The vegetarian fast food trend in India now includes KFC. From this article in the Hindustan Times the company plans to keep pace with McDonald's and Subway by offering veggie burgers and other vegetarian menu items in its stores in the state of Gujarat which has a large vegetarian population. It's nice to see the trend expanding and influencing the major fast food restaurants in that country. With more of its consumers demanding meat-free options compelling the major fast-food brands to change, India is setting a great example for the rest of the world!
Meat is an addiction.
You won’t appreciate this statement until you have gone vegan for perhaps a year, and no longer crave meat.
Dependence on meat is psychological, not physical or health related. There is no difference between the addiction to meat and addictions to other habit forming substances – nicotine, recreational drugs, and alcohol. Try restricting a compulsive carnivore (which is almost everyone) from eating meat for any duration of time, even a day, and watch their reaction and behavior. They will exhibit symptoms of withdrawal including intense cravings, irritability, and anxiety. Believe me, I’ve seen it. If you eat meat constantly, try it yourself. Be observant rather than dismissive of your reaction.
The body doesn’t need meat to survive. It only believes that it does. This is why image based advertising of meat products, especially fast food, is so effective. It stimulates the mind and reminds it of the addiction, of the need to refresh, of the desire for immediate gratification.
Addiction psychologically prioritizes short term reward over long term consequences. Most people who have cholesterol levels above 200, chronic illness, or mood related disorders continue to eat meat when evidence strongly suggests that switching to a plant-based diet for even two weeks may help start the healing process and alleviate prolonged suffering.
With a vegan diet, I'm not addicted to the food I eat. I willingly skip meals whether I’m hungry or not. Some days, I’ll eat only fruit and drink water. On some days, this is enough. I often skip dinner. I don’t obsess over kale, cucumbers, quinoa, or lentils. When it comes down to it, they’re just food matter which I use to fill my stomach when it needs it. I’m able to regulate my diet and balance what I want with what I need. You can, too!
When you have an addiction, your mind is never free. The addiction controls your thoughts and actions. You wake up in the morning and every activity throughout the day is directed subconsciously to support the addiction. A vegan diet can un-tether and release you to become the amazing individual you were born to be!
Meat is an addiction.
When I first became a vegan, I avoided talking about it in mixed company. I wasn’t afraid to talk about it. I just didn’t want people to think I was driven by extreme social views or deliberately protesting general social norms. The decision to become a vegan was simply because I wanted to.
Nor did I want people to shy away from me for fear of a rant about health, animal welfare, and environmental issues. They didn’t have to worry since that’s not my style and, except for my blog and cookbooks, I tend not to openly discuss my lifestyle decisions unless there is a large desire to know (which there rarely is). I take pride in doing what I feel is best for me and my community without needing to explain or defend it.
This started to change when I had to get more involved at work and spent more time taking people out to lunch or meeting colleagues for dinner while traveling. Most times, ordering from the menu would go smoothly for my colleagues until it got to me and I had to make special requests for meat-dairy-egg free meals if it was possible; if not, then I would make a very long dinner out of a simple garden salad.
Surprisingly, most of the people I met took a serious interest in my vegan diet rather than being shocked or turned-off by it. In fact, there was always one person who said that they had considered it seriously, tried going vegetarian or vegan at least once a week, and wanted more ideas for recipes and ingredients. They had questions about meat replacements, getting enough protein and calcium, having enough energy, and feeling full after an all-vegetable meal.
Over time I had so much genuine interest in the way I ate, and even had people call me and tell me that they had tried going vegetarian or vegan after they spoke with me, that I realized that more people than I thought wanted to try going vegan or vegetarian. It was in their mind already and all they really needed was an enthusiastic affirmation that it was OK to try it, that it wasn’t going to harm them, and that it was possible to enjoy it. When they spoke with someone who was genuine about adopting and appreciating the diet, it gave them the confidence to change.
Eating habits are very hard to change, maybe one of the hardest things to change in life. It's an endeavor that requires prolonged effort. So a human connection, a partner, is sometimes what is needed to give people the strength and determination to eat differently. This is especially true when they are concerned for their own health and know that going vegan could probably help them, but aren’t convinced enough switch.
Finally, so many people asked me about what I ate that I decided it was more efficient to write a cookbook which I could send them and produce a blog to answer questions that I was commonly asked rather than spending 30 or 40 minutes every time I met people for dinner to explain how I eat and why. My cookbooks and this blog are a result of those dinner time conversations. I hope they're useful for you, too!
Almost every fruit or vegetable has cancer fighting or preventing qualities. The weighty powers of plant-based foods stem from the anti-oxidants they possess which are unremitting soldiers in the battle for health. According to this article from US News, to maximize the effect, it's best to eat vegetables raw and with the skin on, and to add them to recipes often when they are in season and the brightest in color - a time when they are the most nutrient rich. The article groups the ingredients by which diseases they help prevent and the element which does the work:
Apples (quercetin) - prevents DNA damage which could lead to cancer
Cranberries (benzoic acid) - may prevent lung and colon cancer
Kale (indoles) - may prevent lung, prostate, stomach cancer
Carrots, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Pumkin (carotenoids) - may prevent colon, prostate, breast, lung cancer
It's easy to combine many of these ingredients into a single meal with several side dishes, or even in a salad. Try a kale salad with sliced apples, cranberries, and carrots with a light vinaigrette! The more color you can add to your meals with vegetables and fruits in season, the greater benefit to your health!
Although we try to ignore it as much as possible, we live in a violent society. Every time someone eats a product containing a meat ingredient, an act of violence had to occur to make that product. Because meat consumption is the dominate form of protein intake in our culture, this type of violence occurs continuously. With it comes a tremendous disregard for life, suffering, and entrapment. It’s not hard to project this unconcern for the dignity of life onto human beings and enact the violence of animal agriculture onto people which manifests itself in various ways.
With a vegan diet, there is peace in the food we eat, respect for the life around us, and an inclination to engender, create, preserve, and sustain, rather than to destroy. With the food we choose to eat, we can foster harmony, passiveness, and happiness and overcome the current propensity for brutality.
Being a vegan gives you an advantage and a wonderful opportunity to lose weight. If you are replacing a diet of burgers, pizza, burritos, and hot dogs with broccoli, kale, cucumbers, tofu, and black beans chances are you will slim up. In fact, while a meat eater, I was never able to shed pounds, even with rigorous exercise. I resigned myself to being slightly overweight and even stopped exercising frequently since I stopped seeing any effect other than burning off energy.
Upon becoming a vegan, I did immediately start losing weight but it only went so far until I started exercising frequently again. With that combination, I amazingly got down to my high school weight and waist size which is something I never thought possible. Then, with the lower weight, I exercised more, ran farther, rode my bike faster, and hiked up higher mountains with less effort.
Shortly after accomplishing this, though, I succumbed to opting for vegan junk food in place of freshly cooked meals and ate bowl after bowl of pasta as a quick and easy meal. This was a poor choice since I started gaining the pounds again and decreased my exercise frequency until I was back to a slightly overweight condition which I didn’t like.
So after several years of working on new recipes which I liked, I cut out pasta except for once a week, reduced the amount of bread I ate, skipped all vegan baked desserts, reduced soy milk consumption, eliminated vegan ice cream, threw out all vegan cheeses, and focused on fresh vegetables, fruit, and nuts and began exercising again, eventually running a half marathon.
Although I haven’t achieved my high school weight again, I’m about half way there, and working hard to get closer.
As with my example, when a vegan, it is still possible to take in more calories than your burn off. It is also still possible, with the proliferation of vegan snacks and processed foods, to consume too much sugar and fat as if you weren’t on any diet at all.
When you become a vegan, you will be eating more nutritiously, but you still have to monitor what you eat and how much you eat to maintain an optimum weight for your body leading to long term health!
Everyone has the exceptional power to reason and to create continuously throughout life. By maximizing the use of these basic abilities, we can enjoy life more fully. So, how can we preserve or augment these natural powers of the mind? According to the latest research, they can be enhanced, in part, through diet and exercise.
The vegetable and fruit ingredients in a plant-based diet include many anti-oxidants which help fight disease and improve brain function. The top foods for brain health are vegan dark chocolate, blueberries, and black beans according to this article since they have the highest levels of anti-oxidants. It's nice to see black beans on the list since they are a wonderful ingredient - inexpensive and fit wonderfully into many recipes and meals including soups, stews, and salads. Plant-based foods such as these and others also maintain good heart health which improves blood flow to the brain prolonging its vitality.
Apart from eating well, the brain stays healthier over time with plenty of daily exercise per this research. Exercise was found to have more benefits than brain games in keeping the mind active and alert, even into advanced years. Memory, for instance, stayed intact with respondents who stayed physically fit.
Lastly, according to personal development expert Michael Gelb, optimism and creativity are linked. So the more optimistic one is, the more creative he or she will be which will lead to increased brain activity. Research has shown that vegan diets improve mood compared to meat-based diets. So, by correlation, more plant-based ingredients in one's diet will lead to better moods, more optimism, increased creativity and brain activity, and finally longevity of the mind!
So focus on eating well and exercising often and reap the benefit of a powerful mind and all the amazing things that flow from it!
Honestly, I don't know. But, it's now one of my favorite winter squashes!
Kabocha squash has a slightly smoother flavor compared to acorn squash which is more common in grocery stores. The texture is similar to mashed potatoes once cooked and it blends well with many ingredients. I add agave nectar, a splash of white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, a bit of lime and olive oil, and serve it as a side dish.
Other recipes ideas include blending pinto beans and corn into the mash, making soup, or even making a dessert out of it. To cook, I cut it in half, put cut side down in a roasting pan, and heat at 400F for 45 minutes. After it is cooked it's fairly easy to work with. While not a regular in my kitchen, when it's available, I certainly get a couple to add variety to my meals and have fun doing so!
A recent survey of 2,800 Americans found that switching to a vegan diet is one of the top food trends in 2013. As more emphasis is placed on wellness instead of material wealth, veganism is seen as key to achieving good health. Other trends included going gluten-free, more snacking, and food waste consciousness according to this article from the Daily Meal. It's a positive trend for everyone and a vegan diet is attainable and fulfilling to all who give it a try!
Many testimonials abound about the healing power of a vegan or plant-based diet. A vegan diet which excludes all animal ingredients may be one of the best natural ways to prevent or heal chronic illness along with many other conditions. Eating vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains gives your body the sustenance it needs to fight, at the gene level, imbalances and inflammation in your system. When helpful ingredients are consumed and toxic ingredients shunned, your body becomes your best ally.
This detailed article by Kathy Freston in the Huff Post lists some of the latest research regarding the power of a vegan diet to combat cancer. The mains points are:
Based on these findings, it's possible to conclude that a vegan diet has the power to heal and can aid you in your quest for a life-long health!
Make Simple Vegan Meals