Cardiologist chooses vegan diet, lowers his cholesterol and garners mad haters  »


As reported by the NYT Well blogDr. Kim A. Williams, president-elect of the American College of Cardiology, wrote a post encouraging people to go adopt a plant-based diet for heart health—so of course everyone freaked out. Because why listen to science when someone is trying to deny you your god-given right to eat dead cow! And when I say deny your right, I mean dare to suggest it might not be healthy. 

He was inspired to make the change when he got a cholesterol test and found out his LDL cholesterol level was 170. From his post:

I thought I had a healthy diet — no red meat, no fried foods, little dairy, just chicken breast and fish. But a simple Web search informed me that my chicken-breast meals had more cholesterol content (84 mg/100 g) than pork (62 mg/100 g). So I changed that day to a cholesterol-free diet, using “meat substitutes” commonly available in stores and restaurants for protein. Within 6 weeks my LDL cholesterol level was down to 90.

I don’t totally know what all this LDL stuff means but 170 to 90 in six weeks seems pretty amazing! If you read his post, it’s pretty benign. Not too preachy, just mostly about his personal journey to a plant-based diet and how it’s helped him. But people still got all heated, as per usual when any hint of veganism comes up. This screen cap of the site he wrote the post on can give you an idea of the calamity:


Yeah, 74 comments. Seems a bit above their average. I skimmed through some, and as expected: VOM. People are so annoying sometimes. Sigh. 

The doctor responds to some of the criticism in the NYT post. I especially like this part:

Some critics suggested that Dr. Williams and the college were “unduly influenced by industry,” which baffled him.

“Who is the industry that promotes vegan dieting?” he asked.

AND HOW. That is always the silliest criticism to me when someone promotes vegan eating! There is no special agenda to make people go vegan because that’s not where the money is! The money is in A. the meat and dairy lobby, and B. the pharma lobby. Those people do not want you do eat vegan. Obvisiously non-vegan food industries don’t but pharma doesn’t either because if no one was sick, how would they make money?! You would hope a doctor, however, would have entirely different motivation, and it seems Dr. Williams does. As he says:

"Wouldn’t it be a laudable goal of the American College of Cardiology to put ourselves out of business within a generation or two?"

Note: Save yourself the trouble, I’ve heard the reasoning against and I’m still going to keep saying “vegan diet.” We all understand what someone means when they say “vegan diet,” it says you adopt the diet of the vegan lifestyle but not the rest of it. Plus I find “plant-based diet” a confusing term. Plant-BASED doesn’t connote to me that you don’t eat some meat or something. 


Today! In NYC! Do Good at the Grocery  »


Get your shop on today, Thursday January 9, at any Manhattan Whole Foods and 5% of your purchase supports the efforts of statewide nonprofit the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (NYCHSF).

With a mission to educate participating school communities—students, teachers, parents and administrators—about ways in which they can consume more nutritious foods (i.e., more plants, fewer animals), we’re all about backing them. And what better way to do so than by picking up a few foodstuffs we were bound to buy anyway? You know you want to.

Funds raised will specifically benefit the coalition’s work with the New York City Department of Education Office of SchoolFood, a partnership promoting plant-based protein options and salad bars. Food UnEarthed, interactive curriculum developed by NYCHSF and currently taught to over 500 students a week in NYC, will also reap the rewards of your (hopefully gluttonous) trip to the Market. (By the way, we want in on this Food UnEarthed thing; kids get to act as detectives, using critical thinking skills to, as its title implies, uncover the truth about food. Then, following a rigorous investigation, they get to sit back, relax and enjoy a yummy—and healthy!—vegan snack. Sign us up!) 

If you’d like to learn more about the org or just say hey to the brains behind this genius means of feeding kids greens, NYCHSF representatives will be tabling at all seven stores in the city from 11 AM to 7 PM. From 11 AM to 3:30 PM, meet Executive Director Amie Hamlin at the Bowery location and from 11 AM to 1:30 PM, meet board chair Lisa Suriano at the Midtown East location.

Or, you know, just go get some noms, preferably free of flesh, dairy and eggs!

Nell Alk is a writer and editor based in New York City. If something #vegan is happening in the world, she is on it. Twitter with her here


Advancement in diabetes prevention leads Grist writer to conclude vegans are jerks   »


"Adults age 40 and over with diagnosed diabetes who reported receiving four recommended services for diabetes in the calendar year (2+ hemoglobin A1c tests, foot exam, dilated eye exam, and flu shot), by race/ethnicity, 2008-2009" -Agency for Health Research and Qaulity

A European study found that high levels of a certain renal acid can greatly increase risk of type 2 diabetes. The study found that while meat raises the level of this acid, fruits and vegetables lower it. 

I just read a post on Grist about it entitled, "Meat-based diets linked with type 2 diabetes; vegans everywhere get smug." I know, it’s baiting, but I would have read it anyway for the former part of the title (though I clicked only to find a study I read about in July). But let me tell you, I haven’t read something so aggressively, preemptively defensive in quite a while. I don’t care if she calls me smug, I’ll be that, but what is really shocking to me is that a study comes out that could help prevent a growing epidemic and this writer’s first response is to feel personally threatened by the boon it may give to the vegan cause.

At no point does the post address the fact that type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects people of color, who are also some of the same populations negatively affected by disparities in health care. Given those factors, preventative medicine would be REALLY helpful in this particular scenario. Of course, there’s the issue of food deserts that complicates the matter. But forget that discussion, let’s dismiss the significance of this information and attack vegans. That seems in line with Grist’s values

Basically, Richmond does not care about nor see the importance of this new data beyond the question, “how will this affect my witty conversations?” Because I’m sure she has a great bit about vegans and heaven forbid actual data steal her thunder. But hey, Richmond! Do not fret! There has always been a ton of support points for veganism, and you’ve still managed to remain unscathed, living to image search “bacon” another day. So you’ll be OK—just cross your fingers about that pesky diabetes! Goodness knows there’s nothing else to be done about it. 


Did you know: PCRM has a vegan-food-only office!  »


PCRM! Sometimes amazing, sometimes embarrassing, but always working toward a vegan world, which we can certainly appreciate. And in service of that goal, the organization has a vegan-food-only office policy, which the Washington Post reported on this week for … reasons.

PCRM has also piloted vegan eating programs at other workplaces in the Washington area. In one instance, they worked with a group of employees at Geico’s Chevy Chase headquarters. The nonprofit asked the insurance group to adopt a vegan diet and offered them weekly instruction on how to make healthy, tasty and cost-effective vegan choices. After 22 weeks, they compared employees in that group to Geico employees who hadn’t received the training. The vegan group lost more weight, reported improved physical health and said they saw a decrease in food costs.

Of course people are always yapping about how veganism will MAKE YOU THIN at which point YOU WILL WIN LIFE, which is a dumb lie. But are we going to criticize a cruelty-free office kitchen? Of course not. Health vegans, we love you too. Everyone’s welcome on team vegan.

[Photo by Justina Davies via Flickr]

(Source: Washington Post)


Who’s gonna die of heart disease? People who eat lots of meaty meat meat full of carnitine, the wickedest amino acid that goes crazy in your intestines and hardens your arteries. “[T]he more you eat red meat … the more you develop this bacteria, which then develops this harmful metabolite, so it really is sort of a snowballing effect.” This study compared red meat-eaters to vegetarians and vegans, and the non-meat-eaters came out with “very little of this bacteria, and very little of this effect.”

You want nice useful arteries? Stop eating meat. Duh.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)


German company Sante introduces vegan toothpaste with B12!  »

Sante is a company based in Hannover, Germany, which creates and manufactures “natural cosmetics.” This line now includes toothpaste with vitamin B12! Specifically for people whose diets make them susceptible to B12 deficiencies, like vegans!

Even better than it existing is that it works. Sante and Vegetarierbund Deutschland (VEBU/German Vegetarian Society) conducted a study with some pretty great results. Namely, participants saw a “60 percent increase in vitamin B12 after 4 weeks of … two applications daily of a B12-toothpaste.” That is great!

VEBU details the study here, including some pretty clear charts. Yes, they’re entirely in German, but you can understand this, right?

Hint: “Vorher” means “before” and “Nachher” means “after.”

As for buying this wonderful toothpaste, it appears you can purchase it through VEBU, but only from certain countries, most of which are European, obviously. A quick Google turns up a few sites—but none of them ships to North America, either. Boo! I want this toothpaste! Actually, I’m pretty well-vitamined, but I love the idea of an organic, vegan dentifrice that cleans your teeth and protects you from future health issues.

Thanks for the hard work, VEBU and Sante. Now please sell us your product.

[images via VEBU]



Product Review: Nutty Bean Chick Pz!  »

Clockwise from the left: Vanilla Chai, Sesame Crunch, and Sweet and Spicy Chipotle.

Hello, friends! Here I am with another product review! This time we have some healthy snack food: Nutty Bean Chick Pz. These are flavored roasted chickpeas. All flavors but the Honey Roasted are vegan. I tried the Chai Vanilla, Sesame Crunch, Sea Salt, and the Sweet and Spicy Chipotle (for those following along at home, that’s all but the Honey Roasted and BBQ). Nutty Bean sent me these flavors to try for free and now I will tell you all about them.

I’ve actually seen roasted chickpeas before; I used to go to the Italian festival in New Jersey every year (which I highly recommend—except for the cannoli eating contest; whatever you do, don’t watch the cannoli eating contest! You will vom!) and they had them in big burlap sacks. Haven’t seen them since then. I always thought it was a good idea though, seems like a healthy snack idea.

So, in brief: they are a bit weird…AND I love them. The weird part is the texture. They are crunchy at first—kind of like wasabi peas or something—but then when you bite into them, they have a kind of dusty texture? I think dusty is the best description. But I think you get used to it and then you can enjoy them with reckless abandon!

The really cool thing is that these are super healthy. If they were bad for you and had the unfamiliar texture, I might not be into them. But I think the health factor makes it a good gamble. There are two servings per package (a good size!) and each serving has 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and only 1.5 grams of fat. It also has 10% of your daily iron, so that’s nice. And a little shot of calcium to boot.

My favorite-favorite flavor is the Sweet and Spicy Chipotle. Yummy! It rules. I’m kind of a nancy about spice so these are a little too hot for me. My solution was to eat like four, then eat a handful of sea salt ones to relieve the spice. Funny Megan! But it worked great. 

I didn’t like the Sesame Crunch that much; I think you would definitely like that flavor if you like those little sesame sticks they always sell in bulk candy sections. You know the ones? My mom used to buy those for us when we were hippies. I was never that into them.  But if you were, this is your flavor.

As for the Vanilla Chai, I thought I wouldn’t like them because sometimes chai is über-sweet. But to my surprise, this was my second favorite flavor! Not too sweet but nice and cinnamon-clovey. Definitely yum and a nice sweet treat that’s not too sweet.

That’s the other good thing besides the health: these hit the spot. If you want a little touch of sweetness, you got it; if you want something salty, boom. And you can feel like you are doing something good for your body because of the iron, fiber, and protein! So it’s really a great snack option. I officially recommend!


Guest Post: Proud to be vegan, happy, and chubby  »

Before I became vegan I knew that the world hated fat people, but I didn’t know that vegans hated us as well. I find that as a chubby vegan who has no desire to be skinny I am an outcast within the vegan community. I am forced to read about how a blogger lost 40 pounds on a vegan diet—yeah, that’s nice, but I don’t really care. Just give me recipe ideas, and keep your skinny preaching to yourself.

I went vegan for the animals, and one reason I will always stay vegan is because it is better for your health. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that equates being slender with being healthy, and I don’t think that is true at all. Sure, I might have a few extra pounds, but I eat a whole-foods-based vegan diet and you are telling me I am less healthy on the inside than a skinny person who eats McDonald’s every day? I beg to differ. According to my doctor, I am in great health with near-perfect blood pressure and cholesterol levels—two major issues in American health. I might be fat on the outside, but my insides are well cared for.

However, it isn’t just about health. Even if those who worship at the altar of skinny were to agree that fat people can be healthy, we are still ugly, or at the very least less attractive than skinny people. Here you can read about how PETA is trying find the sexiest non-celebrity vegetarian. This is what they have to say about sexiness: “On average, vegans and vegetarians are fitter, trimmer, and healthier than their meat- and dairy-eating counterparts, and that makes them sexier too.” Apparently you have to a skinny vegan to be a sexy vegan. Well, I call bullshit on that. Sexiness is not tied to any number—your dress size, or the number of inches on your waist, or your age! Here is how Merriam-Webster describes sexy:

1. sexually suggestive or stimulating

2. generally attractive or interesting

Hmm, I don’t see the words “fit or trim” in there—but they do say “generally attractive or interesting.” I would rather be interesting any day.

Sexiness is a feeling from within; the confidence to parade around your house naked because it just feels good. It is wearing lacy panties to work every day because it makes you feel a little sassy. Sexiness is loving yourself just as you are and thus attracting another sexy person who loves your body as well. And finally, perhaps most importantly, sexiness is exploring and enjoying your sexuality with someone you love (or maybe someone you just met). The point is, none of these things require you to be skinny. Here is a quote from my husband (a skinny man) who married my chubby self: “I can see a woman who might weigh 400 pounds and find her sexy as hell. It is all in how you carry yourself.” If you are confident, vivacious, and happy, that is sexy.

You have until March 26 to enter PETA’s contest. I for one will be sending in a picture of my not-skinny but still sexy as hell vegan self. I hope you will join me—whether you are fat or skinny, we are all sexy. This society needs to learn that skinny does not equal healthy, happy, or sexy. I am all of those things, and haven’t been skinny a day in my life.

Ashley Hermann is a happy, chubby vegan who resides in Milwaukee, Wis., with her husband and three cats. Any free time she can find is dedicated to volunteering with cats, reading classic literature, and scouring the internet for recipe inspiration.   


eBook Review: The New Green Smoothie Diet: Going Green Never Tasted So Good  »

These days, it seems like everyone in the health world has a different perspective on what we should and shouldn’t put in smoothies. Some say all-fruit is the way to go, while others advocate using only low-glycemic fruits like berries and grapefruit (including the medical doctor who runs the raw vegan retreat center where I worked for two years). Well-known raw foodist David “Avocado” Wolfe advises tossing in durian, mangoes, bananas, goji berries, and every “superfood” on the market. Others say not to use any fruit at all. Even regular self-help people want to weigh in! Martha Beck, a personal favorite motivational life coach of mine (with several Harvard degrees, to boot!) says in her latest book Finding Your Way in A Wild New World that we should blend following a 1:1 fruit to veggie ratio. Kris Carr’s new smoothie e-book is out, and though I haven’t read it yet (I want to!) I strongly suspect she’s got her own spin on the smoothie ingredient debate.

The New Green Smoothie Diet: Going Green Never Tasted So Good by Hilary Greenleaf predictably stakes a claim about which ingredients belong in smoothies. Greenleaf says we should drink smoothies that are 60% fruit and avoid putting powders, nut and soy milk in our smoothies, and only use water for liquid. I guess that’s good for some people who may get all confused by labels and accidentally toss in something crazy like, say, whey powder or maybe arsenic along with their produce. But what about super nutrient-dense add-ins like raw, vegan supplements Vega, Green Grasses, hemp protein, maca, cacao powder, and HealthForce Vitamineral Green, spirulina, chlorella, etc.? I just had a smoothie this morning that included many of the aforementioned discouraged smoothie ingredients, so I’m a bit biased, but I wonder why would she suggest these added raw vegan organic ingredients are a bad idea, without much explanation? Greenleaf includes lots of studies and research in her 50-page ebook, but I wish she would’ve rounded up some optimal smoothie ingredient studies, because somebody needs to get the final word on the smoothie debate once and for all!

Once I got past my initial distaste for yet another dogmatic yet scientifically unsubstantiated approach to smoothies, I found plenty to like in this e-book. I appreciate that it cites lots of articles and studies on obesity, health and nutrition, and mentions the importance of choosing organic when possible. Other claims made by author Greenleaf, like how green smoothies can combat “liver sluggishness,” I wasn’t so sure about, but I am intrigued by all of the recipes here that include guava! According to Greenleaf, a small guava added to smoothies can lead to strong hair and clear skin. Sounds yummy and healthful! I’m willing to pick up some guava and give it a whirl. Other highlights include weird recipes like The “Salty Smoothie,” which Greenleaf says also works as a cold summer soup. As the title suggests, all recipes include some greens to give you caffeine-free energy.

There aren’t tons of recipes in this book—it focuses mainly on the nutrition benefits of smoothies and the recipes feel like kind of a side note. Still, there are some gems that are worth trying! This morning I made the Energy Smoothie, “a great salty smoothie to help increase your energy levels and ‘warm’ you up.” 

Here’s the recipe (with permission from author!):

Energy Smoothie
(Note: author does not indicate how many servings this makes; I’d say based on my experience it makes 1-2 servings)

One head of lettuce (author recommends red, which I used)
1 cup Swiss chard
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 cup turnip or collard greens (I used collards)
1 lemon, peeled and seeded
1 tsp seaweed (I tossed in a little bit of kelp)

I’m not sure about the whole “warm” thing, but I did enjoy my thick, chewy puddle of green nutrition! Normally, I’d be very tempted to separate out the pulp using a nut mylk bag after blending just greens and citrus, but I abstained from straining this time and actually enjoyed the chew factor. If you like your green smoothies strong like I do, this recipe is pretty rad!

If you’re open to looking past Greenleaf’s strict smoothie rules and advice about how many calories you should aim to eat at every meal (this totally assumes we all have the same physical activity levels, body types, weights, and AH THIS FRUSTRATES ME SO MUCH SO I’M JUST GOING TO STOP), then The New Green Smoothie Diet isn’t a bad place to start if you’re just getting into the blending game. Overall, this recipe ebook is a winner. Happy blending!

This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post! Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Queer Vegan Food.


To be a healthy vegan, focus on…wait for it…health!  »

Laura has already registered her disappointment (OK, rage) at the new ad campaign from PCRM, which employs fat-shaming as a means to scare people off cheese. This campaign ignores all the good reasons why we should skip cheese—its production involves animal cruelty, eating it is not particularly good for us—and instead goes for a cheap shot at chubby thighs.

The awesome Ginny Messina already addressed why going vegan only to get skinny is likely to lead to disappointment, but she’s followed up with an article that I think is also worth mentioning here. Messina’s post for One Green Planet, The 7 Habits of Healthy Vegans, does a great job of focusing on vegan health regardless of size. Her suggestions apply to everyone—we could all be a bit healthier by eating legumes more often, choosing whole grains, and loading up on veggies. 

I actually did lose weight when I became vegetarian, and I also lost weight when I had to give up gluten. I didn’t lose any extra when I went vegan, but I had already changed my diet pretty drastically by then. Everyone is different. And I have no problem acknowledging that fitting into smaller pants felt great, but I could have gotten there a variety of ways; knowing that I was living my life according to my values and ethics has always felt better than skinny jeans. If you initially go vegan to lose weight and end up loving the lifestyle and learning more about how awesome it is, fabulous. But if your end goal is just a number on a scale, and you’re ignoring everything else that helps to keep us healthy and happy—mental health is part of that, too—then you’re not going to do well, no matter what your diet looks like.

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.

[photo by slightlypale via Flickr]

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