or small bowl, add the radishes and cover with lukewarm pickling liquid. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving or refrigerate. The pickled radishes will keep in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for about one week.

AVOCADO CREMA

  • 1

    In a blender (or food processor), add the avocados, garlic, lime juice and zest, sour cream, and cilantro. Blend until smooth, adding more lime juice if needed. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

KOREAN FRIED CHICK’N

  • 1

    In a heavy-bottomed pot or cast-iron skillet, add oil to fill 1-2 inches. Heat the oil to 375˚F over medium heat.

  • 2

    Line a baking sheet with paper towels and preheat the oven to 300˚F (to keep fried Like Chick’n Pieces warm).

  • 3

    In a large bowl, whisk the cornstarch, brown rice flour, baking powder, and salt. Stream in sparkling water until smooth.

  • 4

    Working in batches, evenly coat each Like Chick’n Pieces in the batter. Allow excess batter to drip off slightly, then carefully lower battered Like Chick’n Pieces into the hot oil using a spoon.

  • 5

    Fry in batches until Like Chick’n Pieces are puffed and golden, about 3 minutes each.

  • 6

    Carefully scoop them out using a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Hold in the oven, if desired.

TO SERVE

  • 1

    Toss the fried Like Chick’n Pieces in the gochujang glaze to coat well.

  • 2

    Pile a handful of cabbage onto a tortilla and top with a few Like Chick’n Pieces. Drizzle with more gochujang glaze, if desired.

  • 3

    Garnish with avocado crema, pickled radishes, herbs, and sesame seeds, if desired.

Chef’s Notes

Start by preparing the gochujang glaze, followed by the pickled radish radishes and avocado crema before frying. Once you prepare the batter for the Chick’n Pieces, you want to be ready to serve, so having all your ingredients, or mise en place, ready is key. When ready to fry, preheat the oven to 300˚F to keep the fried Chick’n Pieces warm.

Special Equipment: blender or food processor, deep-fry thermometer

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Vegan Stuffed Peppers Are Little Bowls of Cheesy Goodness

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vegan stuffed peppers are little bowls of cheesy goodness - Vegan Stuffed Peppers Are Little Bowls of Cheesy Goodness

These vegan stuffed poblano peppers, or chile rellenos, feature dairy-free feta and provolone cheese, potatoes, and tomato sauce.

Hunger pangs got you down? You’re definitely going to want to dig into this recipe. On this episode of EATKINDLY With Me, Amanda Castillo whips up a family favorite: vegan stuffed poblano peppers.

“I am so excited about this recipe,” Amanda says. “It’s one of my personal favorites that my mom makes. It’s super yummy.”

Stuffed poblano peppers are also known as chile rellenos. The green peppers traditionally feature a cheese, meat, and vegetable stuffing. They’re battered with egg and flour and then fried to perfection. It’s believed the chile relleno originated in Puebla, Mexico. The dish’s colors—red, white, and green—resemble the Mexican flag. This makes the dish a popular choice for commemorating Mexico’s Independence day, which is celebrated on September 16.

Vegan stuffed peppers

Amanda’s vegan version uses JUST Egg, a plant-based egg, and two types of non-dairy cheese—Follow Your Heart’s feta cheese and provolone slices

Her vegan stuffed peppers feature potatoes. “A good rule of thumb is to use one potato per chile,” she explains. The filling also includes a red tomato sauce. “I’m not sure if tomato sauce always comes with chile rellenos. But it is what my family does and I absolutely love the flavor that it gives it,” she says. Since Amanda’s tomato sauce is homemade, this recipe calls for a blender. 

Once complete, Amanda tops the peppers with extra vegan feta cheese and cilantro. “Alright, let’s go in for a bite,” she says. “Wow, the provolone in this makes a huge difference. It tastes like ooey-gooey melted cheese. You guys have to try this.”

vegan stuffed peppers are little bowls of cheesy goodness - Vegan Stuffed Peppers Are Little Bowls of Cheesy Goodnessvegan stuffed peppers are little bowls of cheesy goodness - Vegan Stuffed Peppers Are Little Bowls of Cheesy Goodness
Make these vegan stuffed peppers for dinner. | Amanda Castillo for LIVEKINDLY

Stuffed Poblano Peppers (aka “Chile Rellenos”)

35 mins to prep

1 hour to cook

Ingredients

Stuffed Peppers:

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1/4 cup vegan feta cheese
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 slices vegan provolone cheese
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup JUST Egg
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil for frying

Red Sauce:

  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/8 large white onion or 1/4 of small white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mexican dried oregano
  • 1 cup of water
  • 6 cilantro stems
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

  1. 1

    In a saucepan, cover potatoes with water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until fully soft, 15-20 minutes. Drain and peel skins. Set aside to allow to cool.

  2. 2

    Roast the peppers over an open flame until the skin is blackened and blistered. Carefully turn with tongs to ensure that all sides are blackened. If you don’t have access to an open flame, the peppers can be broiled in the oven for about 2 minutes on each side.

  3. 3

    Place peppers in a large, sealable bag to keep in heat and allow to steam. After 10 minutes, remove peppers from the bag and peel the charred skin. Peel carefully to not tear the peppers open. Set aside.

  4. 4

    To prepare the filling, mash potatoes in a large bowl. Add diced tomato and feta cheese. Mix and add garlic salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.

  5. 5

    Time to make the sauce! In a saucepan, boil 3 tomatoes over medium-high heat and cook until the skins begin to peel, about 10 minutes. Place the tomatoes in a blender along with the onion, garlic cloves, oregano, and 1 cup of the water used to boil the tomatoes. Blend and salt to taste.

  6. 6

    Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the blended salsa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add 3 stems of cilantro, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with more salt if desired.

  7. 7

    Time to fill! Cut a small slit down the middle of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds. Place one slice of provolone into each pepper along with a scoop of potato filling. Do not overfill – the peppers should still be able to close. Toothpicks can be used to ensure they stay closed while frying.

  8. 8

    In one dish add the JUST Egg, and in another add the flour. One by one, generously coat the peppers in the egg, and then in the flour.

  9. 9

    Heat 1 cup of oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the peppers and fry for 2-3 minutes per side until the batter is golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain off any excess oil.

  10. 10

    In a separate pan, simmer the chile rellenos with the salsa for 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Special Instructions/Equipment:

An open flame is ideal to blacken the poblano peppers, however, an oven can be used as well if you don’t have access to one. A large, sealable bag will be needed to steam the peppers after charring.


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5 Vegan Latinx Recipes From Around the World

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5 vegan latinx recipes from around the world - 5 Vegan Latinx Recipes From Around the World

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson decreed the start of a new holiday, one that would celebrate people of Latinx and Hispanic descent, their achievements, and their cultures. The holiday was dubbed “Hispanic Heritage Week”—according to hispanicheritagemonth.gov. But, twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan decided a whole thirty days were in order, and thus elongated the observation of the holiday from September 15 to October 15. The significance of the start date, September 15th, is that many Latin American countries celebrate their independence day then, with Mexico and Chile closely behind, on September 16th and 18th. 

What is Latinx Heritage Month?

Though it’s been known as Hispanic Heritage Month for 33 years, using the term, “Hispanic,” to encapsulate the Latin American experience in the United States has come under criticism, and rightfully so. 

Merriam-Webster defines Hispanic as, “relating to the people, speech, or culture of Spain,” centralizing the colonizing influence on Latin American countries, and in doing so, alienating some Latinx peoples. Using ‘Hispanic’ to mark the holiday celebrates the Spanish influence on Latin America while concealing the murder and colonization of Latin Americans.

If we are celebrating Latin American heritage on the days these nations achieved independence from their colonizing countries, like Spain, it feels counterintuitive and problematic to continue calling it “Hispanic” Heritage Month.

Isabelia Herrera touches on this, with much more in-depth, in a 2019 New York Times exploration of the holiday titled, Does Hispanic Heritage Month Need a Rebrand? She reminds readers that the term “Hispanic” also alienates and excludes those of African and Indigenous descent. 

Latinx (or Latine, another gender-neutral term that resonates more with Spanish-speakers, using “e” in place of “a” or “o’”) is a gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ inclusive term that emerged in the early ’90s on online forums, according to Minhae Shim Roth’s, What does Latinx Mean, for those of Latin American descent. Though it’s still an imperfect umbrella term, Latinx Heritage Month is the start of a work-in-progress striving to be more inclusive and intentional when talking about the descendants of 33 countries, their cultures, their achievements, and their futures.

5 vegan latinx recipes from around the world - 5 Vegan Latinx Recipes From Around the World5 vegan latinx recipes from around the world - 5 Vegan Latinx Recipes From Around the World
Latinx Heritage Month is a celebration of all elements of Latin American culture and heritage, including food. | Shestock/Getty

How to be vegan during Latinx Heritage Month

Food culture is an important part of Latinx Heritage Month, and Latin American cuisine is brimming with flavor. The herbs, spices, and flavors particular to each kitchen do the heavy-lifting in each culture’s cuisine, bringing any vegetable, grain, or legume into colorful life. Veganizing foods that are traditional to these cultures becomes easy when you harness the flavoring agents responsible for their flavor profiles and translate them to plant-based ingredients. 

Take for example Haitian epis, the seasoning base Chef Gabrielle Reyes uses to give Haitian spaghetti the perfect touch. This blend of herbs, alliums, bouillon and more, is capable of injecting a wealth of bold savory flavor into any dish. Sofrito, similarly to epis, is the beloved base in Puerto Rican cooking that gives ingredients the classic flavor that is key to this island’s cuisine. 

Veganizing recipes that are traditional to the individual cook, are a way to keep traditions and cultures alive in the hearth of our homes, especially for the vegan Latin American diaspora in the United States. Celebrate this month by making these meals at home, or by supporting your local Latinx chefs, and delight at the wealth and variety of flavor that vegan Latinx culture is innovating every day. 

5 tasty Latinx recipes, made vegan

5 vegan latinx recipes from around the world 1 - 5 Vegan Latinx Recipes From Around the World5 vegan latinx recipes from around the world 1 - 5 Vegan Latinx Recipes From Around the World
Coco Verde Vegan’s Niños Envueltos recipe was inspired by childhood summers in the Dominican Republic. | Coco Verde

Vegan niños envueltos

Husband and wife chef team, Cecilia Flores and Ivannoe Rodriguez Sierra of Boston-based vegan Dominican blog and catering service, Coco Verde Vegan, say this recipe of vegan niños envueltos is really special to them. 

“It’s one of the first recipes we created while transitioning to a plant-based diet almost four years ago now,” shares Flores. “I have beautiful memories of my aunt making them in a huge caldero during the summers that I spent in the Dominican Republic as a kid. I love how hearty they are and how they taste like home.”  

Get the recipe here.

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This Haitian Spaghetti recipe features “buttery” plant-based sausage and peppers. | One Great Vegan

Haitian spaghetti

Singing and cooking viral TikTok sensation, Gabrielle Reyes, also known as One Great Vegan, went vegan to improve her health. She told Today her cooking reflects the Haitian and Puerto Rican meals she had growing up. As for this tasty Haitian spaghetti recipe, Reyes says it’s traditionally served for breakfast. 

“This Haitian Spaghetti is the ultimate gift to your taste buds. My goodness, this recipe is delightfully delish with the buttery plant-based sausage and peppers along with epis seasoning, plus noodles for a colorful Caribbean treat.”

Get the recipe here.

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This recipe for vegan canoas swaps out meat for plant-based protein. | The Sofrito Project

Vegan canoas

Reina Gascon-Lopez of The Sofrito Project, a blog that highlights Puerto Rican food culture, veganized this recipe, which usually calls for ground beef or chicken, for a friend while they lived together. 

“I love making dishes that I grew up on for friends because it’s my way of sharing my affection and culture with them,” Gascon-Lopez says about the vegan canoas recipe. “She introduced me to a variety of plant-based ingredients and taught me a lot about adapting recipes for a vegan lifestyle. We had a great time for our weekly family dinner nights with lots of dinners that the whole household could eat and enjoy together. This recipe was definitely in rotation after I made it for everyone.”

Get the recipe here.

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Vegan Cuban pop-up Señoreata provided this pastelitos recipe. | Señoreata

Pastelitos de carne y queso

Owner and operator of the delectable and sought-after Los Angeles-based vegan Cuban pop-up, Señoreata, Evanice Holz, shares with LIVEKINDLY, and her Instagram followers, a pastelito de carne y queso recipe that was a childhood favorite. 

“It’s the closest I can get to a plant-based modern take on the classic Cuban pastelitos I used to love eating as a kid,” she says of the pastry she’d often eat six of in one sitting.

Through Señoreata, Holz has been able to bring these savory delights to folks in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. “Now, I get to share this part of my culture in a cruelty-free and plant-based way for the modern world.” 

Get the recipe here.

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Mercedes Golip uses local corn to make these arepas. | I Am Bananista

Colorful arepas

Arepas are the first solid foods Venezuelan chef and food creative, Mercedes Golip, had as a baby. But she didn’t learn how to make them until five years ago in her New York kitchen. 

“I started a quest to learn the process of making Venezuelan arepas from scratch using local corn,” Golip shares. 

Today, she’s mastered the arepa and beyond—lending her creative eye to her beloved arepas by pressing flowers or herbs into them. Or in this case, making them into a colorful creation by using different colored varietals of heirloom masa harina, like this recipe.

“By learning to make arepas at home, I have connected with my roots on a different level through a practice that is becoming almost obsolete in Venezuela and that I feel is important to preserve as part of our heritage, especially as a Venezuelan-American in the context of a growing diaspora.” 

Get the recipe here.

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Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship

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vegan football team kale madrid gain sponsorship - Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship

Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship

Five-a-side vegan football team Kale Madrid show that a vegan diet is great for performance and recovery

By Tegan Parsons

 

A football team with a common theme – all the players are vegan, Kale Madrid C.F. are Bristol’s vegan five-a-side team, with a passion for the environment, their health and, of course, animal welfare.

 

Although the team started small during the first COVID-19 lockdown, there are now over 15 regular players. The team is made up of students, a psychiatrist, a barber, an electrician and many more varied people from all walks of life.

 

Back in 2020, Matt Mead brought the players together via the Facebook group ‘Bristol Vegans’ and was amazed by the response.

 

vegan football team kale madrid gain sponsorship - Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship

 

The team focus a lot on their nutrition and recovery time between matches. Taking inspiration from documentaries like The Game Changers on Netflix, they see their vegan diet as a huge advantage over other teams. The team follow in the footsteps of other vegan footballers, like Chris Smalling, who is well know for advocating a plant-based diet.

 

Kale Madrid players have noticed that their fitness and stamina have come on leaps and bounds since the start of the league, especially in comparison to the other teams.

 

Some players drink a litre of Beetroot juice before every match; others just try to stay off the vegan beer the night before. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working for them!

 

Despite playing twice a week, it took months for the team to meet up outside of the pitch, and see each other in something other than their green sportswear.

 

The team social brought together both players, and their partners, which eventually led to some of the team going to the Vegan Camp Out together in Nottingham. The boys sat under a gazebo in the rain, coming up with vegan chants and lots of banter. “Olive! Olive! Olive!, Soy! Soy! Soy!” could be heard for miles.

 

 

Who are Kale Madrid?

Leon is known for consistently showing up to the game offering around a huge bag of nuts, therefore being known as the guy with the huge nut bag.

 

vegan football team kale madrid gain sponsorship 1 - Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship

 

There’s also Byron, who is always injuring himself and was nicknamed by another team as ‘Aquaman’.

 

Team member, Tom, was nicknamed Harry Potter by the same team, which was probably a reference to his round glasses, but it could also be his magical footwork!

 

All the players have their quirks, and no two are the same. This is what makes the Kale team so special.

 

vegan football team kale madrid gain sponsorship 2 - Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship

 

Kale Madrid C.F. are now the proud champions of their Thursday night league, winning the final match by a staggering 24-2.

 

Other teams have started to recognise the players, and rumours have circulated. From the side lines, their comments have been overheard. “We can’t lose to the vegans again, boys!!’ and “They’re vegan? No wonder they look so healthy”.

 

It’s a unique kind of accidental activism, but it is definitely spreading a positive light on veganism as a whole.

 

 

Looking to the future

To further their influence, the vegan football team now have an Instagram account, @kale.madrid.c.f that posts live updates of the games, as well as announcing their Man Of The Match.

 

They also enjoy showing off their new logo, designed by player and graphic designer, Jamie.

 

vegan football team kale madrid gain sponsorship 3 - Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship

 

Kale player, Dan, even has a personalised air freshener in his car – if that’s not dedication, we don’t know what is!

 

The team have recently gained sponsorship on a small scale and are looking forward to working with more vegan companies in Bristol in the future.

 

By Tegan Parsons

 

 

 

The post Vegan football team Kale Madrid gain sponsorship appeared first on Vegan Life Magazine.

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How the Rising Price of Meat Hurts Everyone

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how the rising price of meat hurts everyone - How the Rising Price of Meat Hurts Everyone

Skyrocketing meat prices are hurting all consumers, even those who stick to plant-based products.

While issues of environmental abuse and corruption in the meat industry are public knowledge, labor abuse concerns came to light during COVID, sparking a reexamination of the industry. Now, there’s a new concern: illegal price-fixing in the meat-processing industry has led to skyrocketing prices for already-struggling shoppers over the past year and a half. These exorbitant meat prices have led some households to reduce meat consumption or replace it with plant-based alternatives altogether in order to keep grocery bills low. Put simply, the rising price of meat is making grocery shopping more expensive for everyone.

Since December 2020, beef prices alone have gone up by an astronomical 14 percent, says the Biden-Harris administration, which is pointing a finger at a few multinational conglomerates that have created a chokehold on the meat supply chain. 

Biden has vowed to crack down on “Big Meat” as well as support small farmers and ranchers in order to lower grocery prices for the average consumer and family. In a strongly-worded release from The White House last Wednesday, Biden put Big Meat on notice: “The Biden-Harris Administration is taking bold action to enforce the antitrust laws, boost competition in meat-processing, and push back on pandemic profiteering that is hurting consumers, farmers, and ranchers across the country.”

how the rising price of meat hurts everyone - How the Rising Price of Meat Hurts Everyonehow the rising price of meat hurts everyone - How the Rising Price of Meat Hurts Everyone
The rising price of meat is making food more expensive for everyone. | Mapodile/Getty

How rising meat prices hurt everyone

Rising meat prices are contributing to high inflation just as federal pandemic jobless benefits have expired, leading many panicked families to struggle to put food on the table, even with meager SNAP benefits that average $125 per person per month. On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that the consumer price index for all goods rose 5.3 percent from August of 2020 to August of this year. This is the worst rate for consumers since the height of the 2008 recession, which means that not just meat, but also other groceries or goods like cars and electronics, are more expensive for the average shopper. 

In the past 12 months, beef has gone up 12.2 percent, pork 9.8 percent and chicken 7.2 percent, making up half of the price increases at grocery stores. Meanwhile, the cost of plant-based alternatives has been falling as sales and, more importantly, scale has increased.

In June, Eudelia Pena, a 48-year-old New York City resident who lives with her husband and one of her three children, told Bloomberg she had cut her meat purchases in half due to rising costs and the financial hardships posed by the pandemic. “With what I spend today, I don’t bring back even half of what I used to,” she told reporters. “I used to buy two chickens. Now I just buy one and split it in half.”

While Pena is cutting back on meat, other shoppers are increasingly seeking alternatives.

According to a Bloomberg Intelligence report, Plant-Based Foods Poised for Explosive Growth, the market for plant-based alternatives could grow to $162 billion in the next decade, a soaring climb up from $29.4 billion in 2020. Researchers expect plant-based food alternatives to reach 7.7 percent of the expected $2.1 trillion global protein market and for meat and dairy alternatives to outpace conventional products.

Rising meat costs are part of that equation. “When meat prices fluctuate, plant-based alternatives become a viable alternative, because people are more comfortable using those products than they have ever been in the past,” says Jennifer Bartashus, report author and Senior Analyst, Retail Staples & Packaged Food at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, resident Christopher Penner told LIVEKINDLY that he’s eliminating meat three to four days per week for health and environmental reasons. Flexitarians, like Penner—people who eat a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat and fish—make up about one-third of the U.S. population, according to the Good Food Institute.

In a recent Gallup survey of 2,431 American adults, nearly one in four Americans reported consuming less meat over the past year. Seventy percent of whom cited health concerns as their primary motivator, while 49 percent claimed environmental concerns were driving them to cut back on meat. 

Reducing meat consumption is essential for both personal and planetary health. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations describes animal agriculture as “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale local to global.”

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Animal agriculture is a leading contributor to climate change. | PamWalker 68/header

The power of the meat monopolies

While consumers have been paying more for groceries and ranchers are spending more to raise meat without earning any extra money, Tyson, JBS, National Beef and Cargill—the giant meat conglomerates known as the Big 4—have been raking in record profits, rewarding shareholders with huge dividends and buybacks. In 2020, JBS offered $2.3 billion in dividends and buybacks and has proposed even higher payments for 2021. For fiscal year 2021, Tyson also raised dividends, up $6 million, spending $477 million on dividends in the three quarters ending in July 2021.

“We see consumers believing cattle farmers and ranchers are making windfall profits,” says Bill Bullard, CEO of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA). “That’s not at all what is happening—meatpackers are capturing that share of consumer dollars in the form of record margins.”

But how did four companies come to control between around 55 to 85 percent of the market, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture data? The answer is half a century of consolidation, corruption and illegal price fixing, and the history is a dirty trail of lobbying and antitrust failure.

These large companies have bought up smaller processors, giving them greater and greater control of the market. Back in the 1970s, the top four beef-packing firms controlled 25 percent of the market. Today that number is 82 percent. During the same time period, the largest four hog-processing companies went from controlling 33 percent of the market to 66 percent.

In poultry, the top four processing firms controlled 35 percent of the market in 1986, compared to 54 percent today. That’s like going to the shoe store and seeing that out of 200 pairs of shoes, over 100 are Nike. So how did this happen?

This large-scale consolidation has been the result of 40 shocking years of Republican and Democratic failure to enforce antitrust laws. It has led to the largest of these agribusinesses exerting astounding economic and political power over farmers, workers, consumers and politicians, as well as regulatory agencies, including the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice.

There was supposed to be a hero to stop all this from happening, but it’s been torn down by the courts. Called The 1921 Packers & Stockyards Act (P&S Act), which created the USDA Packers and Stockyards Administration (now the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration also known as GIPSA), was supposed to police large meat packers for anti-competitive actions and monopolization. However, over the past 20 years, several adverse court rulings have gutted its protections for farmers. 

In late 2018, the Trump Administration dissolved GIPSA entirely as an independent agency, passing off its duties to the Agricultural Marketing Services agency, which many claim is notoriously agribusiness-friendly. 

Then in 2019, a series of lawsuits were brought by grocers, independent ranchers and others against the nation’s four largest beef packers alleging that the Big 4 had been engaging in a price-fixing conspiracy to inflate beef prices. So why did it take the Biden administration until September 2021 to react?

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Christopher Penner, an avid SCUBA diver, has cut back on meat for environmental reasons.| Miljko/Getty

The struggle to change the meatpacking industry

Last spring, President Donald Trump asked the Department of Justice to investigate allegations that U.S. beef and pork producers were violating federal antitrust laws, as grocery store prices were skyrocketing, and processing plants were shuttering due to the pandemic. 

After more than a year of “no public results” and no reassurance that an investigation was still underway, Sen. John Thune (R-S. D.) and a dozen other senators and members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting that the DOJ continue to investigate and publicly announce its findings. 

In late July, a federal grand jury in Denver, Colorado, charged four executives and their companies “in a nationwide conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products.”

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Federal Court denied the packers’ motion to dismiss one of the class-action antitrust lawsuits originally filed in April 2019, finding that the plaintiffs (including R-CALF USA) were breaking antitrust laws. The ruling showed that meat packers actively worked to reduce the costs of cattle feed while simultaneously increasing the sales price of beef to proceed with the case. 

As meat prices have risen, sales have slumped. At the start of the summer, sales of meat at U.S. grocery stores were down by more than 12 percent from the previous year.

JBS, one of the Big Four, has been implicated in illegal deforestation in the Amazon. While it and other big agricultural companies say they will boycott farms involved in illegal deforestation and rural conflicts, an audit by federal prosecutors in Brazil found that 19 percent of the cattle purchased by JBS in 2016 had “evidence of irregularities,” meaning they couldn’t say whether or not the animals had come from illegally-deforested sections of the Amazon due to a lack of supply chain transparency. And in 2017, JBS was fined for buying cattle farmed in illegally-deforested areas in Pará.

Both JBS and National Beef Packing are Brazilian-owned or -controlled. Not only did they and other meatpacking monopolies manage to get the Obama Administration to roll back country of origin labeling for beef and pork—leading to a near 50 percent decline in the value of U.S. calves—but the meat they import from Brazil or other countries gets to be labeled  “Product of U.S.A.” through a regulatory loophole that allows imported meats that pass through a USDA-inspected plant to get that coveted certification.

These sorts of reasons and studies are what drove Penner, an avid SCUBA diver to cut back on meat. But he adds,”The savings was a noticeable perk.” 

As part of the announcement, the Biden-Harris administration vow to crack down on illegal price fixing, enforce antitrust laws, and bring more transparency to the entire meat-processing industry. 

This includes many overhauls at the USDA. The agency is still conducting an ongoing joint investigation with the DOJ into price-fixing in the chicken-processing industry that has already yielded a $107 million guilty plea by Pilgrim’s Pride. The USDA has also announced a more robust Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement policy with new efforts to strengthen rules to  prevent meat-processors from using their sheer size to abuse farmers and ranchers. The agency is creating new market reports on what beef-processors pay and new rules designed to ensure consumers get what they pay for when meat is labeled “Product of USA” in an attempt to make the entire industry fairer and more transparent to farmers and consumers. And the USDA will invest $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to support new meat and poultry processors that can compete with the big guys through expanding local and regional processing capacity. 

None of this needs approval from Congress, but to change an entrenched industry, Biden and his appointees will need to pursue these time-consuming investigations and prosecutions. Meanwhile, vegan meat giants like Impossible Foods and Beyond Burger are poised for explosive growth by 2030, continuing to scale up production and distribution in expectation of wooing more cash-strapped flexitarian consumers to their sides.

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6 Recipes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Made Vegan

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6 recipes for the mid autumn festival made vegan - 6 Recipes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Made Vegan

Curious about some vegan Mid-Autumn Festival recipes? Look no further!

The annual holiday, which is sometimes referred to as Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, is a traditional festival that is observed by many East and Southeast Asian people. In fact, it is widely regarded as the second-most important holiday after Chinese New Year, and has a history that dates back to more than 3,000 years ago. It is commonly celebrated in mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.

The holiday is observed on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, which typically corresponds to mid-September to early October of the Gregorian calendar. This day was chosen because it’s thought to be “the middle of autumn.” Additionally, on the 15th of each month, the moon is at its roundest and brightest—AKA the harvest moon. This symbolizes togetherness and reunion in Chinese culture. In 2021, Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 21.

The festival began thousands of years ago when the Emperor of China worshipped the moon in order to ensure bountiful harvests. Today, the holiday is typically celebrated with large family dinners where people eat foods that represent success and good fortune. People also carry or display lanterns that are meant to represent beacons that light the path to prosperity.

What foods are eaten during Mid-Autumn Festival?

The most popular food eaten during Mid-Autumn Festival is mooncakes—a pastry often stuffed with sweet bean, yolk, meat or lotus-seed paste. In many families, mooncake making is part of the celebration, and the sweets are often meticulously decorated and packaged with care.

As their name implies, mooncakes were initially intended as an offering for the moon. They are named after the moon goddess (Chang’e), who is said to make this type of cake. Common filling flavors include lotus seed paste, red bean paste, and green tea.

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Mooncakes are a symbol of Mid-Autumn Festival and are traditionally prepared and eaten on the holiday. | Edwin Tan/Getty

Like the moon, mooncakes are round and meant to represent togetherness. They are usually eaten in small wedges and served alongside tea, and are typically shared by family members. Mooncakes can also be given to relatives or friends as an expression of love and best wishes.

Since Mid-Autumn Festival is meant to celebrate the moon and the harvest, many dishes are loaded with vegetables, such as pumpkin, eggplant, mushrooms, and carrots. In a similar vein, mooncakes can often be filled with fruit such as pineapple or taro.

Duck is also common at Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations. People in East China’s Fujian Province traditionally prepare it with taro, which is widely planted during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

How to be vegan during Mid-Autumn Festival

Since Mid-Autumn Festival is about the harvest, fruits and vegetables play a large role in most family celebrations. However, bloggers and home chefs have also developed vegan versions of popular Mid-Autumn Festival dishes that are typically made with meat and/or dairy products.

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Mooncakes are sweet treats that are one of the most identifiable Mid-Autumn Festival foods. | Edwin Tan/Getty

For example, many mooncakes are typically made with an egg yolk inside and feature an egg wash, but plant-based cooks have been able to create recipes with vegan fillings and no egg wash.

Celebrate vegan Mid-Autumn Festival with these 6 recipes

LIVEKINDLY reached out to food bloggers of Asian heritage for some of their favorite vegan Mid-Autumn Festival dishes. Each blogger included personal details about what the dish means to them.

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A vegan Chinese “duck” dish made with bean curd skin and an array of vegetables. | Woks of Life

Chinese Vegan Duck

“Eating duck and giving duck as a gift is customary for many during the Mid-Autumn Festival. This recipe, however, is our version of a Chinese vegetarian duck, which is made with bean curd skin and stuffed with a rich, umami-packed mixture of vegetables and mushrooms,” says Sarah Leung, who runs The Woks of Life food blog with her parents Bill and Judy and sister Kaitlin. “After slicing, the pieces really do resemble pieces of Chinese roast duck!” 

Get the recipe here.

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A plate of cooked eggplant made with a smoky green onion oil sauce. | Aubrie Pick

Eggplant With Smoky Green Onion Oil

“[Mid-Autumn Festival] is a harvest festival so I think of the bounty of the season. Rice, for example, is harvested in September and October. TTT [Tết Trung Thu, another name for Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam] falls in between seasons so the produce that’s available is awesome,” notes Andrea Nguyen, the author of Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors. “Tomato, eggplant and green beans are still around, but hard squash and sweet crucifers are ramping up!” 

She adds: “[That’s] what the season means to me. I look at the fat moon, sip wonderful tea, and if there’s a mooncake around, take nibbles.”

Buy a copy of Nguyen’s book with this recipe here.

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The savory sticky rice dish made with tofu, mushrooms, and more. | Foodie Takes Flight

Savory Sticky Rice

“I know Mid-Autumn Festival is drawing near from the amount of moon cakes we start to have here at home. It’s a very festive time with lots of food involved and one of the dishes we’d always have at home is a hearty rice dish to share,” says Jeeca Uy. “This Chinese Savoury Sticky Rice is similar to Kiam Peng, a fukien term that literally translates to salty rice (kiam = salty, peng = rice). In both Chinese and Filipino cuisine, sticky rice symbolises a tight knit family and believed to bring good fortune.”

Get the recipe here.

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The vegan sesame noodles topped with sesame paste, a homemade chili oil, and more. | Omnivore’s Cookbook

Sesame Noodles

“The dish is special to me because it’s a family recipe that my mom has been serving over the years and it is very comforting. The best part is, the sauce is very versatile and you can use it as a base to serve various toppings according to your needs,” explains Maggie Zhu. “For example, I love to top it with raw vegetables in the summer to serve the dish as a cold salad. In winter, I serve it with grilled root vegetables as a warm bowl.”

Maggie adds: “For the Mid-Autumn Festival, a noodle dish is always a must because it symbolizes fortune and longevity. The sesame noodle is perfect because it’s extremely easy to make, can be prepared ahead of time, and goes with the rest of the dishes on the table.”

Get the recipe here.

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The vibrant matcha mooncakes stuffed with a black sesame filling. | Radiant Rachels

Snowskin Matcha and Black Sesame Mooncakes

“Mooncakes are all about gathering with loved ones and sharing a sweet treat together. It’s a dessert that one comes around once a year, so we savour every bite!” explain Rachel Chew and Racel Leung. “Snowskin mooncakes are a modern, no-bake version that’s easy to make at home. If you love matcha and mochi then you’ll love this recipe as much as we do.”

Get the recipe here.

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The pink mooncakes get their hue from beet juice and feature a fruity pineapple filling. | Light Orange Bean

Pineapple Filled Gluten-Free Snowskin Mooncakes

These fruity mooncakes from Joyce Gan are vegan and gluten-free because wheat is substituted for cornstarch. Gan describes mooncakes as a “hallmark tradition” of Mid-Autumn Festival and recalls her parents filling their pantry with all different kinds of traditional mooncakes when she was a child. Now, these vibrant pineapple-filled treats have become a tradition in Gan’s own family. 

Get the recipe here.

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Mark Cuban-Backed Pet Food Brand Believes Cell-Based Is the Future of Meat

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Wild Earth is known for its high-protein vegan dog food. But the company now aims to transform the pet industry with a new product: cell-based pet food. The California-based pet food brand made the announcement after revealing it had secured $23 million in capital funding. Investors included Veginvest, At One Ventures, and Big Idea Ventures. Actor and animal rights activist Paul Wesley and Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban were also among the list of investors.

Cuban is no stranger to investing in vegan brands. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks’ plant-based investment portfolio includes the pork-free rind brand Snacklins, Mrs. Goldfarb’s Unreal Deli, vegan meat company Everything Legendary, and dairy-free milk brand Numilk.

In March 2019, Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt secured $550,000 from Cuban for a ten percent stake in the company on an episode of Shark Tank.

​​“There’s an enormous potential market for lower-cost, sustainable protein to feed the growing worldwide pet population and Wild Earth is now the alpha dog in this space,” Cuban said at the time.

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Wild Earth secured $550,000 from Cuban on a 2019 “Shark Tank” episode. | Eric McCandless/ABC

Cell-based pet food

Wild Earth’s venture into the cell-based category should come as no surprise. After all, a team of scientists founded the company. But it’s not the first company to set its sights on cultured pet food.

Biotech company Because, Animals already has cat cultured meat treats ready for pre-order on its website. The cookies feature cultured mouse meat and plant-based ingredients like tempeh, pumpkin purée, sunflower and flaxseed, and nutritional yeast. The company plans to scale up production and add cultured pet food to its range, starting with cell-based rabbit meat.

The emergence of cell-based pet food aims to quell the environmental and animal welfare concerns inherent in the pet food industry. The production of meat for pet food is highly resource-intensive and harmful to the environment, generating dangerous greenhouse gases. A 2017 UCLA study found that dogs and cats are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the U.S.

Wild Earth is working to tackle these issues through its plant-based pet food. Its sustainable range includes a line of treats that feature koji, a fungus superfood.

The brand will use its latest round of funding to develop its cell-based proteins. Scientists grow cell-based meats in a lab from real animal cells. “Every goal we achieve grows our impact on the environment and puts more pressure on cruel pet food companies and factory farming practices,” said Bethencourt.

Wild Earth has cell-based beef, chicken, and seafood pet foods in the pipeline, with an expected launch next year.

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Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

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Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

What is vitamin D and why do we need it?

 

With more and more people spending time indoors, due to the pandemic and during winter months, vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent than ever. It is estimated over 1 billion people worldwide suffer from low vitamin D in their blood levels1.

 

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the body and despite the name is not actually a vitamin but a precursor of a hormone. Renowned for being a vital nutrient for immunity, vitamin D also keeps bones and teeth healthy and helps the body to absorb calcium.

 

vitamin d the sunshine vitamin - Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

 

The sun is the best source of vitamin D for the human body. Several factors affect how much vitamin D a person’s body can make from exposure to the sun, such as time of day, geographical location, skin colour and wearing sunscreen.

 

Unfortunately, getting enough of this critical nutrient is also difficult to get through food with dietary sources of vitamin D limited.

 

So how do you keep your vitamin D levels topped up?

The UK government recommends ‘adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D, particularly during autumn and winter’.

 

Unfortunately, not all supplements are created equally and it’s therefore important to research a reputable company and the quality of ingredients used.

 

As leaders in food-based supplementation for over 30 years, Cytoplan has maintained the belief that nature holds the key to health, creating products that work in harmony with the body to optimise health.

 

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Cytoplan’s Vitamin D3 Vegan is derived from a natural plant base of lichen and is the bioavailable form of vitamin D.

 

To find out more, visit Cytoplan’s website here.

 

 

References
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4143492/

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