Diabetes Diet

After spending a combined total of 20 of the last 72 hours on an airplane (or at the airport), I’ve had some time to catch up on some reading.  While not all of it was veg related, I was able to pick out a few good topics to write about this week for the site.  A couple of stories on Type-2 diabetes and how vegetarian and vegan diets can help reduce this disease caught my attention for a couple of reasons…. With such an epidemic of obesity and diet related problems occurring in adults and children throughout the Western world, I thought this topic would be good to focus on this week.  In addition, diabetes personally hits close to home for me, as my father was diagnosed with it about two years ago, and I believe, he is starting to feel its effects.  Simple colds and ‘bugs’ are hanging around a lot longer than they did before he was diagnosed, and I fear that the symptoms are only going to get worse if he doesn’t change the way he eats and starts an exercise program. 

Reliance on diabetes medication is widespread and unfortunately, it seems that many people use the medication as a substitute for changing their lives with a good diet and proper exercise.  The ‘magic’ pills initially helps to stabilize blood sugar, but diabetics quickly become dependent on it, and the pills eventually loses their effect.  These pills are essentially the gateway drugs into more potent concoctions of medicines and insulin, but, in many cases, type-2 Diabetes is preventable and manageable if current and potential patients will turn over a new leaf and modify their diets and lifestyle.    

Recently, a study was done that demonstrated that a low-fat vegan diet based on ADA guidelines improved glycemic and lipid controls in patients with Type-2 diabetes. from WebMD

Researchers have found that a low-fat vegan diet may help type 2 diabetes patients to better manage their disease. In a study published in DiabetesCare, 43% of people with type 2 diabetes who followed a low-fat vegan diet for 22 weeks reduced the need to take diabetes medications. That’s compared to only 26% who adhered to the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

On average, the vegan group also lost more weight and lowered levels of bad cholesterol. Because people with diabetes are more prone to heart disease, eating with heart health in mind matters as much as blood sugar control.

So…why don’t people diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes immediately change their lifestyles after leaving their doctor’s office?  Whether it is going vegetarian one day a week or full-time or cutting out the fast food, it seems like a lifestyle change should be the real “silver bullet” first step for anyone diagnosed.  But as we know, the answer is never that simple, and change takes education, dedication and vigilance.  I also think that things like initial denial and an unwillingness to break old habits leads to a complacency that is satisfied by the medicine alone.  In truth, it is more than likely a healthy combination of diet, exercise and medical care are needed to manage this disease. 

To bring this back to wannaveg and the mission I have set out to accomplish, I believe that vegetarian lifestyles (even once or twice a week) may still be viewed by some as a counterculture lifestyle (e.g. dirty hippies) instead of what we are- a group of people interested in healthy living that also appreciate the many peripherally benefits to the diet.  From global warming to diabetes, heart disease and weight management, it is my hope that studies like this, recent articles and more websites like wannaveg will bring to light that change is not impossible and that the benefits can be dramatic and life changing! 

I am out of town today, so I decided to put up an article from the past.  The weather looks to be pretty nice around the country….good weekend to visit the farmer’s market.  Have a great weekend, talk to you on Monday!

This article covers five areas that make farmers markets so cool.  Farmer’s markets are making a difference in the way we are eating and are growing in popularity all the time.  This is an excellent trend and I hope it continues.

1.  Freshness
2.  Variety
3.  Organic
4.  Creativity
5.  Cost

Farmer’s Markets, offering fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, nuts, honey, herbs and jams, are becoming more prevalent and increasingly popular in urban and suburban neighborhoods. Cities gladly cordon off designated blocks one morning a week or a month to give residents access to locally grown produce and to stimulate commerce. The Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York City is legendary for bringing the farm to the urbanites and the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market in Southern California has been called the “crown jewel” of such markets by Los Angeles Times food writer Russ Parsons.

These street markets are changing the way you eat. Farmer’s Markets are influential in food freshness, variety, nutrients, creativity and cost. Here’s how: continue here at Associated Content

As more news surfaces about melamine continuing to end up in our food system, I am beginning to wonder if our regulatory agencies will take away any lessons from this?  Yesterday, word came that 38 chicken farms in Indiana fed melamine tainted pet food to chickens back in February and that the chickens from these farms have already been processed and put into our food system.  My question is, “where is the FDA and the USDA in all of this, and how was this allowed to happen?”  With all of the press and stories about the tainted pet food, this contamination certainly wasn’t a secret.  I would have thought that this incident would serve as a warning sign and give the regulatory agencies a wake up call that, if left unchecked, this contaminated grain would eventually make its way into what we eat.  I don’t claim to know the exact procedures of the regulatory business, but I wonder why the FDA and the USDA did not order the tainted food be destroyed as a precautionary measure? In many cases (and not mistakenly), we, as Americans rely solely on these organizations to keep our food supply safe and tell us about potential and current dangers.  For anyone who has eaten this chicken and pork tainted with melamine, this system and its safeguards have failed you in a big way. 

So now what?  Instead of concentrating on placing blame, I am trying to focus on the positive side of this situation.  This incident has further cemented the conclusion that WE, as consumers, must be aware of and responsible for what we put into our bodies instead of allowing a third party (government agencies) to determine what is safe for us to consume.  To a certain point, we can do this by buying our food locally and organically.  Sometimes this is easier said than done, but the more we eat locally sourced, organic food, the less chance we have of running into problems like we are facing now.  Check out the “resources” link to find places that sell locally sourced produce, eggs, dairy and yes, organic local meats and poultry. 

The NY Times ran a story yesterday called "Filler in Animal Feed is Open Secret in China".  It’s worth a read if you are interested in the causes behind how this stuff is used and why it ended up in our food system at all. Some interesting points are the economics of protein and the widespread use of chemicals being fed to animals.  I have a feeling that we have just seen the tip of a very disappointing iceberg with this topic. 


So who’s inspecting the food?

Need another reason to buy food locally or at least food produced in the U.S.?  How about the fact that almost 99% of all the food imported is not being inspected by the FDA.  One of the FDA’s primary responsibilities is to ensure a safe food supply for this country.  But ,the agency is overworked and understaffed.  Consider this, last month they found 850 shipments of grains, nuts, fish, vegetables, spices and oils to be be tainted by filth, unsafe colorings, toxic pesticides and salmonella.  Remember, they only inspected 1.3 percent of the total amount of food imported to the U.S.  The amount of food imported is expected to increase over the next year, while the number of food inspections are expected to decrease to 1.1 percent. 

It is estimated that the average American eats around 260 lbs of imported food per year in some form.  Much of this food comes from Mexico and Canada, but an increasing amount of it is coming from China.  We have seen the problems when tainted food is imported from China and released into our food system.  This time it affected our pet’s food, what about the next time?  With very little food being inspected and nearly $70 billion dollars worth of it being imported annually, this can be bad news.

So you want to know where your food is coming from?  Good luck!  The Farm Act of 2002 mandated that certain types of food be labeled based on country of origin.  Fruits and vegetables are still not required to be labeled.  It really turns into a catch-22…the food is not being inspected for safety and we can’t avoid it because it’s not labeled.  And…if labeling is required, the food may be processed into other food (e.g. wheat gluten) without our knowledge.  This makes it difficult for the consumer to make an educated decision on the food they want to put into their bodies.  

There really isn’t a silver bullet answer for avoiding imported food, unless you live on a farm and only eat the food you grow on it.  The next best thing is to buy from known local sources like farmers markets and grocery stores that buy locally.  It may be difficult to avoid imported food altogether, but reducing our intake of it will certainly help.  This is a perfect instance of "less is more".

Read more about it at MSNBC


Power Foods

Recently MSN ran an article on the types of foods people over 40 should try to center their diets on.  These "power foods" are comprised of high nutrition, low calorie energy that help reduce cravings and in turn help reduce weight.  This age group has the highest risk factor for diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol, etc.  And while we all know it’s important to eat well in order to maintain a healthy weight, it is also important to eat the types of foods that help to increase our bodies’ resistance to these diseases.

The article focuses on 10 quality foods, that when eaten in combination, help to stave off disease and keep weight in check.  One obvious food absent in the list of  "power foods" is meat.  There is a point in the article where it recommends eating a lot of protein to feel satiated.  However, the protein sources recommended are beans, cheese and veg chili.  You can add tofu, soy milk, eggs (free range), nuts, bread, lentils, etc to this list to enjoy a wide selection of high quality proteins. 

With all the bad things happening with meat these days (e.g. hormones, medication, antibiotics, genetically modified foods, melamine, fertilizers, mad cow, the list goes on) it’s easy to see why it doesn’t make the list of "power foods".  Studies are consistently showing that meat consumption increases the likelihood of cancer and heart disease.  Similar studies are showing that a diet high in fruits and vegetables have the opposite effect, and actually reduce the likelihood of cancer and heart disease. 

check out the article at


Veg is accepted

It wasn’t so long ago that vegetarians were considered "weirdos".  There was a stigma associated with the lifestyle as being unhealthy, weak, pale and of course liberal.  Today, this stigma is gone, except for possibly the liberal part.  Although many conservative people are waking up to realize the benefits of a vegetarian diet. 

People choose vegetarian for many reasons, such as to make a positive impact on the environment or to improve their health or for animal welfare or a combination of all three.  No matter what the rationale, the choice to become vegetarian is becoming widely accepted.

It is rare these days to sit down in a restaurant and not have a veg choice on the menu.   Even the worst of restaurants will probably have a token veggie burger.  Also, you learn pretty quickly what kind of establishments are veg friendly.  I certainly wouldn’t go to Hooters and expect to find many, if any, veg options. 

Grocery stores and specialty stores have come a long way in the last ten years.  Entire stores are dedicated to vegetarian friendly food and even the regular chain supermarkets have a good selection of food to choose from.  With more than eight million vegetarians in the U.S., this is a pretty big market to be overlooked.  Many other countries have higher percentages of vegetarians, so the global demand for veg food is significant. 

For more information, check out this article from AZ Central:
Vegetarians becoming more accepted at home, in restaurants


Be Healthy, Save the Planet

The fourth day of our "Earth Day" series will focus on your health.  You may ask: what does good health have to do with helping the environment?  This is a good question!    The answer…I believe people concerned with their health are generally more inclined to pay attention to the types of food they eat and the sourcing of that food.  In addition, unhealthy people use more medical resources than healthy people do.  This last part is based on fact, and it is what I want to highlight today.  

The health-care industry consumes large amounts of our natural resources and produces tons of hazardous waste.  If you are interested in seeing something alarming, just take a look at the Bristol-Myers Squibb annual "Environmental Performance" report.  Last year BMS produced 579 kg of ozone-depleting emissions, over 1 billion kg of CO2 and consumed over 35 billion liters of water.  I am not trying to single out BMS,  I am just trying to demonstrate that modern health-care is extremely resource intensive.   Please keep in mind that these figures represent the impact of one health-care company.  Multiply this by all pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, research facilities, medical supply companies, etc. on the planet and it becomes apparent that staying healthy is not only good for you as an individual, it is also good for our planet.

Of course, having a good diet does not guarantee good health, but it is one of the few variables that we can actually control.  Lately, a few studies have been making headlines with findings that reducing meat consumption and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables play a big role in maintaining good health.  These reports have been released within the last month and are linked below.

The results of these stories are probably not going to surprise you, and most of it, you are already well aware of. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has more health benefits than any another diet ever known.

Going vegetarian one day a week presents a great opportunity to start creating tasty meals that focus on healthy fruits and vegetables.  Also, these meals can be incorporated into your diet for the rest of the week.   You will quickly see that going veg does not mean you will be restricted to eating salads every meal.  There is a huge variety of veg food out there that will ‘knock your socks off’.  For some good recipes to get you started, take a look at our ‘recipes‘ category. 

Simply stated, be healthy, safe the planet.  Going veg one day a week can help!


Eat Greener

Our third installment of our "Earth Day" series will focus on simple tips to eat greener foods.  It just so happens that eating greener coincides with eating vegetarian.  We have seen the positive impact that going vegetarian just one day a week has on our planet.  By following some simple guidelines there are additional ways to green up a vegetarian diet. 

Remember these are simply guidelines, not rules!  Make the effort to follow them when it is practical.  It would be best if we could follow these all the time, but sometimes it is just not feasible.  So, do it when you can, but you do not need to live your life by them to make a difference.  For example, try to adhere to them at home, but on Friday night when you go out for Mexican food, don’t worry about it.

  • Buy locally - all kinds of benefits can be had with this one.  It is probably the most important guideline to follow.  You support your local farmers, your food is fresh and the energy inputs, such as fuel to transport the food is negligible.  Most of the time this food is also grown organically.  With Spring here, what better time to visit your farmers market?  For listings of farmers markets in your area, click here.
  • Buy organic- probably the next best thing.  Your food has not been sprayed with pesticides and the ground it was grown in was not flooded with fertilizers.  Pesticides are not good for your health and fertilizers are not good for our planet’s health.
  • Buy seasonal- Let nature determine what foods are ready to eat, not the grocery store.  What’s in season in Chile may not be what’s season in Oregon.  Eating seasonal provides the best tasting foods.  Combine this with buying locally and the benefits of fresh, healthy great tasting food will abound.  To find out what’s in season in your area, click here.
  • Grown your own- You do not need huge plots of land and a tractor to grow your own food, just throw some pots on your back deck and start an herb garden or tomatoes or peppers or all of them!
  • Bring your own bag-  This is too simple not to do.  You will always have them if you keep them in the trunk of your car (or bike).  For more info read ban the bag.

These five simple tips can have a big impact on our planet.  Vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can make a difference by following them.  Not only do these guidelines benefit our planet….they also help to make us healthier and more connected with our food supply.


Earth Day this Sunday

In honor of Earth Day coming up this Sunday, I am reiterating the mission of this site.  Choosing to go vegetarian, even one day a week makes a difference on our planet, our health and the lives of animals everywhere.  This week, will host a series of Earth Day related stories, so be sure to visit everyday for new posts.  If there are any articles or stories you would like to contribute please let me know! 

For more information on Earth Day click here.  For events scheduled in your area this link may be a good place to start.  Otherwise just do a quick search on the Internet.

(from our ‘Mission‘ page)

The top 10 reasons why adopting a vegetarian diet one day a week will make a difference. In a year you will… 

* Save 84,000 gallons of water.

* Save 245 lbs of grain.

* Save 7,700 sq feet of rain forest. (That is equivalent to four good sized houses.)

* Reduce your contribution to the over 10,000,000,000 animals slaughtered for food.

* Save 15.5 gallons of gasoline, good for one fill-up!

* Not contribute to over 403 lbs of manure produced by food animals.

* Reduce your contribution to over 24,000,000 pounds of antibiotics that are added to animal feed.

* Save 87 square feet of topsoil from erosion.
* Reduce your impact on our quickly vanishing ocean life!

* Do not forget about your health! A vegetarian diet, even one day a week will help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and it may even  help to drop a few pounds.

– During this week, stay tuned for a couple of updates in the top ten reasons to veg one day a week.


There’s Arsenic in the Chicken!

For the last fifty years, conventional chicken producers have been adding arsenic to chicken feed.  The arsenic kills parasites and gives the chicken flesh a pinkish color.  I am not a chemist or an MD, but I would suspect that arsenic does not have a FDA recommended daily allowance in our diets.  :)  This article delves into why this practice was started.

Via Chemical & Engineering News:-"…one of the most puzzling practices of modern agriculture is the addition of arsenic-based compounds to most chicken feed. The point of the practice is to promote growth, kill parasites that cause diarrhea, and improve pigmentation of chicken meat. But Tyson Foods, the U.S.’s largest poultry producer, stopped using arsenic compounds in 2004, and many high-end and organic growers raise chickens quite successfully without them. What’s more, McDonald’s has asked its suppliers not to use arsenic additives, and the European Union banned them in 1999." Translation: since the 1950’s arsenic compounds…mostly Roxarsone—4-hydroxy-3-nitrobenzenearsonic acid

continue at

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