22/06/2024 10:04 PM


Swing your Cooking

Whose diet better . . . ours or the Staten Island Sloth? Stop at the Zoo for lunch and find out.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Staten Island Zoo crew enthusiastically supports healthy, plant-based diets — make no beans about it. Although they’ll whip up hummus or a veggie burger instead.

Staten Island Zoo

Snacks, non-carbonated soft drinks and baked chips can round out a Zoo cafe meal. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

In a press conference held in the aquarium, Zoo director Ken Mitchell and Deputy Borough President Ed Burke led a presentation of new menu items coming to the on-premise cafe. As of Thursday, Feb. 24, eats will include an “Impossible” burger, veggies with hummus to dip, a colorful salad plate, veggie nuggets and fresh berry fruit salad in a cup.

For more salubrious omnivore options, visitors can expect a turkey burger on a seeded bun and a tuna platter appointed with lettuce leaves and carrot sticks in lieu of bread. Cereal and granola bars, non-carbonated soft drinks and flavored waters, plus sweet potato fries and baked chips, can round out a meal.

Staten Island Zoo

Vegan and plant-based food are now served at the Staten Island Zoo. From left to right, Tiffany Feo, Zoo director Ken Mitchell, Zoo Education Director Jessica Hartmann, Maureen Dreher, Deputy Borough President Ed Burke. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

Mitchell maintained, “Many of the Zoo’s animals are dedicated plant eaters, so Mayor Adams’ leadership on the issue of plant-based diets is greatly admired here at the Zoo.”

As Mitchell and Burke discussed the importance of vegetal eating and its impact on the environment, Education Director Jessica Hartmann and her colleague Kate Harley brought out the Zoo’s animal ambassador, a sloth. The slow-moving, wet-nosed creature proved an eager recipient of hand-fed greens and boiled eggs. Frisky fish and a bottom-feeding eel darted to and fro behind the aquarium glass as the conversation continued. The creatures offered a further springboard for natural food thoughts.

Staten Island Zoo

Hummus and veggies (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

Mitchell said, “Our sloth, sheep, porcupine, and world famous Groundhog Chuck are all vegetarians. They can help be ambassadors for the mayor’s plan and open pathways for conversation about vegan Fridays and the mayor’s messaging on healthy lifestyles.”

Staten Island Zoo

Tuna fish salad with lettuce and tomato (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

He added, “In addition our Education Department will continue and expand its efforts to offer information about the health benefits of vegetarian options for families and the added benefit that plant-based farming is healthier for natural areas around the world. Our Zoo attracts over 175,000 visitors each year and thousands of students participate in camps and school programs, so I am confident that our promotion will reach large numbers of people.”

Staten Island Zoo

Veggie nuggets (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

Burke quipped, “When it comes to plant based diets our vegetarian animals give us all something new to chew on.”

Staten Island Zoo

– Vegan and plant-based food are now served at the Staten Island Zoo. Zoo director Ken Mitchell, left, with Deputy Borough President Ed Burke feeding a sloth at the Zoo. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)Pamela Silvestri

The Lifestyles Cafe at the Zoo and gift shop is run by special needs Staten Islanders who are supervised through the Lifestyles for the Disabled program. Located at 614 Broadway in West Brighton the Zoo can be reached at 718-442-3100. The cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. year round. On Wednesdays, admission at the Zoo for all is free between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Otherwise the cost is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children 14 and under. Those under 2 years old are gratis.

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].