Founder and Director,
Free from Harm
By far, the most misunderstood idea about veganism is the perception that certain nutrients or components of nutrition such as protein are hard to find on a vegan menu. - Robert Cheeke, Read EVEN's exclusive interview with Robert HERE.
Nadine - Long-term EVEN Member, Volunteer and Presenter
A Bitter Pill...
If any vegans came over for dinner, I could whip them up a salad, then explain my philosophy on being a carnivore: If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?...I love meat. I eat pork chops, thick bacon burgers, and the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-done steak. But I especially love moose and caribou. I always remind people from outside our state that there's plenty of room for all Alaska's animals -- right next to the mashed potatoes. - Sarah Palin, Going Rogue: An American Life
In the classic research study conducted by Dean Ornish, M.D., 82% of individuals who switched to a low-fat, vegetarian diet, along with exercise and stress management, actually reversed their heart disease. This is especially important, given that most people in Western countries have the beginnings of artery blockages before they finish high school. (Breaking the Food Seduction), Dr. Neal Barnard
Breaking the Food Seduction
This is something very personal. I changed because something inside me made me want to change. These are very personal choices, which can only be made by yourself; nobody else can force them on you. - Shahid Kapur
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The person I love would never wear fur. Fur just makes me think of shallow women who have no conscience. The fur industry belongs to a time when people were selfish beyond belief. If you were some ancient tribal chieftain, and there was not a department store nearby 350 years ago, I'd understand. But now, we have synthetic fibers, and it's not necessary. The elitism of fur makes me wanna puke. - Gavin Rossdale
~ I use canned beans most of the time because I just don't have time to cook beans and I never seem to remember to soak them ahead of time. What is the difference between canned and cooked beans, nutritionally speaking?
There's not a big difference between canned and cooked beans. The effects of heating and cooking on nutrients would be similar whether the beans are cooked or canned. Folate appears to be lower in canned beans compared to cooked beans, although a cup of canned beans still provides close to 1/3 the folate RDA for adults. Certainly, sodium will be higher in canned beans compared to beans cooked without adding salt. You can reduce the sodium in canned beans by placing them in a strainer and rinsing them well with cold water. This has been shown to reduce the sodium by as much as 40 percent. Beans are a good source of fiber, protein, iron, and zinc. Don't avoid them just because you don't have time to cook them from scratch. Canned beans are an acceptable substitute.
Source: Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
~ Can I Change?
Many patients have told me how difficult it is to change. They mention how hard it is to maintain this nutrition plan when dining with friends and relatives, during work hours, while traveling, both in the United States and abroad. But you can do it. Many others have. The key is to remember that the rewards are greater than the frustration.
I have experienced this phenomenon myself and watched it in every patient with whom I've worked: after twelve weeks of eating no animal foods, dairy, or added oils, you lose your craving for fat. You then begin to appreciate more than ever before the natural flavor of grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit. You develop a series of menus that you especially enjoy. Occasionally, friends get interested in what you are doing, and daringly invite you to their homes for no-fat meals. You discover restaurants that actually will cater to your needs.
You can change. While switching to a strictly plant-based diet may seem challenging at the start, all you have to do is stick with it. The satisfaction of new tastes and, above all, the health rewards make it no contest.
Source: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.
~ Don't we need to eat meat and dairy products to be healthy?
No! There is no nutritional need for humans to eat any animal products; all of our dietary needs, even as infants and children, are best supplied by an animal-free diet.
Cows' milk is suited to the nutritional needs of calves, who, unlike human babies, will double their weight in 47 days (as opposed to 180 days for humans), grow four stomachs, and weigh 1,100-1,200 pounds within two years. Cow's milk contains about three times as much protein as human milk and almost 50 percent more fat.
There is no physical reason for humans to eat animal products. Cutting animal products from your diet is healthier for you, the animals, and the environment.
Learn more about the health benefits of a plant-based diet at PCRM.org
~ If everyone became vegan, what would happen to all the animals?
EVEN gets this question often enough to warrant it being posted in this column, but I always feel a little twinge of irony when it comes up. I wonder if those asking are genuinely concerned about what would suddenly be surplus animals and are they worried that the earth would become overrun if we stopped killing and eating them? And yet, since everyone is certainly not vegan, are they relieved that we will continue to kill and eat them? For how many more decades shall we impose torture and horrific conditions on these fellow inhabitants? Needless to say, though all vegans must have pipe dreams about the possibility of widespread veganism, it certainly would not be a sudden shift. Erik Marcus, author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, and Meat Market, offers a discerning answer:
"There's no doubt that if the entire world switched overnight to a vegan diet, there would be hundreds of millions of farmed animals needing life-long housing and care.
But for better or worse, this scenario could never occur, as there’s simply no way that the entire worldwide population would become vegan in an instant. It would be laughably unrealistic to think that the world would require anything less than several decades to become entirely vegan. And if there's one thing that animal agriculture is great at, it is calibrating supply almost exactly to demand.
So if the consumption of animal products fell into steady decline, we would see fewer and fewer farmed animals being bred, and substantial tracts of land becoming available to wildlife. Over time, the world's farmed would be displaced by countless species of wild animals.
Ultimately, cows, pigs, and chickens are domesticated animals and are no more important to biodiversity than, say, toy poodles. Decades from now there may be hobbyists who breed a relative handful of these animals, for the sake of preserving certain breeds. But the fact is that biodiversity is harmed rather than helped by the existence of animal agriculture."
~ Is there any connection between being vegan and our stress levels?
This is a great question. It has so many varied answers. Personally, I think what we choose to eat is integrally linked with all aspects of our being---physical, mental, emotional, spiritual---including stress levels. The food we eat affects everything about us from attitude to spiritual awareness and from energy levels to longevity. Studies are flying around everywhere attesting to all of those and more.
Conversely, I also believe that many things affect our stress levels, not only what we ingest. So much of our conditioning, our world view, our lifestyle, our habits, and at least a hundred other things can affect our levels of comfort or stress.
However, getting back to your question, let's focus on the connection between what we eat and our stress levels. In her book Living Well with Anxiety - What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...that You Need to Know, author Carolyn Chambers Clark, ARNP, EDD, Founder of the Wellness Institute, offers us these meaningful morsels:
"A study of stress and dietary practices revealed that greater stress was associated with more fatty food intake, less fruit and vegetable intake, more snacking, and reduced likelihood of daily breakfast consumption. These findings suggest that to reduce your anxiety, eat more fruits and vegetables and don't skip breakfast."
She quotes another study that found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced stress and anxiety. [Vegans can get their omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds and walnuts.] And still another study suggesting that selenium may affect your mood as well as your health. [Vegans can get their selenium from whole-grain breads and cereals, mushrooms, and Brazil nuts.]
"Green tea has the ability to stimulate your brain in the same way deep meditation does. Besides calming you, it can also help you focus...stimulating production of alpha waves in your brain, similar to what happens during deep meditation. Green tea has the unique ability to make you feel calm but focused, so that your learning ability is enhanced."
But here's the best information of all: "Moving toward a vegetarian dietary regime can also lower your anxiety, according to the results of a study that investigated the different kinds of diet and the levels of anxiety and depression, participants aged 25 to 70 reported. More anxiety and depression were reported in the nonvegetarian groups than in the vegetarian groups. Diet analysis also found more stress-reducing antioxidants in the vegetarian group than in the nonvegetarian group. These findings suggest that a diet focused primarily on vegetables, fruits, and grains is associated with less anxiety than a diet focused on meat or other animal products."
How can a vegetarian diet reduce anxiety? "Meat, poultry, dairy foods, sugar, and refined-flour products are all acid-forming foods that leave an acid residue in the body after being metabolized. So do many medications. When your body is more acid, transit time of food is speeded up which results in underabsorption of vitamins, especially the stress vitamins (B and C) and minerals that reduce str3ess and make you feel more sluggish and fatigued. Unfortunately, merely taking additional vitamins and minerals usually will not correct this condition unless you also change your eating and medicating patterns so you can better absorb nutrients."
She says that to attain a proper acid-alkaline balance in your body, eat more vegetables and fruits, whole grains and bean sprouts, and aim to get 70% of your calories from these foods. [Vegans know that 100% is even better.] She says to make soy and soy products the main source of your protein, with research showing that soy protects your nervous system. "Using soy from organically produced (not genetically altered) foods has the potential for protecting and balancing your emotions and will not tip your body into acid imbalance."
She states that although you can increase your supplements, it's better to eat foods high in glutamine to treat fatigue and enhance mental functioning (eat more raw spinach and raw parsley), histidine to increase pleasure (eat more rice, wheat, and rye), methionine to enhance muscle strength [vegans can eat more beans, garlic, lentils, onions, soybeans, seeds], and tryptophan to combat depression and insomnia and stabilize mood [vegans can eat more brown rice and soy protein.]
"To obtain a balanced amount of all amino acides, you can use Bragg Liquid Aminos. It's made from soy and looks and tastes like soy sauce. You can use it in soups, stews, salad dressing, on vegetables, and in dips."
~ I'm confused about Vitamin D, especially for vegans. Can you help?
Let's go right to a nutrition expert on this one. Here is what Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, of the Vegetarian Resource Group has to say:
Vitamin D has been in the news a lot lately. Researchers are looking at whether it plays a role in a multitude of diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to depression to cancer. Vitamin D has long been known to be important for bone health and is being added to foods like orange juice and to many brands of calcium supplements. Vitamin D has always been looked on as an unusual vitamin because, unlike any other nutrient, our bodies can actually make a substantial amount of vitamin D. Add in the fact that it acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and you can see why there's a lot to know about vitamin D. >>MORE
~ What's wrong with drinking milk? Is organic milk better? Is soymilk a safer alternative? What about other dairy products?
Milk contains fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and diets high in fat and saturated fat can increase the risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Other dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream, also contribute significant amounts of cholesterol and fat to the diet. Even low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products carry health risks because of cholesterol. In addition, natural and artificial hormones are present in all types of milk and dairy products, regardless of fat.
Organic milk may not contain the pesticides and antibiotics that non-organic milk contains, but it is still loaded with fat and cholesterol. Organic cow's milk, which does not contain artificial hormones, does contain naturally occurring hormones. The combination of nutrients found in both organic and non-organic cow's milk increases our own production of some types of hormones.These hormones have been shown to increase the risk of some forms of cancer.
Here are eight great health reasons to eliminate milk, cheese, and other dairy products from your diet.
Learn more about building strong bones without consuming dairy products.
Soymilk and other non-dairy beverages, such as rice and nut milks, are healthy alternatives to cow's milk. These beverages come in different flavors, and many of them are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. They work well on cereal, in coffee and tea, and in baking and cooking. Grocery stores now regularly carry soymilk, and most coffee shops offer a variety of soy coffee drinks. Learn more about soy.
Source: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
See more FAQ at PCRM here: http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/nutritionfaq.html
~ Isn't Chicken Good for You?
Chicken meat is high in fat and cholesterol and can contain high levels of arsenic, which the poultry industry feeds to the birds to make them grow faster.
Cholesterol and Fat — Chicken meat has more cholesterol per calorie than beef and virtually the same amount of fat. Even when the chicken's skin is removed, the dark meat thrown away, and a non-fat cooking method is used, chicken still derives 23% of its calories from fat.
Arsenic — After examining 5,000 samples of chicken meat, researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service reported alarmingly high levels of arsenic contamination in the flesh of broiler chickens. In fact, the amount of arsenic found in chicken was six to nine times that allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for drinking water.
A bucket of chicken from a typical fast food restaurant would be expected to have as much as almost 50 times the amount of arsenic allowed in a glass of water. Source: Humane Society of the United States — Guide to Vegetarian Eating
~ What is the best way to get vitamin B12?
Individuals following a vegan diet can easily meet their vitamin B12 needs by consuming a variety of vegan foods, including vitamin B12-fortified breakfast cereals, soymilk, and meat analogues. Some brands of nutritional yeast, such as Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula, are a reliable source for this vitamin. Most common multivitamins also contain B12.
Learn more about vitamin B12
~ Where do you get your protein?
If you don't know where you get your protein while following a plant-food-based diet, you're in good company. The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, scientists from the Human Nutrition Research Center and Medical School at Tufts University, and registered dietitians, research nutritionists and physicians of Northwestern University, and the Harvard School of Public Health are just a few examples of "experts" you look to for advice who have the protein story wrong. 1-4 Consequences of their shortfall are as grave as a lifetime of sickness and obesity, and premature death, for innocent people. These professionals must be held accountable.
>>Read more at:
~ I've heard a lot about pre- and post-workout nutrition. Is there anything I can do nutritionally to maximize recovery and muscle maintenance/gain?
What you put into your body before and after your workout can greatly influence your performance and body composition. Taking advantage of this window of opportunity around workout time can be of benefit to any athlete/exerciser. There has been a lot of good research about how to use nutrition to your advantage before and after workouts. For the sake of this answer, I will define a workout as a planned session of activity lasting between 45 and 90 minutes, and it must be more difficult than walking.
With pre-workout nutrition, it is important to try and have a small meal/snack about 30 minutes to one hour before you begin. Getting in some quality protein should be a priority along with a natural form of complex carbohydrate. If you like to take your meal/snack closer to 30 minutes before your workout, you may want to stick with a liquid supplement or bar. Shakes and bars will digest quickly and aren't bulky. Eating too much food so close to exercise can leave you feeling weighed down and bloated. Post-workout nutrition will be fairly similar to pre-, with one difference. A more refined carbohydrate can be used to accelerate the recovery process. And don't skimp on the protein after your workout either.
Some good pre-workout >snack options:
1 cup soy milk with 1 tablespoon rice protein 2 tablespoons rice protein in water and 1/2 cup of fruit 1 scoop of soy protein (approx 20-30 grams) in water and 1/2 cup fruit 1/4 cup uncooked oats, 1/4 cup soy milk, 1 tablespoon rice protein
powder (mixed like a pudding)
Some good post-workout snack options:
1 cup chocolate soy milk with 1 tablespoon rice protein and a banana 2 tablespoon s rice protein in juice and 1/2 cup fruit 1 scoop of soy protein (approx 20-30 grams) in juice and 1/2 cup fruit 1 packet instant flavored oats, 1/4 cup soy milk, 1 tablespoon rice protein powder (mixed like a pudding) *Note: Rice protein can be found at health food stores as a powder Remember, everyone is different. Find the combo that you tolerate best. The basic combinations of the above foods/drinks will be different depending on body size (e.g., a lot of muscle), and goal (weight management, muscle gain, etc). Train hard!
by VRG member Ryan D. Andrews, MS, MA, RD, CSCS, CISSN The Vegetarian Resource Group Newsletter - Volume 10, Issue 9
~ This [autumn] is such a great time [of year], why should we be depriving ourselves of stuff, especially good stuff like turkey?
FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) answers your question:
"Why Gentle Thanksgiving?" Taking an innocent life betrays the Thanksgiving spirit of celebrating life, health, and happiness. Did you know:
Sadly, these sensitive animals are raised in factory farms where they are unable to express their natural instincts. The 300 million turkeys slaughtered each year in the US spend their lives crammed industry sheds with little room to move. All turkeys (even free-range) endure a horrific slaughterhouse end. Celebrate life and give thanks for health and happiness by bringing a Gentle Thanksgiving to your family. All beings are entitled to health and happiness. www.GentleThanksgiving.org
~I've heard a lot over the years about a veg diet not giving you enough iron. Is this true?
No. It's just one of those myths that keeps on hangin' on. See what Viva USA has to say about it here: http://www.vivausa.org/health/iron.html
~Can I get adequate nutrition from a plant-based diet?
~Will I get enough protein if I don't eat animal foods?
I know these are the questions you are genuinely concerned with, but study after study show that you needn't be. A plant-based diet remains the most healthful one to choose if you want to live a vibrant, healthful life free of disease. Be reassured by Dr. John McDougall's page here: http://www.drmcdougall.com/free_2e.html
~I don't think there's a single good reason not to drink milk. I've been drinking milk my whole life!
Well, you're right on one count. There isn't a single good reason; there are many! What animal drinks the milk of another species? None. What mammal drinks milk past infancy? None. And here's Dr. Barnard with 8 more reasons: http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/dairy.html and if you still need more convincing, read Don't Drink Your Milk!: New Frightening Medical Facts About the World's Most Overrated Nutrient by Dr. Frank A. Oski
~I'm a senior on Social Security and everyone tells me I shouldn't be vegetarian at my age. I thought I knew what I was doing, but now they've instilled so much fear in me, I wonder if they could be right. Is it still ok to be veg at my age (69)? I got a clean bill of health from my doctor, but I definitely cannot afford to get sick. Should I put some meat back into my diet just to be on the safe side? What do you think?
The safe side?! I think if vegetarianism has kept you this fit for this long and your doctor says you're in good health, you must be doing something right. But I understand your concerns. However, before you throw animal flesh back into your otherwise healthful diet, see what the Vegetarian Resource Group has to say about Seniors and Veg Nutrition here: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/seniors.htm
~ How important is water in a healthful diet?
No focus on nutrition would ever be complete without including the importance of water.
- Water regulates every function of the body.
- The human brain is roughly 1/50th of the total body weight. It is said to possess about nine trillion nerve cells (computer chips). Brain cells are said to be 85% water. 20% of blood circulation is allocated and made available to the brain. The brain is the only part of the body that is constantly active.
- Chronic dehydration is the root cause of most major degenerative diseases of the human body. (Chronic dehydration=disease producer)
- Water is the cheapest form of medicine to a dehydrated body.
- Your body needs an absolute minimum of six to eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day. (Alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeine-containing beverages don't count as water.) [Caffeine is a natural diuretic and makes the body eliminate water.]
- The greatest health discovery of all times is that water is a natural medication for a variety of health conditions. From Your Body's Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidg, MD.
~ What's your definition of vegetarian?
With thanks to, and permission from, our veg friends at the Toronto Veg Association, we offer this compact, commonly-accepted definition, and other information from their website:
"Vegetarians don't eat the flesh of any animals be they mammals, birds or fish. Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians include dairy products and eggs (free-range please!) as part of their diet. This is the diet most commonly thought of as vegetarian. In addition, Vegans don't eat any animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs. Vegan Lifestyle [as opposed to a vegan diet] is a full vegan lifestyle ethic endeavour to live lives which do not cause any suffering at all to animals, or exploit animals in any way. This normally involves ceasing to eat any eggs, dairy produce, or honey, and ceasing to wear or use leather, wool and similar animal products [silk and fur]. Entertainment that confines or exploits animals such as circuses, rodeos and zoos is avoided.
The word vegetarian, coined by the founders of the British Vegetarian Society in 1842, comes from the Latin word vegetus, meaning "whole, sound, fresh, or lively," as in homo vegetus---a mentally and physically vigorous person. The original meaning of the word implies a balanced philosophical and moral sense of life, a lot more than just a diet of vegetables and fruits."
~ How can you tell me what to eat?
We don't tell you what to eat. We tell you where your food comes from. Deciding what to eat is a decision only you can make. However, we think that making informed choices is as much a responsibility as it is a right and, as such, to make an informed choice that is good for all concerned is impossible without knowing what's really going on behind closed doors. Like Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better."
~ If I go veg, what do I eat?
Your choices are virtually limitless!! A basic diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds are at the core of a healthful veg plan. A plant-based diet such as this means: whole wheat breads and pastas; healthful cereals; soy, rice, almond and oat milks; tofu, tvp, tempeh, seitan; soups and crackers; potatoes; eggplant, squash, scrumptious salads, veggie burgers, and an endless array of nutritious foods that originated by growing directly from the earth. One can only imagine the hundreds, no, thousands, of wholesome combinations.
It's best to eat foods whole (closest to their natural state), since each stage of processing depletes more vital nutrients and increases its chances of containing toxins (MSG and other artificial, chemical additives). In other words, it's better to eat an apple vs. canned apple sauce; better to eat potatoes vs. potato chips, etc. It's more important to eat a healthful veg diet than it is to just eat veg. If you think going veg means eating Twinkies and Diet Coke, it's time to relook all your available options. Good veg cuisine is cheap, simple, clean, nutritious, inviting, thoroughly delectable---and non-violent.
Excellent vegan recipes and vegan cookbooks abound---see Joanne at EVEN's lending library, check your local public library or used book stores, see online resources, and remember to visit Beverly Lynn Bennett's website for a myriad of A++ recipes and ideas.
~ Where can I shop in Eugene to find healthful veg foods?
In an effort to support the locally-owned Eugene businesses, we strongly favor patronizing:
Capella Market, 2489 Willamette, 345-1014 (more info)
Friendly Street Market, 2757 Friendly, 683-2079
The Kiva, 125 W. 11th, 342-8666
Market of Choice, - - - - (more info)
2580 Willakenzie, 541-345-3349 (more info)
67 West 29th Ave, 541-338-8455
960 Franklin Blvd, 541-687-1188
1060 Green Acres Road, 541-344-1901
New Frontier Market, 1101 W. 8th, 345-7401 (more info)
Red Barn Natural Grocery, 357 Van Buren, 342-7503 (more info)
Sundance Natural Foods, 24th & Hilyard, 343-9142 (more info)
~ Do I have to be veg to come to EVEN's gatherings?
Nope. Just inquisitive and open-minded.
~ Do I have to be vegan or vegetarian to join EVEN?
No, again. Just wanting to help EVEN fulfill its Mission Statement to inform and educate those interested in the benefits of a plant-based diet is enough. We're not the "Food Police", nor do we aspire to be. We simply strive to help others make informed, compassionate choices.
~ Do I have to be a paying member to come to EVEN's events?
Definitely not. EVEN's EVENts are always free and open to all.