Tag Archives: vegan diet

Guest Blogger: AverageVeganDude – Living in Denial-The New American Pastime : A Vegan Makes His Case To Get Off The Standard American Diet

30 Jan

Meet our newest guest blogger, Christian, author of AverageVeganDude. Christian has a lot to say with his bio, so I’ll let him take it away!

“My blog is titled AverageVeganDude not because my health, intelligence or fitness levels are average, but in light of the fact that we are all just everyday people living average lives. Some aspects of each of our lives are better than others and some worse. My point is that the sun doesn’t revolve around any of us myself included.

Born in Italy and living most of my life in Queens, New York and Philadelphia areas, I have come in contact with the very best and worst that cuisines have to offer. Unfortunately, I have spent most of my life consuming the latter. Well, probably not the worst but close to it. Having learned much over the last few years about the human diet, I accept the label of former bad eater now. Throughout my life I slowly started to gain weight, as many of us do in our 30’s and 40’s. I began feeling pretty old at 41. I knew I wasn’t living an optimal healthy life. I could be found at the gym weekly and did all the normal things people do but to no avail. I decided this had to change. I began to read about nutrition, foods and their effects on us. The transformation that occurred in me when I started to move away from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a predominantly raw vegan diet was nothing short of amazing. I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan to raw vegan and never looked back. At 45 I am stronger, fitter and faster than I have ever been. I owe this to the raw vegan lifestyle and a good fitness routine.

This blog is meant to help those trying to find a better life for themselves and their families. I now realize that everyone is capable of attaining this amazing state of health without pills, medications or procedures. Maybe this craziness has become the American way as of late, but it is not the sensible way. True health and a better well-being can be attained by each and everyone of us on some level. It’s time to drop the SAD and get busy living a healthy, vibrant life with the remaining time we have on this planet.”

Follow AverageVeganDude on Facebook and Twitter! Welcome Christian!

 

2005 Toronto Film Festival - "Elizabethtown" Premiere

“Let food be thy medicine.” – Hippocrates

News flash – Our healthcare system is not broken. There I said it. It’s actually doing a good job. Our system in overdrive doing everything it can for us by placing a huge band-aid over our nation’s populace to stop the bleeding temporarily until such a time arrives when we regain our sanity as a people. Yes, we know we eat poorly and thus place our destiny in the hands of our nation’s physicians. We use pills and medications as our real life “get out of jail free” cards. Many of us poison ourselves with the food stuffs we consume and then blame the medical community for not healing us. Yes my friends our nation is living in denial when it comes to personal responsibility for our own health and well-being.

For clarity let’s omit the word “health” and substitute “disease” in the word healthcare. I think disease-care is more appropriate since no one is obtaining real health from taking the scores of pills and medications being prescribed. We are undergoing many procedures annually to correct the results of bad eating. Sure some conditions and diseases need medical intervention we can all agree on that. Every illness will not be cured by eating a greener, healthier diet, but the majority of illness in America occur through poor diet. We should have hit rock bottom already in this crazy frenzy over the last 50 years to correct ourselves with drugs, but it seems the use of medications by Americans is a still on the rise. It is a black hole with no way out.

Today there is no shortage of television and internet health experts who have the magic pill or device to make you healthy and feel young again. This madness is just part of the norm of everyday life now. Instead of looking towards our farmers for our health we have our “responsible” doctors who can at the drop of a hat write us a prescription for Viagra, Zoloft, Zocor, Lipitor, Celebrex, and Prozac.

” The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas A Edison

1st big stomachThe causes of our nations many illnesses are a mystery to our medical community. They do not pinpoint the origins but they sure do have the answers, medication. Illnesses like autoimmune diseases, cancers, irritable bowel syndrome as well as growths, tumors and the like are unexplainable by our healthcare establishment most of the time. Maybe this is the cause, maybe that, but no one ever says they know. We sure do need a huge band-aid to control all of these unknowns. Seldom is diet discussed when we visit our family doctor for illness. Simply because we exist we acquire cancer and kidney stones. We just happen to stumble upon these various autoimmune diseases, diabetes or heart disease. Maybe the air quality is bad where you live or possibly a chemical came in contact with you when you were a baby. It’s a big smoke screen that makes the average Joe feel helpless in securing his own fate when it comes to health. I believe the answer is simpler than our doctors lead us to believe and it’s right under our nose. It’s our mouth and what we choose to put in it.

In 2013 our physicians have become our pushers. Seldom will you leave a doctor’s office without some form of medication. We pride ourselves on the medical advances made here in America. Our medical establishment has become as American as apple pie to us. But why are we the sickest nation on earth? Why don’t we demand better from our food system and our medical community? Is apple pie really American anyhow?

When we look at our foods and their influences, the health picture gets even grimmer. We are advised by likes of Paula Deen and Guy Fieri to slather everything in oil, butter and cream. Seldom does a dish leave the kitchen that is under 1000 calories per serving. There is little or no effort to present dishes that are actually good for the human body. Even while suffering from diabetes, Deen continued to put out book after book of her unhealthy concoctions. These chefs pray to our weaknesses for a profit. Who wouldn’t love a triple layered cake loaded with chocolate and whipped cream? It’s an easy sell to us and a good many celebrity chefs are willing to give you your drug of choice. Do you enjoy ground beef? Through the miracle of food television you can visualize 100 ways to cook it and top it with everything under the sun. Sure cardiovascular disease will soon follow but hey, that is not their responsibility. They are just giving you what you want, feel good food. What network wants a chef that makes a great zucchini pasta with sun-dried tomato sauce? I mean they wouldn’t last an episode on the major networks. Healthy food is what we eat when we are on a diet for one month out of the year. It seems as if though most of us are in the process of or have already given our personal health away to doctors that we meet for 30 minutes a year who barely remember our full names. It’s crazy to think that this is the norm in our society.

I sat aghast the other night watching an episode of a show I stumbled upon called Man vs. Food where the star shoved into his mouth a plethora of fried fatty foods saturated with all kinds of grease, oils and all around badness that was enough to make Dan McDonald faint. Restaurant patrons on the show would cheer the man to consume foods that we all know are bad for his health. What will the next television craze be? Cheering on a drug addict with a needle filled with heroine to give himself the ultimate high for our amusement? Are we all living in denial here in America? Are we truly all this stupid when it comes to food and health? Sure, occasionally I will meet someone who is 5 cans short of a six-pack, but I don’t believe we can all be this moronic.


istock_000001376368xsmallSo what’s going on here?
Why are the statistics so poor here in America when it comes to our health and wellness? If we are to believe the medical and pharmaceutical industries, we have the most advanced healthcare system in the world. I am not sure if it’s the most advanced but I know we dump a lot of money into it yearly. Surely we should be the healthiest nation. Eat to your stomach’s content because we have medications for everything and anything. Does our medical community promote health or just delay the inevitable for most Americans? Is our food system toxic and creating a huge medical burden on our nation? I would say so. There is only so much blue number 2, yellow number 5 and 6, red 40, msg, gluten, high fructose corn syrup, sodium nitrate and hydrogenated fats that we can consume before we all have serious health issues. Since all of our foods are laced with this substances, we are getting a healthy dose of these toxic as well as obesity causing additives daily. These are not natural foods and thus not what humans should consume.

So what is our government’s role in solving this exponentially growing problem? We did pick them to help us out here, didn’t we? Well unfortunately this is America and everyman is out for himself. It’s up to you to figure out the total amounts of these toxic food additives you’re consuming daily, weekly and yearly. Try to figure those numbers out while taking care of your 2.3 children, working 50 hours a week and managing your home. Impossible. So what can we do? We can either do something crazy like becoming a raw vegan and just simply scrap our food system all together or keep the status quo. OK, how about a diet predominantly high in organic fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. Is that more doable? In my opinion it is not only a more sane decision and is better than slowly watching you and your family descend into a life of illness over time.

Why should we make the change now? Well the food system isn’t going to get better anytime soon, that I can promise you. These additives and chemicals are a large part of why we are ill and why we are seeing doctors at an alarming rate. Change might come, but it will be extremely slow and might take our lifetime and before real progress happens. The big corporations still push for more advancements in all the wrong directions. With DuPont and Monsanto pushing for GMO’s and more altered crops, we will have a long fight ahead. Corporate farms and Round-Up use isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

What other alternatives do we have as a person to get out of this downward spiral? Personal responsibility is the answer. Time to take the blinders off. We need to take our own health and the well-being of our families seriously. Why would anyone think that food manufactured and put in a box for an eternity is something you want to put in your body? The majority of Americans don’t actually believe these foods are good for them. We are leading fast paced lives that make it difficult to prioritize the foods we consume daily. We are a grab and go society and obviously we are paying the price with our health. Ribs smothered in BBQ sauce and ice cream slathered in fudge are readily available at the drop of a hat at our local franchise style eatery. We call this treating ourselves after a long hard week. Treating ourselves to cardiovascular disease and cancer?

We have to stop living in denial today. Not a year from now or 5 years from now but today. We know proper human foods are not produced in a factory by the many fast food companies. Our star-studded chefs have let us all down with recipes that deserve two thumbs down when it comes to health. I am pretty sure Ronald McDonald came along a lot later than man’s first steps on this earth. Our species survived relatively well prior to the invention of the Big Mac, so I have to figure that fast foods are not necessary for our survival. So let’s get them off our plates permanently. Over 99% of nutritionists state that we should NEVER consume fast food types of products. Not once a week or twice a week but NEVER. That speaks volumes.
3rdWe all know the correct answers. We aren’t stupid. We just don’t want to display our weaknesses to these foods to others. There is shame we feel when we consume these harmful foods. We all know a bagel and cream cheese is not a meal of health, but we justify it because we cannot get off the addictive additives that are in these foods. Companies knowingly addict us. They understand what they are doing. These multibillion dollar food manufacturers have labs not kitchens that test different levels of substances meant to addict us. They have chemists who put just the right amount of msg, salts, artificial sweeteners and other additives in our foods to give us just the right high. I think we all saw these type of tactics played out in the cigarette industry years ago with nicotine. After much denial there was no doubt the companies were using this substance to hook us on their particular brand. Although I have to say Joe Camel alone could convince many to try a pack. He seemed pretty cool in his day.

We are not as dumb here in America as we might seem to the rest of the world. We are pretty bright people. Our problem is that we are hooked, period. Because of this we love hearing “research” telling us coffee is OK for us, eat your cereals soaked in cow’s milk. There are plenty of “studies” that promote consuming artery clogging beef products as well as cancer and osteoporosis causing milk products. Some of the most disease forming foods are still being heavily promoted by even our government. These are big money industries with big money lobbyists. Business in Washington comes way before the health of the Average Joe here in America. Until we get real with ourselves and say enough is enough, we will continue down this road of medications and procedures to ease the damage from the sickening foods we are eating.

Sometimes I think being a raw vegan isn’t such a hard choice when we remove our blinders and realize the cards are stacked against us if we continue down the path of a SAD diet. Think about it America, it really isn’t such a hard decision. Start with yourself, then your family and friends. Maybe get on your computer and start a blog about your new-found health and try to help your fellow Americans get off the SAD.

Now that is as American as apple pie!

Guest Blogger: Vegan Runner Eats – 5 Tips About Nutrition Every Vegan Athlete Should Know

24 Oct

Hello everyone! Back in the saddle and welcoming a brand new blogger to the VBU! family – Alina, author of Vegan Runner Eats. Here is her bio, “Alina Zavatsky embarked on a vegan journey in May 2013 and never looked back! She decided to start a blog to document how her newly adopted plant-based vegan diet was going to influence training for her second marathon. Alina shares everything she’s learned so far about veganism and exercise, and develops vegan recipes on her blog, www.veganrunnereats.com.” Follow Alina’s blog on: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Welcome Alina!

5 Tips About Nutrition Every Vegan Athlete Should Know.

When it comes to nutrition and athletic performance, we’ve all heard so much information – often contradictory – that it’s hard not to get puzzled sometimes. And for those of us who has made a switch to a vegan diet while staying physically active, figuring out nutrition for optimal performance might seem like an even more difficult task.

Today I’m going to cover some basic facts about nutrition for vegan athletes. It doesn’t matter if your idea of exercise is a half an hour walk every night, 2 hours dumbbellsof weightlifting at the gym every day, or something in between: optimal nutrition is a key to optimal performance.

A couple words about myself: I switched to veganism after doing a lot of reading about the optimal nutrition for athletes. It turned out that a lot of top-tier professional runners, triathletes etc. successfully follow a vegan diet. Eating plant-based foods and ditching animal products has shown to speed up recovery between exercise sessions. As a dedicated recreational runner who has completed a few half marathons and one full marathon, that’s just what I was looking for! Moreover, I decided to start a blog to document how my newly adopted vegan diet was going to help me in training for my second marathon.

All of this brings us to nutrition. Since my goal is to train for a marathon in a healthy way while eating a plant-based vegan diet, I’ve done a lot of research to make sure I was doing everything right. Nobody’s perfect, of course, and I’ll admit that since starting my vegan marathon training journey, I’ve had weeks when I was bursting with energy while running/working out hard, and other weeks when I was just dragging by with a similar exercise load. This loosely translates that my nutrition might not have been perfectly balanced at times, and a number of other factors (sleep, stress, etc.) were sucking energy out of me.basketoffruit

While it’s hard to control our sleep or stress levels, we can all put some effort into making our nutrition better. I admit that I’ve made some mistakes in my vegan diet, but after doing proper research I’ve put up a list of facts that can benefit us all no matter of our physical activity level. Here we go:

Basic guidelines for physically active people on a vegan diet

1. You don’t need more protein – just more calories! This is a fact that a lot of vegan fitness gurus emphasize. Our bodies need plenty of energy to sustain a hard effort when exercising or training for a race. While protein is vital to us all, it’s not the lack of it in a vegan diet that makes us exhausted – it’s the lack of overall calories! A common misconception about a vegan diet is that it implies eating nothing but salad and thus lacks in protein, but people often overlook the fact that plants, grains, and starchy vegetables supply a decent amount of it. As long as you consume a wide variety of plant-based foods, you’re good to go! Even when training for a marathon.

2. Eat carbohydrate-rich food in its natural state before and after exercising. Even if your stomach is averse to food very early in the morning before an am workout, you’ve got to top off your glycogen (carbs stored in your muscles and liver for use during exercise). This will help you maintain a harder effort, last longer, and recover better after the workout! I’m not a big fan of eating very early, but I’ve been working on it: half a banana or 3-4 dried dates with a cup of coffee 30-60 minutes before a run usually sit well in my stomach, but you can always experiment with other foods to find out what works for you. However, try to avoid a lot of fiber at this meal as fiber stays in your stomach longer, thus increasing your chances of gastrointestinal trouble when you least need it!

After the workout, you’ve got 30-60 min to have another breakfast: the carbs consumed at this time go directly to your muscles and liver to be stored as glycogen for your next exercise session. An ideal ratio of carbs to protein at this meal is considered to be 4 to 1. Oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, smoothies (like the Swamp Monster Smoothie from my blog!) all work well.

3. Don’t get too hung up on numbers in your diet! Whether it’s about calories or protein/carbs/fat ratio, figuring out numbers can distract your attention from a bigger goal – eating a healthy diet full of a variety of whole food, plant-based components for optimal health and athletic performance. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, describes this number-picking (my phrasing) in his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition as a ‘reductionist’ approach in science and all areas of life opposed to a more beneficial to us ‘wholistic’ approach. Campbell and a number of other outstanding scientists and doctors propose the consumption of starchy vegetables and grains complemented with vegetables, beans, fruits, and berries close to their ‘whole’, natural state as a diet that’s most beneficial to human health. ( For more on this, see the work of John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., Neal Barnard, Joel Fuhrman and others.)

4. A variety of whole, plant-based foods benefits us as athletes! There are numerous ways of how a whole food plant-based diet brings out the best in us:

  • Optimized recovery: antioxidants found in plants reduce oxidative effect of exercise on our bodies (less inflammation!) and help flush out lactic acid that makes our muscles sore. Plants contain up to 64 times the amount of antioxidants than meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. Watercress, cherries, and citrus fruit have shown positive effect on post-exercise recovery in studies. (For more on this, check out the work of Michael Greger and his awesome website www.nutritionfacts.org.)
  • No need for supplements! Vitamins and micronutrients found in whole foods act much more efficiently inside our bodies than their pill forms. That includes not just synthetically derived vitamins, but also the ‘all-natural’ vitamin brands. Possible explanation? The whole is more than the sum of its parts when it comes to plants: the combination of all components of plant-based foods (both known to us and not yet discovered) works much better together than separately. Plus, sometimes high doses of vitamins found in pills can be toxic for us! The only exception is vitamin B12: most plant-based diet advocates agree on supplementation of this vitamin for vegans, plus it’s not toxic to us at higher doses.
  • Nothing to weigh us down! Consuming plants provides us with macro- and micronutrients, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals – and none of the artery-clogging cholesterol* or hard-to-digest animal protein. Studies by Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. and other researchers have shown that eliminating all added oils from our diet can repair the endothelial cells that make up the inner lining of our arteries, thus not only preventing, but also reversing heart disease! Imagine how much your athletic performance is going to improve once you ditch all the junk out of your diet!

5. Reevaluate your sodium intake! We’ve all heard that too much sodium in our diets can lead to a number of health problems, high blood pressure being one of them. Some of us might have even tried to reduce the amount of salt they add to home-cooked food. However, if you participate in endurance sports that last for hours (running, cycling, triathlons, etc.), you might be losing too much sodium through sweat. We need to maintain a certain level of sodium in our blood and tissues, so if you are a heavy sweater, you might want to consider adding a sports drink with some sodium and potassium during long bouts of exercise (more than an hour), and eating something salty after your workout. You might have even heard about or experienced a condition called hyponatremia during long runs: dangerously low levels of sodium in the body paired with drinking sodium-free water cause swelling of brain and tissues, which results in disorientation, drastic decrease in performance, and sometimes fainting. As you see, too little sodium can be just as painful as too much.

While this list of tips on nutrition for newly vegan athletes can be expanded, it covers basics that all athletes (including more experienced vegans) can benefit from. I recommend that we all ( myself too!) come back to this list every now and then to gauge our athletic progress, and especially if our performance stalls or if we start feeling sluggish. Also check out my list of 10 vegan pantry staples that can take your health and performance to the next level.

Are there any other tips you’d like to add to this list? Let us know what you think in comments below!

Guest Blogger: Carrie on Vegan – Photo Food Journal & Vegan Delish Giveaway

21 Dec

Our newest VBU! contributor is Carrie Forrest, author of Carrie on Vegan. Here she is in her own words,”I am a graduate student in public health nutrition and I write about my recipes and adventures in healthy, plant-based living. I recently released an app for iPhones and iPads called Vegan Delish that features 60 simple, vegan recipes with all kinds of cool features like a digital shopping list and social media sharing options.” Carrie is the first contributor to have an app – how cool is that? Love how everyone is so creative and inventive. Keep in touch with Carrie on Vegan through: Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feed. Also check out Carrie’s app Vegan Delish: iTunes Preview page, website, and Facebook page. Please welcome Carrie!

Good morning and happy “What I Ate Wednesday“! Today I’ll be showing a picture of everything that I ate yesterday. It is always an interesting exercise to document everything I eat in a day, plus I hope you find it helpful in some way.

Breakfast was some leftover green smoothie with some buckwheat groats and almonds on top:

Leftover green smoothie with buckwheat groats and almonds.

I went for a hike in Palm Springs around 9 a.m. Despite cloudy skies, I thought the mountains were so pretty:

Cloudy skies in the desert.

Alan and I hiked further than we have ever gone before:

Carrie on a hike.

We then went to Costco to try and beat the holiday rush, but it was still craziness. I stocked up on all kinds of fresh fruit, frozen fruit, frozen edamame, etc. It was a huge load:

Attention Costco shoppers...

After all of that, lunch was much appreciated. I make a big romaine and vegetable salad with my Wild Blueberry Zinger Dressing, edamame and mandarin oranges for dessert:

Big lunch salad with edamame and oranges.

Here’s a closer view of the salad:

Lunch salad with peppers and broccoli.

Yesterday afternoon was spent catching up on work and doing a few errands. I decided to try using the pressure cooker again after my successful experience last Saturday night. This time, I just used brussels sprouts, collard greens, mushrooms, onions and water:

Ingredients for pressure cooker.

I checked with Jill Nussinow’s fantastic book, The New Fast Food, for the cooking times on the sprouts and the greens (don’t forget to enter to win a free copy of the ebook here!). I settled on a cooking time of two minutes for everything and I estimated about a cup of water. I added it all to the pot:

Sprouts, mushrooms, onions and water in the pressure cooker.

The chopped collards went on top:

Collard greens in the pressure cooker.

I locked on the lid, set the timer to two minutes on high pressure, and sat back and hoped it would turn out okay. I figured the worst that could happen would that the sprouts would be undercooked:

Fingers crossed that this works!

While I waited, I also made a really easy cream sauce for the veggies. After all, who wants to eat plain steamed greens? To make my typical cashew cream sauce less fattening, I substituted garbanzo beans for half the nuts in this recipe. I was so pleased with the results, the sauce was still very, very creamy and flavorful:

Cashew & Bean Sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

[print_this]

Cashew & Bean Sauce

6 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews

1 cup cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons dried onion flakes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.

[/print_this]

I used the quick-release setting on the PC when it was done and here’s what it looked like:

Cooked veggies in the pressure cooker.

I was so happy that everything was cooked to perfection! It’s not exactly a beautiful dish, but here’s what the final product looked like:

Veggies with sauce.

I’m telling you, this was a hit and I’ll be making the same exact thing tonight for dinner.

For dessert last night, I made a version of my Chocolate Cherry Bomb that I’ll be posting in ice cream form on Friday. It was so decadent and yummy:

Cherry Smoothie.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this photo food journal.

To wrap up today’s post, I’m doing another giveaway of my recipe app Vegan Delish! I received 50 promo codes from Apple when we did our last update and I want to share them with you. If you already own Vegan Delish, you can still enter and you can give the code to one of your friends or family members. So, I’m giving the code to 50 readers selected at random who leave a comment on this post and who do any of the following things:

1. Tweet this message to your followers on Twitter “Check out Vegan Delish, the healthy #vegan recipe app for iPhones and iPads: http://bit.ly/TNOWnc.”

2. If you already own the app, leave a review on iTunes. Note: if you downloaded the app using a promo code, then Apple won’t let you leave a review.

3. Do something else to help me promote Vegan Delish, like tell your co-workers about it. Tell me what you did. I trust you.

You can do any or all of these things, just leave a separate comment telling me what you did. You have until Sunday, December 23rd, to enter.

Thank you for all of your support!!! I hope you have a great rest of your week and I’ll see you back here on Friday.