Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Caring for the animals

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If you care about the animals and value their lives and welfare, you’re not alone. Caring about animals has never been more popular in America.

According to a poll conducted by the ASPCA, 94% of Americans agree that animals raised for food deserve to live free from abuse and cruelty. Yet the majority of the nearly 10 billion (yes 10 billion) farm animals raised each year in the U.S. suffer in conditions that consumers would not accept if they could see them. Most of our meat, milk and eggs come from industrial farms where efficiency trumps welfare—and animals are paying the price.

Three factors are driving this increase in caring: the increasing public appreciation of and concern for animals; new scientific information confirming the reality of animal suffering along with the healthfulness of vegetarian diets; and religious and moral leaders who advocate extending moral questions to the humane treatment of animals.

Don’t be fooled by the occasional cow in a pasture. 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms. A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food and which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare.

Modern factory farms revolve only around efficient, low-cost production, which unfortunately results in harsh conditions and greatly increased suffering for billions of farm animals. Don’t think that animals don’t feel pain. Just ask yourself this question, if animals don’t feel pain then why do they test pain medication on animals? Science is demonstrating that both mammals and fish experience pain, and that a vegetarian diet is actually much healthier than consuming animal products.

Many religious and moral leaders have long advocated for the compassionate treatment of animals, and the vegetarian diet that goes along with this. The following quotes illustrate the range of religious leaders who have spoken on this topic:

“The Christian argument for vegetarianism is simple: since animals belong to God….then their needless destruction is sinful.”   The Reverend Professor Doctor Andrew Linzey, Anglican priest and Oxford professor.

“Central rabbinic and spiritual leaders have been affirming vegetarianism.”   Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, Former Chief Rabbi, Israel

“I do feel that spiritual progress does demand that at some stage we should cease to kill our fellow creatures.” Mahatma Ghandi, Hindu Spiritual leader

 

By making vegetarian food choices, you will be saving farm animals with every bite. To learn more, see our handy brochure on farm animals and the importance of going veg.

 

Being Veg’n in Hollywood

It’s all the rage to be vegan in Hollywood these days, so much so that it’s hard to keep up with who’s vegan or vegetarian and who’s not, as various actors and actresses go veg. Many of them have made public statements over the years on why a veg’n diet is important to them, so we thought we’d collect a few:

Casey AfleckCasey Afleck:

“When people ask me why I don’t eat meat or any other animal products, I say, ‘Because they are unhealthy and they are the product of a violent and inhumane industry.”

Alec Baldwin:

“Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Please choose vegetarianism. Do it for animals. Do it for the environment and do it for your health.”

Jessica ChastainJessica Chastain:

“I don’t want to torture anything. … it’s about trying to live a life where I’m not contributing to the cruelty in the world. … While I am on this planet, I want everyone I meet to know that I am grateful they are here.”

Peter Dinklage:

“I love animals. All animals. I wouldn’t hurt a cat or a dog — or a chicken, or a cow. And I wouldn’t ask someone else to hurt them for me. That’s why I’m a vegetarian.”

Woody HarrelsonWoody Harrelson:

“Initially, it was an energetic pursuit, but eventually I did develop a deep compassion for animals. I’d eat a burger, and want to go to sleep. I started for energy. And it has served me well. ”

Ellen Page:

‘Why are vegans made fun of while the inhumane factory farming process regards animals and the natural world merely as commodities to be exploited for profit?’

Natalie PortmanNatalie Portman:

“Everyone has to find what is right for them, and it is different for everyone. Eating for me is how you proclaim your beliefs three times a day. That is why all religions have rules about eating. Three times a day, I remind myself that I value life and do not want to cause pain to or kill other living beings. That is why I eat the way I do.”

Alicia Silverstone:

“Nothing’s changed my life more. I feel better about myself as a person, being conscious and responsible for my actions and I lost weight and my skin cleared up and I got bright eyes and I just became stronger and healthier and happier. Can’t think of anything better in the world to be but be vegan.”

Heart Disease – No. 1 cause of death

Artery scanning

Dr Chan Hwang scans the carotid artery of a Vegfest attendee.

Heart disease is still the number one cause of death for both men and women. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. A plant-based diet can reduce your risk of a heart attack by 40%. If you wish your doctor knew about this, we want you to know that we do too! That’s why we wrote a letter to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. They recently published an Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on the role of non-statin therapies for lowering LDL Cholesterol, but they “forgot” to include the plant-based diet!  We told them about their omission, and we published it as an open letter, complete with references to all the latest research on the topic.

The most common cause of a heart attack is cholesterol-laden plaque that builds up and clogs the coronary arteries that feed the heart. This plaque either cuts off the heart’s blood supply, or it destabilizes causing a blockage which leads to a heart attack. A plant- based diet can stop the build up of plaque in the coronary arteries and even tack it back a bit.

Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack from clogged arteries, and for a significant portion of those victims their first heart attack will be fatal. The necessity of undergoing surgery to bypass clogged coronary arteries or to insert a stent, or even just the threat of being at risk for a heart attack, has given many a man and woman more than just a few sleepless nights.

Coronary artery bypass surgery enables many patients to live significantly longer, but it is very invasive and entails some risks and complications. Blood vessels from other parts of the body are used to create detours around the clogged arteries, but eventually these new pathways become blocked as well. Stents to help keep the artery open still involve surgery and can reclog.

But there’s a better solution to this problem – a vegetarian solution. Scientific studies have shown, time and again, the power of a healthy vegetarian diet to prevent and treat heart disease. Texas cardiologist Dean Ornish took patients destined for bypass surgery and placed them on a vegetarian diet instead of the standard meat-centered diet they were following. The results were striking. Their blockages started reducing in size, and the arteries opened up a bit. The heart’s ability to pump started to improve in only 24 days. There was a 91% reduction in chest pain. Within a year, his patients were literally hiking up mountains.

The beneficial effects to heart health seem to be long lasting. Recent research has also shown that the arteries become less inflamed and more flexible leading to much better blood flow to the heart muscle.

Other doctors tried testing a vegetarian diet on their patients and achieved the same results as Ornish. At this point, countless patients around the world have been “rescued” by the humble yet powerful vegetarian diet.

It turns out that plant foods work even better than medications in many cases. Studies have shown that a low-fat vegetarian diet, by itself, is at least as powerful at lowering the cholesterol levels of patients, as the American Heart Association Diet combined with a cholesterol-lowering drug.

The reason for this is simple. A vegetarian diet is much lower both in the saturated fat that promotes cholesterol production in our own livers, and in cholesterol itself. A vegan diet goes a step further and includes no cholesterol at all. As an extra bonus, the plant foods that are so plentiful in a vegetarian diet have also been shown to reduce blood pressure. Just as important, while you’re cleaning out your coronary arteries, you’ll also be cleaning out the arteries that lead to your brain and even your legs, thus preventing or reversing the most common kind of dementia and the painful legs that many people get when walking.

The beauty of the vegetarian solution is that it is available to everyone. You don’t need a prescription or even a doctor’s note to change your diet today. Come to Vegfest and find out how your arteries are doing, with our free artery ultrasound scans and blood pressure screenings, and try some of the heart-healthy food you’ll find there. We think you’ll find that getting healthy never tasted so good.

See professional level information on hypercholesterolemia, and the treatment of coronary artery disease.

One Day a Week – new documentary

Paul McCartney has produced a new short documentary on the importance of going meat-free for just one day a week.  He explained the goal in making this film, “My film, ‘One Day a Week,’ aims to raise awareness of this important issue and show people that if we all join together in this effort, we can help improve the environment, reduce the negative impacts of climate change, and even improve people’s health.”

His daughters Stella and Mary McCartney, plus actors Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone are also featured, as they narrate and share facts about how livestock agriculture impacts climate change and the environment. “Meat Free Monday encourages people to not eat meat at least one day a week with the hope that if enough people do it and the idea spreads, it will make a difference,” said McCartney.

We encourage you to share this video with friends and family.

Vegan powerlifter – 62 years old

Rocky LuedekerRocky Luedeker of Oak Creek, Arizona, is a 62-year-old record-breaking powerlifter. She started lifting competitively four years ago and now holds 13 world records, and 26 state and national records.

According to Luedeker, “My best curl is 45 pounds, my best squat is 124 pounds, my best deadlift is 184 pounds.” She does all of this on a plant-based diet. She loves beans and rice, with lettuce every day. “A common myth is we [vegans] don’t have enough protein, and we have more than enough protein” she said.

But it also takes the right attitude to break records. “If I don’t get it this time, I will practice harder and get it next time,” she said. She has inspired her daughter, Bianca, also a vegetarian, who is now in training for the 2024 Olympics. “Definitely, lifting has greatly increased my confidence,” Bianca said. She is proud to be part of the “Lifting Luedekers” and proud of her powerlifting mom.

Tasty Tempeh recipes

tempeh 2Tempeh is a valuable source of protein, and a great meat substitute. It is made from soybeans that have been cooked and fermented with a special culture that binds the beans together into a firm, sliceable cake. The fermentation process also makes tempeh easy to digest.

Tempeh has a chewy texture and a hearty, somewhat mushroom-like flavor. It’s a nutritional superstar – one serving gives 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber and plenty of cancer-fighting soy isofavones.

Temeph easily absorbs flavors and can be baked, boiled, fried or steamed. It can be sliced, cubed or crumbled to make a variety of dishes, and keeps well in the freezer without sacrificing its texture.

Recipes

Recipes from “The Veg-Feasting Cookbook” by Vegetarians of Washington

Curried Tempeh Salad

This protein-packed salad goes equally well on a bed of salad greens or tucked into a pita pocket. It keeps well in the refrigerator.
Serves 8

2 pounds tempeh, cut in small cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups vegan mayonnaise
4 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
0.25 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium red onion, diced small
6 medium ribs celery, chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet and chopped
0.5 cup chopped fresh parsley,

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toss the tempeh cubes with the oil and spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

While the tempeh is baking, combine the mayonnaise, curry powder, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cumin in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the onion, celery, walnuts and parsley and stir to combine. Add the cooled tempeh and stir gently until just blended.

 

Tempeh Tacos

This is an ideal “do it yourself ” meal. Serve the taco shells, filling, and condiments family-style at the table and let everyone build their own protein-rich tempeh tacos.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 large cloves garlic, minced fine
Salt
4.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh, chopped fine
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 package taco shells

Taco Condiments

1 cup shredded cheddar-style soy cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped fine
3 ounces sprouts, such as alfalfa, broccoli, or radish
1 ripe avocado, chopped
Taco sauce or salsa
Put the olive oil in a large skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the diced onions, garlic and about 1.5 teaspoons salt. Sauté until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and chili powder and stir to incorporate. Add the tempeh, stir to incorporate and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet. Add the tomato paste and 1.5 cups water. Stir until all the tomato paste and water are thoroughly blended with the tempeh mixture. The mixture should be thick but not dry. If it is dry, add up to 6 tablespoons water. Taste and add salt and extra spices if necessary. Cover the skillet, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.

Place some tempeh taco filling in the bottom of each taco shell. Top with shredded soy cheese, tomatoes, avocado and sprouts. Sprinkle taco sauce over the top.

 

Tempeh Bacon

Simple and tasty, this seasoned tempeh can be used to accompany pancakes or turned into a vegetarian “TLT” sandwich.
Serves 4 to 6

½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup high-oleic safflower oil, or organic canola oil
1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, cut crosswise into ¼-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon tamari or shoyu (soy sauce)

In a small bowl, thoroughly stir together the oregano, thyme, and basil. Line a dinner plate with a paper towel and set near the stove. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil, then half of the tempeh strips. Fry the slices briefly, about 30 seconds on each side.

Sprinkle half of the herb mixture over the tempeh as it fries. Remove the tempeh slices and place them on the prepared plate. Repeat the process with the remaining oil, tempeh and herbs. When finished, sprinkle the fried tempeh with the tamari and serve.

Another all-veg school

NY Elementary school 1Another public school in New York City just went all vegetarian – and this time it was the kids who asked for it.  This is the third New York City public school to go all veg. The school’s principal, Arlene Ramos, revealed that students asked for healthier, meatless options and that she is proud to be able to introduce the new menu. “My students have expressed an interest in healthier eating, and the school gave them the option to choose this menu I am very proud of their decision.” Lentil sloppy Joes, pasta fagioli, Mexicali chili, braised black beans with plantains, and teriyaki crunchy tofu will now be the lunch options for the 1,250 pre-K through 5th graders at Public School 1, Bergen Elementary School.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams—who adopted a vegan diet last October to conquer his type 2 diabetes—supports the menu update. “It is particularly exciting to learn that this is a youth-driven initiative,” Adams said. The drive for all New York City public schools to go all veg is a campaign of New York Coalition for Healthy School Food headed by Amy Hamlin.  We’ve previously written about the other schools that have gone all veg.

For years we have heard every excuse from many of Washington’s public schools. But, if a city as big and diverse as New York can do it, we’re sure Seattle can as well. Let’s hope New York City will set an example for Seattle and other cities to follow.

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