More Vegan Myths?!

Your Blood Type Determines Your Diet

Recently, I was talking to a friend and he told me that his blood type requires him to eat a lot of meat in his diet. I was intrigued by this concept–that your blood type could determine your diet. Clearly, I had never heard of Peter J. D’Adamo and his book Eat Right For Your Type (1996). All my research as to why my friend thought he had to adhere to pointed to D’Adamo, so I did some further research on him.

eat right for your type

His book is all about how a person’s blood type affects how their body responds to certain food. For example, he said that people with blood type O require a lot of meat in their diet, but little to no dairy. Blood type A make the best vegetarians, and blood type B are good omnivores. D’Adamo says these dietary needs are traced back to hunter-gatherer times. Who your ancestors are determines your blood type and therefore the food you should eat.

Turns out, there isn’t much scientific evidence to back this up. Many websites I visited made it clear that science does not support D’Adamo’s theory. Dr. David L. Katz of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center wrote, “the idea that we have the exact same dietary needs as ancestors who walked the savannas in 50,000 B.C. is extremely far-fetched, and helps explain why most respected medical experts do not support this approach. Worry about your blood type when you need a transfusion, not a meal.”

If you want to find out more about the blood type diet, you can visit this website, which lays it out very nicely: http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=214387. However, even this supportive website includes the statement: “The theory that our blood type determines what we should eat or what kind of exercise we should do is not supported by scientific evidence.”

 http://www.oprah.com/health/Blood-Type-Diet-Fact-vs-Fiction-Nutrition

Being Vegan = Being Healthy

I have heard some people recently get upset over people saying they are vegan because they think that by saying you are vegan, you are claiming you are healthier than everyone else. Not only is it not true that this is what vegans are implying, but it’s not even necessarily true that vegans are healthy.

Let me just start off by saying that by avoiding meat and animal products, vegans are less susceptible to many foodborne illnesses, such as E. Coli and salmonella. Eliminating our consumption of milk also helps combat allergies and many everyday complaints such as cramps and stomach aches. While this all is true*, it does not necessarily mean vegans are healthier.

Not all vegans only eat “healthy” foods. Take me for example. I eat lots of unhealthy food: almond milk ice cream, cookies and brownies, and lots and lots of chocolate. My choice in snack foods could probably use a little work, as I usually go for the sweet and salty foods rather than carrots and hummus or something else healthy. I also don’t like cooked leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, and I’m really not a fan of rice or tofu. I am not under the impression that just because I’m vegan, I’m super healthy, and neither are other vegans.

dream bites

*Fuhrman, Joel. Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. New York: Little, Brown, 2011. Print.

“Foodborne Illness: What Consumers Need to Know.” Foodborne Illness: What Consumers Need to Know. USDA, 07 Aug. 2013. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/foodborne-illness-and-disease/foodborne-illness-what-consumers-need-to-know/ct_index

http://nutritionstudies.org/mystique-of-protein-implications/

Back to Protein

The myth that vegans cannot get enough protein without strictly monitoring their diet was discussed, and hopefully debunked, in my first post: Vegan 101. Recently, I came across this great article that outlines exactly why you don’t need to eat meat to get plenty of protein. It discusses the misconceptions about protein–especially protein derived from meat and animal products–and also talks about how consuming animal products can greatly increase a person’s risk of cancer. Check it out (it’s long but worth it):

center for nutrition studies

http://nutritionstudies.org/mystique-of-protein-implications/

In Other News

New York was recently titled as the most vegan friendly state in America! Congratulations to those of you who live in New York. To you vegans who do not, I would suggest packing up your stuff and getting on a train right now.

new york

Okay, maybe don’t do that. But you can check out this rather humorous article that will surely make you feel proud to be part of the group that built a vegetable skyline of New York (no sarcasm intended).

http://www.usnews.com/news/entertainment/articles/2014/09/17/nyc-praised-as-most-vegan-friendly-in-us

 

 

Veganism is Totally a Thing

Even two decades ago, veganism in the United States was still thought to be something that only the “hippies” in northern California and New York followed. Hardly any restaurants offered vegan menu items and you would be hard pressed to find a grocery store that regularly had tofu, tempeh and other vegan foods. Those who braved the vegan diet were forcedto get creative and always cook for themselves. Now, however, we are living in a completely different culture. Grocery stores like Whole Foods are everywhere, companies boast about their vegan items and restaurants attract customers by promoting their plant-based menus. Weird looking and humorous foods such as “Fakin’ Bacon,” “Tofutti” and “Tofurky”are not uncommon.fakin bacon maple bacon tempeh

 

tofutti_btcc tofurkyThe dining hall at my college, and many others, serves multiple vegan dishes and desserts at every meal and book stores practically have entire sections devoted to vegan cookbooks.  Although you will still encounter the occasional person who doesn’t know what “vegan” means, it’s a lot less likely to happen.

While Millennials (the term given to the generation born around the year 2000 that has the reputation of being technologically advanced, attached to their phones and more connected to other parts of the world) are credited with being more environmentally aware than previous generations*, the popularization of veganism seems to be driven by the accumulative force of people across several generations. For example, I have a 10 year old cousin who is vegan and a 70 year old grandmother. Gramser max

And it’s not just my weird family–it’s many people across America. According to a 2011 poll, about 1 million Americans are vegan (The Vegetarian Times). Considering the upward trend of veganism, that number has probably risen quite a bit in the last three years.

*Whereas Generation X (the generation after the baby boomers of WWII) were characterized as the “Me Me Me” generation, many people and news sources have been putting a positive spin on Millennials, claiming they are more globally and environmentally aware than the generations before them. However, this is much debated and it is commonly agreed that although Millennials may be more aware, they neglect to take any action.

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/vegetarianism-in-america/

Ways to Avoid Arguments

No matter where I am or who I’m with, it always seems to become evident to those around me that I am vegan. Once it has been established that I am, in fact, a plant-eating, meat-avoiding human being, the questions ensue. Sometimes, especially where I come from (Bakersfield, California, which is staunchly anti-vegan despite being in California), people take my veganism as an attack on their animal eating habits and feel the need to defend themselves, which first presents itself in the form of a very loaded question concerning the logic behind my diet. On multiple occasions I have found myself in the sticky situation of trying to avoid the argument that is surely blossoming, but not wanting to belittle the importance of veganism. I have come up with a few quick responses that usually shut down the conversation without getting into an argument. They typically only work with someone who isn’t a close friend or family member. Rather, they are tailored for the person you meet for coffee once in a while or the coworker who you see in the staff lounge.

  • I just don’t really like meat, so I thought “why not be vegan?”
    • This doesn’t have to be true–you may love meat but decided to sacrifice this great love for the greater good of the planet. You can still, however, use this line. How can they argue with your taste buds?
  • Eating that food messes with my stomach, and nowadays it’s so easy to find vegan substitutes, so I eat that instead.
    • Once again, this doesn’t have to be true for you to use it.
  • My mom/dad/spouse/sibling/professional chef is vegan and they cook all my food, and I know it’s healthy enough to be vegan so I decided to join.
    • This works especially well for me. I became vegan in the first place because my mom was vegan and she cooked most of my meals.
  • Have you ever seen “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”? Don’t you want vegan powers? *Change subject*
    • If you don’t understand this reference, go watch the movie. Or use it anyway and pretend like you’ve watched the movie.

Famous Vegans!

Here are a few well-known people who just happen to be vegan:

    • Bill Clintonclinton
    • Ellen DeGeneres1365791590_ellen-degeneres-portia-derossi-article
    • Ozzy Osbournep_ozzy-osbourne1_1507639c
    • Mike TysonMike-Tyson-001

New recipe

Split Pea Soup is one of my favorite dishes, especially on a cold winter night (even if you’re from California).

split pea soup

Here is a great vegan recipe for it: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegan-split-pea-soup-i/

 

 

Vegan101

Although this blog is primarily for those who are already vegan, I thought it would be good to cover the basics. If you Google “veganism,” the first hit is a Wikipedia page that gives the definition: “Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals.”

Basically, what this means is that vegans do not consume animal products, including meat, milk, eggs, honey, bone, and blood. It also means that vegans do not wear or use products, such as leather and feathers, that come from animals. The complicated phrase that says “following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals” just means that vegans do not believe in using sentient animals (that is, animals that are able to perceive pain and feel things) as a commodity.

Vegangraphic

There are also different types of vegans. They include: ethical vegans, dietary vegans, environmental vegan and raw vegans. Dietary vegans are vegans that avoid consuming animal products, but do not abstain from buying such things as leather boots or feather pillows. Ethical vegans, on the other hand, do both. Environmental vegans are the same as ethical and/or dietary vegans, except their reasons for practicing veganism stem from the unsustainability of our agricultural system. Those who are raw vegans do not eat any food cooked above a certain temperature and also do not eat any processed food, adhering to a strict diet of fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables, grains, seeds, herbs and sprouts. This blog will mainly focus on environmental veganism.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism

Here are five brief reasons as to why people choose to “go vegan”:

1. It Conserves Water

It takes up 200 times more water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce a pound of plant foods. Source:http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3

Pic-Water_Conservation_Tipsn-Pic

2. It Makes your Carbon Footprint Smaller

According to a United Nations report, animal agriculture contributes more to greenhouse gas than every type of transportation put together. Source: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3

photo (3)

3. It Makes you Healthier

A diet high in animal fats and proteins has been shown to raise a person’s risk of developing all kinds of diseases like heart disease, diabetes and multiple types of cancer whereas those who adhere to a plant based diet have a significantly decreased risk of developing these illnesses. You’re also less likely to be overweight or obese.  Sources: http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/facts/meat-consumption-and-cancer-risk

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149636.php

veggies

4. It’s more Sustainable

Seventy percent of the grain grown in the United States is fed to livestock. Source: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3

grain

5. It Doesn’t Harm Other Beings

happy cow

Here are three common myths about being vegan and why they are wrong:

1. If you’re vegan, you can’t get enough protein

As long as you aren’t living on a diet that consists entirely of one food group, you should be fine. Protein can be found in all kinds of non-meat, non-dairy food. To name a few: tempeh, soybeans, lentils, black beans, veggie burgers, chickpeas, tofu, bagels, quinoa, peas, almonds, spaghetti, peanut butter, soy milk, almond milk, whole wheat bread, sunflower seeds, cashews, spinach, broccoli, and many more vegetables, nuts, grains and food.

Another myth that needs debunking is that vegans and vegetarians have to strictly monitor their protein intake to make sure they are getting enough and they are getting all the amino acids they need. Once again, as long as you aren’t surviving off a diet of little variance, this isn’t true. You will get plenty of protein just by eating a regular diet of vegetables, fruits and grains. Personally, I have been vegan for a year and have never once tried to figure out my average daily protein intake nor worried about whether it is enough. I don’t feel like my body is lacking anything; quite the contrary. Since becoming vegan, I have had more energy and felt better, both mentally and physically, and the stress over choosing what to eat and worrying about where my food comes from has gone away almost completely. I simply eat what is natural and what makes me feel good.

If you are looking for a list of how much protein is in foods typically thought to be in line with a vegan diet, you can go to the Vegetarian Resource Group’s webpage!

http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php

2. Vegans are aggressive activists and can’t be reasoned with

There seems to be a stigma surrounding veganism that vegans disapprove of every meat and dairy eater and will take any opportunity to tell others why they are wrong. When I first became vegan, I didn’t tell anybody. I knew by just mentioning it, my friends would perceive it as an attack on their eating habits. Some vegans may be critical about others’ eating habits, but other vegans may not. It really depends on the person.

3. All vegans are animal lovers

This simply isn’t true. While a lot of people do choose to become vegan because they love animals and can’t stand the thought of hurting them, others, such as environmental vegans, have different motivations. I, myself, am not an animal lover. I do want to prevent the harm of animals, but I don’t have any interest in visiting a farm or owning chickens or even dogs.

One last thing: if you are search of an amazing vegan recipe, try these vegan enchiladas by clicking on the link below. They are absolutely delicious! http://ohsheglows.com/2011/05/04/vegan-enchiladas-with-cilantro-avocado-cream-sauce-2/

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(Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach, and Pepper Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce)