Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plant Based Health

For many, the vegan diet is not all about having an undying passion for animal rights. Although, animal welfare is a concern for most vegans, the health benefits of the diet and lifestyle transcend any moral or political agenda. Following a well-planned plant-based diet is a cornerstone to longevity and the prevention of a number of genetic diseases common throughout North America. The nutrition derived from a balanced vegan diet helps to increase your body's energy levels and protects against sickness and disease. Meat and dairy products contain high levels of saturated fat (in case you didn't know, that's the bad stuff), and this has a negative impact on cardiovascular health. Replacing meat and dairy products with nuts, grains, and legumes will reduce your risks of heart disease and strengthen your cardiovascular system. In fact, eliminating animal products from your diet will eliminate your intake of all dietary cholesterol. This is a good thing for your blood pressure! A well-planned vegan diet eliminates the foods that cause unnatural weight gain, thus it is also beneficial in maintaining healthy body weights and a lower body mass index (BMI). Increased levels of energy and improved athletic performance have also been reported by many who subscribe to the vegan diet. Some of the world's top endurance athletes are vegan, including Brendan Brazier, who's web site and books are "A guide to optimal health and performance through plant-based whole foods".

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vegan Meals on the Go

Many of us are too busy to consistently cook for ourselves, so at times we must resort to fast, convenience, and take out foods. It would be ideal if we could just pick all our food up fresh from the market everyday, but that is just not reality. If you are a busy person, hopefully you live in an area with a lot of great vegan friendly restaurants and grocers, because this will make a big difference when you are eating on the go. Lets say that you're a busy young single person in an average American suburb or small town. What kinds of fast food options do you have then? The standard fare: McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, and many other places that specialize in greasy food full of sick animal by-products. Even if these places are your only choices, you can still find vegan-friendly options on the menus. Taco Bell, for instance, has many vegan choices (bean tacos, rice, potatoes, bean burritos, tostadas, etc...) and they are cheap too! Subway offers veggie sandwiches and they now have avocado/guacamole on the menu, although its not fresh, so its probably not the best. Another good thing about Subway is that they offer foods that aren't deep fried, so you don't have to resort to french fries (or be tempted by them). Burger King offers a veggie burger combo on their menu. The sides at Burger King though are pretty much limited to french fries and mediocre salads, so for many, this would be a last resort. Unfortunately, McDonalds does not offer too many vegan foods other than fries and salads. The salads at McDonalds almost always come with chicken or some other meat on them, so you will end up over paying for a below average salad. Yes, McDonalds offers apples, but you can walk in a store anywhere and buy an apple for cheaper, and if you can't, well then you've probably got bigger problems than not having enough vegan choices in your community.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

It's very easy to neglect the first, and many would say, the most important meal of the day; breakfast. This is especially true for those of us who are not only busy, but also not interested in the plethora of American convenience foods available to us in the a.m.. It's true, breakfast is a vital meal because its the beginning of your day, its the kick you are giving your mind and body to get going. So what kinds of foods can you prepare for yourself in the morning as part of a nutritious vegan breakfast? Well that depends on how much time you have! Here's an idea that works well for the active individual who needs energy to face a busy day:
  • Hash browns (throw in mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, etc..)
  • Guacamole ---- 2-3 Tblsp
  • Black beans ----- 1/2-1 cup
  • fruit juice ----- try orange-pineapple
  • 1 banana
Fry those hash browns up with some olive oil or cook them on a non-stick pan in the oven. Add the guacamole and black beans on top of the hash browns. Throw a little salsa on top of that jewel too! Grab a banana and a glass of juice, and you're good to go. Not only does this breakfast taste good, its a high performance meal that could be incorporated into any athletes' diet. In fact, the vegan diet is optimal for high endurance athletes seeking to improve their performance. Carl Lewis, 9 time American track and field gold medalist, said that a vegan diet allowed him to eat more while he trained and that it actually improved his edge. You will see many articles on this blog about athletic performance and the vegan diet, because that is a primary focus of this site. There is mounds and mounds of scientific evidence that proves a plant-based diet is conducive to athletic performance and longevity in general.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vegan Made From Scratch

If you have decided that the vegan diet is the right one for you, or if your a life-long vegan, you will inevitably have to do a little cooking for yourself. Unless, of course, you have your own personal chef to do this for you! Preparing your meals from scratch can be fun though. It is very rewarding to know that you can prepare your own vegan meals that fulfill your own dietary guidelines. Cooking your own food ensures that you will get all the nutrients your body needs to live and thrive. Some very popular staples in the vegan kitchen are: rice, avocados, kale greens, bananas, potatoes, soy milk, black beans, almonds, broccoli, corn tortillas, and peanut butter. Not only are those items vegan and good for you, they're also gluten free! You can actually come up with a number of vegan made from scratch recipes just off those simple cheap ingredients. Here's an idea: grab some of those kale greens ($1.49 a bundle), an avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and black beans. Make some guacamole and prepare the black beans on a stove-top. Take a rinsed-off kale leaf in the palm of your hand and scoop the beans and guac in the leaf. Voila! There you have it; southwest vegan kale wraps. Mexican cuisine, minus the sick animals. I wonder if Taco Bell will carry that on their menu any time soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fighting To Be Healthy

Isn't it ironic, that with all the abundance of food choices we have, it's still a challenge to find a meal that's actually good for you? This is especially true if you are single and have a very busy schedule. Sure, there's always food available that has been deemed "healthy" by the FDA. But, is eating sick animals everyday a healthy choice? We grow up being told at home and school that we need milk for strong bones and chicken breast for protein. There is too much modern-day scientific evidence that proves this incorrect. By following a vegan diet, you not only expose yourself to healthy foods, but you also avoid eating food tainted with disease and sickness. As mentioned before though, it is a challenge to follow a vegan diet, especially if you do not live in an area with a large vegan/vegetarian population. The challenge really begins with time management and planning. If you do not plan out your meals and prepare many yourself at home, you will find it very difficult to maintain a healthy vegan diet. More and more restaurants and fast food places are offering more vegan choices on the menus, but the variety is still mediocre at best. So, to succeed with your vegan diet, you must be willing to take the initiative and begin to plan and prepare many of your meals yourself. Once you make it a daily habit, it will become easier and easier. Also, after a while, you will say to yourself "why would I want to go out and grab some cheap greasy food, when I have all this great food right here at home?".