A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.
A study of 27,000 British participants 40 years or older found that diet was linked to risk of cataracts. The study concluded that vegetarians and vegans had the lowest risk of developing cataracts compared to those who ate meat, fish, or poultry. [NIH Abstract] The NIH defines cataracts as follows:
More research is needed to determine how it reduces the risk of this condition, but diet affects so many parts of the body that it's not surprising that eye health is related to it as well. As more Americans adopt vegan or vegetarian diets, it will be interesting to observe if the prevalence of the condition decreases.
New fashion line Vaute Couture put its collection on the runway at New York's Fashion Week in February and was well received as discussed in this article from US News. The fabric for the line didn't include any leather, lamb skin, wool, or fur and was made from "organic, recycled, and high-tech fabrics."
As vegan fashion gains popularity on the runways of NY, it will most likely influence many other designers and retailers to consider vegan fabrics and clothing. Stella McCartney, for example, designs cruelty free fashion and retailers such as Target and Payless now sell vegan shoes.
It nice to see vegan fashion along with vegan diets hitting the mainstream. With more clothing options available to suit all budgets, those wishing to extend the vegan philosophy from diet to clothing and accessories can look good doing so and be on trend!
The experimental...methodology has demonstrated that supplementing prisoners' diets with physiological dosages of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids caused a reduction in antisocial behavior to a remarkable degree.
This conclusion from a British nutrition study on inmates was the result of comparing two groups, one which ate standard prison meals which typically didn't provide proper nutrition and the other which had food supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, found a reduction in anti-social instances.
Several research studies to date, including this one from 2002, support the powerful role diet has on behavior, especially its ability to influence good behavior and transform damaging conduct. The study also notes that poor diet can be easily "identified and remedied". One remedy is to eat enough vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds, all elements of a vegan diet, to provide the nutrition everyone needs to feel great and act with good intentions!
Producing a sustainable environment can be a positive outcome of the vegan diet due to the more efficient use of water and land when compared to meat production. Greenhouse gasses also appear to be lessened. This graphic from CulinarySchools.org lays out the numbers and comparisons in a useful way!
Many top chefs around the world predicted that the next few years would see vegetables becoming the main attraction at restaurants and that the eateries that could do it well would benefit from eager customers wanting to try plant-based cuisine. The prediction seems to becoming true.
A top restaurant in the city where I live did an all veg menu for one night last month and it was impossible to get a reservation. In Cleveland, a meat and potatoes city according to this article, the vegan trend is on the up-tick. The Cleveland Vegan Society organized a fundraiser to raise money for a VegFest, and it sold out with over 400 people attending! A local vegan chef commented:
"I was totally shocked that it wasn't just a bunch of my Trekkie friends that usually hang out in their moms' basement," jokes Harouvis. "These were normal, professional, amazing people that were there. There were no secret handshakes. I was so excited. Whenever you find your people, you're just so happy."
The vegan society there also held a Vegan 101 workshop and sold out all 150 seats. These are just a few examples, but it's clear that the demand for healthier food options is growing and the interest in the vegan diet and lifestyle is expanding across the U.S.!
For the last three months (Nov, Dec, and Jan), wind farms in Spain produced the largest portion of its electricity requirement for the first time (more than 25%). According to this article from the Guardian, wind energy output was higher than that from coal or nuclear generators. Spain has a goal of deriving 40% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. It appears to be well on its way, setting a nice example for the rest of the world!
A recent study carried out in the UK by Oxford University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that vegetarian diets lowered the risk of heart disease among the 45,000 participants by 32%.
Overwhelmingly, those who identified with being vegetarian had lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index (BMI) than those who ate meat and fish. The team found a 32% lower risk of hospitalization or death from cardiovascular disease among the non-meat-eaters. Source
Per the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in both men and women and is caused in part by high blood pressure, smoking, and high LDL cholesterol. Other factors include diabetes, obesity, poor diets, excessive use of alcohol, and inactivity. Many of these factors are influenced by what we eat and a plant-based diet could help mitigate or overcome many of the contributors to heart disease. The results of this study support this approach to preventative health.
My cooking continues to go through transformations - new ingredients and new methods. These are the latest trends.
- more raw ginger and raw turmeric (anti-inflammatory)
- more quinoa, some whole wheat (pasta, pizza crusts, lasagna) and almost no rice now
- replacing tofu with tempeh as much as possible (more probiotic)
- less and less vegetable oils used in cooking
- more eggplant - diced and put into stews or burritos, roasted with other veggies, and added, chopped, into soups (good source of fiber)
- more red lentils instead of green/brown lentils (they cook quicker, easier to digest for me)
- more squash (kabocha, butternut, acorn, zucchini, pumpkin)
- less and less salt
- more white onion - raw and sauteed (anti-bacterial, enjoying the flavor more)
- more red bell pepper instead of green bell pepper (enjoy the flavor more, more vitamin C, A, and beta-carotene)
- experimenting with maple syrup as an alternative to agave (but maple syrup is more expensive, so using it only in limited amounts)
- continuing to eat kale in larger quantities and finding new ways to use it (detox and anti-inflammation benefits)
- roasting vegetables more (trying brussels sprouts lately)
- adding more fruit to recipes (curries, vegan pizzas, salads)
- finding more ways to use coconut milk (baking, smoothies, curries, etc.)
- making smoothies more often and trying new ingredients (ground ginger, chia seeds, broccoli)
- eating more raw fruit daily
Up until a few years ago, I didn't know anything about quinoa. Now it's my favorite grain substitute by far (it's actually a seed). I cook it all the time and it's replaced rice in my diet almost completely. My body digests it better than any other grain or seed. The protein value of quinoa is high as well, since it provides a complete protein containing all essential amino acids.
It used to be a staple of the Inca Empire in South America and has supported local Andean communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador until the 1990's, as described in this interesting article, when the U.S. started to import it. It grew in popularity, driven by health conscious consumers, and is now a global commodity. The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization has named 2013 the 'The International Year of Quinoa'!
The popularity of the ingredient has impacted the local communities per the article. The price has increased which makes it harder for the local people to buy it now and the small farmers who were able to meet the demand are now being squeezed out by bigger farms. It's a common story and to be expected when an agricultural product goes from local to global and big money gets involved.
Most likely we'll see a trend to towards new quinoa products which are grown in a sustainable way
by small farmers (similar to chocolate). If these products appear, they may be the best ones to buy if supporting the local farmers is of interest. Regardless, the quinoa producing world will change as demand for this fabulous ingredient increases. Hopefully everyone in the Andean communities will benefit from the boom.
Researchers in New Zealand have published a study linking plant-based diets with improved moods. The experiment involved 281 people and the researchers monitored their diets for 21 days. They found that those who ate more vegetables and fruit reported feeling calmer, being happier, and having more energy. They also determined that a real positive change in mood was experienced after 7 to 8 servings of vegetables was consumed during the day. A serving was defined as half a cup.
The study is useful because it shows that vegan diets not only improve physical health, but also mental health. Healthy moods are a wonderful benefit of a diet rich in well prepared vegetables and raw fruit. Swapping out meat side dishes for vegetable ones or making vegetables the main course is one small step to take on the quest for happiness and well-being!
Make Simple Vegan Meals