Category Archives: News and TV

Recap of Dr. Oz’s Veganism Show

After being disappointed by Oprah’s veganism show, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dr. Oz’s veganism show, which aired yesterday…

IT WAS AMAZING!

Dr. Oz featured the documentary Forks Over Knives, which will be in theaters in May. The movie is based on the research from The China Study, which is a very comprehensive study on how diet not only effects health, but also how specific diet changes can prevent, reverse, and eliminate heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Here’s the Forks Over Knives preview: [If you get these posts through email, you’ll have to click over to the website to watch the video.]

The bottom line of the Forks Over Knives movie, The China Study book, and Dr. Oz’s show is this:

By eliminating three things from your diet, you can eliminate cancer and heart disease.

1. Eliminate Meat

Dr. Colin Campbell, PhD, one of the authors of The China Study explains, “We found that you could turn on and turn off the development of cancer, the progression of cancer, by nutritional means. We found that when protein is consumed in excess of the amount that’s needed, it turns it on. You take it away, it turns it off. And the protein we were using was an animal-based protein. Plant-protein didn’t do that.”

Then Dr. Neal Barnard, head of the Physican’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), elaborates, “And by the way, when I say ‘Don’t eat meat,’ I mean not just red meat. We’re throwing out the chicken, we’re throwing out the fish, we’re also throwing out the eggs, and the animal products in general.”

When Dr. Oz questions “throwing out the fish?” Dr. Barnard responds by explaining, “People think, ‘Fish have Omega-3 and that’s good.’ True enough. But most of the fat in fish is not Omega-3. Most of the fat in fish is a mixture of various kinds that are just completely unnecessary for the body and all they basically do is fatten our thighs. Fish also has cholesterol, and it doesn’t have what you need. It doesn’t have fiber, it doesn’t have vitamin C, it doesn’t have those healing properties.”

“So where do we get our protein from?” Dr. Oz asks. To which Dr. Barnard replies, “There’s protein in whole grains. Here I’ve got quinoa, amaranth, millet. All the whole grains are really good protein sources. Nuts as well. I’ve got walnuts, pistachios, almonds. But really the protein champions are the bean group. I’ve got pintos, black beans, kidney beans. They not only have a lot of protein in them, but they also have something else. They have soluble fiber that lowers your cholesterol.”

And Dr. Oz notes that these are all inexpensive sources of protein. He also says to take a multi-vitamin that includes B-12 because we’d normally get B-12 from meat.

2. Eliminate Dairy

Dr. Barnard explains, “It’s not just milk. When you take at look at cheese, yogurt, all the dairy products, they’re actually a bigger contributor to saturated fat, that’s the bad fat, bigger than meat. But it’s easy to get good nutrition without dairy products.”

“What about calcium, potassium, and vitamin D?” asks Dr. Oz. To which Dr. Barnard replies, “Green leafy vegetables are loaded with calcium. I’ve got broccoli – broccoli doesn’t want to brag, but it’s 30% protein, it’s got a lot of highly absorbable calcium – look at kale, collards, Brussels sprouts. Potassium: fruit, it’s a wonderful source. And vitamin D, the real source of vitamin D is sunlight on your skin. That’s the natural source. Now there is vitamin D in milk, but most of that is just added at the factory, it’s not natural. And if you get soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, oat milk, they add vitamin D to those as well.”

3. Eliminate Processed Foods (including Olive Oil)

Processed foods include junk food and refined grains (white rice, white pasta, white bread, etc.) Dr. Oz asks what to eat instead of the processed foods. Dr. Barnard says to go for whole grain pastas and whole grain breads. And for snacks, go for seeds and fruit. Then he says, “This may surprise you a little bit, but I consider oil to be a refined food. If you think about it, where do you get olive oil from? There’s no faucet on the olive tree. You take the olives and remove all the fiber, all the pulp, and concentrate the oil. And people then take it and go ‘glug, glug, glug’ all over their salad, all over their pasta, and they’re gaining weight and they’re wondering why. It’s ’cause all the fat you’re packing into the diet. So, instead, my salad is topped with a little balsamic vinegar, or just take a lemon and spritz it over the top. Delicious.”

They then show a quick, easy salad dressing that doesn’t use oil (because Dr. Oz thinks that removing oil from salad dressings will be the hardest part for most people): Thyme + lemon juice + garlic.

Dr. Oz says that this will not just change your life, it could save it.

Also featured on the show, and in the move Forks Over Knives, is Rip Esselstyn, firefighter and author of The Engine 2 Diet, a book that chronicles the amazing health changes experienced by a group of Austin firefighters who adopt this diet. Esselstyn notes, “If a firehouse in Austin, TX can do this, any house in America can do this!”

And I’d like to note that not once was the word “vegan” ever used during the whole show. Dr. Oz also stressed that this is not a “diet” – it’s a way of eating that you should be following all the time.

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Breakfast: Smoothie with frozen strawberries & blueberries, a banana, and almond milk

Lunch: Korean veggie taco from Chi’lantro

Dinner: Veggie Flatbread (aka cheeseless pizza) with tomato, spinach, and artichoke hearts. One of my favorites!!

Thoughts on Oprah’s Veganism Show

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE Oprah fan. I DVR it every day and I am constantly starting sentences with, “I saw on Oprah that…” So I was extremely excited to find out that she was doing a show on veganism! Oprah and 378 of her staff went vegan for one week. The show aired yesterday and included guests Michale Pollan, Kathy Freston, and Lisa Ling who took cameras inside a Cargill meat processing plant. If you missed it, here is a recap and video clips.

The verdict: I thought the show was a real let down.

I should have known that they’d tread lightly (or not at all) around most of the issues after the big Oprah v. Beef Industry debacle. But it was extremely disappointing that there was not one single mention of any of the reasons WHY people choose a vegan diet! Absolutely no talk at all about the effect on the environment, no talk about animal welfare, and the only talk of health was about losing weight and pooping more.

The tour inside the Cargill slaughterhouse kind-of drove me nuts! First of all, they were not allowed to show the actual killing of the cow on camera (the bolt gun to the head and the slitting of the throat while dangling by one leg), which I think is important for people to see so that they realize that a living being was killed for their dinner. And, obviously, Cargill was going to be on their “best behavior” while the Oprah cameras were in there! People need to see the HIDDEN camera footage – that’s what’s real! They didn’t mention the living conditions of the animals pre-slaughter and they, of course, didn’t mention the animals who make it down to the skinner still alive and have their hide ripped from their bodies while fully conscious.

At one point, Kathy Freston quickly mentioned that most slaughterhouses are much worse than what we just saw, but it really irritated me that Michael Pollan rebutted by claiming there are LOTS of humane farmers. Proportionally to the amount of meat that is processed, that’s simply not true. Factory farming now accounts for more than 99 percent of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the United States. (Virtually all seafood comes to us by way of industrial fishing or factory fish farms.)

The other thing that I was disappointed by was that they didn’t even go into the health benefits of a vegan diet! They talked about losing weight & pooping, but they didn’t even mention heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol!

But here’s the good news: Many of the staffers said that they had never felt better (one man said he hadn’t felt this good in 15 years) and many of them planned to continue the vegan diet through the whole month of February! The Harpo cafeteria will now serve vegan options and Harpo has officially joined the Meatless Monday movement. Oprah encouraged people to think about where their food comes from and recommended a “veganish” diet (and you know what Oprah says, people do)!

Did anyone else watch it? What did y’all think?

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Breakfast: Amy’s non-dairy burrito
Lunch: Cabbage leftovers
Dinner: A very interesting Creamy Avocado Pasta. It literally just tasted like pasta with mushed avocado. Definitely different, but also good.

The President’s Doctors

After all the buzz about Clinton’s vegan diet, Wolf Blitzer invited two of the doctors Clinton mentioned to describe this “miracle diet” in more detail.

(They’re totally stealing my thunder on my upcoming post about heart disease, but I have a feeling you’ll trust them more than you’ll trust me, so I’m cool with that.)

Watch the clip below – [The first 2 minutes is a recap of the original Clinton interview, so you may want to fast forward to 2:00.]

Transcript for those who can’t view the video [The first 2 minutes are a recap of the original Clinton interview, so starting at 2:00]:

*I bolded a few things and even put Dr. Ornish’s last thoughts in red because I thought they were so spot-on!

Blitzer: With the doctors behind the diet that helped Mr. Clinton change his life, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn is the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and Dr.Dean Ornish is the author of The Spectrum. Let me go to Dr. Esselstyn first. He mentioned both of you for inspiring him to begin this diet. Walk us through this diet, Dr. Esselstyn. Why is this diet so good, especially for those individuals who have a history of heart disease.

Esselstyn: Well thank you, Wolf, for having me on this evening with my good friend Dean Ornish. There’s no question that if the truth were known that coronary artery disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never exist. And if it does exist, it need never, ever progress.

What we’ve heard from President Clinton is the remarkable change that he’s been willing to make, to remove completely from his nutrition, those foods that which we know will devastate and injure the inner lining of your arteries.

And the remarkable thing is the capacity the body has to heal itself. And when you do what President Clinton has done, when you completely try to remove any foods that are going to injure your vessel, the body has this remarkable capacity to begin to heal itself.

And I’m afraid that as a medical profession, we perhaps have fallen down and really emphasized too much the drugs and the procedures and the operations, which really treat the symptoms – they do not treat the causation of this illness. This is one of the few times since [epocrates(?)] that we have not told patients about the causation of their illness.

Blitzer: Dr. Ornish, are you on the exact same page as Dr. Esselstyn is?

Ornish: Yes I am. And I wanted to say that I love and respect President Clinton and so I was thrilled to hear that he’s making these changes because I want him to live a long time, like so many people do. And whatever your politics, he can inspire many people to make these changes.

And what we’ve shown – you know, we tend to think it has to be a new drug or a new laser, or something really high-tech and expensive to be powerful – and what we’ve done in more than 33 years of research is show that the simple change that we make in our life, like what we eat, how we respond to stress, how much exercise we get, and how much love and support we have, can actually begin to reverse – not just prevent but actually reverse – chronic illnesses like heart disease and so on.

And so we found that almost more than 82% of the people who made these changes, as President Clinton indicated, were actually able to reverse the disease. So rather than getting a quick fix like a bypass or a stint does, which doesn’t treat the underlying cause.  It’s a little like mopping up the floor around a spill, without turning off the faucet, it keeps coming back unless you change what caused it.

Blitzer: Is this diet, Dr. Esselstyn – no dairy, no meat, no chicken, basically no fish – is this diet for everyone or only for those who have heart disease or a history of heart disease?

Esselstyn: One other thing I would add, and no oils. No processed oils.

Blitzer: What, like olive oil? Even olive oil, which is supposedly pretty healthy.

Esselstyn: I’m afraid I’m gonna have a divergence of opinion there. Yes, I would include absolutely olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, they’re out.

Now, you know, since we know that these foods are injuring people, why would we ever want to have them on the menu of our schoolchildren? Why wait until people do have heart disease?

We know, for instance, that if we didn’t do autopsies on our GIs that died in Korea and Vietnam, that roughly 80% of these young GIs will already have gross evidence of coronary disease, you can already see without a microscope.

If we are ever going to make a breakthrough in this epidemic of cardiac disease, we really have to start when it’s young.

Blitzer: So you’re saying that young kids should not drink milk? Is that what you’re saying, Dr. Ornish?

Ornish: No, I’m not. I’m saying that there’s a spectrum of choices. And what President Clinton is doing is what you might call the Pound of Cure. If you’re trying to reverse a chronic disease, like heart disease – we also show that these same changes can stop, reverse the progression of early prostate cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol– then you need to make bigger changes. But if you’re just trying to lose a few pounds or get your cholesterol down, you can start by making moderate changes, and if that’s enough, great, and if not, you can do more. What matters most is your overall way of eating and living, so if you indulge yourself one day, eat healthier the next.

Blitzer: Dr. Esselstyn, is this the diet that you personally live on?

Esselstyn: The one that I described earlier, yes I most certainly do. My dad had his first heart attack at age 43 and I’ve been eating this way for over 26 years.

Blitzer: And Dr. Ornish, is that they way you live? No chicken, no meat, no dairy, no uh uh, I guess some of the fun things in life – is that what I’m hearing you say? [chuckles]

Ornish: You know, the old joke is, am I gonna live longer or is it just gonna seem longer if I eat this way. It’s not all or nothing. What you include in your diet is just as important as what you exclude. There are hundreds of thousands of protective substances. I also recommend people take 3 or 4 grams a day of fish oil because the omega-3 fatty acids can be so protective.

Blitzer: We heard Dr. Essestyn say ‘no oil.’

Onrish: Well, we slightly different opinion on that particular one. Studies have shown that just 3 or 4 grams a day of fish oil can reduce your incidence of sudden cardiac death by up to 80%. It can reduce your risk of prostate and breast cancer. If you’re a pregnant woman or are breastfeeding, it can raise your child’s IQ. And so I think the evidence there is pretty compelling.

Blitzer: I take fish oil, Dr. Esselstyn. Is that a bad idea?

Esselstyn: Well I’m not gonna really wrestle with Dean over fish oil. We have so much that is in common and we’re striving together to really make the basic point here. By eating these whole foods, and getting away from processed foods, getting away from really the dairy, anything with a mother, anything with a face, meat, fish, and chicken.

It’s really, it’s so incredible how powerful the body can be. And if we’re going to have a seismic revolution of health in this country, which is really right at our fingertips, the major behavior that has to change is, interestingly enough, our food. That is the absolutely key card. It trumps everything.

Ornish: I agree. And let me just say this, when you make these changes, because these mechanisms are so dynamic, your brain gets more blood, you think more clearly, you have more energy, your skin gets more blood so you don’t age as quickly, even your sexual organs get more blood in the same way that Viagra works.

So ya, you’ll probably live longer, but you’ll also feel better. And what’s sustainable is joy and pleasure and freedom. And when you make these changes, most people find that they feel so much better so quickly, it re-frames the reason for change from fear of dying to joy of living and that’s what’s sustainable.

Blitzer: Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn,  you got a good shout out from President Clinton, now he’s on your diet, he’s doing the best he can, he’s very happy. I saw him in action eating some of those beans and vegetables, away from some of the other ‘fun foods,’ as we like to say. Let’s hope he lives a long and healthy life. Guys thanks very much for coming in.

Update on Genetically Modified Salmon

I’ve been following the FDA’s hearings about the approval of genetically modified salmon for human consumption. And I’m excited to tell you that it was NOT approved.

However, it was also NOT not approved. (Tricky double negative there.) The FDA “failed to reach a conclusion” on the matter (and has declined to set a timetable for making a final decision).

After nearly three days of presentations and debates (some of which I got to see live on CNN.com), the 11 member panel agreed that the small sample sizes, incomplete data, and poor scientific assessments in the research done on genetically modified salmon warrant concern.

Here is the full ABC News story.

The FDA will publish the final environmental assessment, that they have thus-far kept from the public, and open it up for the required 30-day public comment period.

The FDA is holding its next public hearing tomorrow, as it considers whether to label the salmon as genetically modified, if it is ever approved.

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PS- I finally put up some awesome pictures of my stuffed zucchini & other party hors d’oeuvres.

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Breakfast: Smootie with 2 bananas, frozen pineapple, and almond milk
Lunch: Veggie sandwich from Thundercloud Subs
Dinner: Soy chorizo tacos

Bill Clinton Goes Vegan!

This morning on CNN, I saw a clip of Wolf Blitzer asking Bill Clinton how he lost 24 pounds. His answer was fantastic.

Watch the clip below:

Here’s a transcript for those who can’t watch the video for whatever reason:

Blitzer: How did you lose so much weight? What kind of diet are you on?

Clinton: The short answer is, I went on essentially a plant-based diet. I live on beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit. I drink a protein supplement every morning. No dairy. I drink almond milk mixed in with fruit and protein powder, so I get the protein for the day when I start the day out.

And it changed my whole metabolism and I lost 24 pounds. And I got back to basically what I weighed in high school.

But I did it for a different reason. I mean I wanted to lose a little weight, but I never dreamed this would happen. I did it because, after I had this stint put in, I realized that, even though it happens quite often, that after you have bypasses, you lose the veins because they’re thinner and weaker than arteries. The truth is that it clogged up. Which means that the cholesterol was still causing build-up in my vein that was part of my bypass. And thank God I could take the stints. I don’t want it to happen again.

So I did all this research and I saw that 82% of the people since 1986 who have gone on a plant-based, no dairy, no meat of any kind, no chicken, turkey… I eat very little fish, once in a while I’ll have a little fish, not often. If you can do it, 82% of the people who have done that, have begun to heal themselves. Their arterial blockage cleans up, the calcium deposit around their heart breaks up.

This movement has been led by a doctor named Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic, Dean Ornish you know out in California, the doctors Campbell, father and son, who wrote The China Study, and a handful of others.

But we now have 25 years of evidence. And so I thought, well since I need to lose a little weight for Chelsea’s wedding, I’ll become part of this experiment. I’ll see if I can become one of those that can have a self-clearing mechanism. We’ll see.

Blitzer: I hope you’re healthy for many years and get to see grandchildren for many years to come.

Clinton: Me too. That’s really the big deal. You know I, Hillary and I, we’re happy, we love our son in law and we admire him, and we’d like to be around if there’s grandkids, we want to be there to do our part.

Blitzer: Mr. President, good luck.

***

Looks like I’ll be adding Bill Clinton to my list of famous vegetarians!
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Breakfast: Amy’s non-dairy burrito
Lunch: Bowl of stir-fried veggies and tofu at a Mongolian BBQ restaurant (“create your own stir fry”)
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Dinner: Pasta with spinach and tomato sauce
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Thoughts on The Meat Dress

I wasn’t planning on posting anything about Lady Gaga’s meat dress, but after being asked my opinion on it several times, I’ve decided to make my official statement.

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Let me start out by saying that I like Lady Gaga. I like her music, I like her non-conformist attitude, I like that she is over the top and makes a scene everywhere she goes, and I like that she knows how to play the media (and play the American public). I think that she’s brilliant at what she does (drawing media attention and making headlines) and I am always the first one to admit my praise for her.

I personally don’t think that her ensemble was intentionally anti-vegan (she said it wasn’t), but I do think it was disgusting. As PETA so eloquently pointed out: “Meat is the decomposing flesh of a tormented animal who didn’t want to die, and after a few hours under the TV lights, it would smell like the rotting flesh it is and likely be crawling in maggots—not too attractive, really.”

What bothers me about the meat dress is the explanation she gave for wearing it: “If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.”

Let’s first get past the fact that I have absolutely no clue what she’s talking about (I didn’t know that “the meat on our bones” was something that was considered oppressed). But if she wants to talk about having rights then wearing tortured, slaughtered animals doesn’t seem to be consistent with her point.  The billions of animals that we raise for meat are stripped of their single most basic right: the right to live. But not just that – They are also stripped of their right to avoid suffering, illness, and pain. They are stripped of their right to spread their wings, fully turn around, or lie down. They are stripped of their right to nurse their babies, or see the sun, or walk on the dirt. They are stripped of their right to simply be left alone!

Most people don’t make the connection between meat and a living being that can, and does, suffer. The official Mercy For Animals response included: “Sadly, ‘the meat dress’ crossed the line of being shocking, and entered the realm of simply being sickening. You see, meat is more than simply a ‘meal’ or a ‘fabric,’ it’s the rotting remains of a ‘someone.’ ”

But even after Lady Gaga’s flamboyant display of non-compassion, I can’t fault her any more than I can fault someone wearing all leather (which, by the way, is not entirely a byproduct of the meat industry, but is just a cruel). I can only hope that all the media buzz that this incident is generating will draw attention to the fact that mass producing tortured animals and slaughtering them by the billions is unacceptable whether it is for meat or for clothing.

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On a completely unrelated note, I am SO EXCITED that Ed (the boyfriend) has decided to go meat-free for 2 weeks!! Now, in all fairness, he already eats much less meat than the average American because I don’t bring meat into our house, but he was still eating it when eating out or for lunch at work. Ed decided that he wanted to cleanse his body and a vegetarian diet is an excellent way to do this (hello fiber!). I’ll provide an update at the end of the two weeks.

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Breakfast: A tortilla rolled with Tofutti vegan cream cheese.
Lunch: Quinoa chili from Mel’s Meals
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Dinner: Kung Pao Tofu and Kale Salad from Whole Foods

ACT NOW: Help Stop Genetically Modified Salmon

Not long ago, I posted about Frankenfish – genetically modified salmon that grow twice as fast as natural salmon. On September 19th, the FDA is meeting to discuss the approval of these GE (genetically engineered) salmon for human consumption. If approved, this would no doubt open the flood gates to allow all types of genetic modifications to our food animals.

The health impacts of eating genetically modified fish are entirely unknown.  The FDA has NOT conducted long-term studies on the fish and with very little evidence, has deemed the fish ‘safe to eat.’  Even more alarming, the FDA has given very little evidence of ANY studies to the public, explaining that AquaBounty’s (the company that created these mutants) claims are “confidential business information.”

Even if you personally choose not to risk your health by eating GE salmon, you still have a huge problem.

For one, the labeling of these GE fish has not yet been determined. If AquaBounty gets its way, they will not be labeled at all. It is very possible that you will have no way of knowing whether you’re getting natural salmon or GE salmon.

And secondly, each year millions of farmed salmon escape from open-water net pens, throwing off entire ecosystems and economies as they dominate already fragile wild salmon habitats. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that a release of just 60 GE salmon into a wild population of 60,000 could lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 fish generations. (PS, salmon lifespan is only 2-8 years, so that’s 40 short generations.)

We’ve already seen the ramifications of GE crops such as large corporations (like Monsanto… grrrr) trademarking living things and the issues that this causes.

First, living things can naturally reproduce. So, when one farmer’s trademarked GE corn pollinates his neighbor’s natural corn (through wind or insects), Monsanto can sue the neighbor for growing trademarked corn that they didn’t pay for. Farmers have been ruined this way. Second, crops have been genetically modified with a “terminator gene” which ensures that their seeds will not reproduce. This means that the farmer must buy all new seeds from Monsanto every year. (Normally farmers would save the seeds they harvest from this year’s crop to plant as next year’s crop.)

Now imagine what happens when corporations start trademarking animals!

It is absolutely insane to risk our health and our habitat for the profit of a corporation.

Act Now! Tell the FDA that you oppose the approval of GE salmon by signing this petition. Be sure to do this before September 19th.

Animal-based High Protein Diets Increase Mortality Rate

A CNN report on the dangers of low-carb, high-protein diets says that “you may live longer if that protein is vegetable-based rather than animal-based.”

Now, if I can be brutally honest here (and since it’s my blog, I’m going to be), I find it extremely irritating and even a bit infuriating that people honestly believe that they can eat all the beef, pork, cheese, and eggs they want and remain healthy! And the fact that it’s reported as “breaking news” that chowing down on steaks & eggs for every meal can give you cancer and heart disease is just silly. I guess the silver lining is that this IS being reported. Hopefully people will start to realize that they need to cut back!

[Video]

From CNN.com:

Not all proteins are equal when it comes to the health of dieters eating low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets. Animal-based proteins and fats are associated with increased mortality rates, including increased cardiovascular mortality and increased cancer mortality, a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes. But low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets composed mostly of plant-based proteins and fats were associated with lower mortality rates overall and lower cardiovascular mortality rates.

The study followed more than 85,000 women and 44,500 men for a period of 20 to 26 years. Results of the study confirmed a “direct association” between animal-based low-carbohydrate food intake in men and increased cancer deaths, particularly from colorectal and lung cancer. That association aligns with previous studies that have confirmed a link between red meat, processed meat, and those two types of cancers.

“The protein you get from combining rice and beans is the same quality as what you get from eggs and steak. You just don’t get all the other stuff that’s bad for you, ” says Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, who is not affiliated with this study. “This is the diet that I’ve been advocating for for 30 years.”

Dieters interested in eating more plant and vegetable-based proteins should consider adding tofu, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds in to their diet. Sunflower oil, olive oil, canola oil, soy oil, and peanut oil are also great sources of plant-based fats.

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Breakfast: Smoothie with peach, pear, frozen pineapple and water
Lunch: This weekend our friends invited us over for a Labor Day BBQ and they made an amazing vegan meal of stuffed peppers (with rice, beans, okra, and seasoning), vinegar-based potato salad (no mayo here!), and a cabbage salad. I ate some of the leftovers for lunch. I love leftovers!
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Dinner: I headed down to San Antonio last night and cooked my family an easy vegan meal: Pasta with spinach, tomato, garlic, and artichoke hearts. It was a hit!
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Official FDA Inspection Reports Released

Just a quick update on the salmonella outbreak in eggs.  Here’s some excerpts from a New York Times article:

Inspection reports released by the Food and Drug Administration described — often in nose-pinching detail — possible ways that salmonella could have been spread undetected through the vast complexes of two companies. Barns infested with flies, maggots and scurrying rodents, and overflowing manure pits were among the widespread food safety problems that federal inspectors found at a group of Iowa egg farms at the heart of a nationwide recall and salmonella outbreak.

The recall, which began Aug. 13, involves more than half a billion eggs from the Iowa operations of two leading egg producers, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. About 1,500 reported cases of Salmonella enteritidis have been linked to tainted eggs since the spring — the largest known outbreak associated with that strain of salmonella.

It was difficult to gauge from the report how extensive the problems were. Both companies operate vast facilities housing seven million hens.

The report on Wright County Egg also described pits beneath laying houses where chicken manure was piled four to eight feet high. It also described hens that had escaped from laying cages tracking through the manure.

Officials last week said that they were taking a close look at a feed mill operated by Wright County Egg, after tests found salmonella in bone meal, a feed ingredient, and in feed given to young birds, known as pullets. On Monday, officials said for the first time that they had also found salmonella at a Hillandale facility. The bacteria was found in water that had been used to wash eggs.

Wright County Egg is owned by Jack DeCoster, who has a long history of environmental, labor and immigration violations at egg operations in Maine, Iowa and elsewhere.

Both companies have stopped selling shell eggs to consumers from their Iowa facilities and instead are sending all their eggs to breaking plants where they are pasteurized, which kills the bacteria. The eggs would then most likely be sold in liquid form, possibly to food manufacturers.

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The website Animal Visuals has created a graphic regarding the salmonella outbreak. Here is a small section of it:

salmonella-risk

You can see the full image here.

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Breakfast: Toast with cashew butter. I didn’t especially like the cashew butter – it’s too sticky and doesn’t have as much flavor as peanut butter.
Lunch: Vegetarian chili and a salad from The Garden Spot
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Dinner: Taco salad

8 Reasons to Beware of Eggs

Half a Billion Eggs Recalled, And Counting…

eggs

Over 500 million eggs have been recalled due to an outbreak of Salmonella that sickened thousands of people across the country (and many cases go unreported because Salmonella infections, which cause diarrhea and stomach cramps, often go undiagnosed). This is one of the country’s worst food safety recalls, stemming from only two farms in Iowa. These two gigantic producers distribute their eggs under brand names such as Lucerne, Albertson’s, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp (this list might not be comprehensive as the recall seems to expand daily).

The American egg industry was already battling a movement to outlaw its methods as cruel and unsafe, and was adapting to the Obama administration’s drive to bolster health rules and inspections. According to the FDA, the cause of the infections has not been pinpointed, but it is likely that lax safety procedures and animal overcrowding are to blame. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wrote in a letter to the Iowa Egg Council, “Confining birds in cages means increased salmonella infection in the birds, their eggs and the consumers of caged eggs.”  A single barn may house more than 150,000 birds in tight proximity, allowing infections to spread quickly and widely.

This month, the HSUS released a new white paper addressing the threat that cage confinement of laying hens can pose to food safety, as well as assessing the probabilities of Salmonella contamination among different housing systems:

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Egg producers have watched in dismay as the political winds seemed to turn, largely because of growing concern about animal rights. The European Union will bar small cages for egg hens as of 2012. By public referendum, California will ban small cages in 2015, and the state will not allow the sale of eggs produced in other states in small cages. Michigan, Ohio and other states have also placed limits on future caging of hens.

But even with new legislation, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned about eggs. Here are eight:

1. Petri Dishes for Disease

Joel Salatin, a farmer whose farm Polyface is featured in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food, Inc., tells why conditions in factory farms are ideal for the spread of infection: “The propensity for a problem is magnified under the fecal particulate air in these industrial egg farms. What it does is it breaks down the immune system and creates openings for pathogens. If you were trying to design a pathogen-friendly system, you would go to a single species, crowd that species together, deny it fresh air, exercise, and sunshine, never give it a rest time—have it there 365 days a year, and feed it a diet that maximizes a minimal standard of performance, rather than maximizes nutrition or feed that is nutritionally superior. What I’ve just described is Egg Factory Farming 101. This is just symptomatic of the pathogen-friendly nature of industrial agriculture.”

2. Massive Farms Magnify Any Disease

Further compounding the risk is the tremendous centralization of the factory farm system. As Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat, points out, “these large industrial producers where if there’s a problem, it’s going to get magnified over many states and many people.” Salatin agrees, saying that “Whereas a problem in the local food system only affects a few people, a problem in a factory farm can infect, for instance, hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of thousands of people.”

3. Infection Is More Common Than We Think

When you have such massive farms, each distributing its eggs to dozens of grocery chains, any problem gets compounded. In the case of the current outbreak, William Marler, a prominent foodborne-illness litigator, points out that the CDC’s rule of thumb is that 38 people are sickened by salmonella for every case that’s reported, so the number of people infected by the current outbreak could potentially number in the tens of thousands.

4. Free-Range Eggs Are No Healthier

Many people think that free-range eggs are healthier, and they provide more peace of mind, than factory-farmed eggs. But, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t even have a definition of “free-range” for laying hens. Factory-farmed chickens are often labeled as free-range. In the end, no one knows exactly what they’re eating. As Jonathan Safran Foer writes in Eating Animals, “I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range.”

5. Companies Avoid What Little Regulation Exists

According to Marion Nestle, legislation would help, but companies are determined to skirt regulation and the FDA lacks the clout to enforce what rules it has: “We’re dealing here with a company that’s not very interested in following rules, and they cut corners in lots and lots of ways. One of the ways they cut corners is safety. The other part is the FDA still doesn’t have the tools it needs to enforce the rules it has.” William Marler points out that legislation that might have prevented this outbreak languished for eight years during the Bush administration before being implemented on July 8, just as the outbreak began. Even then, Marler says, most of the “Egg Rule,” known officially as “Federal Register Final Rule: Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation,” is common-sense testing and should have been followed voluntarily.

6. Healthy Eggs Are Expensive & Cheap Eggs Sell Better

Marion Nestle, Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, and other food activists agree that the consumers must start demanding healthier eggs, even if it means paying more. Says Nestle, “The rules that are in the FDA’s egg legislation will require producers to do things differently, with some hope that they’ll move into more sustainable, reasonable practices. But as long as this country insists on cheap food, as long as that pressure is there, it’s understood that we value food for how little it costs, as opposed to how it’s produced or how it tastes, and there isn’t going to be a lot of pressure on producers to change things.”

But for those of you hoping that voting with your dollar will encourage producers to be cleaner and more humane, the polls bode ill: According to recent data from Information Resources Inc, which tracks checkout scanner transactions from 34,000 grocery stores in the U.S., we’re still buying eggs from cage housing systems 92% of the time.

7. Farms Lack Transparency

According to Michael Pollan, industrial egg farms are the worst sort of factory farms. So bad, in fact, that journalists are rarely allowed inside them. When Carole Morison let a camera crew in for Food Inc., she lost her contract and went on to co-found the Delmarva Poultry Justice Alliance.

8. Cruel Farm Conditions

Jonathan Safran Foer, in his book Eating Animals, writes of an often-overlooked trend in factory farming: food and light deprivation. One farmer described it to Foer this way: “As soon as females mature—in the turkey industry at 23 to 26 weeks and with chickens 16 to 20—they’re put into barns and they lower the light; sometimes it’s total darkness 24/7. And then they put them on a very low-protein diet, almost a starvation diet.” The result: Birds lay up to three or four times as many eggs as in nature. “After that first year, they are killed because they won’t lay as many the second year,” the farmer said. “The industry figured out it’s cheaper to slaughter them and start over than it is feed and house birds that lay fewer eggs.” Foer’s conclusion: “After learning about it, I didn’t want to eat a conventional egg ever again.”

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Breakfast: Bagel with Tofutti vegan cream cheese
Lunch: Salad with cucumber, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm, avocado, and vinegar and oil
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Dinner: Black bean tacos from Taco Cabana (there’s no cheese on these)