Archive for the ‘Vegetarians’ Category

Another Reason To Eat Your Veggies

According to a new scientific study from the University of Oxford, vegetarians have new ammunition in their anti-meat crusade. The study claims that the risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease is 32 percent lower for vegetarians than for people who eat meat and fish.

The Oxford researchers examined 45,000 volunteers from England and Scotland, an enormous sample size. Of this group, 34 percent were vegetarian. This high proportion of vegetarians is rare, making this particular study unique in reaching its conclusion.

Other factors which contribute to heart disease such as age, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, socioeconomic background, and education level were taken into account. Afterwards, the researchers arrived at the figure of 32 percent, the amount of reduced risk of heart disease for vegetarians.

In the study, vegetarians had lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels, as well as a lower body mass index (BMI) and fewer cases of diabetes.

 

Source: Environmental News Network

Meatless Monday

Food for thought……

If you aren’t ready to commit to a vegetarian or vegan diet full time, consider opting for a meat-free meal once each week, which can save 84,000 gallons of water per year.

Source: Earth911

Wordless Wednesday

Lilac breasted Roller

Source: PhotoBoto.com

Meatless Monday

I have never had a veggie burger (turkey yes, veggie no) so I can’t weigh in on this one but I thought the commentary was pretty interesting. Enjoy!

 

 20100127-veggieburgers-tastetest.jpg

 

Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you’ve probably tried or at least eyed the veggie burgers in the frozen aisle.

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 25 years, and while fake meat doesn’t make up a big part of my diet, there is no denying that I’ve consumed an ungodly number of veggie burgers over the years. I thought it was high time to do a head-to-head taste test, so you could know what brand to buy when you have me over for a barbecue.

The ground rules for this tasting:

  • Only widely available national brands.
  • Only “original” or “flame-broiled” flavors (or the simplest flavor available).
  • Each burger would be prepared according to the package instructions.
  • Each burger would be tasted twice: once naked, and once with a bit of Heinz ketchup.

100126Veggie_Burger_Taste_Test.jpg

 

Frankly, I was a bit surprised at how bad most of them tasted without a bun, cheese, onions, and all the other fixins’. Maybe a burger made with top-notch meat doesn’t need much adornment, but these simulacra will benefit from big, bold-flavored condiments. Texture really is the critical element that makes a successful veggie burger.

Strangely, putting them out on six separate plates and using a mini legal pad to take notes didn’t confer quite the air of cool scientific detachment I was aiming for (should have gone for the lab coat). But here are my decidedly opinionated results. Let us know if you agree, disagree, or think we missed the best ones.

 

Best Overall

 

Morningstar Farms Grillers: These were my hands-down favorite. I know I haven’t eaten a real burger in a long time but these take me right back to the fast-food experience of my youth. Or maybe more like the school lunchroom experience. They are dark brown and meaty in texture with a more assertive soy flavor than the other brands, and no identifiable vegetable bits. This is the only one I would voluntarily eat without condiments.

 

Decent Runners-Up

 

Gardenburger Originals: Many folks associate this with the iconic “veggie burger.” They have a natural-tasting, mildly sweet flavor and a satisfying bite. The texture is more of mushrooms and grain than soy. Be sure to cook them thoroughly though, otherwise you risk a slime factor.

Boca Burgers Original Vegan: Though a little dryer than Gardenburger, it has a mild and pleasant taste. I give the nod to Gardenburger but choose Boca if you need vegan.

 

Hideous Smoke Flavor

 

Boca All-American Classic and Garden Burger Flame Grilled Vegan: In contrast to brands’ original varieties, these are appalling. The idea behind having a “smoke style” is to emulate a charcoal-grilled burger, right down to the grill marks. Unfortunately whatever they use for the smoke is acrid, bitter and chemical-tasting. Which is bizarre, since there are all manner of delicious, vegetarian smoked ingredients they could use instead. C’mon guys. Lose the chemistry lab and add some pimenton de la vera (smoked paprika), and you’d have a good product.

 

What Did I Do to Deserve This?

 

This has to be one of the worst things I’ve put in my mouth

Amy’s: And then there’s Amy’s. Now to be fair to Amy, I had to try the Amy’s Bistro Burger, which is gluten-free and vegan. Their All-American Veggie Burger contains walnuts, which can never darken our doorstep. Still and nonetheless, this has to be one of the worst things I’ve put in my mouth, and that includes the time my housemate blended some splinters off a wooden spoon right into the pesto. That I managed to try the second bite, with ketchup, is a testament to my dedication to you, the loyal reader.

But I digress. This patty, cooked in a skillet like all of the others, was spectacularly mushy, which in my book is unforgivable. Also, it is filled with bits of identifiable vegetables, including carrots. What this has to do with a burger, I can’t say.

Just sit there on the bun, tasting bland but providing a toothsome counterpoint to the condiments and we can get along. But go all soggy on me and gum up every bite, and you are banished. Banished I say.

Whats your favorite veggie burger?

Source: Serious Eats

Meatless Monday

Infographic: Vegetarianism

Source: Powered-by-Produce.com

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Meatless Mondays

J. I. Rodale, the man who launched the modern day organic movement in America published a list of the 11 healthiest foods in the world. And guess what….9 of them are meatless. Take a look at the list and let me know if you agree with his choices.

 (in no particular order)

 1.  Kelp – An edible form of brown algae, kelp contains more than just potassium. It’s rich in iodine, protein, magnesium, and other minerals at levels higher than most land vegetables. It’s also rich in the omega-3 fatty acid.

2.  Mushrooms – Mushrooms are not just healthy, they’re vital in boosting your immune system and preventing infections, and they’re becoming increasingly valuable tools in medicine, where research is finding that mushroom compounds can fight diseases such as breast cancer. To get the health benefits without the toxic chemicals used in growing commercial mushrooms — go organic.

3.  Coconut – Though high in saturated fat, coconut products, particularly coconut oil, are proving to be exceptionally healthy. Studies on populations that consume high quantities of coconut oil have found lower rates of heart disease, and coconut oil is one of very few sources of lauric acid, which helps your immune system fight bacterial and viral infections.

4.  Watercress – It’s not just an iron powerhouse. Scientists have also found that the antioxidants in watercress can battle breast and lung cancers, and a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating just three ounces a day boosts your levels of certain antioxidants by 100 percent.

 5.  Wild Berries – Wild berries, wild blueberries in particular, have higher levels of antioxidants than their cultivated counterparts. One Canadian study found that wild blueberries can counteract inflammation and insulin sensitivity, two factors that, when abnormal, can contribute to arthritis and diabetes.

6.  Wild Rice – Not technically a grain but a grass, wild rice is rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins. Since it grows wild, there is no need for toxic pesticides or water-polluting fertilizers, and it’s harvested in the least environmentally damaging way possible. Most “wild rice” on store shelves isn’t wild at all but a hybrid product cultivated in paddies. Keep an eye out for wild rice that’s actually wild, sold by companies like Eden Foods and Native Harvest.

7.  Maple Syrup – You need just a small amount of maple syrup to sweeten your coffee, baked goods, or oatmeal, and it’s actually good for you. Scientists recently discovered more than 50 compounds in maple syrup known to battle cancer and heart disease. Find organic maple syrup at any grocery store or visit your farmers market to get the good local stuff. Don’t fall for “pancake syrup” that’s mostly high-fructose corn syrup dyed brown with “maple flavoring” added.

8.  Honey – Honey is rich in antioxidants and is often used as an antiseptic treatment on wounds. It also contains phytoestrogens, and studies on Greek honey have found that those phytoestrogens can blunt the growth of breast, prostate and endometrial cancers. Honey also has a low glycemic index, so using it to sweeten tea or coffee won’t lead to energy-busting blood sugar drops later in the day.

9.  Nuts – Today, nuts are grown on trees raised in plantations that, unless certified organic, have resorted to heavy doses of chemical fertilizers. But find a certified-organic nut supplier, and you’ll get all the protein and minerals that J.I. valued without the extra dose of pesticides. In addition, walnuts and pine nuts are good sources for essential fatty acids that protect your brain, heart and bones.

Source: MNN

Meatless Monday

Vegans have a new option……..the Vegg. The world’s first vegan fried egg substitute. It’s meat-free, dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free. The Vegg can also be used to prepare almost any egg based recipe including pastas, cake, hollandaise sauce, French toast, “egg”nog, custard and ice cream. The Vegg which looks strikingly similar to a real egg is made using a molecular gastronomic technique (whatever that means).

 Fried Vegg

With all the perceived benefits I wonder if there are some unspoken consequences as well. Are you willing to try the Vegg?  

Source: MNN.com

Meatless Monday

I don’t know about you but whenever I hear about a “topic” (for lack of a better term) I’ve never heard of before, it seems that this new “topic follows me wherever I go.  For example, shortly before Christmas my daughter was diagnosed with an illness that I had never heard of before. What happens next, within two weeks three other children I know get the same illness.

The same goes for the latest new “topic” in my life.  While on campus last week I heard some students talking about quinoa. I had never heard of quinoa but a couple of days later the quinoa follows me to a conference and what appears in my inbox this morning….more QUINOA. I am taking this as a sign that my Meatless Monday post today should be on quinoa.

 Check out this post from mythineats.com.  

Quinoa Nutrition facts

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is known as a superfood, some people relate it to grain but it is actually a seed that comes from a plant most closely related to spinach. It is grown in the Andes mountains of South America.  The ancient Incas considered this plant sacred and called it “chisaya mama” which means ‘Mother of All Grains’. Quinoa grains are about the same size as millet, but flattened, with a pointed, oval shape. The color ranges from pale yellow through red and brown to black.

 These are the Nutrition facts and why it’s so good for you:

Quinoa is a great source of iron, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, copper, phosphorous, tryptophan, B6, niacin and thiamine.  One cup of cooked quinoa has only 220 calories.  It also has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.

Quinoa is stocked with life-sustaining nutrients all across the board, including all eight essential amino acids. There are other highly beneficial compounds, vitamins and minerals.

It is not surprising that it is being recommended for people who want to lose weight, for people who suffer from migraine, heart disease and atherosclerosis, for people with gluten sensitivity, for vegans, and basically for everyone who wants to eat healthy.

 How to Prepare:

Quinoa cooks very easily, in about 15 minutes. Like cooking rice in a stove top pot, you’ll want almost 2 cups of water per one part quinoa but be careful not to pour too much water in the pot, otherwise it will take even longer.

Cook quinoa at a high setting until it starts boiling and then cover and simmer for about 12-15 minutes. When you see the ring-shaped sprouts popping out, you’ll know the quinoa is almost ready. Stir the quinoa so all the water gets absorbed.

Quinoa by itself is rather bland, I like to add olive oil, bullion, and if you like spicy food as I do some chili pepper as it boils. Quinoa is fun to cook with and you can add anything you like to it, from veggies to poultry, or you could make it as a cereal with milk and cinnamon, you can incorporate it into dessert, it’s a chameleon.

Ok, so my veggie loving friends…can I buy quinoa at a restaurant? I would rather have someone prepare this for me so that I know what its supposed to taste like before I try to make it on my own. I definitely want my first quinoa experience to be a positive one.

Source: My Thin Eats

Photo: Babble.com

Meatless Monday

I am certainly open-minded to different types of diets, but I am Southern to my soul! This is apparent by my strong affection for smothered pork chops and sweet tea. I have however learned a great deal about eating healthier for my body and the environment through the Meatless Monday movement.

While researching topics for today’s post I came across a website titled The Southern Vegan. I immediately thought “a vegan after my own heart.” After reading some of  the posts I decided to contact the author, Amanda, to find out more about her story.  Amanda was generous to share her story with me and I look forward to continuing our conversation about how this “southern girl” has made the transition.

 And now….an interview with a vegan.

 How long have you been a vegan?

I’ve been a vegan for 5 years

How/why did you become a vegan?

In college, I was hospitalized due to an excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. After weeks of testing, hospitalization and a few visits with a nutritionist, I was told I could not digest animal protein properly, causing infections, fatigue, malnutrition, problems with my internal organs and a host of other issues. The only solution I was given was a complete transition to a vegan diet with no exceptions or time for a soft transition. When many people read my story, they automatically assume I was either incredibly overweight or unhealthy, hence the need for a drastic and immediate change in my diet. On the contrary, I have always been a healthy weight and very active. However, I had no idea what I was putting my body through on a daily basis because of food I was consuming.

Since your vegan journey began out of necessity did you have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that you had to change your eating habits?

Prior to my hospitalization, I didn’t really understand what eating vegan was and I certainly didn’t understand why anyone would ever choose to limit his or her diet in such a drastic way. I questioned the protein source and malnutrition of any vegetarian or vegan in which I came in contact. I was raised most of life in South Carolina, eating throughout my childhood as most do their entire lives…meals filled with meat, processed foods and vegetables. Even the vegetables I consumed growing up were cooked in cheese or butter. I believed that foods derived from an animal were necessary to a healthy diet. When I was told the vegan diet was necessary for me to live a healthy life, I was ignorant to what I would eat, how I would get enough nutrients, and certainly how I would survive inSouth Carolinanot eating anything from an animal.

Was it a difficult transition?

I wish I could say the transition to a vegan diet was a painless and easy process for me, but it was quite the opposite. I struggled for months, if not years, on grasping the new lifestyle. At first, I felt restricted and lost. What you put into your body is the one thing you can control each day and I felt I had lost complete control. I wandered around the grocery store aimlessly, desperately searching for food to fill the void I felt inside. I had no friends or family living locally that were interested or educated on the vegan lifestyle. Most were just as I was before my sudden change in lifestyle, ignorant and misinformed about veganism.

One day I decided I had to take it upon myself to better my education on veganism and what the health benefits to eating a plant-based diet were. I was hoping that if I understood veganism better, mealtime would be easier for me. I began reading as many books and scientific studies as I could. When this educational process began, I was shocked at the facts. I could not believe how wrong my perception of “healthy” was. Educating myself on the facts of a healthy, plant-based diet was the key to an easier transition.

Any advice for people who are considering a vegan lifestyle?

Educate yourself and try it! I’m a big believer that if our society knew the scientific facts about health, nutrition and disease, many of them would choose to make a change to their diet. I know that I certainly would have made changes to my diet had I understood what I was doing to my body with the food I was consuming. Additionally, I think the best way to learn anything is through your own personal experience. Try the vegan lifestyle for a few months or even just for 30 days. You will see drastic improvements in how you feel, your attitude, your skin, your digestion, your energy level and a host of other great changes. This is not to say the transition will be easy for everyone, especially if your diet was anything like mine prior to my transition. My recommendation for those people is, for the first week or several weeks, keep your meals as similar to what you eat now as possible. You can find vegan alternatives to virtually anything and most of them taste great! This should make the transition easier. Once you get past the initial transition, try to focus on eating more whole fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, etc. This is where you will see the most health benefits.

I am a true believer that we can learn a great deal from hearing about someone else’s journey. If you have a meatless journey of your own that you’d like to share…or if you have questions for Amanda please email them to Shannan.george@life.edu. We’d love to share them with other readers. Also be sure to visit The Southern Vegan for great tips and recipes.

 

Meatless Monday

 

Today’s Meatless Monday post has two parts, both my thoughtful ramblings.

Part 1: I was reading an article and discovered that WWE World Heavy Weight Champion Daniel Bryan is a vegan! When I think of vegans, a wrestler is the last person that comes to mind. Imagine all the strength and stamina he needs in the ring (whether tv wrestling is “real” or “perceived” he has to be in tip-top shape). To me this proves that with the right balance, a vegan diet can be very nourishing.

Part 2: In the article Bryan says, “My vegetarian diet allows me to lead a healthier lifestyle, reduce my carbon footprint, and save the lives of more than 100 animals every year. I’m stronger and healthier than ever, and I feel good about doing something positive for myself, animals, and the planet.” He calls himself a vegetarian but not a vegan! Walk with me for a second….a vegan is a vegetarian BUT a vegetarian is not necessarily a vegan. So why would he refer to himself as a vegetarian?

Do you think that vegetarians are more widely accepted than vegans? Are vegans deemed to be extremists while vegetarians are thought to be simply health conscious? Let me know what you think.

Source: Ecorazzi.com