Vegan Side Effects: Healthy Brain & Healthy Heart

Vegans are typically health-conscious individuals who, after cutting meat and dairy products from their diet, also choose to eliminate highly processed foods from their diets, even if those food products are vegan (like Spicy Sweet Doritos, for example).  The benefits of following a healthy vegan diet (it’s okay to cheat on your diet with vegan guilty pleasures every now and then) are many, but the most impactful benefits are the benefits to your heart and your brain.

Heart Benefits

  • At least 25% reduced risk of mortality from ischemic heart disease (Source)
  • TMAO, which increases the risk of heart disease, is lower in vegans/vegetarians than in meat eaters (Source)
  • Reduced risk of Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction and Stage B Heart Failure Burden (Source)
  • Reversal of existing coronary artery disease (Source)

Brain Benefits

  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease (Source)
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (Source)
  • Reduced risk of Multiple Sclerosis (Source)
  • Reduced risk of senile dementia (Source)
  • Reduced risk of having a stroke (Source)
  • Regression of diabetic neuropathy (Source)

Check out this fun article on brain superfoods (11/12 vegan options).

Some other benefits: reduced risk of cancer, obesity, hypertension, gallstones, cholesteroldiabetes, and more. Vegans also have lower mortality rates.

Please feel free to google around for more sources. It’s fun to do your research, challenge your beliefs (and challenge assumptions in others’ beliefs), and in the end learn something new! If you’ve ever tried the vegan/vegetarian diet, leave me a comment! How did you feel afterward? Did it help you? Did it not? I’d like to know! Thanks for reading 🙂

Looking at the Menu

The world has changed a lot since 2011, a time when being vegan/vegetarian meant you were forced to stick to the appetizer and sides menus at restaurants. In 2017, nearly every restaurant I go to has at least one meatless entree item and choices that accommodate the dairy-free. When I went to this restaurant called Earls a few weeks ago, I ordered a vegan burger which prompted the manager to come by our table just to tell us that they offered a vegan alternate to every item on their menu (side note: Earls has the best vegan sushi rolls I’ve ever tasted, which the manager gave to us on the house).

If I’m out to dinner and there’s someone at the table I’ve never met, one of our mutual friends will undoubtedly make my diet a topic of conversation before the waiter comes by to take our order. It usually starts off with someone saying, “oh, Natalie is vegan by the way,” to which this new acquaintance will either say “me too!”, or ask a bunch of questions about what it means to be vegan like “where do you get your protein?” or “do you care if I eat meat in front of you?”

As a culture, we are desensitized to what it means to eat meat. Even as a vegan, I can’t say it bothers me to see people eat meat because it is so engrained in our culture. But if I really think about the question “do you care if I eat meat in front of you?” I have to think, why are you eating meat if the ethical option is there for you? When we think about the health risks of eating meat, how animal agriculture is damaging our environment, and the millions of animals who are suffering for five minutes of our gustatory satisfaction, contributing to this industry seems insane but our society does it anyway. The right choice is clear but we’ve designed it to be the alternative, and although the groupthink is changing, it’s not changing fast enough.

This week I’m going to write about the three common reasons people become vegan/vegetarian: health, environmental, and moral. I think a lot of people who aren’t vegan/vegetarian assume vegans/vegetarians abstain from meat eating because we don’t think animals should be killed for human consumption. While that is part of the reason for many of us, it’s not all of it.

Where Do Vegans Get Their Calcium?

Hi guys! I made another clustered bar graph to show my common sources of calcium. The graph is based on the serving sizes on nutritional labels. If you haven’t tried Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Milk, you’re missing out!

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For more information on vegan sources of calcium, click here. Below is a quote directly from The Vegan Society webpage which easily explains calcium absorption.

Some foods, such as spinach, contain a high amount of calcium but is bound to a substance called ‘oxalate’ which hinders calcium absorption.This is why replacing spinach with low-oxalate vegetables such as rocket, cabbage and kale are key to a calcium-rich diet.

Interestingly, calcium in cow’s milk is not as easily absorbed, meaning that vegetables such as kale are much better sources of calcium than animal milks or ‘dairy’.

🙂

My Top 3 Vegan Restaurants in South Florida

There are plenty of vegan/vegetarian restaurants to try in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. Below are my top 3 based entirely on the taste of their food. I wish we had a “Loving Hut” down here (it’d definitely make the list). If you’re ever in South Florida and only have the time to eat at one of these, go to Vegetarian Restaurant By Hakin. It’s a tiny little restaurant with the best vegan/vegetarian food you’ll ever try.

Vegetarian Restaurant By Hakin

Address: 73 NE 167th St, North Miami Beach, FL 33162

Menu here

Eden In Eden

Address: 1248 SW 22nd St, Miami, FL 33145

Menu here

Plant Food + Wine

Address: 105 NE 24th St, Miami, FL 33137

Menu: here

 

Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein?

Every vegan/vegetarian has been asked this question at least once. I made this little clustered bar graph to show the common sources of protein for me. The graph is based on the serving sizes on nutritional labels but I think most of us usually eat more than the recommended amount😂.

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If you’re a vegan who’s into working out and getting big, there are several vegan bodybuilders you can learn from like this guy. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help :).

Mayan Guac – 5 Minute Recipe

This is by far the best guac I’ve ever tried (it’s my mother’s Honduran recipe). Be careful when making this, you may never want any other type of guac again!

Ingredients you’ll need for a party of one or a party of four:

  • 1 slice of avocado (4 slices)
  • 3 cilantro leaves (12 leaves)
  • 1/2 a tomato (2 tomatoes)
  • 1/2 lime (2 limes)
  • 1/4 onion dices (1 onion)
  • sprinkle of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
  • sprinkle of pepper (1/8 teaspoon)

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Directions:

  1. Mash up the avocado until smooth (it’s okay if it has a few bumps)
  2. Dice up 1/2 a tomato
  3. Dice up 3 cilantro leaves
  4. Dice up 1/4 of an onion
  5. Mix tomato, cilantro, and onion into the mashed guac
  6. Squeeze half a lime into the guac mix
  7. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the guac
  8. Voila! You’re done 🙂

Please let me know in the comments if you try this recipe! And if you have any delicious guacamole tips, send them my way!

 

Can Vegans go to the zoo?

When I was a little girl, the Miami Metro Zoo and the Miami Seaquarium ranked among my favorite places to be, right alongside Magic Kingdom and Chef Mickey’s. I loved seeing and learning about animals that I would never get to see otherwise. Seeing the king of the jungle hang out in real life at the zoo was among the coolest things that could happen to a kid like me who grew up watching anthropomorphic Disney movies like The Lion King. Kids have this wonderful ability to form connections with animals and empathize with them (I remember having full conversations at age 6 with my Pomeranian, Princess). Over the course of growing up, many of us lose this connection with animals, and even if we have pets with whom we connect, we sort of forget what lives can be like for animals that aren’t considered pets, beyond the idyllic, classical representations we have of those animals in our heads.

Animals at the zoo are a perfect example of this. We go there to see these beautiful, wild creatures that we don’t get to see in our regular civilian lives, but these animals are not happy and as a kid I never actually processed that (even as an adult, it can be easy to ignore). As a kid, I’d go to the zoo elated to meet new animal friends! I didn’t think about the fact that some had been snatched from their homes, their families, that some had never seen the vastly stunning wild that would be their natural habitat having been born into the dismal, artificial environment of their tiny zoo habitats. I didn’t see their sadness, their boredom, and their frustration the way I did when I went back years later as a young adult– as a kid, I just saw their beauty, their strangeness, I saw them as the physical representation of every cartoon and movie I’d grown up watching. But that’s not what animals are. Animals are trapped in the paradigm we’ve created for them in our society. Zoos aren’t necessary, they are cruel, and what they teach could be just as beautifully done with animatronics as they are done in several Disney Theme Parks. Sentencing these animals to life imprisonment isn’t ethical. The only places that house animals that I support are rescues, sanctuaries, and zoos that have discontinued bringing in new animals from the wild and are now working to sustain lives that have been born under their watch (if they’ve committed to making those animals the last generation born in the confines of a zoo) or have spent so many years at the zoo they wouldn’t know how to survive if released.

So to answer the question posed in the headline of this post, a vegan should not go to the zoo because zoos exist with the sole purpose of profiting from the use of animals.