The latest statistics indicate that the consumption of beef in the U.S. has dropped 13% since 1980, in part due to more people eating leaner meats and switching to a vegetarian diet according to this article.
A major theme for me in cooking and eating is the reduction of sodium. Without constantly watching the amount of sodium used in the foods we consume, our intake levels usually surpass the daily recommended amount. When cooking meals at home, it's easy to control, however, it's also easy to add salt when cooking or serving. It's very difficult to control the salt levels when eating out, even when you ask the server to notify the cooks to add no extra salt to the meals.
The research study in the article concludes that preference for salt may start during infancy based on the foods that babies are given. It is possible to reeducate your taste buds at any time to enjoy the flavor of food without the presence of salt. However, it becomes more difficult if you've been conditioned to the taste of salt from infancy. The test results from the research project are kind of interesting.
A recent survey of 200 nutritionists revealed five health trends for 2012. Check out this article and stay on trend!
Probably one of the hardest things to do is eat healthy in an airport, especially if you have no time. Most restaurants are fast food chains and the fast casual dining options can be very expensive. Some of the smaller kiosks in the terminals offer fruit and veggie sandwiches, but that's about it. Sometimes you're better off eating nothing. Now, due to the demand for nutritious food, airports are adding more vegetarian options. This article talks about the trend and improvements at U.S. airports.
I hear it mentioned often that eating healthy is expensive. I think that this may apply to premium packaged goods that are targeted to consumers who want to pay a lot for ultra high quality goods. However, in general, I found that my grocery bill went down when I made the transition to a meatless lifestyle. I was also able to make what I bought go further. So I was happy with the change. If you find that buying vegetables does hurt your shopping budget, here are some shopping tips.
Also, I produced an audio cast on 10 tips to buying affordable vegetables and fruits that might be helpful as well. It can be found on the "Table of Contents & Audio Casts" page on this website Hope it helps!
The UN concluded its 17th conference on climate change. It's a collaboration of 200 countries that try to work out ways globally to reduce environmental degradation and, most importantly, the warming of the planet. It's a difficult issue to tackle with so many countries involved. The following article offers critical comments about the effectiveness of the conference.
While the vegetarian and vegan trend in the U.S. is just starting to reach mainstream status, in other parts of the world, it’s already very popular. The city of Taipei has had a prominent vegetarian culture for a long time. Taipei is the largest city in Taiwan, a small island country near the coast of China. Taiwan has several large cities, beautiful mountains, and long rivers.
It’s also one of the most vegan and vegetarian friendly places I've ever visited. Vegetarian food is the focus of many trendy restaurants, food stalls in outdoor markets, and street vendors who offer flavored tofu. Families in Taipei, I was told, will visit vegetarian restaurants often to add variety to their dining. The food is very unique and creative since they use many forms of tofu and all types of mushrooms.
When I told my colleagues in Taipei during a visit that I was a vegan, they decided to surprise me and took me to lunch one day to the Tzu Chi General Hospital. I must admit that I was a bit shocked to be going to a hospital for lunch. I try to avoid them as much as possible by living a healthy lifestyle. But they insisted that there was something special inside. They were right!
We walked through the large entrance of the hospital into a beautiful sunlit lobby. A flight of wide stairs in the center of the lobby took us to the floor below. We rounded a corner and entered a massive cafeteria with space to hold more than 500 people. It was still early so the cafeteria was empty except for a few doctors sitting in a corner in conference. My colleagues were delighted with my amazement and explained that this was a Buddhist hospital and the cafeteria served only vegetarian food with many vegan options. I was eager to see what they offered.
What I saw next completely surprised me! It was a vegetarian buffet with at least fifty different dishes. I couldn't believe it and thought I had found paradise. I loaded up my plate with as much food as possible, sampling every option including great stews, tofu dishes, vegetable mixtures, salads, soups, and rice dishes. Every single possible vegetable imaginable was offered on this buffet line in unique recipes including squash, yams, pumpkin, and eggplant, with some vegetables I couldn’t even identify. One notable dish had thin marinated tofu skins wrapped around mashed vegetables in a vegan gravy.
The food was charged by weight and my friends told me to make sure I ate everything or the Buddhist nuns would scold me for not eating what I took - food which could have been given to the poor. For me, however, it was no problem. I finished two huge plates of food and had room for more. My colleagues ate lightly and watched as I enjoyed my meal.
By the time we were done, the massive cafeteria had filled completely and a line had formed outside the doors. Every table and every chair was taken! It was enthralling to see over 500 people eating vegetarian and vegan food together. The sight inspired me greatly.
I was told the history of this wonderful hospital as I finished my food. The founder is a Taiwanese Buddhist nun named Cheng Yen. She ran away from her family at a young age and became a nun in 1966. After seeing the plight of the poor she started a relief association which led to founding a free medical clinic. That small clinic eventually grew into six large and prestigious hospitals throughout Taiwan.
When Dharma Master Cheng Yen first became a nun, her master said to her, “Work for Buddhism and for all beings.” With this phrase as a guide, the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation gradually became an international humanitarian organization. The compassion and grace of the founder was evident in the dining hall that day.
I left the cafeteria with a happy feeling having witnessed the height of vegetarian cooking and ideals at the same time, humbled by the power of one person’s generosity to help so many people. As vegetarian and vegan diets become more popular in the U.S. and around the world, so is the chance for great works of peace, cooperation, and caring for all life as demonstrated by the vibrant vegetarian culture of Taipei. My colleagues were all smiles knowing that they had surprised me and that I had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. When I returned home I was more enthused than ever to make vegan food. I often think of Cheng Yen and her gift of goodness to the people of Taipei.
I'm not big on cruises. In fact, I've never taken one. When I travel I prefer to go to a new country, rent a car, and explore on my own or with friends and family. However, taking a holistic vegan cruise through the Caribbean with gourmet meals, speakers talking about nutrition, and exercise every day is a very nice idea and thoroughly enriching. This article says that the demand for this type of service is booming. I contend that when you provide a nice environment for people to explore healthy living, they really enjoy and appreciate eating vegetarian or vegan meals. I know I do.
Eating vegan or vegetarian meals is usually healthy. However, if the amount of salt used to prepare the meals is not reduced as well, you may not be getting the full nutritional impact of the food. Generally, we consume much more salt than is needed. This video from the CDC provides some useful information.
As mentioned in previous posts, the vegan lifestyle is more than just food. It's living in a way to protect and preserve the environment. Every aspect of our lives can be fine-tuned to increase the sustainability of our planet in a peaceful and enjoyable way. Now there are many affordable options for products that use bio-friendly materials. Even the mass retailers stock green products since consumers are behind the trend. This is a nice article about how to make your kitchen earth friendly!
Make Simple Vegan Meals