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Archive for April, 2012

Was really happy today, because Thompson, above, has finally been homed! He really had turned into a little ball of love, who always wanted attention, and was very happy to be picked up. It just goes to show how aggressive cats can be rehabilitated, and how important good shelters are in achieving this. It’s important to support your local animal shelter, because they are doing a great service to society, and deserve all the support from local residents. Thompson would still be on the streets if it weren’t for the volunteers at the shelter, and he would never have found a home if it weren’t for volunteers patiently winning his trust, approaching him & stroking him.

In short:

  • Don’t buy animals
  • Always adopt animals from local shelters
  • Always sterilise your pets
  • Never breed your pets

Spread the word! ūüôā

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The first thing I would like to emphasise about protein, is that too much of it can cause problems. People should eat a moderate amount of protein, and not an excessive amount. A diet that has too much protein can contribute to:

  • osteoporosis
  • certain cancers
  • impaired kidney function
  • heart disease

For more information, please refer to the following link that explains the protein myth. ¬†It is from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Both¬†T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and¬†Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.¬†are advisers for the committee, who you may recognise from the documentary ‘Forks over Knives’ (which I highly recommend). PCRM advocate preventative medicine, with a focus on nutrition.

Where does a vegan get their protein from?

  • Peas
  • Beans (chickpea, adzuki, mung, black-eyed etc)
  • Lentils (green, brown, red)
  • Soy products (e.g. tofu, tempeh, soy mince, soy milk)
  • Nuts
  • Nut milks (almond milk, hazelnut milk)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame)
  • Grains (quinoa, oats, wheat)
  • Even fruit and veg have protein (though not much)

From the average UK diet, cereals (bread, pasta, rice, wholegrain cereals) contribute to 22% of protein requirements. So already, without having eaten any particularly protein rich foods, you have already got 22% of your daily requirements.
Below, a figure to show the amount of protein per 1 serving of vegan foods. What constitutes a serving is defined on the Vegan Society website. I didn’t include it because I thought it was rather boring to write a list of each serving e.g. 1 serving = 40g dry green lentils; 60g of oats; 75g of pasta. After all, I doubt that anyone likes to weigh out their food meticulously. So use it as an approximation. Please click on the image below to enlarge if you can’t see it clearly enough:

As you can see, soy products are very high in protein. However, many people have concerns with soy. This is fine, because soy is not essential for the vegan diet; neither is wheat. I personally try not to rely too heavily on soy and wheat products (in other words, I eat them approximately once or twice a week). Processed soy products, such as faux meats, faux cheeses, faux sausages aren’t very healthy, but they are fine as a treat. On the other hand, minimally processed, traditional soy foods such as tofu, edamame and tempeh have been eaten for¬†centuries¬†in countries such as China, with no obvious ill effects.

Men need approximately 55g of protein per day, whereas women require approximately 45g.

Meal plan:

Breakfast: oats (10g) with sunflower seeds (5g)
Lunch: 2 slices of toast (10g) & baked beans (1og)
Dinner:  lentil soup (10g)

So already I have got my 45g per day- but this is not including any other foods such as veggies and fruit, which also contain protein. I do not think it is important that a potential vegan/vegetarian should get concerned about ensuring they get enough protein, and using my bar chart too seriously. So long as you are eating pulses, beans, seeds, nuts, and grains daily, you will be getting enough protein. Some people are allergic to nuts, but it is still perfectly possible to still be a healthy vegan without them. I personally am not a huge seed fan, and haven’t eaten them for quite some time (apart from sesame seeds which are very tasty).

Dr. T. Colin Campbell stresses that variety is key, and that ‘because protein is found in fairly generous amounts in many plant foods, it’s virtually impossible not to get enough‘.

In short, as a vegan, I do not worry about protein. Which is ironic, because once I tell people I am vegan, the first thing that they ask is if I get enough protein, and what foods do I eat to get it from. One individual I met insisted that eating animals is ‘necessary’ for protein requirements. I asked, how could she say that? Was I not standing there before her, a vegan of almost four years? Are there not millions of vegetarians and vegans in this world?

All nutritional info from this page comes from the Vegan Society.

More links:

http://www.tcolincampbell.org/courses-resources/article/the-protein-puzzle-picking-up-the-pieces/?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=76&tx_ttnews%5Bswords%5D=oatmeal&cHash=30515dd5f0

http://www.tcolincampbell.org/courses-resources/article/animal-vs-plant-protein/?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=76&cHash=d5607d1968

Do you think that animal protein is essential for humans? Do you think that dairy or eggs are essential for humans? If you are still unconvinced, I would highly recommend you check out ‘Forks over Knives’

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Yesterday I went to the London Original Print Fair, located in Burlington House (same place as David Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Picture’ exhibition. Sadly his work has moved on!). All of the work was for sale at the fair, with a price range of ¬£100-¬£100 000. The entry fee was ¬£12, or ¬£8 for students, but luckily I had a free pass. This fair was only open for 4 days. Interestingly, all of my favourite prints were of animals!

Above, a print by Robin Duttson, entitled ‘The Apple Tree’. This was a very large piece, perhaps 1.5m by 1.5m. I thought it was a lovely representation of spring.

Above, a print by Orovida Pissaro, 1938, entitled ‘Zebra with Foal’. I think this was my favourite, although it was ¬£400!

Above, ‘Porcus Dei’ by Hugo Wilson. I thought this was a very tender piece of a piglet, and very detailed too (however this isn’t conveyed in the image above, since it is very small compared to the original, which was perhaps 1m by 1m).

Above, a collage of a bulldog by Peter Clark.

Above, ‘Pelican Island’ by Phil Shaw.

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Vegan Nutrition

Nutrition is very complex, and despite extensive research that has been carried out on the subject we are quite far from a holistic understanding of the exact dietary requirements that a human needs (and this is partly, if not mostly, due to individual differences). I believe that the healthiest diet (whether you are vegan or not) involves eating ‘wholefoods’ (unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains) and eating as little processed ‘junk’ food as possible (convenience foods e.g. as cakes, biscuits, pizzas, deep fried foods such as chips- all of which can be made much healthier if made from scratch!).

I’m writing these series of posts because I think I could personally benefit from a wake up call – I’m certainly not as healthy as I could be. That said though, one of the advantages of being vegan, health-wise, is that you are forced to cook from scratch much of the time, which is a very good thing because you have control over how much sugar/salt/oil that your food has. I can’t buy the vast majority of processed foods (e.g cakes, biscuits, chocolates, pastries, pizzas, microwave meals etc) found at your average supermarket because most of them aren’t vegan. Thus, there is a limit to how much processed foods I can actually eat. Occasionally I will buy VegiDeli’s vegan sausages and faux fish fingers, but these are quite pricey (6 for ¬£2 something), which means that I can’t eat them every day; additionally, they are sold at health shops, not at supermarkets, so I can’t access them that often! ¬†Thankfully I’ve never been a cheese fan, so I don’t buy much of the processed vegan cheeses that exist in health shops. These cheeses aren’t healthy, ¬†but can be quite nice as a treat, or to impress your non-vegan friends that yes, vegan cheeses do exist and can (sometimes) melt. Vegan cheeses¬†are also more expensive than conventional cheeses.

As such, veganism has allowed me to be far more healthy than I ever was as a non-vegan, and for that I am very thankful. For example I’ve had to replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate (which is healthier for you. I always hated dark chocolate as a child, but as a vegan I knew I couldn’t give up one of my favourite foods, and now I’m quite the fan of dark chocolate now… after all I had no choice! It just goes to show that you can surprise yourself!).
On the other hand though, I’ve still not conquered my dislike of fruits.
Most people rely on processed foods to some extent. I personally have tried to cut down on processed foods such as cereals and pasta, because I was over-reliant on them (i.e. eating them every day). I’m also quite suspicious that I have some sort of wheat allergy, so I’ve tried to cut down on eating wheat. You may notice that many of my recipes are wheat-free.

I would like to be healthier as a vegan, and to be more¬†conscientious with regards to specific nutrients and vitamins in my diet. I’m writing this series of posts in order to better inform myself and others of the foods that deliver the nutrients that are important to vegans.

It is important to be healthy, so that ¬†the burden on national healthcare can be reduced. I think that everyone should have the responsibility of respecting our national healthcare, and not take it for granted. After all, we want to ensure that it can support individuals who have serious genetic conditions that haven’t been brought about by poor diet/ lack of exercise, and not for people who have smoked/ overeaten excessively so they require lung cancer treatment/ gastric bypass surgery respectively. The less avoidable burden we place on our health services, the more efficient and effective they will be with treating unavoidable conditions.¬†As such, I believe that preventative ‘medicine’ (i.e. good diet, regulat exercise, low stress levels) is extremely important, and that modern medicine today is over-reliant on treating a condition after it has arisen, rather than preventing it from occurring in the first place.¬†That is not to say that I don’t appreciate and respect modern medicine; I like most people think that its numerous achievements are spectacular. But at the end of the day, there’s not much money in preventative treatment, which is why it’s not given much attention. Doctors will always advice you to ‘eat healthily, exercise regularly, and manage your stress well’ which is good on the one hand, but at the same time, everybody¬†knows that kind of thing, and frankly it is easier said than done (evidenced by the fact that doctors themselves are not perfect and are sometimes found to smoke, eat terribly, never exercise etc). In short, it is not easy to live right for our bodies (and mental health), but I think it should always be a work in progress, and we should always strive to better ourselves and improve our health.

Do you think that your diet is healthy? Are there areas of your diet that you’d like to improve?¬†

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Ingredients

1 bar of dark chocolate (make sure there’s no milk powder in it – check the ingredients!)
1 mori-nu tofu (alternatively, use the flesh of two soft avocados)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk or water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)
Sugar, to taste

1) Break up the chocolate and place in a glass pyrex bowl. Put the bowl in a sauce pan with water. Turn the hob on in order to heat the water up, which will melt the chocolate. Or microwave the chocolate.
2) Blend tofu/avocado, non-dairy milk/water, pinch of salt and vanilla extract. Transfer to bowl.
3) Add the melted chocolate and peanut butter and mix. Taste it – is it sweet enough? If not, add some sugar.
4) Once it is thoroughly mixed, transfer your mixture into desert bowls or in a shallow dish.
5) Put the chocolate mixture in the fridge and let it set for a couple of hours. Garnish with salted pistachio nuts (optional)

I have also tried this recipe with grated fresh ginger (added in the blender) and it was delicious!

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Asking Questions

Where do you think the meat/eggs/dairy that you bought from the supermarket/butchers/restaurant came from?

What do you think that the life for that animal was like?

Do you think that the animal was happy?

Do you think the animal got to spend time with its offspring? How much time?

What kind of environment do you think that the animal lived in?

What do you think that the animal’s average day was like?

What do you think that the animal did for fun?

Had you thought about questions like this before? Do you know the answers/ think you know the answers? Is it difficult to imagine what the animal’s life might be like?

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Due to the plastic carrier bag charge introduced in Wales (5p), supermarkets claim that their usage has dropped up to 90%¬†! Not only that, but Northern Ireland is implementing ¬†a similar plastic bag tax in April 2013 ūüôā The plastic bag tax was introduced in Wales six months ago, and already Tesco have collected ¬£300 000 from this tax which is going to benefit the RSPB in Wales. Likewise, the Co-op in Wales have collected ¬£100 000, all of which is going to support environmental projects in Wales. It is success like this that makes me fairly confident that the plastic bag charge will be introduced in England too!

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