Food Day + 1

October 24th, this friday, is National Food Day. According to Foodday.org, “This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.” It is a day to bring awareness to what we eat, where our food comes from, and push for better policies that protect our farm workers, animals, and planet.

FoodDay2013

Food Day does not, however, incorporate veganism. Whereas I support Food Day and think it is a great initiative that can certainly get more people thinking about the impact the food they eat has, the lack of mention of veganism or vegetarianism seems to be quite the flaw. The organization does make a few shout-outs to a plant-based diet on their website, where they write “a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment” and “With America’s resources, there’s no excuse for…inhumane conditions for farm animals.” Promoting a plant-based diet, however, is not the objective of Food Day. But if their goal is really to change the American food system so that we have healthy food that is produced at a low cost and does not damage the environment or harm living beings, isn’t veganism the obvious solution?

I don’t want to throw non-vegans, vegan skeptics, or people who do not adhere to plant-based diets under the bus, but it seems as though veganism is a solution to so many problems and it is being ignored.

Just to recap, being vegan has the following effects:

  1. It reduces your carbon footprint
    1. According to Shrink That Footprint, “An Average American’s diet has a footprint of around 2.5 t CO2e per person each year.  For the Vegan it is 1.5 t CO2e.”
    2. Plates
    3. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Globally, [livestock] contributes 18 percent…of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
  2. It provides for the well-being of millions of farm animals.
    1. The abuse and torture that livestock, such as cows, chicken, and pigs, endure is unimaginable and horrific. Whereas becoming a vegetarian does not prevent the torturing of all animals, veganism does.
  3. Land that is used to grow grain for feedlots (and there’s a lot of it!) can instead be used to grow crops to combat starvation in poor areas.
  4. Growing plants to feed ourselves is not nearly as destructive as “growing” meat.
    1. Here is a really great (but long) article that explains this all in detail: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/549
  5. It makes you healthier
    1. By avoiding the consumption of meat and dairy, you are avoiding many illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
  6. It conserves water
    1. It takes 200x the amount of water to produce a pound of meat than it does a pound of plant foods.

On the subject of water, I was happily surprised to be sent these various pictures from my family members living in California:

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A restaurant near San Diego, California (shout out to my Aunt Leanne for sharing this photo!)

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My sister spotted this sign in San Francisco, California.

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Spotted by my aunt at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Although I’ve always felt like an east-coaster at heart, I’m proud to have Californian blood as I see them tapping into the benefits of veganism to solve the water crisis in the west.

So, join in with the Food Day festivities this Friday, but go a step further. Spread awareness about veganism and how more than anything, it can save our planet.

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.

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*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

 

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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)