When I attended a Saladmaster demonstration/dinner at an acquaintance’s house last year, I hadn’t eaten cooked food for weeks and–as an aspiring raw chef–wasn’t sure whether I would “cook” again. Continue reading
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.
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
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
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.
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
For all its reputation as a food mecca, and its hippy image, I was surprised to learn on a recent visit that downtown San Francisco is home to only 10 vegan restaurants.
Three of these 10 are part of the Loving Hut chain, which-despite their use of excessive oil and textured soy protein, and cafeteria atmosphere–are far superior to any non-vegan fast-food, and provide an animal compassionate and practical alternative for those transitioning to a plant-based diet. Continue reading
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
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.
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
Daily sodium requirement is 500mg/day; aim for no more than 1 calorie: 1mg of sodium
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)
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”.
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…
The unexpected closure of The Vegetable Garden, one of the Washington, DC area’s vegan favorites has stunned many loyal fans.
Besides its location (in N. Bethesda), the best thing about Vegetable Garden was that omnivore friends didn’t feel they were doing you a favor by accompanying you there. The Chinese-style vegan restaurant’s dishes tasted as delicious as the “original recipes” that people forgot they were prepared without using animal products.
The second best thing about Vegetable Garden was its large menu: Many restaurants I visit, I have difficulty choosing something, because very few things look appealing. Yet Vegetable Garden’s menu was so varied, I could barely make up my mind, and always felt there was something to look forward to trying on the next visit…
Vegan sushi rolls, seaweed salad, soba noodles, and kung pao tofu were among my favorites, while an omnivore friend preferred yams with pecans and “beef”, or pineapple fried rice. I also loved Vegetable Garden’s complementary whole-wheat vegetable bread with sesame seeds, as well as “heart-healthy” menu items, macrobiotic dishes, and western-style deserts such as “cheesecake” made with non-dairy milks.
Vegetable Garden was a perennial favorite of PCRM, Compassion Over Killing, and other vegan and animal rights organizations, too. With so much love (and a Zagat rating), how could Vegetable Garden go out of business? Rumor has it the landlord was raising the rent. Most customers I know would have been willing to pay more to keep them in business, had they only known in advance. Continue reading