Norwalk Public Schools are upgrading their school lunch menu to include a daily vegan entrée. They were already offering veggie burgers, vegetable-based “chik’n” nuggets, hummus or black beans and corn over chips, chickpea salad, crumbled Impossible beef nacho topping, and sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches. But many of these options contained animal-based ingredients that were not vegan-friendly.
They are now adding sweet and crunchy chickpea wraps, Impossible burgers, and a Mediterranean salad. This change makes buying lunch more accessible for students with dietary restrictions, making it more fair and considerate for students who otherwise had to bring their lunches from home.
The nonprofit “Friends of Animals” coordinated with school board member, Kara Nelson Baekey, to emphasize the importance of inclusive meals that can serve not just vegans, but also students with allergies or dairy intolerance. “It’s so important that we as a district walk the walk when talking about equity and inclusion for all students,” Baekey said in a statement. “Dietary needs and preferences are an area that most don’t consider when thinking about these commitments, so thank you to Friends of Animals for bringing it to our attention…”
The vegan options are available to all students, regardless of their dietary choices. Beyond increased inclusivity for students with varying diets, the menu embraces environmentalism, acknowledging that animal farming contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While this might be OK as a general principle for some diseases, it doesn’t go far enough for others. When it comes to cancer, great progress has been made in treating some cancers but not all, and glioma, a form of brain cancer, is one of them. In this case an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. It’s more like a ton. There is usually no early detection for glioma and by the time the disease is detected it’s likely to already be at an advanced stage. The 5-year survival rate is only 5%.
While doctors are working hard to find effective treatments for glioma, they have already discovered ways to reduce the risk of getting it. It turns out that, just as with several other forms of cancer, a plant-based diet is powerful medicine when it comes to preventing glioma. Studies show that following a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of glioma by 71%. That’s pretty good for any disease, but for a cancer with only a 5% survival rate that’s saying quite a lot.
What is it about a plant-based diet that gives it this power to reduce the risk of glioma? Besides not containing animal foods, which can bioconcentrate carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals such as some pesticides and industrial pollutants, plant foods contain biological super-heroes. These super-heroes, technically called phytonutrients, have many health-promoting properties. There’s more to nutrition than just vitamins and minerals. Phytonutrients can helps cells from becoming malignant in the first place. For cells already cancerous they inhibit their growth and spread. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect. This is important since glioma usually entails quite a bit of inflammation.
While these benefits of reduced carcinogens, phytonutrients and reduced inflammation help prevent several other cancers as well, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer, the lack of effective treatment for glioma makes it all the more imperative to switch to a plant-based diet at the earliest possible time, preferably from birth!
Novak Djokovic has won an all-time record 23 Grand Slam men’s singles titles in tennis, and has ranked world No 1 for a record total of 389 weeks over a period of 12 different years. He is the only man in tennis history to be the reigning champion of all four major tournaments at once across three different surfaces. Throughout this period, he has avoided animal foods, although he’s not comfortable with using the term vegan.
He cut out animal products as a child. He suffered from allergies that were found to be predominantly related to gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Once he eliminated these foods he immediately felt better. Soon after that, he cut out red meat. He was playing tennis from the age of 4, and as a six-year old he was sent to a tennis camp run by Yugoslav tennis player Jelena Gencic. He began his international tennis career at age 14, winning European championships in singles, double and team competition. He found that animal flesh slowed him down, stating: “Eating meat was hard on my digestion and took a lot of essential energy that I need for my focus, for recovery, for the next training session, and for the next match.”
Rapper will.i.am (William James Adams) is best know as the founder and lead member of the band Black-Eyed Peas, although he is also a songwriter, actor and record producer who has worked with many famous musicians. He ditched meat, dairy and eggs back in 2017 after his doctor told him that he had high blood pressure and cholesterol. Heart disease and diabetes ran in his family, so his doctor encouraged him to take control of his diet as soon as possible.
Will.i.am admitted that he’d never given much thought to what he was eating before that. But he recognized that he needed to change his diet and start working out more. He became vegan, biked to work and lost 15lbs pretty quickly. He also noticed that he was experiencing other health improvements.
A plant-based diet can help treat Lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE for short, affects up to 322,000 adults in the United States, the vast majority of whom are women. It’s an autoimmune disease, but unlike other autoimmune diseases it targets a variety of organs and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Genetic predisposition, environmental factors and hormones interplay in SLE disease development and activity. Lupus definitely comes under the heading of a difficult-to-treat disease.
The symptoms of lupus are bad enough, but there are also some diseases that often come along with it. In one study, people with SLE were found to have a two to three times the risk of heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in SLE patients. One reason is that atherosclerosis is accelerated in SLE patients. Their arteries lay down plaque faster than others, so they develop cardiovascular disease faster. Over half of people with SLE have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and are obese. Complicating matters even more is that people with SLE are more likely to have prediabetes and chronic kidney disease. The medications used to treat SLE can have very significant side effects which can cause even more problems. People with lupus have a lot of problems going on at once, especially during a flare up.
When you decide to move toward a plant-based diet, sooner or later you’re going to discover Nutritional Yeast. This denatured yeast will not enable your bread to rise, but will add a nutty, cheese-like flavor to meals and snacks, and packs a nutritional punch.
It comes in the form of golden flakes or a yellow powder, and in just 5g (1 teaspoon) you get 3g protein, and 1g of fiber. It also includes iron, potassium and some antioxidants, plus it’s often fortified with B vitamins including B12. It’s available in packets, shaker jars, or from bulk bins in most grocery stores.
It’s easy to sprinkle on popcorn, oatmeal, cooked vegetables or any other food, with a flavor similar to Parmesan cheese. It can also be added as a thickener to soups and sauces, providing more nutrition than conventional white flour.
Here are some easy recipes to help you easily replace conventional cheese dishes at home:
The headquarters building of LinkedIn, based in San Francisco, has converted their employee café to be plant-based by default. The company was looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and the food they served in their cafeterias provided them with a big opportunity to make a difference. Working with an organization called “Greener by Default” alongside their catering partner, Sodexo-owned Good Eating Company, they were able to gradually move to a 65% plant-based menu and the replacement of cows’ milk with oat milk as the default.
Although they still serve meat dishes, these are limited in number, and they only serve the most carbon-intensive options such as beef or lamb, in one dish per week. They have worked to create vegan versions of the most popular meat dishes in the café, so that diners will likely choose the most climate-friendly options. As they made the transition to offering more plant-based options, they carried out regular surveys of the diners to see how they felt about the new choices that were being offered. As the feedback received was positive, they were able to make more changes over a three-month trial period, and ended with having switched the ratio of foods from five meat meals to three plant-based meals to five plant-based meals and three meat-based at each meal. Other LinkedIn offices will now start working on the same menu transformation.
“When a corporate trendsetter like LinkedIn shows that people are happy to choose plant-based foods when they’re accessible and appealing, it’s a huge leap forward towards a more sustainable food culture,” said Katie Cantrell, CEO of Greener by Default. Greener by Default works with a range of clients including healthcare facilities, universities, restaurants and more. They include Harvard University, Stanford Medicine and a global soap manufacturer Dr Bronner, as happy clients alongside LinkedIn. They present plant-based food as being more sustainable, cost-effective and inclusive. Clients note that by making plant-based meals the default, they also increase the healthfulness of their meals. They seem to have hit on a winning formula to help businesses make a significant switch to their cafeteria options.
While Kate Mara has received numerous acting awards in primetime television (House of Cards for example) and blockbuster movies (such as Fantastic Four), in January she was recognized for her animal advocacy efforts off the screen. The Animal Legal Defense Fund selected Kate as one of the honorees at its Justice for Animals Fundraiser.
Kate Mara grew up in Bedford NY, where she developed a deep love for animals. During her teens she observed several trucks carting chickens to slaughter and realized that this animal cruelty was just to allow us to feed ourselves in a certain way. She adopted a vegetarian diet soon after. It was a health argument, from reading a book called The Beauty Detox, that convinced her to go vegan. Her younger sister Rooney Mara had adopted a vegan lifestyle about two years earlier, so she had plenty of support in her decision.
Her first act of animal advocacy was sparked by the 2013 documentary, Blackfish, which revealed the animal abuse and tragic human accidents that were covered up by SeaWorld. She reached out to the filmmaker and offered her support. Since then she has chosen to get involved with several different projects. She makes an effort to keep up to date by surrounding herself with people who do a lot for animals. She credits the attorneys at the Animal Legal Defense Fund for giving her and other advocates the support needed to have the greatest impact.
Kate shares that being a mom of three young children has fueled her work as a defender of animals.
“I find it empowering to choose the stories we tell them and how to make them aware [of what’s on their plate]. I wasn’t aware of what was put on my plate. It excites me to be able to raise my children in a way that is more honest,” she said.
Actress Alicia Silverstone first went vegetarian at the age of eight, when she learned about baby cows being taken from their mothers on an English farm. While her chosen diet was off and on for a while, by the age of 21 she was fully vegan.
Alicia started modelling at the age of six, and her film debut came at the age of 16 with a role in the thriller The Crush. She went on to start as Cher Horowitz in the teen comedy film Clueless, and in numerous movies, TV shows and stage performances since.
Her fame gave her a platform to promote animal rights and she has been an outspoken advocate in the vegan movement for many years. Alicia has written two books on veganism. The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet became a New York Times bestseller after its release in 2009. The Kind Mama focuses on pregnancy and fertility.
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.