Category Archives: Vegan Health

All things related to health on a vegan diet.

Meatout 2014

March 20th is Meatout Day. Will you pledge to go meat-free for the day?

MOwomen

Of course it’s best (for the animals, your health, and the environment) to be meat-free every day, but we all started somewhere.

If you can go meat-free for a day, you can try it once a week. Soon, you’ll have so many recipe ideas and confidence that you can ditch meat, eggs and dairy for good.

Signature Gathering for Meatless Mondays

When: Saturday, January 11th @ 10:00am – 1:00pm
Where: University District Farmers Market
(on University Way NE between NE 50th St and NE 52nd St.)
(map)

Seattle is fortunate to be home to one of the new offices of The Humane League, a national Animal Rights Organization. One of their main focuses in Seattle is to get the Seattle School District to implement Meatless Mondays. YOU can help make this happen by helping to gather signatures for support of Meatless Mondays at the University District Farmers Market on Saturday, Jan 11th from 10am – 1pm.

If you can help, please contact Rachel at rachelhw@thehumaneleague.com

World Vegan Day

Happy World Vegan Day!

World Vegan Day was started in 1994 to celebrate The Vegan Society’s 50th anniversary. The Vegan Society formed in the UK in 1944. That was the year that the term “vegan” was coined and defined.

Vegans come in all shapes and sizes and walks of life. It’s hard to generalize who a vegan is. Here is a bit of information about what vegans strive for:

Vegans abstain from animal products. Food wise, that means meat (including fish), eggs, and dairy. Veganism extends to other areas as well. Vegans don’t wear animal products (fur, leather, wool, silk, feathers, or any other item from an animal), or use household products containing animal ingredient or products tested on animals. Vegans don’t support captive animals acts like those in the circus or SeaWorld.

Vegans view animals as the sentient beings that they are, and not commodities to be exploited and used by humans. You can read our Vegan FAQs for answers to many questions about being vegan.

vegan starterNovember is World Vegan Month. A perfect time to go vegan. One way to start your journey is by ordering a vegan starter pack. Several organizations have packs to help you get started. The packs include things like recipes, nutritional info, and compelling reasons to go vegan.

 

 

vegan mentor programIf you’re already vegan, and need a bit of support, you can join the vegan mentor program, which matches new vegans with established vegans so you can make a smooth and lasting transition to veganism. It’s nice to know you’re not alone in your quest for a cruelty-free life.

 

So whether you’re just thinking about veganism or you’re well on your way, World Vegan Day is a great time to make a commitment to the animals, the earth, and your health.

Helping a Vegan Activist

You may have heard of Vegan Outreach, an organization dedicated to reducing the suffering of farmed animals. The people working with Vegan Outreach can often be found leafleting in campuses across the country, promoting informed eating.

Rachel Shippee from Vegan Outreach will be leafleting in the Seattle area in October and November, as part of Vegan Outreach’s Adopt a College program.

adopt a college

If you have time to join Rachel for leafleting or a meal, please contact Anne at anne@veganoutreach.org so she can send Rachel your contact info.

Rachel needs housing in or near the cities along her route. If you have a spare couch or bed for this polite young activist, please let Anne know that as well. You can be part
of the ‘Hotel Vegan Outreach’ chain!

Thank you for your support of this important work!

Rachel’s schedule

10/22/2013      Bellevue College, Bellevue
10/22/2013      Seattle University, Seattle
10/23/2013      Seattle Central Community College, Seattle
10/23/2013      Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle
10/24/2013      South Seattle Community College, Seattle
10/24/2013      Seattle Pacific University, Seattle
10/25/2013      University of Washington, Seattle

10/28/2013      Shoreline Community College, Shoreline
10/28/2013      Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood
10/29/2013      Everett Community College, Everett
10/29/2013      Whatcom Community College, Bellingham
10/30/2013      Western Washington University, Bellingham

11/13/2013      Highline Community College, Des Moines
11/13/2013      University of Puget Sound, Tacoma
11/13/2013      Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma

Josh Garrett Breaks PCT Record for MFA

So you want to be a vegan

You love animals, you care about your health and the environment, and there’s just one nagging thing on your mind. Going vegan. If you’re considering it, congratulations!Veganism is on the rise and people are interested in it for many reasons. Here’s a list that might make your vegan transition smoother.

Find your groove.

hearty salad

For some, Meatless Mondays is a good start. Others might have fun making one vegan meal a day. But if you wake up tomorrow and want to be a full-fledged vegan, go for it! You don’t have to do it in phases. Push yourself but don’t set yourself up for failure.

It’s a journey.

You’re going to slip up. Maybe by accident (“whey is an animal product?”) or on purpose (“I couldn’t resist the pizza.”) That’s not a reason to quit. After a lifetime of developing food habits, you’ll find some are hard to break. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Being vegan isn’t about being perfect.

Eat out.

A good vegan restaurant (or restaurant with vegan options) is really helpful. If you’re at a regular restaurant, look for ways to veganize a dish. Hold the cheese. Substitute a Portobello for a hamburger. Ask the wait staff. They’re usually more than happy to help customers with dietary needs.

Learn to cook.

There’s nothing like taking your health into your own hands. Cooking at home means you know exactly what goes into your meal. Find some recipes online or get a few cookbooks and experiment.

Find replacements.

If you crave meat or dairy, look for vegan versions like veggie burgers, soy or almond milk, and dairy-free “cheeses” so you can still eat your favorite foods. Mock meats (or analogs) are a lifesaver when you’re not sure what to eat and you haven’t found a new way of eating yet.

Don’t live on processed foods.

That said, it’s easy to become a junk-food vegan. Mock versions of your old favorites can be healthy, but they aren’t always. The best vegan food plan includes lots of natural, whole foods. When it comes to health talk, you might hear “whole-food, plant-based” instead of “vegan,” because chips and soda are usually vegan, but they’re not often healthy.

Introduce color.

A colorful plate of whole, plant-based foods is bound to be rich in lots of vitamins. Even my salads are hearty, and include lots of things like quinoa, garbanzo beans and seitan.

mango saladSpeaking of seitan.

Try new foods. You won’t like them all, but you’ll find new favorites and you’ll likely end up eating a more varied diet than the typical meat-and-potatoes American. If you explore a variety of foods from around the world, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the new tastes and number of vegan options.

Expect change.

Meat is calorie dense. It takes a lot more plant-based food to match the calories of animal-based foods. You might find yourself snacking more (healthy snacking is fine). Maybe you pile your plate higher. If you’re eating whole foods, go for it! If you swap a 3-oz. steak for 3 ounces of hummus you’ll probably still be hungry! If you aren’t full, eat more. If you’re eating processed foods though, be careful. Oils and refined foods are fattening and offer very little nutritional value.

Don’t worry about protein.

Yes, it’s absolutely important, but if you eat enough food (meaning you’re not starving yourself), you’ll get enough protein. And a big surprise to many people is that plants have protein! Tomatoes, potatoes, bananas–they wouldn’t grow without it. Beans, nuts and such have more than fruit, but there’s protein in all of it. A plant-based diet provides about 8-10% of calories from protein, which happens to be the amount the RDA (recommended daily allowance) recommends.

Supplements.

Vitamins are a multibillion dollar industry but nothing comes close to whole foods–it’s what we really need. We get vitamin D from the sun, but if you don’t get a lot of sun, that’s one supplement you could take. Dairy is fortified with it, and fortunately, almond, soy, and other milks have it added too. There’s B12 in organic soil (that’s where the cows get it from) but since so much produce is grown with pesticides and other chemicals, soil isn’t what it used to be. A B12 supplement is probably wise. For the record, a lot of omnivores are low in B12 too–it’s not just a vegan thing.

Remember why you’re doing this.

For many, going vegan is all about the animals. Other have health or the environment on their minds. What’s your motivation? Remembering why you’re going vegan will help you stick with it. You can eat whatever you want; you choose not too. It’s not limiting if you think of it as a choice.

Resources:

  • Forks Over Knives – This documentary drives home the value and sound nutrition behind a whole food, plant-based diet.
  • Engine 2 Diet – This website links to books, recipes, and lots of resources for your plant-based journey.
  • The China Study – A comprehensive look at the 27-year study that Dr. Campbell undertook that led to finding on the superiority of whole food, plant-based diets.
  • Whole: rethinking the Science of Nutrition - This is Dr. Campbell’s latest book and explores a new way to look at how–and what–we eat.
  • PCRM – The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine portal has tons of health and nutrition information.
  • Vegan Outreach – This site links to videos, a free vegan starter kit, and lots of resources about why to be vegan (from factory farm cruelty to environmental nightmares).

Schools are starting to increase veggie meals

You may have heard that PS 244, Active Learning Elementary School in Queens, NY, adopted meat-free menu in their cafeteria recently. The students led the change at the pre-kindergarten to third-grade school. They were drawn to healthy plant-based options like falafel, spinach wraps and cucumber salad.

creative commons image c/o rusvaplauke

Now, the San Diego school district is introducing Meatless Mondays to its kindergarten through 8th grade students. The move was voted in by the board as an attempt to introduce healthy eating to the kids and help curb obesity. Starting this fall, students will get to enjoy meals like tofu and vegetable stir fry, baked potatoes, and grilled vegetable paninis.

From coast to coast, kids are learning about veganism. Let’s hope that these two changes are the start of a healthy, cruelty-free trend.

Are you a student or parent with school-age kids? Why not ask your school to introduce more vegan food in the cafeteria. It’s never to early to start a life-long habit that has a profound effect for people, the environment, and the animals.

In-vitro meat makes a debut

Here’s some food for thought: If the main reason for choosing a vegan lifestyle is to reduce suffering, what do you think about in-vitro meat?test tubes

The New York Times recently reported about a hamburger grown in a laboratory from muscle tissue. This in-vitro, or cultured, meat doesn’t require the water, grain, land, transportation, and slaughter of an animal.

The sample being worked on at the moment isn’t vegan–it’s origins are animal in nature (cow stem cells). But future versions could be grown from non-animal sources.

This still sounds like science fiction, and I’ll stick by the loads of scientific findings that meat of any kind isn’t healthy. But if people don’t stop eating meat, perhaps they could gravitate toward in-vitro meat and bypass factory farms.

A Niche I Love or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the blog

Over the past year, my involvement in NARN has lead me down an interesting and somewhat painful path to self knowledge. It’s taken time, but I’ve had to define and redefine the nature of my activism, and my place within the animal rights movement. A lot has changed for me since I became an activist, especially because I live with a form of muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disorder causing muscle weakness and wasting. (I’m lucky to have a mild form of the disease.)

For over a year now, I’ve been attending demonstrations despite the fact that it’s physically difficult and exhausting for me (and if I’m not very careful, painful afterward). Some people might be tempted to view this as admirable or determined, but it was largely my stubbornness and slowness to learn that were responsible, along with a slight disregard for my own health.

Several months into the foie gras campaign, the frequency of the demos picked up, and after attending two in the same weekend, I was left completely exhausted well into the next week. That’s what it took to make me realize that I might need to take my condition and health more seriously. I was emotionally burned out, too, and it was clear I needed to reconsider my role within NARN. The obvious answer was to spend more of my time doing technical work, particularly on the NARN web site.

There’s never a shortage of things to do for the VegSeattle and NARN.org websites, and I was already having a hard time keeping up, so it was the obvious choice. But it still wasn’t easy to talk myself out of demoing in favor of sitting at my desk–I do enough of that at my day job–but I was left with little other choice if I was to take proper care of myself. Although somewhat resigned, I stuck to my decision.

This is perhaps the first major lesson many activists must learn: take care of yourself first. I believe Kim McCoy (of Sea Shepherd) emphasized this at the opener for the Let Live Animal Rights Conference in Portland, Oregon. It’s clear why this is advice that should be taken to heart: if you don’t find a balance in your life and take care of yourself, you won’t be an effective animal advocate. There was a lot of talk at the conference about knowing your strengths, doing what you’re good at, and constantly re-evaluating what you’re doing to see if it works. While a lot of this was focused at the campaign level, it clearly hit me on a more personal level.

Other aspects of Let Live helped me gain additional perspective on my situation, and renewed inspiration. It felt like I gained a new lease on life, although it also left me exhausted (from the drive to Portland, not getting enough sleep, and the sheer number of people attending). I also found it difficult to socialize in this state, which led me to realize that perhaps I wasn’t cut out to network on behalf of NARN–so the same big questions were on my mind that weekend and I plenty of time to ponder them: what was my role? What were my strengths? It was pretty clear that web sitework was one. Writing has also long been a passion of mine–fiction and otherwise–and Let Live provided me with a few pathways to learn more about how these areas intersect with activism.

I attended workshops on design (by Josh Hooten of Herbivore, whose clothing I wore on several occasions during the conference) and writing (by Jasmin Singer of Farm Sanctuary). What both of these had in common was behind-the-scenes work. While often less glamorous and less recognized, supporting the infrastructure of the movement is as important as having people at protests. It also offers opportunities for nearly anyone to be involved—regardless of their abilities. The internet has opened Pandora’s box on this front: blogs, social networking sites, content writing and IT work for websites; the list goes on. And this is on top of other forms of office activism: preparing literature, sending letters and emails, doing basic administrative and financial work for animal rights organizations, etc. The possibilities are almost unlimited.

So if you’re new to activism and looking to get involved, realize that you have a host of options—including things as simple as encouraging friends and families to adopt a more compassionate lifestyle, the most basic form of activism. Prospective activists should also be made aware of the various ways in which they can contribute, although demand for such work usually ensures that it’s sought out (NARN certainly has some such opportunities, and we’re happy to accept help from volunteers). What’s more, this can make it easier to participate in animal advocacy without leaving your home, and without having to so much as leave your comfort zone. You can work when you want to on your own schedule, and if I sound like an ad for a job stuffing envelopes at home, it’s only because I’m excited about my new found focus on this sort of work.

I hope my experiences will inspire anyone reading this to do more – and do whatever you can to help animals. I wrote above that you don’t have to leave your comfort zone to do activism, but I hope all activists will choose to challenge themselves: you can always do more by trying things you’re not initially comfortable with. You might feel like you’re too shy or otherwise not good for front line activism, but don’t discount it without trying it. If you don’t like it, try it again, and remember that some forms of activism will never be comfortable or easy–but they are worthwhile. Even if it was unhealthy for me, I value what I learned about the movement and myself on the front lines.

So do what you can–and don’t run yourself into the ground. Remember, the animals are counting on us to be our best.

-Bryan Schultz