A New Year, A New You

I’m very excited to share this fabulous guest post with all of you from Lauren at The Holy Kale. (Love that blog name!) Lauren is a certified nutritionist and her website is a fantastic resource for learning about a plant-based diet and how it benefits your mind, body and soul. 

Calvin and Hobbes

As we begin the year 2012, we make lofty goals, set high expectations and resolutions that we know we will not follow through on. We set ourselves up for guilt, disappointment, and self-loathing, only to leave ourselves worse off than when we began. So instead of our usual tendencies, let’s take some small steps toward permanent, healthy change, through the movement toward plant-based vegan eating.

We all know that eating less meat is “good” for us, and that we would be healthier without the steaks, ribs and chicken tenders, but the question still remains for most… “Why?” and “ How Much Better?”

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Is changing to a plant-based vegan diet going to really make that big of a difference?

Living a plant-based, vegan lifestyle not only impacts your life but the world around you as well. The way that you eat is no longer just a preference of taste, but a vote for your physical and spiritual health, for the health of your community, for the environment, and for the animals. Without getting overly preachy here, your choices make a difference…and I mean a big difference.

This life is about being conscious – conscious of the way you treat yourself, the way you treat others and how you contribute to this life. Therefore, why not be conscious of how you fuel your body and impact this earth. We are here to make a difference and we have been given the gift of life, so let’s honor that gift and be mindful. We have the power within to make a change in our own life, and by changing ourselves we will change the world around us. To make a positive change in world, it can be as simple as adopting a plant-based vegan diet.

What will I gain? 

We must look at all change in this instance as a chance to grow and gain something new, not as something lost. I will point out the numerous ways in which your life in its entirety will become infinitely better once you decide to leave the animals out of the equation.

The Body:  

1. A Plant-Based Vegan Diet prevents Disease, Cancer and Degenerative Illnesses.

According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, nutritional research at Cornell University, “The vast majority of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant-based diet.” The American Heart Association reports that vegetarians “have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and some forms of cancer.

2. A Plant-Based Vegan Diet promotes a Healthy Weight and Immune System.

Scientists have also found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat-eaters do, and they are also far less likely to be overweight. In fact, meat-eaters are nine times more likely to be obese than vegans.

Weight gain can result from toxicity and hormone imbalance, two factors that are directly related to eating hormone-laden meat and dairy foods.

3. A Plant-Based Vegan Diet reduces Toxicity 

Meat and dairy are highly contaminated with antibiotics, hormones and toxins (arsenic, pesticides, heavy metals) that are extremely harmful to the human body, which can lead to antibiotic-resistance, hormone imbalance, and full-body toxicity. Not to mention, the more toxic the body is the more body weight you hold onto. Fat tissue is simply a defense mechanism of the body to protect itself against foreign toxins, so the cleaner you eat, the leaner you become.

Secondly, a toxic body sets the stage for the development of an array of symptoms including chronic disease, inflammation and even cancer.

4. A Plant-Based Vegan Diet promotes an Alkaline Body 

A plant-based vegan diet comprises of nutritionally dense foods such as; vitamin-rich leafy greens, mineral-rich grains and seeds, as well as fruits packed with antioxidants, which all set the stage for an alkaline environment. In an alkaline environment no pathogens can flourish, therefore leading to a disease and symptom-free body. The more plant-based foods that you consume, the more you can lower your risk of a host of diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and several types of cancer.

5. A Plant-Based Vegan Diet Saves your Bones and your Kidneys 

All meat (animal flesh) is highly acidic and causes the leaching of minerals from your bones. Furthermore, it breaks down into metabolites that are extremely hard on your kidneys, which can lead to kidney stones, gout, dehydration, osteoporosis and edema. Red meat is often made out to be the bad guy, but consuming the carcass of any animal will lead to these issues.

The Mind:  

The body is not only a chemical being but also an energetic one, picking up on various frequencies from the world around us and influencing our very biochemical body. Everything from the energy of people around us, to the biological changes of the earth impacts our physiology. Therefore, we must be conscious of the energy of the food we eat. Since the saying “you are what you eat” still holds true, have you thought of what the energetic impacts of eating flesh is?

Death hormones are actually created by the animals as soon as they are killed, leading to the transference of “death” energy from the animal to your body. The method of death of the animal is highly significant (typically mass slaughter lines in which the animal experiences great fear and trauma right before death) thus releasing the so-called “death hormones” into its tissues at the time of death. These toxic hormone residues are rarely addressed and may directly interfere with human hormone balance. Studies show that these “stress hormones” in animal tissue can negatively affect human tissue leading to an array of symptoms. Long gone are the days of respecting life of the animal you are about to take for food. Animals are aware and they sense things on a different level than humans. They know they are being slaughtered… but do you think they know why?

The Soul: 

We are all one, one vibration, one entity, one force. We must live in peace, we must protect those around us, even those beings less than ourselves. While animals may have been put on this earth as part of the food chain, we have certainly abused our right. We have taken a humane biological circle of life and have turned it into a horrific and abusive profit generator. The process of obtaining meat for food no longer resembles that which was first laid out for us as hunter and gatherers. Therefore, we must re-evaluate the principle of eating animal flesh.

Did you know that many cultures rooted in spirituality have preferences for not eating meat based on the principle of nonviolence?

The Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists support vegetarianism and the Jewish people only eat meat that has been prayed for and that has been slaughtered humanly. The principle of nonviolence applied to animals is connected with the intention to avoid negative karmic influences, which result from violence. Therefore, they abstain from eating any flesh, especially that which was unjustly treated.

Vegetarianism is also mandatory for those who practice Hatha Yoga based on their perception of its negative impact on the body. They choose to eat only high-quality food, because they are convinced that food shapes the personality, mood and mind. They believe that meat is said “to promote sloth and ignorance and an undesirable mental state known as tamas, while a vegetarian diet is considered to promote the desirable sattvic qualities essential for spiritual progress.”

Your body is a temple – treat it as such.

The Environment: 

“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is stop eating meat… It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot; ecology, famine, cruelty.” Sir Paul McCartney

1.    Global Warming: According to a recent UN report, the meat industry causes more global warming (through emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) than all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined. Furthermore, researchers at U of Chicago determined that switching to a vegan diet is 50% more effective than switching to a hybrid car.

2.   Water Resources: More than ½ of all the water consumed in the U.S. is used to raise animals for food. A vegetarian diet requires only 13% of that!

3.   Pollution: Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the U.S. According to the EPA, the run-off from factory farms pollutes our rivers and lakes more than all other industrial sources combined.

Raising animals for food is “one of the top 2 or 3 most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” United Nations

Moving toward a plant-based vegan lifestyle can seem daunting, but simply see it as a choice in evolution. We all have the power to change, and the innate desire to be the best that we can be, so make the choice to tap into that power and move towards the path of self-progression- for yourself and the world.

The Holy Kale

Guest Post: Banana Blueberry Muffins

Today, I’m bringing you a recipe from Patricia Stoltey, a delightful friend, writer, and fellow critique group member . We’re both original members of the Raintree Writers, formed in 2003, which continues to meet every two weeks.  Pat has two published mystery novels, The Prairie Grass Murders and The Desert Hedge Murders, both excellent reads with fun and quirky characters. You can visit Pat at her blog and see why I call her “Bad Ass Pat.” In the meantime, check out her yummy vegan muffins that she kindly took the time to share with us.

I can’t leave a recipe alone, no matter how good it is.

The first time I made these Mountain Biker’s Banana Muffins from the Simply Colorado: Nutritious Recipes for Busy People cookbook by the Colorado Dietetic Association, I thought they were delicious. But I couldn’t help it. I tinkered with the recipe until I made it mine.

If you find a copy of the original, you’ll see I changed the balance of whole wheat flour to white, replaced the skim milk with soymilk, and ditched the raisins (which I don’t really like) for blueberries. Here’s how it goes:

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Pat’s Variation on Mountain Biker’s Banana (Blueberry) Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 c. sugar (or slightly less)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. flour

1 c. whole wheat flour (I use high altitude flour in Colorado)

1/3 c. oil

1/4 c. soymilk

2 large very ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. blueberries (I use frozen berries to keep the batter from turning totally blue)

Cooking Spray

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375⁰. Measure sugar, baking soda, salt and flours into bowl. Add oil, soymilk, bananas and vanilla; mix just until flour is moistened. Gently fold in frozen blueberries. Fill standard size muffin cups coated with cooking spray to 2/3 full with batter. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Because of the frozen berries, it’s best to test the center of the muffins with a toothpick to make certain muffins are done all the way through. Immediately tilt the muffins in the cups or remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

Although I have to tell you, at my house muffins tend to disappear from the pan minutes after they’re removed from the oven. I was lucky to get this photo.

Looks delicious, Pat. :)  Thanks for sharing your recipe with us!

My First Guest Blogger! Vegan, Wheat-free, and Nearly Sugar-free Blueberry Muffins

I’m very excited to introduce you to my first guest blogger, Kerrie Flanagan, director of The Northern Colorado Writers and freelance writer-extraordinaire. Kerrie has been a great sport when testing out some of my vegan creations. Some have been great, others not so much. She’ll even manage to smile when choking down one of the not-so-much ones. Thanks for being here, Kerrie!

Kerrie and I

I am thrilled to be the guest blogger today for my good friend and roof buddy (long, but fun story) April and take a break from working on my writers conference. When it comes to food, April and I agree on a few things; we both like to cook, we both want to provide healthy meals for our family and we both like to experiment in the kitchen. But when it comes to what we eat, we are on different sides of the fence. I am not a Vegan. I do eat meat (but I buy it from a local rancher and it is all free-range, grass-fed beef) and dairy. But I have the utmost respect for April and other Vegans. I love sampling her amazing food and trying some her recipes on my family.

So why am I here on the Epicurean Vegan? (besides the obvious, that I want to help my friend) it is because of my teenage daughter. Her acupuncturist wanted her to go on an elimination diet. So for 6 weeks, Delaney was to avoid wheat, dairy products and refined sugar. This was not an easy task, but we are on week 6 and she is doing great. One of the biggest things she missed was baked goods. The dairy part was no problem, the wheat; a little more of a challenge, but the sugar free part; nearly impossible. I am happy to say though, I found a recipe for muffins with oat flour and made a few adjustments (with April’s help) to substitute the dairy products. Delaney gave them a thumbs up.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup oat flour

1 cup rolled oats

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3 Tbs honey (or 1/2 cup sugar if you want them sweeter)

2 tsp lemon zest (or 1/2 tsp. lemon juice)

1 tsp egg replacer + 2 Tbl water (whisk together)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup Almond milk

1 cup blueberries (thawed frozen, or fresh)

DIRECTIONS:

Combine everything except the blueberries in a large mixing bowl and mix with a whisk. Don’t use a mixer, as it will chop up the rolled oats.

Cover the bowl and set it aside for 10 minutes to allow the batter to thicken. Once complete, fold in the blueberries with a spoon. Grease a muffin pan with baking spray or use paper baking cups and fill 2/3 full with batter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 15-20 minutes until  golden brown. Makes 12 muffins.
*These were a little crumbly straight out of the oven. Once they cooled they were fine. You might want to try increasing egg replacer a little bit.