My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘Standard American Diet’

The Vegan Comes to Main Street Victoria Moran

An Interview with Victoria Moran

Are you annoyed by vegans?  Envious of their great skin?  Or wondering if a vegan diet is right for you? Being a vegan is no longer just for hippies and rich celebrities.  A plant-based diet, and the astounding health benefits that come with it, are within reach. Curious?  Learn more in this exclusive interview with Victoria Moran, best-selling author of the new book, Main Street Vegan.

Julian A. Barnes of Body Local chatted with Victoria Moran—the best-selling author of eleven books, including Creating a Charmed Life and the plant-based weight loss classic, The Love-Powered Diet—about her new bookMain Street Vegan, how she began her journey as a vegan, and her thoughts about why the medical community has been slow to advocate plant-based diets. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

JAB: Hi Victoria. I have heard you say that you are returning to your roots with Main Street Vegan. What have you learned since you wrote your first book, “Compassion the Ultimate Ethic: An Exploration of Veganism,” in 1985?

VM: A lot! I started writing for teen magazines when I was in high school, and after I went vegetarian at nineteen, I wrote for small magazines sold in health food stores. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to do a foreign study and went to the U.K. to study vegans. (Since the vegan movement started there, there were enough vegans in a small enough area to actually study.) That research led to “Compassion the Ultimate Ethic,” the first book on vegan philosophy and practice to come from an actual publishing house.

JAB: I have also heard that many people refer to Main Street Vegan as “The Vegan Bible.” How does that make you feel?

VM: It was quite an honor to have it called that by Big City Vegan and I’m thrilled that other people are saying it too. I want this to be a book people turn to where they can get their questions answered. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal to be vegan, but because of the social connections we make and how people react when we do something different, people think it is. I wanted this book to be a guide that people could lend to their friends or family member to support that person who is embracing this wonderful change.

JAB: So what was your inspiration for the title?

VM: I went to a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) fundraiser in 2010, and although I’ve been in animal rights for all of my adult life, that evening the images in the videos they showed were just so powerful that I wanted to help in a greater way than I ever had before. On the train home that night, it just came to me: write “Main Street Vegan,” short chapters, a recipe after each one, geared to people who have an interest in this way of life but who think it’s just too edgy or fringy, or that it’s a really good idea but not something they themselves could do.

JAB: So how would you define a “Main Street Vegan”?

VM: A Main Street Vegan is, like any other vegan, a total vegetarian, meaning he or she only eats food from the plant kingdom. But this person isn’t a mogul or celebrity with a private chef. A Main Street Vegan is just a regular person who wants to live a better life, enjoy better health, do some good for animals, and live responsibly on the earth.

JAB: What do you think has contributed to the interest in a vegan lifestyle?

VM: I think it’s the result of two movements—animal rights on one hand, health and fitness on the other—growing rapidly on parallel tracks over the last 30 to 40 years. On the health front, there was a renewed interest in vegetarianism beginning in the 1970s and ’80s with books such as “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappé, and “Fit for Life” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  Meanwhile, ground-breaking research was conducted by doctors like Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., who showed that coronary heart disease could be reversed with a plant-based diet. When I started, being a vegan was very odd. Now most people know at least one vegan and many people have seen former President Bill Clinton’s CNN interview where he discussed why he has adopted a plant-based diet. So, even though only 2.5 percent of Americans are vegan, more people are aware of the benefits of a vegan diet.

JAB: Why has it taken so long for society to understand the benefits of a plant-based diet?

VM: That’s a great question, especially since an article that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association way back in 1960 stated that a pure vegetarian diet could eliminate 90 percent of coronary disease. Part of the reason is economics. Rapid and widespread adoption of a vegan diet could cause economic chaos to the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries. And the standard American diet is standard because we’re used to it; it’s part of our culture. Besides, preventative measures are not sexy; people are always looking for something dramatic and instant like a cure for cancer instead of a cancer prevention solution.

JAB: Are doctors more enlightened about plant-based diets today?

VM: I believe that more are aware than ever before, but most don’t feel sufficient urgency to make these changes themselves or to share the notion of plant-based diet, which is still seen as radical by most Americans, with their patients. And the majority of medical doctors weren’t trained in nutrition so they don’t talk about it—or they pass along the same conventional wisdom that everyone else believes in. Doctors, like the rest of us, have different points of view and they are entitled to their opinions, but you need to shop for a doctor the way you’d shop for a spouse. You don’t marry the first person who takes you to dinner.

JAB: Do you believe that Americans could live longer on a vegan diet? Would this country have more Blue Zones, communities where people live active lives past the age of 100?

VM: That’s exactly right. The only Blue Zone in this country is in Loma Linda, California, which is a largely 7th Day Adventist community. Approximately 50 percent of Adventists are vegetarian and in Loma Linda, where they have their large university and medical school, that percentage is higher. As a tenet of their faith, members consume very little refined or processed food, they don’t smoke or drink, they tend to have stable families and community support, and they’re taught to value exercise. The upshot is an entire city where the health statistics—or rather, the illness statistics—that are common to the rest of America just don’t apply.

JAB: Let’s shift gears for a second. Tell us how a young girl from Kansas City became a vegan.

VM: I was a practicing binge eater for my first 30 years. I took time off to diet but all I really knew how to do was diet and binge eat. I couldn’t go vegan until I had the willingness to treat my binge eating like alcoholism or a drug addiction. I admitted my own inability to deal with the issue, then I turned that over to the care of a Higher Power, and finally I focused on cleaning up my life and being of service. This occurred around the time daughter was born and it was important to me to raise my child vegan. It was hard in those days to stay plant-based at restaurants and while traveling and in social settings, but I looked at this baby and I couldn’t tell her that it was okay to eat eggs and milk when we were out but we didn’t do it at home because it hurt the animals. It either hurt them or it didn’t. I wanted to be ethically consistent.

JAB: Did yoga play a role in your journey?

VM: Absolutely. Someone introduced me to yoga when I was 17 and I fell in love with it right away. I’d always been interested in spirituality, and yoga was the first time I’d ever seen spirituality come with a physical component. I’d separated my “high, lofty spiritual thoughts” from my overeating and the body I disliked, and here was yoga telling me that I was a single entity, and that I was of value on every level. Yoga also introduced me to vegetarianism. In those times, it was just expected that if you did yoga, you’d stop eating meat, fish, and probably eggs. With the explosion in yoga’s popularity, that’s been lost in many of the iterations these days, but it’s still in the tradition.

JAB: I read that you are a “high raw vegan” and that you eat an 85 to 90 percent raw diet in the summer. What’s a typical summer meal for you?

VM: I generally have a smoothie in the morning with almond milk or coconut milk and I put in berries and a banana, 2 teaspoons of ground flax seeds, and a scoop of Vega One All-in-One Shake. Maybe half the time I put in some blackstrap molasses. It tastes like a milkshake and is very sustaining.

JAB: Do you have a favorite juice bar?

VM: Watkins Health Food on 116th Street and Lenox is my standard spot because it’s near my apartment. I also love Organic Avenue and do one of their cleanses at the change of every season.

 

JAB: How about your favorite restaurants in NYC?

VM: Oh, I have so many favorites, including Pure Food and WineCandle Café WestSacred Chow, and Quintessence.

 

JAB: Do you have any practical tips for the average person to make the transition to veganism?

VM: It’s a very wide door. First, eat more colors. Your plate should look like a Christmas tree—mostly green with splashes of other bright colors. Step two is to get to know other people who are doing this. There’s a New York Vegetarian/Vegan Meetup Group with over three thousand members. Then educate yourself. Read books, like Main Street Vegan, and see films such as “Vegucated and “Forks Over Knives.  And attend some of the amazing events throughout NYC such as The Seed: A Vegan Experience. I’ll be speaking there along with a host of other fabulous speakers, including professional triathlete Brendan Brazier and best-selling author Kathy Freston.

http://blog.bodylocal.com/2012/05/31/the-vegan-comes-to-main-street/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Master%20-%20NYC&utm_campaign=Body%20Local%20General%20-%20%28Clean%29

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Vegan Myths Debunked

Paul Jarvis

I’ve been vegan for years, so I’ve grown accustomed to certain myths people believe about what it means to eat a plant-based diet and live a creature-free life. Here are a few things people often get wrong about veganism.

All vegans are skinny, white women

We come in all colors, shapes, sizes and genders. Not all vegans are frail/anemic-looking waifs either – some are ultra-marathoners, UFC fighters, famous talk-show hosts, actors and actresses … most, however, are regular men and women. You can’t look like a vegan; you can just live and eat like one.

There’s also an often unspoken view that veganism isn’t very manly since Real Men eat meat. To that I’d say that real men take care of their bodies and want to decrease their risk of things like prostate cancer, diabetes and heart problems (all of which have been shown to worsen due to the consumption of meat and dairy).

Vegan food is all weird soy-based fake meat and cheeses

There are a lot of faux meats and dairy-free cheeses, but they’re not the only option for eating a plant-based diet. Think of them as “gateway drugs” for eating less meat and dairy. They offer comfort in similarity to a “typical” diet and some taste pretty good too. These products are really good for a transition from SAD (Standard American Diet) to a diet more focused on lots of whole vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains. It is really easy to eat vegan without them though, and focus more on eating a variety of whole, plant-based foods.

Veganism isn’t healthy

Technically, you could call yourself a “vegan” and live on potato chips, Oreo cookies (these are vegan because they don’t contain any actual food) and diet soda. But one of the main benefits of an intelligent, plant-based diet is the sheer diversity of whole foods you can and should eat on a daily basis. Every single day I eat more whole foods than I have fingers and toes. Add up all the fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds I’ve consumed by bedtime and it would total far more than 10. Countless studies have shown that eating this way can effectively treat, and even prevent, a slew of chronic diseases. Some real dangers and potential killers related to a non-vegan diet include cancer, diabetes and heart disease – all of which have been linked to dairy and meat consumption by actual medical journals, written by established scientists. So eating a plant-based diet can be really healthy, if you do it correctly.

Vegans can’t get enough protein or calcium

This is definitely the question that vegans hear most often. But when was the last time you heard of anyone being protein deficient in the Western world? It just doesn’t happen – among vegans or omnivores. I get my protein from eating a well-balanced, whole foods diet. There is protein in nuts, seeds, vegetables and many other foods. North Americans are obsessed with protein, and really, we eat far too much of it. If your diet includes various and diverse plant-based foods, you’ll get enough, even if you’re very active. Good sources of protein include foods like almonds, lentils, quinoa, beans, broccoli, tempeh and chickpeas. And none of these proteins have bad fats or cholesterol (bonus!).

Personally, I know that dairy is not a good source of calcium, but I definitely believe the milk industry has an insanely good marketing team. There’s more calcium in small amounts of broccoli, molasses, kale, grains or soy than in a big glass of cow’s milk. There are lots of cultures, past and present, that have never consumed any dairy as part of their diets, and they haven’t shriveled up and died from a lack of calcium.

Veganism is too militant/absolute

Being vegan isn’t a religion or exercise in absolutism. If you are vegan (or heading that way), it doesn’t mean you’ve got to sign up for a militant animal rights group or protest naked outside fur shops. If that’s your thing, all the power to you for making a difference. You can also make a difference in a more subversive way by making omnivore friends a delicious plant-based meal or simply by buying fewer animals and animal products. There are as many types of vegans as there are types of non-vegans – so whatever works for you is the best thing you can do for “The Cause.”

For every study or piece of research published about the benefits of a plant-based diet, there’s a news article that claims the latest healthy eating trend is actually horrible for you. I will offer this key piece of advice: Learn who funded the research you just read, or if it’s an article on a website or in a newspaper, ensure it’s based on a scientific find and not paid for by the meat or dairy industries. There is, unfortunately, a lot of money spent to make people think that meat and dairy are good for you, even if science says otherwise.

Finally, remember that veganism isn’t for everyone. It’s just for folks who want to stay healthy, feel good, live longer and generally be really awesome.

Paul Jarvis is the author of “Eat Awesome: A regular person’s guide to plant-based, whole foods.” He believes veganism is love – and that deliciousness always trumps dogma. He lives with his amazing wife Lisa, in Tofino, British Columbia.

http://crazysexylife.com/2012/vegan-myths-debunked/

10 Ways to End Your Love Affair with Meat

If you’re coming to veganism or vegetarianism later than infancy, you, like most people, have already been exposed to the burger and fries lifestyle in the U.S. and have probably become addicted to meat and cheese. Don’t worry; this is not your fault. The fast food industry is designed specifically to make that happen. They make you think that eating a dead animal is glamorous (remember the Paris Hilton/Carl’s Junior ad?), makes you healthy (remember the statement by McDonald’s that they didn’t see anything unhealthy on their menu), but more importantly, that it’s actually food (meat and meat by-products mixed with white flour, sugar and grease are not food.) But since you’ve decided to go vegan, how are you going break your addiction to the Standard American Diet and its meat focus?

Read more at :http://www.thisdishisvegetarian.com/2012/07/10-ways-to-end-your-love-affair-with.html

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