5 Reasons to Bypass the Turkey this Thanksgiving…and Everyday

Turkey size MJNearly 46 million turkeys are brutally raised and slaughtered just for Thanksgiving in the U.S. each year.

Here are 5 reasons to bypass the turkey this Thanksgiving…and everyday:

1. Bred for both size and speed of growth, turkeys more than doubled in size since 1929 from an average of 13 pounds to an average of 29 pounds, and show no signs of stopping. If the trend continues, we could see an average turkey size of 40 pounds by 2020.
—>WIRED’s Give Thanks? Science Supersized Your Turkey Dinner
—>Mother Jones’ Look How Much Bigger Thanksgiving Turkeys Are Today Than in the 1930s
Thanksgiving before and after2. Turkeys are raised under “egregious insanitary conditions” as they are crammed into tiny spaces indoors, where ammonia and other noxious chemicals levels build up in the air due to manure and overcrowding. They are debeaked without anesthesia to avoid them hurting one another, sickened due to the bleak conditions, and there are many undercover videos documenting horrific abuse.
—>Mother Jones’ Butterball Goes “Humane” for Thanksgiving. Really? 
—>Free from Harm’s 12 Reasons You May Never Want To Eat Turkey Again

Turkeys thankful for vegans3. “Turkeys are sensitive, social individuals, and in conditions where they are permitted to thrive, they are seen for the complex, adaptive, and intelligent animals that they are.”
—>Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s Turkeys
—>Nature’s My Life as a Turkey Q&A

4. Because of the bird flu crisis this year, prices of turkey have jumped up to 20% higher.
—>USA TODAY’s Bird flu means your Thanksgiving turkey will cost more this year

5. There are literally thousands of creative, decadent, delicious recipes available online, in restaurants, and in cookbooks everywhere that do not include animal products…
—>My Facebook recipe roundup
—>AOL’s 10 vegan dishes that will completely change the game this Thanksgiving
—>BuzzFeed Food’s 27 Vegan Thanksgiving Dishes That Will Make Meat Eaters Drool

Bless the tofu

30 (More) Reasons to Go Vegan

Happy World Vegan Month!World Vegan Month

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

  1. VS TrendsVeganism continues exploding on its trajectory towards being considered mainstream.
  2. You are what your bacteria eat and vegans tend to have more health-promoting, disease-fighting microbiota profiles in our guts.
  3. Athletes and bodybuilders continue to take it to the next level by eating plants. Just this past year, Mr. Universe went vegan to optimize his recovery and train hardervegan ultramarathoner, Scott Jurek, broke the Appalachian trail thru-hike record, and NFL defensive lineman, David Carter, went vegan to feel better and ended up getting leaner, stronger, and faster!
  4. An entire English soccer team recently went vegan!
  5. Vegan options are being offered at more and more quick serve restaurants to meet consumer demand. Recently, for example, White Castle introduced a vegan slider, Taco Bell’s new vegetarian-certified menu contains 26 vegan ingredient items, and Wendy’s rolled out a black bean burger.
  6. Eat more veggies WHOThe World Health Organization (WHO) made an official declaration that processed meat (and likely red meat) promote cancer. This substantiates many years of research and the American Institute for Cancer Research’s stance that no amount of processed meat is safe. (WHO Q&A here.)
  7. Healthcare practitioners are recognizing the vast health benefits of a vegan diet. The Plantrician Project‘s International Plant-Based Nutrition Conference has doubled in size each year of its first three years. This past year, 600 physicians, dietitians, and nurses attended from all over the world, each integrating plant-based nutrition into their practices.
  8. Rouxbe 240x400_02There is now an exquisite online professional plant-based culinary school that continues to sell out its certification programs due to its growing popularity.
  9. A trade group of plant-based food companies is being formed, spearheaded by food lawyer Michele R. Simon, in order to solidify a representative voice like the meat, dairy, and egg industries have for decades.
  10. The current president of the American College of Cardiology – Dr. Kim Williams – is himself a vegan! Since 2003! He stated recently in his talk at the Plantrician conference that “we need to think about prevention and not just treatment with respect to cardiovascular disease.”
  11. The vegan food marketplace is on fire! Shelf space is expanding with vegan alternatives. Plant-based milks sales rose to $2 billion in 2013, up a whopping 30% since 2011! Thirty-six percent of U.S. consumers prefer plant-based options.
  12. Bizarro mad-cowAn unintended consequence of line speed (keeping up with production speed in slaughterhouses) is the risk for horrific illnesses across the supply chain from workers to the plate.
  13. The iron found in plants (non-heme) offers a healthy dose of iron without stimulating free radical formation and promoting chronic disease, as in animal-based (heme) iron.
  14. The documentary film Cowspiracy documents the fact that livestock production is the number one cause of climate change and the most resource intensive, polluting industry on our planet…currently forcing us towards a possible sixth – and first human-induced – mass extinction!
  15. Here are just five of the key studies showing an association between the consumption of meat and cancer.
  16. Dating vegans can be beneficial for many reasons, such as these.
  17. Blue ZonesThe longest lived societies around the world (those with the most centenarians) – known as the Blue Zones – eat a plant-based diet.
  18. A plant-based diet buffed up with plant sterols, viscous fibers, soy foods, and nuts (the “Portfolio Diet”) has been shown to lower cholesterol AS WELL AS statins do and lower blood pressure as well as medications do! This indicates the billions of dollars that can be saved in healthcare costs by simply swapping out pharmaceuticals for plant foods…
  19. PCRM chicken_infographicA side effect of people eating less red meat is an increase in consumption of white meat. Eating birds does not provide a health advantage since they also contain similar doses of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, hormones, steroids, contaminants including feces, toxic chemicals, superbugs, and carcinogens, and is associated with weight gain. Additionally, eating chickens is “a leading cause of death” and suffering worldwide.
  20. There are now a plethora of plant milks and other delicious dairy and meat substitutes, and now even eerily realistic vegan eggs so that any recipe, craving, and palate can be easily satisfied. And there is still an abundance of creative whole food culinary substitutes that can be used.
  21. An extensive two year-long scientific literature review led the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to state that: “A dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet.”
  22. 500 Kcals Plants vs. AnimalsYou can get all of your nutrients from plants (except for vitamin B12)…but packaged better with health-promoting, disease-fighting phytochemicals and fiber. Here is my video series answering nutrient questions.
  23. At least 70 billion (!) land animals are slaughtered every year for their flesh and byproducts. They suffer horrific, torturous existences and deaths because of the large, unsustainable consumer demand.
  24. VS Fiber DeficiencyFiber is so fabulous and one of the most important nutrient categories for optimal health. Fiber is found exclusively in plants.
  25. Eating on a budget is effortless on a vegan diet. A recent study showed skipping meat doesn’t just add years to your life, it keeps (hundreds of) dollars in your wallet.
  26. A vegan diet is a recipe for ending world hunger.
  27. Vegan Benefits High-Functioning DaydreamerAnimal protein induces a profound workload on the kidneys, unlike plant protein, which is crucial since at least one in ten American adults suffer from chronic kidney disease.
  28. A plant-based diet is the only affordable and effective solution to the healthcare crisis.
  29. The Vegiterranean Diet is even healthier than the Mediterranean diet, considered the “gold standard” in the research.
  30. There are now thousands (or perhaps even millions) of delicious vegan recipes that are easily accessible in cookbooks, on Pinterestblogsclasses, and even delivered to your door that range from simple and quick to gourmet and intricate.

What is your favorite reason for being vegan? Please share below…


You are What Your Bacteria Eat!

broccoli-walnut-mushroomYou are what you eat…but, perhaps more so, you are what your bacteria eat!

One of the pioneering and leading fields of study currently is that of the microbiota (our body’s bacterial profile) and how it plays an enormous role in our health and immune function via many different mechanisms.

“The human microbiota consists of the 10-100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells harbored by each person, primarily bacteria in the gut…” so we literally have more bacterial cells as we do our own human cells!

Your gut microbiome is unique to you based on how you were born, geography, age, diet, etc. and influences your health in many ways. The fantastic part is that you can alter your bacterial profile with your diet and lifestyle, optimizing how your bacteria work for you.

Of course, plant eaters seem to have healthier microbiotas, which likely plays a role in the positive health outcomes. Plant-based diets feed the healthy bacteria and are anti-inflammatory. Animal foods are inflammatory.

Prebiotics are fuel for the friendly flora and are highlighted in this infographic via Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in this article on 7 foods to supercharge your gut bacteria…

PCRM infographic-gut-bacteria

Feed your good bacteria plenty of fiber (found only in plants) in order to promote a happy, healthy microbiota, which will then reward you with optimal health…

—>NutritionFacts.org’s Prebiotics: Tending Our Inner Garden and Microbiome: The Inside Story
—>National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Defining the Human Microbiome 
—>PCRM’s Gut Flora, Diet, and Health
—>ABC15 Arizona’s 5 ways to get more fiber into your diet
—>6 Ways To Strengthen Immunity
—>Greatist’s The 16 Most Surprising High-Fiber Foods 

Going Vegan

Happy World Vegan Month!

Here are three of the infinite reasons to consider a vegan lifestyle and three ways to make your journey healthy, wholesome, and fulfilling…

My favorite resources
30 Reasons to Go Vegan
How to Make Plant-Based Super Simple


How to Enjoy Food More

Notice how everything sounds more and more delicious the hungrier you are? A crisp sweet apple, a crunchy rib of celery, a soft, warm plain baked potato…items you may not crave on a regular basis, but with hunger, your true palate emerges.

If you have ever fasted, or detoxified with a “cleanse,” or been on any weight loss diet, you likely have experienced an increased interest and desire (sometimes rather dramatic) for all things food-related. When I used to diet, I would read cookbooks and nutrition books and talk to my friends and family about recipes obsessively. I literally could not move my mind away from eating.

On the flip side, when you eat hyperpalatable foods or are in the midst of a large feast (as what commonly occurs on Thanksgiving), food tastes progressively less and less enjoyable. It’s as though your taste buds numb out. An alert that your body is no longer interested in receiving any further deposits.

simplereminders.com-eat-less-chineseproverb-withtext-displayresHere is how to maximize these natural tendencies for optimal health and easy weight management:

  • Allow yourself to get physically hungry before eating. You will know you are hungry when simple foods like an apple or raw celery sound exquisite.
  • Stop eating when you are comfortable and satisfied. You will know this by your body feeling satisfied and food will stop tasting as good as it did at the beginning.
  • Detox off of hyperpalatable foods (highly processed foods rich in sugars, fats, salt, and artificial additives) if you are still consuming them on a regular basis or if you crave them.

Dr. Neal Barnard on Chocolate, Cheese, Meat, and Sugar — Physically Addictive via VegSource.com​
Adding Mindfulness To Your Day
The New York Times​’ Mindful Eating as Food for Thought
Zen Habits​’ The Two Okinawan Diet Rules

Books that elaborate on these principles:
The Vegiterranean Diet
The Blue Zones​
Breaking the Food Seduction
Salt, Sugar, Fat
The Pleasure Trap

*Image via SimpleReminders.com​

Three Things To Know About Vitamin B12

You can get all of your essential nutrients* on a thoughtful plant-based diet…except for vitamin B12.

*Vitamin D is a nutrient our bodies were designed to attain via the sun. Though it is a common deficiency worldwide, this is not an issue exclusive to vegans.

Here are Three Things To Know About Vitamin B12….in collaboration with Vegan Street

VS 3 things to know about vitamin b12-D

Vitamin B12 is produced by microorganisms found in the soil and in the guts of animals, which is how they end up in their flesh. Because in modern society we sterilize our produce and do not tend to get our water from natural untainted sources like streams and creeks, we need to be mindful on a vegan diet to supplement with this crucial nutrient.

Blood tests for levels of B12 may not be reliable since your body can store B12 for approximately three to five years and other variables that may skew results. If you do not have an incoming source of B12 as a vegan, you will become deficient at some point…as approximately half of vegans have been found to be. Oftentimes, B12 deficiency doesn’t show up until it is too late and there is already irreversible neurological damage.

Fortified foods and B12 analogues found in fermented foods, sea vegetables, and algae are unreliable at best, harmful at worst because they may block the absorption of active B12.

The simplest, most cost-effective, safest, and most reliable way to avoid deficiency is to supplement. Adults need approximately 2,500 micrograms per week of cyanocobalamin.

Here is a chart of recommended dosing across the lifespan via Vegan Outreach. 

Taking B12 as a supplement is a small price to pay for the vast benefits to your health, the planet, and to minimize the suffering of animals that occurs as a result of being vegan.


5 Reasons You Can Stop Pursuing Protein and Start Focusing on Food

Protein panic portends to prevail amongst the vast majority of the population. During this persistent quest for “enough” of this magical macronutrient, priorities shift away from seeking wholesome foods and, simultaneously, a phobia of the other two macronutrients – carbohydrates and fats – ensues.

Here are 5 reasons you can stop pursuing protein and start focusing on food:

PBD Food Guide Pyramid1. Protein is not a food group. It is one of three macronutrients essential in our diet. All whole, intact foods contain some ratio of protein, carbs, and fats. If you eat a wide range of whole plant foods, including about three servings (1 to 1.5 cups) of legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soy foods) a day, you can easily meet your protein needs.

2. We only need approximately 10 to 15 percent of our calories to come from protein. The average woman needs about 46 grams per day and the average man, 56 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine. This can also be looked at in grams per kilogram bodyweight per day (g/kg/d), which looks like this by age*:

  • 1.5 g/kg/day for infants,
  • 1.1 g/kg/day for 1-3 y
  • 0.95 g/kg/day for 4-13 y
  • 0.85 g/kg/day for 14-18 y
  • 0.8 g /kg/day for adults >19 y
  • 1.1 g/kg/day for pregnant (using pre-pregnancy weight) and lactating women

*To find out how much you need, simply divide your bodyweight in pounds by 2.2 and multiply the result by the recommended number based on your age. For example, an 120 pound 22 year-old adult needs approximately 44 grams of protein per day (or 120/2.2 = 54.5 kg x 0.8 g/kg/d = 44 g).

Protein vs Fiber3. Just because something is good, doesn’t mean more is better. It is estimated that the average American consumes approximately twice the RDA for protein. High protein intake – especially from animal sources – may accelerate kidney disease progression and may promote chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

4. You can find plenty of protein in plants…and packaged better than in animal products. Here are just some of the plant-based protein superstars and the amount of protein they contain per cup:

  • excellentsourcesofveganprotein-VS—All beans (10-29 g)
  • —All seeds (24-58 g)
  • —Nuts/nut butters (20-64 g)
  • —Tofu (11 g/4 oz)
  • —Tempeh (41 g)
  • —Seitan (31 g/3 oz)
  • —Peas (9 g)
  • —Lentils (18 g)
  • —Soy milk (7 g)
  • —Spinach (5 g)
  • —Broccoli (4 g)
  • —Pasta (8 g)
  • —Brown rice (5 g)
  • —Quinoa (9 g)
  • —Veggie burger (13 g)


Vegan & Strong5. Athletes may need additional protein, but that is accomplished by increasing overall caloric intake, which is easily done due to the increased appetite that naturally comes along with added energy expenditure. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2-1.4 grams protein/kg bodyweight/day for endurance athletes and 1.6-1.7 g/kg/day for strength athletes. But we know there are plenty of vegan athletes who prove protein needs can be proffered by plants. For inspiration, here is my interview of Derek Tresize on What Would Julieanna Do? and you can visit VeganBodyBuilding.com, Vegan Muscle and Fitness, and this recent article by Huffington Post.

So, fret not. Eat plenty of legumes and ample calories to meet your needs and you can stop pursuing protein and start focusing on finding and enjoying wholesome, nutrient-dense, health-promoting plant foods…


Pick Proper Packaging: Why the Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts

You are quite literally what you eat. And there are dramatic differences between the nourishment you receive from whole plant foods and that in which you receive from animal products…



Vegiterranean Diet CoverHere is an excerpt from my book, The Vegiterranean Diet:

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t eat isolated nutrients. We are not filling our plates with some protein, a side of carbohydrates, and a sprinkle of healthy fats. Instead, we are eating a vast biochemical symphony, built by nature, for nature, in order to function optimally. Nothing represents synergy as clearly as the consumption of whole plant foods. Nutritionism is the belief system that qualifies food based on its individual components. It disregards synergy and the additive effects of a combination of nutrients in one whole food. It ignores the exponentially enhanced value of the interactions between multiple parts and their exchanges within the human body’s intricacies. It is the reason people identify their diets as “low fat” or “low carb” or “high protein,” even though these diets have not been shown to be the end-all, be-all of ideal eating. It is also the reason that processed food items can be touted as healthy because they only have a certain number of calories or fat grams per serving and are sprayed with a synthetic vitamin to meet the daily recommended dose of vitamin C, for example, despite the fact that they may merely be composed of white flour, white sugar, salt, and multiple chemicals. It is one of the most pressing reasons why, with the thousands of diet fads out there, populations in general are gaining weight and infected by disease, as opposed to building a relationship with real food and connecting it to their lives. We are ostracized from real food when we are specifically seeking out certain nutrients and are dependent upon the nutrition facts label. Labels do not discern between two antithetical foods: an enriched product that was once an intact food, having had its original parts stripped away and then having other ingredients added to boost flavor, texture, and/or shelf-stability versus a real, complete food that had those nutrients in it originally. Although the label may not distinguish between real foods and lab-made foods, our bodies cannot be fooled.

So what’s in a package? One of the best ways to demonstrate this is to compare 500 calories of plant-based foods to 500 calories of animal-based foods. This chart is from The China Study, titled “Nutrient Composition of Plant and Animal-Based Foods (Per 500 Calories of Energy).” It uses the USDA Nutrient Database and an article on carotenoids since the database does not yet include phytochemicals. The plant-based foods are made up of equal parts of tomatoes, spinach, lima beans, peas, and potatoes, and the animal-based foods are made up of equal parts of beef, pork, chicken, and whole milk:

500 Kcals Plants vs. Animals

Plant foods also contain hundreds to thousands of different phytochemicals, which are not considered essential but are perhaps the most effective nutrients at fighting disease (see below). Truth is, our knowledge of phytochemicals is expanding rapidly, as new ones are discovered regularly and their functions and roles in the human body are expanding exponentially. Hence we need to look at the complete picture. A lot more is going on within those foods than meets the microscope. If you compare these two nutrient profiles in the preceding chart, it is clear that both what the plants have AND what they do not have in them are what make them so spectacular. Essentially, the large database of nutrition science consistently shows that the healthiest type of food pattern includes a high intake of fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, as well as a minimization or elimination of saturated fats and processed foods.

In other words, both what we eat as well as what we do not eat provide the basis for the quality of our overall diet. For the same 500 calories, a meal may be rich in health-promoting nutrients, as well as devoid of all the unwanted ones. So while choosing foods, the packaging must be considered. Both options contain about the same amount of protein, but the plants also contain fiber, significantly more beta-carotene and other phytochemicals, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and iron. Plants have zero cholesterol and a better fatty acid profile. Being particular and picking plantastic packages pays off.


9 Tips for A Healthy and Safe Summer

Heat---dog-memeIt’s hot. Crazy hot. And high levels of heat can be wearing and tough on your body.

Here are 9 tips to stay healthy and safe this summer:

1. Hydrate with food. Fruits and veggies are filled with water and can contribute to your total water intake. This is why salads are more appealing during the summer. Enjoy fresh fruit whole, as fruit kebabs, green smoothies, and green juices. Vamp up veggies as crudite with hummus, artichoke or other dip, huge shock n’ awe salads, in green smoothies and juices, cold soups and gazpachos, and even on the grill (over a bed of cool, fresh greens, especially). Frozen whole fruit and veggies sorbets and popsicles can be a refreshing treat in the middle of a hot day.

Healthy Hydration2. Drink up. Drink approximately half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, drink at least 65 ounces of water daily. Add more for exercise and even more for time spent outdoors or in hot areas. If you exercise for over 90 minutes, use an electrolyte beverage. My top choice is coconut water or this delicious, refreshing DIY sports beverage recipe: http://bit.ly/1aC0aCb

3. Avoid dehydrators. Not the equipment, but compounds that act as diuretics, leaving you with less liquid than you take in. Caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications act as diuretics and push out more water from your body. Compensate with extra water or even coconut water to replenish those losses.

4. Mind the sun. We need some sun for vitamin D production, but excessive exposure, of course, can promote certain skin cancers and dehydration. Try to schedule outdoor activities early in the morning or late afternoon (before 10am and after 3pm) if you will be out for prolonged periods. Wear a hat to protect your scalp and sunglasses to keep your eyes safe. Clothes can protect your skin as can a safe sunscreen. Seek out shade and avoid getting burned. See this Environmental Working Group’s 2015 list of safe sunscreens: http://bit.ly/1Lfsv63

5. Stay cool with water. Baths, showers, and swimming bring down body temperatures. Of course, monitor kids to make sure they are always safe. Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and 3 children die every day as a result of drowning.

6. Wear light, breathable, cozy clothing that cover the skin without being too tight or restraining.

7. Emphasize cook-free meals instead of turning on ovens and stoves, which escalate the temps in your home (see recipe ideas below).

8. Do not leave kids or pets in the car. Even with the windows rolled down. Even for a few minutes. Heat rises quickly and dramatically and can be extremely dangerous and fatal after even just a brief stint.

travel food9. Traveling? Here are 3 healthy travel tips and foods that travel well.


Resources and Recipes
U.S. National Weather Service (NWS)’s Summer Weather Safety and Survival
CDC’s Make Summer Safe for Kids
Vitamin D
Nava Atlas’s VegKitchen.com’s No-Cook Meals for Hot Summer Days
4 More Reasons to Love Veggies and 8 Ways to Bring Them On!
U.S. News Health’s The 10 Best Ways to Hydrate That Don’t Involve Water
Oh My Veggies’ 20 No-Cook Vegetarian Meals for Hot Summer Days
Oh She Glows’ No Bake Recipes