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admin | monk seal habits | 15.09.2015
One morning at the VVC conference, I was working out at the hotel fitness room while listening to Our Hen House.
I realize some of this is social media, and we need to temper the feedback we get and remain grounded in what we do. That in itself is entirely ironic when we look at the nutritional standards of the standard diet.
Our society believes so passionately in the health value of milk and meat that it is hard for us to conceive that we might be wrong – that these foods might, in fact, be very unhealthy. We have a lot of work ahead, to demonstrate to parents that a vegan or plant-based diet IS indeed healthy – the very understanding of healthy foods needs to change.
Vegan food is my activism. My goal is to share whole-foods recipes that will excite you – treats included! Is it naive, idealistic, and simplistic to think there is a place we can connect and support one another? As far as food, I think the outstanding variety of vegan food blogs out there has been a huge step in the vegan movement, as much as I think vegan processed foods has.
I can understand how as an author, Dreena, you would feel the push-and-pull between vegans and plant-based because you DO get comments, but I hope you’re able to stuff down the doubts that people raise. As for not vegan enough from a health standpoint, I join others in feeling surprise that you struggle with these thoughts!
So yeah, that was a book, but I really don’t have anyone IRL to talk to about this stuff. I think my two girls would be on board to at least eat 100% vegetarian, but my son and hubs, well, they are all about meat! This is such a great post Dreena both from a content standpoint and how you handled a potentially controversial topic. Thank you so much Wendy, and yes, I think we can do more to encourage others with a gentler approach.
Personally, I do my best every day with regard to my veganism and maintaining a judgement free stance with regard to other people in my life, both vegan and omnivore. I rarely use the word vegan, specifically because of so much judgement and perfectionism out there. I know I have a long way to go with so many aspects of veganism, that it goes so far beyond the food! I often feel this exact way about vegans as a whole, which, frankly, is why I don’t identify as vegan despite a 99% vegan diet.
Then, about six months into being vegan, I had read so many books about health that I decided to eliminate all free oils from my diet. Your blog and facebook page, along with your four most incredible cookbooks are seriously what keep me being vegan. Thank you Ricki, interesting, the more I learn the more I realize I still have much to learn! Yet, even though there are more choices and alternatives available to those on vegan diets than ever before, the vegan diet still remains highly controversial and not just because of the ethical reasons.
The main reason, I feel, that people try a vegan diet nowadays and then go off of it, is for health reasons. They may read The China Study or some other book, hear that dairy causes lactose intolerances and allergies and decide to give up meat because of the saturated fat connection to heart disease. And yet, it seems that as many people are falling off a vegan diet as those converting to one. Well, the main problem is the veganism is defined by what one DOESN’T eat, not by what one SHOULD eat.
A sound vegan diet needs to have as its foundation fruits and vegetables, preferably 80% of one’s diet and raw, with some whole grains like quinoa and rice and root veggies like sweet potatoes added in occasionally. Vegan diets should just be replacing that steak with more vegetables or clean carbohydrate sources that don’t have a lot of added chemicals. Vegans are good in seeing their obligations to the well-being of animals, and yet vegans also need to see that they  have obligations to themselves and  to others by showing how the vegan diet is superior for building health by being a good example of health . In the long run, a whole-foods, high-raw, organic vegan diet is in fact great for longevity and quality of life in one’s later years and in the long run as long as we eat as close to how food is grown in nature as possible. If you are passionate about veganism for animal right’s issues and want people to be drawn to this lifestyle, then attract through being a glowing example of health by walking your talk and SHOWING people that this lifestyle will improve their lives. Oldways guides people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science tradition and real foods. The updated pyramid coincides with their Oldways Vegetarian Network, which has all kinds of tools to support anyone who wants to eat more plants.
Becky Striepe My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. Eat, Drink Better is part of the Important Media network of blogs working to make the world a better, greener place. A beautiful 30"x20" poster illustrating over 125 vegan food items as an alternative to the traditional food pyramid.
Vegetarians have been found to have lower risk of developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer. It is important to be aware that nutrient deficiencies can be a problem for people consuming vegetarian diets. Tips to make sure you’re getting enough Calcium: If you do not consume dairy products, you may not be getting enough calcium. Tips to get make sure you’re getting enough Iron: The iron in plant foods is not as readily available to our bodies as the iron in meat. After returning from Vida Vegan Con, I thought it was a good time to open up this discussion. As most of you know, I came to veganism through my health, and later learned and integrated the animal ethics rooted in the word and movement. I try to keep abreast of current issues surrounding animal rights and vegan activism, but often fall behind.
Yet, after my VVC trip, I realized that I am not the only one that has these insecurities about vegan and health absolution. Yet, I wondered if many of us in the community are having these thoughts (myself included), are we alienating those new to the plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle with notions of impossible perfection? Healthy vegan eating does matter in the long-term, because it is the only way to sustain and uplift the vegan movement. And, it matters even more when raising children.
But, as parents, we have believed that this is the cornerstone of health for our families – forever. It is too far outside of what we have been taught for decades for us to believe it easily, no matter how true it may be. Do our efforts communicate a standard of purity, leaving others to feel not healthy enough? We are so passionate about the nutritional beauty of our whole foods like beans and whole grains and leafy greens that we may very well communicate a message of perfectionism. And to share messages about real, clean foods to inspire you to grow and thrive in this beautiful diet. That we can find common ground and build on that foundation for the greater good of better human health and also animal welfare?
I think of vegan processed foods as the first major stepping stone for those who are transitioning, surely not usually healthy but at least helping those who might not take the plunge otherwise.

I struggle with these feelings at times, too, particularly at an event like VVC, where there were so many people I look up to who do such powerful things to advance the cause.
Perhaps because you were one of my early influences in going vegan, and your books, while health focused and non-preachy, always seemed (to me) to present a very clear kind of advocacy and activism. I’ve waffled between vegetarian and omni since I was 14 and finally decided to go vegan last in May 2012, for health reasons. It also feels better for our own psyches and emotions, not carrying around anger or resentment from negative interactions.
I have definitely felt more support and warmth from vegans myself as well, it’s really sad that some folks experience the opposite and are turned off from making vegan changes. I think that it’s really easy to get caught up in the quest for being a perfect vegan and being perfectly healthy within the vegan community regardless of whether its related to your online presence or experience meeting people in your regular life. I’ve been in situations when I first became a vegetarian and later when I decided to embark on veganism, where other people tried to bully me into going back to an omnivore life or to embrace veganism before I was ready.
The is a wonderfully written and thoughtful post, and will serve to be helpful to many – if YOU (who so many look up to!) have these questions, then our own questions must be okay. Just this year I have aligned myself with local educators and volunteer groups, so I can educate ME before I share with others. I felt freedom from the pressure to eat dairy (which I know has always caused me health problems my whole life!) and I felt freedom from the pressure to work with meats and eggs. Another six months later, I realized that some health doctors recommend very low fat diets in general. I did not lose any more weight from these efforts, and found it difficult to be happy or satiated. Cuz we all goof up and eat way too many Wholesome Oat Snackles or Oil free peanut butter oatmeal cookies once in a while! Because, quite frankly, one can be vegan while eating donuts, drinking beer and soda and smoking cigarettes.
People have vegan pizzas, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, candy, soft drinks, pastries and more.
Being careful with the lives of animals while being reckless with their own lives by eating processed foods doesn’t help anyone. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or an omnivore, this one can help you eat a little healthier. Back in 2011, watchdog group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine sued USDA for applying more lobbyist dollars than nutritional information to their food guide pyramid. I love that at the bottom they acknowledge daily physical exercise as the foundation of good health. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries. However, these health benefits only hold true if a person consumes a healthy vegetarian diet including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, plant based protein sources (beans, tofu, tempeh), and healthy fats.
Nutrients of greatest concern include riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids. Iron is found in eggs, dried beans and lentils, whole grains, iron-enriched cereals and pasta, dark green leafy veggies, dried fruit and some nuts and seeds. My wife and children still like to have meat, dairy and eggs once in a while so that’s what we do.
When i was talking to my fittness instructor about my plans to transition from a Animal protein, dairy and carbohydrate based diet towards a Vegetarian diet, he gave me this recommendation too.
I started eating salads, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, soy, cold pressed oils, nuts and seeds and cut back completely on animal protein, dairy, and processed foods for a while. While I know I use the terms plant-powered and plant-based in my work, my cookbooks all have the the word vegan in their titles. My work has always teetered between the vegan and plant-based realm, so I guess I have felt connected to both without being attached to one exclusively. I talked to some other bloggers that were also concerned that didn’t feel educated and informed enough for the vegan community, and likewise bloggers that felt they were committing health crimes in the plant-based community. Neither of us consume any meat but by husband continued to consume dairy and eggs – we now have our own free range pet hens for eggs and pastured, pet goats for dairy (that get to keep and raise their own kids!).
I know I wont get them all right, and I know there is information out there that I still don’t know, but my goal is not to run from that information anymore, to open my heart and mind to it, to be honest with myself about new information received and allow myself to re-examine my choices each day.
After that, I notice that many new vegans also begin researching the health issues of their food, and many times begin seeking out healthier alternatives and recipes. Each of us gets to decide for ourselves where we are on that continuum at any given time based on our goals and our beliefs. In both of these scenarios, I felt uncomfortable, so I would never want to treat anyone else the way they treated me. Not only do they eliminate all free oils, they also eliminate all nuts, seeds, avocados, tofu, and olives.
I have perfectionist tendencies so some of these fat free vegan ideals really triggered the perfectionist in me. For instance, I had really high cholesterol, and ended up having a heart attack at 44, as a mom of 2 little girls. I feel as if I am always practicing, and always learning, too, from great role models like you! A whole-foods plant-based person eats just that: plants in their whole, natural state without any added chemicals. Yet that will not lead to a healthy life. Nor will eating lots of white flour, GMO corn, sugar, gluten-containing grains, salt or soy. So the focus needs to change to encompass compassion, not just for animals, but also for the well-being of HUMANS. USDA has since scrapped the pyramid in favor of MyPlate, which was an improvement but still stinks of dairy industry dollars. If you’re vegan, all you need to do to follow this food pyramid is skip the very top tier.
You can eat as healthily as you like, but without a healthy exercise habit, you’re not getting well-rounded wellness.
Other calcium-rich foods include broccoli, soybeans, almonds, tofu, figs, bok choy and kale. To help better absorb iron, make sure to include a vitamin C-rich food (such as citrus fruit or juice, tomatoes or tomato juice, broccoli, cauliflower, red or green peppers, melons, berries or kiwi fruit) at each meal. He also said that in his opinion it is almost impossible to get enough protein to build muscle. The amazing thing was that i not only experienced a great increase in energy, but actually increased my muscle mass!
I always shop for vegan shoes, clothes, and cosmetics, and choose the same options for my family wherever possible. I laughed at myself, that here I was listening to her podcast with Mariann – and there Jasmin was, a few feet away. One of my personal food mantras is to focus on eating 90% whole and minimally processed foods.

But to come to understand and love the vegan basics – beans, grains, veg, fruit, nuts and seeds, and greens. While I choose to follow a vegan diet – he at least gets his eggs and dairy from loved and well treated animals.
But if veganism is only for some ultra-super-hardcore people, then there is no way to save the planet, so why bother? It may not be as overt as marching up and down the street, but it can change hearts and minds.
I especially enjoy learning new recipes from you and other bloggers, so thanks for the inspiration. I think there are potential ED issues at hand there, but also, what a joyless vision of food and eating to present to the world around us. Give yourself credit for championing your vegan diet with little support around you, then go throw a few avocs at those around you, knock some sense into them to join you.
I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to things as each of us is different. I understand feeling outside pressure that I should be more militant in the ethics and animal rights side of things.
BUT, I also eat (local, organic) eggs a few times a month, and my little girl eats them regularly. I hate the slime and the grease, sometimes bloody and just gross process of working with meat.
My father-in-law went through a very restrictive dietary time to reverse his heart disease.
I love the way this pyramid graphically illustrates the delicious bounty that makes up a plant-based diet! Are you discouraged from making worthwhile changes in their lives and diets for fear of being judged that you aren’t entirely there?
Your compassion can extend to all living beings, but not at the expense of your own children. If we are losing readers because of perceived notions of perfection, then we are failing our causes for improved health and animal welfare.
There are a lot of things that can make us feel conflicted even without judgement from other vegans or even omnivores.
We can always use a reminder to be kinder and gentler to our fellow humans (and animals) and to ourselves.
It is a strange kind of peer pressure, especially when all I do, all day every day, is introduce folks to plant based food. I never realized how much I truly hated it until I let myself be vegan and cut meats and eggs out. In fact, your comment reminded me to post that very idea on facebook today – so if you were reading, thanks for that inspiration.
Perhaps because I felt most of us don’t want to be bothered with introductions while working out. So, there is no point in discussing the welfare of pigs or chickens or dairy cows if a parent cannot believe that this way of eating can be optimally healthy for their child. Yet, we need to fuel and nourish our bodies for long-term connection and vitality with our vegan diet. Some of the hardest choices I try to come to terms with each day are struggles with when medications are truly needed for me or the animals I have brought into my life, and the knowledge that some of those rescued animals also require an animal based diet for their needs. As with any diet, one needs to be responsible for making healthy decisions but should still be able to enjoy the decadent treats now and then. I just loved your quotes about practicing eating healthy and eating ingredients instead of food full of ingredients. I mentioned this in comments on another blog a few weeks ago and someone (anonymous, I might add) blasted me for being selfish or whatever. I would love to have that confidence and freedom back in my life concerning the foods I am eating.
I love how you have expressed it here – recognizing the difference between people who might not be in a crisis and people who are!
I have noticed the more I eat lesser processed and whole plant foods… the more I want them!
Thanks for the smile and for solidifying that the “perfect” vegan may not exist! Things like driving a car, which I know is not only unhealthy for the environment but also requires fluids and sure other items which in some way must certainly contain some non-vegan ingredients. I think our society has gotten so out of control with the poor dietary choices that it has brainwashed the rest of us to believe that we aren’t capable of restraining ourselves with treats *and* a healthy diet, which to me is pure rubbish thinking.
Unfortunately, my entire family are omnivores, I’m the only one who follows a vegan diet.
I have saved countless animals over my years of plant-based eating, but I have no desire to be part of a movement that is hateful towards each other because of stuff like this.
What an amazing new adventure in discovering endless new foods that I had never tried before! As a mother I am not going to prepare two separate meals three times a day in order to keep my diet fat free. That is so very rewarding and I hope to continue to bring you more food to love, and ideas that will inspire! But he wrote is book for people like me, who don’t have wiggle room, if you know what I mean.
That might sound silly, but truthfully I have much gratitude and respect for people like Jasmin and Mariann, Victoria Moran, Jonathan Balcombe, and Gene Baur. They are the educators about veganism at its core, covering a breadth of vegan living topics including, but not limited to, the vegan diet. It might feel a chore at first to move away from the processed choices and make that big salad with beans and leafy greens and veggies for lunch.
I simply try to use these non-vegan resources minimally and make and make as many compassionate choices each day as I can. Who knows how many young women, like me, went vegan in part because you showed them that the food could be delicious? To me vegetarianism is about love, but too often there are people who judge each other and spew hate.
Sometimes I feel guilty about this because to some fat free vegan doctors I am not healthy enough. I have weak moments from time to time, maybe 3-4 times so far in 2013 that I’ve eaten something non-vegan. Sometimes I eat too many of your delicious oil free vegan cookies, for cryin’ out loud! There are some books, authors out there that are absolute on this stuff because it’s a life or death situation when it comes to health. I think we have to recognize the difference between people who might not be in a crisis and people who are at risk of dying from heart disease or something else.

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