"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."
Thomas Edison, inventor

Friday, April 25, 2008

Aspartame - Yuck

Giving up meat for me - easy.
Giving up soda - Oh my god! Hard Work.

I switched to diet soda last year after a root canal and always heard little things about artificial sweeteners but never put much thought into it. After researching it recently on my new health obsession, I realized the awful things surrounding aspartame and similar sweeteners. Soda has always been my guilty pleasure :) .
This is day four and the caffeine withdrawal headaches are awful! Once I stop depending on it though, I know I'll be so much better off. I have been reading all of my labels lately and it's even in Crystal Light powders. I've been sticking to water, soy milk, and 100% juice.

Many sources list over 90 side effects from aspartame and describe it's FDA approval process as very suspicious. People close to me know I have a general distrust for the FDA anyways.

I don't want to go through and list 90 different side effects, but go ahead and search for it yourself if you weren't already aware of the associated problems.

Does anyone have any ideas for kicking a caffeine addiction?
(That clever graphic is from healingdaily.com)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Eating my Smoothies and Whey...

I finally bought a blender and decided to try out some smoothie recipes. These are great for getting added nutrition and especially protein. They are so convenient considering you can just buy bags of frozen fruit and toss them in. I've been using them as meal replacements to get a flat stomach before my vacation :) . Here are two of my favorites:
Both of these make 2 -3 servings.

Strawberry-Peach Smoothie
2 cups fortified OJ
1 banana
2 cups fresh (or frozen) sliced strawberries

About 10 slices of frozen peaches
Two or three handfuls of ice
2 scoops of Strawberry Whey Protein (20g or protein per scoop)
Blend on smoothie setting of course and tweak it to your liking.

Reese's Cup Ice Cream Smoothie
(maybe more of a milkshake)
2 fresh bananas
1 or 2 cups of milk - organic soy or regular is fine
4 or 5 cups of Reese's Ice Cream - available in low fat
3/4 cup of any peanut butter
Chocolate syrup to taste
3 handfuls of ice
2 scoops of Vanilla Whey Protein

More Mad Cows

So the media announced the 140+ billion pound recall of beef to the public. Does it surprise anyone that I knew about a week, maybe even a few weeks before it was officially announced?

Don't trust the FDA to protect you from unsafe food. The only reason this was revealed was because of an undercover operation from an "outsider." The Humane Society and organizations such as PETA finds things like this all the time. Oddly enough the government ran FDA does not. Why? They don't care! They care about money and money alone. It doesn't matter school children were being fed sick and diseased beef, but that it was being paid for.

The fact that it took this long to warn the public and recall the meat is shocking enough. If you were shocked by the videos, it isn't an isolated incident. The common "acceptable" practices of cattle raising is almost equally as cruel and disgusting.

If the torture, or the saturated fat and cholesterol content doesn't bother you, your risk of contracting serious disease such as e-coli, salmonella, and mad cow disease should.

If there is one thing I am learning is vital to all of us, it's that you should find your news from sources outside of the "unbiased" mainstream... that's a whole story in itself though.
All animals, yes - even cows, deserve respect. Look at the picture above, they are affectionate, they do have feelings, and they do express fear and pain. How can we allow them to be shocked, kicked, and shoved around by fork lifts for the sake of cheap beef? When will these awful practices finally end?

Monday, December 17, 2007

If you don't have enough reasons to love President Bush...

There was another case of mad cow disease and how does our country respond? In the interest of saving money, of course!

US on Mad Cow: Don't Test All Cattle

"The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease. The Agriculture Department tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows. Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too."

Why would they want to fight to have more illnesses in our country?
I love my "veggie" hamburger! I made the meat-loving boyfriend a taco with it the other night and he swallowed it whole! It microwaves in 1 1/2 minutes and there's no nasty grease to drain. Give it a try, it's a lot safer!
Don't eat the poor cows!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Food Allergies

I've never had any food allergies in the past. Now that I've changed my diet drastically, I've been trying many new things. The other day I was shopping at a grocery store that my boyfriend's cousin works at. He was throwing in weird stuff every time I wasn't looking: baby food, wrapping paper, wine, you name it. I got most of it, except for this package of pita-like tortilla wraps - my boyfriend eats a lot of wraps so I figured he had put them in the cart. Since I had already paid for them I made one for lunch...

My face and neck broke out! I was bright red and not to mention ready to scratch my face off! Then my palms started itching to the point I wanted to cut them off. After checking the package, the only "odd" ingredient was wheat gluten which was in bold print, I guess for a reason. I decided to look some things up about it to share with fellow new vegheads.

Gluten allergy is also sometimes called coeliac disease. The symptoms of the allergy are not at all similar to what I experienced though. The actual disease is related to many abdominal and bowel problems. So was it the gluten I had a problem with? I found on mayoclinic.com that you can have reactions without the disease,

"Signs and symptoms of wheat allergy range from mild to severe and can include skin reactions, congestion and digestive issues. Rarely, wheat allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction." It's one of the top eight food allergies as well.

Many people are aware of allergic reactions to nuts, soy, etc., but does anyone have further knowledge on gluten?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jennifer Love Hewitt Bikini Pics

There is a huge ordeal about pictures taken of Jennifer Love Hewitt on the beach celebrating her new engagement. They say the fact that she is being called fat is a sign of problems in how society causes body image problems.
While I think its a sign of a problem, I don't think its body image.
Its America's diet. There is no way she could be eating healthy and exercising and look like that. America is probably near the fattest, laziest, and most unhealthy country in the world.
Honestly - I think she looks awful in those pictures.
While you should take pride in your body, I don't think eating whatever you want and fooling yourself into thinking its fine and normal is not healthy. It will lead to huge problems later in life. I'd like to see her go vegetarian or even vegan and go to a gym two to three times a week and see how much better she not only looks but feels. My guess would be she wouldn't be eager to go back to how she was because she loves her body no matter what it looks like.
She says she is a size two, which is not fat. While a size two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, or fourteen is not fat in my opinion, I think she is a liar. I'm a size four and could not see the woman in those pictures getting into my clothes. You can be a larger size but still be healthy. If your adult frame is capable of a size two but suddenly you've become a size ten without having children, you are not healthy.
Maybe I'm being too insensitve here but I just don't think being fat should be any more okay than it is already - not because of appearance and vanity but because of the health of the entire country. Should we really raise kids to think that being fat is okay or is that just setting them up for self-destruction? If superficial reasons are the only reason people will take care of themselves, then maybe they're doing some good.
I did stand up for Britney; I didn't feel she looked fat on the vma's. We know she isn't very healthy with all of the drive-thru photo ops we see of her. Then again we also know about her liposuction and other work. Regardless of what is fat, which I guess is in the eye of the beholder - I think healthy should be the main point of discussion.
What do you think about body image and health in the United States?
Are vanity and envy sins or do they serve an evolutionary function?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh, Nuts! and seeds, and legumes!

Since becoming vegetarian, nuts have become my new best friend. Like I have mentioned before, I keep some on my desk and eat a few handfuls a day. Besides being a great protein substitute for meat, they have many great nutritional benefits. Hey, they're even in the meat group on many food pyramids.

They do have some fat, which is sometimes called "good fat." What does that mean?
Almonds and walnuts, my two personal favorites, have recently been show to lower your bad cholesterol (a benefit of monounsaturated and polyunsatured fats). Thus, they may reduce the risk of heart disease and related problems as well as colon and lung cancer (American Heart Association.) The fat in nuts gives you needed energy and calories and can help you curb cravings for more unhealthy snacks. Looking at my jar, I also see that they have Zero mg. of cholesterol.

What nutrients do they contain? Fiber, iron, vitamin E, potassium, niacin, zinc, phosphorous, biotin, riboflavin, and selenium to name a few. My current jar of vanilla bean almonds have 20% of your daily magnesium (helps you absorb calcium, prevents abnormal blood clotting, helps maintain blood pressure); which leads to something else great about them - they don't get boring. You can get different flavors, textures, healthy and semi-sinful - but chocolate has many benefits, too - so I say go for it. They go great in salads, side dishes, main dishes - there are lots of ways to cook with them, have them in "butters," or just plain.

There are so many different kinds, too - in case you're not a fan of some.
Almonds, Cashews, Hazel Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Peanuts (a legume), Pecans, Pistachios, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, that's all that come to mind right now but I'm sure there are many more.

Eat an ounce or two a day for health!


Well it's that time of year. I can't wait to go to my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian and hear everyone talk about me like I'm a freak of nature. Even though me not eating turkey isn't going to spare any of them, as they'll be cooked regardless, I can't even think about having any. There are so many delicious things to enjoy at Thanksgiving anyways. If you absolutely love the taste, there are many substitutes, but I can do without those, too.

Here is the newly released video of the practices at a Butterball slaughterhouse from a PETA undercover investigation. Absolutely awful! The workers have to be messed up in the head BIG time! They're enjoying torturing them. PETA has filed charges for them to be charged with cruelty, but I think we're still a long way away from "humane" slaughtering - as the factory farm animals are treated just as poorly.

Not to be a total downer - Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
I can't wait for the homemade bread, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, candied carrots, mmmm :) . Rather than just being thanksful for your nourishment though, be sure to give thanks for the special time with your loved ones!

There are tons and tons of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes that I will be making next year, my first year in my own place!

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Progress

Going vegetarian can be confusing. Several people have asked me to post more examples of what I eat in a day. This is what I have kind of gravitated to:

Breakfast: a bowl of cereal or two, two Eggos, or two packages of oatmeal. I have fortified orange juice or chocolate soy milk to go with it. I take a supplement with all of the B vitamins with breakfast.

Morning Snack: Then to stick with my several small meals a day, I have an apple w/ peanut butter, banana, orange, or whatever type of fruit I have at the time . I try to drink a glass of water in between breakfast and lunch.

Lunch: I try to eat a lot of my carbohydrates and calories here, as they will likely be burned off before the end of the day. This means pasta, rice with veggies, veggie sandwiches, vegetarian soup or chili with crackers, etc.

Afternoon snack: I usually cut up different veggies like carrots, cucumbers, green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms and eat them with some type of veggie dip or salad dressing. Again I try to drink a full glass of water in between lunch and dinner, too.

I keep a jar of sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, cashews, and walnuts at my desk. I usually eat a handful or two a day for some added protein and energy.

Dinner: I will usually have a meat substitute at dinner and go a little easier on the carbs since I tend to eat later than most people.

Boca makes great crumbled 'hamburger' that comes in individual packages - great for tacos or other beef dishes.

Another great one is Morning Star corn dogs. They taste like the real thing without the ground up rejected animal parts and rat droppings.

I will usually accompany it with a big salad or steamed vegetables. Steamed vegetables are made so easy now. You throw the whole bag in the microwave for two minutes and that's it!

I take a multi-vitamin with a small snack before before bed and try to drink another glass of water. Drinking a lot of water is kind of pain for me. Do we really need eight glasses? How much of the 64 ounce recommendation do we probably get from food? I will have to look that up when I get a chance.

I hope this was some help to you newbie or aspiring vegetarians. For those of you experienced veg*ns, is there anything I could change or do better?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Daylight Come and Me Wanna Go Home - Foot Cramps :(

I was about to eat dinner last night and on my way to my chair I started screaming. Both of my feet cramped up at the same time for about five minutes. It's happened a few times lately, but never so extreme or in both feet simultaneously. So, I had to look up why that would happen. The only answer I found - lack of potassium. It plays a big role in muscle contraction and nerve stimulation. It also helps you keep a normal water balance and keeps your brain functioning, but that is besides my current dilemma.

I checked my vitamins with 80+ ingredients and potassium wasn't one. Something as basic as that is not in there but random, never heard-of things are.

How do you get potassium besides the obvious, bananas?

Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Oranges, Tomatoes, Tangerines, Prune Juice, Potatoes, Honeydew Melons, Lentils, Dry Beans, and Raisins to name a few.

I've eaten several of those items in the last week, so I'm a little confused as to whether potassium is really the culprit or not. I still felt it was important to cover potassium, as it is a vital mineral but not sure if I can attribute my foot cramps to it. With it being in so many fruits and vegetables, it seems I should be getting my RDA easily, even without vitamins. As my research seems to be failing me, does anyone else have any ideas why I'd be having frequent foot cramps?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Live from New York!

Oh how I miss Kevin Nealon on Saturday Night Live! He is another surprising vegetarian. Rather than just adding him to the list of celebrity vegetarians, I wanted to do a separate post. I had to include his quote. I found it on a few sites but I guess I should credit goveg.com because they had the most complete information. I'm sure the main story is on PETA but I didn't read it on their site.

He said:

"I can't wait for meal time when I can chow down on the decomposing corpse of a tortured animal," he says. "I like knowing that eating meat makes me four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke."

I have been wondering... Many people say they are veg bc something serious happened to them - heart attack, stroke, cancer, etc. Why wait? Doctors obviously know how bad meat is for you so why not prevent those things now instead of risking your future health?

More interesting, he became veg 18 years ago for the same reason that I did.

"I became a vegetarian after I became aware of factory farming and slaughterhouses and the torture and inhumane handling of all these animals."

Those are awful! So many people think the cows just roam around in a peaceful pasture living a great life. If you see how these precious little piggies, cows, etc. are treated, you won't have much trouble keeping meat off of your plate! It has been going on for over two decades?! I thought factory farming was probably a much newer thing from companies pushing for progress; I guess it isn't that new though.

Watch the video of Kevin Nealon
here and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If Oprah approves, it must be good!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a great food for new veg*ns to try. If you haven't frequented natural food stores, you may not have come across it before. It is gluten-free if you have allergies. It contains lysine, making it a complete protein - good news for us VegHeads! It made Oprah's Top 10 Superfoods list, too!

1 cup has:
22 grams or protein
(approx. 50% of RDA) More than a 1/4 lb. Hamburger!
87% of your iron!
10% of your calcium

There are many other nutrients in this cross between a cereal and a grain, too. It looks similar to sesame seeds. One cup has about 15% of you daily fat and 40% of your carbs, so you may want to adjust your carb intake on days you eat this. (It is worth 3 points).

See the complete nutritional label on nutritiondata.com.

I wanted it to be the next 'food of the week' but there's too much to say, I doubt it would fit in the right column. Here are the nutritional benefits:

Lower Type II Diabetes risk
Eases altitude sickness
Protection against heart disease
High fiber content prevents gallstones
Cardiovascular health
Magnesium and Riboflavin can ease headaches and cause them to occur less.

You can find many recipes featuring quinoa! VegWeb has a great collection!

vegparadise.com suggests raw quinoa in salads, cooking the leaves like spinach, or including it in soups or rice pudding

Monday, October 29, 2007


Sign the petition against Mars, Inc.
They still do testing on animals for their candy.

"Mars has funded cruel experiments in which mice were fed a candy ingredient and forced to swim in a pool of paint and water. The mice had to find a platform to try to avoid drowning, only to be killed and dissected later. In another experiment supported by Mars, rats were fed cocoa and anesthetized with carbon dioxide so that their blood could be collected by cardiac puncture, a procedure that can lead to internal bleeding and other deadly complications. Mars also supported an experiment that involved cramming baby mice into small Plexiglas chambers and then submerging the chambers for nearly five hours in a chilled water bath to determine whether or not a chocolate ingredient affected the mice's breathing rates. In the second phase of this test, experimenters shoved tubes down mice's throats to force-feed them an ingredient in chocolate, deprived them of all other food, and finally killed them and cut them up for analysis.
Mars' top competitor, Hershey's, has pledged to PETA that it will not fund or conduct experiments on animals."

Please urge Mars to follow Hershey's lead and immediately end all support for animal tests!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Live Long and Prosper

Being a vegetarian is hard work. It requires a lot of thoughtful planning and discipline. Is it worth it? I think so. Keep your heads up and stick with it! Here are some of the benefits that you get from being a VegHead:

The most common benefits I hear about are a decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood lipid (fat) levels, meaning a lower risk of heart disease.

Marie-Louise Meilleur, who lived to be the world's oldest person at age 122, was a vegetarian. She lived a vegetarian diet with small amounts of wine, chocolate, and olive oil.
Johanna Dwyer (registered dietition) has shown that vegetarians are at less risk for:
Type II diabetes
Coronary artery disease
and gall stones among other health problems.

Here are some healthy meal ideas I found on NCSU.edu's health website.
They're all things I like to eat regularly so I thought I'd pass the suggesions on.
(well, except for grits :) )

cereal and milk or soy milk, omelet, grits, oatmeal, bran muffin

spinach salad with whole grain crackers, peanut butter and banana on whole-wheat bread, meatless chili and cornbread, split pea or lentil soup, bean burritos or tacos

vegetable stir-fry with rice, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti with sauce, pasta and vegetables, caesar salad, meatless enchiladas

trail mix, cheese (soy option) and crackers, fruit, frozen yogurt, sunflower seeds, veggies and dip, pudding, vegetable juice, peanuts, granola bar

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Iron Deficiency in Veg*ns

One of the most important considerations in a veg*n diet is whether or not you are getting enough iron.

Calcium and protein are much easier to substitute than iron, since the best source of iron is red meat.

A good supplement is probably the best way for veg*ns to get iron, but not the only.

It is important because not getting enough iron can cause you to become anemic, which can also be caused by blood loss. Basically, your red blood cells are not giving your body tissues enough oxygen (source: MedlinePlus).

I have been tested for anemia several times but have always had normal iron levels.
The side effects are commonly fatigue, always feeling tired, lack of stamina, shortness of breath, rapid heart beat, weakness, and lightheadedness. There are many more side effects that are not as common. If you have any of the major ones, you should consider reading all of them to see if you have more signs of iron deficiency.
According to wikipedia.org, 20% of adult women and 50% of pregnant women have iron deficiency, while only 2% of adult males do.
If you need to take an iron supplement with food, make sure you are not taking it with any milk products, it can hinder the absorption. Vitamin C can increase absorption.

On wisegeek.com, they suggest females over 18 and under 50 should be getting 18 mg. daily while males tend to only need around 8 mg.; apparently men store iron better.

According to the American Dietetic Association, recommended iron intakes for vegetarians are 1.8 times those of nonvegetarians because of lower bioavailability of iron from a vegetarian diet.

Too much iron can also cause problems, or iron poisoning. Not eating red meat can make it more difficult to get iron, but you still don't want excess intake. If you want to get iron through your diet, here are some sources I found on various websites upmc.com, McKinley Health Center, and cdc.gov. (These are all approximate, be sure to check your specific food labels of what you are consuming.)

Almonds (.7 mg in about 1 dozen almonds)
Bagels (1.5 mg.)
Pumpkin seeds (4.3 mg in 1 oz.)and cashews (1.7 mg in 1 oz.)
Raisins (1.1 mg in a 1/3 cup serving)
Eggs (.7 mg in one yolk)
Bran (3.5 mg in 1/2 cup)
Baked beans (2 mg. in 1/2 cup)
Dried beans
Kidney beans (3 mg. in 1/2 cup)
Soy Beans (4.4 mg. in 1/2 cup cooked)
Peas (1.3 mg. in 1/2 cup)
Dark, leafy vegetables (boiled spinach 1.7 mg. in 1/2 cup)
Raw spinach (2.7 mg. in 1/2 cup)
Peanut butter (.6 mg in 2 tbsp.)
Spaghetti noodles (1.6 mg. in 1 cup)
Things that are iron fortified like cereals, oatmeal, and cereal bars
White rice (1.8 mg. in 1 cup)
Soymilk - the chocolate is great!

What do you do to get your iron? Does anyone have a multi-vitamin for veg*ns that they want to recommend?