Tips for A Healthy Holiday Season

The average person gains 5-10 pounds over the holiday season. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Here are 3 tips for navigating the holidays healthfully all the while enjoying the festivities:

1. Go whole. Pick the wholest ingredients possible when preparing or enjoying dishes. Having the most fiber intact will enable satiety with fewer calories. More nutritional bang for your caloric buck. For example, choose brown, wild, or forbidden black rice over white rice; whole or sprouted grain bread over white bread; and sauté with vegetable broth or water instead of oil to save hundreds or thousands of calories.

2. Eat lots of rainbows. The pigments that compose the colors in fruits and vegetables are powerful phytochemicals that will enhance immune function and keep you healthy with the fewest calories. Serve food over a bed of cooked greens or fresh salads. Add greens and veggies to everything. Make half your plate veggies and fruits. They go gorgeously with everything!

3. Balance calories. Both with calorie intake and calorie output. Plan ahead and save calories by eating less before and after big meals. Maintain your fitness routine or even up the ante by moving more to stay healthy and keep your metabolism functioning optimally.

Further Resources:

5 Tips to Thrive This Holiday Season

10 Days. 5 Ways. 1 Healthiest Year Ever.

5 Reasons To Avoid Oils In A Healthy Diet

Losing Weight on a Vegan Diet

Sign up for nutritional consults and coaching on demand with me for support and guidance


30 Reasons to Go Vegan

Happy World Vegan Month!

Here are 30 reasons to try Veganism, one for each day in November:

1. Raising and slaughtering animals at the current rate of consume demand requires horrific, inhumane, torturous practices that cause immense suffering of billions of animals a year.

2. We will need 1.5 to 2 earths in order to sustain the resources necessary for livestock production.

3. The majority of antibiotics used in the United States (70-80%) is given to healthy animals on factory farms to prevent infections and avoid financial loss. Because of this, antibiotics are losing the power to destroy bacteria and causing 2 million people to become infected by a superbug infection and 23,000 to die each year of it.

4. Vegan food is culinarily exciting, delicious, and offers infinite versatility.

5. First, do no harm. Eating vegan realizes compassion and the idea of paying it forward.

6. Veganism is no longer a niche, trend, or fad. It is a growing awakening that is spreading globally with ample momentum.

7. There is no valid excuse against going vegan.

8. You don’t have to worry about cross-contamination in your kitchen when you don’t include animal products. You can stick to one cutting board without worrying about salmonella or campylobacter, etc.

9. Vegans tend to statistically have a lower risk for overweight and obesity than meat-eaters. (Here, here, and here.)

10. Plant foods have greater nutrient density (more nutrients per calorie) than animal products.

11. Plant foods have fiber and help you full faster, for longer, and for fewer calories. Animal products have zero fiber.

12. Vegans have a lower rate of mortality than meat-eaters.

13. Vegans have a lower risk of ischemic heart disease than meat-eaters.

14. Vegan restaurants and menu choices are growing and growing exponentially.

15. Instead of choosing between cow and goat milk, you can choose from milks made from hemp, oat, almond, soy, rice, coconut, and more.

16. About 65-90% of the population is lactose intolerant.

17. The number one cause of climate change is livestock production.

18. Crowding out the animal products means more phytochemicals and other healthful nutrients that come from plants. We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables.

19. Veganism is fun!

20. A vegan diet is the only diet ever found to reverse disease!

21. The American Heart Association recommends a saturated fatty acid intake of no more than 5-6% of total calories. A vegan diet averages 5-6%. Add in a single serving of animal products and it tips you past the safety margin for a heart healthy diet.

22. We could save billions and billions of tax payer dollars on healthcare by going vegan.

23. High milk intake is associated with higher mortality and higher fracture incidence.

24. Animal products contain disease-promoting compounds such as heme iron, IGF-1, other hormones and steroids, Neu5Gc, and carnitine.

25. Animal products develop carcinogenic compounds when cooked, such as advanced glycation end products, heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. 

26. You can reverse type 2 diabetes with a vegan diet.

27. Vegans have better cholesterol profiles than meat-eaters.

28. There is no such thing as humane meat.

29. We have always thrived on a plant-based diet throughout history.

30. We inherently, naturally, and at our core love animals and know it is not right to eat them.

A Grinch’s Guide to Halloween

Alas, the time of year is rapidly approaching yet again….the week of “All Hollows’ Eve”…the one holiday that I am geared to gravitate away from for multiple reasons. It is a holiday that worships sugar, junk food, and excess, all with a slant of horror, terror, and trickery. These are all ideas that frankly turn me off. I spend most days (to some extent) helping people dissolve their sugar addictions…a service I highlight in my work and feel the utmost satisfaction in assisting and succeeding with. This negative feeling, of course, has expanded and expounded since becoming a Mama and witnessing objectively how powerful candy terrorizes my children’s energy and disposition. (Not to mention that this year in California, the drought has impacted our pumpkin size!)

Here are the two approaches I have attempted thus far to ameliorate the dissonance of October 31st in my home:

1. Avoidance. Close all the lights and leave non-candy treats (stickers, pencils, crayons, toys) in a bowl outside, walk with my kids trick-or-treating, and then donate their candy or send it to work with their Dad.

2. Allowance. Give out organic vegan candy, take my kids trick-or-treating, and have them select a few pieces before donating the rest of their stash or sending it to work with their Dad.

Neither feels fabulous, however. And, of course, I understand the desire of my kids to participate. I was totally into it as a kid, too. It’s a tradition! It’s fun! It’s the American way!

Needless to say, it is only once a year…hardly a harmful endeavor and perhaps unnecessary to become grinchy and grumpy. So, here are two tips for navigating Halloween from a Plant-Based Dietitian/Mom’s perspective:

1. Make it as healthy as possible. Fill your kids up with a wholesome dinner and healthier dessert, sweetened with whole sweeteners (dates, date paste, date syrup, fruit purees), such as these Caramel Apples, Hockey Pucks, Chocolate Lollibats, or Pumpkin Cream Chocolate Cookies. Instead of sticking to typical candy to give out, opt for organic, fruit-sweetened options or do what I typically do and create a huge bowl filled with Halloween-themed stickers, pencils, crayons, and toys.

2. Have a costume party and serve healthy snacks and meals (or make it a potluck) with likeminded friends. Decorate your house and dress up your family, prepare some delicious, fun foods, and celebrate! Here are some creative healthy snack options:

What are YOUR favorite suggestions, hints, and recipes??? Please share in the comments below…


The Vegiterranean Diet

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.

I am thrilled to announce that my new book, The Vegiterranean Diet, has its official cover and is available for pre-sale here on and here on…it officially publishes on December 23rd, but you can order a copy now!

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! 


Heart Healthy? It is as easy as 1-2-3 (4-5)

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 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.

***See below to enter to win a FREE copy of his brand new book, The Whole Heart Solution!

Heart Healthy? It is as easy as 1-2-3 (4-5)

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
  • No smoking
  • 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
  • No smoking
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Thin waistlines
  • 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

  1. Plant based diet
  2. Regular physical activity
  3. No smoking
  4. Occasional alcoholic beverage (if not an issue)
  5. Adequate sleep

***Enter here to win a FREE copy of Dr. Joel Kahn’s brand new book, The Whole Heart Solutiona Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Reasons To Avoid Oils In A Healthy Diet

Question for the What Would Julieanna Do? Q&A:

Why do you recommend minimizing or avoiding the use of oils in a healthy diet?


Related Links:

You Tube Video Answer

Healthy Fat Intake

Fatty Acid Composition of Fats and Oils

Coconut Oil – Menace or Miracle

Food Processing and Lipid Oxidation
World’s Healthiest Foods’ What Factors Can Cause An Oil To Become Rancid

Toxic Substances In The Oxidation Of Fats And Oils’s The True Shelf Life of Cooking Oils

Oxidation of Food Grade Oils

Lose Those Last Sticky Pounds

Learn How To Cook (Oil-Free) at Rouxbe Online Professional Plant-Based Cooking School

Oil-Free Recipes

Saturated Fat Controversies: Seeing Past the Headlines

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.

They are the coauthors of 14 books, 7 jointly.

These books include the recently released Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition (2014) and Becoming Vegan: Express Edition, and the popular classics, Becoming Raw, The New Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, and The Raw Food Revolution Diet. Brenda also is co-author of Defeating Diabetes and of Dairy-Free and Delicious. Vesanto is co-author of Cooking Vegan, Cooking Vegetarian, Raising Vegetarian Children, Food Allergies: Health and Healing, and the Food Allergy Survival Guide.Their books have been translated into 9 languages and have sold over 660,000 copies.

***Enter here to win a FREE copy of Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Editiona Rafflecopter giveaway


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 Internal Medicine. 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 J Clin 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 Maladies du 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 New Zealand 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? 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.



6 Reasons Plant-Based Nutrition Is The Solution to The Healthcare Crisis

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.

Here are 6 reasons why…

A whole food, plant-based diet:

1. Reduces risk of most chronic disease. Physicians Drs. Michael Klaper, Scott Stoll, Dean Ornish, John McDougall, Phil TusoTerry Mason, and James Loomis spoke of their years of success with patients, guiding and witnessing them getting healthier, losing weight, reducing medication use, ameliorating symptoms, and improving their overall wellbeing. Of course, this is being increasingly validated in the science as well (here and here).

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 (hereherehere, 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).

Further Reading:

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

6 Steps Towards A Plant-Based Diet

5 Non-Nutritional Reasons To Go Meatless

Preventing and Reversing Disease With Plant-Based Diets

Plant-Based Diet TEDxConejo Talk

A Day In The (Vegan) Life

7 Simple Meal-Planning Strategies

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 Greens and Vegan Holiday KitchenShe runs, 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

7 Simple Meal-Planning Strategies for the Plant-Based Kitchen

Here are some of my tried-and-true meal-planning tips for making cooked-from-scratch meals a daily reality, even after the most exhausting days. You’ll find much more detail on how to accomplish all of these strategies, plus lots more of these kinds of tips in Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas, from which this was adapted (©2014, published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission). Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.

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?

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7 Ways to Save Money On A Plant-Based Diet

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 markets for 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.

—>Bureau of Labor Statistics Average Retail Food & Energy Prices
—>“Eating Healthy on a Budget” on
—>My interview with John McDougall MD about eating well on a budget on Veria’s What Would Julieanna Do?
—>Learn how to cook plant-based online from home at the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Certification Course
—>Eating On a Budget on Fox 13 Seattle
—>Richard A Oppenlander, DDS, PLC’s The Cost of Eating Animals
—>My Veria Do’s and Don’ts for Food Shopping
—>Plant-Based On A Budget
—>Eco-Vegan Gal’s video series on eating healthy, organic, and vegan on a budget
—>How Important Is It To Buy Organic
—>Ellen Jaffe Jones Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day

*Graphics by Vegan Sidekick