Vegan Soups: Fast and Easy

Like the television jingle says, soup is good food. It’s great for weight control because the high water content helps to fill you up with fewer calories. Research shows that starting a meal with soup is likely to help you eat less overall. And of course, all by itself, soup makes a very filling lunch or dinner.

You can make a big pot of soup over the weekend and have it ready in the fridge for fast healthful meals later in the week. It’s portable, too—great to carry to work in a thermos.

It’s wonderful to make old-fashioned soup from scratch, but you can also make yummy and healthful soups in a jiffy using some great vegan convenience products. I am especially smitten with soup-in-a-box, ... Read More >

Every Day Is Earth Day for Vegetarians

Happy Earth Day!

I am vowing to make some changes this week in an effort to make my lifestyle a little more green. And there is plenty of information out there to get me started. Recycling, composting, reducing and reusing, eating locally—you can learn about the best personal choices for the environment on any number of websites. But I am astounded—absolutely stunned—by how many people who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint don’t have any idea about the effect of meat and fish production on the planet. And clearly they are not going to learn about it from most of the national environmental organizations.

I checked the websites of some of the major groups working to reduce global warming. Some, like Greenpeace and EarthFirst!, ... Read More >

Promoting Vegan Diets: The Way to Anyone’s Heart Is Through Their Stomach

I ate meat and cheese and eggs for the first 28 years of my life. It would never have occurred to me that I could live without them. So when I hear people say “Oh, I could just never give up meat!” I understand exactly how they feel.

And I think it is a big reason that many people simply do not want to know about factory farming. If you can’t imagine a life without meat (or cheese or eggs), it creates a lot of uncomfortable inner conflict and psychological discord to hear that meat-eating is unethical. It’s no wonder that so many people ridicule vegans or get downright hostile about this way of eating.

People who believe that vegan foods taste good and that ... Read More >

Soyfoods, Iodine and Thyroid Function in Vegans

Many foods—including soy, broccoli, and millet—contain goitrogens, which are compounds that interfere with thyroid function. Most people can eat these foods regularly without problems. Problems do occur in people who have low intakes of the mineral iodine, which is needed for a healthy thyroid.

In the 1950s approximately 10 cases of goiter—a symptom of thyroid problems—were identified in infants consuming soy infant formula. These 50-year-old studies have been used to fuel arguments that soy is dangerous for infants—but in fact, they have no relevance to infants who are currently fed soy infant formula. Today’s formula is fortified with iodine and is processed differently than older formulas. As a result, there has not been one case of goiter reported in the medical literature in the ... Read More >

Raw Or Cooked Foods: Which is the Best Diet for Vegans?

An acquaintance mentioned to me the other day that she first went vegan for ethical reasons and then a raw foods diet just seemed the “next logical step.” I can’t imagine why. To me, there is nothing especially logical or beneficial about eating only raw foods.

True, raw foods are packed with all kinds of things that are good for you—tons of fiber and all of the nutrients and phytochemicals that are found in plants. Although nuts and dried fruits are calorie-dense, a raw foods diet is usually much lower in calories than many other ways of eating and can be an effective route to weight loss.

But cooking has some important benefits. Although some foods taste great in the raw state, cooking ... Read More >

The Mediterranean Vegan

Low-fat diets are sometimes touted as the healthiest way to eat, but that’s an old-fashioned idea. It’s also bad activism on behalf of vegan diets. Even people who are strongly motivated often find it difficult to eliminate animal products from their diet. So why make it harder with additional restrictions on fat?

A Mediterranean-style vegan diet is one that is likely to appeal to many more people than a low fat regimen. It offers a chance to eat healthfully, humanely, and deliciously. Mediterranean diets are based on grains like pasta, rice and bread, fresh vegetables and fruits, and legumes—and also nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil. A little bit of good-for-you fat like olive oil intensifies flavors in foods and helps create appealing ... Read More >

Be An Effective Vegan Advocate: Take a Calcium Supplement

Some recent research has shown that vegans have lower calcium intakes than omnivores and that they have a higher risk for bone fractures.

That’s bad news for vegans. It’s also bad news for farm animals. Anything that makes a vegan diet look inferior is likely to convince more people to eat animal foods.

So what can you do about that? Some vegans choose denial. They say a vegan diet is better for bone health and they cite old—usually outdated—research to prove it. Many vegans cling to the unproven belief that those who eat plant diets need less calcium. Theirs is a misguided effort to prove that vegan diets are better—and in the long run it risks health and creates bad PR for vegan ... Read More >

My Vegan Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal of the year. I love stuffing and gravy, all those winter root veggies, and the coziness of a festive dinner served late on a dark November afternoon. I don’t miss turkey one bit; it was never my favorite part of the meal, anyway. I’m convinced that, as long as the Thanksgiving table holds lots of yummy traditional dishes, others don’t miss the bird that much either.

With the help of a couple of friends, I’m having Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year. We’ll be mostly vegetarians, a few vegans, and a few meat eaters. The menu is a combination of traditional dishes along with a few gourmet twists on tradition. (My mom always served turnips for Thanksgiving, ... Read More >

Vegan Food: Deliciously Different

I have no problem with the fact that some people don’t like tofu or beans. There are plenty of foods that I don’t like. It bugs me, though, when people make fun of vegetarian dishes just because the ingredients are foreign to them.

When I was growing up in the 1960s in West Orange, NJ, we had a wonderful neighbor, Mrs D’Atrolio, who was a fantastic Italian cook. We ate Italian food at my house, of course—mostly spaghetti and meatballs—but the dishes that came out of Mrs D’Atrolio’s kitchen were well beyond anything my mom knew how to make.

Every once in a while, as suppertime approached, Mrs D’Atrolio would cross the narrow walkway separating our houses and knock on the door. “I thought you’d ... Read More >

How I Became a Vegan Dietitian

When I first decided to be a dietitian, I had no particular interest in vegetarian diets. Rather, I was simply interested in food and nutrition. I liked the puzzle of creating diets. I was also deeply interested in public health nutrition and issues of food insecurity. Vegetarianism wasn’t even a blip on my radar screen as I went through my dietetics program and then graduate school as an omnivore.

At the same time, I was very much an advocate for animals and was sensitive to some aspects of animal rights. But, I knew absolutely nothing about factory farming and had yet to make the connection between my concern for animals and my food choices.

I was 28, recently married, and had just obtained my RD ... Read More >