Category Archives: Vegan Diet

Vida Vegan What? Just Don’t Miss the Next One!

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Two years ago, by the time I learned about the first Vida Vegan Conference, it was already too late to sign up. I was living in Tokyo at the time–shortly after the “3-11” (Fukushima) disaster–and was feeling pretty uneasy.

I didn’t know how it would happen, but I was determined to make it to the next VVC bloggers conference, to be held 2 years later.

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B12 Deficiency Not Just a Vegan Concern

Often-cited as a shortcoming of a plant-based diet is deficiency of Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient made by bacteria in the intestines of animals (including humans). For many omnivores, this is reason enough to continue eating animal products.

You may be surprised that the most common cause of B12 deficiency is not lack of B12 containing-foods but intestinal disease, and the prevalence of B12 deficiency among vegans is not much different than in the overall population. Continue reading

Can This Diet Make You Feel Younger?

There Is a Cure for Diabetes, Revised Edition: The 21-Day+ Holistic Recovery Program

Many people aspiring for a healthier diet are surprised to learn there are just as many varieties of vegan diets as there are non plant-based diets–and not all of them are health promoting. The biggest differences among vegan diets are what foods are permissible, how they are prepared, and the balance of macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

After trying a raw food diet on and off for the past year, I decided to visit the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, AZ, to experience the diet and lifestyle developed by Dr. Gabriel Cousens. Continue reading

Why Conscious Eating is for You

Here’s a book that explains why some people really can just eat one potato chip, while others like me can’t stop until the whole bag is gone. And a whole lot more, as you might expect in a book as thick as “Conscious Eating” by Dr. Gabriel Cousens.

In my 8 years since giving up meat, I’ve experienced the spectrum of vegetarian diets, from ovo-lacto vegetarian to “junk food vegan”–avoiding animal products but consuming processed foods and “empty calories”–to diets that emphasize whole grains, beans and legumes to those consisting exclusively of organic living (uncooked) fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

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What does Wheatgrass Juice have to do with a Vegan Diet?

If you want things to change for you, you’ve got to change your thinking. Those are the words that started my mission 1.5 years ago to design a life filled with adventure and learning.

2012 was the year I left the familiarity of Tokyo, returning to the U.S. where I had spent little more than 2 weeks a year for the past 21 years. Reverse culture shock was no longer just an expression, but daily reality. Continue reading

Starch Solution Is Our Past and Future

It’s no secret, the 65 year-old Dr. John McDougall said, that food is the reason he’s now a better windsurfer than he was 35 years ago, when he attended medical school and did his residency in Hawaii.

The purpose of McDougall’s lecture for the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii last week was to enlist vegans in a common goal: “to build a future we can all live with–and stop battling among ourselves”. This is the topic of his new book, The Starch Solution. Continue reading

Why Reading Food Labels Isn’t Enough

Friends and relatives often question “can you eat x or y” on your vegan diet? Many people can barely comprehend not eating meat and fish, let alone dairy products, eggs, and honey–of all things.

Fewer people understand what a vegan diet has to do with avoiding processed foods–such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, and sugar–or even vegetable oils.

These measures are the guidelines of a whole-foods plant-based vegan diet, such as that endorsed by Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet, and displayed in Del Sroufe’s Forks Over Knives cookbook, containing healthy vegan recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Julieanna Hever, and others.

Bottom line is, while many processed foods may be technically vegan or “accidentally vegan” as PETA refers to products with no animal-based ingredients, they are unlikely to be “accidentally healthy”.

And while you may relax your standards on a rare occasion–when dining out or visiting friends–you’ll surely feel better long-term by keeping tempting vegan junk foods out of your grocery cart, and out of your house.

When analyzing packaged foods, I often refer to nutritionist/dietitian Jeff Novick’s rules and guidelines for  telling the difference between a health food vs what’s really healthy for you:

Rule #1-Never believe anything on the front of the package…ever!

Rule #2-Always read the Nutrition Facts Label and the Ingredients List.

Novick gives guidelines for fat, sodium, white sugars and refined sugars, and refined carbohydrates–4 things commonly abused in the United States.

Fat

Daily fat requirement–in order to avoid essential fatty acid deficiency–is only 3 to 5%, while the typical American intake is 35%!

Calculate fat % by dividing calories from fat by the # of calories

Sodium

Daily sodium requirement is 500mg/day; aim for no more than 1 calorie: 1mg of sodium

Sugars

Novick says that–since the Nutrition Facts panel lists “total sugars” only–you cannot determine natural sugars (such as in fruit) versus added sugars. Therefore, refer to the ingredients listing in order to avoid all added sugars (at least, he says, sugars should not be among the first 3 to 5 ingredients)

Carbohydrates

The “Nutrition Facts” panel does not tell the reader anything interesting about carbohydrates, Novick says. Therefore, refer to the ingredients list, and SEEK OUT the desirable terms “whole” or “sprouted” and AVOID the words “wheat”,” white”, “durum”, “semolina”, “bleached”, “unbleached”, “artichoke” and “enriched flour”.

Fiber

Aim for products that carry >3g of fiber per 100 calories

To apply Novick’s technique, let’s take a package of Nabisco Newtons Fruit Thins stashed in a typical SAD household. The box touts “8g of whole grain per serving”, “made with real fruit”, “blueberry brown sugar”, and “natural flavor”.

Sounds so wholesome, someone might even mistake them for a “health food”! OK, I admit it: I finished off the bag, without thinking…

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Make Your Own Nut Milk Lately?

I’ve learned so much about raw and living foods in the past few months that I don’t know where to begin telling you. After re-learning to cook when I adopted a vegan diet seven years ago, a raw diet feels like you’re starting over yet again. Only with raw foods, it’s not called “cooking”–it’s called “food production”!

Although students prepare almond milk numerous times during 4-weeks at Matthew Kenney Academy, it was especially satisfying to make almond milk while at my mother’s home recently, using a regular old blender (no Vitamix required) and a makeshift nut-milk bag (paint strainer) purchased at Home Depot.

Being able to make staple foods usually bought from a store will give you a great sense of self-reliance, and preparing nutritious almond milk is quick and easy (especially so if you’re a cow). Raw almonds provide a rich source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.

Simple Almond Milk Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds

3-4 cups filtered water

Instructions:

Soak almonds in water overnight (8-12 hours)

Drain and rinse almonds, then throw in blender

Add water, and blend at highest level until smooth (may take 2-3 minutes, but don’t allow milk to become hot)

Pour milk through your nut milk bag over a bowl

Squeeze nutmilk bag to remove all milk from almond pulp

Retain pulp for future use (dehydrate or freeze), and rinse your nutmilk bag

Transfer milk to a quart mason jar and refrigerate (keeps up to 1 week)

You may want to sweeten your almond milk to taste with dates or agave, flavor it with vanilla, and add a little lecithin to keep it from separating (or you can just shake before using).  Continue reading

Eat Healthy and Save Money on Vacation

If your normally healthy diet goes out the window when traveling, you’re not alone.

Regardless of the type of diet you follow, temptation begins the instant you leave home. While the airlines have practically eliminated free snacks and in-flight meals, the airport, timezone changes, the waiting, lack of routine and accountability–especially when traveling alone–can all wreck your discipline.

When I heard the upscale Embassy Suites Waikiki offered a nightly evening manager’s reception, I pictured eating green salads, antipastos, and raw vegetables I had often found in Hilton’s Asian properties.

It took me 2 days to realize the happy hour’s “rotating menu of snacks” alternated between a variety of salty junk foods (peanuts, pretzels, party mix and chips), which–try as I might–I couldn’t resist shoveling onto my plate. What’s worse, I still ate a normal dinner afterward, in order to feel satisfied.

I had to make sure this situation would not continue, or I would certainly be in store for big weight gain during my vacation.

How does a traveler stay healthy, when it seems so much is out of your hands??

  • First of all–it may sound obvious–but don’t select a vacation destination just because of its unbridled eating opportunities. Your subconscious mind is more powerful than you think.
  • If you have a choice of hotels, check around ahead of time and choose one that offers fresh foods containing plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Continue reading