Tag Archives: nutrition

Plant-Based Vs Animal-Based diets – What Does Science Say?

Plant-Based  Vs Animal-Based diets - What Does Science Say?

(References in brackets follow)

  •  – US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health [1].

The number of studies using dietary quality indices to compare restrictive diets with omnivorous diets is limited. One study reports the use of an Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) to examine the nutritional adequacy and quality of a low-fat vegan diet compared to a more conventional diet in type 2 diabetes patients. Patients switching to the low fat vegan diet significantly improved their AHEI score in every food category with a substantial increase for the fruit and vegetable components. Patients switching to the conventional diabetes diets did not improve their AHEI score. The increase for the AHEI score was accompanied with a significant improvement of intake of several nutrients. Moreover, this study reported that the mean vitamin B-12 intake of the low fat vegan diet remained within the recommended range even without supplement use. This was likely due to the inclusion of several vitamin B-12 fortified foods in the diet.

The aim of the present study was to analyze and compare the nutrient intake and the diet quality of vegans, vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians and omnivorous subjects at least 20 years old.

In conclusion, results concerning body weight, nutritional intake, nutritional quality and quantity are in line with the literature on restricted and prudent diets versus unrestricted omnivorous diets. The use of indexing systems, estimating the overall diet quality based on different aspects of healthful dietary models (be it the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans or the compliance to the Mediterranean Diet) indicated consistently the vegan diet as the most healthy one. Adaptation with specific components (e.g., soy drinks instead of milk; inclusion of other polyunsaturated fat sources instead of fish) may increase the relation with different types of healthful diets, and this especially for the MDS (Mediterranean Diet Score) system.

  •  – Health effects of vegan diets. Craig WJ [2)

Compared with other vegetarian diets, vegan diets tend to contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber. Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease. However, eliminating all animal products from the diet may increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Micronutrients of special concern for the vegan include vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that are fortified with these nutrients, appropriate supplements should be consumed. In some cases, iron and zinc status of vegans may also be of concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals.

  •  – Diet and body mass index (BMI) in meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans [3].

Age-adjusted mean BMI was significantly different between the four diet groups, being highest in the meat-eaters (24.41 in men, 23.52 in women) and lowest in the vegans (22.49 in men, 21.98 in women). Fish-eaters and vegetarians had similar, intermediate mean BMI. Differences in lifestyle factors including smoking, physical activity and education level accounted for less than 5% of the difference in mean age-adjusted BMI between meat-eaters and vegans, whereas differences in macronutrient intake accounted for about half of the difference.

Conclusions: Fish-eaters, vegetarians and especially vegans had lower BMI than meat-eaters. High protein and low fiber intakes were the factors most strongly associated with increasing BMI.

  •  – Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets [4].

Physicians looking for cost-effective interventions to improve health outcomes are becoming more involved in helping their patients adopt healthier lifestyles. Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods. We present a case study as an example of the potential health benefits of such a diet. Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels.

Conclusion: A healthy, plant-based diet requires planning, reading labels, and discipline. The recommendations for patients who want to follow a plant-based diet may include eating a variety of fruits and vegetables that may include beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains and avoiding or limiting animal products, added fats, oils, and refined, processed carbohydrates. Among the major benefits for patients who decide to start a plant-based diet are the possibilities of reducing the number of medications they take to treat a variety of chronic conditions, lower body weight, decreased risk of cancer, and a reduction in their risk of death from ischemic heart disease.

  •  – The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection [5].

Few studies include vegan subjects as a distinct experimental group, yet when vegan diets are directly compared to vegetarian and omnivorous diets, a pattern of protective health benefits emerges. The relationship between diet and the intestinal microbial profile appears to follow a continuum, with vegans displaying a gut microbiota most distinct from that of omnivores, but not always significantly different from that of vegetarians. The vegan gut profile appears to be unique in several characteristics, including a reduced abundance of pathobionts and a greater abundance of protective species. Reduced levels of inflammation may be the key feature linking the vegan gut microbiota with protective health effects.

  • – A vegan regimen with reduced medication in the treatment of hypertension [6].

Twenty-nine patients who had suffered from essential hypertension for an average of 8 years, all receiving long-term medication for hypertension, were subject to therapy with vegan food for 1 year. In almost all cases medication was withdrawn or drastically reduced. There was a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A number of reported symptoms disappeared. There was a significant improvement in a number of clinical variables as well as a significant change in various biochemical indices such as urea, haptoglobin, cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in blood. Subjectively all patients reported improvement. Selected patients, with a fear of side-effects of medication, who are interested in alternative healthcare might replace conventional medication with this dietary regimen.

  • – Vegan regimen with reduced medication in the treatment of bronchial asthma [7].

Thirty-five patients who had suffered from bronchial asthma for an average of 12 yr, all receiving long-term medication, 20 including cortisone, were subject to therapy with vegan food for 1 yr. In almost all cases, medication was withdrawn or drastically reduced. There was a significant decrease in asthma symptoms. Twenty-four patients (69%) fulfilled the treatment. Of these, 71% reported improvement at 4 months and 92% at 1 yr. There was a significant improvement in a number of clinical variables; for example, vital capacity, forced expiratory volume at one sec and physical working capacity, as well as a significant change in various biochemical indices as haptoglobin, IgM, IgE, cholesterol, and triglycerides in blood. Selected patients, with a fear of side-effects of medication, who are interested in alternative health care, might get well and replace conventional medication with this regimen.

  • – A Worksite Vegan Nutrition Program Is Well-Accepted and Improves Health-Related Quality of Life and Work Productivity [8].

The aim of this study was to determine the acceptability of a worksite vegan nutrition program and its effects on health-related quality of life and work productivity. The vegan group reported improvements in general health, physical functioning, mental health, vitality, and overall diet satisfaction compared with the control group. The vegan group reported a 40-46% decrease in health-related productivity impairments at work and in regular daily activities.ConclusionsA worksite vegan nutrition program is well-accepted and can be implemented by employers to improve the health, quality of life, and work productivity of employees.

  • – Dr. T. Colin Campbell (professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and co-author of "The China Study").

T. Colin Campbell, who argues that a vegan diet is healthier than diets that include meat and dairy products, is professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and co-author of "The China Study."

“Yes: Cut Animal-Based Protein” says Dr. Campbell: “Our findings, published in top peer-reviewed journals, pointed away from meat and milk as the building blocks of a healthy diet, and toward whole, plant-based foods with little or no added oil, sugar or salt.

“Historically, the primary health value of meat and dairy has been attributed to their generous supply of protein. But therein lay a Trojan horse.

“More than 70 years ago, for example, casein (the main protein of cow's milk) was shown in experimental animal studies to substantially increase cholesterol and early heart disease. Later human studies concurred. Casein, whose properties, it's important to note, are associated with other animal proteins in general, also was shown during the 1940s and 1950s to enhance cancer growth in experimental animal studies.

“In my lab, from the 1960s to the 1990s, we conducted a series of studies and published dozens of peer-reviewed papers demonstrating casein's remarkable ability to promote cancer growth in test animals when consumed in excess of protein needs, which is about 10% of total calories, as recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences more than 70 years ago.

“Some of the most compelling evidence of the effects of meat and dairy foods arises when we stop eating them. Increasing numbers of individuals resolve their pain (arthritic, migraine, cardiac) when they avoid dairy food. And switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet with little or no added salt, sugar and fat, produces astounding health benefits. This dietary lifestyle can prevent and even reverse 70% to 80% of existing, symptomatic disease, with an equivalent savings in health-care costs for those who comply.

“Based on the scientific evidence, and on the way I feel, I know beyond any doubt that I am better off for having changed my diet to whole and plant-based foods.”

References:

[1] – Turner-McGrievy G.M., Barnard N.D., Cohen J., Jenkins D.J., Gloede L., Green A.A. Changes in nutrient intake and dietary quality among participants following a low-fat vegan diet or a conventional diet for 22 weeks.

[2] – American Journal of clinical nutrition – May, 2009

[3] – International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity – June 2003

[4] – The Permanente Journal – Spring 2013

[5] – Nutrients Journal – 2014

[6] – British Journal of Nutrition – 1984

[7] – The Journal of Asthma – 1985

[8] – Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism – 2010

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Athletes and Veganism (With / Video)…

Let’s start with a partial list of well known (and successful) vegan athletes:

  • David Carter, 28 year old, 300 pound NFL defensive lineman.
  • John Joseph, 53, Ironman champion and rockstar.
  • Venus and Serena Williams, 35 and 36 respectively, tennis ace sisters and Olympic tennis champions.
  • Scott Jurek, 32 year old American ultramarathoner.
  • Nick and Nate Diaz, 32 and 30 respectively, UFC (ultimate fight champions) brothers.
  • David Smith, 37 year old, gold medal winning Olympic rower.
  • Timothy Shieff, 27 year old free-running ninja and World Freerun Championship winner.
  • Tia Blanco, 18, American pro surfer, yogi, and winner of the women’s final 2015 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG).
  • Brendan Brazier, 40, former professional Ironman triathlete, a bestselling author and magazine editor.

And to further destroy the myth that a plant-based diet lacks the necessary protein to build large muscles, watch this YouTube video…


There are plenty of highly opinionated viewpoints when considering whether veganism can fully sustain a weekly regimen of athletic training (swimming, cycling, running, weight lifting, sports etc.). Two common and opposing viewpoints are the questions; if a plant-based diet does not give the body all the nutrition it needs, could it actually be dangerous for a highly active athlete’s brain and/or body? And, on the other hand: if a plant-based diet is actually nutritionally sufficient, then could meat-eaters be engaging in unnecessary or unethical consumption of excessive and potentially metabolically damaging protein sources?

The plant-based diet community claims that one of the primary advantages is the acid-forming properties of meat and dairy products, compared to the relatively non-acidic (or alkaline) forming properties of whole plant-based foods. The logic seems sound: an excessively acidic blood pH results in inflammation, and thus impairs recovery. Additionally, this Inflammation is linked to cancer, heart disease, and strokes.

One reason for the increased acidity of a meat-based diet is that animal protein is richer in sulfur-containing amino acids that increase production and excretion of sulfuric acid during their metabolism. When this acidity reaches a certain point the body can actually leach calcium from the bones to neutralize the acidic condition.

Lemons, limes and grapefruits are all acidic, but when they’re broken down in the body, what remains are buffering alkaline minerals. Perhaps more readily available than in any other food, the minerals found in freshly extracted green vegetable juice travels quickly throughout the body and offers a buffering effect against acids. Many healthy vegan diets include large amounts of juicing and/or blending, primarily due to the nutritional density and ease of digestion of blended slurries of vegetables, fruits or nuts. Since these foods are easily digested and absorbed, they consume less energy to produce more energy, and this may allow for a healthier gastrointestinal state in the exercising athlete. Indeed, many athletes who switch to a plant-based diet feel an immediate surge in energy.

It is more than possible for an athlete to thrive on a plant-based diet. In fact, anecdotal evidence confirms that eating in such a manner will improve athletic performance, taking you to new levels. Both professional and amateur athletes know the key to performance is to make sure that they eat enough calories with plenty of protein and carbohydrates to keep performing at peak levels. This is entirely possible, and in some ways easier, with a plant-based diet.

The foundation of any healthy and successful diet is consistency. Vegan athletes need to train hard and stick to a solid nutrient-dense, plant-based diet at least 90–95% of the time to get the results they want. The best way to keep up this consistency is to choose nutritious foods that you can look forward to eating every day, when you enjoy your diet, you will have no problem sticking with it.

Doing it right or doing it wrong?

Probably the most cited disadvantage of a vegan diet is the potential for certain nutritional deficits, and one common mistake for athletes who make the switch is not eating a wide enough variety of colors in whole plant foods. When athletes initiate a vegan lifestyle, they need to make sure they are getting adequate sources certain nutrients not commonly found on a plant-based diet. Obviously, based on the great success of athletes that consume a plant-based diet, it seems to be quite possible to do it right and avoid the deficiencies and risks of un-intelligent shopping and eating habits. This will be the subject of the next article. So, stay tuned…coming soon; “Problems Athletes May Have on a Vegan Diet and Solutions”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Yoga and Veganism…

Adopting a plant-based (vegan) diet not only makes sense for both our health and the environment, many yogis interpret Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (one of yoga’s primary texts), as indicating veganism as a practice that leads to self-realization. These yogis believe that diet is one of the primary keys to the practice of Ahimsa, one of the principles outlined in the Yoga Sutras. Ahimsa, or non-harming is the first of five yamas, or guidelines for self-restraint. To these practitioners, veganism is looked upon as Ahimsa in practice. Ahimsa is all about being kind to others (including animals and other sentient beings), to the planet, and to oneself. Veganism is not simply about restriction, it’s a way of eating and living that can generate happiness and joy.

From a yogic perspective, the purpose of foods is to assist your body to cleanse, revitalize, repair and strengthen your immune system. A traditional yoga diet consists of mainly plant-based foods which are eaten in as close to their natural state as possible and which cause the least amount of harm to the environment.

Yoga Journal’s latest “Yoga in America” survey, conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys, shows that 8.7 percent of Americans are practicing yoga (that’s 20.4 million Americans). Sadly, in spite of these impressive numbers, it is estimated that only about 1.3% of the United States population follows a vegan diet. The average American consumes a minimum of 31 animals per year, contributing to and supporting the financial success of the cruel and violent meat and dairy industries. This contrast between the percentage of yoga practitioners and vegans in America clearly reveals how many people attempt to reap the physical benefits of asana while hypocritically ignoring yoga's peaceful philosophy. Hopefully, by reviewing the important connection between yoga and veganism throughout history, meat-eating yogis will be encouraged to reflect on their ethics and give a plant-based diet a try.

Yoga is not just about losing weight and toning up. The practice of yoga is thousands of years old, originating in India. Furthermore, Patanjali is believed to have compiled the Yoga Sutras around 200 B.C. to serve as a framework for integrating Yoga into the practitioner’s daily routine while living an ethical lifestyle. Realizing the true value and benefits of Yoga practice serves as a means of attaining enlightenment.

So, the question arises, why is it that so many yoga practitioners tend to turn a blind eye to Patanjali's peaceful philosophy? Well it seems that most people dismiss veganism as a lifestyle/dietary option because they believe it will be too much of a hassle and/or because they lack the discipline to alter deep-seated eating habits. The unwillingness to adopt a vegan diet/lifestyle is a mistake that results in people missing out on the awesome philosophical and spiritual benefits of practicing yoga. When people only observe the practice of asana (physical postures); then they are not truly experiencing yoga and their practice will remain partial and incomplete.

Yoga and Veganism…

In summary: Our yoga practice will be enhanced by selecting and eating food that promotes health, happiness and overall wellbeing for both ourselves and our environment, plus we’ll discover a better quality of life and insure the sustainability of the planet. Whenever we see that our food choices are causing suffering and disease (to ourselves and/or others), we ultimately contribute to our own demise. If this is the case, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what we are eating.

Stay tuned…Coming soon, “Athletes and Veganism”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan…

Most vegans agree, it's more important (and easier) to change your diet one step at a time; if you are currently a vegetarian you probably have already realized that. First you went vegetarian and stayed with that for a while. Plus you learned how to make it work for you, including smart shopping, cooking, eating out, dealing with awkward social situations, etc.

Now, you can do almost exactly the same thing, it’s still a gradual transition, but it just takes it another step further. Going vegan from vegetarian is actually quite easy.

But let’s make sure we're on the same page. "Vegetarian" means you had to say goodbye to any foods for which an animal had to actually give up its life, which meant meats of all kinds (yes, including chicken and fish) and any foods which contain products or byproducts of these animals (a few examples include some soup broths, pasta sauces, lard and fish oil).

As a "vegan" you will necessarily need to give up all the other animal products, even those which the animals did NOT have to lose their life for, including eggs, dairy products (milk and cheese), and honey. So the real challenge mission, if and when you chose to accept it, is to go vegan which means saying farewell to these things also.

You have probably already taken the biggest step, and that is the proper attitude and mindset necessary to make these positive dietary changes. Keep in mind; you have already accomplished this on the road to becoming a vegetarian.

Transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan…

Now to go Vegan, here is a recommended “step by step” way to proceed:

1.Remove the eggs in the diet first. Eggs are easy to remove from your diet. Tofu is a great replacement for eggs such as in scrambled tofu and faux egg salad. And foods like pancakes and French toast are delicious and nutritious with the simple substitution of flax eggs. You can always resort to a vegan egg substitute like EnerG Egg Replacer

2.Next, remove the dairy milk and replace with non-dairy milks. There are so many out there to try, including almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, cashew milk, and the list goes on. I recommend you buy a few different brands and types of non-dairy milk and do some taste testing to find one you like.

3.Learn to live without butter (and without margarine). There’s a great dairy-free vegan butter substitute called Earth Balance (organic/whipped). It tastes quite rich and buttery, has a smooth consistency and is reasonably priced. As an added bonus, it is also gluten-free, non-GMO, and, unlike most margarine, it has no hydrogenated oils. It is also possible to make your own vegan butter, just go to this site.

4.Now a tough one perhaps? Cheese! Many people claim they could never give up cheese, some insisting they’re addicted to it. Could this be true? Yes, bovine lactation fluids are addicting. Believe it or not, when samples of cow's milk have been analyzed, it is found to contain traces of morphine. Cows actually produce this chemical (along with codeine and other opiates) in their livers and it can (and usually does) end up in the milk. Anyone can discover how to live life without cheese! As a cheese substitute in cooking try nutritional (good tasting) yeast (aka “nooch”) it’s packed with nutrition, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein) or miso (use instead of salt and in place of cheese in pestos and soups. You can add it to quiches, sauces, etc. Always add miso toward the end of cooking, since heating miso can kill its wonderful enzymes). Additionally, every day more and more vegan cheese substitutes are available on the market.

3 additional tips:

1.Read this blog article on Vegan Nutrition – http://www.raeindigo.com/vegan-nutrition-addressing-your-concerns/

2.Give up honey, many don’t realize it’s an animal product (the fact is that honey is made from nectar the worker bees regurgitate, which is a polite way of saying bee vomit) – replace it with a plant-based sweetener.

3.One last subject of concern: “The protein myth…” Should you believe the hype about vegans being deficient in protein intake? This is almost a joke! Why, because it’s ridiculously easy for a vegan diet to meet all the recommendations for protein by simply maintaining adequate calorie intake. Strict planning or food combining is not necessary to insure ample protein intake. The key for vegans is to eat a varied diet. Almost all plant-based foods except for alcohol, sugar, and fats provide some protein. Vegan sources include: Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), tofu, tempeh, seitan, peanut butter, non-dairy milks, almonds, mushrooms, rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, etc.) and the list goes on. Additionally, store-bought meat substitute products and veggie burgers are also quite high in protein!

Stay tuned…Coming soon, “Yoga and Veganism”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Are Plants Sentient Beings?

How many times have we vegans heard those who eat animal flesh ask us the following? “You talk about having a diet and lifestyle where you avoid killing any living thing, but what about plants?  Plants are living things and you kill them.” It seems like they would like to make a case about the futility of being a vegan, since we vegans are committed to eating only plant-based foods and plants want to live as much as any animal does. In other words, they wish to imply that if we’re all destined to be murderers anyway, what difference does it make who or what we’re murdering, or whether it’s a plant or an animal?

Are Plants Sentient Beings?

But what they fail to realize is that plants are qualitatively different from humans and sentient non-humans. And although plants are certainly alive, they are not sentient. Plants do not have interests. There is nothing that a plant desires, or wants, or prefers because there is no mind there to engage in these cognitive activities. When we say that a plant “needs” or “wants” water (or sunlight), we are no more making a statement about the mental status of the plant than we are when we say that a car engine “needs” or “wants” oil. It may be in my interest to put oil in my car. But it is not in my car’s interest; my car has no interests.

A plant may respond to sunlight and other stimuli but that does not mean the plant is sentient. If I run an electrical current through a wire attached to a bell, the bell rings. But that does not mean that the bell is sentient. Plants do not have nervous systems, benzodiazepine receptors, or any of the characteristics that we identify with sentience. And this all makes scientific sense. It would indeed be a cruel creator that would evolve plants to have developed sentience (to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively) when they cannot do anything in response to an act that damages them? If you touch a flame to a plant, the plant cannot run away; it stays right where it is and burns. If you touch a flame to a dog, the dog does exactly what you would do – cries in pain and tries to get away from the flame. Sentience is a characteristic that has evolved in certain beings to enable them to survive by escaping from a noxious stimulus. Sentience would serve no purpose for a plant; plants cannot “escape.”

This is not to suggest that we humans cannot have moral obligations concerning plants, but we certainly do not have moral obligations that we owe to plants. That is, we may have a moral obligation not to cut down a tree, but that is not an obligation that we owe to the tree. The tree is not the sort of entity to which we can have moral obligations. We can have an obligation that we owe to all of the sentient creatures who live in the tree or who depend on it for their survival. We can have moral obligations to other humans and non-human animals that inhabit the planet not to destroy trees wantonly. But we cannot have any moral obligations to the tree; we can only have moral obligations to sentient beings and the tree is not sentient and has no interests of its own. There is nothing that the tree prefers, wants, or desires. The tree is not the sort of entity that cares about what we do to it. The tree is an “it.” The squirrel and the birds that live in the tree certainly have an interest in our not chopping down the tree, but the tree does not. It may be wrong morally to chop down a tree wantonly but that is a qualitatively different act from shooting a deer. Try this; at your next dinner gathering, chop a head of lettuce in front of your guests. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you will get a different reaction than if you were to chop the head off a live chicken while it was trying to escape.

Stay tuned, coming up next, “Transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Violence and Compassion in Veganism…

Compassion is generally defined as the awareness of suffering, and is most often accompanied by a desire to alleviate that suffering. The indisputable fact of biology that non-human animals possess the capacity to suffer is also a matter of pure common sense. Non-human animals strive to avoid pain and their reactions to it, just like we humans do, and even though they do not have the ability to express it in spoken language it still remains immediately recognizable as suffering. We human beings do not have a monopoly on suffering, and it is compassion that enables us to realize that the capacity of non-human animals to suffer is analogous to our own.

In order to be truly compassionate, consideration for, plus a desire to alleviate the suffering of all animals, both human and non-human, is imperative. Then it will naturally follow that we must not abuse or mistreat any animal (human or non-human). If we accept this as true, then we must also embrace the notion that abusing animals by proxy is also completely incompatible with a compassionate existence. It will not suffice to merely refrain from direct acts of abuse or violence toward animals; we must also withdraw any of our support, morally, ethically and practically, from those activities. There really isn’t any appreciable difference between committing an act of violence ourselves and paying someone else to do it on our behalf? After all, commissioning an act of violence is the moral equivalent of committing that act.

“No matter how much a person distances themselves from the act of violence that they have paid for or persuaded someone else to perform on their behalf, will that distancing extricate them from the moral implications of the deed itself.”

The truth that the production of meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy involves tremendous suffering on the part of tens of billions of animals each and every year is both inescapable and incontestable. In just the USA alone, eight-billion chickens are slaughtered for human consumption every year. Consider this: by the time you finish reading this sentence; over two-thousand chickens in the United States alone will have had their throats slit in order to satiate the gastronomic preferences and appetites of humans. It is directly opposed to the principles of compassion to condone or in any way support violence and cruelty, especially on such an enormous scale. Simply stated, any diet that includes meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy is altogether incompatible with the desire to lead a compassionate life. There is no avoiding the fact that such a diet must rely on (actually it is inseparable from) the abuse and slaughter of those creatures who are at our mercy. The abuse and slaughter of non-human animals for the sensory pleasure of humans who consume meat and dairy is completely and undoubtedly irreconcilable with the basic premises of compassion.

Those of us who are concerned with cultivating compassion in ourselves and in others must not allow our notion of “mercy” to be restricted to our own species, but instead we should extend our sphere of compassion to all sentient beings by living a cruelty-free, vegan life-style while relying entirely on nutritionally dense plant-based foods for our dietary requirements.

In order to cultivate compassion it is required that we be mindful of our intentions and that our intentions be consistent with the basic precepts of compassion. Mindfulness of this kind requires constant and continuous effort and although lapses of attention are unavoidable, the devotee of mindfulness and compassion must avoid consciously exempting or excluding any part of their lives or their behavior from the practice. And there is no logic whatsoever in the idea that mealtime should or would provide us with three opportunities a day to disengage our mindfulness and insulate ourselves from the suffering of others. Actually it is just the opposite; whenever we sit down to eat, we are making a conscious choice: either to alleviate suffering or to perpetuate it. Whenever we are motivated by compassion, that choice is perfectly clear.

Stay tuned, coming up next, the question, “Are Plants Sentient Beings” will be considered in respect to the common assumption that plants have feelings too.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

The Spiritual Aspects of Veganism (Part 1)…

Attracting Negative Energy:

So the question arises, why would anyone consciously attract negative energy? Well from a metaphysical standpoint, it’s generally because there is a sort of withdrawal (or contraction) from the delicate world of sensitivity, and that contraction most often is generated by either addiction or fear.

Negative energy in the world is elusive, and is mostly unknown to the majority of people and this is because one of the more common modes of negativity is deception. Basically some “vampiristic” astral spirits (and even some people here on Earth) need negative energy in the form of anger, conflict, fear, etc. And, they need to create it in others to be able to feed.

Negative energy is known to have the quality of addiction. Its deception is meant to make you believe in that you’re dependent on it, offering “poisoned” treasures which make it hard to break free. Negative energy numbs positive emotions, keeping you in a state of dullness and apathy. This apathy enables  you to ignore pain and suffering, but in the long run it is actually what is causing the majority of your pain and suffering.

With proper awareness, we can intuitively sense that it is the world of negative energy which has created a powerful lobby out of the meat industry; by getting government subsidies to make meat and animal products seem cheaper than they really are, by brainwashing people into believing they need animal protein (when they don't), and by stirring up hysteria and dread about veganism being unnatural by conjuring up a long list of nutrients which animals are supposedly better sources of than plant-based foods.

Mindfulness enables us to sense emotions in meat. When you eat animal flesh, you’re also eating the negative energies it contains, including those produced by the animal’s screams as it’s on its way to slaughter. (And from a physical perspective, consider that negative emotions spawn toxic chemicals, too).

The Spiritual Aspects of Veganism

In closing, let’s look at how veganism can really make a difference.

Die hard meat eaters will argue that “veganism won’t make any difference.” And this rational helps them because they don’t want to give up meat anyway, and they also refuse to believe that there is any environmental damage caused by raising animals for food.

It’s hard to imagine all of the suffering animals in the world? Even if you really care about them it will continue to remain hard as long as they remain in your head, because the only place you can express love and caring is here and now, in your senses and feelings and not through your thought-stream. Use your head to remain aware and mindful, then follow your sensitivity, and rest assured that the outcome will be good. In fact, the purpose of following your sensitivity is not entirely about the outcome, in and of itself, but to promote sensitivity simply for its own sake.

Keep in mind that you are not separate from those around you, and whatever you do, including the lead which you take, and the energies which you transmit (both consciously and subconsciously) will only help to bring about change. Whether it’s for the good, or for the bad, it’s your choice. Furthermore it’s your responsibility whether you take it up the challenge or not, because our constant influence on the world that surrounds us is not something that we can renounce.

Stay tuned for The Spiritual Aspects of Veganism (Part 2).

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Effects of a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet on Mental/Emotional States…

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older (this is 18% of the population). Depression also has a major impact, affecting 9.5 percent of the adult population, accounting for $83 billion in lost productivity each year. It's not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Approximately one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Sadly, one of the most obvious (yet under-recognized) factors in the development of major trends in the declining state of mental/emotional health in America are the roles of diet and nutrition. The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. Diet’s impact on short and long-term mental/emotional health is a solid indicator of the fact that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental/emotional health problems; especially problems such as anxiety/stress, depression, schizophrenia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Over 65% of those healthy individuals who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit and/or drink fruit juice every day, compared with less than 1/2 of those who do report daily mental health problems. This pattern is almost identical for those who regularly eat fresh vegetables and salad.

More and more nutritionists are now claiming that empty carbohydrates are often to blame for contributing to negative feelings, including anxiety, depression and feelings of anger. When compared to individuals who eat healthier foods like fruits, leafy greens and legumes, those who consume packaged or processed foods are often mentally unbalanced, emotionally unsettled or irritated more easily. Nutritionally-sparse diets filled with processed foods, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, trans-fats, etc. have been directly associated with a host of unstable mental/emotional health issues. In addition, those who indulge in animal products are often known to exhibit more violent and aggressive tendencies.

Foods that help control anxiety, stress, anger and other conditions that lead to depression and other problems are almost always plant-based. As a matter of fact most plant-based foods are known to help keep negative mental emotional flare-ups at bay. A great example is leafy greens, which have high vitamin “C” content, an antioxidant known to fight stress. Leafy greens also contain magnesium, a nutrient responsible for relaxing muscles and reducing anxiety.

According to a study published in the March/April issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, an 18-week, plant-based dietary intervention program boosts employee productivity, while alleviating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

Researchers with the non-profit “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” placed GEICO employees with a BMI (body/mass index) of 25 or above, or who were previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, on a low-fat, low-glycemic, high-fiber vegan diet. The study participants experienced overall productivity and measurable improvements in anxiety, depression, fatigue, and general health, according to the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire. Study participants also lost an average of 10 pounds, lowered LDL cholesterol by 13 points, and improved blood sugar control (if they had type 2 diabetes).

Effects of a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet on Mental/Emotional States

During the study, healthful vegan options, including vegetable hummus sandwiches, seasonal leafy green salads, and black bean chili, were available in employee cafeterias. And because their menu featured a variety of fruits and vegetables, it was nutritionally-dense and rich in vitamins and minerals. Study participants favored healthful carbohydrate-rich foods, including brown rice, steel cut oats, and rye bread, which help regulate serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin helps control mood.

One of the study authors, Neal Barnard, M.D. says: “The same foods that curb the risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, may help boost overall mood.” The study authors also hypothesize that when individuals improve their physical health, they may become more physically and socially active, increasing their mood and overall quality of life.

“Helping employees improve their health through a plant-based dietary intervention is a win-win situation for employees and the company,” notes Dr. Barnard. “Who doesn’t want to feel great, increase energy, and maximize productivity in the process?”

Stay tuned… Coming soon… More articles on the spiritual/mental/emotional aspects of a vegan diet and lifestyle.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

The Ethics of Veganism…

It's easy and highly tempting for most omnivores to believe that the meat they eat is ethical, that these “food animals” have lived full, happy lives and that they have experienced little to no pain or fear at the slaughterhouse. Yet sadly, the truth is that all living creatures (including those labeled “free range” or “organic”) fear death, just as we do. No matter how these creatures are treated when alive, they all experience the same fear when it comes to slaughter.

This realization leads to ethical considerations which become a powerful long-term motivator for plant-based (vegan) diets. But the welfare of animals is not all there is regarding ethical eating and lifestyle. In addition to animal cruelty we’ll take a brief look at environmental and human rights issues in this article…

  • Animal Cruelty: To meet the modern demands for most meat and dairy products, intensive commercial farming methods have nearly taken over the industry. It’s quite obvious that meat production involves the slaughter of animals, which is reason enough for some people to give it up altogether. But in addition to this, these intensive farming methods also often result in appalling animal cruelty before and up to the moment the animals are killed. Cows, pigs, fowl and other animals that are raised for food are generally being kept in crowded and filthy conditions with injuries left untreated and with no access to sunlight or the outdoors. Opposition to the killing of animals is a common reason cited by vegetarians and vegans, but it’s often overlooked by vegetarians that dairy production also involves slaughter. Milk cows are forced into a vicious cycle of continuous pregnancy so that they will produce milk for human consumption. Their female calves are either slaughtered immediately or used to replace their mothers in the dairy herd, while many of the male calves end up in veal crates; a horrible fate characterized by confinement, darkness, malnutrition, and slaughter.
  • The Environment: Another big reason people for people transitioning to a plant-based diet is to protect the environment. Vast deforestation is taking place in South and Latin America to make room for cattle grazing plus soy and grain cultivation. 97% of the crops are being grown to feed animals for meat or dairy production. Another environmental concern is the methane discharged from farm animals which contributes 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Human Rights: Meat and dairy production also impacts on human rights; while people in impoverished countries are starving, over one third of the world's total grain production is being fed to farmed animals in rich, industrial countries. Because of the commercial demand for animal feed, an average Western meat-based diet uses 4 ½  times more land than would be required for a vegan diet and 2 ¼ times more than for a simple vegetarian diet.

Once you embrace the ethics of veganism, there is really no alternative way of living and eating. This seems to be especially true for those who embrace an animal rights ethic. If you agree that animals are not here for human use, veganism is really your only dietary and lifestyle option.

Adapting a plant-based (vegan) diet is easier than ever before because veganism is becoming increasingly more main-stream. More and more people from all walks of life are discovering the many benefits of eating and living this way.  

So perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves, if it is now possible to live a life that involves delicious food and drink, delivers better health, leaves a smaller carbon footprint and avoids killing or harming of other creatures, then why don't we?

Stay tuned…Coming soon…The next series of articles will cover the spiritual/mental/emotional aspects of a vegan diet and lifestyle.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Snacking – Vegan Style (W/Bonus Recipe)…

Having quick, simple, healthy and vegan-friendly snacks on-hand doesn’t have to be hard by any means. Actually, with a little planning, it can be quite easy. It’s really fun and simple to keep your fridge stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a sure way to get most of the nutrients you will need to keep your body and mind fueled. Combining your produce with nuts, nut butters and seeds will make your snack even more substantial. These snacks are not just for strict vegan, but for anyone looking for some handy, healthy snacks. Naturally, fruit and veggies are great snacks and should be at the top of anyone’s snacking list. However, here’s a list of other snack ideas.

Some of the Healthier Vegan Snack Ideas:

  • Vegan yogurt with granola or fruit
  • Baked tofu, store-bought or homemade
  • Tofu jerky
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter or jam
  • Edamame
  • Granola
  • Kale chips
  • Vegan trail mix
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Pita and hummus
  • Pita and baba ghanoush
  • Dates (watch these, very high in calories)
  • Apples, bananas or celery with peanut butter or another nut butter
  • Nuts, sunflower seeds
  • Applesauce
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bars or protein bars
  • Banana chips
  • Dehydrated fruit leathers
  • Crackers with olive tapenade
  • Chips and salsa
  • Chips and guacamole
  • Veggies with goddess dressing
  • Cucumbers with vegan sour cream
  • Frozen grapes
  • Soy nuts
  • Popcorn (really good with nutritional yeast)
  • Sesame sticks
  • Graham crackers (not Honey Grahams)
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Crackers with pesto
  • Chips with bean dip (store bought or homemade)
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Bagel with peanut butter, hummus or guacamole
  • Vegan muffins
  • Vegan brochette

A Bit Less Healthy Snack Ideas:

  • Vegan ice cream
  • Vegan cookies
  • Vegan deli meats wrapped with vegan cheese
  • Frozen hash browns, French fries or tater tots
  • Vegan chocolate
  • Vegetarian pepperoni slices
  • Fried or baked zucchini chips

*Note: It’s best to avoid vending machines, though the snacks served by them may be convenient, the vegan options (if there are any) are often lacking the nutrients you need. They’re also not the best sources of energy.

Tips:

  • Make an extra large (or double) batch of muffins, and cookies, etc. and freeze them.
  • Clean and cut your fruits and veggies for the week ahead and put them in the fridge until you’re ready.
  • Soak your nuts and seeds in advance and dehydrate them and they’ll be ready to grab and go.
  • If a dip will be part of your weeks’ snacks menu, prepare it ahead of time and refrigerate.
  • When planning your meals for the week, plan your snacks also.

Bonus Recipe:

Vegan Cheese Dip

  • 1 Can – 15½ oz. Great Northern, Navy or Cannellini Beans (drained)
  • ½ Cup – Roasted Red Pepper (or Pimiento)
  • 3 Tbsp. – Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. – Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbsp. – Sesame Tahini
  • 1 tsp. – Sea salt
  • 1 tsp. – Yellow Mustard
  • 1 tsp. – Onion Powder or Granulated Onion (not onion salt)

Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. Can be stored in fridge for up to a week.

Stay tuned…Coming soon…The next series of articles will cover the spiritual/mental/emotional aspects of a vegan diet and lifestyle.

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500