Monday, April 25, 2011

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

By Guest Blogger Peter

Often people don’t know what they would eat if they adopted a plant based diet. Basically it’s only because they are not familiar with the huge range of plant foods available.

What Australians call pumpkin Americans call winter squash. Winter squash is a summer-growing annual vegetable which includes several species within the genus Cucurbita. There is a wide range of winter squashes however in Australia two of the most popular varieties are Japanese (a.k.a. Jap) or Kent squash and butternut squash. Both when ripe have deep dense orange flesh and give a lovely colour and flavour to most recipes.
Winter squash can be baked, steamed, mashed, pureed, boiled and even microwaved. It’s an incredibly versatile vegetable used in soups, stews, pies, etc. Winter squash is ideal when a soup or stew requires thickening. It can be used in sweet or savoury dishes. Furthermore winter squashes are low calorie foods with about 40 calories per 100g. Squashes store well in the proper conditions, namely a dry cool place.
I think just about anyone can prepare the following simple dish:

Microwaved butternut squash

Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. There is no need to peel the skin.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Cook in microwave on high for about 4 minutes. If not fully done give it a little more time.
The skin can be eaten. For those who don’t like the skin the flesh can easily be scooped out.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

My intention for this blog

I was having a productive talk about my blog with my dad the other day, when he said, "You're not going to talk me into being a vegetarian". And it hit me- that's not my intention. I can see how people reading the blog would get that impression- that I'm trying to convince people to become vegetarian or vegan, but that's not necessarily the case.
That got me thinking...

My intention is

1) to get people to think about their health by presenting information about what is healthy and what is not.

2) to get people to think about eating more plant foods, and at the least- eating less food from animals.

3) to get meat eaters to think about eating only animals that have been respectfully raised- wild or free range animals, or wild caught fish,
as compared to animals that have been raised in misery- factory farmed.

4) to get people thinking about limiting or eliminating harmful junk foods from their diet, such as white processed sugar, oils, and salt.

4) to prevent or heal disease with a healthy lifestyle- a mix of excellent nutrition and regular exercise.

5) to prevent pain and expense brought on by debilitating disease.

6) to get people to think about their longevity.

7) to present information that promotes good health, happiness and enjoyment.

8) to have people want to visit this blog.

In the past, I have used this blog occasionally as a diary for my frustrations. That's not going to happen again. My intention will be to only present information in an educational manner.

I am very proud of my dad. He has lost a lot of weight through better eating and exercise. He is trying to eat less meat and more plant foods. He reads this blog, and that's great.

If this blog provides any positive results regarding lifestyle,
that is my intention.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meat and Dairy Cause Heart Attacks

Yesterday I found out that an old neighbor friend of mine that I used to play basketball with had a heart attack and died. We were the same age- 56. He'd never had a heart attack before. I know he had an unhealthy diet.

It makes me think. Is what we eat and drink worth the risk of an early death? I have done a lot of reading lately on heart disease and cancer. Think of cholesterol as little sticky bubbles. Whenever one consumes animal fat the cholesterol sticks to arteries. Over time it builds up, providing less and less room for blood flow, constricting the arteries, possibly leading to a heart attack. Taking doctor prescribed medication does help somewhat in an artificial way to decrease cholesterol build up, but what about the side affects and expense of the pills? A healthier, natural way is to transition to more of a plant-based diet. Why not prevent heart disease in the first place?
If you don't eat foods that have cholesterol you shouldn't have a cholesterol problem.

The lucky people who survive a first heart attack have a second chance. Most will rely on pills and continue with their unhealthy ways. I have a friend who says, "I can eat whatever I want just as long as I take my cholesterol pills." This approach may shorten his life. A better choice is to at the least decrease consumption of animal foods and transition to more of a plant-based diet.

I hope I never have to experience the pain of a heart attack.


"Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States for men and women. Nearly 2400 Americans die every day from cardiovascular disease – nearly one person every 37 seconds. Heart disease kills as many people annually as cancer, accidents, diabetes, and lung disease combined.

It is estimated that in 2008 about 800,000 Americans suffered their first heart attack, and another 400,000 suffered a repeat heart attack. This year at least 300,00 Americans first indication that they have heart disease will be sudden cardiac death.

Make sure you know your cardiovascular risk and are doing all you can to reduce your risk."

The following is a 45 minute radio interview. Much of it is doctor's jargon, but if you can be patient, pick out gems that are easy to understand.
This doctor does eat some wild fish and free-range poultry
but stresses plants/whole foods.

Links provided by Guest Blogger Peter

Dr. Castelli believes "the greatest medicine of all is to teach people how not to need it."

About Dr. Castelli:

The proof is not in the pudding.

Here's a lifestyle changing 5 minute video.
Ollie no longer has to take blood pressure medication.
Scroll down for the video.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mississippi Mergansers

My wife Beverly and I enjoy going for country drives whenever we can. We are bird watchers. Last week we were on a bridge high above the Mississippi River about 20 miles north of where we live, when we spotted several ducks swimming in the distance near the riverbank.
We pulled off to the side, shut the car off and got our binoculars out. There were 7 of them. We were surprised to see the males' large white head patch and the females have an interesting light brownish hairdo. As we were driving away, we got the bird book out and found out they were Hooded Mergansers, and that they are one of the most sought after ducks. So we decided to go back, and were glad we did! The book says:

"Extremely attractive and exceptionally shy, it's one of the most sought after ducks by birders. Most of the time the male's crest is held flat, but in moments of arousal or agitation he quickly unfolds his brilliant crest to attract a mate or signal danger. The drake displays his full range of colors and athletic abilities in elaborate late winter courtship displays and chases. It's important that he put on his best show as there are usually twice as many males as females."

There were two females and 5 males. We enjoyed watching their antics as the males danced, scooted across the water chasing the females, and "stood up" out of the water (like the small picture above) as they tried to impress a female, who would have no part of it. Their calls and chatter was like no other, hard to describe, very fun and interesting.
We watched them for several minutes. It was one of those connecting with the earth moments, a gift to us that we just happened upon.
Their antics were none like we'd ever seen. You'll have to see them yourself to appreciate their unique relationships. Fun!

Monday, April 4, 2011

This is what you shall do...

"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals. Give to every one that asks. Stand up for those in need. Devote your income and labor to others. Have patience and indulgence toward people. Re-examine all you have been told at school or in any book- dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in your words, but in the silent lines of your lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

— Walt Whitman (excerpted and revised from Leaves of Grass- 1855)

Friday, April 1, 2011

People often ask "What do you eat?"

By Guest Blogger Peter

As a vegan for over 12 years (and vegetarian for 3 years before that) people often ask ‘what do you eat?’ as if plants don’t count as food. I answer ‘plants’. I rarely feel that I’m missing out, deprived or get cravings for animal foods. Quite simply there is such an ubiquitous choice of plant foods available from the five following foods groups, namely fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts & seeds. The previous post below highlights just some of the plant foods available: (scroll down)

If you decide you would like to adopt a plant based diet, embracing it with the attitude of ‘abundance’ rather than ‘deprivation’, you are more likely to be successful. It’s all in the approach. Most people see veganism as a restriction and as such set themselves up to fail.
For those who have no intention of ever becoming vegan your health will still benefit by increasing the amount of whole, fresh plant foods in your diet.
Many people believe that by becoming vegan their health will suffer.
In fact most people who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) will benefit from either becoming vegan or basing their diet around whole fresh plant foods as this blog has highlighted in many previous posts. That said, any diet can be unhealthy. A vegan diet without a little planning and eating too much processed and junk food can also be unhealthy. Aside from B12 there is no mineral or vitamin that a varied whole food plant can’t provide.

(If you eat food right out of an organic garden, or don't wash some of your store bought organic produce you'll get some B-12. GK)

The average person eats many of the same foods over and over again. The same pattern applies to vegans as well. We all form habits. Consequently once you make the switch and base your eating patterns around the dozen or so dishes that you like, you are half way there. You will get used to them and it will become habit. Furthermore your tastes change and foods that you may have eaten before may not be as appealing.

The bottom line is, explore the options, experiment and use your imagination when preparing plant foods. You don’t have to eat a particular vegetable, fruit, grain, legume etc. just because it’s healthy and you don’t like it. The choices are plentiful. There’s sure to be many plant foods that you like.

The world of plant foods is one of abundance, not deprivation.


* Addition from Greg:
From Wikipedia: Vegetarianism encompasses the practice of following a plant-based diet with the inclusion of dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.) and eggs, and with the exclusion of meat (red meat, poultry, and seafood).
Few people make the switch from being a meat eater immediately to vegan (no food from animals). As Peter stated , he was a vegetarian for 3 years before he made the change to vegan.
I started out with a semi-vegetarian diet: mainly vegetarian foods, but included fish and poultry, or other meats on an infrequent basis.

Trying to decrease meat from your diet is a big step. Then you may want to take it a step further: decreasing sugar, or salt, or junk foods, etc. Decreasing unhealthy food and drink one at a time works for most.
Any step to improve your diet is a step in the right direction.

How you take care of yourself is your choice. Your health is your most important possession. Once you lose it it will be tough to regain.
Think of your future. Time goes fast. The clock is ticking.

And as Peter stated,

"The world of plant foods is one of abundance, not deprivation."

Meat and Dairy Cause Cancer

This is Professor T. Colin Campbell PhD's
full presentation at the 2003 VegSource Healthy Lifestyle Expo.
Dr. Campbell authored The China Study.

Scroll down for the video.

Pick a video, any video...

This female dog is "mom" to these kittens.
In the video there's also other examples of mismatched mothers and babies, such as a mother leopard taking care of a baby baboon,
a mother cat and a baby deer, and others.
To access this video, after you click on the above link, scroll down approx 4/5 of the way. The female dog video is on the right.

On this page are approximately 36 different videos.
Most are on health and nutrition.
At the bottom of the page are many great clickable links. is a wonderful resource for recipes and all kinds of health info.

The Lowdown

"Research from Harvard suggests that the high level of estrogen in the milk from a cow is correlated to an increased risk of hormone-related cancers such as ovarian, prostate, testicular and breast cancer.

The Journal of the American Dietetic Association has published a report saying that as many as 75 percent of the world’s population loses the ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, after infancy."

The Lowdown

By Vasu Murti

Man is the only species that drinks the milk of another species. All other species drink the milk of the mothers of their own species until they are weaned. Cow's milk is the perfect food—if you're a baby calf!
To mass produce cow's milk on a large scale via factory farming, cows have to be kept continually pregnant, giving birth, and lactating.
The cows are genetically bred to produce excess cow's milk for humans. Male cows (bulls) are useless to the dairy industry, so they become veal. By supporting the dairy industry, one indirectly supports cow killing.

In a posting entitled "humane dairy??" appearing on AlterNet on August 22, 2009:

"Of course it is impossible to source any 'humane cheese' or dairy. In order to be economically viable, the females must be kept constantly impregnated. This is a traumatic and painful procedure. The industry calls the restraining mechanism 'the rape rack'. The cow also endures pain at birth as any animal does. Her calf is separated from her at only a few days/hours old. This causes immense distress as the milk was intended for her baby. Her baby depending on sex is either female and placed within the herd or sent to slaughter immediately with undesirable male calves. The 'lucky' male calves get to spend a few months in a dark box, fed an anemic diet, then sent to slaughter. There is absolutely no way that 'humane dairy' can ever exist. "

Back in 1987, I argued for vegetarianism. Someone claimed humans are omnivores, saying we've been hunting since the days of the caveman, etc. I responded by quoting the anatomical comparisons found in The Higher Taste (the original 1983 edition) claiming humans are herbivores. I no longer make the argument that humans are herbivores. Rather, I argue we resemble the other primates- frugivores. We're designed to live predominately, if not entirely, upon plant foods. Yet everywhere I go, I encounter meat-eaters. People are creatures of habits, often imprisoned by them.

Can children be raised without cow's milk? Yes! 75% of the world's population (blacks and Asians in particular) are lactose intolerant, and can't digest milk after infancy. Dr. Michael Klaper has written books on vegan nutrition, pregnancy, and childbirth.
Vegetarians do cause far less cruelty than meat-eaters, but a nonviolent philosophy would carry greater weight from vegans.
One of the first books I read on the subject of vegetarianism while in college was A Vegetarian Sourcebook by Keith Akers (1983).
It describes the environmental damage caused by raising animals for food: topsoil erosion, deforestization, loss of groundwater, etc. as well as the economic inefficiency and waste of energy and resources in raising animals for food in an age of exploding human population growth. Keith Akers foreshadowed John Robbins' Diet for a New America.

In A Vegetarian Sourcebook, Keith Akers writes:

"Using grasslands for livestock agriculture creates great environmental problems, which greatly limits its usefulness. Grazing systems require ten times more land than feedlot agriculture, in which animals are simply given feed grown on cropland. Grazing systems have to be extensive in order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of overgrazing—which renders a piece of land unsuitable for any purpose.

Overgrazing and the consequent soil erosion are extremely serious problems worldwide. By the most conservative estimates, 60% of all U.S. rangelands are overgrazed, with billions of tons of soil lost each year. Overgrazing has also been the greatest cause of man-made deserts."

This mockery and hypocrisy in human society brings about unlimited calamities. According to the editors of World Watch, July/August 2004: "The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future--deforestization, topsoil erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease."

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, similarly writes in the February 1995 issue of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future:

"The survival of our planet depends on our sense of belonging- to all other humans, to dolphins caught in dragnets, to pigs, chickens and calves raised in animal concentration camps, to redwoods and rainforests, to kelp beds in our oceans, and to the ozone layer."