Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Diet, ADD and ADHD

A plant-based diet reduces the risk of ADD and ADHD and improves attention and focus in students.

Many parents are concerned about the challenges their kids face in maintaining attention and focus these days.  Some kids simply need more time to be physically active or more activities that keep them engaged, while others may have a diagnosable disorder such as ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) and might be prescribed medications.  Whatever the level of concern, and whatever the contributing factors that may be causing this, it turns out that a plant-based diet can help.  

A recent study looked at children around 9-10 years old, comparing their level of attention inhibition (their ability to resist distracting stimuli while performing challenging tasks) to the nature of the foods they ate in a particular 7-day period.  The researchers found that the ability of the children to resist distracting stimuli was related to how closely their diet matched a largely plant-based diet. 

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Vegan ultrathoner, 66 years old

Running a marathon is hard enough, but to run a 48-hour ultramarathon in Massachusetts in the heat and high humidity of July takes a special level of fitness and stamina that few can achieve.  To secure first place at the age of 66 years old is particularly impressive, but that’s what Trishul Cherns recently achieved. He ran 142.5 miles during his latest race and credits his vegan diet for his success.  

Cherns is from Hamilton, Canada, but now lives in New York.  His running career, over the past four decades, has covered more than 46,000 miles, sometimes running 1000 miles in a single event.  He has broken more than 110 Canadian ultrarunning records and in 2021 completed his 300th ultramarathon.  

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Is gelatin vegetarian?

The rumors are true. Marshmallows, Jell-O, gummy bears ….while they are free of meat, fish, dairy and eggs, these foods usually aren’t vegetarian. That’s because they contain gelatin, a substance used to create the “fun,” gooey, chewy textures we expect from these foods. It’s also used as a thickening agent in some gravies, cake icings, cream cheeses, soups, and sauces. Some chewing gum brands include gelatin, and it’s also occasionally present in drinks.  

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Never Have I Ever eaten meat!

Never Have I Ever” actress, Richa Shukla Moorjani, was raised in a primarily vegan South Asian family living in California, but it was when she learned more about how animals are treated in factory farms after watching the movie Cowspiracy in 2019, that she fully committed to avoiding all animal products.  

In the hit Netflix comedy series “Never Have I Ever”, Moorjani plays the role of Kamala, a cousin staying with her American family while studying for a PhD in Biology at CalTech, who is on a mission to follow her passion and find her voice while balancing her family’s traditional expectations.  In real life, Moorjani has followed a similar path, first moving to Mumbai after graduation from college, to pursue a career in Bollywood, but then returning to California to take on roles in The Mindy Project, NCIS: Los Angeles, and 9-1-1, before responding to a call for Indian actors to audition for “Never Have I Ever”.  

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How to eat vegan while traveling

At this time of year, many people are looking to enjoy a summer vacation. Whether it’s a trip to a far-off land, or a road trip to another state, what you’ll be able to eat is not something you want to have to worry about. Fortunately, it’s getting easier and easier to find vegan food on your travels, especially if you do a bit of preparation beforehand.  

Let’s start with the airlines.  On long haul flights, at least one free meal is usually offered for free, with 2-3 options to choose from.  While one of the choices is likely to be vegetarian or vegan,  there’s no guarantee they will have that option available if you’re not one of the first to be served.  It’s best to order a special meal online ahead of time – preferably when booking the flight, but at least 24 hours before.  Most airlines allow you to specify that you’d like your food to be vegetarian or vegan, along with catering for allergies and other considerations. The benefit of doing this is that a special meal that meets your requirements will be delivered directly to your seat usually before they serve everyone else, and if they’re serving a 2nd meal, such as breakfast, they will cater for your needs for that meal too.  

On shorter flights, meals are not usually included unless you pay these days, so you can’t specify your requirements ahead of time.  A simple hummus platter is often one of the options to buy, but we recommend that you eat in the airport where you’ll likely have many more options to choose from, or bring your own food to eat.  You can check out the food options at the airports you’ll be traveling through, online ahead of time, so that you know which eateries to head for when you get there.

Once you arrive at your destination, you will likely be dependent on restaurants and grocery stores for your food.  In western countries, vegetarian and vegan options are becoming much more common in restaurants, and in big cities you may well find specifically vegan restaurants, but wherever you are, you are likely to need to do some research before choosing where to eat.  Look up restaurant options and study menus ahead of time to build up a list of places, with addresses and phone numbers, where you’d like to eat at each location.   

In other parts of the world, vegetarian options may be a standard part of the local cuisine, although you may have to ask for them to leave out the dairy, eggs, or fish sauce for example.  If you are in a place where there are limited options, it’s best to ask specifically for what you want, based on the ingredients you can see they have available.  A chef who understands your needs is often willing to make a special dish for you, so learn a few key phrases in the local language such as “no meat”, “no fish”, “no dairy or eggs” to help you communicate your needs.  

Another option is to be prepared to make your own simple meals, especially for breakfast and lunch, by packing lightweight bowls, plates and cups, plus sturdy plasticware. You may also consider bringing a small cool bag and an ice pack to put in the refrigerator in your hotel room. You can then buy food from a grocery store such as plant-based milk, oatmeal, hummus, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and other snacks, to make your own light meals. 

On a road trip, you may even pack a can opener and chopping board, a camping stove and pot, plus some canned foods such as vegan chili or baked beans, so that you can make your own meals. This will also save you money compared to eating in restaurants for every meal.  

For those who prefer organized tours, the travel industry is starting to recognize that people on a plant-based diet appreciate having all their food needs taken care of.  Look for tours and cruises that specifically cater for your food needs and you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation without having to think about where you’re going to find food you can eat.  

Whatever your travel plans, with some planning and forethought, you should be able to enjoy a wonderful and worry-free trip while keeping your commitment to eating healthy plant-based meals.

Beans, Beans, Beans

Legumes (a family of foods that includes beans, peas and lentils, plus foods made from them such as soy products) are among the most versatile kinds of plant foods, but they don’t always get the attention they deserve. At restaurants you may find them in a garbanzo bean curry, falafel, a tofu stir-fry or a black bean burrito, for example. At summer picnics, three-bean salad or baked beans are often favorite options.

They are an important part of a plant-based diet. Because of their nutritional composition, these economical foods have the potential to improve the diet quality and long term health of those who consume beans regularly. The same goes for other legumes such lentils and peas. It seems that one of the things people living in blue zones (regions known for the longevity of the people who live there) have in common is that beans form a regular part of their diet.   Their health benefits derive from direct attributes, such as their low saturated fat content and high content of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, substances only found in plant foods that act to help prevent cancer and many other diseases.  

The vitamin profile of beans  includes vitamin C, and seven out of the eight B-vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, and folate—but not vitamin B-12. Additionally, the mineral composition is quite notable, with amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, selenium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Beans are a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. On average, beans provide 7 or more grams of total dietary fiber per ½-cup serving. Dietary fiber intake contributes to feelings of fullness or satiety and helps maintain functioning of the digestive system.  

Beans are also a good source of protein. Just half a cup of black beans provides 8 grams of protein. It’s important to remember that there’s no need to combine beans with grains to meet all your protein needs. A variety of plant foods over the course of a day or two will do just fine. Unlike animal foods, beans are low in saturated fats and have no cholesterol.  If you worry about gas, introduce beans into your diet in small quantities and start with lentils. This will allow your gut bacteria to gradually adapt to the new foods in your diet, and so they’re less likely to cause a problem.

So add beans to your salads, use soy products such as tofu and tempeh regularly, enjoy chilis, curries, soups and stews with plenty of beans in them, and you’ll get an amazing boost to your nutrition. You can cook dried beans in bulk at home and store them in portion sized containers in the freezer, or you can buy canned beans for convenience. Lentils don’t need pre-cooking, which makes them more versatile.

To learn more about cooking with beans, see the online cooking series – Cooking with Amanda – Lentils and Beans.

Global Warming – what aren’t they telling us?

Brace yourself. The earth’s temperature was off the charts last month. Last month was the planet’s hottest June on record by a huge margin.  More recently, the Fourth of July was the hottest day on earth in as many as 125,000 years—breaking a record set the day before.  

While natural variations may be able to explain part of it, few climatologist would deny that human activity is the driving force towards global warming.  But which human activity is the biggest driver of global warming? The answer may surprise you and even many environmentalists are in denial about it. It’s raising meat.  

According to a UN report, raising meat causes more global warming than all the cars, trucks, trains, planes, boats and ships in the world put together. A report by scientists at the World Bank and published in Foreign Affairs magazine, stated that raising meat causes more global warming than all other causes put together.   Why don’t we know about this? Because major news organizations won’t tell us.

A review of 1,000 articles found that the vast majority –  93 percent – fail to even mention animal agriculture at all. In most articles, the writers downplayed the effectiveness of plant-based diets on tackling the climate crisis, the study found. The mention of dietary changes away from meat and dairy and toward plant-based nutrition was rarely mentioned at all. Of course, there are bright spots. Former Vice President Al Gore faced reality and became a vegan himself.  

Since we raise over 60 billion farm animals and catch over 2 trillion fish every year, of course there are going to be consequences. Did we think we could all do that without impacting the environment? Fortunately we are not helpless and we have a choice. Following a plant-based diet is a powerful action each of us can take to fight global warming and sustain the environment.   Learn more:

Diets that fight global warming

Eliminate animal agriculture, stop global warming

Polluting our water

Deforestation and methane reductions

Odd Burger to launch in Washington State

More vegan fast-food options are coming to Washington State.  Odd Burger, a Canadian chain of vegan fast-food favorites, has recently signed a franchise deal with a holding company 5GH to open 20 locations of the chain across Washington in the next eight years, the first state in the USA to do so.  

Odd Burger became the first publicly traded vegan fast-food chain in the world and the first to offer a 24hr drive-thru, when it took over a shuttered location of the popular Canadian fast-food chain Harvey’s in 2017. While it is already expanding across Canada, it has yet to open a location in the US.  

“We are excited to be the first US Area Representatives and to lead Odd Burger’s expansion into this key market,” Luke Ceraldi, President of 5GH—which is also developing two Odd Burger locations in Victoria, British Columbia—said in a statement.   

Odd Burger’s expansive menu includes the Famous Burger, a vegan version of the McDonald’s Big Mac, the Vopper (a vegan version of Burger King’s Whopper), along with “chickUN” sandwiches in Buffalo, crispy, and sticky (slathered in Korean sesame sauce) varieties, breakfast sandwiches, onion rings, milkshakes, wraps, and more. 

Memorial service for animals

We raise 60 billion farm animals each year, and catch two trillion fish for food, even though they are unhealthy to eat. It seems so unfair that they are killed for our consumption, and they don’t even get a funeral! The least we can do is give them a memorial service. That’s exactly what happened in London on July 2. The We Stand For The Animals memorial service is an annual event that shines a spotlight on the animals society turns away from.

The industries that exploit animals are often hidden from public view. They are crammed into huge barns or stockyards away from public view, and raised without much care for their welfare, and then they are transported to slaughterhouses. It’s often been said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarians. The memorial service is one method by which activists communicate this suffering to the public. As well as honoring and mourning the dead, the reality of industries of exploitation was also read out on a speaker by We Stand For The Animals founder Hannah Blake.

According to Blake, ““The memorial is an opportunity to pay our respects to non-humans worldwide and to give some of these individuals a ceremony that celebrates their lives.”   By communicating this message in such a public setting, it’s hoped that the participants will plant seeds in the minds of the public, most of whom would never have given a second thought to the cruelty of human treatment of animals raised or caught for us to eat.  

Funerals and memorial services are a new way for activists to get their message across. For instance, hundreds of people have held a high-altitude “funeral” for a Swiss glacier that has been lost to global warming. Climate activists dressed in black clothes climbed to 2,600 metres above sea level to pay their respects to the last remnants of the Pizol glacier in the Glarus Alps, east Switzerland.

Tennis Superstar Novak Djokovic follows a plant-based diet

Novak Djokovic has won an all-time record 23 Grand Slam men’s singles titles in tennis, and has ranked world No 1 for a record total of 389 weeks over a period of 12 different years.  He is the only man in tennis history to be the reigning champion of all four major tournaments at once across three different surfaces. Throughout this period, he has avoided animal foods, although he’s not comfortable with using the term vegan.  

He cut out animal products as a child.  He suffered from allergies that were found to be predominantly related to gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Once he eliminated these foods he immediately felt better.  Soon after that, he cut out red meat.  He was playing tennis from the age of 4, and as a six-year old he was sent to a tennis camp run by Yugoslav tennis player Jelena Gencic. He began his international tennis career at age 14, winning European championships in singles, double and team competition. He found that animal flesh slowed him down, stating: “Eating meat was hard on my digestion and took a lot of essential energy that I need for my focus, for recovery, for the next training session, and for the next match.”  

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