Forks Over Knives: No Need for Animal Protein

Invest in your health now, don’t pay for it later.

I recently saw a life-changing movie called “Forks Over Knives”. This film is about the surprising research that has been done on the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. If you’ve ever heard of the China Study, which was a huge 20-year long research endeavor, you know that this research is pretty incredible. The research shows that switching from an animal protein-based diet (meat, milk, seafood, eggs, etc.) to a plant-based diet, helps prevent disease and aids in the proper function of our cells and organs. The Chinese have historically lived off of a plant-based diet, with meat (mostly seafood) in very small portions (think of how much fish is actually in sushi) and certainly not as often as our Western diet now contains. We know that vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (actual food) is good for us, but it likely isn’t as simple as eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day.

It sounds like a lot of naturopathic crap, really, it does. I was a skeptic before I watched the movie, hoping there would be actual science, biology and rigorous, peer-reviewed research cited. Turns out, there was all of that. I already know the whole myth about needing to eat meat to get all the protein you need (there is plenty in beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains AND vegetables), but what is it that we get out of dairy products? I bet you just said “calcium”.

Osteoporosis is not really about not having strong bones or not being able to build strong bones. Osteoporosis is actually a premature degeneration of the bones. Not only does our acidic diet help cause this but there is also some implication that too much calcium could contribute as well. If you are eating a plant-based whole foods diet, you probably don’t need much more calcium, if any at all.

See this list of vegetables that have calcium (there are a lot more than I even thought there were!)

There are also many fruits that have calcium.

Oh yeah, whole grains also have calcium.

Have I convinced you that we don’t need dairy yet? No? Ok well, many nuts and seeds also have calcium.

Plus, eating these foods gives you all of the other health benefits and nutrients they have. Dairy products don’t give you much more than calcium (remember, these calcium-rich foods also have plenty of protein and omega-3, so don’t even go there!).

If you’re still skeptical, beans and legumes also have a lot of calcium.

No, I’m not calling myself a vegan. I won’t avoid cheese, fish, or eggs completely, but I will treat these things as though they are delicacies, meant for special occasions and in small portions.

I encourage you to see Forks Over Knives if it’s playing in your area.

Friday Food News!

Ah, Friday night. I just finished having some delicious wild Alaskan salmon at a wonderful restaurant on Alki Beach in West Seattle. Perfect way to end my week.

Sunset on Alki Beach

Here are some of the stories I’ve been reading this week:

  • A family of four decided to try 100 days of “real food”, and now they are trying it again. Only this time, they are going to attempt to do it on a tighter budget. Very cool story and blog about their journey!
  • May 14th is World Fair Trade Day. Participate by buying fair trade food! Theo Chocolate is one of my favorites and made right here in Seattle! I’ve also switched to using Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which also uses fair trade and organic ingredients.
  • Our nation is starting to take notice of the terrible food that is being served to our children at school. Looks like many school lunches are similar to those that prisoners are getting. In addition to the choice of greasy, processed “foods”, kids are eating about 1400 calories for lunch.

I would love to hear what you’ve been reading this week!

Quick Tips – Eating Seasonally

In addition to trying to buy and eat produce and grocery items from local farmers and merchants, it is important to try and eat seasonally as much as possible. Eating seasonally minimizes the amount of pollution and environmental hazards that occur when food has to travel a great distance to get to you.

Supporting local farmers and businesses that grow the right crops for the environment you live in at the right times is important to sustainable farming practices and the health of the environment. Many times, vegetables and fruits that are grown thousands of miles away are picked way before they are ripe, so they get to you before they go bad. Picking some foods too early and allowing them sit around for longer periods of time can cause those foods to lose some of their necessary nutrients, and there is some research out there (on Vitamin C and broccoli) that shows seasonally-grown produce might actually contain more nutrients than produce grown out-of-season. Why is this? It’s likely the weather. Temperature and precipitation play a huge part in the production of those essential nutrients.

I also think produce grown locally and seasonally tastes better than any conventional or organic produce I’ve had. Organic Washington-grown apples, to me, taste better here than they ever did in Colorado.

 Find out which crops are grown in your area during different seasons!

Changing our diets, one seed at a time

Our very definition of food has changed drastically in the past 50 years or so. What is “food” to you? If we change something in the DNA of a soybean, for example, is it still food?

When I started learning about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), I couldn’t stop learning. It is difficult to ignore the biotech industry, especially Monsanto, the company that pretty much started the business of GM foods.  “The World According to Monsanto” is one of my favorite documentaries that gives insight into this controversy.  You can even watch it for free online! If you’ve ever been interested in the history, production, and regulation of GM foods, I encourage you to watch this film, ask questions, and read more online (be patient through the lady at the computer searching on the internet parts– the information is totally worth it).

While you are watching, keep this question in the back of your mind: “Who or what is truly benefiting from GM foods—corporations, consumers, our health, the environment, the farmers, or someone/something else?”

I would  love to hear your thoughts after you’ve watched!

Sustainable Snacking

Every year, we throw away millions of plastic bags and spend hundreds of dollars on plastic snack baggies. Most of these bags are not reused or recycled. They stay in landfills for hundreds of years, and contain nasty chemicals that get in our soil and water and harm not only us, but other animals and marine life.

The funny thing is, we spend so much more money on plastic snack baggies that we usually use once and throw away. We pay for the convenience of being able to carry our snacks and lunches to work or school, but does this convenience truly outweigh the harm we are doing to our environment?

Several months ago, I decided to try out a couple of reusable cloth baggies to take my snacks to work in. I do not miss my plastic snack bags, and what’s even better is that people ask me what they are and where I got them!

Reusable snack bags are often made with 100% cotton on the outside, and an easily washable nylon lining on the inside. These can be hand-washed or thrown in your washer with your load of laundry and laid out to dry. Most baggies I’ve seen are closed with velcro, but some will have zippers instead.  Plus, they are usually made with cute fabric colors and designs!

The more you use your snack baggy, the more money you will actually save and the less plastic you will be throwing away. It’s also a great opportunity to teach others, especially children, about being less wasteful.

Here are some great places to buy reusable snack bags:

If you want to find more snack bags, just do an internet search on reusable snack bags and you’ll find tons!