A village in the eastern part of Nepal has become a vegetarian settlement. The village is called Itahari Tole and the consumption of meat and fish is prohibited in accordance with their religious philosophy which is opposed to "killing any living organism". Roughly 200 households participate according to this short release from the Himalayan Times. It is nice to read about an entire community dedicated to a compassionate lifestyle! Namaste!
Kale, possibly the trendiest vegetable over the past two years, was mentioned 380 times more often in 2013 than four years earlier, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor. Source
According to this article, kale, spinach, and arugula, among others are becoming much more popular on menus and moving from side dishes to center stage at restaurants across the country. Demand is so strong for dishes featuring these leafy greens that one restaurant mentioned bought its own farm to keep up with demand. Chefs are generating creative dishes with a variety of ingredients to accompany the greens to the delight of health focused consumers! Hopefully those tasting these great vegetable combinations at restaurants will be inclined to make them at home as well (which is not hard to do!).
The farm to table concept is a wonderful way to eat, especially when it's organic. The freshness of the vegetables we use has such an impact on their nutritional value, flavor, and texture. Growing your own vegetables or purchasing them from a local farmers market are a couple ways to ensure fresh vegetables are always in your kitchen and on your table.
Since consuming fresh plant-based foods has such a positive health impact, applying this concept to those being treated for chronic illness makes great sense. The farm to patient concept is now being pioneered by a hospital and farm partnership in the Phoenix area. Cancer Treatment Centers of America and McClendon's Select have established a 25 acre organic farm next to the hospital with the purpose of delivering the freshest ingredients to the patients!
Per this article, the farm, named Hope Springs, harvested its first crop in 2013 and the hospital hired a well known chef, who participated in the development of the farm, to create meals for the patients with the belief that the fresh vegetables have the power to heal.
Chef Caputo believes they might be the first hospital in the US to establish its own farm, and he thinks it’s a model for others. His passion for food as the embodiment of love and compassion, his commitment to constant improvement and learning, his belief in the advantages of organic, fresh produce over the food service standards used in hospitals and institutions nationwide - these are the core of his conviction and the reason he goes to work each day. Source
It's great to see a hospital adding nutrition as a key element for treating chronic illness. Plant-based nutrition has the power to potentially reverse chronic illness, even in the later stages of disease. If more hospitals and healing centers can integrate the farm to patient practice into their therapy and serve an abundance of all plant-based meals, those striving to return to well-being and the families who care about them will certainly benefit.
McClendon leases the land from CTCA, growing for Chef Caputo’s kitchen on part of it and using the remaining acreage to grow for his farmers market and other wholesale clients. Maxed out at his previous site and unable to meet increasing demand, the farm at CTCA provided the perfect opportunity for McClendon to expand his growing while deepening a relationship that contributes to the healing of hundreds of patients every day. Many of those patients participate in garden activities with their caregivers and a few even help regularly with harvests for the kitchen.
The author of The China Study and Whole, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who researched diet and health traits among rural Chinese for more than 20 years, talks about the basic observations from the study and nutrition in this interview with Men's Journal.
Is there something fundamentally wrong with getting a lot of protein?
The China Study research hypothesized that there would be a link between diet and chronic disease and more specifically that a link would be noticed between consumption of animal products and cancer and other chronic illnesses. Because of the diet patterns in rural China at the time which were predominately plant-based, the researchers were able to make useful contrasts between those who consumed plant-based foods and those who ate animal-based products.
The study concluded that diseases in more affluent areas tended to be linked with 'nutritional extravagance' which is characterized by higher levels of meat and dairy consumption. It also found that blood cholesterol which was higher in people who consumed animal based products was associated with higher rates of chronic disease. Additionally, it noticed that those who had higher fiber intakes had lower rates of colon cancer.
Per the book, the study was significant because it was the most comprehensive study ever done on diet and disease, it generated a huge amount of data, it was able to make statistically significant contrasts between those who ate plant-based foods and those who ate animal-based foods, and it studied a stationary population which kept lifestyle and diet variables consistent over time.
Interestingly, since the research was published, diets in the rural communities have changed due to the rapid growth of China's economy, leading to more affluence, higher consumption of animal-based products, and increasing rates of chronic illness.
When Mr. Smith received a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2008, he decided to treat it with aggressive dietary changes under a doctor’s supervision. He began eating only whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Scans later showed that the cancerous growth had disappeared.
Five time mayor of Marshall, Texas, Ed Smith, recovered from cancer after switching to a whole foods, plant based diet and has used his experience to inspire many in his town to eat healthier. According this this article from the NY Times, the town's diet was typical of the area where "barbecue and chicken-fried steak" are favorites. Unfortunately, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are prevalent, too.
By starting a health festival advocating vegan diets called "New Year, New You", he has promoted a healthier way of eating there and it seems to be catching on. The event motivated monthly vegan potlucks, appearances by influential vegan chefs and speakers, and new vegan menu options at many local restaurants (www.gethealthymarshall.com).
“Before, I thought going vegan was like eating cardboard and hugging a tree,” Ms. VanDeCarr said. “After eating some of her food, I was like, ‘Man, it tastes really good.’ ”
The approach the mayor has used to persuade people to give it a try has been focused on the health message and the taste potential of the food more so than on other aspects of veganism and it has been very effective. Positive psychology is a wonderful way to encourage everyone to make a transition, especially with food. The efforts of Mayor Smith are very impressive and worth repeating in communities everywhere!
According to this article from Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, good nutrition helps heal wounds quicker and with less pain, discomfort, and scarring.
Although we have many surgical options and topical treatments, wounds will not heal if the patient is not well nourished. Source
The healing process includes three phases all of which need the proper nutrients including adequate calories, protein, and vitamins. Plant-based foods provide an abundance of great nutrients all of which play a role in returning the body to wonderful health.
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Source
Common questions about vegan diets usually center around protein requirements and worries about deficiencies. Yet, plant-based diets do provide enough protein according to many doctors, scientists, and the American Dietetic Association as per the statement above. Why is this? Here is how the question of getting enough protein might be answered.
First, by switching to a plant-based diet, you are actually bringing down protein intake to healthy levels! There is confusion about the amount of protein needed from any source. The RDA which has been supported since the 1940s suggests that we only need 8-10% of total calories from protein and current calculations confirm this. The RDA statistically represents 98% of the population, not the average. The estimated average requirement (two standard deviations below the RDA) for the amount of protein we need is even less. Plant-based protein provides around 10% of total calories which is at the high end of the daily requirement. Therefore, by eating a WFPB diet, you are getting healthy and sufficient amounts of this nutrient as stated by the ADA. A meat-based diet actually provides higher levels of protein than the RDA which can be remedied simply by changing protein sources.
Second, meat-based protein is actually less valuable for our health compared to plant-based protein! Historically the quality of the animal protein has been wrongly portrayed by not looking at the side-effects. The high biological value of meat protein refers to the fact that its amino acid content is similar to humans which does increase its efficiency of use in the body. However, this level of efficiency may not be entirely desirable since is accelerates growth rates unnecessarily and can initiate and promote cancer. It also delivers unneeded cholesterol and saturated fats which may induce many additional problems.
Third, all nutrients work in symphony with each other! There has been too much value placed on protein as a single nutrient in the diet. By eating a range of plant-based whole foods, you actually receive the full range of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, and anti-oxidants necessary for balanced health along with a wealth of vitamins and minerals which are less abundant in meat products. In fact, many vegetables contain a sufficient amount and range of amino acids individually and, if any one is lacking, the body uses its store of amino acids to build the protein. Further, combining meat and plant proteins actually inhibits the value of the plant nutrients, so even a flexitarian diet is not necessary to achieve protein requirements, although it is a good way for those wanting to become vegan to start. All nutrients working together promote great health and this should be the main focus instead of fixating on just one part of the equation.
So by dismissing plant-proteins because of perceptions that have been created over time about the value of animal-protein and the weakness of plant-protein, one could be risking health and happiness outcomes which research and disease statistics associated with meat-based diets often confirms.
Veganism is not social activism. Veganism is community.
Yes, 70 billion animals will lose their lives this year for food, some even boiled alive in pots.
Yes, 7 out of 10 of the most prevalent chronic diseases have been linked to animal-based diets.
Yes, animals do feel terror, loneliness, and depression.
Yes, colon cancer and breast cancer may be largely preventable through plant-based diets.
Yes, more land is used to grow crops for animals than for humans.
Yes, the solvable problem of malnourishment is still a major dilemma globally and locally in children.
Yes, processed foods are still marketed as being healthy, even though they are not.
Yes, meat is still considered to be the most healthy protein in spite of the mounting health risks.
Yes, animal agriculture is changing the landscape and climate of the planet.
But at the heart of veganism is a binding belief that personal health, longevity, compassion and happiness can all be achieved by eating certain foods and avoiding others and that by joining each other in a common community espousing a harmless way of life, we have the ability to enjoy, sustain, and give deeper meaning to it for our own enrichment as well as for all of the human and non human beings and entities with which we have such long-standing and inter-dependent relationships.
Imagine living in a housing estate where an organic farm is the center of the community instead of a golf course or a town park! Many real estate developers see this as the model of the future according to this article from the Des Moines Register. It takes the concept of urban farming to a new level. Since interest in locally grown food has increased and the farm-to-table concept has been popularized, this living model addresses an expanding need in a nice way!
One can envision an suburban community where the farm is a short walk down the street and families rely on the fresh organic ingredients it provides daily in their cooking. They learn to grow and harvest their own food and cook it as well. As mentioned in previous blog posts, easy access to quality vegetables is a key motivation for eating them. These conservation communities solve this problem in a big way!
Having food grown in your backyard can be exciting, Cleverley said. “There are very few things that are more rewarding than walking into a field and bringing back dinner,” he said. Source
"Farms have become the new golf course," according to a senior fellow at Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C. who estimates that there are close to 200 such developments nationally now. This is very beneficial for those who want alternatives to the classic development around a golf course, constructed lake, or other resource which is great for occasional leisure but doesn't directly improve the lifestyle of the majority of the people who live there. A gardening community within a metropolitan area will help those who use it potentially eat better and enjoy the food more. For those who already eat healthy and want to utilize the convenience of such a development, it's a fantastic opportunity!
“When I was a kid, almost every farm had a garden. Those are good memories for a lot of people — being in a garden with their grandparents or sitting around a table, shelling peas” with their parents. “People would like to recapture that feeling,” said Cleverley, who will likely help Hubbell develop the plan for the project’s organic farm. Source
One mission of the vegan lifestyle is to conserve energy and use renewable sources to limit environmental degradation as much as possible. The growth of solar and wind power has been helpful in this regard. However, one limitation has been the ability to store electrical energy in a way that is inexpensive, safe, and able to meet growing demand.
University scientists are now developing ways to do this with batteries that use plant-based organic chemicals which will make this storage technology more affordable, effective, and safer than using traditional non-organic materials according to this article. This development could make solar and wind even more capable of replacing energy derived from fossil fuels. If this technology is successfully developed and becomes repeatable on an industrial scale, it can increase the use of important renewable energy sources at a time when we need it the most!
Make Simple Vegan Meals