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Why You Need The Facts On Flax

Brown Flax Seeds from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 HealthAliciousNess, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Flax (some call it linseed) is magic. Well, practically. If any seed is on your side, it’s this one. Chia might be the seed ‘du jour,’ but this little grafter needs to be a part of your daily menu (or a few times a week at least).

Just why exactly is it so damned aces?

 

Weight Loss

Never mind the slimming shakes or the cayenne pepper maple syrup (wtf?) diet. These clever seeds are a great aid to anyone wanting to lose a few pounds. As they are so full of fibre, they help everything keep moving through your body, so nothing lingers longer than it should. Ground flax also expands in your stomach, helping you feel satiated for longer.

 

Toxin Remover

You know all that crap you breathe in every day? The toxins and heavy metals and stuff you really don’t want taking up residence in your body? Because it is so rich in soluble fibre, flax acts as a sort of sponge, to soak up all that shizz and transport it out of there. If you live in a city… actually, scratch that. If you live on Earth, you need a food source that helps your body get rid of pollutants and environmental baddies. Flax is it!

 

Cancer Protective

Flax seeds contain a phyto (plant) nutrient called lignan. Lots of plant foods have this, but flax has it in the highest amounts. Lignans are thought to be protective against breast cancer, and have been proved to help in survival after breast cancer when consumed regularly.

 

Best Source Of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid

You know that Omega 3 fatty acid that we all once thought you could only get from fish? Guess what? Flax is an amazing source of Omega 3 fatty acids. No need to ingest saturated fat, cholesterol and mercury.

 

Beautifier

Like nuts and avocados, flax seeds are a great way to moisturise your skin from the inside out. It is precisely because flax contains so much omega 3 that it does so much good for the skin, helping it retain moisture and reducing any inflammation.

 

System Regulator

As you can see, flax has the fibre factor. Ground flax is insanely good at helping everything move through your body in an appropriate amount of time. Don’t you just hate those ads for women (‘cos it is always apparently women) who suffer from bloating? Consuming ground flax regularly as part of a healthy plant-based diet means you never have to be like them, whining and rubbing their bellies. They will seem like aliens to you.

 

But How Can I incorporate It Into My Meals? It’s A Seed FFS! I’m Not A Bird! Easy peasy. To make it a little easier, you need to invest in a gadget that grinds these little darlings to meal. Some people use a coffee grinder, some use the Magic Bullet. I use the cheaper copy of the Magic Bullet – the Hinari Genie. Hurrah for cheaper copies!!

You can eat flax seeds whole, but you will get the most benefit from the ground meal. Your teeth may prefer them that way too.

I grind 2 tablespoons per day. You can always grind a week’s worth and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container, but, like everything, it’s probably best fresh.

Do you eat cereal? Porridge? Oatmeal? Soup? Stews? Chilli? You can put the ground seeds on practically anything. They have a pleasantly nutty taste, and are good added to sweet or savoury meals. There are not many places flax meal can’t go. You can even use them as an egg replacer in cakes. If you make your own bread, flapjacks, granola bars, cookies etc, you can add whole flax.

Flax it up, now! Get flaxing! Get your flax on! Flax that bitch! Get with the flax! Ok, ok, you know what? flax doesn’t need me to (attempt to) make it sound cool. People have used it for thousands of years for its health benefits. It’s a true gift from nature.

Try it and see for yourself.

 

I Want To Go Vegan, But What’s In It For Me?

As you know, the word ‘vegan’ ultimately defines a lifestyle not complicit in the violence, cruelty and killing of non-human animals.

For lots of people, this is ample reason to be vegan. To know that no-one is suffering for you is benefit enough.

If you DID want any more reasons to go vegan, I GET IT – honestly.

After all, everyone else eats animal products, it’s so normalised in this culture. Every other commercial outlet on the High/Main Street is a kebab shop, a fast food joint, a fried chicken place.

Celebrities are posing with milk moustaches and doing yoghurt commercials.

Every lummox on the planet seems to be prattling on about their love for baaayycuuhhn (when did the whole bacon reinvention start? It was old man’s food when I was growing up). Now, apparently, if you don’t guzzle bacon, you are not living life to the fullest.

Every other ad is for burgers, butter, ice cream. Where are the ads for broccoli? For walnuts? For beetroot?

On top of this, lots of energy and money is being spent trying to make meat cool.  More and more ‘gourmet’ burger (WTF?) places are opening every day. I even see this in my own neighbourhood. A ‘restaurant’ called ‘Chicken Shop,’ owned by a well-known private members club group, has just launched near my house. It has chickens on a spit, and the menu is chicken, chicken or chicken, with either chips or corn. Lots of painfully ‘cool’ types are flocking there. For chicken. And corn.

Seriously, no-one could blame you for thinking that vegan is too ‘different,’ too ‘against the grain.’

I truly get that this is not (yet) a vegan world and that you need as much motivation as possible to help you go vegan. What are the benefits? What will help you tolerate all the above shizzoula?

Well, I’ll tell you of some of them, but there are many others that you will discover for yourself too.

Health

By avoiding animal products (and eating whole foods, of course), you have reduced your risk for heart disease and lots of cancers significantly, in fact some doctors in the field would say you are at almost zero risk of heart disease, eating this way.

You have also side- stepped diabetes, (or will be able to improve it, if you have it already), and are at lower risk for Alzheimer’s. There are a whole host of conditions that can be prevented or improved with a whole foods vegan diet, including asthma, and multiple sclerosis.

Skin/Appearance

A whole-foods plant-based diet will have you glowing, radiant, and oozing sparkle. Your skin and body will be the best they’ve ever been – and if you’re exercising, sleeping and relaxing enough too – well, baby, you’ve never looked so good.

Is this a superficial incentive? Perhaps. But don’t forget; the more you look after yourself and ensure that you feel great and confident and happy, the better you can help and look after other people; the more present you will be when you spend time with them, and the more joyful your interactions will be.

The ripple out effect of YOU feeling good is immense. When you feel lethargic, depressed, achy, insecure, or worse, then you cannot be much help, or bring much joy to anyone.

Other Silly, Limiting Constructs Become Clear – And Evaporate

Another benefit is that when you realise how ridiculous the ‘certain animals are food but others are pets,’ paradigm is (and all the rest we have around how we perceive animals as ‘other’), you begin to see lots of other things clearly, and all other ridiculous paradigms crumble.

Just as you’ve realised what humans do so they can justify eating certain beings; you recognise all the other silly human constructs that abound.

You see all the boxes, compartments and pigeon holes that lots of people need in order to feel secure, or a part of something – and you don’t need them any more. This is one of the most liberating things I found, and probably my absolute favourite extra benefit!

Environment

Do you have children? Grandchildren? Just know some good kids?

After you’ve gone do you want them to live on a clean planet, full of natural wonders, with fresh air and clean water?  Well, being vegan is the best thing you can do for the planet. The livestock industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transport combined, and is the prime cause of air and water pollution, deforestation, drought, and wildlife habitat destruction.

You CANNOT proclaim to be an environmentalist and eat meat. That would be silly. Like being a pacifist and a gun manufacturer. Or like being a nun and a porn star (!?).

World Hunger

Feeding grain to animals, to then feed the animals to humans is hardly energy or resource efficient.

Can we really justify this with so many people starving? When we know that if we all ate plant-based there would be enough food to go around, and then some? Knowing that you are not contributing to world hunger, while it may not directly benefit you, has to make you feel lighter, I’ll bet.

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You will discover lots of other incredible benefits for yourself, lots of them interlinked. As Dr T. Colin Campbell says in his life-saving book, The China Study:  “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.”

Trust me; the personal benefits of being vegan vastly outweigh being the odd one out who doesn’t eat baaaayyycuuuhnn, or not fitting in at ‘Gourmet Burger.’

Simple Avocado And Tofu Maki Rolls

It took me a while to stop missing sushi – it really did.

I was such a sushi lover, that while I was very happy and confident in my decision to quit eating fish, I thought I’d always secretly yearn for it.

One of the things that got me over this was discovering I could make sushi myself, and that the main taste that I craved was really the mix of the soy, wasabi, rice and nori. With an avocado filling for that creamy texture, or tofu for a more chewy texture – you have all the ingredients for that satisfying sushi hit right there. No need to kill the fishkies, or OD on mercury.

Also, I use brown rice. They’ve been doing this in California for a gazillion years. It tastes great in maki rolls, better than white rice in my opinion. If you can get more nutrients, with a great (I think better) taste to boot, then why the hell not?

This recipe is pretty easy, the only slightly difficult part is the rolling, but if cack-handed me can do it – so can you!  Don’t even worry if your rolls aren’t too pretty at first, you’ll get the hang of it – and pretty or not, they all taste the same!

You will need:

-1 sushi rolling mat

– 1 cup long-grain brown rice

– drizzle of brown rice vinegar

– drizzle of sesame oil

– half teaspoon of salt

– 1 pack Nori seaweed

– 1 ripe Haas avocado

– 1 block firm tofu

– 2 tspns olive/sunflower oil (for the tofu)

– 4 or 5 spring onions

To be served with:

– soy sauce

– wasabi paste

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What you do:

-Boil the rice as per the instructions on the packet, and then boil for 4 or 5 minutes more. As it’s not the usual glutinous rice used for sushi, you want it to be very slightly overcooked, so it’s a bit stickier than it would be otherwise.

-While your rice is on the boil, drain your tofu and cut it into strips. On a small baking tray or pie tin, pour approximately 1 tablespoon of olive or sunflower oil, and into the oil pour the same amount of soy sauce. Mix it around, and place your tofu strips on the tray, turning them in the mixture so they are all coated.

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Put this under the grill (broiler, US peeps!), for around 10 minutes each side, or to taste – a bit longer if you prefer your tofu chewier. When it’s done, just take it out and let it cool.

– When your rice is done, drain and rinse it, and put it in a mixing bowl. Drizzle sesame oil over it (roughly 1 tablespoon), and do the same with your brown rice vinegar, but around 1 1/2 teaspoons. Then salt it conservatively. You don’t need to salt it too much because you’re going to be dipping it in soy sauce while eating it, which will provide most of the salt taste you need. Mix it all up, then taste rice to check you can taste a tiny bit of everything, then leave to cool.

– Prep your filling ingredients. Slice the avocado, slice the spring onions into strips, and put on a board or plate along with the tofu you grilled earlier. Keep them right next to where you’ll be rolling your sushi, for easy access.

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-Place your sushi mat on a chopping board, and a sheet of Nori vertically on top of it,

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-Put approximately two dessert spoons of your rice mixture on to the Nori, and press it down into a rectangle in the bottom centre of the sheet, leaving around two centimetres at the bottom and sides. Pack it down tight, as much as you can, like so:

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– Place an avocado or tofu strip in the middle of your rice rectangle, running horizontally, and put a few strips of spring onion alongside making sure you have spread them to the edges of your rice rectangle.

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You are now ready to roll, hurrah!

Take the mat and roll it (away from you) over the top of your filling, like so;

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Then push the top of the nori under your filling – making sure not to push the mat under too, and continue rolling the nori up using the mat.

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When you’ve rolled the nori almost up to the end, you can moisten the top edge with water (just use your finger) to help it stick together well. In case my explanation isn’t too clear – this very short little vid demonstrates it nicely. Roll it up completely and put the mat all the way around it and squidge it a bit, and hold it for a few seconds just to secure it.

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Then unroll your mat and voila! A maki roll ready for slicing.

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Slice the roll with a sharp serrated knife into 3 cm (or 1 in) rounds. When I slice it, if the ends aren’t pretty – I just eat them as I go along!  The rest present on a serving platter.

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You should have enough rice to do this 5 or 6 times.  When you’re done, you can sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds, or furikake.

Mix the wasabi according to instructions on the tin (if not pre-made) and serve your rolls with this and soy sauce.

Of course you can use whatever you want as filling – julienned cucumber and carrots, daikon, sprouted seeds, baby asparagus, rolled up spinach leaves, a mix of all/some of these. The possibilities and permutations are endless.

So you see, a plant-based diet does NOT mean giving up that great sushi taste, not by a long shot. Get rolling! DO IT.

How To Choose A Good Cow’s Milk Alternative

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As for which non-dairy milk is the best? This is subjective, and ultimately, completely down to your taste. Whichever one(s) tastes the best to you, is the one that will help you transition to and sustain a satisfying plant-based diet, so go forth and try them all till you find one (or a few) that suits.

There are superior and inferior, healthy and less healthy products however, so here’s the deal.

Firstly, you may well find you don’t really need a cow’s milk alternative. I sometimes just use water on my breakfast of oats, raisins, nuts and seeds, and it’s just fine, the liquid is just to moisten the dry oats (and the water kind of turns to oat milk in the bowl!), so it works perfectly.

As I mostly drink white/jasmine/green tea, no milk is needed for this either.

Ok, so let’s tackle the most controversial, common, non-dairy milk first. The milk of the soy.

Concerned about what you’ve read about soy making you gay, making men grow boobs, giving you cancer etc? Worry no more, really. No, REALLY.

Some people don’t digest soy too well, so if this is you, or if you’re allergic to soy- you have PLENTY of other options.

Ideally you want your milk to have as few ingredients as possible – just soy beans and water. The best one in the UK is Provamel Organic Unsweetened, which has just these two ingredients, but it is quite expensive. The Tesco and Asda Organic Soy Milks have water, soy beans, and natural flavouring. I’m not sure what the natural flavouring is, but I don’t use this milk often, and it’s a more acceptable price, so this is fine for me right now. Lots of US brands tend to have several other ingredients in, including added thickeners, salt, or vitamins.

The best US soy milk products I’ve found are Westsoy Organic Unsweetened, Edensoy Organic Unsweetened, and Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened. All these are just good ol’ soy beans and water.

Guess what? Exactly the same paradigm applies to all the other non-dairy milk alternatives. Whether its oat, hemp, almond, cashew, coconut, flax, brazil nut, rice, hazelnut, tomato or spinach milk (ok, I made those last two up), my recommendations are always the same:

If you can, make your own. There are plenty of ‘how-to’ vids on Youtube, and a few on the Vitamix site. Again, only if you can, make sure the ingredients are organic. You’ll be saving money by not buying cartons of milk. Don’t worry if you can’t budget for organic – you are still avoiding a ton of bad stuff by not drinking cow’s milk.

If you do buy your milk, make sure to choose the one with the least amount of ingredients (ideally just *nut/seed/grain*, water). If you need it sweetened, it should only have apple juice added.

If you are desperate, and can only find your chosen non-dairy alternative with a bucketload of ingredients – you REALLY don’t want it to contain sugar. Try above all to get one without sugar. Even salt as an ingredient is better than sugar.

Although I mainly use soy milk, I love almond and coconut milk. I must admit I’ve yet to try flax milk, but it’s on my to-do list for my next visit to the US, where it’s more widely available.

What do kiddos like? I’m sure this varies too, but I’ve given very neutral tasting soy milk sweetened with apple juice to non-vegan kids, and also rice milk without any complaints. If you have a kid that goes crazy for a certain non-dairy milk, please let us know in the comments!

How To Answer Questions From Other Peoples Non-Veg (Little) Kids

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Honestly? I’m still not entirely sure how to do this.

And I don’t think there is a stock answer.

So much depends on the question being asked, the intention behind the question, and the age and nature of the child.

The questions I’ve encountered from kids have usually come from a very sincere and just plain curious place, and have mostly been the straightforward ‘why don’t you eat meat?’ or ‘why don’t you drink milk?’ The most recent one I had from a very young child that inspired me to write this post, was ‘why don’t you drink milk, because you don’t have to kill the cow to drink the milk?’

It’s difficult.

And you don’t really have much time to think about what you’re going to say. Kids want answers straight away. You don’t want to hesitate too long and make it look like you’re not sure why you don’t eat meat or drink milk.

So, how to tell the truth without scaring anybody, without pissing off non-veg parents (‘cuz you KNOW it’s gonna get back to them!) but nevertheless have a little impact and plant a seed so they have something to think about when they are ready?

Hmmm…

This much I DO know.

You DON’T start going into a lengthy rant about the cruelty and horror inherent in the meat and dairy industry. You really want to scare a kid and give them nightmares? Not to mention lose their parents as friends?

You also don’t start expounding on the detrimental health effects of consuming meat and dairy. Non-veg kids (especially young ones) just won’t believe you, they think (like most kids do) that their parents know best, and wouldn’t give them food that wasn’t healthy. Or – and this is more likely – they just won’t care. Most young kids haven’t yet experienced the pain and discomfort that comes from being systemically unhealthy, and so don’t fully get the concept of ‘healthy.’

The environmental issues surrounding livestock consumption? Older school-age kids may well have awareness of green issues through school projects, so this reason could be a part of your answer.

I think the main thing is to be truthful, but brief and positive. You are doing no-one any favours if you are dishonest or withhold information. You have science and peer-reviewed research on your side, so lying or being vague or fluffy about your answer is just a disservice to everyone – most of all the child.

You do want to make sure that your intention is purely to answer their question, and to inform them gently – NOT to prove any point to them or their parents, or to make them automatically see things the way you see them. Don’t forget, they live in a non-vegan world without the experience or context to identify it as such. They are little beings who need to piece information together organically in their own time.

It’s about walking the fine line between answering their question in a truthful and kind (but effective) way, yet without horrifying them or making them think that they are wrong or bad for eating the way they do.

Leading by example and keeping the message positive is always good; so you could tell them what you do and why you do it, and how easy it is. For example, ‘well, I like animals so I don’t eat them, and it’s better for the planet and for our bodies if we eat all this other lovely food instead’ (and you can go into detail about all the delicious plant-based food there is). If the kid is a bit older you could say that you feel it is cruel to kill animals for food when you don’t need to, because you have so much other yummy food to choose from.

A brief answer will satisfy lots of children. Sometimes, small kids ask questions just for the sake of asking a question, so gauge whether this is what’s happening, and obviously a short answer will suffice in this case.

It IS a toughie, and I still get kind of uncomfortable when I get these questions. And SO much depends on who the child is. Just always remember to come from a good intention. Don’t compromise – kids deserve the truth, but be gentle and compassionate. Above all – don’t forget to tell them about all the scrummy non-animal cakes, ice-cream and chocolate you eat. Often times, the way to a kids understanding is through their stomach!

What did I answer the kid who asked why I don’t drink milk? I’m not proud to say that I sort of stuttered a bit, and said, ‘well, milk farming is as bad for the animals as meat farming but in different ways.’

This was a bit lame and vague, but I was caught off guard.

I’m still learning, and always will be (as a coach, I have to make sure I’m a good student too!) Next time, I know I’ll do better.

 

Killer Snacks, Part 3: Fried Plantain

Once you discover fried plantain, you won’t understand how it hasn’t always been a part of your life. You may even wonder why you ever bothered with chips or fries.

Not seen plantain before? They are those things that look exactly like bananas, but a bit bigger, and the skin is more angular.

It’s very easy to mistake them for bananas.

I did this once, years ago while living in Paris. For breakfast, I used to grab two bananas every day from a grocer, on my way to work. This particular day I accidentally grabbed two plantain – I was probably  thinking ‘ Yay, bigger bananas.’

If you bite into a raw plantain however, you very quickly realise it’s not a banana – they suck all the moisture out of your mouth, it’s VERY uncomfortable, trust me!

I learned what plantain was that day, but it was still a while before I tried them properly.

These days, living in south London, there are plenty of places for me to buy plantain. Even my local big name supermarket sells it. Look in your nearest Asian or Caribbean grocers.

At my local Sri Lankan grocers, I can buy 3 plantain for £1.20. This is, in truth, more than we need for two portions, but what can I say? My partner and I are plantain-a-philes. That is officially a thing now. Didn’t you know?

You can buy your plantain green (unripe), yellow, or black (over ripe). My preference is middle-of-the-road yellow; the green ones are a bit too dry for my taste, and the black ones a bit too sweet.  Experiment though! I had fried black plantain with hot creole sauce in New Orleans, and I loved it, but if I’m making it at home, I just find the yellow ones easier to work with. If you’re making it for the first time, definitely start with the yellow ones, then branch out!

You will need:

– 2 or 3 yellow plantain (1 per person generally speaking, and don’t worry if they have bits of black on them, that’s fine, you just don’t want them completely black, at least this time).

– Oil (I use sunflower, groundnut or coconut, as these are best for frying)

– Cajun seasoning (I use Slap Ya Mama , which can be ordered from here in the UK). Otherwise you can just use salt and garlic granules, it will still be delicious.

-1 frying pan

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What you do:

Slice your plantain(s) diagonally, with pieces around 1.5cm thick, like so:

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Heat your oil till it starts bubbling gently.

Place your plantain in the pan (gently, to avoid painful splashbacks!). You can cover the bottom of the pan with the plantain, but don’t let pieces overlap.

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Sprinkle your seasoning fairly liberally all over.

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Fry for 8 mins, or until golden brown, then turn plantain with a spatula, season the other side, and do the same.

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Lay a piece of kitchen roll on a plate, and transfer plantain pieces onto it. The kitchen roll will soak up any excess oil.

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Use the same oil to repeat the process if you have any plantain left over, but reduce the seasoning because there will be some left in the oil from last time.

Enjoy your fried plantain! They are delicious on their own or dipped in ketchup (go easy though, ketchup is full of sugar – I’m on the lookout for a sugar-free ketchup right now, I’ll report back when I find one).

 

Don’t Let Your Valentines Day Be A Flop (Yes, THAT Kind Of Flop!)

Go into any card shop right now, and all you’ll see are red cards with big ol’ hearts on them with schmaltzy messages inside. Except for the obscene ones. Is it me or are Valentines cards getting more vulgar every year? ‘Happy Valentine’s Day Sugar Tits’ anyone? I’m not even kidding. I stared at this card in disbelief. Any kid could see it.  Can you see the kid going home to his mum and saying ‘can I watch TV sugar tits?’  Or a little girl seeing the card and thinking that this is something she should aspire to being called one day? I have a point, right? I’m not just losing my sense of humour?

I was going to take the opportunity to write about heart health for V D (haha), and then thought it’s probably more interesting to use the occasion to write about sex. But, I just realised I can combine heart health AND sex.

How?

BECAUSE….heart disease and erectile dysfunction are basically the same disease.

Cholesterol, which is ONLY found in animal products; and saturated fat, which is mostly found in animal products (the only other source is coconut oil), are the main culprits behind erectile dysfunction. Why? Because they are responsible for blocked arteries, whether those arteries are to the heart or the penis. Blood flow is blood flow, and if blood can’t get to the heart because of blockages, heart disease ensues. If it can’t get down below because of blockages, bedroom problems ensue (yes, that is the correct medical term).

Therefore, the more animal products you eat, the more likely you are to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Don’t think you’re exempt from problems just for being female either. Women also need blood flow to their nether regions (I know! I really need to start being ok with using the correct terms) in just the same way men do, and if that doesn’t happen because not enough blood can get where it needs to go, then you’re not having the best time in the sack either.

These doctors tell it like it is.

Then there’s the energy factor. Plant-based foods deliver the best quality energy, especially complex carbohydrates (whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat products, oats, quinoa etc). This page from PCRM talks about the best food for athletes needing endurance and stamina – not bad advice to follow if you want optimal ‘boudoir’ performance.

Bottom line, the more whole food and plant-based you are, the better sex you’ll have. The myth of the meat-devouring male sex god is so dead it’s dust.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And remember, more plants = more fun!

Why I Blew A Fuse (Or Three) Last Week…

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, AAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGHHHH, RWOOOOOOAARR! BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECCCHHHHHH!

I am angry. Can you tell?

Apologies in advance for the ranty post.

What’s the problem you ask?

HA!

First this Huffington Post UK article last week, and then this one in Salon.com.

Lets tackle the shameless ass-hattery (that would be hilarious if it weren’t so damaging) of the Huffpost UK article first.

It starts by mentioning that there are around 150,000 vegans in the UK (several UK articles on veganism recently have begun the same way).  I’d love to know WHO COUNTED THEM AND HOW? NO-ONE ASKED ME OR MY PARTNER IF WE WERE VEGANS, EVER. And it wasn’t a question on the census as far as I can recall. So, there’s that questionable fact that just keeps on being spewed out. (The fewer vegans there are reported to be, the more ‘niche’ it looks, and the happier the meat and dairy industries are, so it’s not like there’s no agenda for this BS).

The ””’writer””’ says she tried to be vegan for a week based on the fact that some high profile, famous people are vegan or have recently tried it. Now I have NO problem with people going vegan’ish’, or trying vegan temporarily to see how it feels (any reduction in animal product consumption is, of course, to be encouraged), but this has to be the most capricious, superficial reason ever  – it was clear at the outset she wasn’t exactly going to throw her heart and mind into it.

With ZILCH research into the lifestyle, she embarked on it by ordering in all her vegan meals for the week (does she do this even when not vegan? Or does she only enter the kitchen if animals are to be cooked?).

Buying your own food IS difficult if you’ve given it as little thought as she did, but to say that vegan chocolate is expensive at £5 a bar is wrong and offensive. I JUST ATE A STARBUCKS BAR OF DARK CHOCOLATE THAT COST ME £1. And for those of you in the UK, M&S do a dark chocolate bar for 65p. Asda and Sainsburys (in their ‘free from’ sections, do vegan chocolate buttons and chocolate bars for around 45p. I know I’ve bought chocolate in the US – even from expensive Whole Foods – for way less than £5. See what she could’ve found out if she’d researched a tad?

And aren’t we beyond the protein question by now? Don’t we all now know that protein is in practically all plant-based foods and that it’s extremely rare in developed countries to be protein deficient whatever your diet ? Yet this person whines that she feels like eating a chicken breast does a better job of giving her protein than any plant-based food could.

She finishes by misinforming us that it’s harder to eat out with friends if you’re vegan. NO. IT’S. NOT.

Any ideas as to why this person was allowed to ‘write’ this execreble piece?

ARRRGHHH.

As for the salon.com article, this person is very commendably reducing her animal protein intake. But is very desperate to point out she will never be fully vegan. With phrases like…

‘I’ll never give up meat completely…’

‘I think a roast chicken is proof of heaven.’

[The way she ate] ‘…wasn’t restrictive.’

[She’s doing] ‘Nothing dramatic, nothing that screams of absolutism.’

‘You don’t have to go all PETA if you don’t want to.’

…it’s obvious she is eager to distance herself from vegans and portray their lifestyle as extreme and limited (which she bases on nothing but her own prejudice; or is it perhaps that because she can’t go fully vegan, she feels the need to discredit people who are?). She badly wants us to know that she is still ‘a regular Joe’ (my words) and that she still likes chicken the same as everyone else.

(For the record, NOT ALL VEGANS ARE INTO PETA. I can’t stand them. I don’t see the point in them campaigning to stop people commodifying animals, when they commodify women in most of their campaigns. To me that’s counter-productive. Shouldn’t we be commodifying precisely NO SENTIENT BEING EVER?).

She then says that she doesn’t like the idea of eating the amount of processed meat and dairy alternatives that ‘seems to be involved in giving up animals entirely.’

*slow hand clap*

…aaaaand well done for perpetuating the stereotype of vegans eating cardboard sausages and soy burgers for every meal.

Apparently she hated a vegan brownie that she tried. It tasted ‘like wet garbage smells.’ Yes, there are bad vegan treats, But GUESS WHAT? There are bad non-vegan treats too! For the love of God, have a vegan red velvet cupcake from Babycakes NYC and tell me THAT tastes bad I dare you! Complaining about one bad vegan brownie (which has the potential to make people think a vegan diet is boring and tastes bad) is not objective journalism.

With interest in plant-based eating going through the roof, there is of course the inevitable backlash that comes with it.

There are also people that are interested enough to dip their toes in the water, but have such warped perceptions of vegans, they feel they have to disassociate themselves with what they perceive them to be.

YOU are interested in a vegan lifestyle. I know this because you are reading this post right now. I’m sure you are reading many posts and articles on the subject, not just mine. This is fantastic; we absolutely should always be informing and educating ourselves on this amazing way to heal our bodies, the planet and to save animals. BUT, read carefully and question continually, I beg you. There’s a LOT of misinformation, prejudice and agenda-based nonsense out there.

Next week I’ll be happier, I promise!

 

 

Keep Colds At Bay The Plant-Based Way!

No273 13 Oct 2009 Sneeze from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 mcfarlandmo, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

So, if you’re in this hemisphere, you’ll know it’s winter. And if you have to travel by public transport every day like I do, you’ll have had the pleasure of dodging the sneezes and splutters of fellow travellers for a few months now. Maybe you’ve been the offender? Hell, it’s the best way to get a seat right?

On a train the other day, someone actually sneezed ON MY HEAD. I was sitting down, and as there were no seats left a girl was standing over me, holding on to my seat and reading her phone. I heard her sneeze build-up and didn’t sweat it too much as I assumed she would turn her head and the, um, sneeze rain (?) would land well away from me.

Instead she stayed where she was and put her hand over her nose. This would have been fine except the sneeze escaped from under her hand and landed on my head. Yes. The sneeze rain settled, droplet by droplet, On. My. Head.

Have you ever been laying on your back in yoga in the relaxation position, been caught off guard by a sneeze, and then felt the fine mist slowly land on your face? Me neither (Just kidding!) This felt similar, but on my scalp. I may wear a rain hat for the rest of the winter.

Needless to say, I didn’t know what to do with this. I sat with it for a while, and then decided to erase it from history. Then I got off the train at Streatham Hill.

What am I leading to? Well, I’m pretty sure you’ve had similar experiences at some point this season, and in order to avoid catching the lurgy it’s a good idea to give our immune systems a little help at this time of year.

Some swear by chicken soup, but as this is a meat-free zone, my plant-based tips for keeping away the snot-goblins are as follows:

  • This is a no-brainer, but I’m still gonna say it, dammit. Include more than ever lots of green leafy veg and plenty of citrus fruit in your diet. The clementines and navel oranges around at this time of year are vitamin C bombs and I’m positive they were invented for us public transport users. Eat them. Eat them on the train too. I love it when someone cracks open an orange on the train – it smells divine, and makes me want one too.
  • As we learned in this post, keep up the health of your gut, as this is the majority of your immune system. Make sure to eat some kimchi or sauerkraut several times a week, or at the very least, take a non-dairy probiotic every day throughout winter.
  • Garlic is your best friend in winter. It is good for your immune system by helping keep your gut in order, but on top of that it has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and is a potent anti-inflammatory. You can crush it and put it in dishes at the end of cooking, and it will do it’s darndest to prevent you getting sick.

These next two are based on empirical evidence solely. I know they work for me, and that they will not harm you should you decide to try them (as indicated) too.

  • There is a product called Citricidal (GSE in the US). It is grapefruit seed extract, and a very powerful anti-viral, anti-biotic, and anti-fungal. If I’ve been travelling with lots of sniffly commuters, when I get home I put 2 drops of Citricidal in about a whiskey shot amount of water, and stir. I then take a cotton bud, dip one end it in the water and then swirl it around one nostril, then do the same with the other end in the other nostril, all the while sniffing slightly, so a tiny bit goes up my nose. I also do this before embarking on a plane journey, and it truly seems to keep me free from the lurgy.
  • If I feel like I have the first signs of a cold – the bone-ache, the slightly swollen feeling in the back of the throat etc, then I take half an umeboshi plum. If you don’t know these already, they are salted Japanese plums (available in health stores) and are the sourest little mofo’s you ever did taste – and that’s the point. They are extremely acidic, but they have an alkalising effect once in the body. And as you may be aware, the more alkaline your body is, the less disease it can harbour. If I remember to take half a plum in time, the cold-feelings are gone by the next day. Just remember to take a couple of mouthfuls of water afterwards, to rinse excess acid from your teeth. If they are too sour for you to eat as they are, then you can mash half a plum and stir it into some cooked brown rice. This actually flavours the rice nicely, and kids like it too. They are around ten pounds for a jar (around fifteen bucks in the US?), but if you only take them when you need them, they last an absolute age.

May the rest of your winter be cold free!

Killer Snacks, Part 2: Cinnamon Grapefruit

This recipe is so easy, I feel slightly ridiculous posting it. The only reason I am is because up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know you could put cinnamon on grapefruit, and that it was delicious. I can’t remember how I found out about it, but I’m pretty sure it was from a blog. So, I’m hoping this reaches anyone who has still yet to discover this tantalising snack. Of course, it could always be a dessert, or part of a breakfast too.

 

You will need:

-1 fresh pink grapefruit (don’t worry if you only have white, that works too), cut in half horizontally

-ground cinnamon

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What you do:

Use small serrated knife to separate sections, and cut them away from their skins. Then cut round between the segments and the outer peel of the grapefruit.

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Sprinkle cinnamon all over to taste.

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Grab teaspoon and dig in!

 

Note: You can also make baked cinnamon grapefruit. Simply preheat oven to 350 degrees, and once you’ve ‘cinnamoned’ your grapefruit half, place it cut side up on a baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes. I have tried this once, and it was delicious, but it’s so yummy as it is, I can never be bothered turning the oven on.

If you need a bit more sweetness, or just fancy a more decadent treat, pour on a touch of agave nectar or brown rice syrup before sprinkling on the cinnamon.