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.
(image borrowed from ohsheglows.com)
Makes 1 serving
1 large, very ripe banana
2 dates (soaked for 30 minutes to soften, if necessary)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 – 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 – 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or plain almond milk + 1 tsp vanilla)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves
Optional (highly recommended) mix-ins: raw cacao nibs, shredded coconut, raisins
Optional: 1- 2 Tbsp Irish moss paste to thicken
Here’s something that I whipped up (boo, bad pun) last night to fuel my morning run today. It incorporates my love for raw chocolate, banana, and sweet spices. The chia seeds are a great way to help hydrate pre-workout, and the natural sugars/carbs in the banana/dates are perfect for a quick boost of energy.
Mix all ingredients (except mix-ins) very well in blender. You want the chia seeds to be thoroughly pulverized, and the consistency of the pudding to be sort of whipped. Pour into airtight container, and place in the fridge overnight to thicken (or several hours, if you can’t wait). Serve with cacao nibs, shredded coconut, and raisins mixed in. Don’t add the mix-ins until you’re about to eat the pudding, though—otherwise they’ll get soggy. Enjoy.
1 small block pre-baked tofu (Trader Joe’s Teriyaki is good)
1 medium red garnet yam
¼ bunch dino kale
1 cup Shitake or white mushrooms
1 large carrot
3-4 cloves minced garlic or 2 tsp jarred minced garlic
1 tbsp (plus extra for marinade) Soy Vay Teriyaki sauce (or Trader Joe’s Soyaki—same thing)
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (for tofu glaze)
This is a great little wholesome, flavorful bowl that covers most of the nutritional bases. There’s protein from the tofu, vitamins and minerals from the vegetables, low Glycemic Index carbohydrates from the yam, and flavor for your mouth. As always, I made this with produce from the farmer’s market, which I highly recommend. Yes, it’s better for you, but if anything, the flavor is leaps and bounds above what you would get at the supermarket. So, if a farmer’s market is something that’s available to you, please take advantage of it.
A little preface: with the tofu in this recipe, I used Trader Joe’s pre-baked tofu to make it a little easier. You can use extra firm uncooked tofu, but you’ll want to press it, marinade it for longer, and add about 10 minutes to the broiling time.
The night before (several hours before is ok), marinate pre-cut tofu in a few tablespoons of Soy Vay Teriyaki sauce. Turn pieces over halfway through marinating.
Once you’re ready to cook the meal, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Wash all veggies.
De-stem and chop kale. Chop mushrooms and carrot.
Very finely mince garlic (obviously skip this step if using jarred garlic).
Once oven is done preheating, wrap the yam in tinfoil, and place in the oven.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes. Check by quickly the yam—it should be very soft.
Take out the yam, but leave the oven on, and turn to broil.
Brush tofu with agave nectar or maple syrup then pepper. Place in a small baking pan (or oven-safe bowl), and cover with tinfoil.
Broil tofu for about 10 minutes (if using uncooked, 15-20). You want it to be nice and browned on the outside, a little crispy.
As tofu broils, steam veggies—about 6-8 minutes. You want them tender, yet crisp. You’ll know once they’re done, because the kale will have less of a bitter bite to it.
Take everything off heat. Unwrap the yam from tinfoil. Peel off the skin, and place the flesh in bowl. Add the garlic, tahini, and 1 tbsp of Soy Vay. Also add a dash of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. With a fork, mash and whip the yam with added ingredients.
Add in the vegetables and tofu. Mix well with a spoon. You may want to add more tahini, Soy Vay, garlic, or salt to taste.
I was staring at the tuna steaks I had just bought, and trying to decided how to cook them… then the blood oranges I had bought at the farmer’s market caught my eye.
I found a recipe for the marinade online, substituting in the blood orange, and changing up the cooking method.
3 (4 oz) ahi tuna steaks
1/4 cup blood orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced (or ½ tsp jarred)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup blood orange juice
1 tbsp agave nectar
In a non-metal bowl, combine all ingredients, and whisk together.
Place tuna steaks in Ziploc bags, and pour in marinade. Marinate overnight.
Onto the good part:
Remove tuna from marinade and cover each side with a generous amount of black pepper, to crust.
Place ½ tbsp olive oil in pan, and heat on medium-high.
Once pan is sizzling, throw in tuna. Cook each side for about 1-2 minutes. You want it to be quite pink in the center, but well-browned on the outside. With pan on medium, pour in balsamic vinegar. Turn down and let it simmer, and once it has reduced halfway, add blood orange juice and agave nectar. Simmer until liquid becomes syrupy and thick. Pour reduction over tuna, and place tuna in mouth.
I awoke early one morning with a desire for grains, and the urge to cook something interesting. I wanted to try out the “Carrot Cake” Oatmeal recipe from the Oh She Glows blog (great blog, by the way). I decided to adapt the recipe to be a little healthier, using banana and dates instead of added sweetener, and doing away with the extra coconut milk cream (I find it plenty rich without). Also, using a multigrain hot cereal instead of regular oats—I love Country Choice Organic Multigrain Hot Cereal—it provides more comprehensive nutrition with a blend of oats, wheat, barley, and rye. These are very nourishing whole grains, containing 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. It tastes like dessert, but feels nutritious!
Makes 2 servings
- 1 heaping cup finely grated carrot (about 1 large)
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I like Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla)
- 2 tbsp unsweetened canned coconut milk
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8th tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup multigrain hot cereal (Country Choice Organic Multigrain Hot Cereal)
- Optional (if using plain almond milk): 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp chopped raw pecans or walnuts
- 1 tbsp raisins, divided
- 1 ripe banana
- 2 large medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish
Finely grate 1 cup of carrot. You want it fine enough to blend well, so there are no big chunks of carrot.
Pit and chop dates, and chop banana.
Finely chop ginger. If fresh ginger isn’t available, you can use ground, but I find it much sweeter and more flavorful with the fresh.
In a medium-sized pot, on low heat, combine almond milk, coconut milk, and spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt). Also, if using vanilla extract, add now. Whisk together.
Add in the cereal, carrot, dates, and banana—mash together and stir. Cook on low for 20-30 minutes, watching closely and stirring (don’t let it boil, reduce heat if necessary). You’ll also need to add some additional almond milk as the cereal thickens and reduces. Make sure it doesn’t start sticking to the bottom of the pot. You can reduce the cooking if you want the consistency to be less creamy and more chewy.
Turn off heat. Stir in all the additional goodies—the chopped nuts, raisins, and coconut.
Divide between two bowls, hand one to a friend, and enjoy.
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.
A new generation of eco-commerce is arising out of the dust of Amazon.com’s explosive growth – online shoppers, particularly parents, are more concerned than ever about product certification, safety and customer feedback. Enter Sproubaby.com, the brainchild of eco-preneur Jody Sherman. To cater to this more discerning market, his online baby products shop features only items vetted through expert, family and personal reviews.
By Adria Vasil
Maybe it’s the half-Greek in me, but there’s nothing that makes me giddier then the sight of a table full of food (well, other than actually eating the food). Trouble is most of what we stack onto our plates isn’t just weighing on our hips, hearts and cells, it’s also bloating the planet with packaging, pesticides and climate-changing gases. How can you get your fill without, er, tipping the ecological scales?
Planet Raw, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Review by Shannon Dunn
A NATURAL STATE If you hadnt heard of raw food aficionado Juliano and happened to stumble upon his restaurant in LAs famed seaside suburb of Santa Monica, youd be forgiven for wondering where the grills and ovens are. Here, words such as bake, boil, steam and barbeque are left at the door of the nearest fast food joint. At Planet Raw, its all about food preparation that keeps natures (organic) food in its natural state, with life-giving enzymes kept fully in tact to give you a boost that, quite simply, no other form of food preparation could. Yet, its important to know that carrots and beans on a plate its not. Food here is prepared with loving care, with many ingredients spending long, lazy hours in food dehydrators before being whipped up into gourmet works of art at the instruction of the “guru” himself, Juliano.