On Privilege, Priorities, and Processed Foods in Vegan Diets

On Privilege, Priorities, and Processed Foods in Vegan Diets

Lately it seems that every restaurant chain is scrambling to add some type of vegan meat to their menu. And these new products are so excellent that they appeal to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Is this good news for vegans, or are we all going to suddenly keel over and die now that we can eat fast food just like the rest of America? Detractors, including some plant-based diet advocates, are quick to point out the processed nature of the new burgers. They say people are being led astray if they believe that these are healthy alternatives. Some even suggest that the health of vegans is suffering because of all the new vegan products on the market.

But, it’s not like there have never been ... Read More >

Vegan Children and Vaccines

Vegan Children and Vaccines

A couple of weeks ago, I took myself to the pharmacy for the first of two doses of the shingles vaccine. I didn’t want to do it at all. For one thing, I’m highly needle-phobic. (I don’t even have pierced ears.) Also, I was working toward a major deadline and didn’t have time to be sick. Headache, fatigue, and low-grade fever are common side effects of this vaccine, according to the CDC, and they can last for several days.

But I had recently heard from two people who have had shingles in the past few months (one is a family member, the other an animal activist) and their experiences were way worse than the usual mild side effects of the ... Read More >

Raising Vegan Children: Please Share Your Experience

Raising Vegan Children: Please Share Your Experience

photo credit: Can Stock Photo/ftlaudgirl

Despite media pieces aimed at discrediting vegan diets for kids, vegan children clearly can thrive when they have appropriate diets. For a project I’m working on, I’m hoping to learn more about the experiences of people who are raising vegan children or are in the process of transitioning their family to a vegan diet.

What kind of challenges have you faced as a vegan parent regarding nutrition and food choices? Which foods are especially important in your family meals to help your kids meet nutrient needs. Have there been any issues regarding school or social situations? How do you talk to your kids about why the family is vegan, and what is their response? What are their favorite foods?

Anything ... Read More >

Going Vegan in the New Year: Seven Tips for Success

Going Vegan in the New Year: Seven Tips for Success

Whether you are diving head first into a vegan lifestyle for the new year, or beginning a transition to veganism over the next months, here are seven tips to increase your chances of success.

Learn About Nutrition

You don’t have to know a lot, but you need to know something. The idea that simply eating a variety of whole plant foods will magically meet your needs for protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients is not true and it is dangerous advice. For quick overviews on the basics, see my Plant Plate, my Vegan 101 series on this website, these Tips for New Vegans,  and this more comprehensive article on vegan nutrition.

Moderate Your Expectations.

You will not “detox,” when you go vegan and ... Read More >

Body Shaming in the Vegan Community

Body Shaming in the Vegan Community

I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel with Andy Tabar of Compassion Company and JL Fields of JL Goes Vegan at Vegfest Colorado in late July. We spoke about body shaming and food shaming in the vegan community.

Although this is admittedly an unusual topic for a vegfest, it’s an important one. Not just for those who are already active in vegan and animal activism, but also for newcomers who might wonder if there is a place for them in this community.

Andy posted a live recording of our presentations on his Bearded Vegans podcast, and you can view the slides from my presentation here. I looked at some of the potential consequences of over-hyping the health benefits of a vegan diet and ... Read More >

Your Vegan Kitchen is a Protest Kitchen

Your Vegan Kitchen is a Protest Kitchen

In our new book, Protest Kitchen: Fight Injustice, Save the Planet, and Fuel Your Resistance One Meal at a Time, Carol J. Adams and I suggest that your food choices offer a way to challenge the rise of repressive and regressive values. That is, a vegan diet offers opportunities not just to confront factory farms and environmental destruction, but also to impact misogyny, racism, and injustice.

Our book is headed to the printer this week and is due to arrive in bookstores in the fall, but it’s available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble now. (It will be available as an audio book in addition to print and e-reader formats.)

Carol and I started talking about this book shortly after the presidential election, ... Read More >

Shifting From Vegan to Paleo is a Step in the Wrong Direction

Shifting From Vegan to Paleo is a Step in the Wrong Direction

Is there such a thing as the one and only healthy way to eat? Best-selling authors like Dr. Mark Hyman would like you to think so.

Recently, he’s become a proponent of an eating style that he calls “pegan,” which as you might guess is a portmanteau of Paleo and vegan. In designing this diet, Dr. Hyman says that he “synthesized the best aspects of each and integrated them with the anti-inflammatory and detoxification principles of functional medicine to create a balanced, inclusive dietary plan that changed my life and my patients’ lives, too.

Uh oh –“detoxification principles” plus anecdotal evidence pretty much raises red flags all over the place for me.

But Dr. Hyman is correct in saying that his diet is a ... Read More >

The FODMAP Diet for Vegans: An Update

The FODMAP Diet for Vegans: An Update

FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are fermented in the gut and can cause painful gas and bloating for people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I shared resources for vegans with IBS in a blog post in 2016, which gives a more thorough explanation of a low-FODMAP diet.

The diet is a challenge for vegans since many foods that are common in our diets are restricted, at least in the early stages of a low-FODMAP approach. In particular, legumes are limited and so are certain nuts, fruits and vegetables. Because IBS is such a common condition, though, there is considerable interest in expanding the list of foods that fit into a low-FODMAP plan. The most recent research is from Monash University in Australia and it looked ... Read More >

The New and Improved Vegan Health Website

The New and Improved Vegan Health Website

If you’ve followed this blog for any period of time, you know that I’m a big fan of the website VeganHealth.org. In fact, I consider it to be the most reliable and comprehensive source of information about vegan diets on the web – or anywhere for that matter.

The site was founded in 2003 by dietitian Jack Norris who is co-founder and executive director of Vegan Outreach. Jack has single-handedly kept this site updated for all these years in an effort that can only be described as heroic.

Last month, the site had a face lift, making it more user-friendly. And because the project has grown beyond what one person (even Jack!) can manage, Vegan Health now has a team keeping it updated. I’m happy ... Read More >

Fortified Soy Milk is Healthy Alternative to Cow’s Milk for Toddlers

Fortified Soy Milk is Healthy Alternative to Cow’s Milk for Toddlers

A joint news release from Dietitians of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society urges parents to be careful in their selection of milks for young children. Specifically, they are concerned about the low protein and mineral content of unfortified plant milks.

I agree with most of what they say. Unfortified plant milks should not be a main part of toddlers’ diets. It’s also likely, as they suggest, that there are advantages to providing children with either breast milk or commercial infant formula up to the age of two years. But I disagree with their suggestion that it’s okay to start kids on cow’s milk at age one, but not fortified soymilk. In fact, their statement conflicts with recommendations in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ... Read More >

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