Tag Archives: vegan

Covid and plant-based diets

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about following a plant-based diet and COVID. There are some things a plant-based diet can do it and something it can’t.  It turns out that a plant-based diet can significantly reduce the severity of COVID.

In one study, looking at doctors and nurses, a plant-based diet reduced the chance of getting a severe or moderate case by 73%, which we think is saying a lot.  Compare this to those individuals following “low carbohydrate, high protein diets” such as Atkins and others, which are typically high in food that comes from animals, who had an almost 4 times greater risk of moderate-to-severe COVID. Another study showed that among the elderly, those following a non vegetarian diet had 5 times the risk of having a severe case of COVID.

So what’s up with this? We think there are two things at work. A plant-based diet has been shown to reduce inflammation. Part of the damage COVID does is by inciting extreme inflammation. Studies have shown that those following a plant-based diet have a lower baseline level of inflammation. Second,  people with chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, have been shown to have worse outcomes when infected with the COVID virus. People who follow a plant-based diet have, on average, much lower rates of these diseases. Lower levels of baseline inflammation and lower rates of chronic disease combine to give vegetarians and vegans the edge.  

Can a good diet prevent you from getting COVID in the first place? Here the effect of the plant-based diet is much less pronounced. One study showed only a 9% reduction in the risk of getting infected in the first place. Based on the evidence, vaccination is very strongly recommended for the general public.

While 9% isn’t much of a reduction, with a disease as widespread as COVID it can still make a difference in preventing illness. A 73% reduction in the risk of getting a severe or moderate case of COVID makes a huge difference in reducing suffering and saving lives.

Vegan celebs making a difference

Many veg celebs give the veg world a big boost.  When they talk about vegan food many people listen and are inspired to try it, when they visit a restaurant people want to go there, and this can influence a restaurant to start offering vegan options.

So when a vegan celebrity, Lizzo, announced that she’s going to visit a meat and dairy-heavy restaurant, FoodChasers Kitchen in Philadelphia, the owners took on the challenge of making a vegan meal for the star and her guests.  They opened the restaurant on a Wednesday, when they are typically closed, and tasked the chef with creating a delicious vegan menu.

According to local outlet The Philadelphia Inquirer, the five-item, mushroom-focused menu featured vegan versions of FoodChaser classics such as plant-based cheesy grits topped with seasoned mushrooms; tacos stuffed with fried mushrooms, avocado, and pico de gallo; a meatball grinder made with portobello mushrooms and smothered in vegan cheese; a cheesesteak sandwich with mushrooms; and mushroom ravioli in vegan butter sauce. 

Lizzo enjoyed the food, while playing Uno with her guests, and you can be sure she talked about it on social media.  As a result the eatery has started serving some of the vegan dishes that were created alongside its regular menu.

Many celebrities are choosing a vegan lifestyle these days.  Some do it for ethical reasons, for the animals and the planet; others do it for their own personal health or their athletic performance. 

In Lizzo’s case, she chooses a vegan lifestyle for her health.  “I just feel better when I eat plants” she said. 

Whatever their reasons, celebrities talking about their vegan food choices, and requesting vegan options when they visit a restaurant, has an outsized influence on restaurants and their desire to include vegan offerings, which benefits all of us.

Fast food restaurants of the future

The growing interest in plant-based foods is giving rise to new startup restaurant chains on the horizon. For instance, John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods Market, plans to build a plant-based restaurant chain. Mackey is listed as a partner in Healthy America LLC, Bloomberg reports, which aims to launch vegetarian restaurants nationwide. Mackey’s past success scaling a business promoting healthy lifestyles is attracting plenty of investor attention as vegetarian and vegan diets grow in popularity. Several former Whole Foods executives are already joining Mackey in his new endeavor.

Read more

New York City Hospitals serve plant-based meals

All 11 hospitals run by New York City will now serve plant-based meals by default.

The move came after diet-change-focused nonprofit, The Better Food Foundation, partnered with New York City Hospitals and the Mayor’s Office. The foundation aims to aid healthcare organizations in improving health outcomes while cutting carbon emissions, and decreasing food costs.

The hospitals serve three million meals for lunch and dinner each year. While meat options will still be available to those who want them, the hospitals are offering plant-based dishes for every meal.

Read more

Diets that fight global warming

The food we consume has a massive impact on our planet. According to one analysis, based on UN data, the diet that helps fight global warming the most, by having the least greenhouse emissions, is the vegan diet followed by a vegetarian diet. You can see how the different diets stack up when it comes to global warming in the graph below.

Bar chart
How much CO2e (in billions of tonnes, or Gt) would be saved if the whole world switched to each of these diets. Terms as defined by CarbonBrief. Data: IPCC.

When it comes to global warming we need to move fast if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. A switch to a plant-based diet may be just what we need to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

Read more

Quarterback Justin Fields chooses vegan for performance

Justin Fields 2022

Justin Fields, the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, has discovered that following a plant-based diet makes him lighter and faster.  He first tried it in May 2020 while he was quarantined with his family, and they all decided to do a one-month plant-based challenge.  During that month, Fields noticed how his body felt better, and so at the end of the month, he continued with the diet, while the rest of his family went back to eating meat and dairy products.

Fields was drafted as the Bears’ number one choice in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, after playing college football at Ohio State university. He continued with the Bears into the 2022 season.  Of his vegan diet, he says:

“It’s changed the way I feel and the way I perform dramatically. I just feel so much lighter and faster. Football as a sport is so hard on your body so I just want to do anything I can to have the longest career possible.”

Read more

The future of plant-based bacon

Can plant-based bacon taste like the real thing? Americans love their bacon, and it’s going to take a lot to get them to switch to plant-based versions. Vegan bacon brands have been around for years, and many of them are delicious.  They’re made from a variety of products, such as soy, mushrooms, and wheat-gluten, with flavorings such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, herbs and liquid smoke to give that authentic smoky flavor.  Many brands are readily available in grocery stores, giving us lots of choices, but none taste exactly like animal-based bacon.

A French company, La Vie, seems to have cracked the problem.  French farmers are so worried about La Vie’s plant-based bacon that the French Pork Lobby have accused La Vie of unfair competition.  The Pork Lobby claims that La Vie’s plant-based lardons are so similar to conventional pork alternatives that they must have copied the original flavor.  La Vie is flattered by the comparison and thanked the pork lobby for the “nicest compliment”.  Taking out a full back page advert in Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper, the bacon innovator directly addresses consumers first. “The pork lobby is attacking us because our veggie lardons are indistinguishable from pork lardons.” 

Read more

Live longer with plant-based diet

A young adult in the U.S. could add more than a decade to their life expectancy by changing their diet from a typical Western diet to an optimized diet that includes more legumes, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat, according to a new study.

Gains are predicted to be larger the earlier the dietary changes are initiated in life. For older people, the anticipated gains to life expectancy from such dietary changes would be smaller but still substantial. The message is clear. You’re never too young to start on a plant-based diet, and you’re never too old to benefit from it.

According to the study, young people starting out at age 20 could, on average, add 10 years to life expectancy for women and 13 years for men. Starting at age 60, it could add 8 years, on average, for women and 9 years, on average, for men. Even 80-year-old women and men could add 3 years, on average, to their life expectancy.

This should come as no surprise. The Journal of the American Medical Association says that diet is the number one risk factor for disease in the United States. Among the 10 leading causes of death (before COVID) are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, all of which a plant-based diet can help prevent and treat.

According to the study, an optimal diet had substantially higher intake than a typical western diet of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Yet, many doctors treat nutrition as a side issue. Of course, they were offered little to no training in medical school.

Of course, we don’t say that nutrition is the only relevant factor in life expectancy. For instance cigarette smoking has a large impact, along with access to medical care. Nevertheless, the nutritional effect  on health is considerable and offers a wide ranging opportunity for increasing life expectancy.

Musician Travis Barker is passionate about his vegan diet

(Photo by Glenn Francis/Pacific Pro Digital Photography)

The 46-year-old drummer, Travis Barker, is passionate about his diet and health, and puts his money where his mouth is by financially backing vegan businesses.  Barker is also a music producer, entrepreneur, fashion designer and recently married Kourtney Kardashian.  He has been the drummer for the rock band Blink-182, since 1992, and also collaborates with hip hop artists.  Rolling Stone lists him as one of the 100 greatest drummers of all time.

He has been a vegetarian since the age of 15, but switched to a vegan lifestyle after being seriously injured in a plane crash in 2008.  Barker sustained second-degree burns on over 65% of his body and required numerous surgeries and skin grafts.  Barker told Men’s Health that going vegan was part of a promise he made to himself after the crash. The benefits have been significant for him.

“Honestly, ever since I found this way of eating I have endless amounts of energy,” says Barker. “I can go all day, and after it all I never find myself getting tired. No matter what kind of shows I have done, or workouts I do on top of it, I still have to force myself to sleep at night.”  

For Travis Barker, maintaining his vegan diet isn’t an issue. His Los Angeles location puts him close to many excellent healthy, vegan shops and restaurants, so he doesn’t have to worry about not having access to healthy foods. He is so passionate about his vegan lifestyle that he has even invested in a vegan restaurant in LA, Crossroads Kitchen.  He joins many other entertainment celebrities, such as Carrie Underwood, Billie Eilish, and rapper RZA.

Champion surfer Tia Blanco is a vegan

Champion surfer, Tia Blanco, choses a vegan lifestyle, and has found it to have a positive impact on her performance. As she grew up in California and Hawaii, Tia Blanco took to surfing at a young age, and by age 17, she was already winning national titles. She now lives in Southern California. She represented Puerto Rico as a pro-surfer in the Pan-Am Games, and continues to compete at a high level, ranking in the top 50 female surfers internationally.  

To maintain this level of performance, she trains daily, spending up to 8 hours a day in the water or working out on land.

She says, “I feel healthier on a clean, whole foods diet that is very simple — especially during competition. And since a plant-based diet is less calorically dense than other diets, I need to make sure I’m eating enough food so I up my portions a lot. I think of veggies as nutrition and water, not a food where I can get energy so I don’t even count veggies when I’m counting calories and nutrition. For energy, I go to potatoes, whole grains, and starchy veggies. I’m obsessed with carrots and sweet potatoes.” 

She also makes sure to consume plenty of legumes and nuts, along with protein shakes, although she admits that’s more because she likes the taste, as she doesn’t feel short of protein.

Having been raised vegetarian, Tia decided to go vegan in 2013 after thinking about her food choices carefully.  She recognizes the benefits of a vegan diet from both a compassion for animals, environmental and a health perspective, and has become active in promoting plant-based diets. Although she’s very open about her ethical beliefs regarding animals when it comes to veganism, and how a vegan diet has fueled her through her impressive athletic accomplishments to date, Blanco strives to keep her relationship with food and others positive — especially with so many other pro surfers adhering to meat-heavy Paleo diets.

“I definitely get my haters,” she says. “Even when I was vegetarian not everyone agreed with it, obviously. But I don’t push my beliefs on others. I express the benefits if people are asking, and in my case people were asking. I never tell people how to eat. Respect what’s on my plate, I’ll respect what’s on yours.”

« Older Entries