Raw? Vegan? Vegetarian? Lacto-Ovo? Pescatarian? Mediterranean? There have been so many diets promoted in natural health circles in America over the last decades. It seems they all have various benefits. And the one thing most have in common is the avoidance of consuming of cows and pigs.
Red meat and pork have no known health benefits. The animals are treated brutally and killed in a gruesome bloodbath that is easy to ignore because so few have witnessed our fellow mammals’ slaughter. Those who are employed to do the dirty work get very low wages and often incur injuries because of the size and weight of the animals and the speed of the work. It is very difficult to watch. Even when Cargill, one of the largest meat processing companies in the nation, allowed Oprah Winfrey into a couple of sanitized areas of a processing plant, they did not allow her cameras to film a cow being killed. Out of sight means out of mind.
We are very fortunate that there are so many other things to eat! This meat can feel energizing because of all the adrenaline in the animal when it is killed, and there is iron in blood and flesh, but there is also iron in spinach, dried fruit, and lentils. There is a tradition of the hunt and the roast, and this holds a special allure and place in our hearts. However, when you realize that is far from how the animals get to our plates nowadays, the romanticized vision vanishes.
One hamburger can contain up to 100 different cows. The US kills 35 million cows a year, and 13,200 pigs an hour. That is a lot of bloodshed, death, and killing. What would our country be like if that stopped? Our cardiovascular health would improve, as would our regularity. Less suffering for the animals coincides with less suffering for humanity.
If you would like to see what really goes on behind the closed doors of the slaughterhouse, it is a great motivator for change, although very sad to watch:
These videos have a louder volume, so you may wish to mute (this also makes them more bearable to watch):
This was filmed at Agriprocessors which was the largest (Glatt) Kosher meat producer in the United States, and the only one authorized by Israel’s Orthodox Rabbinate to export beef to Israel, before it was shut down in 2008 by inspectors (best to mute):
Thank you for being willing to read this, and watching some of the videos. I know it is very difficult to consider this topic because for so long we have been removed from the reality of it and since we were children we were taught to eat a certain way. Make sure to be gentle with yourself and go slowly when making changes in eating habits. Perhaps begin with a “meatless Monday.”
This film describes the positive environmental impacts that forgoing meat just one day a week can make:
For a well done documentary about one man’s journey with this issue, watch this clip:
Another inspiring story with regards to getting back to a plant-based diet is that of Dave the trucker. He was dying when he decided he had to tackle this problem head on:
Even the Mayo Clinic recommends “meatless meals”:
Recent articles in the LA Times and the Huffington Post lend weight to this conclusion:
Because of all the droughts we have been having in the US, the cattle are starving, and the herds are shrinking:
Cows are very gentle creatures. There is no skill or chase in hunting them. They are docile pacifists who give their milk and eat grass. They hurt no one, and do not deserve this torture. Pigs frolic and forage, are as sociable and intelligent as dogs, and genetically are surprisingly similar to humans (more so than any other domesticated animal):
The slaughter house is like hell on earth. It is time for the madness to end. It does not have to be this way. Humans have freedom of choice, and when we know better, we do better. And when we learn, we care.
These items can function in place of meats in traditional American recipes when needed, they’re pretty tasty, and the most popular ones are available at supermarkets:
I had a great experience when I asked my supermarket to carry a natural product they did not already have, and they now stock it in the store – thank you Vons!
If you are taking medications or have had surgery, please consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet and only undertake such changes under her/his supervision and monitoring. This is because dietary changes can lessen the need for certain medications. Also, listen to your body – if you need red meat, eat it. If you can avoid it when possible, and still feel good, please do. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as medical advice.
America has the finest high-tech medical care in the world. If a person is in an accident, the emergency care is exemplary. We also have dedicated, energetic scientists working hard to develop new treatments every day.
I think one area we have not fully accessed is nature and indigenous knowledge. There is still a place for science within this realm, working in harmony with the natural world and people who live in close communion with it to learn from them how we too can do so more gracefully. Preventative health care begins with focusing on sustainable agriculture. This will also help stabilize the climate and prevent war, as hungry people are more belligerent. If you think I am joking, try fasting and working at the same time, and see how long you last.
Traditional crossbreeding of plants is safer and wiser than genetic engineering. Researching and testing the most reliable healing plants and fruits in each region of the earth provides a fertile field for academic and commercial institutions. If we try to leave nature behind, we will not get far, as evidenced by our current state of crisis.
For example, blackberries are incredibly healthy. They grow wild all over the Pacific Northwest of the United States. There is a wonderful blackberry breeding program at Oregon State University that has developed a number of delicious (thornless even!) blackberry varieties. If everyone in this region had a blackberry bush or free blackberries available, many health concerns could be assuaged. Daily berries (in season) really do make a difference in health. Blueberries could be cultivated freely throughout the Northeast. Mangos, avocados, and peaches can be grown in the warmer regions of the country. People’s health is in part determined by the quality of their food and drink. Organic farming will restore the land.
Before you protest and say this will never happen—asserting that we have public space set aside for nature and parks, but only planted with ornamentals—get a load of what the city of Seattle is doing!
In the neighborhood of Beacon Hill a seven acre plot is being planted with grapes, apples, raspberries, blueberries, pears, plums, pineapple, guava, persimmons, and other fruit trees, as well as herbs, chestnuts, and walnuts! It is called the Beacon Food Forest, and was designed in 2009 by students in a permaculture class. beaconfoodforest.weebly.com
The trial plot of two acres is being planted this summer, with the remaining five acres to be completed at a later date. This will be a true, sustainable food bank! Here is a video showing the first plantings:
The founding members of the project hope to educate the community of the benefits of permaculture through the site. Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect, states, “This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park!”
Jenny Pell, permaculturist, explains, “People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season then it means we’re successful.”
Local residents have been enthusiastically pitching in and signing up with comments like, “Put me to work – I can’t wait to get my hands dirty,” and, “Let me know when I can show up with my wheelbarrow.” Help with propagating, mulching, and pruning is welcomed. “People will come in and for example help cut the raspberries back and then be able to take home five or ten raspberry plants to put in their own backyard!” proclaims Pell.
“When we met with all the different people from the community, what they wanted actually was fruits and berries and big nut trees- that was their biggest request. So, we’re looking at paths with berry bushes on both sides, and we’re going to have mixed fruit orchards, and big nut orchards. It will be the largest food forest on public lands in the United States.”
A couple of other folks worldwide have been at the forefront of this movement to get free produce to everyone while reforesting the earth. Kenya’s Queen of the Trees Professor Wangari Maathai inspired the planting of 47 million trees in Kenya and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Her vision of environmental stewardship rather than plunder of natural resources (which has been the accepted norm) has inspired many people. She especially encouraged women to plant trees, beginning the www.Greenbeltmovement.org in 1977.
When she started her work, Professor Maathai saw that “behind the everyday hardships of the poor—environmental degradation, deforestation, and food insecurity—were deeper issues of disempowerment, disenfranchisement, and a loss of the traditional values that had previously enabled communities to protect their environment, work together for mutual benefit, and to do both selflessly and honestly.”
Simply put, Professor Maathai said, “If you destroy the forest then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation… We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk.”
Anthony Anderson of www.growparadise.com states, “When we realize that we can quite easily and quickly begin to grow paradise right where we live, our power returns to us! Growing paradise requires nothing but the spirit of love and growth within us. We invite you to become a part of this, whether directly or by spreading the ideas and growing paradise in your own backyard and local community. Grow paradise. It is ours if we really want it.” He has seeded food forests in Minnesota, California, Arizona, and Cape Town, South Africa.
David Wolfe started the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation www.ftpf.org, which is a nonprofit charity dedicated to planting 18 billion organic fruit trees to “benefit the environment and all its inhabitants!”
“We envision a place where one can have a summer picnic under the shade of a fruit tree, breathe the clean air it generates, and not have to bring anything other than an appetite for the healthy fruits growing overhead. A world where one can take a walk in the park during a lunch break, pick and eat a variety of delicious fruits, plant the seeds so others can eventually do the same and provide an alternative to buying environmentally-destructive, illness-causing, chemically-laden products.”
A pioneer in community agriculture, Farmer John of www.angelicorganics.com states, “Agriculture is an underpinning of our culture. The irrepressibility of life on a farm continually manifests in myriad splendid expressions of life. This glorious unfolding provides us with the sustenance of food, while endlessly nourishing the creative spirit.”
I am very grateful for the amazing hospitals and health care workers we have in this country. They are overburdened, however, because of a lack of preventative and conservational care. With a focus on collective, populist, sustainable agriculture to grow healthy food and medicine for all, chronic disease will diminish, as much chronic degenerative disease is caused by diet and stress related to survival. Food is our first primary need. A plant-based diet is advocated as a foundation for health by leading physicians like Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, Dr. Chopra, and Dr. Mcdougall.
Combining the skills of doctors, nurses, herbalists, midwives, doulas, shamans, gardeners, farmers, artists and other healers in the community, medicine can evolve beyond a solely symptoms-oriented approach to exploring the source, the roots of imbalance and disease. To do this we must look for help toward our origin and our sustenance – the earth.
For those interested in getting closer to the earth in the LA area and visiting the local farms, go to www.pickyourown.org/CAla.htm.
By Ashley H.
1. Blazing a Trail for a Better Bounty of Oregon Berries. (2011, July 26). Retrieved from www.oregonlive.com.
2. Seattle Food Forest. (2012, March 9). Retrieved from www.loe.org.
3. Husted, K. (2012, March 1). Seattle’s First Urban Food Forest will be Open to Foragers. Retrieved from www.npr.org.
4. Leschin-Hoar, B. C. (1, February 2012). It’s Not a Fairytale: Seattle to Build Nation’s First Food Forest . Retrieved from www.takepart.com.
Note: I am not a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, or medical health professional. This is advice from personal experience, knowledge, and research.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods and beverages have inherent thermal properties—either cooling or warming. This can be invaluable knowledge in . As someone who struggled for a long time with unrelenting heat, TCM really changed my quality of life. I can wear layers of clothes now. I can sit in a heated room, and not have to leave as often to cool down. I can drink hot beverages. Most importantly, I know what food and beverage choices to make in the moment to address my temperature.
Here are some quick and dirty guidelines of what to avoid while trying to stay cool:
-Overly processed, “fast” foods, will most always be heating. Of course, there are many other reasons why I would seriously advise against eating these foods, but if you’re trying to stay cool, especially stay away from these foods. This also includes processed sugars, such as candy bars and soda.
-Coffee—very warming. If you want a little boost in the morning, try green tea instead. It’s actually cooling. You can make a green tea latte by brewing two teabags, adding some raw agave nectar or raw honey to sweeten, then a milk alternative like almond, coconut, or rice milk.
-Alcohol—probably the most warming thing you can put in your body. Advertisements have cemented the “cold beer on a hot day” image in our head, but if you’re trying to stay cool, it is the last thing you want to drink.
-Cigarettes—you’re basically inhaling fire. This should be a given.
-Any spices or hot peppers, garlic, onion, mustard but especially ginger. Ginger is seriously warming.
-Red meat and Lamb—go for tofu, fish, or chicken instead.
I’ve just told you what to avoid, now here’s a quick breakdown of foods and drinks that will help cool you down:
-Herbal Tea—even if it’s hot! Peppermint and Dandelion are the most cooling. For a super-cooling tonic, I like making Peppermint-Dandelion iced tea: double the amount of teabags per cup, and steep for at least 20 minutes. Then add plenty of ice, a little raw agave to sweeten, and a little coconut milk.
-Coconut—anything coconut-related is very cooling, unsweetened (this is important) coconut water, milk, or meat. Get a whole coconut, crack it open, drink the water, and eat the meat.
-Greens and Vegetables—most are cooling, and most effectively when eaten raw or lightly steamed. For greens, go for: kale, spinach, chard, and seaweed (but not mustard greens). For vegetables: cucumber, celery, lettuce, cabbage, asparagus, and broccoli. Always choose organic, when possible.
-Fruit—Bananas are one of the most cooling things you can eat. Uncooked avocados are great, and will also help if you’re feeling dried-out. Apples are a great choice as well.
-Grains—especially whole wheat, barley, and millet. Cook up a mixed grain bowl with steamed veggies and tofu.
Just to clarify, these are only guidelines. I’m not saying that you have to give up your favorite foods, beverages, and spices completely. I want you to enjoy your favorite things. Hopefully, this blog has given you a better understanding of how to use food and drink to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable. I urge you to approach those daily decisions with a mindfulness of your body and how what you eat and drink will affect you.
Lastly, if you’re cold—have some warming food or drink! Eat or drink ginger, use plenty of spices.
I’m currently entangled in a passionate relationship with soda. Almost no other drink comes even close to satisfying me. I am definitely addicted. Seeing how much Coke I was drinking, a friend told me to switch to a “diet” soda. I put diet in quotations because the term is used far too loosely. After tasting it, I realized it was still just as sweet as my typical beverage, perhaps too sweet. How was this possible with no sugar? Well, the answer is Aspartame, an artificial sweetener. After reading up on Aspartame and other ingredients in diet soda, the very thought of taking a sip horrifies me.
Aspartame is the ingredient found in Equal, NutraSweet, and other sugar replacements. While the idea of something replacing sugar in our diet may be enticing, the components that make up Aspartame are not worth the substitute. One part of Aspartame, Methanol, changes into Formaldehyde when digested. Formaldehyde, for those that don’t know, is embalming fluid for dead bodies. It is a well known carcinogen, and is toxic at very low levels. Another ingredient, Aspartic Acid, has been found by Dr. Russell Blaylock of the University of Mississippi to cause damage to neurons in the brain, which can ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s disease. I would prefer sugar to Aspartame any day.
But is sugar the addicting part of soda? I don’t think so. From my personal experience, it’s the caffeine and carbonation. Caffeine is just so infused in the daily life of our culture for its ability to wake us up and to become alert. Since the substance is unregulated, it is highly sought after by almost everyone. Then add carbonation into the mix. For me, carbonation makes up the psychological part of the addiction. The bubbles make he think of something new and fresh, it makes the soda feel like the ultimate refreshment. This combination is why I keep coming back for more and more. I find it funny that I was able to kick heroin and other opiates but I still can’t put down my Mountain Dew.
So how does one kick the soda habit? The most common solution is finding a replacement beverage. Sparkling water with some lemon or another fruit added is a good example. It is a far healthier alternative, and the reassurance of carbonation makes the switch a little easier than with other drinks. The good news is that sneaking a quick sip of soda won’t kill you, so it is possible to ease the switch by simply drinking a little less soda each day, and a little more sparkling water. On that note, if you absolutely need some soda during the day, get a bottle instead of a can. Once the can is popped open, the urge to finish the whole drink is too great to avoid wasting it. Sips from a bottle help tone down that urge.
Now I’m still debating if I want to make this change or not. Maybe I’ll start with one less Coke a day.
By -Hayden Carr
In recovery we often start taking better care of ourselves, trying to eat well and get enough rest. We may also begin cooking more for ourselves and our fellows out of a desire to eat and share healthy meals and have fellowship and community.
Olive oil is one popular cooking oil. Organic butter or Kerrygold Irish butter are other options. Or ghee!
For those who are up for something a bit more tropical, coconut butter, which becomes oil when heated, can be a light and tasty choice. Barleans makes it. And they also do a nice flax oil which is an excellent supplement or salad dressing with lemon juice, but must never be heated! Coconut oil, in contrast, can be eaten raw or used for cooking, and has a milder taste. Other popular brands are Matyah’s, Artisana, and Nutiva. Delicious on popcorn!
A recipe you may wish to try for a refreshing dish is combining the coconut oil with quinoa, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a little sea salt! It also makes a nice coleslaw with shredded cabbage, dash of stevia powder, dry mustard, celery seed, pepper, and vinegar.
Purported to be good for the lungs, thyroid, and hair, coconut oil is generally cooling and nourishing. As well it supports the immune system.
A promising article regarding the antiviral capacity of coconuts can be viewed here http://www.living-foods.com/articles/coconutbenefits.html
Coconut oil can be used topically as well as a natural moisturizer!
if you are at Trader Joes….
1) 100% blueberry juice- (not mixed with any other juices) great for eyes and memory
2) Larabars- made only of nuts, fruits, and spices like ginger and cinnamon- incredibly delicious treat
3) bag of ‘Southern Greens’- prewashed, prechopped collard, turnip, and mustard greens- easy to make and packed with nourishment
if you are at Costco….
4) large ‘Pomwonderful’ pomegranate juice- an almost 4 pound jug for 10 bucks! may be good for the heart, brain, prostate, and immune system- plus studies in Israel show that pomegranate juice destroys breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone
5) dried sour montmorency cherries- a study was conducted at Michigan State University to find out whether traditional claims about these cherries relieving chronic aches and pains, arthritis and gout were true, and researchers discovered that indeed the anthocyanins, natural anti-inflammatory compounds in the pigment of the montmorency cherry, are 10 times more potent than aspirin
6) quinoa- (which is also in the bulk bin at the health food store with red and darker colored varieties) high in protein and minerals- serve with beans, avocado, cheese, veggies, or chicken- don’t overcook as it cooks really quickly (very convenient) and is best still a bit firm
if one is at the health food store….
7) chia seeds- chia is the Mayan word for ‘strength’- better known for their appearance as chia pets! tiny seeds which are powerhouses of energy and endurance
‘barleans’ flax oil- flax is purported to be good for hormonal balance, hair, skin, and nails- just a squirt a day chased with water!
9) dulse- contains high levels of natural iodine which can nourish the thyroid gland- chewy, salty snack
if one is online….
10) www.wholesalepinenuts.com American grown pinenuts in the shell! excellent source of fiber and nutrition
Last night, I finally got around to trying a recipe that I’ve been excited about—The Blissful Chef’s (a.k.a. Christy Morgan) Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse recipe. I happened to have all the right ingredients from the Farmer’s Market anyway. I made it, and it wasn’t chocolaty enough for me, so made some tweaks. This recipe is quick and easy, and the only equipment necessary is a food processor.
12-15 large, sweet dates – pitted and soaked (preferably Medjool, or Halawy)
1 tbsp. raw almond butter
1/3 – 1 tbsp. raw agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla flavor
A pinch of sea salt
- Soak the dates for at least 2 hours.
- Blend dates into a paste in food processor. You might need to pour in a little of the soaking water if they aren’t blending properly.
- Cut open avocados, remove pits, and spoon the meat into the processor.
- Add in remaining ingredients.
- Blend until smooth, stopping and scraping the sides with a spoon to include all ingredients.
- Enjoy in moderation as is, or with berries on top.
This Raw Hot Cocoa is something I started drinking as I began to try losing weight. I have a hopeless sweet tooth, and wanted to make something I could treat myself to often. This will satisfy your craving without the sugar crash or the heavy feeling from the dairy.
2-3 tbsp. Raw Cacao Powder (such as Navitas Naturals)
1-2 tbsp. Raw Agave Nectar
1 tsp. Raw Almond Butter
(optional) ¼ – ½ tsp. vanilla extract
(optional) a pinch of sea salt
*use more milk alternative and less water for a richer consistency/flavor.
Makes about 12oz
- Heat water in pot to just below boiling
- Whisk in cacao, immediately turn heat to low
- Add remaining ingredients and whisk
- Heat on low, whisking occasionally until fully blended
- Pour into mug and savor slowly.
From ruby red raspberries to earthy dumplings with a difference, raw vegan chef Ani Phyo shows small treats can have a big impact. Ani shares two of her favourite recipes with Diary of a Vegan from her new bestseller: Anis Raw Food Essentials (see book for full recipe details).
Parents now have an alternative to the toxic plastic bottles, which research has shown leaches the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) into food and drink.
Jen Moore, founder of Pura Stainless, has developed an electro-polished stainless steel bottle thats BPA free, hygienic, lightweight and durable. Best of all, it wont leach chemicals into the drink inside.