Tag Archives: becoming vegan

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

Rainbow Raw Food Tokyo

Satoshi has been doing an incredible job increasing awareness of veganism in Japan by translating this blog into Japanese.  An omnivore himself, he was curious about plant-based diets because of his frequent travels to India on business, where vegetarianism is common for spiritual reasons.  Satoshi’s growing interest in vegan food led him to visit a Tokyo raw vegan restaurant and file this review:

I invited a lot of friends to accompany me to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner, but none of them accepted, except Emily, my English conversation teacher. It was the first time I had tried a raw food, vegan, or even a vegetarian restaurant.

Emily has been in Japan for about half a year, and hasn’t eaten meat since high school. With a sister who is vegetarian–Emily was interested in experiencing Japanese-style raw vegan dishes.

Rainbow Raw Food Cafe and Bar in Hammatsu-cho is a very small and cozy restaurant with six tables and twelve chairs. You can choose from the Raw Food Dinner Course of six dishes (¥2,500), Combination Plate (¥1,800), or something from the a la carte menu. We each ordered the Dinner Course, and I had organic beer and Emily had a smoothie to drink. 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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Vegan Pesto Brings Everyone Together

Aren’t the best recipes spur of the moment? And better still when they’re fast, easy and crowd-pleasing…

It’s a challenge cooking meals for vegan and omnivores, those with dietary restrictions, and tastebuds that are less than adventurous–especially when it comes to trying “healthy” plant-based foods. And you can forgeddabout raw foods.

With dinnertime fast approaching, I took inventory of what we had in the house:

  • Fragrance of fresh basil, a gift from a friend’s garden, was calling to be used every time the refrigerator was opened
  • A large head of cauliflower crowded the drawer
  • A container of baby spinach leaves would be a shame not to use it while fresh, too

I decided to make a basil spinach pesto with cauliflower–withholding the miso or nutritional yeast I usually include–to allow my mother and aunt to add grated cheese at the table. I would opt for parmesan sprinkles–a blend of sesame seeds and nutritional yeast–inspired by Jo Stepaniak’s “Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook”.

Rather than sauteing cauliflower separately, I added it with the pasta water (though boiling is not optimal for nutrition), and the consistency was just right after 7-8 minutes. At least, it saves time, and pots to clean.

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What Am I Going to Eat for Lunch?

Almost everybody understands that whole, plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits are beneficial for health. And you know intuitively that living foods–such as sprouts–are even healthier. Yet you still draw a blank when it comes to preparing a healthy meal in a hurry.

Hummous–originally made with chickpeas or garbanzo beans–was one of my favorite foods long before I became vegan, and before Veganomicon author Isa Chandra Moskowitz poetically proclaimed the Middle-Eastern bean dip as being “like air for vegans”.

Recently, I’ve been making hummous with sprouted lentils and chickpeas instead of cooked, and while it tastes different–with a crispy-fresh bite, as you might expect–it’s still exotically delicious. Raw or cooked, hummous is easy to make, inexpensive, and keeps several days in the refrigerator, so you can make a big batch on the weekend and eat it all week long, as a dip or in sandwiches.

Unfortunately, most store-bought hummous is full of oil, salt, and other preservatives. With little to no oil, this recipe is low-calorie and nutrient dense. Lentils are one the best sources of protein, and one cup of raw lentils provides 26g of protein vs 18g for cooked lentils.

If you’ve made hummous with canned (pre-cooked) beans, this recipe may take slightly longer, but there’s no comparison in freshness and nutrition. Continue reading

Can Green Smoothies Restore Your Vision?

Being on a whole foods plant-based diet for several years, I never appreciated the transformative power of drinking green smoothies–until I met the Green Smoothie Girl in person.

Robyn Openshaw’s lecture “Ten Minutes a Day to Spectacular Health” for Vegetarian Society of Hawaii in March so inspired me, I haven’t needed my eyeglasses for the first time in 30 years.

Robyn’s philosophy is for people to spend as little time as possible to achieve the most dramatic health impact. “I’ve learned from traveling around and getting thousands of emails,” she explains “people want to eat right, but they don’t know how anymore. Because ours is the first generation who did not learn home cooking from our mothers and grandmothers.”

Robyn’s goal is that everyone who hears her lecture will begin drinking a quart of green smoothies each day, “to get a massive amount of the lowest calorie, highest micronutrient foods as painlessly as possible, and inexpensively.”

The concept is based on the work of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, whose Nutritarian Food Pyramid defines the healthiest diet as one consisting of foods with qualities of maximum nutrients and minimum calories (H=N/C) and says “your future health can be predicted by the micronutrient per calorie density of your diet”

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