Tag Archives: peanut butter

15 Years of Being Vegan

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It’s official! I have been a vegan for 15 years. Looking back through the mists of time, I vaguely remembered that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to function at all for a year as a vegan, let alone eventually thrive and joggle sub-4 hours marathons. It wasn’t easy at first, but after about 6 months I got used to it and there was no turning back. My going vegan doesn’t change the fact that billions of animals are still getting slaughtered every year for meat, for fur, and in labs, but it’s my own small way to not contribute to this endless horror and hopefully help move things in the right direction.

If you are interested in going vegan, here’s some resources and advice gained from being a vegan for 15 years: First, check out Vegan 101: Planning Healthy Vegan Diets so that you’re up to speed with what you need to know to be a healthy vegan. Not sure what you’re going to eat every day? Then here’s a 21-Day Vegan Meal Plan from the PCRM. Oh She Glows also has tons of vegan recipes so that you never run out of ideas. It’s an exciting time to be a vegan, with so many options out there and growing.

When people come to me for advice on being vegan, I give them advice that is practical, easy to follow, and science-based. Practicality does not mean sacrificing nutrition or flavor, it simply means making the diet and lifestyle easy to stick to for people with busy lives. Rice and beans, pasta and vegetables, oatmeal, and peanut butter(or tahini) and jelly sandwiches are what I commonly eat. I admit I sometimes overdo it with the peanut butter. Tofu is a great source of protein and very versatile.

Whenever possible, buy food in bulk to save money, cook in bulk and don’t believe the fear-mongering about microwaves. You don’t need to buy organic. You don’t need to learn the origin of every food ingredient overnight to see if it is vegan or not, so don’t stress yourself out over this. Take your time learning about these ingredients.

Take a B-12 supplement. You may also require iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamin D which you can get from some vegan supplements or enriched foods. You can get omega 3s by eating flaxseeds and walnuts. In my experience, people who fail at veganism were probably deficient in one or more of these vital nutrients. They either weren’t supplementing or they weren’t eating enough nutritious, well-balanced meals.

A little over 10 years ago I came down with anemia for a few months, even though I regularly ate high iron plant foods. An iron supplement quickly reversed this and I was back to my regular rigorous athletic activities. Keep in mind that plant iron is much more difficult to absorb than animal derived iron and that vitamin C helps you absorb more iron. Consult a doctor or dietitian before taking anything to ensure you are getting the proper dosage from a reputable source.

Last but not least, ignore the fads. Fad diets come and go, but veganism at its essence is no fad. These overly restrictive diets make it so difficult to stick with the lifestyle that they greatly increase your chances of becoming an ex-vegan, and believe me, I know a lot of ex-vegans. What fads am I referring to? I mean rawfoodism, “clean” eating, paleo-veganism, macrobiotics, gluten-free, alkaline diet, oil-free, “detox” diets, as well as countless hybrids of these pointless distractions. Also, don’t buy into the hype about “superfoods”. My 10 Things That Aren’t Necessary For Being a Healthy Vegan goes into detail about why these diets are nonsensical and potentially harmful.

If you are eating a balanced whole food vegan diet, these fad diets do nothing to improve your diet or make you healthier. By and large, these diets, which have nothing to do with veganism, are based on pseudoscience and virtually no reputable health professionals recommend them. Ignore, or better yet, laugh at the pesky food police on social media who are quick to castigate anyone for adding olive oil to food or eating processed food or nuts in moderation. The gurus who promise perfect health are best avoided.

By following the advice offered above, and embracing science and critical thinking, you shouldn’t have any major issues adjusting to a vegan lifestyle. This is really all you need to know to get started. I hope you found this information useful. If you think I left out something important, please leave a comment. If you have any questions please post something in the comments or email me, I love to help people transition to a more cruelty-free lifestyle.

 

Screenshot from 2016-06-06 16:10:13

I took this a few weeks ago during an 18 mile joggling run. The water is the Long Island Sound.

 

 

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My visit to Whole Foods

Many health-conscious people simply can’t live without Whole Foods. Or rather, make that rich, health-conscious people. Even though I seldom ever shop there, it can be fun to look around, especially since much of the store is a wild carnival of vegan products. And gluten-free products. So it’s a great place to shop if you’re a vegan and/or have celiac disease. Or rather, I should say, rich vegans, and rich people with celiac disease.

The selection they have is simply amazing. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as sprouted almond butter until last night. Look at that price!

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And it’s not even organic, sprouted, raw, whole, gourmet almond butter. Don’t forget Fair Trade! It looks yummy alright, but I prefer my peanut butter and only the occasional unsprouted, poor man’s almond butter. To be honest, I’m not sure if the sprouting process does anything to improve the almond’s overall nutritional status, but it probably improves profit margins. I say this as someone who used to sprout nuts and seeds on a regular basis. I think they are best fresh and unprocessed, so homemade is best.

It seems sIMG_0530ome people may mistakenly believe if something is sold at Whole Foods, it’s gotta be healthy. Or healthier than what is sold at plebeian supermarkets. I don’t buy into this. It seems a large part of Whole Foods appeal is you can buy “healthy”, more expensive junk food there.

Calories are calories, organic or non-organic.

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Look at this section devoted to that healthiest of healthy ingredients – sugar. Of course, as we all know, if sugar is organic, or vegan, or fair-trade, it’s healthier than regular sugar. Or at least some people might want you to believe this. I can’t say I am one of them. As a vegetarian though, I can understand the point of vegan sugar, since bone-char is added to regular sugar as an anti-caking agent by some sugar manufacturers.
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When it comes to organics, I am ambivalent, though I believe we should minimize pesticide use as much as possible(both organic pesticides and conventional pesticides). I eat mostly conventional produce and food, I simply try to avoid the foods with the highest pesticide(like strawberries or peaches) content or I wash them thoroughly. It’s also best to eat locally grown when possible, organic or not.

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The part of Whole Foods that has some of the truly healthiest and most reasonably priced items is the bulk grains/seeds/nuts section.

IMG_0533Although I see better prices elsewhere, this isn’t too crazy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Live organic vegan euphoria” – I’ve thought I’ve heard everything.

I can’t eat this though, due to a nasty chocolate allergy, and the price.
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It is interesting how this tiny health food store manages to stay in business just a few blocks away from Whole Foods.  
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Just about everything you need to eat healthy can be found at your local grocery, supermarket, or farmer’s market. You don’t have to eat expensive foods to be optimally healthy. If you know how to identify edible wild plants, you can even get vegetables for free if you have a large park or wilderness area near you.

You get most of your protein from nuts?!

Rumors have been swirling around about this for quite some time. I thought it was time to tell the truth. I do, in fact, on many days get most of my protein from nuts. Or a delicious combination of nuts and legumes. The Wild Juggler is in fact a vegetarian.

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So how is this possible? Is he, yet again, violating the laws of physics? Truth be told, nuts are a great source of protein.
1/4 cup of almonds contains about 6 grams of protein.

While it also has a lot of fat, it is mostly the healthy, unsaturated kind of fat. Almonds and many other nuts are also good sources of fiber, minerals, and protective phyto-chemicals, similar to the ones in tea and some vegetables. I love my nuts raw and unprocessed. I don’t eat nuts that have added oils, salt, sugar or anything. Read labels. I often snack on nuts after a long joggle.

If you’re afraid that eating nuts will cause weight gain, do not worry. I eat tons of nuts almost every day; if you’ve been pecan at my photos, you know I’m not exactly obese. Still not convinced?

According to Fitwatch.com, eating nuts regularly can help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism – Why Eating Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight

Fiber, always your friend, helps prevent the fat from getting absorbed. I think nuts are a great way to replace meat and dairy in your diet. People who eat a lot of nuts are generally slimmer, on average than those who eat the least. Nut butters make a great snack and are good for making sandwiches. Peanut butter is one of my favorites, though technically, peanuts are a legume.

I totally love nuts. When people call me a “nut”, I take it as a compliment. So go nuts with nuts, and try to violate the laws of physics with your fitness routine!