Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Vegan diet saves money

A vegan diet can save you money, according to a new study. More and more people are interested in going vegan, yet there’s long been the notion that plant-based diets are inherently more expensive than following a more traditional omnivore diet – which is why some people may be hesitant to make the switch.

The study, published in a medical journal, found that eating a healthier and more sustainable vegan diet could actually slash up to a third off your food bill if you live in a high income country – like the US, Britain or Europe. The results came as a bit of a surprise for the researchers. If you look solely at the costs of the ingredients, a vegan diet actually costs a third less than the current “western” diets with high amounts of meat and dairy that many people consume in high income countries.

To put it into perspective, they estimated that the typical western diet costs about $50 per week per person. In comparison, vegan diets cost as little as $33. That means, over the course of a year, you could save almost $800 per person by switching to a plant-based diet.

However, the data used refers to the costs of basic ingredients – such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. They didn’t include ready-made meals or highly processed foods such as plant-based burgers. That means, if you want to realize these savings, go for minimally processed foods and try out some new recipes. Prepared foods do offer convenience, but there’s an additional cost.

Book cover for shopping guide

Of course, being a savvy shopper is key to saving money. Our shopping guide, In Pursuit of Great Food, will help you, or someone you know, reorient your kitchen around a plant-based diet.

Cows are the new coal

Cows are the new coal! Companies supplying meat and dairy to McDonald’s, KFC, Tesco, and Nestlé, among others, are falling short of their pledges relating to methane emissions and deforestation, a new report found. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.

Jeremy Coller is chair of the FAIRR investor network, made up of members with $40 trillion in assets. In a statement, he said: “The post-COP26 era leaves large parts of the meat and dairy supply chain looking outdated and unattractive. Failures from methane to manure management underline the growing sense in the market that cows are the new coal.

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Vegan powerlifter wins Belgian championship

photo credit Sahyuri Lalime via Instagram

The Belgian female champion powerlifter, Sahyuri Lalime, has just taken home the Belgian national title for the fourth year in a row, and she is vegan. The plant-powered athlete won best overall female lifter, lifting a total of 412.5kgs: 152.5kg squat, 80kg bench, and 180kg deadlift, which shows that you don’t need to eat meat to be strong!

Lalime has been vegetarian for nearly 20 years, and vegan since 2015. She went vegetarian when she left home for college, based on not wanting to kill animals.  Having lost her mother as a child, she became very sensitive to death and didn’t want to be a part of causing others to experience the same trauma.  At college, she learned about how dairy cows were treated and realized that a vegan lifestyle was preferable.  Sahyuri explains that the transition took her a while:

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Frances Moore Lappé

Frances Moore Lappé receiving a Humanitarian Award from the James Beard Foundation

If we can see further today it’s because we’ve been standing on the shoulders of giants. This is certainly true of the veg movement. One of those giants is Frances Moore Lappé, author of the wildly popular book, “Diet for a Small Planet”, which came out 50 years ago and yet even today its influence is still being widely felt.

Lappé explained that a vegetarian diet was much better for the planet and was healthy for us. Ms. Lappé was 25 and attending graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, when she began to question her life’s purpose. Like many in her generation, she was inspired by the ecological movement that led to the first Earth Day.

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The problems with wool

Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes. Wool is neither ecofriendly or animal friendly! Wool production is a significant driver of biodiversity loss, according to a new report, and is worsening global warming. Experts recommend replacing the animal product in favor of vegan alternatives.

Wool producers have been pushing the narrative that wool production is “natural, traditional, and sustainable.” One industry player, Woolmark, which represents 60,000 Australian wool growers, even refers to wool as “a friend to the environment.”

Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity says that claim is nonsense. “The industry has been pulling the wool over our eyes for decades, claiming that wool is a sustainable fiber,” Feldstein said in a statement. “Wool clothing comes with a heavy price tag of greenhouse gas emissions, land use, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Nothing about wool is sustainable.”

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Deforestation & methane reductions

Save our forests! During the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26), 105 countries signed a pledge that aims to end deforestation by the year 2030. Leaders worldwide have banded together behind the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, which will dedicate billions of dollars to ending deforestation and promoting reforestation efforts. The declaration says, “…to catalyze further progress on eliminating commodity-driven deforestation.”

We know which commodity they should start with, raising meat! For example, in the Amazon rainforest, raising cattle is the prime cause of the burning down the forest with fires so massive the astronauts can see them from outer space. The land is cleared not only for direct use by the cattle but also to grow feed for the cattle. In fact, the UN’s 2019 IPCC report concluded that nearly 80 percent of global deforestation could be directly attributed to agricultural production – significantly tied to the production of animal feed for livestock.

As climate change activists narrow in on the animal agricultural industry, governments worldwide are initiating programs to cut down emissions across the entire market. Recently, eight countries announced pledges to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent over the next ten years. The United States and European Union just announced the Global Methane Pledge to reduce worldwide methane emissions ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this year. The European Commission has declared that reducing methane emissions, across every industry, is the “single most effective strategy in reducing global warming.”

Methane is a greenhouse gas 30 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide and is largely driven by raising meat.  Cows, in particular, are potent methane producers. Cows produce between 250 and 500 liters of methane every day. That’s a lot of gas! The number of livestock in the world keeps rising and livestock is grown to a larger size than before, all to meet the growing worldwide demand for meat and dairy products.

We can all do our part in reducing methane emissions by simply not eating meat. We’ll also be helping to save the forests and other environmental problems such as water pollution. Going veg is a powerful move to help make a sustainable environment for the planet we all live on.

Med school teaches vegan!

This is a first. A medical school now requires all of its med students to learn about the health value of a whole food vegan diet. Wayne State University School of Medicine is the first medical school we know of to acknowledge the many health benefits of a vegan diet to prevent and treat disease and then to act upon it. According to the med school, “this is the first exclusively mandatory plant-based nutritional intervention undertaken at a medical institution in the United States.” They go on to say, “The strategy presented here may serve as a model for similar initiatives at a variety of institutions and settings.” Let’s hope other med schools follow their lead.

This long overdue change makes total sense since diet is the number one risk factor for disease and disability in the United States. We’ve long been puzzled at the number of medical schools that say there’s no room in their curriculum for teaching med students how to prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases with a vegan diet.

Wayne State acknowledges that, “Advances in preventive medicine have demonstrated the crucial role of whole-food unprocessed plant-based nutrition in reducing disease burden.” The net result will be the prevention of much patient suffering and many lives lost and that is no small thing.

Here at Vegetarians of Washington, we’ve been playing our part in the effort to help doctors learn how to treat their patients with a plant based diet. We hold an annual medical seminar for doctors where they learn from other doctors how to treat their patients with a plant based diet, we’ve written 29 articles that have been published in mainstream medical journals and now we have even written a textbook for doctors.

We’re excited to see the growing interest in the health benefits of a vegan diet in the medical community.

NYC elects vegan mayor

NYC Mayor Eric Adams

New York City has just elected its first vegan mayor.  Eric Adams, a former police captain, ran on a campaign to restore New York to its former glory after being ravaged by the pandemic, but the fact that he’s vegan could have a big impact.  We’ve previously written about how Adams went vegan 5 years ago, while suffering from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and he was losing his eye-sight.  Within 3 weeks of changing his diet, his vision improved.  Within 3 months, his nerve damage recovered and he has not needed to take any more medications.  With such a dramatic improvement, he has become passionate about the importance of a healthy diet.

He has previously been able to use the power of his position to share the importance of eating healthy and the benefits of a plant-based diet as widely as possible.  As the Borough of Brooklyn president, he was able to ban processed meat from schools in 2019.  In addition, in June he provided a discretionary grant of $10,000 to State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine, so that medical school students there could study the benefits of a plant-based diet. The money will help fund a new initiative entitled “Food as Medicine.” It will act as a supplemental program to the college’s existing nutrition courses. 

While he has many other challenges on his plate as the mayor of New York City, we look forward to watching what other changes he is able to make to encourage more plant-based eating in New York.

Menu items labeled for their carbon footprint

At the COP26 conference, running from Oct 31 to Nov 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, every item on the food menu had its climate impact indicated.  The COP26 conference is promoted as having the goal of promoting a global response to the climate crisis.  While many commitments have been made by various countries participating, most people agree that their promises won’t be nearly enough to reach the goal of only a 1.5 degree increase in average global temperatures, and this was particularly evident in the case of their approach to food. 

One of the most impactful ways that this goal could be achieved is by eliminating the consumption of animal products, especially beef.  To that end, many organizations and demonstrators have been pushing for the conference to provide only plant-based food during the event, to demonstrate their acknowledgement that meat and other animal products are so devastating to the environment.  While the conference organizers weren’t willing to go that far, they did come up with a novel way to educate attendees on the impact of their food choices.

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Cruelty to turkeys

Another instance of horrific cruelty has been caught on video. Thanksgiving is a holiday that turkeys are anything but thankful for. Every year 300 million turkeys are raised and slaughtered for food, and 46 million of those will be eaten on Thanksgiving alone.

Being slaughtered is bad enough and, as some have often said, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls we’d all be vegetarian.” But worse things can happen than slaughter: deliberate animal cruelty. The abuse, uncovered and caught on video, at Plainfield farms is so horrific that we won’t go into specific details but you can take our word for it that it was not only cruel in the extreme, but it was sadistic as some of the workers seem to actually enjoy it. Not only were some turkeys tortured, but there were instances of sexual abuse.

Plainville Farms boasts on their website that “humane treatment is the heart of our business.” Humane? Some people consider this consumer fraud.

What can we do about it? Perhaps one of the most powerful things you can do is stop eating turkeys. With Thanksgiving coming up soon, we recommend the many turkey substitutes that are now widely available. That’s how we can all make a difference.

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