A fun day trying the flavors of Malaysian cooking, all vegetarian or vegan! The 41st World VegFest was held at Lake Titiwangsa in central Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 6 following two days of the International Vegetarian Congress seminars. Lots of great food and positive energy!
If you are seeking vegan inspiration, the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in central Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a good place to visit. Guan Yin is the Buddhist goddess of compassion, and that feeling is evident within the grounds of the monastery and in the cafeteria behind the temple. I first visited the temple by accident while traveling through SE Asia after college and the food at the cafeteria motivated me to try the vegetarian lifestyle. After returning to the cafeteria many years later, the spirit is still alive and well! As usual the entire seating area filled up completely during the lunch hour, and the temple still offers free lunches twice a month on auspicious days. Eating lunch here makes for a wonderful day every time!
According to this article from the Daily Mail UK, NASA plans on growing vegetables for consumption on the space station by the end of the year. The purpose of the program is to develop an agricultural system in orbit that will provide food for astronauts on long space journeys, such as to Mars. The first vegetable grown will be romaine lettuce under LED lights.
If you are planning on visiting Canada's west coast, most likely, you'll end up in Vancouver, British Columbia. A beautiful city to visit and also a haven for vegan restaurants and shops. The blog, Veg Coast, created a list in this post. Here are of few of the ones mentioned:
There’s a clear difference between nuts and seeds that isn’t obvious to non-botanists. In general, seeds are rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, which is beneficial for heart health and cancer prevention. Seeds also contain phytosterols, plant compounds that can help lower cholesterol and offer other health benefits. Source
Seeds are easy to add to many recipes - on salads, in smoothies, and garnished on sauteed vegetables. They also add flavor and a nutritional boost to food including omega 3 fats, protein, phyto-nutrients, and fiber. This article discusses some of the more popular ones along with their features including:
Two cancer centers near Chicago (CSC) are now teaching nutrition as a way to boost the immune system to help heal cancer. They hold cooking classes, nutrition seminars, and smoothie demonstrations so that patients can learn more about the impact of healthy diets on chronic illness according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
About two years into her work at CSC, Rosandich attended a meeting at which several nurses were discussing the low percentage of cancer patients in which a hereditary factor was a cause of the illness.
Using nutrition, especially as provided by plant-based diets, as a way to fight or prevent cancer is a concept gaining more ground and it's nice to see these cancer centers relying on this "powerful weapon available to everyone..."
Higher blood-sugar levels, even those well short of diabetes, seem to raise the risk of developing dementia, a major new study finds. Researchers say it suggests a novel way to try to prevent Alzheimer's disease - by keeping glucose at a healthy level. Source
The study, carried out by the National Institute on Aging, shows that there is a "clean pattern" correlating elevated risks of dementia and Alzheimer's diseases and high blood glucose levels. About 5 million people in the US have Alzheimer's and currently there is no medication available to reverse or prevents the effects. Therefore, scientists are looking at diet as a possible preventative tactic. They are also investigating what are safe thresholds of sugar intake and glucose levels, which are probably much lower than what is currently accepted. In general, this study reaffirms that good mental health can be maintained by managing blood sugar levels, along with two other studied factors, lowering cholesterol and keeping blood pressure in a safe range.
Sometimes the best way to increase the consumption of healthy food, especially plant-based ingredients, is to make them more accessible. In spite of the abundance of fruits and vegetables available today at grocery stores and farmers markets, not all communities have easy access to these ingredients. In fact, in many under-resourced communities, access is limited for a number of reasons including costs, transportation, time, and dislike of the quality available to them.
A new method of increasing the quantity and consumption of vegetables in the homes in these communities is called CSA or Community Supported Agriculture, which gives residents the opportunity to buy a "share" of a local farm's vegetables at the beginning of the growing season, which they can pick up in boxes, weekly, once the produce is harvested. The feasibility of this type of program was testing on a specific community by a CDC study to determine if it worked. The vegetable "shares" were paid for by a community center through donations. The larger purpose of the study was to find ways to ease health disparities within these communities.
Fruit and vegetable consumption helps prevent chronic diseases responsible for the major causes of illness and death in the United States (1–3). Despite the known benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, the typical US diet fails to meet recommendations (1). Substantial disparities in fruit and vegetable consumption exist by region, race, and income (4); these are mirrored in disparities in health outcomes and disease prevalence (5,6). Source
The results on the groups tested showed some success:
Compared with a control group, the participants in the Farm Fresh Healthy Living program reported a greater variety of fruits and vegetables in their households at the end of the season than did the control group. There was no difference in fruit and vegetable intake, though a trend toward higher consumption in the intervention group was observed. The greater number of fruits and vegetables present in food inventories of intervention participants demonstrates that the intervention increased the diversity of foods available to families. A larger sample size or a more sensitive data collection instrument for dietary intake may have demonstrated a significant effect on fruit and vegetable consumption. Source
The difficulties encountered by participants in accessing the vegetables from the farm are to be expected:
Participants picked up their food an average of 9 of 16 weeks. Although the pick-up schedule was more generous than is the case with other CSA programs and accommodations were made for participants’ schedules, these efforts may have been insufficient to adjust the program to the life situations of low-income women. Many women worked multiple jobs and lacked workplace flexibility. Some depended on multiple buses to travel to and from the pick-up point, and they struggled to transport the produce box on the bus. Such issues that prevented full participation are consistent with those observed by other researchers (17,24)
This study is very valuable since it highlights the barriers many under-resourced communities encounter to getting proper nutrition. Many participants wanted to keep the program going, even if they had to pay as much as $25 per box. If access was improved even more, the results of higher inventories within the household would have been even better. My experiences have been similar. I currently have very good access to a couple grocery stores that provide high quality vegetables at very reasonable prices and often put those vegetables on sale. As a result, my kitchen is packed with great, healthy ingredients.
When I've lived where access was more difficult, or not readily convenient, or the quality of the vegetables was poor, I bought less and made fewer attempts to visit the store since it wasn't enjoyable. If the quality isn't there, or the prices are ridiculous for what you get, or it takes too much effort to get to the store, or it's a hassle with parking or long lines at the cashier, the more convenient option is to eat out, order in, or rely on packaged foods. I've felt that high quality vegetables and fruits increase consumption, and poor quality ones repel people. In fact, sometimes restaurants actually have better access to higher quality vegetables and fruits, since they are delivered, than the grocery stores in or near the same community.
Although the study didn't see a statistically relevant result for increased consumption, it's hard to expect people who have not had regular access to good produce to immediately start incorporating them into their meals. It takes time. They have to develop new recipes and get used to the flavors. Good ingredients slowly start to replace bad ones, but when access, quality or prices interrupt the adoption of plant-based ingredients into the diet, it is less likely that they will become permanent fixtures.
This study was very useful and the program has potential for success, but it needs to be fine-tuned and done over a long period of time so that the participants get used to and enjoy making plant-based ingredients a common and frequent part of their meals which will eventually lead to a reduction of the health disparities we see in these communities.
“If man wants freedom why keep birds and animals in cages? Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat.” - Leonardo da Vinci
The vegetarian life is not a new concept. It's been around for a long time. Many luminaries throughout history have reached a point in their lives when the consumption of meat no longer makes sense to them and provides no pleasure. The list is long and extensive. This article from Living Green Magazine is encyclopedic in its scope and demonstrates that vegetarian ideals have influenced many of the great thinkers and writers including Pythagorus of ancient Greece, Leonardo da Vinci, Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Gandhi.
Even the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelly, was vegetarian which inspired to her to make her monstrous creation a vegetarian as well, a very nice redeeming quality. All of us can be connected to the wonderful minds or our times and times past by delighting in the vegetarian and vegan life.
“...nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” - Albert Einstein
Traveling vegan can be difficult at times, but German airline, Condor, part of UK-based Thomas Cook Airline Group, has made it a bit easier. It began offering vegan meals to its passengers on September 1, 2013. It is responding to many requests by its passengers for the new option. Meals can be ordered 48 hours in advance of the flight according to the article. Good job! Bemerkenswert!
Make Simple Vegan Meals