eric

Go Vegetarian To Save Money?

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I woke up this morning, powered on my computer and found today’s story staring right at me on the MSN homepage (I know, pretty boring of me to have MSN as my homepage, especially because I don’t use anything Microsoft on my home computer…but I like MSN!). It’s rare that this happens. This article from MSN money explores the financial benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet. Even if you adopt it one day a week!

The article explores how much cheaper vegetarian proteins are compared to meat.

Most of the staples of a vegetarian diet are cheap. In fact, most of the world’s people eat a mostly vegetarian diet made up of inexpensive commodities such as beans, rice and corn. If you drop red meat, poultry and fish from your diet, you’ll find plant proteins cheaper than the equivalent amount of animal protein.

Here are a few practical tips on how to save money with a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet:

  • If you include an occasional piece of flesh (of whatever kind) in your diet, try to limit yourself to four or five ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • If you want to buy private life insurance, wait until you’ve been on a vegetarian diet long enough to improve your key health indicators (body mass index, cholesterol, etc.). It could save you thousands of dollars when an insurer reviews the results of your physical.
  • Buy vegetable protein in bulk. Dried beans, rice, oatmeal and other similar commodities last a long time if properly stored, and they are far cheaper in larger quantities.
  • If you get discouraged by the blandness of a vegetarian diet, buy cookbooks that explore Indian, Malaysian, Chinese or South American cuisines. Mixing novel spices and ingredients may perk up your taste buds and make the transition easier.
  • If you can’t afford or prefer not to buy organic produce, remember that most experts think the nutritional benefits of eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables outweigh the possible negative effects of pesticide residues.

Read the whole article at MSN Money.

Also on MSN…Is a Vegetarian Diet Healthier?

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And the meat recall saga continues. The latest suspect is canned meat- that delicious concoction of parts you might not normally eat, sodium, preservatives, and most recently, botulism.

Castleberry’s Food Co., the culinary artists behind Hot Dog Chili Sauce, Barbecued Beef and Beef Stew in a can, has announced a voluntary recall involving 80 types of stew, chili, hash and other products after two confirmed and two potential botulism cases broke out in the U.S. in consumers having eaten the hot dog chili sauce products.

Symptoms of botulism include difficulty in walking and swallowing and impaired vision and speech. From there it leads to convulsions and paralysis of the respiratory muscles then suffocation and death. Sounds great to me….bring on the canned meat, swallowing is over rated anyway!

Oh, and by the way, watch out for your pets! The recall has been extended to cover four canned Natural Balance pet food products, co-packed by Castleberry’s.

Read (one of the many) full articles: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1645935,00.html

Link to Castleberry’s website: http://www.castleberrys.com/news_productrecall.asp

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By now we all know that animal agriculture places an enormous strain on our planet. Between greenhouse gases, pollution, deforestion, soil erosion, cruelty, the list goes on…we have a very compelling reason to go vegetarian, even one day a week. Check out this statistic found by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan.

A kilogram of (…conventionally farmed…) beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Now consider the impact of going vegetarian just one day a week. By making this simple change in the way you eat, over the course of a year you will save 15kg (35lbs) of meat. Based on Mr. Ogino’s research, that’s like driving a car for 45 hours and leaving all the lights on in your home at the same time…more time than a standard work week! This is a pretty easy thing to do and our planet (and every living being on it) will appreciate it.

A kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

On the days that you choose to eat meat, consider eating grass-fed beef. A 2003 Swedish study showed that organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 per cent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 per cent less energy.

For more information, check out the NewScientist article.

I didn’t like the name “Rundown:” of the news summaries we post. It really didn’t have anything to do with going veg. So, I came up with this one. Let me know what you think about it….if you would like to suggest another name for our periodic news summaries, let me know.

Organic’s better? - A ten year study finds that organic tomatoes have more flavonoids (anti-oxidents) than conventionally grown tomatoes. I’d say most people didn’t need a study to find out that organic is better….but thes studies are nice to see. (bbc news)

Methane Kills- Literally. Five people died last week in a pool of liquefied cow shit. It seems that they were overcome by methane gas while cleaning out a pipe in the lagoon. “You cannot smell it, you cannot see it, but it’s an instant kill” (cnn)

Subsidizing Snacks- Our food system is based on five commodity crops (soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and cotton). Not one of these subsidized crops is a fruit or vegetable. Subsidies lead to cheap snack foods and soft drinks, made from ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Meanwhile, the lack of subsidies for fruits and vegetables makes them expensive by comparison. (ny times)

Live Earth: Go Veg One Day a Week- Say what you want about Live Earth, (see also: ‘Hippie Episode’ on Southpark) they apparently had a publice service announcement tell people about the environmental benefits to going vegetarian one day a week. Good news for wannaveg! P.S. if anyone can find and send us this video, we would be greatful! (nj.com)

Concientious Meat Eater- From the Magazine, “Food: The Way We Eat.”  In his Meat Manifesto, Fearnley-Whittingstall corners the reader: “Are you, among the millions of consumers putting pressure on farmers to produce mountains of cheap meat of dubious quality, by dubious means?” and “Have the animals you’ve consumed lived well? . . . Have they been cared for by someone who respects and enjoys their contact with them?” (ny times via Ethicurean)


image credit: corpwatch.org

Last Wednesday Tyson Foods said it would no longer sell antibiotic loaded chicken to consumers.  This move was prompted to "provide mainstream consumers with products they want."  I have written a couple of articles like this in the past and it never ceases to amaze me that little moves like this from large companies get this kind of publicity.  It’s obvious that Tyson is feeling the competition from smaller farms and is planning to leverage their economies of scale to undercut these farms with their own version of "natural" chicken.  Sure, consumers may be (and I stress may be) eating a healthier chicken, but the issues that plague our food system are perpetuated.  This switch does nothing to address animal welfare, animal waste entering waterways, worker safety and the list goes on.   This is purely profit driven move.  It’s no wonder why in 2000 they were listed as one of the top ten worst corporations.

Tyson is planning to spend $17 million to advertise it’s new "antibiotic" free chicken (In my head I picture the packaging depicting a small farm with happy animals roaming about).  That is a bunch of cash to set aside for just advertising, think about the things they could do to make their business more sustainable and responsible with that money!?  The guy that runs Tyson Foods, Richard L. Bond, says that the company’s move to antibiotic free chicken should not lose money and they hope to see an increase in chicken sales.   Personally, I would think that if they changed their business practices and made a genuine commitment to corporate stewardship, animal welfare, the environment, worker safety, etc., Tyson Foods would actually be able to sell less chickens with more profit margin.

Here’s the story (nytimes)

I don’t have any children, so I’m not sure how this whole process works.  But, processed food marketers seem to influence children as much cigarette manufactures influence teenagers.  The only difference between the two products is a legal one, it is unlawful to sell cigarettes to minors under 18 years old.  Meanwhile highly processed, fatty, sugary foods like cereal can be sold indiscriminately to unsuspecting parents to feed to their children.  Both products are similar in that they have immediate and long term health risks such as obesity and lung cancer.

This article "Hey Kids, We’ve Got Sugar and Toys" sheds some light on this subject. (u.s. news)

eric

Poo Flavored Meat

(Got E.coli?)

Does the estimated 5.7 million pounds of E.coli infested meat have you a little worried?  Last week this outbreak was reported as a small problem with only a few thousand pounds of meat being affected.  Today it’s 5.7 million pounds.  Could there be more?  Sure, of course there’s more, but this is all the food inspectors know about right now.  Tomorrow it could be 10 million for all we know.  The main concern is the fact that this meat has already been eaten by consumers.  It’s not like we are getting a warning stating "whatever you do, don’t eat meat from this store" ….it’s more like "oh, by the way, that meat you ate last month….um, yeah, E.coli."  This is bad news in general and it demonstrates our dependence on some organization to tell us our food is safe (or not).

It’s not as grim as it may seem.  There is a simple solution to avoiding this.  Why not cut back or cut out meat consumption?  Also, if/when you do eat meat, take the time to find out where it came from.  Being able to talk to the farmer that produces our food is the real answer to food safety.  Asking him or her how they grow their produce or raise their animals is key to avoiding risky food. 

I recently came across a website that is yet another resource to help us locate local places that produce fresh and safe foods.  The site is localharvest.org.  Here is their mission.

LocalHarvest is America’s #1 organic and local food website. We maintain a definitive and reliable "living" public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Our search engine helps people find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area. Our online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.

eric

Vegetarian Starter Kit

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The folks at PCRM have a great resource available for us.  Their vegetarian starter kit contains the following links and information.  Check them out to learn more about starting to go veg (even for just one day a week).  This information can also be downloaded in a .pdf format

From PCRM’s Vegetarian Starter Kit

Vegetarian Foods: Powerful for Health

The Three-Step Way to Go Vegetarian

Protein Myth

Tips for Making the Switch to a Vegetarian Diet

Cooking Without Eggs

Calcium in Plant-Based Diets

What About Milk?

The New Four Food Groups

Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Weight

The Veganizer: Changing Your Regular Meals Into Low-Fat Vegan Meals

Vegetarian Diets for Pregnancy

Vegetarian Diets for Children: Right from the Start

Recipes for Health

eric

Nutrition for Vegetarian Kids

With the bad press about the recent "vegan baby" case, I felt the need to point out that a vegetarian diet for kids is healthier that a meat centered diet, if some simple rules are followed to ensure adequate nutrition.  Kids that have been raised vegetarian or decide to go it later on generally maintain healthy weights and improved health.   Their risk of heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer are also reduced. 

The reasons to go veg range from environmental, to animal welfare, to health, to non-violence or any combination of these.  You will probably see that as your child becomes more educated in these topics, the more dedicated he or she will become to the diet.

Listed below is some nutritional information to keep in mind as your child enjoys the many benefits of a vegetarian diet  (even one day a week!).  Also, there are tons of resources on the web that have great recipes, tips and information on vegetarian children.

Be sure your vegetarian or vegan tots are taking in the right nutrients:
• Younger children have smaller appetites, so serve frequent meals and snacks, using some higher-calorie refined foods, such as fortified cereals, breads and noodles.

• Milk and dairy are great sources of calcium. If your child is vegan, stock up on calcium-fortified breakfast cereals, orange juice, soy beverages, bok choy, collard greens, blackstrap molasses and legumes, such as peas, beans and lentils

• While typical vegetarian diets usually provide enough iron, it is difficult for the body to absorb it from plants. Eat foods containing Vitamin C to help with absorption. Good iron sources include fortified cereals, soybeans, legumes, potatoes baked with skin, spinach, prunes and prune juice, raisins and apricots.

• Make sure to get enough zinc through fortified whole grains and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy foods, such as tofu, soymilk and tempeh.

• Put some Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet by preparing meals with flaxseed and flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, soybeans and soybean oil. Vegetarians who eat eggs can get the fatty acids there.

• Vegans should be mindful to get enough vitamin B-2, found in almonds, asparagus, bananas, legumes, sweet potatoes, tofu, wheat germ and enriched breads; vitamin B-12, found in fortified cereals and fortified milk; and vitamin D, by spending time in the sun (which helps the body make vitamin D) or by getting it in fortified cereals, soy milk or supplements.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System

eric

National Vegetarian Week

Our friends across the big pond are celebrating their 15th annual National Vegetarian Week, next week, May 21-27th.  The event is organized by The Vegetarian Society, the world’s oldest vegetarian society, formed in 1847.  The goal of National Vegetarian Week is to raise awareness to the food, lifestyle and health benefits of the vegetarian diet. 

This year the event will also focus on the environmental benefits to going vegetarian.  This is a hot topic right now and it’s clear that a veg diet significantly reduces our impact on the planet. 

Local events are scheduled throughout the UK next week, be sure to check out the website to find things going on in your area.  For us here in the U.S. I’m not aware of any organized events, but what better time to give vegetarianism a try on your own?  Theoretically, you could consolidate the next seven weeks of veg-one-day-a-week into one week.  Just an idea! ;)

NVW

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