The Vegiterranean Diet puts nutrition and health into global and historical context. In an informative and engaging way, the book is a mashup of all that is fabulous with the Mediterranean diet, debunking myths, and defining why and how the most perfect diet has developed over time. Front-loaded with history and science, then introducing ecological and psychosocial perspectives, the book leads up to ten basic principles, a Vegiterranean Food Pyramid and Plate, a comprehensive 21-day meal plan, and 66 delicious, nutritious Med-style recipes.
The Vegiterranean Diet: The New and Improved Mediterranean Eating Plan–with Deliciously Satisfying Vegan Recipes for Optimal Health
The Vegiterranean Diet puts nutrition and health into global and historical context. In an informative and engaging way, the book is a mashup of all that is fabulous with the Mediterranean diet, debunking myths, and defining why and how the most perfect diet has developed over time. Front-loaded with history and science, then introducing ecological and psychosocial perspectives, the book leads up to ten basic principles, a Vegiterranean Food Pyramid and Plate, a comprehensive 21-day meal plan, and 66 delicious, nutritious Med-style recipes. Further, this book includes interviews with world-renowned experts and leaders Dr. Melanie Joy, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, and Gene Baur, along with recipe contributions from culinary geniuses, Chad Sarno and Robin Robertson.
And for a hint of flavor, here is a passage from my Introduzione (Preface) of the book:
The Mediterranean region revealed to us the secret of long-term health and disease prevention, and I will show you how and why these successful behaviors can easily be implemented into your life. This book is me—my heart, soul, mind, and passion—on a plate along with salad, hummus, and a glass of wine … may it inspire you to eat and enjoy whole, plant foods … TO YOUR HEALTH!
Guest post by Dr. Joel Kahn, a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Inteflex Medical School program and a board certified interventional cardiologist. He has published over 150 medical research articles. He is the first physician in the world to be complete certification from University of South Florida School of Medicine in Metabolic and Integrative Cardiology. He is a founder of the International Society of Integrative and Metabolic Cardiology. He is an editorial consult for Reader’s Digest Magazine and writes a weekly column on holistic medicine for www.mindbodygreen.com. He lectures nationwide on nutrition and heart disease prevention. He lives in West Bloomfield with his wife Karen and is the proud father of 4 children.
Every 34 seconds someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Is it necessary? The simple answer is no! Over 80% of heart attacks are preventable and people who are dying or are maimed by weak hearts do not need to suffer. Does it take a Ph.D to make your way through confusing health messages? While my book, The Whole Heart Solution, explains over 6 dozen simple steps that you can take to protect your heart from damage, the most important steps boil down to 5 easy ones. Let’s review 2 recent studies and keep it simple.
1) The Morgen Study. Researchers in the Netherlands studied almost 18,000 adults without heart disease and took a survey of their health habits. They followed them for up to 14 years and over 600 of the group had heart events including deaths. They found that if people followed 4 steps they were able to lower their risk of heart disease by 67% and these included:
Physical activity average 30 minutes a day
A healthy diet in the Mediterranean style
Enjoying more than 1 alcoholic beverage a month
In the same study, persons that added a 5th health habit, sleeping 7 or more hours at night on average, the risk of heart disease dropped to 83% lower than those not following these steps.
2) The Karolinska Study. Scientists in Sweden examined over 20,000 men free of heart disease and followed them for 11 years. They found that there were certain habits that lowered the risk of heart disease including:
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and reduced fat
Moderate alcohol consumption
Physical activity > 40 minutes daily.
Men that followed all 5 of this lifestyle habits had an 86% lower chance of developing or dying of heart disease than those that followed none. Sadly, only 1% of the group followed all 5 habits.
So, the message is clear. You should learn about xeno-estrogens in plastics, endocrine disruptors in toothpaste, air pollution, and plastic additives in bread. However, if you can develop some simple habits consistently for you and your family you never need to suffer a heart attack…or worse. The number one killer of men and women in the USA can be tamed with your fork, your feet, your fingers far from cigarettes, and some responsible use of a small glass of wine. So it’s as easy as 1-2-3 (4-5) including
Butter is back in the news, but contrary to welcomed reassurance that saturated fats are safe, the media mayhem is due to jumped conclusions and misinterpreted results! Not to worry…nutrition gurus Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina have cracked the code and clarified the insider scoop in this excellent investigative report below, which is adapted from their brand new nutrition bible, Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition. Rarely does a book reach epic encyclopedic status, covering all topics relating to nutrition and health. But this new book is the be-all, end-all of resources and should be required reading in every person, from vegan to omnivore, and everything in between. I am honored to host a giveaway here…learn more about these pioneering authors/dietitians/game-changers and enter to win a FREE copy of this brilliant masterpiece following the article below…
Saturated Fat Controversies: Seeing Past the Headlines
The longstanding view that saturated fats are “bad” has recently come under fire. At the core of the controversy are studies suggesting that saturated fat may not increase risk of heart disease.1-3 Two key reports sent shock waves throughout the scientific community. The first was a 2010 meta-analysis of twenty-one studies by Siri-Tarino and colleagues, which investigated the relationship between saturated fat intake and CVD in almost 350,000 people.2 The second was a 2014 meta-analysis of seventy-six studies by Chowdhury and colleagues, which involved more than 510,000 people.3 Contradicting decades of national and international dietary recommendations, no clear association between saturated fat intake and these diseases was found. A media frenzy ensued, leading consumers to believe that saturated fat had been vindicated and that beef, butter, bacon, and brie could be eaten with abandon.
Why did these large meta-analyses show no significant relationship between saturated fat and heart disease? First, many of the studies included in these meta-analyses compared similar populations that ate Western-style diets high in both fat and saturated fat (studies that examine a more diverse range of saturated fat intakes tend to show more significant disparity in disease risk); even the lowest intakes of saturated fat were above recommended intakes. Second, many of the studies used in these analyses relied on a single twenty-four-hour recall to determine dietary intakes; this method isn’t reliable for ascertaining long-term dietary patterns. Third, several of the studies were adjusted for serum cholesterol levels. Because serum cholesterol concentrations increase with higher intakes of saturated fat, controlling for this variable obscures the results.
Since the mid-1990s, thirteen meta-analyses and scientific reviews have examined the relationship between saturated fats and CVD.1-13 Of these studies, ten reported that saturated fat increased CVD risk.4–13 In 2010, the US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee summarized the evidence regarding the effects of saturated fat intake on risk of CVD and type 2 diabetes. They concluded that evidence supporting saturated fats’ harmful effects is very high, and that replacing just 5 percent of saturated fats in a diet with polyunsaturated fats will decrease risk for CVD and type 2 diabetes and improve insulin response.14 A 2011 consensus statement from an expert panel (convened to review the evidence regarding saturated fat and CVD) came to the following conclusion: “The evidence from epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies is consistent in finding that the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced when saturated fatty acids (SFA) are replaced with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). In populations who consume a Western diet, the replacement of 1 percent of the energy from SFA with PUFA lowers LDL cholesterol and is likely to produce a reduction in coronary heart disease incidence of ≥ 2 to 3 percent.”15 (It’s interesting to note that two of the coauthors of the Siri-Tarino meta-analysis were among the experts on this panel.) A 2012 Cochrane review reported that reducing saturated fat lowered the risk of cardiovascular events by 14 percent.5 Finally, in 2014, the American College of Cardiology/ American Heart Association Lifestyle Management Guidelines were released suggesting a dietary pattern that limits saturated fat to 5 to 6 percent of calories. This recommendation was supported by their highest level of evidence.16
Clearly, the media don’t always tell the whole story. In the case of the Siri-Tarino analyses, the media reported that saturated fat had been vindicated. In fact, the study showed that when saturated fat is replaced by trans-fatty acids or refined carbohydrates, there’s no improvement in cardiovascular risk—and, in the case of trans-fatty acids, risk is significantly heightened.
For many years, consumers were told that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates would effectively reduce CVD risk because carbohydrates lower LDL cholesterol. More recently, however, research studies are suggesting that replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates (e.g., white flour products, white rice, and sugar-sweetened beverages and treats) provides no advantage and may actually increase CVD risk relative to saturated fat.4, 6, 15 Although refined carbohydrates reduce LDL cholesterol, they also reduce HDL cholesterol and increase triglyceride levels. In addition, refined carbohydrates also increase atherogenic, small, dense LDL particles. Replacing refined carbohydrate with unrefined carbohydrate or fat increases the less atherogenic, large, fluffy LDL particles.17
More research is required to determine the relative effectiveness of unrefined carbohydrates as a replacement for saturated fat,15 although populations consuming diets low in saturated fat and high in unrefined carbohydrates are well protected against CAD. Evidence suggests that diets containing carbohydrate sources with a low GI are beneficial,18 as are diets rich in unrefined carbohydrates.19,20
We asked Dr. Francesca Crowe, one of the coauthors of the 2014 Chowdhury meta-analysis, about the weight of the evidence concerning saturated fat and CVD risk. She responded, “The best available evidence (from randomized controlled trials) shows that saturated fat intake affects blood cholesterol levels, which is an important risk factor for heart disease. Therefore, current guidelines should still recommend that people minimize their intake of saturated fat.”21 Dr. Martijn Katan, leading expert on CVD and diet agrees: “The fact that saturated fat raises cholesterol is beyond doubt. That has been shown in hundreds of trials that fed people different types of fat.” The take-home message remains the same as it was thirty years ago: Western-style diets rich in animal products and processed foods increase CVD risk, while diets based on high-fiber, whole plant foods (such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) are protective.
About the Authors
Brenda Davis is a leader in her field, an esteemed, popular speaker, a member of the Vegetarian Hall of Fame, and a past chairperson of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). She lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, with her husband, Paul.
Vesanto Melina is a sought-after speaker and consultant; she has taught nutrition at the University of British Columbia and Bastyr University in Seattle and is consultant to the government of B. C. She coauthored the joint position paper on vegetarian diets for the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada. She lives in Langley, BC with her partner Cam Doré.
1. Mente A et al. A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(7):659–69.
2. Siri-Tarino PW et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91:535–46.
3. Chowdhury R et al: Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of InternalMedicine. 2014;160(6):398–406.
4. Micha R, Mozaffarian D. Saturated fat and cardiometabolic risk factors, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a fresh look at the evidence. Lipids. 2010;45: 893–905.
5. Hooper L et al. Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;5: CD002137. Review.
6. Mozaffarian D, Micha R, Wallace S et al, ed. Effects on Coronary Heart Disease of Increasing Polyunsaturated Fat in Place of Saturated Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. PLoS Medicine. 2010;7(3):1–10.
7. Danaei G et al. The preventable causes of death in the United States: comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors. PLoS Med. 2009; 6(4):e1000058.
8. Skeaff CM, Miller J. Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: summary of evidence
from prospective cohort and randomised controlled trials. Ann Nutr Metab. 2009; 55(1–3):173–201.
9. Jakobsen MU et al. Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies. Am JClin Nutr. 2009;89 (5):1425–32.
10. Van Horn L et al. The evidence for dietary prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. JADA. 2008;108(2):287–331.
11. Chanu B. Primary dietetic prevention of ischaemic heart disease. Archives des Maladiesdu Coeur et des Vaisseux. 2003;96(Sp. Iss. 6):21–25.
12. Hu FB, Stamfer MJ. Nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a review of the epidemiologic evidence. Current Atherosclerosis Reports. 1999;1:204–209.
13. Truswell AS. “Review of dietary intervention studies: effect on coronary events and on total mortality”. Australian and NewZealand Journal of Medicine. 1994;24(1): 98–106.
14. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). USDA Nutrition Evidence Library, 2010. What is the effect of saturated fat (SFA) intake on increased risk of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, including effects on intermediate markers such as serum lipid and lipoprotein levels? www.nutritionevidencelibrary.com/ conclusion.cfm?conclusion_statement_ id=250194
15. Astrup A, et al. The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardio-vascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010? Am J Clin Nutr. 2011; Apr;93(4):684–8. Review.
16. Eckel RH et al; American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Jul 1;63(25 Pt B):2960-84.
17. Gerber PA, Berneis K. Regulation of low-density lipoprotein subfractions by carbohydrates. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 Jul;15(4):381-5. Review.
18. Barclay AW et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk–a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:627–37.
19. Mellen PB et al. Whole grain intake and cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2008;18(4): 283–90.
20. Nothlings U et al. Intake of vegetables, legumes, and fruit, and risk for all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality in a European diabetic population. Br J Nutr. 2009;102(2):285–92.
21. Personal e-mail communication with Dr. Francesca Crowe. 2014.
Just returned from an extraordinarily uplifting and powerful International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference. Last year was their inaugural event and they doubled in size in this year’s second event. In attendance were approximately 400 physicians and dietitians representing about 15 different countries. Not only is the research database supporting the myriad benefits of plant-based diets expanding broadly and widely, but healthcare practitioners are seeing awe-inspiring results with their patients across multiple unique subspecialties. The message is clear and strong…a whole food, plant-based diet is the solution to our current healthcare crisis.
2. Is the only diet that has been shown to reverse disease. Up on the stage this week were both Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn, who were first to document the reversal of advanced coronary heart disease in their patients (here, here, here, and here). Dr. Neal Barnard has also effectively shown the reversal of type 2 diabetes (here and here).
3. Has the potential to lower healthcare costs upwards of 70-80%. Experts hypothesize a dramatic savings in healthcare expenses because of decreased medication use, services, and procedures in people eating whole food, plant-based. Dr. Dean Ornish estimated that 75% of $2.8 trillion in U.S. health care costs are due to chronic diseases. Prevention is the key to massive savings.
4. Is sustainable (financially, patient-adherence-wise, environmentally, etc.). Eating plants is cost-effective, people love the food and stick to their meal plan, and it is the only way to reduce the massive impact livestock production has on global depletion.
5. Supports the avoidance of food addiction and obesity. Processed foods (refined grains, sugars, oils, packaged foods, fried foods, fast foods) promote food addiction and obesity because they promote a heightened release of dopamine and because they have insufficient fiber and nutrients to achieve satiety. Animal foods are rich, calorically-dense, and typically served up with added fats and flavorings to enhance palatability. Thus, avoiding all of these products and replacing them with calorically-light, nutrient-packed vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and a bit of nuts and seeds is a win-win recipe for avoiding the vicious cycle exacerbated by the food industry. Additionally, large cohort studies (EPIC-Oxford, Swedish Mammography Cohort, and Adventist Health Study) show that the more animal products consumed, the higher the BMI.
6. Has the potential to increase lifespan. Dr. Dean Ornish has shown that lifestyle intervention (including a plant-based diet) can elongate telomeres, DNA proteins that, when shortened, have been shown to be a marker for disease and decreased lifespan. Mortality rates have consistently been shown to be lower for vegetarians when compared to meat-eaters (here, here, and an overview here).
Excited to host this post for Nava Atlas’s new book blog tour. Not only did Nava share strategies for planning meals in the plant-based kitchen here, but you can also win a FREE copy of her brand new, gorgeous book, Plant Power, below. Nava is a talented, inspiring author and illustrator of many books on vegan and vegetarian cooking, most recently Wild About GreensandVegan Holiday Kitchen. She runs VegKitchen.com, one of the leading web resources for vegan recipes and lifestyle tips. In addition to her food writing, Nava also produces visual nonfiction and is a visual artist. Her work has been shown nationally in museums and galleries, and is part of numerous museum and university collections. You can see her work at navaatlasart.com.
7 Simple Meal-Planning Strategies for the Plant-Based Kitchen
Back when my kids were growing up and I still was in the midst of the classic juggling act, I was a lot more disciplined about meal planning. I found that it really did buy me time and sanity. For our family of four, I planned three meals per week. If I made ample quantities, I could count on leftovers for three more dinners. And leftovers can always be tweaked so that they’re slightly different the next day. For example, today’s salad can be tomorrow’s wrap; tonight’s soup-and-wrap dinner can become tomorrow’s soup-and-vegan-quesadilla dinner.
What do you see as your ideal meal-making style? Decide whether you want to make different meals every night or most nights and rotate them through the season or whether you want to try the three-meals-with-leftovers strategy. If you want to be a seat-of-the-pants cook, more power to you. For that kind of spontaneity, you’ve got to have an especially well-stocked pantry and fridge as well as the imagination to look at a bunch of ingredients and envision what they can become.
1. Plan three full meals for each week. From those meals, you can plan two nights of leftovers, which makes life easier—though this is challenging if you have hungry teens or athletes at home. Don’t think of leftovers as boring. They can be repurposed in ways that might not make it into the culinary hall of fame, but with a few tweaks they can be as tasty as the original preparation. For instance, leftover chili can become Cincinnati chili mac.
2. Plan meals before going shopping. Planning your meals before you go food shopping will ensure that you don’t waste time, money, and energy running back and forth to the store all week. A mere twenty to thirty minutes of meal planning per week will simplify your life immeasurably, especially if you have a tight schedule, young children, or both.
3. Plan meals after going shopping. What? Didn’t I just say to plan meals before going shopping? Sometimes it’s good to think outside the box. When farm market or CSA season is in full swing—or during the summer and fall harvest season in general—and you’re getting basket loads of fresh produce, it may be wiser to retrofit your meal plans to your fresh food finds.
4. Prepare a few basics for the week ahead. On whatever day or evening is the most home- centered, prepare a few basics for the days ahead. Sunday afternoons and evenings are ideal as you’re looking to the coming week, but do whatever is good for your schedule. Even the simplest things can ease weeknight meal preparation immeasurably.
5. At least once a week, prepare a big one-pot or one-pan meal. This kind of meal can stretch to cover at least two nights. Such meals include hearty soups and stews, bean dishes, abundant pastas, and casseroles. You’ll find many such recipes later on in this book. Double the quantities if you need to, especially if you have a large family. Then you need little more than salad and fresh whole-grain bread to accompany the meal.
6. Develop a weekly repertoire. Make slight variations on your standard recipes each week so that meals don’t get boring. For example, Friday dinner has long been a pizza and salad meal, but within this basic framework, there are endless variations!
7. Create a seasonal repertoire. An alternative to a weekly repertoire is a seasonal repertoire, consisting of ten or fifteen basic meals that you like best. These ten tasty meals— one for each weeknight for two weeks—are repeated as needed throughout the season. Weekends can bring a heavenly leftovers buffet. That doesn’t sound too daunting, right?
A common concern about eating a plant-based diet is that it is expensive. I beg to differ. There are ways to purchase food on any type of meal plan that range widely from simple to extravagant, regardless of whether there are animal foods in the mix or not. In fact, you will likely save thousands of dollars (or more) in healthcare expenses by eating a wholesome plant-centered diet and, further, you can easily live frugally (and still very deliciously) on plants.
Here are 7 ways to save money on a plant-based diet:
1. Buy foods that have a longer shelf life in bulk. Shop warehouses for large packages of whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa), dried or canned beans and lentils, dried spices and herbs, frozen veggies and fruits, plant milks, tea, coffee, jarred or canned goods (tomatoes, tomato sauce, marinara sauce, olives), dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes, dehydrated mushrooms, whole grain pasta, nuts, and seeds. Or buy from the bulk section at your local health food store.
2. Shop local farmer’s marketsfor fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try to show up towards the end of the day, when farmer’s will typically discount their remaining items. You can opt to buy from farms that may not yet be certified organic (it takes years and costs money to be certified), but do not spray their crops with pesticides. This is the next best thing to organic. 3. Minimize or avoid processed and convenience foods at the grocery store. Packaged food costs more because of the convenience factor, the marketing and production costs, etc. You are better off health-wise and wallet-wise to eat the most whole form of foods, found as close to nature as possible.
4. Cook more often. Simple skills – such as cooking grains and legumes, whipping up soups and stews, blending smoothies, dressings, and sauces – are easy to learn and will save you tons of money. These are the healthiest meals to create, keep in your fridge and freezer, and enjoy as regular staples. Batch cook foods so you can freeze some, and have plenty left for your week’s worth of dishes.
5. Prepare. Decide what you will make for the week ahead, check your kitchen to see which ingredients need to be purchased, and shop with grocery lists to avoid impulse purchases, and avoid overspending.
6. Never shop hungry. This is a recipe for purchasing less healthful, more expensive, and unnecessary items, racking up your bill.
7. Try growing your own food. Planting a garden – if you can – is a great way to save money on fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs. There are multiple ways to do this in small spaces, indoors, using hydroponics, aquaponics, and small or large pots outdoors if you are limited in space or land.
A significant premise of the Hippocratic oath, which Physicians take upon receiving their medical degree, is to “first, do no harm.” For all intents and purposes, healthcare professionals aim to care for their patients with the goal of ameliorating their ails, injuries, and protecting their lives and well-being to the best of their ability. Quite a noble and demanding promise, indeed. One in which, perhaps, would significantly benefit humanity, other species, and the earth, if we all decided to strive for the same intention. What if we all as individuals focused our mindsets on doing the least harm possible in our day-to-day lives? Could we make notable strides? Could we at least minimize our impression cast upon our world during the short allotment of time in which we inhabit this incarnation? Could we make a difference? I believe with conviction that we very well can. That every smile to a stranger, every time we hold open a door for a person or let them pass our car on the road, every choice to bring our own shopping bags into the stores, each time we restrain our frustration and anger at a difficult situation, and every bite we consciously consume make small, yet lasting, imprints of added beauty, inspiration, and joy into our world and, simultaneously, to ourselves as an added incentive. Nobody is perfect and it is impossible to expect a flawless journey. Yet, there are small acts, deeds, and impressions we can all try to incorporate into our daily lives that can lift, calm, and inspire a better world.
Here are five ways to initiate the process of doing no harm and adding to the collective compassion of our universe:
1. Choose plant foods over animal foods. The contribution to animal cruelty and environmental degradation can be infinitely improved with each and every choice of plants over animals. Additionally, it is the healthiest diet for the human body which provides you with a solid foundation by which to function and thrive.
2. Know thyself and to thine own self be true. Say “yes” to opportunities that make your body sing and “no” to those that make you feel uncomfortable. Trust your instincts and feel your decisions before committing to them.
3. Recognize one another’s struggle. We are all dealing with pain, stress, and fear in our own ways. With less defensiveness and judgment we can be more empathetic and supportive, leading to deeper compassion and unity. 4. Remember that anything about someone else that irks, bothers, or offends you is a direct reflection of something about yourself you may want to address. We are human. We are evolving. Allow that information to help you question your reaction – as opposed to defending it – so that it may strengthen and educate yourself about you.
5. Rise above our ego’s urge to be defensive, to protect its identity, and to mark its stability. Nothing is permanent and everything is dynamic, fluid, and dancing with time. Being open and willing to learn and grow is far superior to fighting for the status quo. Change needs to happen and we can all contribute.
What are other ways you recommend to lessening the harm in the world and in your heart? As a collective conscious, connection and flow are indispensable and proactive….I welcome and request your contributions in the comments below….
“But where do you get your [fill-in-the-nutrient]?” This is the most common type of question I am consistently asked. Rest assured, you can get all of your essential nutrients from plants – and packaged better – than when they come from animal products. In fact, plant-based diets have been found to not only be nutritionally adequate across the lifespan, but to actually be more nutrient-dense than a standard diet. The exceptions are vitamin B12, made from microorganisms, and vitamin D, which is supposed to come from the sun. Certain nutrients that concern herbivores include omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and protein. Thus, I have created this handy chart as a go-to guide on excellent food sources for some of these notable nutrients and more:
Undoubtedly you have been hearing the words “plant-based” and “vegan” flooding the media as more and more people are becoming more and more plant-curious. With evidence building in the scientific database on the extraordinary health benefits of eating more plants; with rapid growth of vegan restaurant (chains) and vegan options on menus; and with exploding recipe sources and plant-based ingredients on the shelves, it’s a sign of positive growth, indeed. Of course, this brings me great joy and I am happily answering an increasingly voluminous influx of questions via email and social media. Bring them on! The more plants people eat, the more healthy bodies, happier planet Earth, and fewer animals bred for harm.
Whether by delving in wholeheartedly or simply starting by dipping your toes, you will help improve your life in myriad ways…
Here are six steps you can take to kick off the process:
1. Focus on the positive. Instead of thinking about what you will be crowing out (animal products and processed foods), think about ways to incorporate new and exciting whole plant ingredients and recipes. For example, check out the wall of plant milks and the dozens of different whole grain varieties you may never have noticed sitting on the shelves at the supermarket. Visit the tables and tables of vibrant, fascinating vegetables and fruits at your local farmer’s market. Try something new each week or – heck, why not – each day? Broadening your culinary horizons makes your world more delicious and interesting. Here is my recent post with a bunch of ideas on what a day in the vegan life looks like for some inspiration.
2. Seek support. Anytime you venture out into unknown turf, it helps to have some peeps on standby that have been there, done that, and can help offer guidance, direction, or even just a boost of reassurance. Unite with people at conferences, talks, events, local meet up groups or online via social networking. There are many plant-friendly groups and individuals that are more than happy to open their arms and welcome you in with loving arms, share their favorite recipes, tips, and help you strategize. Follow groups like PCRM and Mercy for Animals for inspiration. PCRM has a 21 day kickstart program here to get you underway and Mercy for Animals has a great starter kit here.
3. Stock up your kitchen. If you are well stocked with healthful ingredients and options in your pantry, fridge, and freezer, you will have no choice but to choose well. Plan a day to shop for food once a week so you will have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to use throughout the week. A weekly trip to the local farmer’s market ensures longer-lasting, as fresh as can be produce that will inspire you. Here is a how-to-stock-your-pantry list I recently wrote for Parenting.com. Here is one from Brendan Brazier on US News Health. This is a great list by Nava Atlas on what to keep in your fridge and this is a list of freezer staples. In addition, play with batch cooking in order to simplify food prep and then store leftovers in your fridge or freezer so there are healthy meals ready to eat when you don’t feel like cooking or are in a rush.
4. Try out vegan restaurants and vegan products. There has never been a better time to go veg, as there are new restaurants popping up across America at lightening speeds and most non-veg restaurants are serving up veg-friendly menus to accommodate their customers’ demands. Find these restaurants near you and wherever you may be traveling by using an app or website like HappyCow.net. Further, the list of companies making vegan ingredients, foods, and meals are spreading like wildfire across supermarket shelves everywhere. Experiment when you hit the stores with one of the dozens of plant-based milks, yogurts, and frozen veggie burgers. It’s helpful to have your recipes planned out ahead of time and then to shop with a prepared list (see here for my Do’s and Don’ts of Food Shopping on Veria).
5. Fill up with information. Study. Read books, blogposts, and articles. Watch documentaries and videos. Take classes or go to seminars, if possible. Knowledge is power and inspiration and the more you know, the better you can explore with confidence and enthusiasm. Start here with my favorite books, films, and resources. Please add your suggestions below in the comments section.
6. Have fun. This may be the most important step of all. Nothing about eating healthfully should be stressful, discomforting, or mopey. This is an adventure and it is pure goodness, as it will restore your body’s inner glow physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Enjoy every moment, every bite, and every success. If you mess up a meal or veer off the wagon, assess what you can learn from the experience and hop back up. Travel your journey and embrace the ride.