Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Olivia Newton-John – plant-based to fight breast cancer

Olivia Newton John is using a vegan diet to help in her fight against breast cancer. 

Seventy two year old singer, Olivia Newton-John, is best known for her role in the musical film Grease back in 1978, but she also produced many solo hit single recordings in the 70s and 80s and has continued to record and perform throughout her long career.  She’s a four-time Grammy Award winner with five US number one records and another 10 Top Tens on Billboard’s Hot 100. She has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

She has been a longtime activist for environmental and animal rights issues. In 1992 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since become an advocate for cancer research and other health issues as well. She enjoyed a long period of remission, but in 2017 she was again diagnosed with breast cancer, and she switched to a plant-based diet to help her get healthier while being treated.  She shared that her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, is key in helping her to eat more plant-based foods. “I’ve been eating vegan because my daughter was visiting me and she’s a vegan.  I feel very good.  After having lived for years with different cancers, and having surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I thought it would be wonderful if we could find different kinds of treatments for people going through cancer” she said.

Newton-John recently launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation with her husband, John Easterling, to promote plant-based eating as a way to stay healthy through cancer treatment.  Her foundation aims to develop less damaging forms of treatment, as well as to support research into how a plant-based way of eating can help nutrition and health for patients.

There’s already a lot of research into how a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer in the first place and reduce your risk of recurrence if you’ve had breast cancer.  Let’s hope that this foundation finds evidence for the benefits of plant-based diets during treatment as well.

Dead zones grow in Gulf and Northwest

Scientists recently surveyed the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico around Louisiana and Texas and they discovered a larger-than-average area of oxygen-depleted water – a “dead zone” where nothing can live. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists have announced their recent findings. The dead zone has grown to 4 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, which are now unusable for fish and bottom-dwelling species.

But the Gulf isn’t the only coastal region experiencing a dead zone this summer. This was a record year for the dead zone in the waters just offshore from the Oregon coast as well. In Oregon, the global climate crisis is making the problem worse because the ocean is warming, and warmer waters hold less oxygen than cold waters, encouraging the growth of dead zones. In addition, as more carbon is absorbed into the oceans, the waters become more acidic – in turn making it harder for creatures like shellfish and crabs to grow their shells. All this amounts to “a double whammy” for the Oregon coastline. The result is another deadzone almost 5,000 square miles in size!

The meat industry is being blamed for both these dead zones. Animals wastes make their way to the coast through runoff into our rivers and streams. The pollutants come both directly from animals as manure, and also from the crop farms that produce the vast amounts of feed necessary to feed the many millions of animals raised for meat – 70% of all the crops raised in the United States go to feed farm animals. Included in this runoff are not only plant matter and eroded soil, but also the fertilizers used to grow the crops.

So let’s put it all together. The runoff from animal wastes, and the fertilizers used to grow their feed, are sucking up the oxygen. Global warming, whose prime driver is raising meat, makes it harder for the warmed water to hold the oxygen, and the carbon we’re pumping into the oceans is making them more acidic, resulting in a further loss of sea life. The result of all this is giant dead zones.

However, if we all followed a plant-based diet, we could be subtracting all these factors rather than adding them, and a healthy thriving aquatic ecosystem could result.

Thinking about zinc

Let’s think about zinc! Zinc is an essential mineral that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. According to a new study, low or deficient zinc levels in the body increase the risk of severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in patients who are ill with the coronavirus. However, studies of giving extra zinc to people who are not deficient in zinc have not shown a benefit. So to be very clear, zinc is NOT a substitute for the COVID 19 vaccine.

Frequent intake of zinc in our diets is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system. It is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism, and also supports normal growth and development. Zinc deficiency is characterized by growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function.

Zinc is available from many plant foods and protein increases zinc absorption. Because of this, foods high in both protein and zinc, such as legumes and nuts, are good choices. If a food doesn’t have much protein, it can still be accompanied by one that does in order to enhance absorption.

Now, zinc is a mineral and an important one that we all need. But let’s not overdo it either. Well-planned vegetarian diets can provide adequate amounts of zinc from plant sources. Vegetarians appear to adapt to lower zinc intakes by increased absorption and retention of zinc. Studies show vegetarians have similar serum zinc concentrations to, and no greater risk of zinc deficiency than, non-vegetarians despite differences in zinc intake.

There has been a somewhat misplaced concern that minerals, such as zinc, are not well absorbed in those following a vegetarian diet because of the presence of a substance known as phytate. However, there was little evidence of deficiency commonly occurring in practice. Part of the answer lies in the fact that the bacteria in the intestines of vegetarians are able to degrade almost all the phytate in plant foods, so there really is no worry in that regard.

The RDA for zinc for adults 18 and older are 11mg for men and 8mg for women. Here are some foods that are good sources:

FoodServing SizeAmount of Zinc
Wheat Germ1 ounce3.4 mg
Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian½ cup2.9 mg
Pumpkin seeds, dried1 ounce2.2 mg
Tofu½ cup2.0 mg
Cashews, dry roasted1 ounce1.6 mg
Chickpeas, cooked½ cup1.3 mg
Oatmeal, instant, plain, prepared with water1 packet1.1 mg

Panda Express launches vegan orange chicken

Panda Express has launched a vegan version of its iconic orange chicken at test locations in the New York and Los Angeles areas.

Many people think of Panda Express as the place to go for American Chinese comfort food.  This left those people looking to avoid animal products in a bind, as they used chicken broth in many of their recipes.  Fortunately, the chain has responded to the growing demand for plant-based options.  In February 2019, the company added a number of plant-based items to its menu, like super greens mixed veggies, vegetable spring rolls, eggplant tofu and chow mein. 

Their latest offering is a rework of their classic Original Orange Chicken, which has been on the chain’s menu since 1987.  They’ve partnered with Beyond Meat to produce the new Beyond The Original Orange Chicken, which features a fully plant-based breading and vegan sauce.  Chef Jimmy Wang, executive director of Culinary Innovation at Panda Express explained, “we co-developed Beyond the Original Orange Chicken with Beyond Meat to capture the irresistibly crunchy texture of our signature entrée, while still giving our guests a plant-based option of the dish they know and love”.

While the new vegan orange chicken is only available at the limited test locations, its performance will inform Panda Express’ strategy of a wider launch.  “With this regional launch, we’re gathering insights and learning how we can improve the guest experience with this brand new product for a wide future rollout,” Wang said.  “We are confident that people will love the new menu item.”

Caring for the animals

http://www.yourtimetravels.com/blog/?p=830

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. Read more

Ultrathon runner wins on vegan diet

Harvey Lewis

Ultrathon runner Harvey Lewis, 45-years old, won the most recent 135-mile Badwater endurance race, on a vegan diet.

Badwater is the most demanding running race offered anywhere on the planet. The race starts at 280 ft below sea level in California’s Death Valley, and finishes up at 8300 ft on Mount Whitney.  Lewis completed the race in under 26 hours, despite 100 degree heat. He has won this race before back in 2014, and has completed the race 10 times, with top wins half of those times. He credits plant-based nourishment for his endurance and athletic performance.

In 1996 at age 20, Lewis decided to become a vegetarian after his mother suffered a stroke at age only 54, which caused him to reassess the culture of the modern Western diet. Following a trip to the Australian rainforest for college credit and an overarching love for animals, Lewis considered his existing habits and their impact on his overall quality of life, as well as the impact on the planet.

More recently in 2016, he went fully vegan. He says being vegetarian, and now vegan, gives him the “necessary ingredients for my body to bounce back quickly from punishing endurance events.” He admits his daily nutrition varies significantly from his race-day intake, particularly for a 24-hour race. On a regular day, Lewis enjoys black bean burgers, traditional ethnic foods like Indian and Korean cuisine, and mango smoothies.

However, during lengthy races, he snacks on Clif bars and cran-razz shot bloks, Peppermint Patties, Coca-Cola, pizza and avocado sandwiches. For a race in the heat, like Badwater, Lewis relies on liquid calories, namely Clif hydration drinks and Coca-Cola. Lewis was featured on a No Meat Athlete podcast describing his Badwater win and race-day nutrition.

Several other ultrarunner athletes prefer plant-based diets, including a former member of ours, Scott Jurek, who co-authored a memoir called Eat & Run detailing his experiences with ultrarunning, going meatless in 1997, and becoming vegan in 1999.

Reduce your risk of stomach cancer

Medical studies show that a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of stomach cancer while meat increases it.

Cancer is often most easily treated when detected early, but some cancers aren’t easy to catch early. One of them is stomach cancer.  Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, begins when cells in the stomach start to grow out of control. By the time it’s detected it has usually spread to other parts of the body. Treatment is most often ineffective or of limited benefit in these cases.

So when it comes to stomach cancer, prevention is even more critical. What can be done to reduce the risk? It turns out a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of stomach cancer. For instance, one study showed that vegetarians have a 63% reduced risk of getting stomach cancer. Another study showed that vegetarians had 56% reduction in the risk of dying from stomach cancer.

Results from several studies suggested that a diet rich in vitamin C was particularly protective. Sources of vitamin C include fresh produce, such as green and yellow vegetables and fruit. Several studies have also reported the protective role of allium vegetables, such as onions and garlic, in preventing gastric cancer.

There’s another advantage vegetarians have when it comes to stomach cancer. Most cases of stomach have a bacteria, H.Pylori, as one of the causative factors. However, a vegetarian diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent or suppress infection with H. Pylori.

While a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of getting stomach cancer, processed meat such hot dogs and bacon increase the risk, as does red meat such as steaks and hamburgers. The choice for prevention is clear. Put a healthy vegetarian diet to work to reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

Mouthwatering Melon Recipes

melonsMelons are large, edible fruits with a thick yellow or green skin, and juicy, fragrant flesh. Since the flesh has such high water content, melons are low in calories even though they are so sweet to taste. They provide potassium, sulphur, Vitamins A and C and Folic Acid.

Watermelon is particularly high in lycopene, an antioxidant, and has iron as well, which makes it the star of the melon family nutritionally speaking.

All melons are particularly delicious in the summer months, at the peak of their ripeness. They can be eaten by the slice, cut into cubes or scooped into balls. They are delicious eaten alone or as part of a fruit or vegetable salad. Pureed melon can be served chilled to make an attractive summer soup.

Recipes:

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Veggie Burgers can save the Environment

We’ve written before about how a vegan diet produces much less greenhouse gases, water pollution, soil erosion and ecological destruction. But some people wonder whether meat substitutes such as veggie burgers, dogs and chicken are any better. The answer is yes, they are much better!

A European study showed that the food and animal feed system is closely linked to planetary health, and that dietary shifts towards healthy foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, are needed for environmental sustainability.

The study also found that vegetable meat alternatives and vegetable milk alternatives have significantly less environmental impact than their animal-based counterparts. While they may not be quite as sustainable as unprocessed plant foods, the difference is small compared to the transportation and processing of meat.

In fact, if everyone in America were to reduce meat consumption by even a quarter, and eat meat substitutes like veggie burgers, it would save 82 million metric tons of greenhouse emissions each year. The Beyond Meat burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land and 90% less fossil fuel emissions, while the Impossible Burger uses 87% less water, 96% less land, and 89% less fossil fuel emissions than a quarter pound of regular ground beef.

So, there you have it. There are substantial advantages to eating meat substitutes, compared to eating meat. As the sale of meat substitutes continue to grow, we can expect the benefit to the environment to grow as well.

A plant-based diet helps fertility

We want to have children, but we’re vegan! Some people wonder how being vegan will affect their ability to conceive. The good news is that a healthy plant-based diet can actually help fertility.

Let’s start with the men. Meat, especially processed meat, has a detrimental effect on male fertility. The more meat a man eats, the fewer and less active his sperm. To dispel a myth, vegan men have the same testosterone levels as meat eaters. To dispel another myth, consuming soy does not affect testosterone levels in men. Boys raised on soy protein formulas showed no breast growth, no early puberty, no changes in their bones and no other signs of hormonal abnormalities. Vegan men have much less risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Vegetarian men produce 29 million more sperm per milliliter and the sperm are more active compared to meat-eaters, so a veg diet can definitely help with fertility.

Vegan women too have hormone levels comparable to those of meat-eaters. Vegan pregnancy has some advantages too. For instance, pregnant vegan women have a reduced risk of complications such excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and gallstones. Pregnant women following a well-planned plant-based diet also have a reduced risk of an infant being born with spina bifida, whereas a high meat diet doubles the risk of a baby being born with a cleft palate.

What about those turning to invitro fertilization? It turns out that eating plant protein increases the chance of pregnancy in IVF. Also a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil and low in red meat, has been shown to increase the chance of a successful pregnancy, so a healthy plant-based diet can make a big difference.

Many vegan men and women are fertile and give birth to healthy babies. Congratulations to them all!

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