Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Keto Diet – the latest fad diet

Keto-FoodsDon’t fall for the latest low-carb diet fad, the keto diet. We told you not to fall for it back when the Atkins diet was all the rage, and we’re telling you the same thing now.  An excessively low-carbohydrate diet which focuses on consuming more protein (Atkins) or fat (Keto), and cuts out important plant-based foods such as whole grains, beans, fruit and root vegetables, has not been shown to be healthy and could have some very dangerous side effects. On the other hand, a whole food plant-based diet has been shown to be healthy over the whole lifespan, to prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases, and to be very effective at causing weight loss, resulting in just as much weight loss as the keto diet. Why take chances?

The keto diet is very low carb, high fat and protein that is very heavily made up of animal foods. Proponents claim that by not consuming carbs, and creating a state of ketosis, your body will burn fat for energy and you’ll lose some weight as a result.  Many people do initially lose weight on a keto diet, which is why it is so popular, but this is a risky way to do so.

Ketones are waste products caused by using fat for energy resulting in ketosis, an elevated level of ketones in the blood. Ketones are not meant to be the main source of energy in the human body.  Under normal conditions one might find 2% of energy needs met by them, say after a night’s sleep and before breakfast. They are present in small amounts in the blood of healthy individuals during fasting or prolonged exercise.

Ordinarily ketones in the blood are eliminated in urine by the kidneys. In small amounts, they serve to indicate that the body is breaking down fat, but high levels of ketones are abnormal. On the keto diet, the levels of ketones created are more than the kidneys usually have to handle.  Scientists are worried that this will cause damage to the kidneys. The keto diet works by creating an abnormal situation in the body. By contrast, a plant-based diet makes our blood and body more normal.

cyclistLow-carb diets like the keto do appear to lead to some short-term weight loss, but they’re not significantly more effective than any other commercial or self-help diet. They don’t appear to improve athletic performance. In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. Weiss says that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.

The list of worries and risks for those on the keto diet is long:

The American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology, and the Obesity Society have concluded that there is not enough evidence to suggest that low carbohydrate diets such as the ketogenic diet provide health benefits to the heart.

Stomach painThe lack of fiber in this diet makes it more likely you’ll experience gastrointestinal distress such as constipation.

Other potential risks include kidney stones, several vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and decreased bone mineral density which could lead to osteoporosis.

It’s also common for people starting the diet to experience flu-like symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue. This side effect is so common that there’s a name for it: the keto flu. This is due to the body reacting to the abnormal state of ketosis.  As the body adjusts to this new state, the symptoms improve, but that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy.

Experts say the plan may be particularly risky for some groups of people:

  • People who have had their gallbladder removed. The gallbladder holds bile, which is necessary in fat digestion. Without this organ, you can have problems on a high-fat diet.
  • Multiple Sclerosis sufferers. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society raises questions about the long-term safety of the diet for MS, and cautions about the possible side effects, like fatigue and constipation.
  • People with type I diabetes. On the keto diet, Type I diabetics could find their blood sugar affected to dangerous levels.

This diet is tough to follow. Less than half the people who try it can stick with it. In fact, in a review of 11 studies involving adults on the keto diet, which was published in January 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Neurology, researchers calculated only a 45 percent compliance rate among participants.

The hype around this diet is tempered by the fact that researchers just don’t know about the long-term safety of following a high-fat, high-protein diet (especially one high in saturated fat). What studies there are either were very short-term, or have been done on rats and mice rather than actual human beings.

Metal shopping cart with grocery items. Isolated over white background.

We’ll come right to it: the plant-based diet remains the healthiest diet. It is effective for steady and sustained weight loss over a long period. In a recent University of South Carolina study, those placed on a vegan diet lost more weight than any other diet tested.

Not only does the vegan diet work for weight loss, it also prevents and treats other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer. The plant-based diet normalizes physiology and biochemistry, and lab values are moved to normal values. This shows that it is a healthy diet that our bodies are designed to thrive on.

The science behind a plant-based diet is very strong and it’s been tested in people over entire lifetimes and even over several generations. Don’t fall for the hype of the latest fad diet.

Ice Cream with added veggies!

Peekaboo Ice Cream promo

A new form of ice cream is hitting the markets – ice cream with hidden veggies.  Designed with picky eaters in mind, the organic-certified Peekaboo ice creams all come with veggies included.  The idea is to target kids who don’t like to eat veggies and adults looking for guilt-free indulgence. Peekaboo’s chocolate ice-cream, for example, contains enough cauliflower to contribute 10% of the daily requirement for Vitamin A, calcium and riboflavin per serving; the strawberry flavor includes hidden carrots giving 20% of the vitamin C requirement; and the mint chip with hidden spinach includes 25% of the daily needs for vitamin A and 10% of iron.

While the flavors currently available are not vegan, they have several vegan flavors in the pipeline.  They expect for these to be available online in the Fall and to hit the grocery shelves nationwide in the Spring of 2020.

While we don’t recommend that you rely on ice cream for your main supply of vegetables, this novel idea of including vegetables in foods popular with kids is likely to be a hit with parents struggling to get their children to eat their veggies.  The creator claims that Peekaboo bridges the gap between what we can’t get enough of (ice cream) and what we don’t get enough of (veggies).   It seems like this idea will catch on quickly.  Watch out for other popular food products to start adding veggies too!

John Salley – vegan advocate

John Salley business suitJohn Salley, a former professional basketball player and four-time National Basketball Association championship winner—urges athletes to go vegan for optimal performance.

A proud native of Brooklyn, New York, John found a love for basketball at an early age. He accepted a Basketball Scholarship to Georgia Tech to play for legendary head coach Bobby Cremins. During his career, he played for the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers.

He learned about the importance of healthy eating for his performance early in his career, and has been fully vegan since at least 2008.

“Being a vegetarian to me was my edge, the way I was going to be ahead of the guy I had to play against. He couldn’t beat me as long as he was harboring tons of flesh in his stomach at that time.” John Salley

John has been a staunch advocate for vegan diets, particularly as a health measure for athletes and to prevent harm to animals. He appeared before the US Congress to advocate for vegetarians options to be served in public schools as part of the Child Nutrition Act discussions, and has promoted Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals.

“I want to let everyone know you don’t have to be a wimp [to go plant-based] or have a bad attitude about it, and it tastes as good as the stuff that they told you was good for you,” Salley said. “Now you have something that is a good product and the same taste, but no animals have to die. I’m an advocate for life.”

Another case of animal abuse

Veal calvesYet another horror story has come out about the abuse of animals on farms. This time it’s at the Fair Oaks farm in Indiana.  The owners give the usual excuse that they didn’t know this was going on. They express shock and make the usual promises to make things better. Unfortunately, we’ve heard this all before!

Three former employees of the large northwestern Indiana dairy have been charged with animal cruelty, following the release of an undercover video showing workers kicking and throwing young calves. Even worse, the video showed calves being hit with steel rods and burnt with branding irons.

As well as showing animal abuse, the video revealed that the farm had been untruthful about the destination of some of the male calves that were being sent to the veal industry.

Calves raised to make veal are severely confined. Veal calves live the entirety of their short lives in “vela crates,” wooden crates that severely restrict the calves’ movement. These crates are typically only 2.5 feet wide at most and have slatted wooden floors which are hard to stand on.

Calves raised to become veal are also purposely fed an all-liquid milk substitute which is deficient in iron and fiber. This insufficient diet makes the calves severely anemic in order to produce the pale-colored flesh that veal-eaters prefer.

While undercover videos and law enforcement have their place, the only way to truly eliminate farm animal abuse is to follow a plant-based diet. When people stop buying animal products, and especially meat such as veal, farmers will stop producing it for sale and much animal suffering will be prevented.

Best Barley Recipes

BarleyAdd some variety to your grains by experimenting with barley. Barley is considered the first grain to be domesticated and many consider it more digestible than other grains.

The most basic edible form is hulled barley, where the outer inedible hull is removed, but the bran and germ of the grain remain. Pearled barley is steam-processed to remove more of the bran. Most of the barley found in the typical supermarket is pearl barley. Although it is technically a refined grain, it’s much healthier than other refined grains because (a) some of the bran may still be present and (b) the fiber in barley is distributed throughout the kernel, and not just in the outer bran layer. Pearl barley cooks more quickly than whole grain barley.

Barley is rich in nutrients, especially in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help lower cholesterol and cut the risk of diabetes.  It provides minerals such as manganese, selenium and copper, plus B vitamins and protein.  Like wheat and rye, barley contains gluten, which makes it useful as a flour, but unsuitable for those with gluten sensitivities. Read more

The food of the future – plant-based meats

beyondburgerFor years we’ve said that plant-based foods are the foods of the future. Now, we’re watching that future unfold right before our eyes. The meat alternative industry is headed toward a $40B market by 2030, analysts say.

Plant-based foods are one of the hottest trends in the food industry right now. Indeed, within roughly a week, plant-based-meat maker Beyond Meat became the best performing public offering by a major U.S. company in almost two decades. Our latest information has Beyond Meat shares soaring anew to bring post-IPO gain to 240%. Yes, we said 240%.

While we’re excited for Beyond Meat, they’ll have plenty of competition. Boca Foods, Field Roast Grain Meat Co., Gardein, Impossible Foods, Lightlife, Morningstar Farms and Tofurky are growing strong as well.

Meanwhile fast food chain Burger King said that it would roll out the plant-based Impossible Whopper nationwide, and furniture giant Ikea announced that it would upgrade the meatless version of its popular Swedish meatballs. Restaurants such as TGI Friday’s are jumping on board too. According to stock analyst Kathleen Smith, restaurant chains are finding that they can draw customers just because they have a meat alternative.

Speculation is being fueled by the presence of Don Thompson, chief executive and founder of venture firm Cleveland Avenue, on the Beyond Meat board. Thompson is a former chief executive of fast-food giant McDonald’s which he helmed from 2012 until his resignation in 2015.

Could McDonald’s be next? Stay tuned for further developments.

Fly the Vegan Skies

airline vegan meal

A vegan airline meal

Vegan options are showing up in a wide variety of places these days, from prisons to hospitals to public schools. Now a new initiative by the Vegan Society and Humane Society International seeks to make sure airlines have vegan meals available in commercial airliners.

While air travel is blamed for significant greenhouse gas emissions, meat is actually much worse. It’s also a culprit in other environmental problems. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at Oxford University, England.  “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

Airlines serve an estimated one billion inflight meals every year, so actively encouraging passengers to choose plant-based options could help reduce the industry’s carbon emissions, while at the same addressing a number of other environmental problems caused by meat and other animal-derived foods.

If you fly long distance, be sure to order a vegan meal when you book your flight.  While you’re waiting for your flight at Seatac airport, why not check out the new restaurant “Floret” by Café Flora? The sister restaurant of our much beloved vegetarian restaurant Café Flora offers both sit down and grab-and-go food.

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