Tag Archives: vegan

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.

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.”

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.

Upcoming “Cooking with Amanda” Classes

Amanda cooking feature 1.1Amanda Strombom, President of Vegetarians of Washington, gives regular cooking classes to support those interested in moving toward a plant-based diet and learning new ways of preparing food avoiding animal products. Each class focuses on a different aspect of going veggie, whether it’s on specific food groups, on a particular health topic, shopping or even holiday cooking.  Plenty of samples to taste are always provided. See the schedule below.

Classes will be held at East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, 7pm unless otherwise noted. A nominal charge of $5 per class helps us cover the cost of the ingredients and materials. Shopping tours are free.

Wed May 8th       Save the Earth with a Plant-Based Diet!

One of the best things each of us can do to help take better care of the Earth is to change the food we eat away from animal products.  How does a plant-based diet help? We’ll talk about the damage animal agriculture causes to the soil, the water, the air and our climate.  Plus you can taste some delicious dishes and get recipes to help you make the switch.

Make a reservation

Wed June 12th– Where do you get your protein from?

The first question many people ask when they’re thinking about cutting out meat is about protein.  In this class we’ll discuss the benefits of the various plant-based sources of protein available and make some delicious dishes using both beans and meat alternatives.

Make a reservation

Wed July 10th      Avoiding cancer

We’ll talk about how a plant-based diet can help protect you against getting certain kinds of cancer, and which nutrients are particularly beneficial for fighting cancer.  We’ll make delicious dishes using a rainbow of different vegetables to give as many phytonutrients as possible.

Make a reservation

Wed Sept 4th      Cleaning out your arteries

Eggs are loaded with cholesterol which clogs up your arteries. We’ll talk about how cholesterol, present in all animal foods, impacts your health, particularly your arteries, and we’ll discuss alternatives you can use to eggs in various recipes. We’ll make some delicious egg-free recipes and even try the amazing Vegan Egg.

Wed Oct 2nd        Reducing pain with food

Several chronic painful conditions can be helped with a plant-based diet.  We’ll discuss how certain foods can help reduce inflammation and reduce pain.  Then we’ll make some tasty recipes with anti-inflammatory foods such as chia seeds, mushrooms, turmeric and walnuts.

Wed Nov 6th       Healthy Cooking for the Holidays 

We’ll talk about how to handle the many issues that come up at holiday times when cooking for or eating with your meat-eating family members, and discuss ideas for special vegan holiday dishes.  We’ll make some delicious dishes that all your guests can enjoy.

Wed Dec 4th        Shopping for Plant-Based Foods

We’ll meet at Fred Meyer, Bellevue, to tour the Natural Foods section, and learn about label reading, choosing fresh vegetables, and finding some new favorite foods. This class is free.

Wed Jan 8th         Losing weight, Defeating diabetes

We’ll talk about what foods are most helpful in losing those extra pounds, and how the same foods can also reduce your insulin resistance and treat Type II Diabetes.  We’ll make some really simple starter plant-based meals to get you started on a new way of eating for the New Year.

Wed Feb 5th        Ditching Dairy

Dairy products often contain surprising amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, and come from cows forced to give birth frequently.  We’ll talk about the many alternatives to dairy that are available these days, we’ll taste samples of some commercial products and make some simple cheese alternatives of our own.

Prince Harry’s baby to be vegan?

Meghan pregnant with Harry

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, are expecting a baby in the near future, and it seems that Meghan, who eats a mostly plant-based diet herself although she is not a strict vegan, hopes to raise the baby as a vegan.  She has encouraged Prince Harry to reduce his consumption of animal products and eat more fruits and veggies, and to cut back on participating in some of the traditional hunting activities of the royal family.  Now we hear that the couple are discussing how best to raise their baby, and whether or not it can be a vegan child.

They would be in good company. Recent British-based research has found that one in 12 families in Britain are raising their kids as vegan, mainly for health reasons, since animal products in the diet are linked to a wide range of health concerns such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, while plant-based diets are linked to optimal health outcomes.  In addition, many people are starting to recognize that eating lower on the food chain by reducing animal products is much better for the environment, and it saves countless animals from suffering and death.

There’s plenty of evidence that raising a child vegan is a very wise thing to do. Here in the US, it is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”  All the evidence points to children who are raised vegetarian being much healthier than their meat-eating peers, and even gaining some specific advantages.  Children raised vegetarian are found on average to grow an inch taller and to have 5 more points on their IQ.

We hope that Meghan and Harry are able to set a good example for families throughout the world by raising their child vegan.

The Meatless Whopper

Impossible whopper

Burger King, known for meaty excess like its Bacon King sandwich, is now selling a plant based burger. Burger King announced a test run for the burger in 59 restaurants in the St. Louis area. Burger King says the sandwich will use patties from Impossible Foods. Burger King is taking its signature sandwich, the Whopper, and creating a vegan version.

The Impossible Whopper is flame grilled like the regular Whopper, and comes with the standard tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise (vegans hold the mayo), ketchup, pickles and onion.

The move underscores how chains are looking for new ways to gain an edge over rivals as competition heats up — and the rapid growth in demand for meat alternatives.

Impossible Burgers are designed to mimic meat using the company’s novel “magic” ingredient, heme, produced with a special kind of yeast. Impossible Foods, part of a growing crop of meat substitute producers, has sold its burgers at restaurants since 2016, starting with trendy eateries like David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi in New York and Jardiniere in San Francisco, and now served at over 5000 restaurants across the US.

Meatless Mondays in New York Schools

Children eat healthy school lunchNew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that starting next school year, all schools in the city will have vegetarian meals on Mondays.

According to the mayor, the Meatless Mondays program is aimed at improving student health and the city’s environmental impact, “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.” the mayor said.

“Meatless Mondays” are good for the environment, said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “Our 1.1 million students are taking the next step towards healthier, more sustainable lives.”

Food such as lentil Sloppy Joes, pasta fagioli, Mexicali chili, braised black beans with plantains, and teriyaki crunchy tofu will now be served in New York City’s public schools!

This progress comes on the heels of three New York City schools that have become completely all vegetarian every day of the week-and the kids love it. Parents have also become very supportive of the change as they see improvements in their children.

For years we’ve 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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