Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reasons to go Vegetarian (go vegan!)

From VegetarianTimes.com (I added the "vegan" part...)

People are drawn to vegetarianism by all sorts of motives. Some of us want to live longer, healthier lives or do our part to reduce pollution. Others have made the switch because we want to preserve Earth’s natural resources or because we’ve always loved animals and are ethically opposed to eating them.
Thanks to an abundance of scientific research that demonstrates the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, even the federal government recommends that we consume most of our calories from grain products, vegetables and fruits. And no wonder: An estimated 70 percent of all diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.
Why go veg? Chew on these reasons:

You’ll ward off disease.
Vegetarian diets are more healthful than the average American diet, particularly in preventing, treating or reversing heart disease and reducing the risk of cancer. A low-fat vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to stop the progression of coronary artery disease or prevent it entirely. Cardiovascular disease kills 1 million Americans annually and is the leading cause of death in the United States. But the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease is lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, says Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. A vegetarian diet is inherently healthful because vegetarians consume no animal fat and less cholesterol and instead consume more fiber and more antioxidant-rich produce—another great reason to listen to Mom and eat your veggies!

You’ll keep your weight down.
The standard American diet—high in saturated fats and processed foods and low in plant-based foods and complex carbohydrates—is making us fat and killing us slowly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, 64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A study conducted from 1986 to 1992 by Dean Ornish, MD, president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, found that overweight people who followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet lost an average of 24 pounds in the first year and kept off that weight 5 years later. They lost the weight without counting calories or carbs and without measuring portions or feeling hungry.

You’ll live longer.
If you switch from the standard American diet to a vegetarian diet, you can add about 13 healthy years to your life, says Michael F. Roizen, MD, author of The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat. “People who consume saturated, four-legged fat have a shorter life span and more disability at the end of their lives. Animal products clog your arteries, zap your energy and slow down your immune system. Meat eaters also experience accelerated cognitive and sexual dysfunction at a younger age.”

Want more proof of longevity?
Residents of Okinawa, Japan, have the longest life expectancy of any Japanese and likely the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world, according to a 30-year study of more than 600 Okinawan centenarians. Their secret: a low-calorie diet of unrefined complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and soy.

You’ll build strong bones.
When there isn’t enough calcium in the bloodstream, our bodies will leach it from existing bone. The metabolic result is that our skeletons will become porous and lose strength over time. Most health care practitioners recommend that we increase our intake of calcium the way nature intended— through foods. Foods also supply other nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D that are necessary for the body to absorb and use calcium.
People who are mildly lactose-intolerant can often enjoy small amounts of dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and lactose-free milk. But if you avoid dairy altogether, you can still get a healthful dose of calcium from dry beans, tofu, soymilk and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards and turnip greens.

You’ll reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses.
The CDC reports that food-borne illnesses of all kinds account for 76 million illnesses a year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods rich in protein such as meat, poultry, fish and seafood are frequently involved in food-borne illness outbreaks.

You’ll ease the symptoms of menopause.
Many foods contain nutrients beneficial to perimenopausal and menopausal women. Certain foods are rich in phytoestrogens, the plant-based chemical compounds that mimic the behavior of estrogen. Since phytoestrogens can increase and decrease estrogen and progesterone levels, maintaining a balance of them in your diet helps ensure a more comfortable passage through menopause. Soy is by far the most abundant natural source of phytoestrogens, but these compounds also can be found in hundreds of other foods such as apples, beets, cherries, dates, garlic, olives, plums, raspberries, squash and yams. Because menopause is also associated with weight gain and a slowed metabolism, a low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian diet can help ward off extra pounds.

You’ll have more energy.
Good nutrition generates more usable energy—energy to keep pace with the kids, tackle that home improvement project or have better sex more often, Michael F. Roizen, MD, says in The RealAge Diet. Too much fat in your bloodstream means that arteries won’t open properly and that your muscles won’t get enough oxygen. The result? You feel zapped. Balanced vegetarian diets are naturally free of cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal products that physically slow us down and keep us hitting the snooze button morning after morning. And because whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are so high in complex carbohydrates, they supply the body with plenty of energizing fuel.

You’ll be more “regular.”
Eating a lot of vegetables necessarily means consuming more fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber. People who eat lower on the food chain tend to have fewer instances of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.

You’ll help reduce pollution.
Some people become vegetarians after realizing the devastation that the meat industry is having on the environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chemical and animal waste runoff from factory farms is responsible for more than 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams. Runoff from farmlands is one of the greatest threats to water quality today. Agricultural activities that cause pollution include confined animal facilities, plowing, pesticide spraying, irrigation, fertilizing and harvesting.

You’ll avoid toxic chemicals.
The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of the pesticide residue in the typical American diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium) that can’t be removed through cooking or freezing. Meat and dairy products can also be laced with steroids and hormones, so be sure to read the labels on the dairy products you purchase.

You’ll help reduce famine.
About 70 percent of all grain produced in the United States is fed to animals raised for slaughter. The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the American population. “If all the grain currently fed to livestock were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” says David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell University. If the grain were exported, it would boost the US trade balance by $80 billion a year.

You’ll spare animals.
Many vegetarians give up meat because of their concern for animals. Ten billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption each year. And, unlike the farms of yesteryear where animals roamed freely, today most animals are factory farmed—crammed into cages where they can barely move and fed a diet tainted with pesticides and antibiotics. These animals spend their entire lives in crates or stalls so small that they can’t even turn around. Farmed animals are not protected from cruelty under the law—in fact, the majority of state anticruelty laws specifically exempt farm animals from basic humane protection.

You’ll save money.
Meat accounts for 10 percent of Americans’ food spending. Eating vegetables, grains and fruits in place of the 200 pounds of beef, chicken and fish each nonvegetarian eats annually would cut individual food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.

Your dinner plate will be full of color.
Disease-fighting phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their rich, varied hues. They come in two main classes: carotenoids and anthocyanins. All rich yellow and orange fruits and vegetables—carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, corn—­owe their color to carotenoids. Leafy green vegetables also are rich in carotenoids but get their green color from chlorophyll. Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables—plums, cherries, red bell peppers—contain anthocyanins. Cooking by color is a good way to ensure you’re eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.

It’s a breeze.
It’s almost effortless these days to find great-tasting and good-for-you vegetarian foods, whether you’re strolling the aisles of your local supermarket or walking down the street at lunchtime. If you need inspiration in the kitchen, look no further than the Internet, your favorite bookseller or your local vegetarian society’s newsletter for culinary tips and great recipes. And if you’re eating out, almost any ethnic restaurant will offer vegetarian selections. In a hurry? Most fast food and fast casual restaurants now include healthful and inventive salads, sandwiches and entrĂ©es on their menus. So rather than asking yourself why go vegetarian, the real question is: Why haven’t you gone vegetarian?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holidays: Spending

And so it begins (or not according to recent reports by economists!) - holiday shopping.

I know too many folks out there who will break the bank, charge the heck out of their cards, try to sell things etc. all to pay for their holidays to be: just so.

Don't succumb to the pressure! The pressure comes from no one other than you when you really think about it; especially when you're trying to please family and (especially little) kids. I will be forever perturbed by folks who genuinley don't have money and will go out and spend a whole bunch of it buying lots and lots of stuff for little kids!

Lets think about it folks: little kids don't "get" what Christmas is (most of the time their expectations are what you present to them...until they get into school) and so the difference between 2 gifts and 20 is lost on them: and how many pictures do you see of the kids in the box that housed the gift you probably couldn't afford anyway (instead of playing with it)? And kids go through toys and clothes like nobody's business; lets remember that too!

I'm not a religious person (by any stretch) but even I believe in enjoying the season - my reason is family, friends, a good dinner (potluck or otherwise [for Thanksgiving I am continuing a tradition with one of my best friends - dinner at my apartment, I'm buying most of the food {we'll cook it together}, she's bringing booze and the movies: we'll just hang out all day: it's great!]), watching kids open a gift or two, movie and a pizza with friends: all fairly easy to obtain: even on a tight budget!

I'm just saying: let's not overdue it with things that within days, weeks or months go by the wayside. The only Christmas gift I still have from childhood is the wooden name my dad carved and stained (for each of us) in 1983 when funds were particularly low. I couldn't remember what else I got for most of my other Christmases if you paid me...

Monday, November 17, 2008


Ah...yes! They are upon us!
A time for family, friends, big meals, presents, hanging out: love, laughter, happiness.

Don't forget to really spread it.
I wonder how the people who just came to the hot meal I volunteered for this past Saturday will "celebrate". I wonder if they'll be warm, fed, have a present to give their kids (we had three kids at the meal Saturday).

My family stopped exchanging gifts (less the gifts we buy for my sisters' kids) years and years ago: we realized we were doing nothing more than exchanging candles and sweaters and pocket knives etc. I buy for my friends' kids - they're kids: need to keep the magic alive as long as possible but I no longer really exchange with friends. If I or they want/need (same goes with my family) a new sweater or a candle etc. we'll - we go out and get 'em ourselves! Keeps us from having to make returns/exchanges too!

For a of couple years my family all pitched in to "adopt" a famly for the holidays. Food for meals and gifts for the kids. We stopped a couple years ago - chaos with pregnancies, moves, a death in the family has prevented the conversation the last year or so; I'm going to inquire again - and at least do something on my own (which I have done every year that we didn't do something as a family).

What can you do?
Look around you - who is in your circle?
One year I gave a family I'm friends with a couple hundred bucks to buy gifts for their kids and maybe have a nice meal (they struggle: struggle, struggle, struggle).

Do something. Give someone else a little "magic" for the holidays.

I was born and raised catholic and now (and since i was about 11 years old) organized religion mortifies me so...I don't believe the whole "jesus is the reason for the season" stuff. I do believe that there is something about the season though - it's nearly tangible.

I also know how good it feels to help others, to make others feel good - and to give.

Think about it: what can you do to make the holidays better for someone?

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Historic Time

Anyone who knows me knows that I was and am a "Hilary" girl: loved her, love her - can't wait for her turn...

I have not been excited about Obama for president. For me he was (of course) better than McCain and he had Biden on his ticket (my favorite person of anyone on the tickets). I think Obama is ok. I think he'll do well as president. I think this being an historic time is more important to me.

I am amazed and so proud of our country for having elected an African American as president. I thought for certain the first real African American presidential candidate would have been Colin Powell (ok - he screwed that all up speaking to the UN about Iraq and WMD [when most of the world thought he knew better and just didn't speak up/stand his ground and not speak...]) - I actually really like him. He too is impressive - not just because he's a black man and has become so successful but because of where he's come from, his fight, his endurance, intelligence etc. - simply because of the man he is.

That being said...

To me the fact that race was an issue or a topic of discussion (ever) in 2008 was of great disappointment to me: aren't we over it yet? Will we ever be?
Here's a link to Obama's great 'Race' speech. If you haven't heard it - it's great and worthy of a watch. It's about 38 minutes long...

So: here's to hope, change, a new day for all us. We need this. My fear is this (and it would have been the same no matter who became president) - things are so bad, so bad now that if they don't get better under a new administration: well...it was so bad...too bad to change. Or the flip side: because things are so bad even small improvements (that might have come/happened anyway) will raise this man to hero status.

It's a thin line.
Let's hope for the latter:
I'd rather have a hero than a failure.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Quote for Today

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
Carl Gustav Jung


I love music - all kinds (ok; not all kinds [no country, rap, classical, r&b, hip hop, "soft rock" {a.k.a. "elevator"}]).

Just discovered:


so cool! Enter an artist or music title and they make a "station" of like music for you!
They tell you the artist/title/album the music comes from!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Has always been my favorite color/set of hues...
SO glad Ohio is blue now too...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Super Foods

"Super Foods"

1. Sweet potatoes: Rich in vitamins C, beta carotene, fiber, potassium, and iron, this root veggie is one of the few foods that supply fat-soluble vitamin E without a lot of fat and calories.

2. Garlic: One clove contains as many as 15 antioxidants. Compounds in garlic may have antibiotic and decongestant properties as well. And research shows it can help lower blood pressure, boost immunity, reduce blood clotting, and prevent some types of cancer.

3. Brown rice: One cup contains more than 20% of the recommended daily value for magnesium and selenium. And brown rice is higher in fiber than white rice.

4. Citrus fruits: These vitamin C-rich treats may help protect against cancer and help boost immune system function. And the folate found in citrus fruits may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

5. Strawberry: These berries are not only full of vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber, but they also are high in pectin, which can help reduce cholesterol levels and risk of hypertension.

6. Cantaloupe: One cup provides 125% of the daily value for vitamin C and more than 50% of the vitamin A daily value. Also, melon may protect against cancers of the colon and rectum.

7. Tomatoes: Eat your tomatoes with a bit of healthy fat to help your body better absorb the heart-healthy lycopene in these fruits.

8. Spinach: This leafy green contains vitamin C and E, folic acid, protein, calcium, and beta carotene, and may help protect against cancer.

9. Onions: Certain compounds in onions help clear your sinuses. This veggie also may help control high cholesterol and prevent heart attacks and some cancers, including stomach, rectal, and colon.

10. Soy: This legume contains iron, calcium, magnesium, and fiber; you can get it in the form of soybeans, soymilk, tofu, or tempura.

11. Beans: Beans and legumes contain protein, folic acid, and fiber, all of which may help lower cholesterol and the risk of cancer.

12. Carrot: This root veggie is full of beta-carotene and fiber; may help prevent cancer and reduce the risk of heart attack; and also may lower cholesterol levels.

13. Oatmeal: Slow-cooking oatmeal has more fiber than instant and will give you a dose of iron, copper, folic acid, vitamin E, and zinc.