I love saying ‘a grain, a green and a bean,’ when I’m asked what an optimally healthy meal is. Party because it rhymes and it’s rhythmic, and partly because it’s mostly true. You can use other starches (sweet potato/white potato/squashes) instead of (or as well as) the grain to nutritionally round-out a meal, and of course you can add plenty of other veg that aren’t green. But it’s just an easy, fun way to remember how to get a full complement of nutrients in a meal.
Of course you don’t have to eat the full trifecta for every single meal either. It’s just something to aim for on a reasonably consistent basis.
With this in mind, here are 6 great ways to utterly rock the holy trinity that is the gorgeous grain, the glorious green and the beauteous bean! 🙂 :
This recipe is from isachandra.com – Post Punk Kitchen that was. I remember watching Isa’s videos that she shot with her friend in her tiny apartment in Brooklyn, like, a million years ago. I’ve made several of her recipes and she knows her shit. Make.This.Now. Ooh, and serve it over brown rice!
I’ve used fatfreevegan.com several times, always with delicious, yummy success. Don’t forget to use wholewheat pasta! Also, Susan (the recipe creator) says you can use pinto or borlotti beans if you can’t find cranberry beans(phew – I’d never heard of these!)
I make a version of this, but to be honest, this recipe from emilieeats.com has a couple more flavours than mine. And Emilie is a Louisiana dude so knows what’s what when it comes to Cajun beans, so I’m using her recipe here. You can wilt a little spinach into it for your greens, or just have any steamed greens on the side.
Much like the blogger over at profoundhatredofmeat.com , Ethiopian food is easily my favourite. This year I discovered Shimbra Asa (pronounced ‘shimbrassa’), a dish I hadn’t yet tried in all my years of visiting Ethiopian restaurants, and it blew my teeny-tiny mind. It’s like a berbere stew with chickpea balls in it, and it is heaven. It’s soul food. When you eat shimbra asa, you know damn well you’ve been fed.
I haven’t yet tried to make it (I’m scared I’ll f**k it up) but this recipe looks legit. Your ‘grain’ is the highly nutritious teff used to make the injera bread, your ‘bean’ is the chickpea flour, and your green is the cabbage in the atakilt wat.
So Donald Asshat Trump won the US election (do you remember saying a few months back, as I did, ‘it’ll NEVER happen!’), and I’m seeing lots of concern on social media about what this means for the planet.
It’s said that Trump believes climate change is ‘a hoax invented by the Chinese.’ If this is true, then of course it’s very worrying indeed.
He may let energy and business projects go ahead regardless of the environmental impact, and may not be too concerned with implementing clean forms of energy. Not to mention the fact that he may get the planet nuked if someone pisses him off too much on Twitter!
However – there is LOTS that WE can do to counteract his ecological idiocy.
We know that the best and most positively impactful solution to all forms of environmental damage is cessation of animal agriculture.
This can only be achieved if WE stop consuming animal products.
Watch Cowspiracy and read the works of Dr Richard Oppenlander if you didn’t know this already and need it substantiated. Though I have a hunch you already have an awareness of this.
Worryingly, what I’m seeing on Twitter from some non-vegan peeps that are worried about Trump’s effect on the planet, is a call to ‘flexitarianism.’
This word has no exact definition, but seems to mean a reduction in amounts of meat consumed.
Under one such call to arms I saw people saying they’d reduced their meat consumption to three times a week, and that they felt good about the change.
While it’s true that any reduction is good; it’s not enough. And it’s not helpful just to encourage people to lessen the amount of meat they eat by an ambiguous amount.
The tweeter that now only eats meat three times a week is possibly still eating eggs every day, and dairy a few times every day. It’s ALL animal products that bugger up the planet, not just meat, so to put the focus on meat is misguided.
It dilutes the discourse; it lowers the bar; however you want to say it. If you think that all you have to do is not eat as much beef – then that’s ALL you’ll ever do. If you’re encouraged from the outset to avoid animal products and you understand why, you’re more likely to keep moving in that direction. It may take a while, but the end goal will be more achievable than if we make people feel comfortable just reducing meat a little.
‘Flexitarian’ is very much like the word ‘moderation.’ What does it mean? Everyone’s definition is different. By not having a firm definition, this slows down progress, as anyone who even does as little as stops eating meat for one meal a week can call themselves this.
I don’t care if being flexitarian is the most zeitgeisty thing to do right now – it’s NOT working anywhere NEAR quickly enough. We need more and quicker movement in that direction if we are to salvage anything for future generations.
I include ‘Meatless Mondays’ in this criticism. What this really means is that you’re screwing up the environment and contributing to world hunger six days a week instead of seven, but it makes you feel that you’re ‘doing your bit for the planet’ and that that is ALL you need to do. It’s true some people might start here and go further, but I believe in the long run its better to be honest about what is really needed, and have people start moving in that direction, than have lots just stop at Meatless Mondays.
Manifest your concern for the environment by going vegan. Call it ‘plant-based’ if you don’t want to call it ‘vegan.’ The planet doesn’t really care. It just cares that you quit doing what is harming it the most – consuming ALL and any animal products.
If we really care about the fate of the planet, we absolutely have the power to counteract a substantial amount of the harm that Trump may do (uh, unless he nukes it of course!)
It’s way past the time that I should have written my review of Yorica, London’s only fully vegan ice-cream parlour.
It’s been about three months since I visited the first time, and about six weeks since I went the second time. I put off writing this because, well, you’ll see.
I remember being soooo excited to hear there was an ALL.VEGAN.ICE.CREAM place in London.
This stuff normally happens in New York or Austin – not London!
And it’s on Wardour St, one of my favourite streets ever!!
It opened in March, but I didn’t have occasion to visit until July of this year.
I was with my (non-vegan) mum. The idea was we’d have a mini ice-cream crawl. First, a gelateria in Covent Garden, which has several vegan options, then on to Yorica.
When you enter Yorica as a vegan it seems magical. It has a sixties psychedelic theme going on decor-wise, and is…just…so…pretty! It has fun slogans and signs everywhere like this:
Yorica actually offer froyo as well as ice-cream, so if you want a lighter dessert, you’re covered!
They have four flavours of froyo – caramel, matcha, chocolate and vanilla, and there are around thirteen flavours of ice-cream, including chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, bubblegum, cookies and cream, and beetroot (which, while inventive, didn’t really sound appealing, at least to me!)
There’s a decent selection of toppings at the counter; healthy ones – blueberries, pomegranate seeds etc, along with the old fun favourites – sprinkles, candy, marshmallows, gummy bears, oreos etc.
There are also sprinkle machines in the main space, so you can cover your ice cream in however much crap you want!
I try and limit sugar now for health reasons, but I know that if I’d visited as a kid, I’d have thought this place was heaven on earth.
This visit, I opted for the matcha froyo. Partly because it’s one of my favourite flavours, but partly because I wanted it ‘soft serve’ (‘Mr Whippy style’ to us Brits!) Only the froyo is soft serve, the ice-cream is scooped.
I chose pomegranate seeds as a topping because I couldn’t resist seeing the bright red against the pale green of the matcha froyo, I knew it’d be pretty – and it was:
My mum opted for caramel flavour with, er, nothing on top. I KNOW! Boring! 🙂
So what did it taste like?
Look. I can only be honest.
Much as I hate to say anything less than congenial about the first vegan ice-cream joint in London; I ain’t gonna lie either. There’s no reason why we should hold a vegan place to a lower standard than a non-vegan place. That wouldn’t make sense. And perhaps you’ll have a different experience to me in any case.
Firstly, the pomegranate seeds were not fresh; they were pretty dry and hard. I was worried I’d lose a filling so I spat them into a tissue.
This alone was not a problem to me. So it was a bad day for the pomegranate seeds, so what? I still had all that luscious froyo right?
You know, the matcha froyo didn’t taste bad; it just wasn’t great, and didn’t particularly taste like matcha. It was pleasant enough for a few mouthfuls. Then, something happened which just does.not.happen.to.me.ever. I found I was having trouble finishing it up!!!! It was just a medium pot; not super big, and bear in mind I can eat a whole pint of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, no problem!
I really wasn’t enjoying it as much as I’d hoped to.
The caramel froyo my mum had was a little bit better, but not much.
I think part of the problem was the lack of creaminess, and I figured that froyo wouldn’t be as creamy as ice-cream, what with it not being, um, cream, right?
So I thought it was only fair to give Yorica another try before I wrote a review, and I’d be sure to get some actual ice-cream next time.
SO, a month or so later, the next time occurred, and I found myself at Yorica again, on this occasion with a friend.
This time I wanted strawberry ice-cream. When strawberry ice-cream is done well, then it’s glorious. No need for bells and whistles.
I had a big scoop of strawberry ice-cream, then inquired about a flavour that I wasn’t sure about. I was told it was called ‘wowbutter’ which is like peanut butter, but not peanut butter. Uh, ok! Nothing else was really tempting me so I got a big ol’ scoop of that too.
A drizzle of strawberry syrup to top it off, and then I couldn’t wait to get stuck in!
I really wanted it to be great, but….it just wasn’t. I had trouble finishing this too. Both flavours just tasted like….cheap ice-cream.
It’s a shame.
I KNOW how great vegan ice-cream can be. There’s an all-vegan place in Austin, Texas which had me going back for 3 more helpings.
And I already mentioned how much Luna & Larry’s coconut Bliss I can devour.
So Delicious, too, are champs at plant-based ice-cream.
So what was the problem here?
I can’t work it out exactly.
I asked what the ice-cream was made with, and was told rice milk. I feel rice milk may be too thin to make a decent ice-cream, perhaps this is the problem? I’m not sure though as it was also a taste problem, not just texture.
The place is pretty; the service is friendly; and it’s fun looking at all the things you can top your dessert with.
I may come back with my friends’ kids – I know they’d adore topping their ice-cream with ten tons of candy!
And if I was out with several friends just looking for something fun and light to do, I may bring them here.
BUT…if I’m out on the town looking for a truly yummy iced dessert with my partner or a friend, I’ll probably go to one of the gelaterias that have vegan options. La Gelatiera on New Row for example (which has a good number of options), or Snowflake, a few doors down from Yorica on Wardour St that has one or two vegan options.
A while back I posted responses to some of the comments and questions that vegans get; part 1 is here, part 2 here.
I was a little, shall we say, sarcastic with some of the responses back then because as a long time vegan, it can be hard hearing (or these days, reading on social media) the same silly things over and over again while the planet is deteriorating due to animal agriculture; and both non-human and human animals are needlessly dying – the non-human through our brutalising of them, and the human through heart disease, strokes, cancers and diabetes complications that occur through eating the non-human animals.
There are a few I didn’t cover back then, so I’ll tackle them now, and I’ll try and be kinder. Maybe.
1. But what if you found yourself on a desert island with a cow, and absolutely NO vegetation around and no chance of getting rescued. Would you eat the cow?
Answer: Probably. But that isn’t happening right now, so I’ll just continue to eat the abundance of plant food available to me and leave the animal products – which only HARM my body and the planet – well alone.
2. But if we didn’t eat cows, the world would be overrun with them.
Answer: No. Truly no. We would simply stop breeding them for food if nobody ate them.
3. Cont…But if we stopped breeding cows for food and milk, then there would be no more cows. I mean nobody would keep them as pets, so they would effectively become extinct.
Answer: Cows becoming extinct is preferable to them being bred to lead a miserable life in which they are raped, having their offspring instantly taken from them, only living a quarter of their natural lifespan and meeting an untimely, brutal (and in many, MANY cases) long, drawn-out death.
Besides, there are many species that have gone extinct that you never heard of. Did you cry over these?
4. But God said we have to eat meat.
Answer: To you? Personally? No, God didn’t. At least not in any religious text I know of. There are proscriptions for IF we eat meat, but that is not the same thing. In the three Abrahamic religious texts, for every verse you give me that you believe means it’s ok to eat meat, there are verses that suggest that meat-eating is against the spirit of the text as a whole. I wrote about religious texts and vegetarianism here if you are interested.
5. But I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am now if I went vegan.
Answer: As long as you eat enough calories and enough nutrients (which you should be concerned with if you are omni, too) you will thrive. In general, vegans get less sick than non-vegans, with both serious diseases, and minor ones.
6. But I wouldn’t know what to eat on a day-to-day basis.
Answer: Do you have access to Google? Can you type ‘vegan meal ideas’ into the search facility? There you go.
You can do one of two things. Both are great. You can eat EXACTLY as you eat now, but with the vegan versions of everything, or, discover a whole new world of vibrant, colourful foods from all around the world that are vegan by default, and discover how to make them yourself. You’ll have fun while learning, and very soon have a whole repertoire of go-to meals you can draw from each day.
7. But I don’t like vegan food.
Answer: You don’t like bananas? Apples? Sweet potato fries? Olives? Sweetcorn? Hummous? Popcorn? This list can go on for miles.
8. But eating too many vegetable foods makes me gassy.
Answer: Gross! I mean…If this happens (and assuming you don’t have medical issues with your stomach) then it’s just because your body isn’t sufficiently acquainted with fibre. The more vegetable matter you eat (veggies, beans, wholegrains etc), the more your body acclimates to digesting fibre and the fewer problems you will have with gas. Your body is INTENDED to eat fibre, so get chomping on those beans!
The presenter talks about the upsurge in ‘clean eating’ blogs and personalities – some of whom I referred to in this post, and explores their correlation with an increase in orthorexia (orthorexia is a state of worrying about eating the ‘right’ things to the point that it impinges on quality of life).
There is a legitimate argument to be had here. No-one is denying this. But it becomes very clear, just a few short minutes into the show, that its main aims are to discredit veganism, and eating healthily.
There is no difference made in this programme between veganism, and those who are purely eating more plant-based for health reasons. In fact, some of the blogs mentioned aren’t even plant-based, espousing bone broth, eggs and ‘happy meat’ as they do.
How they can be lumped in with veganism when veganism is at core based on ethics and social justice is some lousy-ass journalism on the part of the researchers of this programme.
It happened continually throughout, however. The agenda was practically waving at you.
The presenter decides to try…well…I’m not sure whether she decides to try veganism, clean-eating, a plant-based diet or what.
At one point she pulled everything unhealthy out of her fridge, then whined that there was no ‘joy’ left in there.
The thing is, her fridge was full of crap. There was barely one unprocessed thing in that entire space. If her fridge had been full of fresh produce, great bread, yummy leftovers from the dinner she made the night before, cool dairy alternatives and homemade treats, that fridge would’ve still been full.
She then went to a branch of one of the most expensive health food shops in London (one at which, in 27 years as a vegan, I have NEVER purchased anything), pointed at a bag of £5 kale chips, and declared healthy eating to be expensive and for the middle classes.
Uh…I shop mainly at Asda. Since when did beans and rice cost more than meat and dairy???
A dietician is interviewed and leads us to believe that it’s unwise to cut out dairy as you’ll forgo a good source of calcium.
This in fact, is the science on dairy; and this page gives you lots of great plant-based calcium sources. Both these pages are run by doctors. If I know where to get this information as a humble nutritionist – why the hell doesn’t this dietician?
Talking of which, online nutritionists are of course disparaged. It’s pointed out that some of these bloggers became a nutritionist with online courses of just 20 hours.
The presenter then enrols in a course that costs just £29. Of COURSE this is a BS course. Twenty-nine pounds??? I only wish I’d found one that cheap when I did mine! This doesn’t mean all nutrition courses are BS.
And sure there are bad nutritionists; but there are bad doctors; bad lawyers; bad teachers etc, all of whom have studied for years. I’ve personally suffered the consequences of a string of bad doctors. I certainly suffered bad teachers. And bad dentists? How long ya got?
At some point near the beginning of the programme, a sentence that mixes veganism, plant-based eating and clean eating all together says that these diets are not based on science.
Why weren’t the plant-based doctors interviewed? Dr’s Greger, McDougall, Barnard, Klaper, Campbell etc. These guys would have told a totally different side.
No actual plant-based expert was interviewed at all. There was no balance or fair reporting on the health benefits of a whole food, vegan diet.
Nothing is mentioned of the fact that the prime way to stop all forms of environmental degradation is mass adoption of a plant-based diet. You’d think they’d stick this in somewhere wouldn’t ya?
The conclusion to this shambolic shit-fest came from a dietician who bleated, as you might expect, ‘…eat a little bit of what you fancy; eat in moderation; eat food that looks like food.’
How fuzzy and ambiguous is this advice? People fancy all sorts of unhealthy foods all the time. We know that moderation kills (I wrote about moderation here); and bacon looks like food to lots of people, yet it can do this.
A staff member at an eating disorder clinic said it was dangerous to cut out food groups, but never mentioned which ones! We know it’s actually optimal for health to avoid animal products and replace them with whole foods, but the positive side of eliminating certain foods was never mentioned.
I don’t even know which part of this programme was the most bullshizzy. Whoever in the BBC let this tripe go out must be absolutely TERRIFIED of vegans.
All I can say is this effort was manipulative, misleading, misrepresentative, biased, unbalanced, and seemingly went out of its way to be deliberately confusing.
Also, as Dr John McDougall says, people LOVE to hear good news about their bad habits, so I can imagine lots of people rubbing their hands together with glee after this programme aired.
It just worries me that because it’s the BBC, some people WILL believe this garbage to have credence.
Let’s not forget. The BBC is publicly funded, so they want to keep their funders happy. Most of the public are not vegan. The BBC possibly figures that making vegans look wacky, extreme and unhinged will make the general public feel warm and fuzzy and better about NOT being vegan. They will then have positive associations with the BBC and keep funding it willingly.
As someone who doesn’t tolerate sexism or anti-vegan propaganda, I fell out of love with the BBC ages ago having witnessed both from them often. But it worries me that because it is widely believed that the BBC are trustworthy when it comes to presenting information, some people will suck this shit up.
I’m extremely proud to declare that not one single penny of mine funded this excuse for a programme.
I don’t care if it’s the BBC, NPR, PBS or whatever other ‘well-meaning,’ ‘educational,’ ‘impartial,’ channel. Always question; look for the peer-reviewed science, and do your own research.
Dr T Colin Campbell in his book ‘Whole’ talks about how PBS (a reputable American channel known as being educational and impartial) didn’t end up interviewing him about his findings on diet and cancer despite showing initial interest, because they probably realised how unpopular his views would be and didn’t want to risk a funding backlash.
It would seem that no mainstream media outlet, however supposedly ‘respectable,’ is immune to this.
Warning (in a good way): This recipe really is killer. It will impress non-vegans, and it’s great for a casual dinner party because it’s so damn simple – you’ll be able to chat easily to the annoying guest who stands in the kitchen talking to you while you’re cooking, instead of thinking ‘would you please go and chat with everyone else already!’ and feeling mean about doing so.
Ever fancy a big, juicy, burger with all the trimmings; something creamy and cheesy on the burger; a smokiness reminiscent of bonfires and barbecue, and where the burger juice seeps a little into the toasted bun and every moment of mastication is sheer heaven?
I did too, yesterday.
Now bean burgers are great, I love ’em.
And seitan patties – fantastic!
But when portobello mushrooms are just THE PERFECT shape and size already, and have a meaty texture when grilled (it’s almost like portobellos were invented PURPOSELY to be vegan burgers!!), I wanted to go this route instead.
Sometimes bean burgers can be dry (unless deep fried), and I definitely wanted a ‘juicy’ quality, without any frying action having taken place.
I love trying to ‘upgrade’ junk food. Junk is ok once in a while, but I figure we can have it MORE OFTEN (and still remain healthy) if we make a few switches, and just upgrade a few of the ingredients. What’s ace though, is that we lose none of the taste! Not a single bit!
Now this recipe DOES contain oil, but if you’re concerned about it you can always minimise the quantity, or just using water instead of oil may work too.
I don’t have chronic disease so I do include a little oil in my diet.
This recipe was inspired by the portobello burger recipe on veganvigilanteblog.com, but I’ve simplified it, and changed a couple of measurements and ingredients (adobo sauce is only sold online in the UK!) I wanted it to be accessible to all.
Also, the original recipe adds a layer of vegan cheese. I’ve excluded this; partly because we have no decent vegan melty cheese in the UK, but also because itreally isn’t needed. The cashew chipotle sauce is plenty cheesy. If you want that extra cheese factor, go ahead and add a layer of vegan cheese on the burger.
What you’ll need:
For the burger:
4 x wholewheat buns
4 x portobello mushrooms (remove stalks)
1x large sliced tomato
1 x red onion (thinly sliced)
For the marinade:
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 x cloves garlic minced (or 2 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp dried basil
For the chipotle sauce:
3/4 cup plain cashews soaked in boiling water for 1 hour
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
1 x large clove garlic (or 1 tsp of garlic powder)
What you do:
Note: Put the cashews on to soak in boiling water for an hour first!!
For the marinade:
De-stalk your mushrooms, and I also recommend peeling them – I feel they absorb liquid better when peeled, as the skinned flesh has a more spongy texture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and spices.
Roll each mushroom in the marinade, making sure both sides are well coated. Use a spoon, basting brush, whatever it takes! Let sit for 15 minutes.
For the chipotle sauce:
Add drained cashews, water, lime juice, sea salt, garlic, chipotle flakes to food processor (I used my Magic Bullet).
Pulse until smooth consistency, then set aside.
Grilling and dressing the burgers:
Grill mushrooms for approximately 10 minutes on each side. They will reduce in size, that’s normal.
Remove from grill, and then the fun begins!
Lightly toast the cut side of your buns under the grill (under the broiler if you’re a US friend), and gather together your toppings.
Place a mushroom on one side of each bun, and add a generous dollop of the chipotle sauce. Remember, you’re not using cheese (unless you are!), so really, a GENEROUS dollop!
Dress with lettuce, tomato and red onion slices and serve!
Feeling virtuous? Serve with corn on the cob and steamed greens.
There was an article in The Times recently about how the ‘clean eating’ blogs and websites (there are a couple of big ones in the UK – I’m sure the US has its own fair share) have fed into eating disorders, and only served to encourage those that suffer from them to stress even more over the food they eat. It suggested that they play into ‘orthorexia’; a condition where you become so obsessed with eating ‘right’ that it impinges on your quality of life.
I guess I can see how this might happen.
What really irked me about the article however is that it didn’t seem to be too concerned about mentioning veganism in the same breath as the ‘clean-eating’ phenomenon, thereby associating it with the harmful effects that these blogs can have.
You need to know that these blogs have ZERO to do with being vegan. In some cases the ‘diets’ espoused aren’t even 100% plant-based.
Veganism is about not exploiting animals for our use; and in broader terms it’s a foundation for exposing all oppressions, about guardianship of the planet, and giving our bodies what they need and not what they don’t so that we have the energy, will, and spirit to do this.
These ‘clean-eating’ blogs seem to be about looking cool AF while slurping on a smoothie full of ingredients from the peaks of the Peruvian Andes (hello? What happened to shopping locally?)
You also need to know that the foods these blogs showcase are not the only path to great health.
My thoughts were very conflicted when these fancy, high-end ‘clean eating’ food blogs forced their way across my radar a few years ago.
My VERY first thoughts on discovering Deliciously Ella (famous UK ‘clean eating’ blogger), quite honestly, were jealous ones that I’m not proud of.
How does a 23 year old afford a house with a kitchen like THAT??? How does she afford a fancy website like that?? How does she have the time to compose those pictures and write text and recipes every day??
When I found out it was because she was born rich, that didn’t help my jealousy any.
But then I got over myself and thought about it some more.
My next thoughts were in fact about how positive it could be if lots of people were introduced to plant-based eating this way.
As I said, these websites are all about health and style. They are not about ethics, or about the impact of diet on the environment.
But MY initial main motivation for eating plant-based was health, which eventually grew into something much bigger and all-encompassing.
If I grew to embrace veganism and all it entails through seeking health, surely it could happen to others this way?
Upon further exploration of these websites, I became disheartened. Far too many of the recipes contained ingredients that I knew to be expensive, hard for lots of people to find, and questionable in terms of whether they really deliver benefits in proportion to the price they cost.
If you have the money to afford chia, baobab and cacao by the bucket load, then good for you.
However, veganism and plant-based eating are ALREADY erroneously perceived as being expensive and elitist by many people looking for an excuse to never try it.
These ‘clean-eating’ blogs only reinforce this perception.
I explored the reasons why veganism isn’t elitist here.
I also wrote an article for Mind Body Green with 8 tips on how to eat vegan inexpensively, find it here.
Health does not = smoothies with exclusive ingredients in a vintage mason jar on a photogenic piece of distressed wood.
The much less glamourous (but also less expensive, YAY!) route to health is this:
Eat your wholegrains. Lots of ’em.
Potatoes too, both sweet and regular.
Root veg like carrots and beets rule for their bright colours and the nutrients they bring.
Beans and lentils may not sound sexy, but they are where amazing energy is at.
Don’t forget your leafy greens of all persuasions, your nuts and seeds, and fruits of all varieties.
Add all the herbs and spices and condiments the earth offers and you not only have the wherewithal to eat deliciously for the rest of your life, but a great foundation for your best health ever.
I’m interested to know, what do YOU think of these websites? Please let me know in the comments!
The main source of vitamin D for everyone is sunlight (aim to get 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your face, legs or arms every day between 10am-3pm. Go for the full 15 minutes if you have darker skin). It’s also found in fatty fish and eggs, but even omnivores don’t eat fatty fish and eggs every day, so, as with most deficiencies, vitamin D deficiency isn’t just a potential vegan problem, but a potential ‘everyone’ problem.
Depending on where we are in the world, or whether you work outside or not; we all have different exposure to sunlight. If you’re in southern California or some tropical paradise; or you are always outside during daylight hours – you’re likely getting enough. Those in more northerly regions or who aren’t often outside at prime sunlight times may not be.
What to do if you feel you are deficient
If you feel you MAY be deficient in Vitamin D, the first thing you should do is have your blood tested by a doctor.
If the test shows you ARE indeed low, then unless you can escape to sunnier climes pronto – supplementation is probably the way to go.
It used to be that Vitamin D3 was purely animal-based (from the lanolin in sheep’s wool), and vitamin D2 was plant-based (from yeast and fungi); but I hear that now it’s possible to get vegan vitamin D3 supplements, so either D2 or vegan D3 is what you’ll want to look for.
Some would argue that Vitamin D3 is more effective than vitamin D2. However, I had low levels of vitamin D which manifested each year as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I started taking 1000 IU of vitamin D2 (1 capsule daily), and I no longer suffer from this each winter, so I personally found it to be effective.
How do we know we aremeantto eat mostly (but probably entirely) plant-food?
There are lots of clues:
– We have super long intestines reminiscent of herbivores (obligate carnivores have short intestines so that meat can travel through them expediently).
– Our short canines are not long enough to bite through the jugular of a live gazelle; our hands, being clawless, are not great on their own (without a knife) to catch and rip open an animal’s body.
– We need to heat meat thoroughly so it doesn’t make us ill, unlike carnivores that have stomach acids that destroy harmful bacterias.
– We also know that whole, plant-foods do us nothing but good, and that animal foods are not at all optimal for our wellbeing and can make us very unwell.
Not enough clues for you?
What about this one then (and this is something that has always fascinated me):
Some plant-foods resemble (either in shape, colour or quality) the part of the human body, or the disease they are beneficial for!
This is called the plant’s ‘signature.’ Many scholars believed this to be God/nature letting us know how to use this plant medicinally.
This wisdom has been used by ancient civilisations and pretty much every culture had a form of it. There are differing opinions amongst scholars as to where it originated. Some say it originated in ancient Egypt, some say in China. Other scholars say it is universal, as similar doctrines have been observed in classical Greece, ancient Asia, medieval Europe and pre-Columbian America. We know Native Americans used it, as did doctors in Roman times.
In slightly more recent history, the most well-known advocate of this form of plant power was a Swiss physician who gave himself the Latin name Paracelsus (1493-1541). He famously wrote and published a very comprehensive literary theory on it called the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’. He says ‘Nature marks each growth… according to its curative benefit’ and tells of herbs and their uses based on their ‘signature’ of the body part they resemble.
Liverwort – helps liver disease
Lungwort – cures pulmonary disease
Toothwort – can relieve toothache
These ‘signatures’ have often through the ages, been used as proof for the existence of God.
I remember from my time at university when I studied religion, that the intricate design of the universe and how everything interconnects is called the ‘teleological’ argument that ancient philosophers used to prove Gods existence. There are other arguments, but this one always struck me as the most solid! It is otherwise known as ‘intelligent design.’
It purports that the universe is so intricately designed that every piece of it, whether animate or inanimate, is so sophisticated and full of incredible detail, and with so many mutually supportive systems, that it’s not possible that it exists by chance; there must have been a creator behind it.
What do I mean by mutually supportive systems? Take the crop system used by many Native Americans in North and South America called the ‘Three Sisters‘. The three sisters are corn, beans and squash. They make up a perfect basis of nutrients. When they are grown together, the beans provide the nitrogen for the soil which benefits the other two plants, the corn provides stalks which the beans can creep up, and the squash provides rambling low leaves that lie on the ground and prevent weeds from growing, thus providing protection for all three crops.
There are lots of other mutually supportive models like this in nature, and surely there are lots we are no longer aware of because we’ve simply lost that knowledge due to modern life.
From The Order of Things (1966), French philosopher Michel Foucault says on this subject:
…there must of course be some mark that will make us aware of these things: other-wise, the secret would remain indefinitely dormant”
British botanist William Coles (1626-1662) wrote in his Art of Simpling (1956):
Though Sin and Satan have plunged mankinde into an Ocean of Infirmities, yet the Mercy of God, which is over all his workes, maketh Grasse to grow upon the Mountaines and Herbes for the use of men, and hath not only stamped upon them a distinct forme but also hath given them particular Signatures whereby a man may read the use of them.
Coles also notes in this book that walnuts were good for treating mental diseases because they had a perfect ‘signature’ of the skull (shell) and brain (nut). As walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, they ARE good for brain health.
Check out this study proving that walnuts can protect against, and treat, Alzheimer’s.
Other examples of plant foods in some way resembling the body part the nutrients benefit are:
Red kidney beans – maintain healthy kidneys
Sweet potatoes – good for the pancreas
Carrots – good for eyes (slice a carrot width-wise and look at the cut surface!)
Avocados – good for the womb
Ginger – great for the stomach (ginger root resembles the stomach)
Celery, pak choi and rhubarb – strengthen bones
Figs – increase sperm count
Oranges and grapefruits – good for breast health
Tomatoes – good for heart health (they have four chambers like a heart)
Now, it’s up to you whether you believe this is proof of God’s existence, or whether it’s pure coincidence. And I’m not suggesting we go and medicate ourselves purely according to the Doctrine of Signatures – not because I don’t believe it, but just because we’ve lost so much natural knowledge with the advent of western medicine (not that western medicine is ALL bad, but it has undeniably stopped lots of us from taking responsibility for our own health), and we’ve become so dependent on chemical pharmacology, that it would be difficult to know exactly what we were doing. There is, of course, no financial gain in anyone funding studies proving it to be correct either.
We can certainly take lots from it though, and incorporate these incredibly healthy fruits and veg into our diets, and perhaps more of those foods we feel we need for certain parts of our bodies.
Now, which part of our body does bacon resemble? Or sausages? Don’t answer that 🙂
Several foodstuffs constitute sugar; that’s to say, they act the same as sugar would once inside your body; but to keep it simple, I’m just gonna talk about plain ol’ sugar here. Sugar that is sugar before it goes in your body; sugar once inside.
Now I know YOU KNOW this post is not gonna be good news about sugar; but before sugar, the absolute best first thing you can do for yourself in terms of all aspects of your health is to stop eating animal products. This is the most important dietary change you can make.
I want to talk about sugar however, because it too has some extremely egregious health effects you need to be aware of.
Harmful effects of sugar
OK, so I’m pretty sure you know about the link between sugar and tooth decay. (My mouth wishes I’d known sooner).
And you probably have a good grasp on the whole ‘sugar spikes your blood’ dealie. We know that sugar causes energy rushes that soon turn to crashes – not the best way of achieving consistent, long-lasting energy.
So far so blah.
But one of the worst effects in my experience (because I and many others I know have lived through this), is that sugar is candida food.
If you don’t know, candida is a yeast that lives in your gut naturally. Due to various influences disrupting the balance of gut flora (antibiotics* being one, but there are MANY others), it can multiply and proliferate and cause a whole host of awful symptoms.
Sugar, which is candida food, helps this beast grow out of control.
Why is candida so bad? What’s the big deal?
Candida is linked to soooo many diseases and conditions.
You may be surprised to know that candida is even linked to mental health – YES, that’s mental health – the extent to which we are only just learning.
There is also a connection between candida and cystic fibrosis, though this link needs to be investigated more.
It is linked to lots of cancers indirectly, as candida suppresses the immune system – an ideal situation for cancer to develop; but it is also thought to be linked to lots of cancers in a more direct way, though there isn’t enough scientific evidence as yet to prove the links conclusively.
There are many more diseases that candida is thought to be linked to, but there haven’t been enough studies carried out as yet to prove this without doubt.
There seems to be a lack of will to fund studies. Possibly this is because candida can be cured with cheap remedies and a change of diet. Therefore, it wouldn’t be accurate to think that just because there isn’t sufficient evidence, that there isn’t a link between a disease and candida.
Bottom line – Stop feeding the candida beast!
Don’t forget that sugar has addictive properties similar to those found in street drugs. It’s all the more surprising then (or is it?), that food manufacturers want to feed our addiction!
How do I avoid sugar?
We KNOW there’s gonna be sugar in cookies and candy etc. But where are all the hidden sneaky places sugar can be found?
You’re not going to like this – it’s blinking everywhere!
Plant-based yoghurts (even plain ones!)
Chilli sauces (except Tabasco and Cholula, woohoo!)
Indian restaurant food
Chinese restaurant food
Cans of baked beans, refried beans etc
Plant milks (One popular brand I just looked at had sugar as the second ingredient – before the almonds even!!!)
Soft beverages in bottles, cans or cartons (including most healthy-looking ones)
You can very easily see how over the course of a day your sugar intake can creep up – and that’s without you even knowingly USING sugar.
It’s worth noting none of these foods NEED sugar to taste good, or as a preservative. It’s almost as if it’s in someone’s interest to keep us full of candida-fuelling sugar!!
What can you do?
Though the ideal solution is to completely eliminate sugar from every source, it’s very difficult seeing as how we clearly live in a sugar-saturated world.
The best thing you can do is just KNOW when you are eating something containing sugar. That way you can monitor your intake and make sure it is minimal.
Make your own food as much as possible of course; but when you DO buy pre-made products, just take an extra second to scan the ingredients list on the label. If you’re vegan you’ll be checking to see if there are animal products anyway, so just take an extra second to check for sugar. If the product contains sugar – pick a brand that doesn’t contain it.
It may be a pain in the butt initially, but you’ll quickly get to remember which products contain sugar and which don’t.
*I am not against antibiotics when they are truly needed; just against the over-prescription of them.