Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things That Make You Go “OMG!!!” (Again, not for the squeemish)

I have a fabulous story to share, and a really disturbing process to share that is used in agribusinessto get rid of unwanted male chicks. Let’s start with the fabulous story.

The other day, I was driving along a busy intersection near my house, when I saw a man literally stopping traffic. He had parked his car in the right hand turn lane, during rush hour. Why would he do such a thing? Well, a mama duck was on the sidewalk, waiting for her baby ducklings to follow. The problem was, the babies could not get up the curb…they were too small to jump up or climb it! The mama duck was squawking, quacking, I imagine coaxing, but no luck. So this 50 something year old man (who did not look like a tree hugging type at all) parks his car in the lane, gets out, takes out his laptop, and lets the ducklings step on it in the hopes that the ducklings could then climb up the curb. But they still couldn’t make it! So the man, with mama duck nipping at him, lifts up the lap top and gets the chicks over the curb, out of traffic, and safely to their mama!! It was very cool to see. I felt I witnessed the better side of humanity (on a small scale) that day.
But, I have to admit, within minutes of witnessing that scene, I thought of the video I have linked below. I’ve known about this practice for several months now, but have been hesitant to blog about it. I guess I didn’t want to be thought of as someone radical on the animal rights issues. Although I eat vegan, I think traditional vegans have, in some ways, done more harm than good for their cause by being so extreme about animal rights. However, after seeing the “Duck Man” do what he did, I couldn’t help but wonder how he would feel about “chick grinding” practice that is video taped below. I think the video pretty much speaks for itself, but in a nutshell, there is too much demand for female chickens, and not enough for males. So, what is big agribusiness to do? See the video. And for those that don’t believe it, which was me the first time I saw it, I’ve verified this practice from several sources. (However, if you find out I am mistaken, I will be happy!!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Interesting Facts

Stats from “Vegan Fusion World Cuisine” by Reinfeld and Rinaldi

Oh man, there are so many things I want to blog about. Lately however, my life has been so busy. I’ve just had very little time to write. I am hopeful that in the next few weeks, I will be able to free up more time to do what I love…cook and develop great plant based dishes, learn more about the health and environmental effects of eating vegan, and sharing it all on my blog!
For this short post, I thought I’d share some food for thought, based on stats from source noted above.
·         Over 60 million people die of starvation each year
·         The livestock population of the US consumes enough grain and soybeans each year to feed over 5 times the human population of the country. 80% of the corn and 95% of the corn grown in the US is used for animal feed.
·         It takes sixteen pounds of grain to produce once pound of meat.
·         It requires 3 ½ acres of land per person to support a meat centered diet, 1 ½ acres to support a lacto-ovo (a vegetarian that eats dairy and eggs) diet, and 1/6 of an acre to support a Vegan diet.
·         If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10%, it would free up 12 million tons of grain annually.
·         One acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes. This same amount of land produces 165 pounds of meat.
·         ½ of the water used in the US goes to irrigate land growing feed and fodder for livestock.
·         It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Food Allergies

Food Allergies
Over the past decade, I’ve heard more and more about food allergies. Ten years ago, claims of peanut allergies were on a dramatic rise, and schools began going peanut butter free. I remember kind of giving an eye roll about the whole thing, irritated that the sandwich that my child wanted to eat could not be packed in her lunch. I also thought (to myself of course)….”I bet if I brought a case of peanut butter to a village with starving kids, there wouldn’t be a single allergy among them!” I really did not understand the severity of a true food allergy.
Now, food allergies seem so common. In our extended family we have a general nut allergy and a strawberry allergy. Several years ago I felt like I was going to have a heart attack after eating a tuna steak…I don’t know with medical certainty that it was an allergic reaction, I just never ate it again.
So what are the causes of the rise in food allergies, and how many people really have them?
First, there is a difference between allergy and intolerance.
Intolerance happens when your body’s digestive does not produce enough enzymes or chemicals to absorb a certain type of food. It is unpleasant, but not dangerous if you eat an item that you do not tolerate well.
An allergy, however, can be life threatening. An allergic reaction is your body attacking what it mistakenly believes is a threat. Your body sends an army (Immunoglobulin E or IgE) out to fight the “invader”. Your army of IgE’s attach to your mast cells and they attack together. One of your mast cells jobs is to release histamines (think chemical warfare on invading cells). The result ends up harming you more than helping, and reactions can be as severe as anaphylactic shock which can cause death if not treated immediately. It is estimated that 150 people die of food allergy reactions each year in the US and 30,000 end up in the ER because of them.
So why does there appear to be more and more people with intolerance or allergies to food? The short answer is, no one knows for sure. These are a few of the main theories:
1)      Environmental exposure to something that has altered our immune systems (no one really knows what)
2)      Pediatric vaccines have made our immune systems over reactive
3)      Genetically modified organisms in our food system
4)      We are too clean and are not exposed to enough good germs
Finally, what foods most likely to cause an allergic reaction and how many really have food allergies? Here are the numbers:
Eggs: 1.2 million your children. Most outgrow by age 7
Fish: 6.5 million adults
Milk: 1.5 million adults – however 75% of the US population is lactose intolerant
Peanuts: 4 million adults
Tree Nuts: 1.8 million adults
Shellfish: 6.5 Million adults
Soy: 3 million adults
Wheat: 1 million adults. 46 million have a degree of intolerance

On a side note, I suspect a large part of the allergy issue also comes from eating way too much meat and dairy in our society. Our immune systems are in a heightened state all of the time in order to digest meat and dairy (see “The China Study” by T. Collin Cambell and  Thomas M Cambell II for all the info you’d ever want on that topic). There are many testimonials of people who have given up meat and dairy and suddenly their wheat issue is minimized or gone.
If you'd like more information, this blog is based on an article in VegNews Feb 2011 Pgs 31-35

Sunday, November 14, 2010

“Soy: Savior or Sinner”

“Forgive me people, it has been 22 days since my last blog”. Aug! I’ve thought about this blog a lot over the last few weeks. There are so many topics that I want to discuss. The problem is, the more I learn about a specific topic, the harder it is to sift through the information to decide what is fact and what is fiction.
Most recently I’ve been researching soy. As a vegan, soy can come into play quite often in food choices, especially when eating fake meat items. Soy is in almost all vegan chicken nuggets, burgers and hot dogs. It is also commonly found in items that are vegan by chance, such as bread, baked goods and salad dressings.
Although soy has been consumed for centuries, it has traditional been eaten as boiled soybeans (edamame), tofu (soybeancurd), natto (fermented soybeans), miso (fermented soybean paste), okara (a byproductof tofu), soybean sprouts, soymilk, yuba (by-product of soy milk), kinako (soyflour), and soy sauce.  It also has traditionally been eaten in much smaller quantities than a vegan eating quick “go to” foods would consume today.

So what? What's the problem? Well, soy contains isoflavones which are chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body. The trouble is, there are studies that seem to indicate that these isoflavones are a good thing, and some that show it is a bad thing. However, the more recent research seems to indicate this is not a good thing, especially when soy is eaten in it's "isolated protein" form, ie: as fake meat and as a food additive.

What’s a vegan eater to do? Personally, I’ve cut out the fake meat almost entirely from our diets. I still have a couple of boxes of Boca items lingering in the freezer, and I will hang onto them to cook up in a dire pinch, but we’re talking maybe once a month vs. once a day or more like we were eating them. Once  these items are all gone, I will not buy more.

The kids have transitioned easier than I thought. I think this is because they’ve been eating vegan for over 9 months now, and have lost the desire to eat things that taste like meat, even if they are “fake”. Their pallets have changed so much for the better, it’s pretty amazing. Today for breakfast, my 3 year old had raw baby orange peppers, and curried potatoes. Wow!  What American three year old eats that for breakfast!

As far as traditional soy products go, I think  they are best eaten in small doses. Tofu in a stir fry…ok, tofu as a scrambled egg replacement…not ok.

If you’d like to learn more, and would like to see the article that I have heavily referenced for this blog post, please go to

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Must Have Cookbook!

I was looking through my cookbook collection, and I have purchased 11 Vegan cookbooks since we went vegan in February 2010. Some are better than others, but I’ve finally found my “go to” cookbook. It’s called “How it all Vegan - 10th Anniversary Edition” by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer. I’ve made several of their soup recipes, and the family has loved them. Each time I’ve made a double or triple batch, expecting to freeze some, but have not been able to because the soup is gone by the next day.
The recipes from “How it all Vegan” are fairly quick to make (generally it’s taken me about ½ hr of prep for the dishes I’ve made), use healthy ingredients, and they taste good. Gotta like that!
There is also a baking section that I have yet to explore, but the titles of the recipes sound great – “Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie”, “Maple Walnut Brownies”, and “Better than Butter Tarts” are a few that look pretty darn good.
Now, there are some ingredients that the general omnivore eater may need to go get to make some of these, but many of them are made with ingredients that are found in your average grocery store. Of course, Whole Foods has pretty much anything you’ll ever need to eat vegan if you are lucky enough to have one close to you.
In any event, if you check it out, let me know your thoughts!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Museling (Not for the squeemish)

I made the switch to eating vegan for health reasons, but I find myself being drawn into an internal debate with myself about some animal issues. It was probably inevitable. Most books on Vegan eating are written first with the animals in mind, health secondary.

Recently, I have been introduced to an issue in the wool industry called "Museling." When I first read about it, I was pretty shocked. I never gave wearing wool much thought. I read "Farmer Boy" (By Laura Ingalls Wilder) when I was little, and heck, sheering sheep didn't sound like something bad! It sounded kinda fun! Certainly, it didn't seem like anything that would harm the sheep. I never gave it a thought.

Here is Wikapedia's definition of the process:

Mulesing is a skilled surgical task[1] that involves the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the breech (buttocks) of a sheep to prevent flystrike in regions where it is common.

Hmm, that doesn't sound good. Now, here is a picture:

This is mulesing!

Umm, that really doesn't look good. At all.

Here are the top 10 wool exporters in the world:

Global woolclip (total amount of wool shorn) 2004/2005[26]
  1.  Australia: 25% of global woolclip (475 million kg greasy, 2004/2005)
  2.  China: 18%
  3.  New Zealand: 11%
  4.  Argentina: 3%
  5.  Turkey: 2%
  6.  Iran: 2%
  7.  United Kingdom: 2%
  8.  India: 2%
  9.  Sudan: 2%
  10.  South Africa: 1%
  11.  United States: 0.77%
Australia is #1. Australia had planned on no longer using the Museling method of fliestrike control at the end of 2010. It has changed its mind.

If you'd like more information, google it yourself, or start with

Sometimes, "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." (Toby Keith)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Very Exciting! New Restaurant!

Check out this new addition to the plant eating scene in Ann Arbor, MI. It is replacing an old Quizno's location. It's called the "Jazzy Veggie" and it is going to be completely plant based, down to a vegan pizza! How excited am I on a scale of 1 - 10? I'm a 9! To be a 10, it'd have to be my own restaurant! Here is a link about it: