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.

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

 

Yoga and me

If you asked me what I thought about yoga three years ago my answer would’ve been about the people who I think do yoga, gurus and Hollywood starlets, not about yoga itself. In 2014, my best friend texted me a link to a Bikram Yoga (aka yoga in a really hot room) Groupon for unlimited yoga sessions for 1 month, $30. My weekday routine for that month became school, work, and yoga and I would’ve continued that routine if the actual (non-Groupon) monthly membership didn’t cost $140. So what do you do when you aren’t a yoga expert, don’t want to pay a ridiculous monthly membership, but love yoga and want to continue doing it as part of a daily routine? You go on YouTube and search for yogis and find that there’s an endless supply of yoga videos: yoga for runners, yoga for depression, yoga for back pain, yoga for weight loss, and there’s even yoga for constipation😂.I went from never really thinking about yoga to discovering how beneficial it could be as a practice for so many different areas in life.

My current workout routine includes yoga, pop pilates, and running. I’ve had people tell me things about yoga like “yoga doesn’t make me sweat,” and “I need something less passive to destress” and I get it, from the outside in yoga isn’t as appealing as a cardio/strength training workout could be, and although you’ll definitely burn more by running (and running is also a great de-stressor), most of us aren’t going to do an intense workout everyday. So, yoga is a great option for the more low-key workout days (or for cooling down after a strenuous workout).

Yoga is great for a lot of things but the main reason I do it because is because of how relaxed and centered I feel afterwards. This is the yoga routine I use after my morning runs (it helps release any tension I have in my body after running). If you have something in particular that you want to work on, like weight loss or back pain, I encourage you to search  Youtube for “yoga for weight loss” or “yoga for back pain.” You will see how much it can 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!

 

A Vegan, a Vegetarian, and a Pescatarian walk into a restaurant, What can they eat?

A pescatarian differs from the standard omnivorous diet in that they eat fish but do not eat meat, a vegetarian doesn’t eat meat but eats animal products, and a vegan neither eats animals nor animal products.

Vegan: no animals, no animal byproducts. This means meat, poultry, fish, dairy, broth, etc are off limits. A vegan cannot eat a cookie if it was made using eggs, they can’t eat a pizza if it has non-vegan cheese on it, no bread if it contains lard, and they can’t drink soup if it has chicken broth in it (to name a few examples).

Vegetarian: no animals, meaning they can’t eat steak but can consume cheese pizza, cake, cookies, quesadillas, and more. Some vegetarians won’t consume non-vegan broths, non-vegan breads, gelatin and the like because the making of these foods almost certainly involved the execution of the animal.

Pescatarian: vegetarian that eats fish (or an omnivore that doesn’t eat meat), meaning they don’t eat meat, chicken, etc. but enjoy fish, lobster, clam chowder, and they’ll eat foods made with animal products such a pizza.

To summarize, all three can eat:

But vegetarians can also eat:

And Pescatarians can add this onto their plates:

 

 

5 Tips for New Runners

Here are some basic tips for new runners from a non-professional, clumsy runner with 9 years of running experience. Enjoy!

Number 1. Your running shoes. 

You need to get yourself some light-weight running shoes that will support whatever type of arch your foot has or doesn’t have. I recommend New Balance running shoes. I’ve had the same pair of New Balance running shoes since the beginning of my running journey and every time I buy a different brand I always end up going back to my old shoes. I know they’re pricey, but divided by 9 years, they’re a steal.

New Balance 880v6, $119.99

Number 2. Shoe Insoles.

Okay, more foot stuff. But seriously, this is important if you have flat feet, bunions, or any other foot problem. Buy yourself some arch supporters and your run will go from foal to stallion. Don’t get the gel insoles; those burn the hell out of your foot during a run.

Number 3.  Self-Defense Ring.

This tip is for the solo runner. I like to run alone, in the mornings, in a very woodsy park (my park happens to have no visibility of the running trail from any main road). Every time I run, I’m constantly on the lookout for any strange man popping out of the bushes and attacking me. This ring grants me some peace of mind during my solitary runs and is lighter than pepper spray.

Fisher Defensive Go Guarded Self Defense Ring, $15.99

Number 4. Do Ab workouts.

You use your abdominal muscles a lot during a run. The lower your belly fat and the more muscular the belly, the faster the run!

Number 5. Throw your legs forward.

New runners can make the mistake of dragging their feet instead of propelling them forward. You can ensure you have the proper technique by thinking about how your legs can help your run be more effective. By throwing each leg high with each successive step to land your foot at a further distance on the ground, you guarantee the least amount of strain on your body by forcing your legs to sprint forward at a greater distance than if you were to simply drag your feet quickly (as many new runners do). Think of the ground as something your feet have to tap to push your body forward, or better yet, pretend the ground is burning underneath you and you want your feet to touch it as little as possible. Some people run as though the objective is to repeatedly stomp their feet on the ground, but rather the objective is to cover as much distance as fast as possible.

Have fun running! Don’t forget your sunscreen! Please let me know if any of these tips helped 🙂