Friday, June 29, 2007

Greens to boring?

We all need our vegetables. But, let's face it, we also know that the most important kind - the green ones - can be a bit boring and bland. So, for a drastic increase in your veggie intake, here's an easy and tasty way to do it:

green smoothies!
The cool thing about these is that you mix veggies in a blender with fruit, and the taste of the fruit actually overrides the veggies. So it doesn't taste too vegetable-y. It's a double win - treat like and the healthiest! Hopefully you can put more veggies in than fruit with your own creativity and imagination. Here's some recipe ideas to get you started.
-3 cups water
-half a head of dino kale
-a good handful of spinach
-1 small to medium zucchini
-1 apple
-1/2 cup frozen pineapple
-1/4 cup lemon juice
Blend all ingredients until COMPLETELY liquefied.
-1 quarter to 1 half fresh pineapple
-3 leaves of Kale - I use deep green "dino" kale, deveined
-1 ripe banana (can use frozen)
-4 fresh mint leaves, optional-to taste
-1 quarter to 1 half inch of fresh ginger root (can use dry), to taste
-2 to 4 cups water
Place all ingredients in blender.
Start out with only enough water to cover everything about half-way (allows it to blend to a creamy consistancy)
After all creamy, add more water to get to the thickness you prefer.
-3 bosc pears
-1 handful of raspberries
-4-5 leaves of kale
Blend and drink.
-1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice or peeled oranges
-2 Peaches (fresh or frozen)
-Huge handful of spinach
-1 cup ice
Blend and drink.
-Three large tomatoes
-chunked1 cup pineapple cut up
-Three large leaves red kale
-1-2 cups ice
Blend and drink.
-4 cups of grapes
-2 cups of mangoes
-8-10 leaves of kale
-1-2 cups ice
Blend and drink.
Raw Vegetable Smoothie
* 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice OR balsamic vinegar* 4 tablespoons picante salsa* 1 cup raw broccoli* 1 raw tomato, quartered* 1/2 raw carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces* 1 cup raw kale, or any leafy green* 1 - 2 cloves raw garlic* 1/2 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds* 1/2 cup raw un-hulled sesame seeds* 1 - 2 slices onion
Start by pouring liquid ingredients (lemon juice, salsa) into blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until texture is that of a creamy milkshake.
Now play around with it. There's a million other combinations. Use berries, spices. . .go nuts. Have fun and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Many Benefits of Quinoa

Behold, quinoa. Pronounced keen-wah.

A seed that acts as a grain. A "grain" that is (bonus!) gluten free. A pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, as it is not grass. Cooked just like rice. It is delicious plain, but with the many recipes either for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the options and possibilities where quinoa is concerned are endless.

It originated in the Andean region of South America and, though little known or recognized in the United States, it has actually been an important food for at least 6,000 years. But since we're in 2007, I'm gonna skip the history and go into the vast nutritional benefits. Called a supergrain, quinoa is highly nutritious and can supply us with all of the body's requirements: carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

First of all, the protein content is very high, being 12-22.1%. Unlike wheat and rice, it is high in lysine, and actually has a balanced set of all the essential amino acids needed by humans, making it a complete protein. It takes less quinoa protein to meet one's protein needs than wheat protein. It is gluten free and considered easy to digest. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa possesses larger quantities of calcium, fat, iron, phosphorus, and B vitamins than many other grains. One-half cup of dry quinoa contains 51 mg of calcium, compared to 28 mg in the same quantity of whole-wheat grains. The protein content is a whopping 11 g for that one-half cup of quinoa. Potassium is impressively high with 629 mg, as is zinc with 2.8 mg. Other impressive figures include 42 mcg of folic acid, 7.9 mg of iron, and 179 mg magnesium. In the category of fiber quinoa rates top scores with 5 grams for one-half cup dry grain. One cup of cooked quinoa has a calcium content equal to that of a quart of milk, but being from a plant source and first hand rather than second hand, is more eaily absorbed and better quality.

Also, quinoa is high in minerals and B vitamins, especially vitamin B6. Two ounces of cooked quinoa offers 14% of the RDA for B6. Niacin, one of the B vitamins usually measured in trace quantities, totals 2.49 mg, a figure considered impressive when it comes to the B vitamins.

Quinoa grains have a unique coating called saponin that serves as a protection from birds and the intense rays of the altiplano sun during growth. Unless these saponins are removed, the grain will taste quite bitter and is actually toxic. Before quinoa reaches the marketplace, most of the saponins have already been removed. To fully enjoy your quinoa, simply put the grains into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water for one to two full minutes. This guarantees a delicately sweet pleasant flavor to the cooked grains. Cooking quinoa couldn't be easier. It is an easy food to prepare, has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous. Measure 1 cup (237 ml) of grain, rinse in a fine mesh strainer, and put the grains into a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Add 2 cups (480 ml) water and salt to taste. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to low and steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Use quinoa in place of any rice dish and enjoy its unique light, chewy texture and airy flavor.
As quinoa cooks, the germ is released from the exterior of the grain and forms a tiny spiral. You'll recognize it easily by its white coloring and sproutlike appearance. The grain's tender chewiness is attributed to this uncommon life-bearing germ.
For a richer flavor, quinoa can be toasted in a dry skillet for a few minutes before cooking. Stir continuously during the toasting to prevent burning and to toast the grains evenly.
Because quinoa is so quick cooking, it works well as a hearty breakfast cereal for adults as well as infants and children. We've found it ideal for grain and fresh vegetable salads, the perfect grain accompaniment to any dinner dish, and a delightful grain as a replacement for the rice in rice pudding.

Vegetables and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. It is also suited to vegetable pilafs, complementing bitter greens like kale.
Quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, or berries; it is also sold as a dry product, much like corn flakes.
As a snack food, Quinoa can be toasted in a dry pan over medium heat until it is browned and mixed with granola, fruit (fresh or dried), coconut, or just eaten by itself.
Quinoa flour can be used in wheat-based and gluten-free baking. For the latter, it can be combined with sorghum flour, tapioca, and potato starch to create a nutritious gluten-free baking mix. A suggested mix is three parts quinoa flour, three parts sorghum flour, two parts potato starch, and one part tapioca starch. Quinoa flour can be used as a filling for chocolate.

Lastly, quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin and mineral content. In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: only 2-4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, eg., 12 hours overnight with wheat. This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the grains, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wanna stare at some food?

You know you wanna.

It's a common myth that a vegan is deprived. Sometimes I am even stunned to hear people go so far as to say "nutrient-deprived" as it is well known that fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient dense foods. It makes me want to take them by the hand and treat them to dinner and let them indulge in what we do have, which is essentially everything without the animal products. And artery clogging cholesterol. And saturated fats. But since I can't take everyone who subscribes to the myths and stereotypes out to dinner, pictures are certainly the next best thing. If you ever knew a vegan, you'd notice they are probably very enthusiastic about food. Feast your eyes. There's a reason. And it's not only better health.

As a sidenote, I find that is an excellent resource for veggie restaurants in and around your area if you're on the go or feel like a nice meal out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Comparative Anatomy

Comparative Anatomy of Eating by Milton R. Mills, M.D.

Humans are most often described as "omnivores." This classification is based on the "observation" that humans generally eat a wide variety of plant and animal foods. However, culture, custom and training are confounding variables when looking at human dietary practices. Thus, "observation" is not the best technique to use when trying to identify the most "natural" diet for humans. While most humans are clearly "behavioral" omnivores, the question still remains as to whether humans are anatomically suited for a diet that includes animal as well as plant foods.

A better and more objective technique is to look at human anatomy and physiology. Mammals are anatomically and physiologically adapted to procure and consume particular kinds of diets. (It is common practice when examining fossils of extinct mammals to examine anatomical features to deduce the animal's probable diet.) Therefore, we can look at mammalian carnivores, herbivores (plant-eaters) and omnivores to see which anatomical and physiological features are associated with each kind of diet. Then we can look at human anatomy and physiology to see in which group we belong.

Oral Cavity

Carnivores have a wide mouth opening in relation to their head size. This confers obvious advantages in developing the forces used in seizing, killing and dismembering prey. Facial musculature is reduced since these muscles would hinder a wide gape, and play no part in the animal's preparation of food for swallowing. In all mammalian carnivores, the jaw joint is a simple hinge joint lying in the same plane as the teeth. This type of joint is extremely stable and acts as the pivot point for the "lever arms" formed by the upper and lower jaws. The primary muscle used for operating the jaw in carnivores is the temporalis muscle. This muscle is so massive in carnivores that it accounts for most of the bulk of the sides of the head (when you pet a dog, you are petting its temporalis muscles). The "angle" of the mandible (lower jaw) in carnivores is small. This is because the muscles (masseter and pterygoids) that attach there are of minor importance in these animals. The lower jaw of carnivores cannot move forward, and has very limited side-to-side motion. When the jaw of a carnivore closes, the blade-shaped cheek molars slide past each other to give a slicing motion that is very effective for shearing meat off bone.

The teeth of a carnivore are discretely spaced so as not to trap stringy debris. The incisors are short, pointed and prong-like and are used for grasping and shredding. The canines are greatly elongated and dagger-like for stabbing, tearing and killing prey. The molars (carnassials) are flattened and triangular with jagged edges such that they function like serrated-edged blades. Because of the hinge-type joint, when a carnivore closes its jaw, the cheek teeth come together in a back-to-front fashion giving a smooth cutting motion like the blades on a pair of shears.

The saliva of carnivorous animals does not contain digestive enzymes. When eating, a mammalian carnivore gorges itself rapidly and does not chew its food. Since proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes cannot be liberated in the mouth due to the danger of autodigestion (damaging the oral cavity), carnivores do not need to mix their food with saliva; they simply bite off huge chunks of meat and swallow them whole.

According to evolutionary theory, the anatomical features consistent with an herbivorous diet represent a more recently derived condition than that of the carnivore. Herbivorous mammals have well-developed facial musculature, fleshy lips, a relatively small opening into the oral cavity and a thickened, muscular tongue. The lips aid in the movement of food into the mouth and, along with the facial (cheek) musculature and tongue, assist in the chewing of food. In herbivores, the jaw joint has moved to position above the plane of the teeth. Although this type of joint is less stable than the hinge-type joint of the carnivore, it is much more mobile and allows the complex jaw motions needed when chewing plant foods. Additionally, this type of jaw joint allows the upper and lower cheek teeth to come together along the length of the jaw more or less at once when the mouth is closed in order to form grinding platforms. (This type of joint is so important to a plant-eating animal, that it is believed to have evolved at least 15 different times in various plant-eating mammalian species.) The angle of the mandible has expanded to provide a broad area of attachment for the well-developed masseter and pterygoid muscles (these are the major muscles of chewing in plant-eating animals). The temporalis muscle is small and of minor importance. The masseter and pterygoid muscles hold the mandible in a sling-like arrangement and swing the jaw from side-to-side. Accordingly, the lower jaw of plant-eating mammals has a pronounced sideways motion when eating. This lateral movement is necessary for the grinding motion of chewing.

The dentition of herbivores is quite varied depending on the kind of vegetation a particular species is adapted to eat. Although these animals differ in the types and numbers of teeth they posses, the various kinds of teeth when present, share common structural features. The incisors are broad, flattened and spade-like. Canines may be small as in horses, prominent as in hippos, pigs and some primates (these are thought to be used for defense) or absent altogether. The molars, in general, are squared and flattened on top to provide a grinding surface. The molars cannot vertically slide past one another in a shearing/slicing motion, but they do horizontally slide across one another to crush and grind. The surface features of the molars vary depending on the type of plant material the animal eats. The teeth of herbivorous animals are closely grouped so that the incisors form an efficient cropping/biting mechanism, and the upper and lower molars form extended platforms for crushing and grinding. The "walled-in" oral cavity has a lot of potential space that is realized during eating.

These animals carefully and methodically chew their food, pushing the food back and forth into the grinding teeth with the tongue and cheek muscles. This thorough process is necessary to mechanically disrupt plant cell walls in order to release the digestible intracellular contents and ensure thorough mixing of this material with their saliva. This is important because the saliva of plant-eating mammals often contains carbohydrate-digesting enzymes which begin breaking down food molecules while the food is still in the mouth.

Stomach and Small Intestine

Striking differences between carnivores and herbivores are seen in these organs. Carnivores have a capacious simple (single-chambered) stomach. The stomach volume of a carnivore represents 60-70% of the total capacity of the digestive system. Because meat is relatively easily digested, their small intestines (where absorption of food molecules takes place) are short&151;about three to five or six times the body length. Since these animals average a kill only about once a week, a large stomach volume is advantageous because it allows the animals to quickly gorge themselves when eating, taking in as much meat as possible at one time which can then be digested later while resting. Additionally, the ability of the carnivore stomach to secrete hydrochloric acid is exceptional. Carnivores are able to keep their gastric pH down around 1-2 even with food present. This is necessary to facilitate protein breakdown and to kill the abundant dangerous bacteria often found in decaying flesh foods.

Because of the relative difficulty with which various kinds of plant foods are broken down (due to large amounts of indigestible fibers), herbivores have significantly longer and in some cases, far more elaborate guts than carnivores. Herbivorous animals that consume plants containing a high proportion of cellulose must "ferment" (digest by bacterial enzyme action) their food to obtain the nutrient value. They are classified as either "ruminants" (foregut fermenters) or hindgut fermenters. The ruminants are the plant-eating animals with the celebrated multiple-chambered stomachs. Herbivorous animals that eat a diet of relatively soft vegetation do not need a multiple-chambered stomach. They typically have a simple stomach, and a long small intestine. These animals ferment the difficult-to-digest fibrous portions of their diets in their hindguts (colons). Many of these herbivores increase the sophistication and efficiency of their GI tracts by including carbohydrate-digesting enzymes in their saliva. A multiple-stomach fermentation process in an animal which consumed a diet of soft, pulpy vegetation would be energetically wasteful. Nutrients and calories would be consumed by the fermenting bacteria and protozoa before reaching the small intestine for absorption. The small intestine of plant-eating animals tends to be very long (greater than 10 times body length) to allow adequate time and space for absorption of the nutrients.


The large intestine (colon) of carnivores is simple and very short, as its only purposes are to absorb salt and water. It is approximately the same diameter as the small intestine and, consequently, has a limited capacity to function as a reservoir. The colon is short and non-pouched. The muscle is distributed throughout the wall, giving the colon a smooth cylindrical appearance. Although a bacterial population is present in the colon of carnivores, its activities are essentially putrefactive.

In herbivorous animals, the large intestine tends to be a highly specialized organ involved in water and electrolyte absorption, vitamin production and absorption, and/or fermentation of fibrous plant materials. The colons of herbivores are usually wider than their small intestine and are relatively long. In some plant-eating mammals, the colon has a pouched appearance due to the arrangement of the muscle fibers in the intestinal wall. Additionally, in some herbivores the cecum (the first section of the colon) is quite large and serves as the primary or accessory fermentation site.

What About Omnivores?

One would expect an omnivore to show anatomical features which equip it to eat both animal and plant foods. According to evolutionary theory, carnivore gut structure is more primitive than herbivorous adaptations. Thus, an omnivore might be expected to be a carnivore which shows some gastrointestinal tract adaptations to an herbivorous diet.

This is exactly the situation we find in the Bear, Raccoon and certain members of the Canine families. (This discussion will be limited to bears because they are, in general, representative of the anatomical omnivores.) Bears are classified as carnivores but are classic anatomical omnivores. Although they eat some animal foods, bears are primarily herbivorous with 70-80% of their diet comprised of plant foods. (The one exception is the Polar bear which lives in the frozen, vegetation poor arctic and feeds primarily on seal blubber.) Bears cannot digest fibrous vegetation well, and therefore, are highly selective feeders. Their diet is dominated by primarily succulent lent herbage, tubers and berries. Many scientists believe the reason bears hibernate is because their chief food (succulent vegetation) not available in the cold northern winters. (Interestingly, Polar bears hibernate during the summer months when seals are unavailable.)

In general, bears exhibit anatomical features consistent with a carnivorous diet. The jaw joint of bears is in the same plane as the molar teeth. The temporalis muscle is massive, and the angle of the mandible is small corresponding to the limited role the pterygoid and masseter muscles play in operating the jaw. The small intestine is short (less than five times body length) like that of the pure carnivores, and the colon is simple, smooth and short. The most prominent adaptation to an herbivorous diet in bears (and other "anatomical" omnivores) is the modification of their dentition. Bears retain the peg-like incisors, large canines and shearing premolars of a carnivore; but the molars have become squared with rounded cusps for crushing and grinding. Bears have not, however, adopted the flattened, blunt nails seen in most herbivores and retain the elongated, pointed claws of a carnivore.

An animal which captures, kills and eats prey must have the physical equipment which makes predation practical and efficient. Since bears include significant amounts of meat in their diet, they must retain the anatomical features that permit them to capture and kill prey animals. Hence, bears have a jaw structure, musculature and dentition which enable them to develop and apply the forces necessary to kill and dismember prey even though the majority of their diet is comprised of plant foods. Although an herbivore-style jaw joint (above the plane of the teeth) is a far more efficient joint for crushing and grinding vegetation and would potentially allow bears to exploit a wider range of plant foods in their diet, it is a much weaker joint than the hinge-style carnivore joint. The herbivore-style jaw joint is relatively easily dislocated and would not hold up well under the stresses of subduing struggling prey and/or crushing bones (nor would it allow the wide gape carnivores need). In the wild, an animal with a dislocated jaw would either soon starve to death or be eaten by something else and would, therefore, be selected against. A given species cannot adopt the weaker but more mobile and efficient herbivore-style joint until it has committed to an essentially plant-food diet test it risk jaw dislocation, death and ultimately, extinction.

What About Me?

The human gastrointestinal tract features the anatomical modifications consistent with an herbivorous diet. Humans have muscular lips and a small opening into the oral cavity. Many of the so-called "muscles of expression" are actually the muscles used in chewing. The muscular and agile tongue essential for eating, has adapted to use in speech and other things. The mandibular joint is flattened by a cartilaginous plate and is located well above the plane of the teeth. The temporalis muscle is reduced. The characteristic "square jaw" of adult males reflects the expanded angular process of the mandible and the enlarged masseter/pterygoid muscle group. The human mandible can move forward to engage the incisors, and side-to-side to crush and grind.

Human teeth are also similar to those found in other herbivores with the exception of the canines (the canines of some of the apes are elongated and are thought to be used for display and/or defense). Our teeth are rather large and usually abut against one another. The incisors are flat and spade-like, useful for peeling, snipping and biting relatively soft materials. The canines are neither serrated nor conical, but are flattened, blunt and small and function Like incisors. The premolars and molars are squarish, flattened and nodular, and used for crushing, grinding and pulping noncoarse foods.

Human saliva contains the carbohydrate-digesting enzyme, salivary amylase. This enzyme is responsible for the majority of starch digestion. The esophagus is narrow and suited to small, soft balls of thoroughly chewed food. Eating quickly, attempting to swallow a large amount of food or swallowing fibrous and/or poorly chewed food (meat is the most frequent culprit) often results in choking in humans.

Man's stomach is single-chambered, but only moderately acidic. (Clinically, a person presenting with a gastric pH less than 4-5 when there is food in the stomach is cause for concern.) The stomach volume represents about 21-27% of the total volume of the human GI tract. The stomach serves as a mixing and storage chamber, mixing and liquefying ingested foodstuffs and regulating their entry into the small intestine. The human small intestine is long, averaging from 10 to 11 times the body length. (Our small intestine averages 22 to 30 feet in length. Human body size is measured from the top of the head to end of the spine and averages between two to three feet in length in normal-sized individuals.)

The human colon demonstrates the pouched structure peculiar to herbivores. The distensible large intestine is larger in cross-section than the small intestine, and is relatively long. Man's colon is responsible for water and electrolyte absorption and vitamin production and absorption. There is also extensive bacterial fermentation of fibrous plant materials, with the production and absorption of significant amounts of food energy (volatile short-chain fatty acids) depending upon the fiber content of the diet. The extent to which the fermentation and absorption of metabolites takes place in the human colon has only recently begun to be investigated.

In conclusion, we see that human beings have the gastrointestinal tract structure of a "committed" herbivore. Humankind does not show the mixed structural features one expects and finds in anatomical omnivores such as bears and raccoons. Thus, from comparing the gastrointestinal tract of humans to that of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores we must conclude that humankind's GI tract is designed for a purely plant-food diet.


Facial Muscles
Carnivore- Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
Herbivore- Well-developed
Omnivore- Reduced
Human- Well-developed

Jaw Type
Carnivore- Angle not expanded
Herbivore- Expanded angle
Omnivore- Angle not expanded
Human- Expanded angle

Jaw Joint Location
Carnivore- On same plane as molar teeth
Herbivore- Above the plane of the molars
Omnivore- On same plane as molar teeth
Human- Above the plane of the molars

Jaw Motion
Carnivore- Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
Herbivore- No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
Omnivore- Shearing; minimal side-to-side
Human- No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back

Major Jaw Muscles
Carnivore- Temporalis
Herbivore- Masseter and pterygoids
Omnivore- Temporalis
Human- Masseter and pterygoids

Mouth Opening vs. Head Size
Carnivore- Large
Herbivore- Small
Omnivore- Large
Human- Small

Teeth (Incisors)
Carnivore- Short and pointed
Herbivore- Broad, flattened and spade shaped
Omnivore- Short and pointed
Human- Broad, flattened and spade shaped

Teeth (Canines)
Carnivore- Long, sharp and curved
Herbivore -Dull and short or long (for defense), or none
Omnivore- Long, sharp and curved
Human- Short and blunted

Teeth (Molars)
Carnivore- Sharp, jagged and blade shaped
Herbivore- Flattened with cusps vs complex surface
Omnivore- Sharp blades and/or flattened
Human- Flattened with nodular cusps

Carnivore- None; swallows food whole
Herbivore- Extensive chewing necessary
Omnivore- Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing
Human- Extensive chewing necessary

Carnivore- No digestive enzymes
Herbivore- Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
Omnivore- No digestive enzymes
Human- Carbohydrate digesting enzymes

Stomach Type
Carnivore- Simple
Herbivore- Simple or multiple chambers
Omnivore- Simple
Human- Simple

Stomach Acidity
Carnivore- Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
Herbivore- pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
Omnivore- Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
Human- pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach

Stomach Capacity
Carnivore- 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
Herbivore- Less than 30% of total volume of digestive tract
Omnivore- 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
Human- 21% to 27% of total volume of digestive tract

Length of Small Intestine
Carnivore- 3 to 6 times body length
Herbivore- 10 to more than 12 times body length
Omnivore- 4 to 6 times body length
Human- 10 to 11 times body length

Carnivore- Simple, short and smooth
Herbivore- Long, complex; may be sacculated
Omnivore- Simple, short and smooth
Human- Long, sacculated

Carnivore- Can detoxify vitamin A
Herbivore- Cannot detoxify vitamin A
Omnivore- Can detoxify vitamin A
Human- Cannot detoxify vitamin A

Carnivore- Extremely concentrated urine
Herbivore- Moderately concentrated urine
Omnivore- Extremely concentrated urine
Human- Moderately concentrated urine

Carnivore- Sharp claws
Herbivore- Flattened nails or blunt hooves
Omnivore- Sharp claws
Human- Flattened nails

And so I met my "meat. . ."

I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about the way I eat. I like to say “the way I eat” more first of all, because I don’t really like labels of any kind. Any label evokes some sort of stereotypical image, when each experience, in reality, is different for everyone. Each experience really can’t be labeled. Anyway, the questions range from the common “protein” question to whether I’d eat chocolate assuming it was made from all plant-based ingredients, which was just cute and made me laugh. I’ve been asked why I don’t eat any animal products. So, I’ve decided to write a blog aiming to answer, hopefully, any possible questions that may arise. First, I’ll share shortly how I came to choose to eat the way I do and why and then I’ll put together a fact list because short facts are fun and easier to read.
I have always been sensitive to animals, from a time when I was extremely young. My family had to divert my attention from road kill because I would get heartbroken at the sight, and they were sure I would someday get into a car accident swerving off the road trying to avoid an animal. I think that it has been something that has always been in me, as I remember sitting at the dinner table when I was little mentioning not wanting to eat meat. I was obviously too young to go buy my own food, and was influenced by the things my parents would say. And the man of the house was a hunter, unfortunately, and was the least supportive of my statement. He said a bunch of typical things like, “It’s dead, anyway,” and lectures along those lines and read me the whole “Protein Act,” which I now am thankful to know is a myth. But I was a kid and that is what was put on my plate every night and my family’s words pretty much washed over me I guess. I eventually lived on my own and, no, didn’t immediately change my eating habits. I was playing around with it one summer and then it was the late spring after that when, on myspace, I received a chain letter talking about “bonsai kittens.” It included these very graphic pictures of cats stuffed in glass containers with a feeding tube placed through them so they stayed alive, but remained their entire lives growing so that their skeletons would form into the glass containers that they were in. The images were horrific and I cried for hours. I was shaking. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to do something. I wrote to PETA. Eventually, I found out, thankfully, that it was an urban myth. Sick urban myth it is.
They soon sent me a free kit and a DVD was included. On this DVD was "15 Reasons to Become Vegetarian" and "Meet Your Meat." (I also later found the movie “Earthlings” by Joaquin Phoenix, which I find to be more in depth, thought provoking and educational, albeit heartbreaking.)

I realize that animals have the same nervous systems as we do and watched the way they castrate and brand cows, rip the skin off their faces while they are still alive, the way they burn chickens’ beaks off and the way they scald pigs alive while they scream. . .and felt it. What if we were put through that? I still feel bad that I ever put their flesh in my mouth. It makes me sick thinking about it and the fact that I supported that industry. After I decided to stop consuming meat, it obviously opened me up to learning about the lifestyle and it became a passion. It is something I read about constantly and have come to realize that the benefits and pros far outweigh anything else. A little before a year after I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating animal products all together. As a side note, a big positive to me is (not only am I thinner and eat tons) that while I used to have a habit of getting sick at LEAST once a year, I don’t get sick anymore. I’m far more healthy and alert and energetic. And, seeing the benefits, my boyfriend, who was once an avid fan of the carnivorous diet, stopped eating meat. I amazes me each and every time this once huge meat fan who would try to challenge me raves about how much energy he has and how much healthier he feels. I just giggle because I already knew it. Plus, it makes meals fun and interesting. Before, it was boring and limited. Now it seems there’s so many vast options and creativity and everything. I’m always finding something new. Anyway, here is a fact list followed by some highly recommended reading materials. . .

-Consuming animal products causes premature aging, as meat especially is an oxidant.

-A vegan diet, being cholesterol free and pretty much free of saturated fat, reverses heart disease.

-In every package of meat, there is poop.

-Milk contains perchlorate. That is the “big word” for rocket fuel. Yes, rocket fuel.

-Not only does milk contain growth hormones and antibiotics, and who knows what else, but it also contains blood cells and pus.-Meat is a rose-colored euphemism for the same thing you are: flesh. Animals accumulate dangerous chemicals in their flesh and fat (which meat-eaters consume), including dioxins, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and even the most toxic forms of arsenic.

-Eating meat and dairy makes you fat. Numerous studies have shown that meat eaters are far more likely to be overweight than vegetarians and vegans tend to be slimmer than vegetarians.

-A low-fat vegan diet prevents and helps to prevent a long, growing list of diseases, including and not limited to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis. . .

-Eating meat is eating second-hand protein. . .protein originating from plant sources that the animal consumed to make its own protein.

-Too much protein, especially animal protein, can impair our kidneys; leach calcium, zinc, vitamin B, iron and magnesium from our bodies; and cause osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and obesity.

-High amounts of protein can also damage tissues, organs and cells and contributes to faster aging.

-Eating a vegetarian diet actually provides twice the amount of daily needed protein.

-Consuming meat is consuming fear and pain.

-Studies show eating meat and dairy causes impotence. Think cholesterol and clogges arteries. That doesn’t only apply to the heart.

-Veg people are not only healthier and slimmer on average, but live longer as well.

-Animal protein promotes cancer.

-According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, veggie people are about 40 percent less likely to get cancer than meat-eaters regardless of other risks such as smoking, body size and socioeconomic status.

-Animal products have no fiber, which binds toxins and fat to help be eliminated from the body.

-Animals in the wild rely on nothing but what they are naturally equipped with - strength, speed, teeth, claws, jaws, etc. If you look at your paper thin fingernails, your flat and blunt teeth, your tiny jaw and everything else, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how stupid you’d look going after some animal and trying to claw and bite into it.

-Carnivores have acidic saliva meant to break down the flesh of carcasses; we have alkaline saliva not designed to do so.

-Carnivores have extremely short intestines for fast elimination. Our intestines are around 11 times our body length and therefore too long to digest meat properly. It must rot in the human intestines, therefore causing such illnesses as colon cancer.

-Of all the toxic chemicals found in food, 95 to 99 percent come from meat, fish, dairy and eggs.

-Because think about it - you’re eating a putrefying corpse. Once something dies, it immediately begins to rot. Furthermore, the only way a human can digest meat is by it rotting in the intestines.

-Eggs come from a chicken’s vagina. Really think about what this is. Plus, they are almost all cholesterol.

-We are adults now. None of us suck our mom’s tits anymore - would we suck a cow’s? We are the only animal that continues drinking milk as adults and we are certainly the very only animal that drinks another animal’s milk.

-There is no such thing as fat-free milk. Milk is fat. It is designed to help grow a calf into a 2,000 lb. cow.

-By the time we are around 2, we lose 90-95 percent of the enzyme lactase, what is used to help digest milk. Obviously this is for a reason. . .like all the animals in nature seem to know by instinct, we don’t need it anymore because we don’t need milk anymore.

-Undigested lactose (milk) due to the absence of lactase and the acidic nature of pasteurized milk encourage the growth of bacteria in our intestines and therefore cancer because cancer cells thrive in acidic conditions.

-Cholesterol can cause impotence. Vegans don’t consume any cholesterol.

-The grain used to feed animals could be used to feed hungry people. This grain is essentially enough to end world hunger.

-Every three seconds a child dies of starvation somewhere in the world.

-1,000,000,000 people in the west gorging on meat & dairy leave 1,000,000,000 to waste away and 3,500,000,000 teeter on the brink.

-Slaughterhouse workers have among the highest rates of injury and illness in the country, and working in slaughterhouses seems to dull people’s sense of compassion.

-Leaving animals out of your gut is the single best thing you can do for the environment, which obviously benefits everyone.

-The animal agriculture industry is the leading cause of pollution - more than all automobiles combined!

-More than half of all water used in the U.S. is used to raise animals for “food” (yes, quotes).

-A vegetarian diet requires maybe 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons.

-Cattle-ranching is the number one cause of Amazonian deforestation. In Central America, two-thirds of the rain forests have been cleared primarily to raise cattle.

-Raising animals for “food” requires more than one-third of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the United States.

-The meat industry causes more water pollution in the United States than all other industries combined.

-More than 10 billion animals are raised and killed for “food” every year in the U.S. alone; they have to eat, and their waste has to go somewhere.

-20 vegetarians can live off the land required by one meat eater.

-If they continue to clear American forests to raise cattle at the present rate, in 50 years there will be none left.

-1 acre yields 165 lbs of “beef” or 20,000 lbs of potatoes.

-Pressure on land due to meat farming leads to soil erosion 6 billion tons a year in the USA.

-If everyone went vegetarian, up to 90% of land used for animal farming could be taken out of production and used to replant woodlands, leisure activities, etc.

-Between 1966 and 1983 alone, 38% of the Amazon rain forest was destroyed for cattle grazing.

-Overgrazing by cattle is destroying the land & increasing desertification, nearly 430 million acres in the USA alone has suffered a 25-50% reduction in yield since first grazed .

-An inch of topsoil takes 200-1000 years to develop - yet in the USA they have lost around 1/3 of their prime topsoil in 200 years (around 7 inches) due to animal farming.-Land will be lost due to rises in sea level due to global warming due to animal farming.

-The destruction of the rainforest by cattle farmers is destroying the lungs of the planet & reducing the worlds capacity to replenish our oxygen supply.-The 1,300,000,000 cattle in the world emit 60,000,000 tons of methane per year (methane is a greenhouse gas & leads to global warming).

-It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat while it takes 2500 gallons to produce a pound of “meat.”

-Bloody waste water and the excrements of farm animals end up in our rivers, and from there into the seas.

-Nitrates and pesticides used on crops grown to feed livestock end up in our rivers.

-The water used to produce 10 lbs. of steak is equivalent to the average consumption of water for an entire household for an entire year.

-Aquifers (stores of underground water) in the San Joaquin Valley in the US are being drained at the rate of 500,000,000,000 gallons a year to produce “meat.”

-Meat and dairy farming uses billions of gallons of oil to run tractors, fuel ships and lorries (to move animal feed and animals), pump billions of gallons of water to irrigate fields and run slaughterhouses, power refrigeration units to prevent the corpses from decomposing, and to power sewage plants to try to clean up some of the pollution produced.

-A pound of “beef” takes a gallon of oil to produce.

-Euthanized pets are sent to rendering plants and are ground up and fed to cattle. Just like second-hand protein, you’re eating people’s cats and dogs by proxy.

-Other dead cattle are also sent to rendering plants and fed to cows.

-Animals know. They scream and kick and piss themselves in fear being sent down the slaughter line.

-Cows can feel their skin being peeled from their bodies. Pigs, who can’t even swim, scream and kick as they are dunked alive into 140-degree scalding water to remove their hair. Birds still fight while their heads are being dragged through scalding water. They all feel it. They feel the burns. They feel their limbs being cut off. They feel it just as much as you would and cry and scream just as much as you would.

-Animals love their babies. They actually mourn and cry and kick in frustration when their babies are separated from them.

-To keep animals alive in the extremely unsanitary conditions in which they are forced to live, farmers pump them full of antibiotics. -Fishing with drift nets and other modern nets weakens and destroys ecosystems by indiscriminately killing billions of sea creatures and disrupting the sea bed.

-Each year 15,000,000,000 land animals are slaughtered for food and an unknown but much larger number of sea creatures, including thousands of dolphins caught accidentally.

-Chickens are crammed into battery cages with up to three other birds and are unable to even spread their wings or stand up.

-Chickens are debeaked without anesthetic to try to prevent them from pecking at each other in the unnatural conditions they are forced to live. Their beaks, which are indeed sensitive and full of nerve cells, are burnt off with a hot razor.

-Because of the modern methods of growth hormones and artificial lighting, many chickens actually outgrow their bones, so their spines break in half and their legs become fractured or broken.

-Cows and pigs are kept tethered in stalls just large enough to fit them on concrete or slatted floors - they can not even turn around.

-Fast production and problems with stunning practices means that animals get their throats slit while still conscious and are dipped in scalding water (to loosen feathers, fur, bristles, etc.) again while fully conscious.

Recommended Reading:
-The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.
-Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
-Foods That Cause You to Lose Weight by Neal Barnard, M.D.
-The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason
-Healthy at 100 by John Robbins
-Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat by Howard F. Lyman