Friday, 16 August 2013

Foods for Health and Compassion

Oats are an excellent breakfast choice because of their high amount of complex carbs which provide sustained energy.  Oats are between 10% - 15% protein and provide a good source of fiber as well as a mixture of B Vitamins. It’s a good idea for active vegans to supplement with a B complex vitamin because they support a healthy nervous system, support the adrenal glands and assist in managing stress and weight loss.  B Vitamins are also known for their mood-boosting properties.
Beans are a staple in the vegan diet and a perfect combination of protein and starch.  They are low in calories, low in fat, a good complex carb and high in fiber. They are also an inexpensive protein source, at an average $3 per pound compared to eggs at $6 per pound and meat at $12 per pound.  Who said being vegan was more expensive?
Tofu is an excellent source of vegan protein but I try to always eat the organic kinds because the soybean (the source of tofu) is considered to be very genetically modified.  Consuming GMOs (genetically modified organisms) can create health complications.  Tofu is also best consumed in moderation for vegan body builders especially because it contains a lot of estrogen which can make “hard” muscle appear softer.  For this, I consume a lot of organic tempeh instead.  Tempeh is also made from soybeans but fermented therefore provides considerably higher quality nutrition.
Squash is an amazing source of vegan superpower! It's high in complex carbs and fiber, and the winter varieties are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium (an essential mineral especially important for those with a high activity level.)
Yams are also high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6 and potassium, while being low in saturated fat and sodium.  Yams are crucial to a low carb diet because they provide a nice, slow-burning, sustained form of energy, while providing beneficial nutrient dense carbohydrates.
Plant-based protein powder is an excellent way to increase your intake of muscle-supporting protein.  Protein isolates tend to be heavily processed, so if you find an increase in farting and bloating, processing could be the issue. Some of the more preferred varieties are hemp (also very high in fiber), brown rice and yellow pea protein, a fave among one of our heroes, Brendan Brazier!
Quinoa is not only a fantastic complex carb source but it’s very high in protein too.  Quinoa is considered a whole plant protein and includes lysine, an essential amino acid which helps convert fat into energy.
Brown rice is far superior to white rice in terms of nutrition.  Another great complex carb, it has high levels of manganese, selenium and magnesium (a mineral which acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes) as well as high fiber content. It's a quick staple that can be kept in the fridge for easy preparation, and provides sustainable energy for workouts.
Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin C, fiber, iron and protein.  It’s low in calories so if you’re going to pig out on any meal, make a giant salad as big as you want with plenty of spinach.  It’s also such a versatile vegetable.  It tastes great in salads, smoothies, steamed, sautéed, in wraps or sandwiches—the possibilities are endless!
In the holistic health realm, one of ACV's primary uses is as a digestive aid. It can help to boost digestive juices in the stomach, and claims have been made that it increases fat burning.  Apple cider vinegar helps your stomach in the breaking down and absorption of essential protein and nutrients.  It also helps to alkalize the body.
According to, balsamic vinegar is a source of calcium, iron, manganese and potassium, which improve the body's functioning and weight loss abilities.  As with all foods, make sure you check ingredients, as some balsamics contain corn syrup and nasty flavourings which can negate any benefits. 
Grapefruits are used in many diets to reduce the appetite and to help digestion and utilization of foods.  They are low in calories, and are considered an excellent weight loss food. They are high in antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, which will help to boost your immunity during times of heavy training; times that are known to tax the system.
Lemons and limes are another great, natural digestive aid.  Like all citrus fruits, they’re also jam-packed full of antioxidants, Vitamin C and limonene, which is thought to inhibit breast cancer.  Lemon or lime juice adds a fresh, sharp flavour to anything—a definite staple ingredient in competition diets.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Ag-gag Laws Hide Animal Cruelty

This past April, the California Bill AB-343, known as the ag-gag bill,
which was scheduled for a vote by the California State Assembly
was withdrawn from consideration.  This ag-gag bill would have made it
illegal to video tape animal cruelty on factory farms and in

In recent years, video evidence obtained by animal welfare
investigators have uncovered shocking and widespread animal abuse.
Thus, the industrial animal industry would want to make video taping
of the animal cruelty a crime, NOT the cruelty itself.
The ag-gag laws, still in place in some states other than California,
are a desperate move by the industrial animal industry to keep the
everyday violence against animals and work-place conditions for workers
from the public view. This underscores how important concealment is to their continued
operations and product.

Over the last 10 years, countless video evidence obtained by
investigators shows slaughter plant workers displaying complete
disregard for the pain and misery they inflicted as they repeatedly
attempted to force "downed" animals onto their feet and into the human food chain.

Workers are seen kicking cows, ramming them with the
blades of a forklift, jabbing them in the eyes, and even torturing them
with a hose and water in attempts to force sick or injured animals to walk to slaughter.
Last year,  a video showed workers at an Iowa egg hatchery tossing male
chicks into a grinder. Industry groups said such instantaneous
euthanasia was a common practice because male chicks can't lay eggs or
be raised quickly enough to be sold for meat. And recently, Federal workers
closed a California slaughterhouse after a video showed terrible abuse of dairy
cows that were electrocuted and even shot multiple times before they were slaughtered
at the Central Valley Meat Co., according to the USDA.

Undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughter plants have
lead to some of the largest meat recalls in our nation's history.  They
have also helped to inform public policy, leading to the elimination of
the sale and production of foie gras in California, as well as motivating
many food producers to phase out gestation crates (for pigs), battery cages
(for chickens), and veal crates (for baby cows), all due to their inherent cruelty.

A majority of people do not support animal cruelty and
desire transparency in the food system.  Some people,
"want to believe" that those animals in the food chain are treated well
and perhaps those same people, only buy organic or free range products.
Unfortunately, slaughterhouses do not discriminate, and some of these
undercover investigations involved animals from "family farms",
such as the recent case of abuse at the Central Valley Meat Co.

When the fictional narrative the animal agri-business attempts to sell
us, doesn't meet reality, we are obligated to act on behalf of our
compassionate nature, to choose a better world.  The ag-gag laws are an indiscriminate
assault on our fundamental values of kindness and freedom.  They work against
animal welfare, worker rights, food safety and ultimately, the quality of democratic
deliberation in the United States.

John Merryfield

Friday, 15 February 2013

If You Love Animals, Boycott Plastic Bags. ~ John Merryfield

“Go vegan and nobody gets hurt!”

Great slogan, not entirely true. Some of us vegans like to distinguish ourselves as super human crusaders, in a competition to cause the least harm to animals.
I will be the first to say, ‘Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!’ But our lives on this beautiful planet earth are not a competition and viewing our choice to not eat animals and animal products as the highest form of service we can provide to animals (including wildlife) can deter us from looking elsewhere for how our other actions affect animals, humans and biosystems.
My wife and I live part of the year in Baja California, Mexico where I surf and generally live like a marine mammal. Here in Baja, there seems to be more suguaro cactus and loose plastic bags blowing in the hot dusty environment, than there are people.
Even if I stop at the market for two whole avocados, by the time those avocados get to the other side of the cajero (cashier) an eager, smiling Mexican kid has los dos aguacates in double ply plastic bags ready to go! These ubiquitous plastic bags easily find their way out of people’s hands, trash bins, or landfills and eventually find their way into the ocean.

Once in the ocean, they have a needlessly adverse effect is on coral reefs, sea turtles, whales, dolphin and all marine life.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision. The image of ourselves standing alone, with each of our choices seemingly separate from our other actions is a universal, ego based pitfall.
The contemporary vegan movement is founded on loving-kindness and mindfulness of others; based on the principles of nonviolence and the interconnectedness of all things. I like the word ‘Interbeing’ coined by the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn.

As if a verb, in motion, living life in unity of all things.

Our interconnection is deeply beautiful and at the same time, perplexingly troublesome; all of our thoughts and actions matter, in a sometimes unseen, web of connection. Birds, mice and rats are killed in the production of our grains. Marine life are affected by shoreline development. Untold numbers of animal species are affected in the production of fossil fuels for our energy needs…ad infinitum.
More and more cities and states in the United States are banning plastic bags; the entire state of Hawaii and even small mountain towns like Truckee, California, have voted to ban plastic bags and there is revived legislation in California to ban plastic bags statewide.

I’m thrilled to report that there is progress being made in Baja California, Mexico, because of grass-root groups like AICMMARH A.C. and Costa Salvaje, educating a new generation to protect ocean life.

Living “interbeing” is not as simple as just passing on the carne asada tacos. It might also mean juggling two avocados, a stack of fresh tortillas, a can of beans and a papaya in our two hands, with the inside of our elbows and our lowered, determined chins as we leave the market because we forgot our reusable shopping bags and won’t use the market’s plastic bags.
So, if you love animals, boycott plastic bags…oh yeah…and go vegan!