Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Veganism and Cleveland VegFest!

We often talk about the health aspects of eating a plant-based diet. Today we will learn more about the powerful implications and benefits that result from veganism (100% plant-based eating and living) as we hear from Jen Jaden. In today’s interview, Jen gives some wonderful insight into the vegan lifestyle, provides alarming statistics, shares a personal journey, offers helpful advice, and communicates her excitement for an amazing, FREE, event coming up this weekend, in Cleveland,Ohio – VegFest! Jen Kaden is one of the founding board members of the Cleveland Vegan Society, which hosts the Cleveland VegFest, and now serves as the organization's Speakers Chair.  She also serves as president of the Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance. Jen has been vegan for 12 years and is a dedicated advocate for peace and nonviolence towards all beings.

An Insightful Interview from Jen Kaden

"Conscious Living, Compassionate Choices" -- I just love this! Please briefly describe the vegan lifestyle as if readers knew nothing about it. How do you categorize veganism (a diet, a lifestyle, a religion, etc)? Please explain.
"Veganism is an ethic of non-violence and non-participation where individuals live in a way that excludes all forms of animal use and exploitation. Veganism encompasses the food we eat but goes far beyond that by considering animal use in all forms such as entertainment, vivisection, clothing, transportation, etc.   At its core, it's about living by the golden rule:  Treat others as you would want to be treated, and extending that ethic of compassion beyond our own species."  

Is the vegan community becoming more open to people making more vegan choices? What is your best advice for those interested in changing their eating habits to a more animal-free diet species?  

"It’s very exciting to see more and more people making vegan choices!  There's an explosion of new vegan foods and products on the market and the demand is definitely growing.  For those interested in transitioning to fewer animal products in their diet, I'd first highly recommend they join us at the ClevelandVegFest on May 7th. They will have the opportunity to get a crash course on vegan living from multiple experts in the field, as well as see and sample vegan food and vegan products that are available to the vegan consumer.  Second, I would encourage them to initially look at what they're currently eating and begin replacing the animal products with plant-based versions of the same foods.  For example... with dairy there's such a variety in plant-based products with new milks, creamers, yogurts, ice creams and cheeses coming on the market all the time.  So much more variety than the animal-based versions actually!  There's soy, almond, coconut, hemp, cashew, hazelnut, flax, oat, rice, macadamia nut.... the list keeps growing.  Also, finding community with others of like mind is an important way to gain support and encouragement which will reinforce these new behaviors."

Please tell me about how, why, and when you became vegan? What challenges did/do you face as a vegan?

"I went vegan 12 years ago after reading the book "Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating".  I had been gradually moving towards being vegetarian during the decade prior to that out of a general sense that something pretty awful must happen to an animal for them to be turned into food.  But it wasn't until I read that book that I understood how the egg and dairy industries operated and decided I could no longer support such violence and harm to animals.  I had been consuming organic dairy and free range eggs and believing the feel-good package labels and that all was good for the animals.  We're taught to believe that dairy cows just naturally produce all this milk that is ours for the taking.  I never realized that just like other mammals, they have to be impregnated in order to lactate.  Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated every year and male offspring have the misfortune of becoming veal calves.  The females often end up becoming dairy cows themselves.  Dairy cows can live 20+ years but are slaughtered at 4-5 years of age when their productivity declines.  That's where most hamburger meat comes from in our country.  And with the egg industry, I never understood that chickens are selectively bred either to grow very quickly for meat production, or to produce large quantities of eggs.  The males born of the egg-laying variety have no use because they don't grow fast enough to be profitable for meat production and they don't lay eggs.  So they are killed right after birth by horrific, industry standard methods that entail being ground up alive or suffocated to death.  This happens to 250 million male chicks each year in the U.S. alone.  The female hens then are slaughtered once their egg productivity begins to decline.  There's no retirement plan for animals in these "by-product" industries. Just an extended period of suffering followed by a gruesome death." 

We love numbers. Do you have any interesting stats to share (locally, worldwide, hypothetically, etc)?
  • "Animal agriculture contributes 51% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
  • Close to half of all water used in the U.S. goes to the production of animals for food.
  • The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feed crops.  Animal agriculture is responsible for 90% of Amazon destruction.
  • Ten thousand years ago, 99% of the earth's biomass consisted of wild animals. Today, humans and the animals that we raise as food make up 98% of the biomass.
  • 90% of fish and other ocean life have perished in the last 100 years.   By the year 2048, all major fisheries will have collapsed if current trends continue.  Our global ocean ecosystems are breaking down and quickly losing biodiversity.  When we kill the oceans, we kill ourselves.
  • Shrimp trawlers discard as much as 85 percent of their catch, making shrimp arguably the most environmentally destructive fish flesh a person can consume.
  • 90-95% of our exposure to dioxins (the most toxic chemicals known to exist) are found in our food supply and almost entirely from animal products (according to the World Health Organization).  The most important thing we can do to reduce our exposure is switching to a plant-based diet."

The Vegfest is coming up on May 7th at the Convention Center! I saw a life changing lecture by Dr Rich Oppenlander in Santa Rosa, CA this February, so I am so excited to see him on the speaker lineup! ! Dr Caldwell Esselstyn was also lecturing at the class I attended, and did a wonderful job as well! We are so lucky to have him here in Cleveland, Ohio! Finally, while he wasn't a lecturer, I heard great things about the motivation of Rich Roll! So, besides awesome speakers, what will be happening at the event (activities for children and adults, vendors, etc)? What part of the day are you most looking forward to?

"We're very excited for our city's third VegFest to be expanding into the brand new, state-of-the-art Cleveland Convention Center!  Cleveland VegFest, presented by the Cleveland VeganSociety and Jakprints, for sure has an incredible line-up of speakers this year but there are also vegan food demonstrations taking place throughout the day, yoga in the morning and a wide array of vendors in our Cruelty-Free Marketplace.  We'll also have films screening throughout the day including one of my favorites, Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home and a special screening of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret in the evening with a panel discussion.  Plus 36 food vendors with a huge variety of delicious vegan offerings is quite a draw too!  The full schedule of events taking place is available in our program which is accessible on-line and in print at the VegFest."

Sneak peak from Cowspiracy

"My favorite thing about VegFest is seeing the excitement rapidly growing in our community to learn about vegan issues.  People come to Cleveland from Canada, surrounding states and beyond for this event and it's fantastic to see the positive energy it generates!  VegFest is the perfect opportunity for anyone who's at all interested in healthy eating, environmental issues, social justice and animal ethics to learn and experience so much in one day... all for free!"

What is the single most important thing you hope readers will take away from this interview? What action would you like readers to take?

"I hope that readers become curious to learn more about how their choices each day have an incredible impact on the world.  Most people don't want to think that they're paying someone to harm animals on their behalf but these industries are about supply and demand, so our choices do in fact have that power.  When we stop to think about the life or death impact our daily decisions have, and shift to making choices in alignment with an ethic of compassion, it's a good feeling.  And it's what our world urgently needs."

Jen Kaden is one of the founding board members of the Cleveland Vegan Society, which hosts the Cleveland VegFest, and now serves as the organization's Speakers Chair.  She also serves as president of the Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance. Jen has been vegan for 12 years and is a dedicated advocate for peace and nonviolence towards all beings.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jen, for your passion and valuable information. Hopefully more people than ever will take advantage of the opportunity to learn about and get motivated for change at this year’s VegVest!

Please visit these helpful links!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Konmari Your Home!

A New Organization Method!

Konmari Technique to Tidying and Simplifying is ROCKING my world! My sister-in-law introduced the book/technique to me, and since then, it's been love at first sight! I am totally addicted! Did I say that the other day about the hot sauce too?

It's called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie KondoThank you, Marie Kondo, for your brilliance!

 Photo from Amy Christie who writes her blog:
This Heart of Mine

(she has a lovely post about the book/technique)

Top 10 Reasons to Konmari Your Home

#1 My feelings during and after each step are AMAZING; I feel completely wonderful, peaceful, light, energized, focused, productive, motivated, really! 

#2 I agree that the process is in fact, life-changing! It's a perfect name for her technique and her writing describes it all so beautifully. Perhaps, I will get into the process and hows in another post. As I am getting organized, I am finding new and exciting ideas and energy for my passion of nutrition and health! My mind seems clearer to do what it really wants to, what it might in an ideal world, free from too much busy-ness. (See also 10 Tips and Tricks to Simplify Your Life)

#3 My progress rubs off on others most important in my life, without me pushing. Though, I will say that I am actively teaching my children all about this technique.

#4 It's fun to get dressed in the morning, put away my laundry, pack for a trip, or decide what to wear for a special occasion. A new experience for me!

#5 I have a greater respect and care for our things. For example, I have a dress I like, but it didn't fit me just right. Each time I wore it, I would fleetingly wish it wasn't so low cut. After reading this book, I took action by asking my dear mother-in-law to sew it for me, and ta-da! Now, I wear it and feel perfectly comfortable :) Marie Kondo teaches us to repair items we love, rather than just discard, and purchase new. She gives an example of replacing a missing button on a coat you love. So it's not just about getting rid of everything.

#6 It is such a joy to give away lovely items that have already served their purpose in our home. How fun to give gifts! Note: please be careful to only give others things that you think they might really want. We don't want to add to other people's stuff.

#7 (similar to #5I feel urges to decorate and repair my home, and make it just right for our family. This isn't something about which I've ever been much concerned. It's just a quiet, new feeling, related to appreciating and caring for my home. We all love our home very much right now; still, it's fun to imagine making it just right. I realize that I can make it an even more special place for my family. I am avoiding the word "perfect", but I suppose I am aiming for "perfect FOR US". 

#8 Long lost library books that have been found! We've certainly come across other treasures, but library books definitely come to mind :)

#9 (related to #8) The enjoyment of playing games and other activities with my kids. We're freshly aware of games and activities we had forgotten about. We have space to play, and we have fun activities stored front and center, and easily accessible.

#10 I love the gratitude mindset that Marie Kondo emphasizes. We always thank God for the fun and functionality we got out of the item we might be giving away. Marie Kondo explains how each item serves a purpose. Gifts served their purpose when a loved one gave them to us. Something we purchased that was expensive or a bargain doesn't mean we need to keep it forever. We can learn lessons from each item that we pass on, and she has many lovely examples. (Goodness of Gratitude: 7 Awesome Benefits of Gratitude)

#11 An extra! Another cool thing about this method is that Marie Kondo says you only have to go through this process once. My clothing, the first category, looks 99% the way it looked when I organized it 3 months ago! I describe it like a puzzle, and I just put things back right in their space. You know the saying "a place for everything", well each item I wear now has a specific place it belongs.

#12 Last one! In the book, she gives very exact steps. In particular, I appreciate her providing an exact order of what to tidy first. I love not having to decide what to do next, instead moving on to the next category that Marie suggests without having to make that decision.

 Thanks for this lovely photo, Amy Christie of This Heart of Mine blog!
(she has a lovely post about the book/technique)

Comments: Have you tried this? Other effective methods and tips you'd like to share?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

New Nutrition Guidelines!

I have been anxiously waiting a whole year for this final document! The day after a lawsuit from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the guidelines were finally published! Thank you, PCRM!

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have a few exciting changes:

1) The guidelines recommend that all Americans consume as little cholesterol as possible. Since cholesterol is only found in animal foods, this is a wonderful piece of advice for those promoting a whole foods, plant based way of eating!

2) Boys and men are warned to consume less protein. Should I repeat this? Males should eat less protein! Since men and boys get most of their protein from meat, this sounds like another impressive recommendation to eat fewer animal foods. It should be a relief as well, since this population is always especially worried that they aren't getting enough. 

3) Among the still present dairy recommendation (boo!), soy milk is listed within the category (yay!). I really owe you, my readers, an article about this. For now, I will leave you with one aspect, bone health. Among people across the world, taking into account many studies (meta analysis), the people in countries who consume the least amount of dairy, experience the fewest fractures. There are countries all in between that follow the same relationship, as dairy consumption rises, so too does bone fracture! The people in countries who consume the most dairy have the highest rates of bone fracture.

I was going to give you a visual of this, but instead I will just show you a Google image search for "milk intake and hip fracture". Notice all the lines are going up and to the right, whether the studies are looking at calcium intake, dairy intake, or animal protein, as these intakes increase, fracture rates increase. In summary, the less dairy you consume, the lower your risk of bone fracture.

Along these lines, it's a good time to share:
Trans Fat Ban in US ...this is separate from the guidelines, however, related, and super-noteworthy! The FDA decided in June 2015 that based on all the nutrition research available, trans fat is not safe for human consumption. It has therefore been taken off the Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) list, and so may not be added to processed foods. I couldn't find any new information regarding this ban which occurred in June, but I am hopeful that companies are in the process of bettering their products so that they will be safer to eat. Wahoo!

Here are is a post about trans fat. Among the myraid of reasons to avoid meat (here are two posts: 5 reasons! and Plant Based is Powerful!, it must be noted that there are actually trans fats in animal fat, so once trans fat is out of processed foods, the only way to get it completely out of your diet, is to eliminate animal foods from your diet.

Stay tuned! I will be sharing more and more with you about all that I learned at a life-changing course I attended in February 2016 (McDougall Advanced Study Weekend). I just end by sharing my impression from deep in my heart that my totally unreal experience that will inspire me forever! With time, you all will no doubt benefit as well!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A New Product -- Beyond Chicken

When trying to switch to a plant-based diet, it helps to prepare familiar recipes. Here is something to help you do that with all your chicken recipes!

Beyond Chicken is a brand that makes meat-like products out of veggies, with a pretty friendly ingredients list, relatively small number of ingredients! So far, I've found it at Heinen's (a local grocery store), and TargetI have only tried chicken strips. The other products look promising and it's fun that the company is looking to provide a healthy option for athletes.

Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips

An Old Product and a New Recipe
Frank's Red Hot Sauce

I literally salivate when I think about this sauce! I'm sure there is some interesting science behind that, but anyway :) It's got an awesome ingredient list, so you can use as much as you want all day long!

Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Try this recipe:

Vegan Buffalo "Chicken" Slaw: bag of shredded cabbage (or shred your own cabbage and carrots), 2 cups cooked brown rice, 2-3 Tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce, 1-1.5 Tbsp Vegenaise (vegan mayo), mix together and enjoy! Tastes great at room temperature or heated! Also great with Beyond Meat chicken Strips!
Buffalo Chicken Slaw
Also try Chicken Artichoke Casserole, BBQ Chicken Pizza, and recipes coming soon: "Chicken Broccoli" Pesto Pasta, and "Chicken" Enchiladas. Really, with a chicken substitute, the possibilities are endless! Let me know how you use it!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Drink! It Does a Body a Good!

But NOT milk! Though I am not going to get into that today. A friend recently introduced me to a NEW TEA! Licorice Mint Tea! This isn't the brand I tasted, but my friend assures me the Yogi version is just as tasty.

Licorice Mint Tea, thank you Shannon! This stuff is deeeeeelicious! The coolest thing is that after each sip, my whole mouth has this lovely, cool, fresh, sweet aftertaste :) I've been through at least half the 20-pack box that I received as a gift, in only a week! It's caffeine-free so you can have as much as you like, any time of day. So even though I don't like black licorice candy, I will be seeking out more very soon!

In 2016, I have a goal of staying well hydrated for the entire year (apparently I tried it for a month in 2013, see post about that, including HYDRATION Benefits here). I as some of you might remember, hydration is a challenge for me. I am happy to report that I am still going strong, almost half way through February! Usually, changes are hardest in the first few weeks, so I think I am good to go.

Carbonated waters are another helpful tool for me. I love Klarbrunn , which I buy from Costco for maybe 24 cents per can. It's fun to have something other than water.

A few years ago I switched to almond milk in my cereal, but I still don't drink a glass of it, the way I sometimes used to have a glass of cow milk with dinner. Maybe someday almond milk will be another beverage of choice for me. It's a great option with only 30 calories per cup, plenty of calcium (shake your carton well), with no saturated fat, cholesterol, or added sugar. I also purchase this from Costco, Silk Unsweetened Vanilla.

PS- Today I will meet John McDoughall, long time curer of chronic Western diseases, and bestseller author. One of his newer and awesome books is The Starch Solution.
Coincidentally, it was his compilation of research years ago that finally convinced me that dairy is not only unnecessary, but seriously harmful to our health. But again, that's another post, for another day.
Be well everybody, and have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, February 1, 2016

How Not to Die! by Michael Greger

!!!!!!!!t.I wholeheartedly recommend this book to EVERYONE I know and care about! So of course I sharing it here is a must! I trust completely in Dr Michael Greger.

Dr Greger (Food As Medicine, and instant best seller How Not to Die) This man is an amazing advocate of human beings! According to Dr Greger, we each have a big responsibility to feed ourselves and our families the most nourishing foods that can keep us living well, well into our years, and avoid all of the troublesome, yet avoidable Western diseases, such as many cancers, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and the other many inflammatory diseases. His book was just released in December and is already being translated into many languages!

Dr Greger, author of How Not to Die's An Anatomy of How Not to Die

On Amazon.com, you can even "look inside"...there are a lot of pages that you can read through before you buy the book, but having the whole thing at home, may be the nutrition bible for health and happiness forever more! Plus, every dollar made from book and all of Dr Greger's DVDs goes to charity

Here is a random collection of posts in which I have cited or often discussed Dr Michael Greger! I am so very grateful that he has compiled this amazing book for all to learn the way to beautiful health!

COMMENTS: Please come back and share here what you enjoy most about this book! Comments on my posts help more people to see the post, and therefore, more people will see this awesome book! Though my impact on health, compared to Dr Greger, is quite small, I want to help too, as much as I can! Have a great day!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Eating Family Dinner Together = Smarter, Happier Kids, and More!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of learning some valuable lessons from Dr Lisa Damour! Author of Entangled, to be released in February, 2016!

The lasting impressions I got from her engaging presentation about resilience were:

*SLEEP is immensely important. She says that we should protect and prioritize our children's (and surely our own) hours of sleep each night because of the lengthy list of benefits of sleep wrapped into one pill would be a billion dollar drug with only beneficial side effects. I think so too!

*Family MEALS, at least 4 nights per week, powerfully results in significantly smarter kids with a better sense of well being, regardless of the pleasantness of the meals! Grandma was right!

*Meaningful friendships are important, and this is not too surprising. The surprise to me, is that it's best to just have ONE OR TWO CLOSE FRIENDS, rather than more. The reasoning made sense; we can get pulled in too many directions, unintentionally hurt feelings when spending time with one friend, rather than another, and maintaining too many relationships expends lots of energy.

*A growth mindset, rather than a fixed one, refers to the "If I WORK HARD enough, I can do anything!" way of thinking, resulting in much more SUCCESSFUL children and adults, than those who rely on how they were born / their "talents" / their genetics. She included various comparisons of how each mindset would act/feel in various situations, such as getting a disappointing grade, striking out, asking for help from a teacher, etc.

Joan Borysenko is another fabulous resource for RESILIENCE; here is a post I wrote after taking a class from her which provides methods of increasing our resilience.

Lisa also stressed the importance of children spending time with adults, and this matches advice I have been trying to follow from Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions. At my house, we call it "Mommy and Me Time". Check out my post about Positive Parenting Solutions.

Also, here's a post with some other great parenting books!

Look for more posts soon - I have so much fun and exciting stuff to share :)


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