Monday, September 21, 2009

The Plant Driven Life

Being a vegetarian for many years, I’ve often heard the phrase, “But humans are meant to eat meat,” irritably uttered in response to the disclosure of my meatless status. While it’s true that there are some challenges unique to a cruelty-free diet, there are also quite a few indications that humans are best suited to a plant-fueled lifestyle.

Whereas we have developed brains that are able to construct industrial slaughterhouses and fashion metal into knives, let’s first look inside our mouth, not our mind. Compare your teeth to that of your cat or dog. Who’s better suited for tearing flesh from bone? Some people’s diets reflect such a significant presence of meat and meat products, you’d think you would find six inch canines protruding between their lips. The fact is that the positioning, size and proximity of our teeth to one another are simply not designed for meat consumption.

What if you gave your dog or cat a bit of raw chicken? Would you fear it contracting salmonella or e. coli? No, because carnivorous animals have short and powerful digestive tracts which can expel waste from food sources in 12 hours. Humans have longer digestive systems that closer to that of herbivores, which is why we are susceptible to these types of food poisoning. Cooking food is not intrinsically natural, but necessary to consume certain meats.

Humans have often been compared to apes in terms of genetic makeup and physical characteristics. (And sometimes personality, but that’s a different story). A couple of years ago, a British reality-style television program examined the effects of an ape-like diet on nine volunteers over a period of about two weeks. The first week the “human apes” ate an over 2,000-calorie diet full of raw, nutritious, vegetarian fare of various vegetables, fruits and nuts, while meeting their daily nutritional requirements. Water was their only beverage. The second week added some fish to the mix. The results? The participants lost weight (an average of 9 pounds each), lowered their blood pressure about twenty points and lowered their cholesterol levels about 20%. Remember, this was only a two-week study that garnered such excellent results.

A more in-depth look at the structure of humans’ digestive system starting with our face to the end of the line appears here and gives you all the information you need to know about whether we are best suited for the herbivore, omnivore or carnivore category.

Thanks for reading!

Diets Low in Carbohydrates Harmful to Arteries

If you’re a vegetarian interested in weight loss, it’s fairly unlikely you’ve considered a low-carbohydrate diet. “No-carb” diets are severely limiting for omnivores, and are essentially impossible for vegetarians, due to the meat heavy nature of the regimen. Many swear by its weight loss potential, but more evidence is here that a diet without carbohydrates is not a healthy option.

The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts recently conducted a study on lab mice to observe the effects of diets such as the once wildly popular Adkins diet.

The mice were divided into three groups – one received a baseline, typical “mouse diet”, the second consumed a diet high in fat, and the third ate a high fat, low carbohydrate diet.

Most of the results were expected. The low-carb group experienced the lowest weight gain levels and mice on the standard “mouse diet” enjoyed the lowest levels of arterial plaque. The one surprising aspect was that the low carbohydrate group had even higher levels of plaque than the group on the high fat menu.

Researchers could not explain the occurrence, but surmise that low-carb diets may interfere or impede bone marrow’s capacity to cleanse arterial walls.

Lead researcher Anthony Rosenzweig began the study himself on a low-carb diet. He stated, “It appears that a moderate and balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise, is probably best for most people.” Sound familiar? Rosenzweig has since stopped his low-carb ways.

While studies about unique health remedies like evening primrose oil for hormone balance and Coenzyme Q10 for gum disease linger unfunded, research continues to confirm what we already know: Balanced diets are healthy. Red meat in excess is unhealthy. Perhaps more research could be done to find out something we don’t already know – and perhaps leave the lab rats and mice out of it.

If it’s weight loss you’re after, as PETA says, “Lose the Blubber. Go Vegetarian.” Vegetarians are 20 to 30 percent leaner than their meat-eating friends, and less likely to suffer from heart disease and other illnesses. You won’t have to feel guilty about having that bowl of pasta or mashed potatoes – and you can feel proud to live without cruelty to animals.

Swine Flu Expected to Infect up to Half of U.S. Population this Year – and the Pork Industry’s Role


The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report this week that predicts the H1N1 virus could infect 30 to 50% of the American population, with peak contagion in mid-October of this year. 30,000 to 90,000 deaths could result from the illness, compared to the 36,000 deaths that occur annually from ordinary influenza viruses.

The vaccine is close. But not close enough.

The long awaited H1N1 vaccine will not be available until October, coincident with the peak of the virus, and an individual’s maximum immunity will not be in effect until weeks after the shot. Manufacturers hope to speed up availability of initial doses, and have a certain amount available as early as September.

What is role does the pork industry play?

Word on the street focuses more on fear of the disease, rather than the cause. But back before H1N1 was classified as a pandemic, some blamed Mexico’s pork producer Smithfield for facilitating this illness. Smithfield has since been cleared. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO (commonly known as factory farms) certainly have a degree of responsibility in this problem. The World Health Organization maintains that:

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Swine influenza viruses do not normally infect humans. However, outbreaks and sporadic human infection with SIVs have been occasionally reported and serosurveys have demonstrated exposure of humans in certain risk groups. Most commonly, infection occurs in people in direct and close contact with pigs such as farm and abattoir workers. Onward transmission of SIVs among people in close contact with each other has occurred on a few occasions. Human influenza viruses have also been transmitted from people to pigs.

Transmission among and between pigs and humans is likely to occur through direct or indirect contact with respiratory secretions or inhaling large droplets or aerosols spread through coughing and sneezing. The clinical picture of SIV infection in people is generally similar to that of human seasonal influenza. It is likely that most people, especially those who do not have regular contact with pigs, do not have immunity to SIVs and thus would be susceptible to SIV infection, although cross-protectivity studies are ongoing to explore this question further.

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Logic would lead one to believe that if pigs are the “mixing bowl” for super viruses, the most likely way human and pig viruses have opportunity to make “direct and close contact” – is in these CAFO’s.

The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production has a more aggressive stance on CAFO’s. (Note: ifap stands for “Industrial Farm Animal Production”.)

Health risks increase depending on the rate of exposure, which can vary widely. Those engaged directly with livestock production, such as farmers, farm workers, and their families, typically have more frequent and more concentrated exposures to chemical or infectious agents. For others with less continuous exposure to livestock and livestock facilities, the risk levels decline accordingly. Direct exposure is not the only health risk, however; health impacts often reach far beyond the ifap facility. Groundwater contamination, for example, can extend throughout the aquifer, affecting drinking water supplies at some distance from the source of contamination.

Infectious agents, such as a novel (or new) avian influenza virus, that arise in an ifap facility may be transmissible from person to person in a community setting and well beyond. An infectious agent that originates at an ifap facility may persist through meat processing and contaminate consumer food animal products, resulting in a serious disease outbreak far from the ifap facility. Monitoring is a basic component of strategies to protect the public from harmful effects of contamination or disease, yet ifap monitoring systems are inadequate.

Current animal identification and meat product labeling practices make it difficult or impossible to trace infections to the source. Likewise, ifap workers, who may serve as vectors carrying potential disease-causing organisms from the animals they work with to the larger community, do not usually participate in public health monitoring, disease reporting, and surveillance programs because, as an agricultural activity, ifap is often exempt.

Furthermore, migrant and visiting workers, many of whom are undocumented, present a particular challenge to adequate monitoring and surveillance because their legal status often makes them unwilling to participate in health monitoring programs. In general, public health concerns associated with ifap include heightened risks of pathogens (disease- and nondisease-causing) passed from animals to humans; the emergence of microbes resistant to antibiotics and antimicrobials, due in large part to widespread use of antimicrobials for nontherapeutic purposes; food-borne disease; worker health concerns; and dispersed impacts on the adjacent community at large.

This would give reason why companies like Smithfield are not held accountable – it would be difficult to prove.

Classic American overindulgence in meat products begets a larger meat industry, which begets sick, diseased and abused animals. Pandemics are cyclical, and a fact of life. But factory farms have a heavy hand whe contribute to illness and harm to nature and humanity.

But can I eat pork?

We have heard over and over that eating pork continues to be safe. The World Health Organization asserts:

Pork meat is usually cooked or otherwise processed prior to consumption, and cooking time/temperature regimes for pork meat will readily inactivate any influenza virus potentially present. Thus, it can be concluded that consumption of pork and its products, processed in accordance with good hygienic practices recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, will not be a source of infection.

The risk of infection of H1N1 virus through ingestion [sic] pig meat or other products derived from pigs has never been established. In any case, heat treatments commonly used in cooking meat (e.g. 70 °C/160 °F) or other appropriate processing will readily inactivate any viruses potentially present in raw meat products. It can therefore be concluded that pork meat and its products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, will not be a source of infection.

This appears to be a somewhat lackluster affirmation that pork products are safe. They are essentially saying that no, you will not be infected if you cook your meat properly, but that retailers should not distribute diseased meat. Hopefully pork will be better monitored than chicken – as salmonella sickens 40,000 people annually in the U.S., with around 15 percent of chickens infected with the pathogen.

PETA's Whale of a Time is Over

PETA has been generating a bit of controversy lately regarding their penchant for featuring scantily clad models and celebrities in their ads to encourage eating a vegetarian diet and supporting animal rights. Their latest model, however, had to be replaced.

A Jacksonville, Florida billboard campaign showcased a rear view of an obese woman with the tagline, “Save the Whales – Lose the Blubber. Go Vegetarian.” The attitude that “trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach” (a quote from PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman) riled many who considered the advertisement to be sexist and demeaning to women.

About a week after erecting the blubber billboard PETA announced that they will be replacing it with a more benign version:

Another whale-related campaign by PETA encouraged people to “Eat the Whales”. The idea behind this was to start a discussion as to whether or not it is preferable to kill one sizable animal in order to feed many, or to kill scores of “lesser” animals to feed the same. The ad also asks where and why lines are drawn to divide animals into two segments: acceptable for consumption, and not acceptable.

Though this topic may have been a bit weightier in terms of moral issues, it did not attract nearly as much attention as the “whale” woman.

Vitamin D Part II - How to Ensure You're Getting Enough

Continued from Part I

Now that we know why we need vitamin D and who is at risk for deficiency, let’s explore the daily requirements and how to achieve them.

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 200 IU (5 mcg) for children and adults up to age 50. 50 to 70 year-olds require 400 IU (10 mcg), and men and women over age 70 need 600 IU’s (15 mcg), due to the decrease in absorption rates with age. However, some medical research is inclined to believe these RDA’s are rather low. Preventative benefits can be achieved with up to 1000 IU’s and therapeutic applications for cancer or diabetes might prescribe a consumption of 2000 IU’s daily.

Vegetarians and vegans (especially) have a more difficult time achieving healthy vitamin D levels than omnivores. Fish has an abundance of D, with a 3 ounce can of tuna fish providing 200 IU’s. A tablespoon of cod liver oil contains a whopping 1350 IU’s. Non-meat sources have significantly less amounts.

Vegetarian food sources of vitamin D (based on RDA of 200 IU’s):

One cup fortified milk: 50%
One cup fortified soymilk: 50%
One tablespoon fortified margarine: 30%
One egg: 12%
One cup fortified cereal: 20%
Silk brand soy yogurt (8 oz.) 60%
One cup diced swiss cheese: 30%
One cup sliced white mushrooms: 12%

Foods that will impede calcium absorption

Since vitamin D works as an assistant to calcium, if you are losing too much calcium, you will require higher amounts of D. Salt, alcohol, caffeine, excessive ingestion of animal protein and a lack of exercise can rob your body of valuable calcium.

Vegetarians and vegans should eat a good deal of dark green vegetables, sesame seeds and blackstrap molasses to increase calcium levels while enjoying benefits from non-dairy sources.

Again, check out this unique vitamin D sunshine calculator based on your location and race.

Supplementation

Vitamin D ingestion through retail supplements is the fastest way to get more D in your diet. Vitamin D in liquid form will enable your body to absorb the nutrient quickly. Most supplementation is specifically vitamin D3, and is derived from sheep's wool, and therefore not suitable for vegans.

A product such as this one can make it easy to get 1,000 IU's in no time.

Too much vitamin D can be a bad thing

Excessive intake of D can lead to hypercalcemia and other health problems. Do not consume over 2,000 IU’s vitamin D daily for a prolonged period.

Drug interactions

Vitamin D has been known to interact with the following medications: Estrogen, Isoniazid, certain diuretics, antacids, channel blockers, cholesterol medications, anticonvulsants, mineral oil and weight loss supplements such as alli and olestra. Each of these products may inhibit or encourage vitamin D levels, or affect the efficacy of the medications.

Vitamin D - not just for bones - Part I



As September comes to a close, many folks are still playing, relaxing, working or just plain sweating in the summer sun. But it won’t be long before fall and winter arrive, and the reversed slant of the Earth’s axis inhibits our ability to synthesize vitamin D from ultraviolet rays.

Why do we need vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that works with calcium to maintain a healthy skeletal system. When the body has sufficient D stores, absorption of calcium from food can range from 30 to 80%. When D levels are insufficient, that number lowers to a maximum of 15%.

The prevalent problem of rickets (called osteomalacia in adults) around the turn of the 20th century was mostly eradicated by the fortification of cow’s milk with vitamin D.

But bone health isn’t the only area where D is important. Studies have shown that adequate levels of vitamin D may ward off colon, prostate and breast cancers. Promising studies also show evidence that D may also be used to prevent and treat conditions like Type I and II diabetes, hypertension and multiple sclerosis. Deficiency in this nutrient is also now being linked to depression.

Who’s at risk for vitamin D deficiency?

The American Family Physician states that vitamin D deficiency is more widespread than you might think. About 50% of homebound adults and 80% of elderly African American women are D deficient. Levels drop to 20% for other demographics.

The elderly have a profoundly decreased capacity to absorb D than their younger counterparts – up to 75% less.

Darker skinned people require more sun exposure than lighter skinned people.

Where you live will play a large role in the likelihood of a deficiency. California residents need not worry – they are able to synthesize D the entire year. However, those who live on the same latitude as Massachusetts will produce considerably less – or no – vitamin D for the months of December and January. If you move up higher to central Canada, your months without D will be from November through February. Notoriously fair Scandinavians have limited D production from October all the way through March.

It should also be noted that sunscreen will inhibit vitamin D absorption. Responsible sun exposure is encouraged. 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight for the average person will be beneficial. Darker skinned people need more, and very fair people should certainly avoid overexposure and sunburn.

A rather interesting calculator for personalized D production based on personal characteristics and location can be found here.

In Part II, we’ll explore the ways to ensure a healthy level of vitamin D in our bodies.

Flesh for Fuel?

Many have been debating the value of alternative energy originating from the sun, wind, water or more unique sources such as manure or even kitchen grease.

The use of waste products for energy seems a no-brainer, as it fits quite snugly into the “reuse” and “recycle” portions of the Green Three R’s. But what of British retail corporation Tesco’s plan to utilize 5,000 tons of expired meat in biomass plants in order to be converted into electricity? The energy created from this maneuver is equivalent to powering 600 homes for the period of a year.

Any vegetarian watching a half-eaten steak being tossed into the garbage wishes the meat suffered a different fate than to rot in a landfill. But 5,000 tons? Recycling this refuse is one solution to the problem, but begs the question: What about preventing the overage to begin with? Tesco clearly missed the “reduce” segment of the green guidelines.

Tesco defends their decision, declaring it to be, in fact, a green enhancement to their company’s practices. Tesco lauds the use of meat for fuel, claiming their responsible leadership will help fight climate change. This logic seems analogous to making a feast for 10 people though you’re only feeding two, then throwing the leftovers on a compost heap and declaring yourself an environmentalist.

Tesco also stated that meat waste only accounts for less than 1 percent of their total waste, and is a “miniscule” portion of meat sold. This is comforting in that it isn’t a greater percentage, but those sympathetic to animal rights don’t discern between 10 chickens and 10 million chickens, just as many wouldn’t argue that “only 10 people were killed” by a murderer.

Non-profit organization Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (VIVA) have responded with disdain, revealing that 5,000 tons of wasted meat is equivalent to almost 3 million chickens. Is 3 million chickens for 600 homes an even trade? How much energy was initially required to raise the livestock?

The era of egregious waste has gone the way of interest-only mortgages and the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps we should add a forth “R” to the trio – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Reason. Then Tesco would only be half right.

Best and Worst Vegetarian Destinations

Restaurant dining can pose a challenge for many vegetarians, and when traveling, eating out is often the only option. Visiting a veggie-friendly place like Ghent, Belgium can make traveling easier. But head to a country where meat is king, and you may encounter tougher dinner decisions.

VirtualTourist.com has compiled a list of the “Top Five Worst Places for Vegetarians and Vegans”. Here they are, in reverse order:

5. Central Asia

Even vegetable soup may contain large pieces of meat.

4. Cuba

Plain dishes like rice may be flavored with bits of pork.

3. Germany

Bacon can, and most likely will, be lurking everywhere.

2. Spain

VirtualTourist.com claims that there may be a discrepancy over what even constitutes meat. If you’re a vegetarian you’ve undoubtedly been asked, “But don’t you eat chicken?” so you’ll know exactly what that means.

1. Mexico

Deemed the worst place for vegetarian travel, Mexico provides a particularly difficult challenge for vegans, due to their substantial use of cheese.

So where the heck are you gonna go?

Earlier this year, “Go Green Travel Green” listed the ten best vegetarian travel destinations. Southeast Asia occupies quite a few of the slots, which may be attributable to the high Buddhist populace in these areas. Listed in alphabetical order:

Canada

Hong Kong

India

Malaysia

Singapore

Taiwan

Thailand

United Kingdom

United States

Vietnam

"Cash for Cluckers" Might Get You a Buck

Why bother with collecting cash for your clunker? Sure, a rebate for up to $4,500 might be nice, but wouldn’t you rather be guaranteed of a dollar right now? You can get that dollar if you go to your grocery store and purchase a vegan faux chicken product and send PETA the receipt. In return you’ll get a $1.00 rebate and a vegetarian starter kit.

One of the motivations for the Cash for Clunkers programs is to reduce emissions, but chickens have a fairly deep carbon footprint as well. From PETA’s blog:

According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the equivalent of taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads.

Here are the details of the rebate:

· No tardiness! Receipt for your (repeat) vegan chicken product must be dated between August 6 and September 30, 2009 and received by PETA by October 5, 2009.
· No foreigners! You must be a U.S. resident.
· No liars! You must include a written statement affirming you have never tried faux chicken before.
· No seconds! Sorry, only one per household.
· No swarming! Offer is limited to the first 5,000 entries.

If you fit the above requirements, send your receipt and declaration of fake meat virginity to:

Cash for Cluckers
PETA
501 Front Street
Norfolk, VA 23510

All joking aside, this is admittedly another one of PETA’s creative ways to utilize current events and a catchy tagline to provide more awareness of animal rights. (Maybe next year we’ll see Cents for Salmonella. No?)

Visit PETA’s blog for more info.

Heath Ledger Earns Posthumous Award from PETA

In January of 2007, one year before his passing, actor Heath Ledger and Isaac Brock from the alternative rock band Modest Mouse collaborated on a video for “King Rat”, one of the songs on the Mouse’s recently released EP "No One's First and You're Next". During the time between the video’s conception and Ledger’s death, the idea was largely cultivated, but unfinished. With Brock’s blessing, the video has finally been completed and released.

Ledger had deep sensitivity regarding the cruelty of the whaling trade, and was a member of Australia’s Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s advisory board. Australia has had problems for many years with illegal whaling, particularly with ships coming from Japan. PETA has granted Ledger with the “Compassionate Artist” award for August, 2009 for his work on this video, which provides frank insight into the brutality of this disturbing practice.

The animated “King Rat” video continues Modest Mouse’s recent trend of nautically themed videos. It illustrates a day in the life of a whaler, but with roles reversed: the whaler is, in fact a whale. Soon we find the most dangerous game in the water – humans. The whale whaler happily harpoons men, and then festoons the ship with festive garlands to delight in the day’s successes. It may remind one of a celebratory steak dinner or even Thanksgiving – and raising a glass in a cheerful toast over a table bearing the remains of some defenseless animal.

A sample of the lyrics shows the connection between the song and the issue:

And you know you know you know it all went wrong.
And you know you know you know it was all wrong.

Deep Water, Deep Water
Senseless Denial
I went down like a rag doll as you would, child
Deep Water, Deep Water
Senseless Denial
I went down like a rag doll as you would, child

The video is explicit, but delivered more artfully and palatably through animation than, say, real whaling footage. The message is clear, and received without any “in your face” gore that might turn off more delicate viewers. It’s a tad reminiscent of Radiohead’s 1997 Paranoid Android video, as it was another tale of karma and ultimate retribution with a twinge of that ooky feeling.

(Avid fisherman) Brock gets an honorable mention by PETA here, too – though he has previously admitted in great detail how he rather enjoyed a former job cleaning out a meat truck. “King Rat” is arguably one of the strongest tunes of the eight tracks on the EP, combining his Frank Black-esque yelps, a brass section and some inspired tempo changes. Fisherman or no, Brock and the boys’ latest work deserves a listen – as do the rest of their albums.

Profits from downloads of the iTunes video for "King Rat" for the first month after release will go toward the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Watch it: HERE

Beets can Improve Physical Stamina

When reaching for a protein shake, you might want to add a little beet juice to the mix. A University of Exeter study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology concluded that nitrates contained in beetroot juice can reduce oxygen uptake – which means physical exertion will be less exhausting. This might be great news for runners, cross country skiers and others looking for a way to increase their endurance.

The word nitrates might remind you hot dogs – nitrates are chemicals used in some hot dogs and cured meats as a preservative, and has been linked to cancer. So should you shy away from vegetables containing nitrates as well? Actually, no. Ironically, nitrate rich vegetables like beets and green vegetables, have high levels of C and D, which inhibit the production of cancer-causing compounds. These vegetables are in fact cancer fighting foods.

The beetroot study tested eight men ages 19 to 38 for six days. The men drank 500 milliliters of juice per day. Information was gathered as to how long the men could cycle on an exercise bike. The men then drank a placebo of black currant juice, and were retested. The results showed that the eight men were able to cycle for about 90 additional seconds during the beetroot period, coming to a total of 11 or 12 minutes. This works out to an approximate 16% increase in endurance.

Scientists surmise that the nitrites are able to reduce the amount of oxygen needed during physical exertion, therefore having more oxygen stores to burn up.

Another benefit the test subjects gained was lowered blood pressure.

Obesogens may be Affecting your Weight


What do a bottle of water, a vegetable, and soap have in common? They all may be making adding flab to your midsection.

It may seem like a joke at first, but you could have something called obesogens running through your body and contributing to your weight gain.

The term obesogen refers to a chemical that affects the way the body uses fat. Obesogens are endocrine disruptors, which influence the hormone levels in the body. The main obesogens are as follows:

Bisphenol-A (BPA): You have probably heard a good deal about BPA in the recent past. It is found in Number 1, 3 and 7 plastics, but you might not know that it is in the lining in almost all aluminum cans.

Organotins: A chemical substance that can be found in fungicides (read: non-organic produce), seafood and shellfish, water, paints, and textiles, among other places. An organotin is a toxic compound designed to kill living beings from the microorganism level and up.

Phthalates: Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) is commonly used to soften PVC, and can be present in Number 1 and 3 plastics. It can also be found in shampoos, perfumes, lotions, deodorants and other personal care items.

Some scientists believe the effects of obesogens suffered in utero are irreversible later on in life. On tests done with mice, the offspring exposed to obesogens in the womb had a greater amount and larger size of fat cells, particularly in the abdominal area. This ratio could not be reduced even through a reduced calorie diet and increased exercise.

In addition to affecting fat production, fetal and early childhood exposure to endocrine inhibitors have been linked to a wide variety of health issues such as: ADHD, autism, lower intelligence, certain cancers, and abnormal maturity of sexual organs.

While further testing needs to be done on this topic, it can be suggested that the extensive presence of toxins in consumer products ranging from apples to soap does not contribute to ones health and well being. It may be beneficial for some studies to be done evaluating the health of comparable individuals in two groups: one eating an organic, non-processed diet, and the other on the average American diet.

Michael Jackson's "Ben" may Become Tune for PETA

PETA is seeking the rights from recently deceased Michael Jackson for his 1972 song “Ben”. They wish to utilize the tune for raising awareness regarding animal experimentation on lab rats. The Animal Welfare Act excludes birds, rats, mice, livestock intended for food, cold blooded vertebrates and all invertebrates from protection from cruelty.

Jackson’s song was included on the soundtrack for a movie also entitled “Ben”, a film about a lonesome boy who befriends a rat.

PETA and Jackson have clashed in the past. As recently as March of 2009, PETA protested via post and blog to reports that Jackson planned to replicate a “jungle” theme onstage at the ill-fated O2 arena shows. The rumored guests included elephants, panthers, snakes, tropical birds and monkeys. Jackson later decided against it.

After abandoning Neverland Ranch in 2005, PETA believed Jackson left the remaining animals in undesirable living conditions. Jackson’s ranch was subsequently inspected by federal officials and was cleared from PETA’s cruelty allegations.

In other Jackson news, his former personal chef Kai Chase plans to publish a cookbook of the King of Pop’s favorite dishes. Media reports and the singer himself claimed Jackson was a vegetarian, but Chase’s version of his diet includes tuna and chicken. Jackson’s nutritionist shares another variation of his eating habits, claiming the singer subsisted on a juice and smoothie diet, along with a little bit of trail mix and an occasional treat of fried chicken.

Like many facts regarding Jackson’s lifestyle, the vegetarian issue continues to be cloudy and without significant substantiation.

Burgers are Better with Ammonia

Before you bite into that burger, you might want to know that it has likely been treated with ammonia. Yes, the nasty smelling stuff you generally associate with killing germs is being used for exactly that when teamed with beef products.

Lean beef processor Beef Products Incorporated, or BPI, was featured in the film Food, Inc. A zealous representative eagerly shows how pulverized meat mixed with ammonia effectively kills the e coli present in the beef. The finished product vaguely resembles a beige sponge.

BPI’s website has a lovely 13-page essay entitled “Ammonia – Essential for Life”, which depicts ammonia as an almost benign substance.

In addition to ammonia, beef can also treated with carbon monoxide to keep the pinkish hue of the product for a longer period of time. Toward the end of untreated beef’s freshness period, it will naturally begin to dull. Conversely, after a shot of carbon monoxide, beef will retain an artificially fresh look long after the meat has passed the stage of edibility.

Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable disease. Poor diet is the second.

Is ammonia really a part of a balanced diet?

BPI’s website asks, “Is this the only way you can get rid of e coli?” to which it answers itself, “No, although we believe it is the most effective was to ensure fresh meats are free of harmful bacteria prior to cooking.” It then references a rather long list of processing agents that tends to fill the reader with more concern than comfort. There is no reference made, however, to the diet given to cows before they even arrive at the plant, which, if changed from corn, could help alleviate this problem, along with the improvements to the conditions in which they live.

Mature Pasta


Why “Mature Pasta”? Because this recipe contains the most child unfriendly of all the vegetables: brussel sprouts. I have no idea why this fiber-filled member of the cabbage family has gotten such a rotten reputation. Brussel sprouts are not only tasty, but simple to prepare and full of vitamins, particularly K and C. Each delicious bite also contains sulforphane, which is an excellent detoxifier that can be a powerful tool in cancer prevention.

On to the recipe. Feel free to amend any of the items as you like. I used fresh pasta, but feel free to use dried. Bulk up the garlic if you’re a garlic fan.

Mature Pasta Recipe

9 ounces fresh fettuccini
2 T olive oil plus ¼ cup olive oil
10 brussel sprouts, quartered
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 T parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 T parmesan, grated or shredded (plus more for garnish)

Prepare fettuccini according to package directions. Rinse and set aside. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Fry brussel sprouts for about 7 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Add garlic and fry for an additional minute or two. Add diced tomatoes and parsley and stir. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add about a ¼ cup oil to the vegetable mixture to make a sauce. Sprinkle in the 2 tablespoons of parmesan and stir. Remove from heat.

Add pasta and combine thoroughly. Garnish plates with additional parmesan if desired.

Homogenized, Pasteurized and Raw Milk

Homogenization

Homogenization is performed to preserve the consistency of a substance that is prone to separation, most commonly in milk. When milk has not been homogenized, the cream will begin to separate and rise to the top when left to sit. To prevent this, the milk is shot through a filter, which effectively divides the fat globules into a size more conducive for emulsification.

Some believe that homogenization contributes to heart disease. In the 1970’s, a Connecticut researcher named Dr. Kurt A. Oster had a controversial theory that homogenization caused an enzyme present in milk called xanthine oxidase (or XO) to be more easily absorbed by the body. XO absorption would lead to plasmogen breakdown, which led to arterial plaque formation. This theory has since been vehemently refuted.

Pasteurization

Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process in the mid 1800’s to initially preserve the taste of wine and beer. It can be performed on a multitude of products ranging from crabs to soy sauce. In addition to adding shelf life to certain items, it also reduced the amount of pathogens and other harmful microorganisms present without full sterilization.

Milk is pasteurized when briefly passed through heated metal pipes or plates to a temperature of 161 degrees. Milk can be ultra pasteurized when heated to 280 degrees for a fraction of a second (this will be indicated on the product’s label with the letters “UHT”).

Pasteurization significantly lengthens the shelf life of milk from a couple of weeks to up to a few months.

Raw milk

Many milk drinkers, including some dairy farmers, believe that raw, unpasteurized milk is superior in flavor and nutrition. In the United States, it is legal in 28 of our 50 states to sell raw milk, Connecticut being one of them. Raw milk supporters encourage a movement against factory farms where treatment and conditions of animals contribute to the disease and harmful organisms found in milk. They believe that healthy cows do not produced diseased milk, and therefore the need for pasteurization is eliminated.

You can find raw milk in Connecticut at these locations.

Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch has Cancer

Vegetarian Adam Yauch, better known as "MCA" of the Beastie Boys announced back in July in a video at www.beastieboys.com that he has a "very treatable" cancerous tumor in his left parotid gland, which is a gland that resides in the throat. It is also in his lymph node, but has not spread to any other area of his body.

Because of this health issue, the Beastie Boys are postponing both their upcoming tour and the release of their next album entitled "Hot Sauce Committee Part I".

According to Yauch, the surgery and subsequent radiation will not affect his voice.

To view the message from Yauch himself with fellow groupmember Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz at his side, visit the Beastie Boys' Official Website.

Battle Royale: High Fructose Corn Syrup Versus Sugar


Which is better? High fructose corn syrup or sugar – or are they “compositionally equivalent”?

The advertisements lauding the quality of high fructose corn syrup do appear to be a bit biased, as if somehow the Corn Refiners Association (who funds THESE ADS) might have something to gain. They invoke a cautious curiosity as political ad campaigns do – one might expect a stalk to appear at the end and declare, “I am a corn cob, and I approved this message.” The goofy, Kerri Kenney look-a-like in the commercial above resonates with the fool in all of us. “How could I have been so stupid?” We all strive to be the enlightened, juice-pouring power Mom who scoffs in the face of whiny syrup haters. Who wouldn’t want to be more like her?

The folks at www.sweetsurprise.com are resolute to repudiate the “myths” prevalent in today’s increasingly label-aware society. A recent print ad reenacts an exchange between two women. One says something like, “My hairdresser says corn syrup is bad for you.” The other replies, “Wow, your hairdresser is a doctor?”

The smarmy, don’t-be-a-parrot tone beckons one to simply iterate the Corn Refiners Association’s (CRA) greed-fueled lies instead. The CRA boldly states that HFCS is “fine in moderation…just like sugar”. A can of soda might contain about 13 teaspoons of HFCS. Does that reflect moderation, or excess? The FDA recommends a limit of 10 teaspoons of sugar per day. One has to wonder how many teaspoons are in the unlabeled juice of the commercial above? It looks like the ones that sell for about $1.19 per gallon, and are so sweet it will make your lips pucker.

All of this excess corn ingestion makes one feel like the “terrorists win”. You may recall the old warning that stated if you buy gasoline or vote a Muslim into political office, the terrorists win. Well who wins when giant corporations control its nation’s bellies and health?

Right, so perhaps the switch should be made back to regular old white sugar. It’s slightly humorous how refined sugar has become the good guy. Looking at it from a vegetarian or vegan standpoint, it should be known that some refined sugar processing plants use bone char, or charred animal bones, to filter out such nasty impurities in sugar like its…well, color. Just like many other gifts of Mother Nature, man has been able to destroy and mutilate sugar from its beautiful and healthy beginnings as sugar cane.

So the dilemma remains. Whichever route one decides to take, these four points might be a good start:

1. Eliminate soda, including artificially sweetened colas.

2. Be aware of the HFCS contents in the foods you are eating. All growth begins with awareness, and corporations will blind you with science. Paid science, so to speak.


3. Begin to make little changes. Try agave nectar, a honey-like sweetener imported from Mexico’s agave plants. The agave is a plant that looks like a cactus, but is actually related to the lily family.

4. Pay no attention to women pouring juice at parties. It might just be Kool-Aid.

Some Ideas for Summer's Ripe Tomatoes


Got tomato plants? What will you do with them when they finally arrive? Here are some ideas to get you in the mood once those red little spheres of delight ripen on the vine.

A simplest dish is the Caprese Salad. Combine sliced tomato, sliced fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil. You can pierce these items onto a skewer or oversized toothpick (use halved cherry tomatoes for this method) and cover with a white balsamic vinaigrette for a colorful hors d'oeuvre.

Stuffed Tomatoes might be a nice side dish to try, and is relatively simple to make. Core tomatoes and fill with seasoned white or brown rice, and cover with cheese. Broil until cheese is melted. It’ll look more impressive than a side of rice with a tomato salad, but requires no extra effort.

How about ketchup? I love making things from scratch that seem ridiculous to make from scratch. From bagels to tortillas, I find some to be a labor of love and others to be just plain laborious. However, this recipe for ketchup doesn’t seem too difficult. There is a plethora of ketchup recipes on the web, and a wide variety of flavorings and spices to suit your particular palette. Who knows, maybe you will put Teresa Heinz out of business!

Okay, if you don’t want to go as far as making ketchup, won’t you at least try to make your own salsa? A fresh, preservative-free dip might be just what your chips have been begging for – not to mention, your belly. Combine six finely chopped tomatoes with a teaspoon or more of your favorite seasonings like cumin, fresh cilantro, parsley and oregano. Add some finely chopped red onion, a tablespoon of olive oil, a little bit of salt and a diced chili pepper that matches your heat needs. You can also add corn, garlic, lime juice or chopped red bell pepper; whatever you like!

I’m really looking forward to my tomatoes this year. What will I be doing with mine? My favorite thing ever: a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich with a little salt. Hmmm…maybe I should make my own mayonnaise?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Food, Inc.

A great 90 minute film is in theatres now called “Food, Inc.” If you haven’t seen “The Future of Food”, you may be interested in the eye-opening but sickening details in this movie by award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner.

If you are one of those rare individuals who’d rather read than watch a movie, there is also a book available, containing 13 essays from experts in the food field such as Gary Hirschberg of Stonyfield Farm and Robert Kenner himself.

Here are a couple of points from the movie that you might not know about:

Did you know that in January, 2008 the FDA approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, despite two votes from Congress to delay the decision until more information was gathered, and letters from 150,000 citizens expressing their disapproval of the consumption of cloned meat? It is even more disconcerting that if cloned meat is introduced into the marketplace, the FDA will not require these foodstuffs to be labeled as cloned goods.

Did you know that 45 percent of U.S. corn and 85 percent of soybeans are genetically engineered? Many of the processed foods on supermarket shelves contain high fructose corn syrup and soybean soils, so it is estimated that over 70 percent of these foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

Did you know that 1 of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants do not have adequate food? Not a million, a billion. This issue could be improved with major changes to the way food corporations and the FDA are allowed to operate. Food, Inc. believes these changes can begin with consumers, likening each purchase we make to a vote - a vote for corporate greediness and unhealthy food, or clean and healthy sustenance.

Here is the Food, Inc. trailer:

Japanese Flavorings


Most people know what soy sauce is, but there are a few more flavorings that should have a place in your refrigerator if you often cook meals with an Oriental bent. Let’s take a look at some of the staples you might not be familiar with.

Mirin

Mirin is a type of sweetened sake (a rice wine). It adds a delicious zing to Asian dishes that need that “something”. Mirin adds a mildly sweet taste that is full of flavor. To put it into perspective, think: instead of adding white wine to mushrooms, you’d add mirin to an Asian mushroom stir fry.

Rice Wine Vinegar

There are more types of vinegar in the world than you can probably count. From champagne vinegar to balsamic, each has its own place. Rice wine vinegar is the most popular type used in Japan, and provides a very light vinegary taste to dishes. Rice wine vinegar appears either colorless or yellow – but chances are your supermarket’s version will be yellow. Not surprisingly, it can be used to flavor rice – or be added to dressings.

Miso

The word miso might remind you of miso soup. However, miso is actually a paste made from fermented soybeans. This will be tough to find in a regular grocery store, but should be available at your local health food store. It is stored in a tub and comes in red or white – the white being saltier and more potent of the two. Miso is commonly used in soups, but can also be a key ingredient in noodle dishes and makes an excellent dressing when added to oil, vinegar and other flavorings.

Man Fatally Gored During Running of the Bulls Event

A 27 year-old Spanish man named Daniel Jimeno Romero was fatally gored in the neck and lung on Friday, July 10, 2009, during the annual Running of the Bulls event of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. Romero had been vacationing in Pamplona with his parents and girlfriend. This incident occurred on the fourth of eight daily bull runs that occur during this week in July each year.


Apparently, the bulls frequently travel in a pack during this gruesome tradition, but one of the bulls separated from the rest of its pack due to a fall early on in the event. The bulls’ hooves have a difficult time getting a good grip on the paved and cobblestone streets along the run. According to a report from the Associated Press, “A bull that gets separated is more likely to get frightened and aggressive, and this is what happened Friday.”


Graphic footage of the deadly incident is available on various websites.


In addition to Romero’s mortal wounding, nine others were also injured in Friday’s race. There have been a total of 14 fatalities since 1924, when record keeping for this event began. This does not count the almost certain death each of the bulls suffer when encountering a matador in the bullring at the end of the race.

The most recent fatality took place in 1995, when American Matthew Tassio was gored in the abdomen. 63 year-old Fermin Etxeberria had his head trampled by a bull during the 2003 bull run. After spending months in a coma, he died as a result of his injuries.

This incident raises concerns as to whether this tradition should be continued.

Vegetarianism and Astrology

Today I’m going to divert a little, this time to the topic of astrology. Astrology has always been an interest of mine, and I wanted to share the topic of vegetarianism through the eyes of each of the astrological signs. Keep in mind that your Sun sign is only part of your astrological chart, so when you read those horoscopes, remember it’s only part of the picture!

Aries: You share your love of a meat-free lifestyle very directly with others. You are passionate about imparting the virtues of a vegetarian diet and the negative impact of factory farms. Your never-ending energy will help you spread the word through various ambitious projects. Aries Vegetarian: Jane Goodall

Taurus: Taurus, you are one with Nature. You believe that animals should be free to roam the land, happily grazing without man’s interference. You want to be able to come and go as you please, so you can appreciate a cow wanting to be left alone to sit and chew its cud for a while. Taurus Vegetarian: Candice Bergen

Gemini: You feel so close to animals you feel you can even read their thoughts. You probably have a couple at home that you have long conversations with. Who could bear to eat something that might have something to say? Gemini Vegetarian: Sir Ian McKellen

Cancer: If your home isn’t filled with animals, you’ve got photos of animals. Your home is your castle, and it isn’t complete without a dog or two. You feel compassion for all living beings, and couldn’t bear to eat one! Cancer Vegetarian: Henry David Thoreau

Leo: You are proud of your vegetarian diet and are the first one to show off your fit physique or shiny Leo hair. Why eat an animal when it might take away from your charisma? Leo Vegetarian: George Bernard Shaw

Virgo: There’s a hundred reasons to go vegetarian, and you know them all. If someone has an excuse for eating meat, you’ve got a response. Just your raised eyebrow alone will make carnivores cower. You know what you’re talking about, and you’re not afraid to share. Virgo Vegetarian: Ed Begley, Jr.

Libra: You know that going vegetarian is the right thing to do. Animals are defenseless creatures that deserve to be free, not live in fear or filth. You’ve weighed the options and the animals win. You revere beauty, and slaughter ain’t pretty. Libra Vegetarian: John Lennon

Scorpio: Scorpio, you have a proclivity toward forbidden issues. Whereas other signs might wince at slaughterhouse photos, you can handle it. You’d be great as an animal rights activist, for your passion and ability to handle sensitive topics will give you a unique advantage. Scorpio Vegetarian: John Cleese

Sagittarius: Sagittarius, you have not only read up on this topic, but you’ve integrated the issue with your philosophical and/or religious beliefs. You believe you’ll be more highly evolved if you don’t eat the lesser evolved. And you’re not afraid to say it…to anyone. Sagittarius Vegetarian: Brad Pitt


Capricorn: You are responsible and driven. You have no problem removing meat products from your meals. Heck, you might even go vegan. You might even start a grassroots organization to discourage a slaughterhouse from moving into town. You can do whatever you set your mind to! Capricorn Vegetarian: Joan Baez

Aquarius: The Hippy of the universe, you are all about peace and love. You are a great influence on your friends, and will likely lead others toward a vegetarian diet just because everyone wants to be just like you! Aquarius Vegetarian: Abraham Lincoln

Pisces: Pisces, you are the master at empathy. With all of that sensitivity you hold inside that heart of yours, you can barely stand to contribute to the suffering of others, let alone innocent animals. This is hardly a tough decision for you, for you will sacrifice anything for the happiness of others. Pisces Vegetarian: George Harrison

The Diabolical Seitan

Satan? Nope. Seitan is a chewy meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Originating from Asia, seitan has been a staple in Buddhist cultures and macrobiotic diets. It works well in stews, stir fries, soups and barbecues as it holds it texture beautifully. Seitan is created by washing the starch of wheat dough till only the gluten remains.

Obviously, celiac disease sufferers will want to stay away from this “wheat meat”, but seitan often welcomed by new vegetarians seeking something high in protein other than the usual tofu or veggie burger. Seitan can be purchased at health food stores, but if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can try to make it at home.

I’ve made several attempts to produce a good, heartily textured seitan a few times in the past – and failed. The reason I call it the diabolical seitan is 1) it’s darn catchy and 2) I personally have found it so tough and tedious to make.

Luckily I ran into this recipe from Joni Newman (who I’ve mentioned before) and now I will never need another seitan recipe again.

Here was my former problem. After the wheat dough is produced, it is cooked in simmering water. The other recipes I’ve tried involved cutting the wheat dough into pieces, but this recipe directs you to fashion the dough into two logs. The logs are wrapped in cheesecloth and then dropped into the broth. I couldn’t believe how solid it turned out. I wanted to share with you the photos from my journey. Be sure to check out the original recipe (Joni’s look even better than mine). The active preparation time was only about an hour, and then simmered for 90 minutes.

This is the stiff dough made from only wheat gluten, whole wheat flour and water.









This is what it looks like after the starch has been washed from the dough. It feels like it will fall apart in your hands, but magically sticks back together – I’m guessing because it is so high in protein.




Seasonings are added to the mixture and then the logs are shaped and wrapped in cheesecloth. I secured the ends with thread.







A very salty broth of 10 cups water, two cups soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and ginger.






The final product. Unbelievably salty at first, but after a couple of days the flavors melded together and was quite perfect. I used most of mine for a lazy meal: a seitan grinder with tomato sauce and cheese instead of meatballs. Loved it!





Nutritional Information (not based on this recipe):

Seitan, 1/3 cup (30g)
Calories: 160
Protein: 23g
Carbohydrate: 11g
Total Fat: 0.5g
Fiber: 2g

The Link Between Vegetarianism and Yoga


I began my yoga practice a couple of years ago and have found it a wonderful way to get in shape. Yoga combines physical fitness with spiritual development, thereby offering a full body and mind workout. The benefits of yoga can be brought “off the mat” as they say – and be incorporated into your life outside the practice.

But what’s it got to do with vegetarianism? A lot, for me. A considerable focus of yoga instructors’ narratives involves oneness between the student and nature – between the yogi and all living beings. The word “yoga” itself means “union with God”. A true, unconditional union must begin with compassion. I feel renewed enthusiasm when an instructor prompts me to connect to all other living beings on Earth, from ant to antelope or bee to buffalo. Satisfied that I don’t kill or eat them, this reminder brings a warm sensation in my heart where rote routine has settled in. The mindless rebuff of meat products is replaced by the passion I had to stop in the first place.

Logistically it makes more sense to practice yoga on a vegetarian stomach. Moving energy around your body is a lot easier without the toxins of carrion and sinew putrefying in your belly and bloodstream. The relaxed sense of purity instilled by a cruelty-free diet enhances the heat produced from the poses.

Of course, many of the poses are named after animals. The Downward-Facing Dog pose is the most commonly seen – but there’s also one for our pigeons, cobras, eagles, fish and others. These weren’t developed while eating animals, they were developed by watching them to learn what wisdom our creatures have to offer. Yoga encourages you to mimic animals, not conquer them.

New Milford’s yoga studio, Harmony Yoga in New Milford has a great selection of classes. If you can’t make it to the studio and would like to practice in the privacy of your own home, Yoga Today offers access to tons of online classes for $9.99 per month.

I find that a healthy, meatless diet is perfectly complemented by compassion-based spirituality and “right intention”. Yoga is the ideal side dish to a vegetarian lifestyle.

Quotes about Vegetarianism and Animal Rights

Today I’m going to pass the soapbox to notable vegetarians, and offer you some great quotes regarding vegetarianism.

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

Albert Einstein

I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we
should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our
bodily wants.

Gandhi

Fur used to turn heads, now it turns stomachs.

Rue McClanahan

People get offended by animal rights campaigns. It's ludicrous. It's not as bad as mass animal death in a factory.

Richard Gere

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.

Henry David Thoreau

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food."

the Bible
(A great list of Bible quotes can be found here)

If you have men who will exclude any of god's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.


St. Francis of Assisi

How can you say you're trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?

Oprah Winfrey

A mind of the caliber of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows.

A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses.

George Bernard Shaw

I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.

Leonardo da Vinci

The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies.

Albert Schweitzer

Newsflash: Vegetarian/Vegan Diets are Healthful According to the ADA


The American Dietetic Association released a report suitable for the “no duh” files. The July 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association states:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.

The ADA also posits that vegetarian dieters are slimmer and have a lower risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Heart disease and cancer together kill over a million people in the United States each year. The full press release can be found here:

The classic food pyramid has often caused a disapproving snarl to appear on many vegetarians’ faces. The ADA’s study regarding vegetarian diets prompted a revised food pyramid, which can be found here along with suggestions to help vegetarians and vegans meet more challenging requirements for nutrients like vitamin B12 and calcium.

A survey by the ADA found that 40% of true vegetarians (those who never consume meat products) are indeed vegan. The ADA believes that the percentage of vegetarians will only continue to increase in the future.

Just in time for grilling season, the ADA has provided veggie burger and veggie dog statistics and information here:

Vegetarians might consider memorizing a few phrases such as “According to the ADA, vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle,” as a ready response when encountering omnivorous naysayers.

The Nutrition and Power of Flax Seed



Flax seeds are a wonderful resource in the kitchen. While providing a variety of nutritional benefits, it also offers a significant amount of soluble and insoluble fiber for your diet.

What health conditions can flax aid? Flax consumption can help reduce cholesterol levels due to its high fiber content. Flax is high in the Omega 3 alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA), which is beneficial for inflammation-based maladies like arthritis. Several factors deem flax to be excellent for cancer prevention. The high amount of lignans (a phytoestrogen), Omega 3, and fiber all contribute to its cancer-fighting potential. A great blood sugar regular, flax can be especially beneficial to diabetics. There are many more conditions that flax can prevent or relieve.

Ran out of eggs? Mix one tablespoon of ground flax seed with three tablespoons of water for a binding agent.

Golden or brown? Flax appears in golden and brown varieties. Both have similar nutritional benefits, but some prefer the nutty and buttery taste of golden flax.

Best way to get flax? It is recommended that you buy whole flax seed and then grind with a coffee grinder or blender. Grind small batches and keep the remaining seeds in the fridge or, better yet, the freezer. Once ground, it is recommended you store it in the refrigerator and use within six weeks or so. Whole seeds will not offer maximum benefits, as they will likely pass through your system undigested.

Easiest way to consume ground flax seed? Sprinkle ground flax seed on oatmeal, in yogurt or cottage cheese. A tablespoon is a good amount to start with. Start slowly, so you can gauge the effect it will have on your digestive system.

Flax meal, or oil? Both are good sources of ALA, but the oil won’t give you the high fiber present in the meal. Whole flax seeds are also considerably less expensive than the flax oil. Flax seed oil is best absorbed when taken with food. Heat will damage the valuable nutritional content, so keep refrigerated and do not use in high heat cooking.

Fun flax fact: Some organic dairy farms are feeding their cows flax grain, which has been proven to reduce the cows’ methane emissions and improves the nutritional quality of their milk.

One tablespoon (7 grams) of ground flax seed contains:
37 calories
3 grams of fat
2 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of fiber
1 gram of protein
1597 mg of Omega 3
414 mg of Omega 6

Thiamin: 8%
Riboflavin: 1%
Niacin: 1%
Vitamin B6: 2%
Folate: 2%
Pantothenic Acid: 1%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 2%
Magnesium: 7%
Phosphorus: 4%
Potassium: 2%
Zinc: 2%
Copper: 4%
Manganese: 9%
Selenium: 3%

Kent, CT's Wasabi - a Great Place for Vegetarians

The Wasabi Restaurant in Kent, Connecticut is an excellent choice for vegetarians craving an Asian meal. Wasabi serves not only the expected sushi dishes (complete with a sushi bar), but offers Chinese and Thai options as well.

Food from typical “fast-food” style Chinese restaurants can ironically vary in quality from one day to the next – but also taste as if it was prepared in a giant vat of unpalatable sauce. At Wasabi, meals do not taste as processed as standard Chinese take-out fare. The offerings are consistently good, and it is clear the dishes are made with care and fresh ingredients.

There is an extensive variety for vegetarian customers, all at affordable prices. Among the choices are:

Ma Po Spicy Bean Curd: $8.45
Vegetable Udon: $9.95
Tofu Teriyaki: $11.95
Vegetable Tempura: $11.95
Vegetable Roll (sushi): $4.25
Vegetable Pad Thai: $8.95
General Tso’s Tofu: $9.95 (highly recommended)

For an appetizer, it is almost compulsory to try the Tofu Skin ($2.25) – which might not sound appetizing, but is quite delicious. Vegetarians who have shied away from sushi bars thinking they will have no options should sample vegetable based sushi. At Wasabi, there are a few rolls to choose from: the large vegetable roll or the smaller cucumber, pickled radish or avocado rolls.

It should be noted that their Japanese and Chinese selections are considerably tastier than the Thai.

Unfortunately, Wasabi does not have a website, but you can call for take-out at (860) 927-0048. You won’t need to worry about making reservations, as there is ample available seating.

If you find yourself in Litchfield County, you are strongly urged to visit Wasabi, which is located at 24 South Main Street (Route 7) in Kent. Non-vegetarians will surely enjoy their meal as well.

Triple Sec Iced Tea Recipe


Triple sec is one of those liquors that, unless you make a lot of margaritas, is going to sit in your liquor cabinet forever. In an effort to utilize this delicious but sometimes too distinctive alcohol, my boyfriend Matt came up with a drink he calls: “Tea Party Express”. Summer is iced tea season, and this recipe gives a little kick to an old time favorite. There’s no need to add sugar, as the Triple Sec provides sufficient sweetness.

Tea Party Express Recipe

  • 4 bags black tea
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • ice
  • orange, for garnish

Place four tea bags in a pitcher, and cover with the boiling water. Let steep for about 15 minutes. Next, add the cold water, and let cool to room temperature. Add Triple Sec and stir to blend. Refrigerate until cold.

Serve in glass over ice, and garnish with an orange wedge.

Makes four large servings.

Michael Jackson was a Vegetarian

Michael Jackson, the enigmatic pop icon known by all, was a vegetarian who appeared to have been in good health.

Promotion company AEG had been searching for insurance companies to cover Jackson on his upcoming tour. After rigorous testing, Jackson was found to be in excellent health. AEG’s Chief Executive Randy Phillips was quoted as saying, “He’s a vegetarian; he’s in great shape.”

In his 1988 book, Moonwalk, Jackson says, “I'm a vegetarian now and I'm so much thinner. I've been on a strict diet for years. I feel better than I ever have, healthier and more energetic.”

Michael Jackson’s father Joe and sister LaToya are believed to be vegetarians as well.

Sadly, Jackson collapsed from cardiac arrest in his home in Los Angeles, California, and was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center today. An autopsy will be performed Friday, June 26th with results expected in the afternoon.

Family lawyer Brian Oxman stated he had expressed grave concerns about Jackson’s “extensive” use of prescription drugs prior to his passing.

The Los Angeles Robbery and Homicide Division are currently investigating his untimely death.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

Here are some additional sources stating that Jackson was a "strict vegetarian":

Business Mirror

LA Times

Mommy, Where Does Tofu Come From?

Many people have no idea how tofu is made. Others know it comes from soybeans, but not much beyond that.

Tofu, also known as “bean curd” (as you may have seen on Chinese food menus), is basically coagulated soy milk that has been pressed for a firmer texture.

Making tofu at home only takes a few steps. If a soy milk maker is used, that will eliminate a few of the steps and greatly cut down on the effort required.

Some tofu recipes tend to get a little convoluted for the novice, so here is a quick, bare bones version of the process:

· Soak soybeans
· Rinse and drain beans
· Put beans in a blender with more water
· Blend completely
· Strain soy pulp from soy milk (discard pulp)
· Boil soy milk
· Add coagulant (which is usually either calcium sulfate, nigari or lemon juice)
· Let rest for a few minutes
· Strain whey
· Place curds into tofu press lined with cheesecloth
· Cover with heavy object for 15 – 35 minutes, depending on desired texture
· Uncover and enjoy!

Tofu should be stored in water, and the water should be changed daily.

A great video demonstration

and a more in depth view of the entire procedure.

Fulvic Acid - the Latest Trend in Mineral Supplementation


Everyone, not just vegetarians, should ensure they are getting sufficient vitamins and minerals every day. Through the years, over farming and in-organic crops have robbed our soils of their ecological integrity. Crops grown on mineral deficient soils will produce inferior fruits and vegetables, therefore reducing our daily dose of those minerals in our diets.
A great way to boost your daily mineral intake is with fulvic acid. Fulvic acid is a naturally occurring electrolyte that is harvested from ancient humic deposits in various areas of the world. They can be found as close as New Mexico and as distant as India, where fulvic acid is referred to as “shaljit” and is often utilized in Ayurvedic medicine.
There are at least 60 minerals in each dose, which are considerably more accessible to cells than other mineral supplements such as colloidal minerals.
Fulvic acid has a wide range of uses, from topically treating infections and burns to eradicating free radicals. It is purported to enhance many of the body’s functions, such as vitamin absorption and metabolism. It helps regulate the body’s pH, therefore warding off any new diseases. It also helps detoxify the body of heavy metals.
In addition to human supplementation, there are other practical uses for fulvic acid as well. It can be used on plants or crops to restore a better mineral composition to the soil and increase yields. It has also been used on livestock and pets to improve their general health and demeanor. The Fulvic Acid Company based in the United Kingdom, has designed specific products for humans, pets, horses and gardens.
Scientists have not been able to replicate the humification process (or the creation of humus), and therefore fulvic acid may not be synthesized in a laboratory.
Fulvic acid hasn’t just been discovered, of course. Tests in the 1960’s were conducted on Californian livestock, and reported an immense improvement to the animals’ health. Benefits ranged from 15 percent higher butterfat production in cows, to superior shell quality in poultry.
The FDA has yet to evaluate fulvic acid for its therapeutic properties.

“Burpless” Cows Attribute Success to Omega 3 Rich Diet

According to this article by the Associated Press, one organic dairy farm in Coventry, Vermont is helping reduce their carbon footprint by modifying the diets of their cows.

After an energy audit in the 1990’s, environmentally progressive Stonyfield Farm was surprised to hear that their dairy farms, not their production factories, were their number one contributor to climate change. The dairy industry as a whole contributes about 2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S. – mostly stemming from methane emission from the cows’ enteric system. Many might think that methane primarily escapes from the rear of the animal, but in reality 95 percent of the pollutant is emitted through bovine burps.

After years of researching, Stonyfield found a solution through its French partner, Groupe Danone. Danone figured the burps originated from a poor diet, and set out to feed the cows better quality grains.

Coventry Valley Farm and 14 other organic farms are working in conjunction with Stonyfield to reduce their cows’ methane production. Coventry Farmers Tim Maikshilo and his wife Kristen Dellert feed their herd a diet consisting of Omega 3 rich grains and grasses such as flaxseed and alfalfa to moderate methane laden burps from the cows.

Another benefit the farmers have found is that their cows are in better general health. The superior grain isn’t even costlier – though it is only a wintertime treat. Grass acquired through grazing during warmer months provides adequate Omega 3’s without any need for supplementation. The Coventry farm has managed to reduce methane emissions by 13 percent, and have also profited from reduced veterinary costs. Other farms have reduced emissions by up to 18 percent.

Healthier cows, of course, mean healthier milk. Milk higher in Omega 3 fats can enhance cardiovascular health among a host of other benefits.

A final advantage to feeding cows nutrient-rich grains is that it will reduce the amount of corn and soy cultivated. As detailed in the incredible documentary “The Future of Food”, many environmentalists and scientists consider bioengineered corn crops (a growing portion of our corn supply), as unsafe for the environment and consumption. Corporate giant Monsanto currently holds a monopoly on seed patents, which they utilize to slowly nudge thousands of small farmers out business.

For more information about the “Greener Cow” project, visit:
http://www.stonyfield.com/GreenerCow/