Know what kind of life your dinner lived

wholefoodsWhen I was in Houston, I saw this poster, showing me that if I eat their meat products, apparently they are lovingly cuddled before they are killed for my dinner.

It’s a new campaign I’ve seen at lots of WFM’s on my travels. The idea is, we treat animals better than the competition does.

This poster showing chicken as a cute pet doesn’t make me want to buy animal products from WFM. It makes me want to stick with eating plants.

 

 

 

athletes and experts quoted about eating plants

I don’t preach about the -isms. I don’t talk about or embrace words like raw foodist, vegetarian, or vegan, even though I do teach to eat a high-raw, mostly-plants diet. I leave it to you to figure out whether you want organic, clean eggs, cheese, milk, or meat as a small (5% or less) part of your diet. The implications of the biggest nutrition study in history, the China Project done by Oxford and Cornell, are clear: a plant-based diet can overcome carcinogens in our lifestyle. The standard American diet that includes 20% animal protein is a cancer feeder and puts us at high risk for that, and many other diseases.

I personally do not ever put animal products in anything I make at home. Organic eggs and cheese were the last things to go, at my house. There were less and less of them until one day I realized it had been 18 months since I had bought either of them. Making an egg substitute with 1 Tbsp. chia soaked in 3 Tbsp. of water works great. The baked product is more crumbly, but I can live with that. That’s all I used eggs for, anyway. The days of serving my little kids “toads-in-a-hole” for dinner were long gone. (A piece of bread, a hole punched out and an egg put in, fried in a little butter.) In the early days of my transition, we had that WITH a green smoothie!

It’s a rare occasion that I eat anything in a restaurant with animal products, either. I choose not to embrace those titles for two reasons. One, I think they are a turn-off to many people who are just starting out, wanting only to learn about and eat more nutritious food. I want to “be there” for the folks just beginning a transition to a high-quality diet.

Second, because I am often approached in restaurants, everything I eat scrutinized and commented on, and I don’t want to be held to absolutes. So I never call myself any of those labels even though I have eaten a high-raw, 95%+ plant-based diet for 18 years.

I’m supportive of those who do eat veg, vegan, and raw, and I’m proud of my vegan daughter who goes out of her way to eat only plants, so that there is no cruelty to animals caused by her life. (She’s a competitive soccer and cross-country athlete, and we look high and low to make sure there is no leather in her cleats and running shoes as well.) She and I have two very different ideologies that fuel our similar choices—hers animal cruelty, mine nutrition—and both are valid and important.

The quotes below use the words “vegetarian” and “vegan” quite a bit, but of course they’re not my quotes. But if extremist labels offend you, just consider these thoughts towards my agenda of helping you EAT MORE PLANTS! Regardless of whether you have a goal of eating no animal products. :-)

“A number of studies have shown that cancer risk is lower and immune competence is higher in individuals who consume a vegetarian diet. Epidemiological studies almost unanimously report a strong correlation between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low cancer risk.”

– John Boik, in his book Cancer & Natural Medicine: A Textbook of Basic Research and Clinical Research

“I have been a vegan for almost two years now and the benefits have been tremendous. I have more stamina and it helps keep me in a positive state of mind. I didn’t realize how weighed down I was when I ate meat. I never really felt 100 percent until I freed it from my diet. Now, I can’t imagine going back to meat. I feel incredible.”

– Mike Tyson, World heavyweight boxing champion, in 2011

“Today you have processed meats and a lot of animals suffering unnecessarily for it. Now, some people just blow that off and don’t have a conscience about it, or they just don’t care. They wouldn’t eat their dog, but they feel that way about other animals. But for me, I decided to stop eating meat. I didn’t want to contribute to all of that. I’m not trying to change the world, or wear that on my sleeve, or make a political statement, because that just turns people away. I only have control over one person, and that’s myself. And I feel good about it.”

– Mac Danzig, vegan mixed martial arts champ

“I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. In fact, my best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet.”

– Carl Lewis, nine-time Olympic gold medal winner

“Someone may say that there are some antioxidants in meat. They are not incorrect in saying this. But, it is like comparing a raindrop to a lake, with a piece of meat being the raindrop, and an apple or other raw fruit or vegetable being a lake of beneficial nutrients. Any antioxidants in the meat only got there by way of the animal eating plants. Animals, including humans, do not conduct photosynthesis, which is the process that takes place in plant cells when they absorb sun energy and store it, forming the colors in the plants. Therefore, antioxidants, which are in the natural colors of plants, are vastly more available in edible, raw plant substances, and much less present in meat, dairy, and eggs. By consuming animal protein to try to access antioxidants is less than licking the juice from a knife that just cut through a piece of fruit, instead of simply eating the fruit itself.

By consuming animal protein, you are also consuming free radicals, which exist and form in meat, milk, and eggs. So, even if you are consuming some trace amounts of certain antioxidants in the animal protein, you are countering it by also consuming the damaging free radicals in that animal flesh, dairy, or eggs. This scenario does not equal good nutrition – especially considering that meat, dairy, and eggs also contain saturated fat, cholesterol, and a variety of other substances that work against health.

Studies are constantly revealing how certain fruits and vegetables not only provide needed nutrients that are beneficial to health, but also that they contain and provide properties that prevent certain serious ailments, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease; limit intestinal exposure to carcinogens; and help the body to contain, transport, and eliminate toxins.”

– Sunfood Diet Infusion: Transforming Health And Preventing Disease Through Raw Veganism by John McCabe

Will my teeth go bad on a raw diet?

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: Will my teeth go bad on a raw diet? I am troubled by the Weston A. Price Foundation’s claim. –Megan

From Robyn: I have noticed observationally that those on a long-term 100% vegan diet sometimes have dental problems. I do not think that this diet is necessary. (I wonder if there are good cooked plant foods that may be helpful to our health that can prevent deficiency, which people throughout time have utilized–grains and legumes, for instance.)

Nor do I think the evidence points conclusively to human beings needing meat, far from it, in the face of the Oxford-Cornell China Study. If you feel compelled eat animal flesh, it’s still clear that it MUST be organic and it must be minimal. Not three times a day as many Americans do.

(And I have noticed that when most people say “meat,” they mean beef and pork. When I say meat, I refer to the flesh of all animals.) Most people are B12 deficient, but the idea that vegetarians are deficient overlooks the fact that most meat eaters are, too. 80%+ of people in America are B12 deficient, in fact.

I don’t eat meat and I am not B12 deficient. I haven’t had a cavity in years (although my Sonic toothbrush may share in the credit for that—those things are amazing). My dentist says my teeth are “naturally white,” and when I go in for cleanings, I’ve been told twice, “I don’t know why you even come in, because you have no plaque on your teeth.” None of this was the case before I cleaned up my diet.

While the Weston A. Price research found that people who eat meat, among indigenous peoples, had strong teeth, we cannot compare that to modern populations and draw the conclusions that we should eat the kind of animal flesh that modern people do.

What we eat, and what people living far from a processed diet did at the time of Price’s studies, are terribly different. Today’s animals used for food are caged in tiny, filthy pens, and are full of antibiotics, hormones, and terrible diets of genetically modified grains or diseased animal parts. We cannot assume that because the native people Price studied had clean animal flesh in their diets, that means we can eat lots of dirty animal flesh and achieve strong teeth (and bones).

I have more to say, but local Dr. Garon Larson, D.D.S., says it better, in response to Megan’s question:

“Can I respond to Megan’s question about teeth?

I am a local general dentist who drinks green smoothies and eats whole foods and a plant-based diet with my family.   I was on ABC4 morning news yesterday and KSL noon news segment for children’s dental health awareness month (Feb).   The news anchor asked me what parents can do to help children have healthy teeth.   My answer:   Stop feeding your children the Standard America Diet, which is processed foods from cans and boxes, processed sugars, and fast food.   Give your kids real food to eat.   Absolutely the best thing you can do for your teeth, mouth, and body.   Healthy teeth are really important when eating a whole foods diet because this is real food and you need strong healthy teeth to chew and break down the food to digest it well and absorb the nutrients (unless you want to blend everything up in your Blendtec!).

Teeth form when we are very young, almost all permanent teeth have completed development of crown and most of the root by the age of 6-8 years old.   Good nutrition (from whole foods) is so important for our young children.   After tooth development, we are mainly talking about maintaining the teeth, which is removing food and debris which gets left on our teeth (biofilm).   Standard American Diet is very hard on teeth as full of refined carbohydrates and refined sugars, which the normal flora (normal bacteria) in our mouths use as fuel and metabolize these substances, giving off acid as a byproduct.   The acid demineralizes the teeth and begins the decay process.   Chewing whole foods which are fibrous stimulates the gum tissues, has a natural lavaging effect on them, and promotes healthy gums.

There is absolutely no need for animal products for healthy teeth or gums.   I received a certificate from E Cornell University last year in Plant-Based Diet and I can confidently say that and I am confident in the way my family eats…that’s the way my kids eat and they have great teeth!

Hope this helps put your mind at ease!

Dr. Garon Larsen”

Libby Goes Vegan

You know I don’t   promote any “isms”–vegetarianism, veganism, raw foodism.  I’m secretly a fan of all those movements. But I don’t adopt them as extremist positions because I think they send most people running for the hills. And I believe that sticking to the idea of eating MORE PLANT FOODS wins more converts.

But I don’t cook/serve animal flesh in my home. My older daughter, though, is a militant vegetarian.

The younger one, Libby, 14, struggles. She admires her sister’s “cause” orientation, and has “gone veg” several times but it doesn’t stick. She goes to her dad’s where meat is a staple, and she caves in, falls off the wagon. She has been looking at vegetarian vids on youtube and studying the issue.

Today she brought me this typed statement:

“I, Libby Pay, am going vegan. I will not eat anything with eggs or milk. Or meat. So I want to make  special veggie foods for myself since the rest of you drink kefir in the mornings. If I have to drink kefir I will be deeply hurt. Anyways, to make my special food I would like these ingredients. Some of them I have already, but just want to make sure I am allowed to use them. I want to be hardcore vegan. You don’t have to be. But I really want to.”

“Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, sweet potatoes, fresh kale (to try this one recipe I found), black beans, that seaweed stuff you buy, big carrots, garlic and onion, green and black olives (not needed, just somewhat wanted!), green beans, cucumbers.”

“I feel very strongly about this. If it gets too hard, I’ll just be vegetarian, but I really want to do this.”

A few hours later, she came in with a binder she’d made, with lots of printed material about cruelty to animals and nutritional support for a plant-based diet, in plastic sleeves. The cover page has this printed, in large text:

“WHY I DO NOT EAT MEAT:

“Yes, God may have put them on the earth for us to eat. But in the scriptures it says to eat meat sparingly in times of winter and famine. I don’t think our Heavenly Father intended for the animals we eat to be tortured, stuffed into tight cages for their whole lives, beaten, and to rarely see sunlight. Chickens, pigs, and cows have been chemically altered to grow way bigger than they are supposed to. They put steroids in the animals to make more meat. These animals can’t walk, and are tortured daily.”

I’m so proud of my kids when they stand for something. When it’s something that will benefit them and the world, even better!

Now if I could just get them to take a vigilante stand against SUGAR.

KRISTIN ACCIDENTALLY TURNS VEGETARIAN

Kristin is my closest friend and just came on working for GSG full-time on June 1. She was here all the time anyway, putting in nearly FT hours, especially with all the traveling we’ve been doing. She has made my classes SO much more efficient and effective. I love her–she’s the best thing that has happened to GSG.com in a long time. She’s strong in all the places I am weak, and she’s so loyal to me and helpful to a fault. I am so blessed.

On May 26, at a class for almost 250 people in Sandy, Utah, she said to the crowd, “You can’t hang around Robyn and not be affected by this movement.” I’d described how for a long time we’d have staff meetings and I’d have my quart of green smoothie, and she’d have her quart of Diet Coke. Then one day we suddenly BOTH had a green smoothie at staff meeting. (I was secretly–and kind of openly, too–so thrilled!) I am watching Kristin change before my eyes. She said to me recently, “If I drank TWO quarts of green smoothie a day, I basically could never get fat again.” (She’s lost 40 lbs.)

On June 3, she said to me, “I think I’ve accidentally become a vegetarian.”

LAUGHING OUT LOUD! (Keep in mind, this girl is from IDAHO. They don’t eat their potatoes without meat there!) That’s what hanging out at my house all day, working, will do to ya. She said that the only problems with this are:

(1) “I like meat!” I told her, I used to, too. You’re not me, of course, but I literally never miss it now. The only time is if I walk into someone’s house, when I’m really hungry on Sunday night, and they’re cooking a roast. (And the once a year that happens? I have a little! I can only stand a little anyway—and maybe it’s good for Vitamin B12. I’m not actually sure that’s important, since your body stores a 3-year supply, and since there are a handful of plant sources of B12 or an analog. But I digress.)

And, Kristin’s other problem with “accidental vegetarianism”…

(2) “I have all these memories of my family past, and my kids will tell anyone, ‘My mom is the greatest cook!’ And the dishes they tell people about, that I make, are pot roast, homemade rolls, and chicken-n-dumplings.”

But like so many Americans, Kristin now finds herself seriously gluten intolerant. And feeling better and better the further she gets from the S.A.D. Eating white flour once a week does not cause her a problem, but if she eats white bread a few days in a row? She’s practically doubled over with abdominal pain and bloating.

Her semi-final comment today, on that subject, was, “Well, I’ll limit it to once a week. Sunday nights.”

Sounds good to me. I always say:

“Incremental progress is progress.”

When you find something else you love on Sunday nights, you might replace the roast like I did (I made a mean roast on Sunday nights, too, 20 years ago!).   I believe no one shifts these family traditions till they WANT to. So I’m not going to pound on Kristin about that one meal a week. (Or anyone, actually. Pretty proud of all the cool stuff she’s done lately, though!)

And, just another plug for young moms: if you do this NOW, you don’t have to “undo” family memories in order to shift to a healthier, plant-based diet later. Then the family memories that your kids will remember you for in 20 years aren’t worse, they’re just different. That pint of GS always waiting for them in the fridge after school, stuff drying in the dehydrator…..Sunday night lentil tacos, black-bean burgers, hummus quesadillas….or whatever! (The possibilities are endless.)

If it makes anyone feel better, my mom never made a roast, in my childhood, not once. I seem to have survived.   😉