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Leon Kaye headshot

3p’s Plant-Based Back-to-School Guide

By Leon Kaye

Some kids are already back at school this week; next week is the big week for most students; the few lucky ones will have till after Labor Day. Whether we’re out of, or still in school, this year will feel much different when than a year ago, when we were teased to a summer largely free of lockdowns till things went awry with the virus again. While the pandemic and the Delta variant aftermath has become an era most of us at the very least just want to forget about – there is one industry that has benefited: the plant-based foods sector. We’ve been covering the industry here on TriplePundit for a reason – the market is hot, and the foods keep improving.

And who’s to blame consumers for shifting more toward plant-based protein options, as beyond the shortages, there were the COVID outbreaks, more product recalls – and face it, as we’ve reached “code red” with climate change, promises of supply chain innovations and promises of respecting animal welfare simply are not resonating with more people?

To that end, if you’re buying into the plant-based lifestyle, here are a few ideas from 3p that can help kickstart your day.

Breakfast bowls, sans the pork bacon

We’ve long said good-bye to that carb-heavy breakfast of cereal, toast with spread and orange juice. It was supposed to be a “square meal,” but too many of us ended up pear-shaped instead. Anyway, breakfast keeps being reinvented, and it’s becoming even more protein-based.

On that point, you might know Sweet Earth for its seitan strips, fake chicken (try the chipotle!) cauliflower mac, plant-based burgers, and hot dog alternatives that pan-fry well for any meal. Now you can add breakfast bowls to that lineup. The three flavors vary in levels of spiciness; all are packed with protein and have a decent amount of fiber. Fire them in the oven for 40 minutes if you have the luxury of time; two minutes in the microwave if you’re in a rush.

For lunch at the virtual office or in the company break room, Sweet Earth also has a wide range of deli “meats” and bowls as well.

Honestly, Sweet Earth probably has the widest range of plant-based proteins on the market (Image credit: Sweet Earth)
Honestly, Sweet Earth probably has the widest range of plant-based proteins on the market (Image credit: Sweet Earth)

Breakfast cereal 2.0

Breakfast cereal has sure evolved since corn flakes were invented by a pair of brothers running a Michigan sanitarium. In this century, years of stagnant sales quickly turned into a boom time last year as far more people found themselves working from home during the pandemic or did our best to add to our COVID bodies. While we all have our favorites, either for our morning start, as a snack - or in the case of Jane Fonda’s character on Grace and Frankie, maybe we’re hiding stacks of Benjis in those boxes (Season 7, Episode 1).

Nevertheless, cereal is always ripe for a reinvention. Catalina Crunch has turned the idea of sugary, carb-laden breakfasts on its head. The pea protein-based cereals sure taste like the breakfasts of our youth, whether you sample the cocoa or peanut butter flavors. Mind you, these cereals cost far more than the ones you’re accustomed to seeing in the supermarket aisle. If you have a Costco membership, the company’s Cinnamon Toast crunch, packed with 9 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein and no sugar, is a better value and may be available at your local warehouse store.

You wouldn't know these crunchy squares are pea-based
You wouldn't know these crunchy squares are pea-based, and Catalina Crunch has some mouth-watering recipes, too (Image credit: Catalina Crunch)

Just fake, plant-based eggs

Yes, Moira Rose - you just fold it in!

Just’s egg alternatives have been around a while, but 3p still gives them a shout-out as they rank among the best in the plant-based breakfast space. The company’s folded egg, which come four per carton, are a winner. While they’re best pan-fried in olive oil, if you’re in a hurry, they are more than passable microwaved. Just recommends these mung bean-based goodies be cooked in the toaster. The company’s sous vide bites are worth a try, too.

Few of us would be this fancy at 7:00 a.m.; regardless, Just has a winner with these egg alternatives
Few of us would be this fancy at 7:00 a.m.; regardless, Just has a winner with these egg alternatives (Image credit: Just)

Pistachio milk

If you want a real treat and savor the taste of pistachio-flavored anything, then try Three Trees’ pistachio-based milk. It’s not anywhere as watery as most almond milks, doesn’t have the funk of hemp, flax or similar plant-based beverages, and honestly, the scent will remind you of a bakery in Istanbul, Tehran, or Glendale, CA… or the west side of LA. Mind you, considering the price per bottle, this is a splurge. Gently warm a cup or so on the stove top, add a few cardamom pods and you’ve got a new breakfast beverage – or it could be one half of that a.m. café au lait.

Three Trees has more than tree flavors - 3p was digging the pistachio
Three trees has more than tree flavors - 3p is digging the pistachio option (Image credit: Three Trees/Facebook)

A backpack derived from trees

Plant-based doesn’t have to apply solely to morning grub. If you or one of your charges is in need of a backpack and doesn’t want a standard polyester one - and to be clear, if you have a budget that allows for spending beyond Target - check out Fjällräven’s Tree-Kånken backpack. These 16-liter packs are sturdy, eschew chemicals and according to the company, more than 90 percent of the water used to manufacture them is recycled.

The secret? The material used in these backpacks are made from a yarn derived from spruce and pine trees in Sweden. Yes, it’s true that Nordic country has had its own problems with deforestation. Nevertheless, Fjällräven says the fibers needed to make the Tree-Kånken comes from FSC-certified forests.

Fjällräven’s Tree-Kånken backpack comes in four earthy colors.
Fjällräven’s Tree-Kånken backpack comes in four earthy colors (Image credit: Three Trees/Facebook)

Your dog will soon score less attention. So, be Shameless!

Generally, dogs have been happier than people during the pandemic – after all, more were adopted during that time (Sadly, human beings are often awful, and shelters are getting crowded again.). And, our furry friends enjoyed far more company with many of us working and studying from home. As we spend more time away at the office, school or with friends, dog parents will have to compensate for that time spent alone.

Consider Shameless Pets dog treats as an option. These canine snacks are made with upcycled ingredients – for example, one flavor is made with blueberries that otherwise would have been discarded after picked. And while we’ll leave the benefits of a canine vegan diet to the veterinarians, one benefit of these meat-free treats is that the ingredients don’t come from some dubious overseas origin.

Kombucha for me; Shameless treats for him (Image credit: Leon Kaye)
Kombucha for me; Shameless treats for him (Image credit: Leon Kaye)

Image credit: Catalina Crunch

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye