Omega-3 Fats in Vegan Diets: A Quick Primer

[updated 9/3/20]

There continues to be much confusion among vegans about the differences between the two types of omega-3 fats. If you take supplements of DHA (or DHA and EPA), do you still need to eat flaxseeds? And if you are eating flaxseeds, do you need those DHA supplements?

The short answer is that you definitely need to include foods like flaxseeds that provide essential omega-3 fats and you may need the DHA supplements.

Flaxseeds and a handful of other plant foods provide an omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA which is an essential nutrient. […]

By |2020-09-03T11:21:38-04:00January 19th, 2012|Tags: , , |57 Comments

Healthy Vegan Diets Can Include Meat Analogues

A little hot dog stand in my town advertises on a big bold hand-written sign that they have vegan hotdogs. (They used to sell “veegun” hotdogs; I’m not the one who corrected them, but I’m glad somebody did.) Even though I live in a hippie town where this sort of thing isn’t unusual, it makes me happy. Vegan fare at a hotdog stand gives me hope for the future.
The first “meat analog” was invented by John Harvey Kellogg in 1895 and it definitely wasn’t a hotdog. He ground peanuts into peanut butter […]
By |2011-02-17T10:10:43-05:00February 17th, 2011|Tags: , , , |44 Comments

Olive Oil, Health and Advocacy

Ten billion (land) animals live and die under the most horrible conditions imaginable in the United States every year. So obviously, our efforts should focus on getting people to consume less…olive oil?
It seems like I run across an inordinate number of anti-olive oil comments these days from vegans on the internet.  People don’t pick on safflower or corn oil, probably because no one is out there touting their consumption. But because some health experts have the audacity to suggest that olive oil (a refined food! a fat!) can have a place in […]
By |2010-10-12T11:01:24-04:00October 12th, 2010|Tags: , , |61 Comments

Nuts and Heart-Healthy Diets

I made a reference in my last post to the impressive amount of data on the health effects of nuts, especially regarding heart health. A new study on this topic was just published today in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers—who are from Loma Linda University—pooled data from 25 previous studies, all randomized clinical trials. The effects on cholesterol levels from this one simple dietary change—eating more nuts—were impressive. The findings suggest that nuts can be a very valuable addition to lifestyle changes aimed at reducing heart disease.

You can read more about the study in my

By |2010-05-10T15:12:00-04:00May 10th, 2010|Tags: , , |1 Comment

More on Low-Fat Diets and an Update on Heart-Healthy Fats

My recent post on low-fat vegan diets inspired some good and thoughtful comments, which I really appreciate. Coincidently, just a few days after I posted, an important study was published that supported some of what I was saying. There are lots of studies to support the content of that post (I don’t make this stuff up; I swear) and the idea that eating some fat is good for you is hardly a new idea. But this was a particularly interesting bit of research coming just on the heels of the discussion here.

And so I wanted to talk about that […]

By |2010-03-30T13:13:00-04:00March 30th, 2010|Tags: , , |25 Comments

Fat in Vegan Diets: How Low Should You Go?

I’ve been living among stacks of nutrition research papers over the past six months while working on an update to The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets, a textbook for health professionals and dietetics students. The last edition was published in 2004 so my co-authors and I have looked at all of the studies on vegetarian and vegan diets that have been published since then, along with hundreds of other nutrition papers that are pertinent to vegetarianism.

I’ve learned a lot in the process. It’s reinforced my opinions about some aspects of nutrition and forced me to change my mind […]

By |2010-03-18T14:22:00-04:00March 18th, 2010|Tags: , , |112 Comments

No Need for Vegans to Give Up Fat, Gluten, Soy or Cooked Foods

When I order a vegan meal on a plane, it invariably comes with fat-free salad dressing. This annoys me more than I can say. It’s not just because I think fat-free salad dressing is basically inedible (which it is IMHO), but because somehow, vegan diets have become synonymous with low-fat eating. That’s not good for vegans or for the animals we want to help.

Given the fact that vegan eating is well outside the mainstream and very different from the way most Americans eat, it’s not surprising that many people view it as difficult and restrictive. (Most people view any dietary […]

By |2009-11-05T10:25:00-05:00November 5th, 2009|Tags: , , |24 Comments

Easy Vegan Dinner: Tequila Tempeh & Coconut Lime Rice

I blog recipes only occasionally since there are so many great vegan cooks on the internet—and I’m merely a good-enough cook. But sometimes I stumble over a recipe that is so fantastic or I find myself pulling together such an exceptional menu that I feel compelled to share. And that’s the case with last night’s dinner. Here is the menu:

~Tempeh Marinated in Tequila

~Rice with Corn, Coconut Milk and Lime

~Spinach (fresh from the garden)

~Salad (even fresher from the garden)

I think this menu sounds a little fancy, and it would, […]

By |2009-06-13T14:24:00-04:00June 13th, 2009|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

The Atkins Diet Goes Vegan

Dr Atkins must be turning over in his grave. Researchers from Canada and the United States have taken his diet and—yikes!—veganized it. Their findings were published in the June 8, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Everyone knows about the infamous Atkins Diet, of course. It promised weight loss to anyone who severely restricted carbohydrate intake and filled her plate with fatty meats. For whatever reasons—and the possible explanations are hotly debated among nutritionists—the diet works for weight loss.

But there are some obvious problems with the Atkins approach. First of all, while […]

By |2009-06-10T12:42:00-04:00June 10th, 2009|Tags: , , |37 Comments

Saturated Fats, Heart Disease, and Other Things We Still Don’t Understand

What is this love affair that everyone seems to have with bacon these days? It seems to appear in every other recipe published on the internet. The most recent ones I saw were for bacon candy and bacon brownies.

Now the latest internet claim is that lard—which is rendered fat from pigs—is supposedly good for us. Ugh. The basis for this idea is that much of the fat in lard is either monounsaturated (like the fat in olive oil) or is the type of saturated fat that doesn’t affect cholesterol levels.

I don’t know–maybe so. […]

By |2009-06-04T14:41:00-04:00June 4th, 2009|Tags: , , |2 Comments
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