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Blog2017-05-25T09:44:27+00:00

Vegan Diets Are Safe for Children

Vegan Diets Are Safe for Children

preschooler eating pastaLast week, the Wall Street Journal reported about a preschool in Jersey City, NJ that offers only vegan food. The article kind of made me cringe. It made veganism look like a somewhat nutty, somewhat elitist diet that denies kids cupcakes at birthday parties.

But at the very least, it didn’t question the safety of vegan diets. An article in Slate magazine did question it, though. Science writer Melinda Wenner Moyer said that she “couldn’t help but wonder: Can kids actually get the nutrients they need on a vegan diet?”

One way to find out would be to ask actual experts on vegan nutrition. For example, Ms. Moyer could have called Dr. Reed Mangels, who has a PhD in nutrition, teaches at the University of ... Read More >

Vegan Food for People Who Don’t Cook

Vegan Food for People Who Don’t Cook

vegan fast food

Recently, I had a taste of what it’s like to be a vegan who doesn’t cook.

For what seems like the past decade or so, I’ve been living with a kitchen remodel. Cooking while my kitchen was torn apart was not really a problem. I have an electric frying pan, an Instant Pot, and an Aroma Rice Cooker/Slow Cooker. I set them up in the dining room, creating a functional kitchen annex. But without running water (or a sink) plus some concurrent remodeling of the (very old) plumbing in the bathroom, clean-up was a challenge.

While I started out cheerfully cooking up black beans and quinoa in the Instant Pot and rice cooker, my cuisine quickly morphed into whatever could be made in the ... Read More >

Vegan Diets are Dangerous? Here is What the Research Really Says

Vegan Diets are Dangerous? Here is What the Research Really Says

Messina Plant PlateDoctors at the Cleveland Clinic suggest that vegans should know something about diet planning in order to make sure they are meeting nutrient needs.

Their conclusions were published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The paper doesn’t say anything that is particularly alarming, and, with a few exceptions, there isn’t much in it that I would take issue with.

But the Cleveland Clinic press-released the findings, giving the media a chance to scaremonger about vegan diets—and you know how much they like to do that.

As is often the case, headlines didn’t exactly reflect what is in the paper. For one thing, it wasn’t a “study.” It’s a very short review, which means that it is a discussion of already-published research and doesn’t ... Read More >

Vegan Diets and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The FODMAP Approach

Vegan Diets and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The FODMAP Approach

appleOne of the most frequent questions I get through this website is about the low-FODMAP diet. This popular approach to easing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) eliminates (at least initially) many plant foods. It’s definitely a bit of a challenge for vegans, but may be worth it if you suffer from IBS.

The FODMAP Diet

IBS affects as much as 15% of the population in North America, so it is no small problem. And while it’s not life-threatening, it can have a significant effect on quality of life.

The idea behind the low-FODMAP diet is that certain fermentable short-chain carbohydrates contribute to symptoms in people with IBS. Some of these carbs are poorly digested and some are not digested at all. Others, ... Read More >

New Vegan Nutrition Primer on Iron

New Vegan Nutrition Primer on Iron

lentil soupIron deficiency anemia is a serious and common public health problem for people eating all different kinds of diets. While vegans don’t seem to develop anemia any more often than people who eat meat, we do have higher iron needs. It’s hard to know just how much higher those needs are for individual vegans, though, since requirements depend on a number of other factors—including how much iron you have stored in your body and what the rest of your diet looks like.

You probably already are eating a diet rich in this mineral, but the key is to make sure you absorb as much of it as possible. My newest vegan nutrition primer on iron provides guidelines for meeting iron needs and improving its absorption ... Read More >

Your Vegan New Year’s Diet: Don’t Forget the Protein

Your Vegan New Year’s Diet: Don’t Forget the Protein

beans_usdaIt’s hard to resist the call of the New Year’s diet. There is something about the promise of new beginnings, especially after the season of indulgence.

If your goals for 2016 include weight loss, please make sure your vegan diet includes enough protein-rich foods. I’m not suggesting that you need to eat a high-protein diet. Nor am I saying that eating lots of carbs is bad. My concern is that some vegan weight loss plans are woefully short on legumes.  A menu that consists of oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, vegetable soup and a salad for lunch, and a dinner of chili might very well help you lose weight. But, it’s not the best recipe for muscle and bone strength. I see this in the ... Read More >

New Year, Same Old (Vegan) Me

New Year, Same Old (Vegan) Me

new-year-chapter-oneThe promotional emails flooding my in box promise all kinds of tips and tricks for a “New Year, New You.” I had no idea that I was in such need of a total makeover. But these emails seem to assume that there is considerable room for improvement.

And sure, I suppose there is. I could stand to eat more fruit and fewer cookies. I should cook more from scratch. I should spend more time meditating and less time obsessing over Donald Trump’s presidential prospects. I should drag myself out of the house occasionally for cultural events instead of watching way too many re-runs of Law and Order. I should be more sociable and less solitary.

I could definitely be a better, more productive and healthier ... Read More >

Will a Vegetarian Diet Make You Depressed?

Will a Vegetarian Diet Make You Depressed?

diet depressionThe recent article in Women’s Health Magazine about the “scary mental health risks” associated with meatless diets has—not surprisingly—received lots of attention. People love to hear bad news about vegetarian and vegan diets, after all.

Author Jill Waldbieser pulled the article together from the usual hodgepodge of questionable resources—in this case a few anecdotes plus comments from Vegetarian Myth author Lierre Keith. She also referenced two studies, one in Australia and one in Germany.

I took a quick peek at the German study, which assessed diet and mental health in a group of about 4100 subjects.(1) Subjects who said they were vegetarian or predominantly vegetarian were 15% more likely to report depressive disorders. But they were also likely to have adopted their vegetarian diet after ... Read More >

Lettuce and Bacon and the Environment: Some Thoughts for Vegan Activists

Lettuce and Bacon and the Environment: Some Thoughts for Vegan Activists

lettuce bacon

Is lettuce really worse for the environment than bacon? That’s what the latest headlines say, based on findings from new research at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Allegedly, lettuce produces more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than unhealthy foods like bacon. The media have gleefully proclaimed, based on this study, that vegetarian diets are bad for the environment.

But that’s not what the study showed. It’s not even what the study looked at. It looked at what happens when people eating a usual American diet shift towards a healthier eating pattern as defined by the USDA. And what happens is that the environmental benefits of eating less red meat are offset by the greater GHG emissions associated with dairy, seafood, fruits and vegetables—all ... Read More >

Vegan Diets and Orthorexia: How Should Activists Respond?

Vegan Diets and Orthorexia: How Should Activists Respond?

orthorexia

I’ve been pretty much MIA from this blog and most of the internet over the past few months. My husband and I packed up our home, offices, and cats and moved 3000 miles from Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula to the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts in early November. Driving across the country with 5 cats caused me more than a little bit of angst, and a lot of other things fell by the wayside this fall.

I’m only now catching up on vegan news. One story that has been on my mind over the past couple of months is the release of the book Breaking Vegan by Jordan Younger, formerly The Blonde Vegan and now The Balanced Blonde.

I don’t know what The ... Read More >

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