It has been an adventure. The discovery of a previously invisible (to me) universe has opened my eyes to more than cuisine. What I had scoffed at as the territory of hippies and radicals has surprised me with its mainstream feel - not to mention its flavor. But our food choices, I've learned, involve more than taste. There is a strong ethical component to it that I cannot help but respect, even if that respect took some serious prompting.
When friends ask me what it's like dating a vegan I usually skip the ethical bit and mumble something about lots of Thai food and Naked juice - which is entirely accurate, but there is more to the whole vegan thing than I originally realized, or than most people probably do.
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A fun and entertaining read about journalist Matthew Nussbaum's first exposure to the plant-based lifestyle through his vegan girlfriend in Philadelphia! See the story.
Veganz is the world's first vegan grocery store chain based in Berlin with stores now expanding across Germany and other European countries. This video, produced by HappyCow, explores the store with owner and founder, Jan Bredack. The store also has created clusters of vegan establishments on the same street where it opened, resulting in the first all vegan block in the world along Schivelbeiner Strasse in Berlin! What a great place to shop and hang out! Unglaublich!
I'm always on the lookout for the next super drink. My current choice is fresh or cold pressed coconut water which has plenty of electrolytes. However, chicha morada, a drink made from purple corn in Peru is being touted as a way to reduce cardiovascular problems and other ailments by Peru's health agency.
Peruvian Purple Corn Drink Can Prevent Cancer: Official
One theme of this blog is to urge and encourage readers to avoid processed foods as much as possible. They are unhealthy and, according to this article from Mercola.com, potentially dangerous! For example, many artificial food colors contain coal tar, a carcinogen. In fact, there are 3,000 food additives allowed in processed foods consumed in the U.S., many of which are not allowed elsewhere in the developed world.
All foods we buy are processed to a certain degree, even fresh vegetables which are washed and cleaned, etc. However, the foods the don't look anything like the original ingredients and contain additives and preservatives along with high doses or sodium, sugars, and fat are particularly hazardous. Considering that many of these additives are banned in other countries should make us even more cautious. Even when eating out at fast casual restaurants, you can't be certain that the ingredients they use aren't highly processed as well.
Our best chances for long term health occur when processed foods are avoided and fresh home-cooked meals and snacks comprise the bulk of our dietary needs. Even meat is considered a processed food, so eating plant-based meals helps reduce and eliminate as many detrimental ingredients as possible!
This realization or maybe even epiphany was penned by author Dr. Kerrie K. Saunders in her book, The Vegan Diet as Chronic Disease Prevention (2003 by Lantern Books). It simplifies the strategy of healthy eating and illuminates the direct link that vegan diets have with well-being.
The body is a bio-organism and survives as best as possible on what we put in it. When the chemical composition of the food we eat creates balance in the system, the body thrives, healthily over long periods of time. If the food compounds we put in our body throws it out of balance, the biological systems will try to restore balance, but they can't do it forever.
By eating well, especially when vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes comprise the food elements we ingest, the chances of maintaining biological balance and harmony go way up. This is especially true if fat makes up less the 15% of the daily calories and protein, as well, makes up around 15% of calories.
Eating well is a sign of respect for your self and the organs, bacteria, and cells within your body which will aid us throughout life. They need the proper chemistry to succeed and that can be achieved easily by what we put on our plates, every meal!
It only goes so far.
There is so much we can say and so much has been written about poor nutrition and those who are most affected by it. It’s about the depredation of poverty, inequalities of income and diet, and time. Just ask anyone who works 22 hours a day on minimum wages how much time they have to plan a healthy meal or consider more nutritious options to the quickest and most convenient forms of food available. The answer is not much at all. Tired legs don’t encourage anyone to stand in the kitchen and prepare a good meal.
Poor diet is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Such illnesses result in shortened life spans, fewer years of good health, and ultimately, increased hardship, especially when those living in poverty and working long hours must care for others who have been ravaged by the same problems. It’s a tough cycle to break.
Government programs to provide resources to those in need to spend on food are benign and encouraging. But, it is disheartening to see the same segment of the population inundated with relentless advertising images of the worst food choices possible. Studies show that repetition of food images, whether for meat or vegetables are effective in influencing eating behavior. Because we are bombarded with meat images daily, hourly, and almost every minute, it makes it hard to evoke a desire to seek out nutritious food choices when time and resources are thin. It’s hard even when time and resources are abundant.
When we envision helping those affected by inequalities in diet, it only goes so far when the mainstream messaging from the powerful consumer goods and fast food brands remind us constantly that they are the best choice for our resources and for our health and that consuming their products will produce happiness, when, clearly, the opposite is the case.
As summer approaches, grilling vegetables is a fun way to cook! This article from MSU offers several good tips for grilling veggies and fruits!
Not always easy to find stylish men's vegan shoes, but di Romeo, an Italian brand, has a nice collection!
It wasn’t long ago when I thought the way we eat was never going to change. In that time I’ve also learned never to say never. It’s apparent that a new dawn has come to our eating habits and the sun is rising on a dramatic culinary renaissance.
Vegetables, grains, fruit, and nuts are no longer ingredients for side dishes and snacks. They are becoming the main meal in thousands of different combinations and creations. Where flavor was something that was prepared for meat before grilling, it is now an art form to make vegetable meals taste amazing for even those who shun the site of green on their plates. Dairy and eggs are no longer essential ingredients in baking, as more natural ways to make cupcakes, cookies, and pies have been established and perfected. Raw desserts are just as good as their baked counterparts.
The definitions of food are rapidly changing. While original methods to replace meat were to substitute vegetable look-a-likes, such as black bean burgers, faux chicken wings, and crispy tofu bacon, now new types of meals are arising that leave meat-based comfort food behind with new inventions by ingenious and compassionate chefs and home cooks.
Even how we eat is transforming with smaller portions, less salt, sugars, and fat, and new foods for snacking in between meals such as kale chips, roasted seaweed, and more fruit. With less meat comes less need for the use of knives and greater combinations of easy-to-consume and digest foods on the plate. The concept of condiments is changing, too, as hummus or avocado replace mayonnaise and dairy-based sauces on sandwiches.
Alternative protein sources beyond soy are gaining ground such as quinoa, pea protein, garbanzos, rice protein, and lentils among others making it easier to integrate protein into meals without having it dominate the dish. The identification of life balancing foods has also sped the evolution of recipes as anti-inflammatory, probiotic, prebiotic, detox, anti-oxidant, fiber-rich, brain-boosting, skin healing, and anti-aging ingredients are demanded as important elements of every meal. It’s hard to include these benefits in a hamburger, but they can be easily combined in vegan stews, soups, and salads and be just as filling.
The need to combat chronic illness and obesity by avoiding the traditional American diet is becoming widely accepted spurring more people to try alternative ways of eating with some being healed from the most pernicious diseases simply by adopting a vegan diet. The consumption of red meat has declined several years in a row as evidence.
Lastly, we are seeing the initial growth of vegetarian and vegan communities with schools, apartments building, grocery stores, and clothing stores going meat and cruelty free. Although they are not concentrated in any particular area, eventually they will aggregate within urban areas leading to new lifestyles which will evolve and develop in a myriad of manifestations.
The warmth and glow of these changes is affecting diet, cooking, and lifestyles in wonderful ways. Even if you missed the rise of this sun, you can still bask in its benevolent rays for years to come!
Public School 244 in Queens is now all vegetarian according the this article from IBT. The school offers pre-kindergarten to 3rd grade and started serving vegetarian meals in its cafeteria for lunch a few times a week. It noticed that the students started to gravitate towards the meals and finally decided to go vegetarian every day. Studies have shown that kids perform better in school with better nutrition and this meal plan will create a wonderful environment for students to learn!
Make Simple Vegan Meals