Thursday, June 29, 2006

New Vegetarian, Fish and Photography

Question For Savvy Vegetarian:

Hey! I just became a vegetarian because I saw the 'Meet Your Meat' video. When I told my mom I wanted to be a vegetarian, she asked me if I was still going to eat chicken and fish or not. At first I said no, but then I started thinking that if they're not being treated as bad as the pigs, cows, and chickens, then maybe I should start out eating fish then work my way off it. If I do end up eating fish, it will just be for a little while because I still think it's wrong to take them away from their homes and natural habitat. What do you think I should do as a starting vegetarian?

Savvy Veg Advice: I think you should take it easy, and gradually learn about vegetarian nutrition and how to cook vegetarian food. It takes a long time to become vegetarian, at least to do it right so you don't starve. So yes, it would be okay if you ate fish and eggs for a while, and gradually introduce new foods to replace them. The free reports I sent should be helpful.

I also had another question: Before I decided to be a vegetarian, I wanted to get into photography and developing pictures at home. But then I heard that the film contains gelatin (gross!) so now I'm having second thoughts about it. I was really interested in photography, and still am, but I don't know if those poor animals' lives would be worth the time and money. What do you think?

Savvy Veg Answer: Yes, film contains gelatin, but fortunately, there's digital photography. You can do all the same things with a digital camera, but - no film, no developing to pay for, you can edit your pictures on Photoshop and make them better, take 10 times more pictures at a time, and print your pictures. There's a big range of quality in digital cameras, from simple point and shoot to professional level - pick the one that works best for your budget and needs.

Good luck with your diet and your photography career! Let me know if you have more questions.

All the best,
Judy Kingsbury

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Indian Lacto-Veg Wants To Lose Weight

Question For Savvy Vegetarian:

I want to reduce about 10kg (22 lb). At present I am 85kg (195 lb) and aged 62 years having high blood pressure controlled with med. Sugar near border but ok generally.

Savvy Veg Advice:

Dear R.S.,

I hope you are under a doctor's care, regarding your diet. I can only give you the following general tips, as I am not a medical or nutritional advisor.

These are some widely accepted principles for weight loss: Reduce saturated fat, as in butter, ghee, coconut oil, milk and cheese. Use high quality cold-pressed, unprocessed vegetable oils in moderation. Reduce high fat foods such as tofu, panir, ghee, nuts, fried foods. Eat more fresh fruit, vegetables, salads, whole grains,and legumes. Drink herbal teas, fresh juices, or water, rather than carbonated, sweet or caffeinated drinks. Avoid sugar in general, and reduce salt. Follow an exercise program appropriate for your age and health, approved by your doctor.

All of the above may help you to lower your calorie intake, and gradually reduce weight, and may also have a good effect on blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Consult your doctor before modifying your diet.

I hope this helps - I've attached the SV Vegetarian Nutrition Report for you. Please let me know if you have more questions.

All the best,
Judy Kingsbury
Savvy Vegetarian

Friday, June 02, 2006

Do Yoga Teachers Have To Be Veg?

Question For Savvy Vegetarian:

I am going veggie, because I am going to become a yoga teacher. Part of the yogic lifestyle is vegetarianism.

When I eat a vegetarian meal, I am not usually satisfied. I feel like I'm eating side dishes with no entree. I try to include protein like cheese and nuts in my meals, but I'm still left unsatisfied. Any suggestions?

P.S. Going veggie is especially difficult for me because I'm pickey. I don't usually like vegetables after they've been cooked or heated. Can I live on cold salad? - M.P.

Savvy Veg Advice:

Dear M.P.,

It doesn't sound like you really want to go veg, M., but more that you think you should go veg, which isn't the best reason. I know many people who practice yoga and aren't complete vegetarians. Since you practice yoga, you should know that forcing your body to do something doesn't work.

If your conscience is stronger than your inclinations, then give yourself lots of time to make the transition - years maybe - while you explore all the veggie food possibilities and find a diet that works for you. You can live on cold salad if you want, but you don't have to! There's such a huge variety of delicious things to eat in a vegetarian diet.

All the best,
Judy Kingsbury
Savvy Vegetarian

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Family Makes Fun Of Veggie Lifestyle

Question For Savvy Vegetarian:

I need lots of help returning to a vegetarian lifestyle. My family makes fun of me, and I am lacking time to make elaborate meals. - L.M.

Savvy Veg Advice:

Dear L.M.,

You don't give your age, circumstances, or what your family situation is, although they sound like a typical family. Hardest on those they love! Try not to let them push your buttons - if there's no response, it's not nearly as much fun to make fun.

And it isn't necessary to make elaborate meals, or to go veg again overnight. Take it easy. If you're cooking for non-vegetarians, make one dish that you can eat, and/or add to - cheese, beans, nuts, tofu, tempeh, etc. Go for one dish meals, and set aside a portion without meat for yourself. If you make a veg stew or soup, grains, or beans, make extra and freeze serving size portions for yourself. Keep a few instant meals around for when you're pressed for time.

Check out Savvy Veg for recipes that are simple and easy to make, or get a cookbook like Nava Atlas's Five Ingredient Gourmet.

Thank you for subscribing to SV Updates. I've attached the SV Social Report as a Word document. I've also included the veg-nonveg report, thinking that it might be helpful to you.

All the best,
Judy Kingsbury,
Savvy Vegetarian

Friday, April 28, 2006

Going Veg With Food Allergies

Question for Savvy Vegetarian:

I am hoping you can help me with my dilemma. I want to become vegetarian, possibly vegan but I have medically verified allergies, some of which are life threatening, to almost every fruit, vegetable, nut, and seed that I have tried. What can I do? My situation has put me in a difficult position.- P.T.

Savvy Veg Advice:

Dear P.T.

I would imagine that your allergies seriously restrict your diet now, and I don't think that being vegetarian could make things worse. It's even possible your allergies could improve with a change in diet, especially if you went organic.

There's a book called the Food Allergy Survival Guide by vegans, Joanne Stepaniak and Dina Aronson, that I recommend. Sprouting could be useful for you. I think you'd be surprised at what you can do. There's such a wide variety of food available on a vegetarian diet -I'm optimistic that you could feed yourself.

I wouldn't say not to go vegan, but don't commit until you explore all your options.

All the best,
Judy Kingsbury
Savvy Vegetarian

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Does Vegetarian Diet Help Constipation?

Question for Savvy Vegetarian:

I am 26 yrs old and most of my life I have struggled with constipation, which led me to develop hemmoroids, I recently had them removed and the doctor has me drinking citrucel and metamucil, however these fiber supplements are hard for me to swallow, and I can't quite find the right balance in the pill form. I have been doing research on the vegetarian lifestyle and I would like to know if this would help me become healthier and feel better? - C.R.

Savvy Veg Advice

Dear C.R.,
Ouch! Poor you!
A vegetarian diet would definitely help, especially one that has a lot of liquid and fiber. In general, if you're prone to constipation, that means that you're a 'dry' or 'vata' person, in ayurvedic terms, and need a juicier diet. That means favoring fruits and vegetables, cooked grains, and legumes; also soups, stews, cooked cereal, salads, fresh fruit, juices, herbal teas, water etc. over drier and heavier foods. Easy on the cheese, chocolate, caffeine, too - they have a drying and binding effect.

There's a lot of research to support these suggestions, and I also know it works from my own experience. Adjusting my diet to my physical characteristics through Ayurveda was very helpful to me. Regular mild exercise like walking is good too.

Ayurvedic tips on constipation are available at MAPI (Maharishi Ayurvedic Products International)

Of course, you should check with your doctor before you make radical dietary changes while you recover from surgery.

I hope the SV 10 Tips and Nutrition Reports are helpful - please let me know how you're doing - Judy K. at Savvy Vegetarian

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Vegetarian Success Story - Weight Loss & Heart Health On a Veggie Diet

Letters Exchanged With Savvy Vegetarian:

From G.M. - Dear Judy,

Thank you for the encouragement. I have become a complete vegetarian - for almost 2 months now - and am doing very well. Perhaps some details about my health and the benefits I have experienced from a vegetarian diet might be helpful to some of your readers.

Two years ago I weighed at least 80 pounds more than I do now (I started avoiding the scales as my weight closed in on the 300 mark). My blood pressure was dangerously high (210/125) in spite of being on heavy medication. Six months ago I had a heart arrhythmia that the doctor (confirmed by a specialist and EKG) was very concerned about (cardio-vascular problems are very common in my family) As well, my blood pressure was stubbornly refusing to come down below 145/95 or 150/100 - in spite of eating only very moderate amounts of meat - although there was progress because the medication was gradually being reduced.

The doctor examined me today and after almost 2 months of eating no meat:

1. My blood pressure has dropped to 110/80 - excellent at any age but exciting for a guy who is almost 62. There has been no change in medication but I would expect to be able to get off medication totally - under the doctor's supervision - in the next year or less.

2. There is no evidence whatever of the arrhythmia

3. I have lost another 10 pounds and am within 20 pounds of normal weight.

I find it very surprising that the complete elimination of meat has made such a huge difference compared to the very limited meat diet I was on in the previous 2 years. I never thought that eliminating the last few ounces of meat each week from my diet would make such a huge difference.

Thank you again for your reports and for the encouragement. It's all very much appreciated. - All the best, G.

From Judy at Savvy Veg: Dear G.

This is wonderful news! And your letter will give lots of encouragement to people who are struggling with their weight! May I ask you something though? Besides going completely veg two months ago, can you describe any specific dietary changes, like adding more veggies or whole grains or beans, dropping dairy, or anything like that? Are you lacto veg, ovo-lacto veg, vegan?

From G.M. - Dear Judy,

I guess you would say I'm lacto-ovo but I eat eggs only once in a very great while and eat a bit of cheese once in a while. I never drink milk - haven't done so for many years. Is there such a category as "quasi-vegan"?!

Two things that I have found tremendously helpful in the transition to and maintenance of a vegetarian lifestyle are:

1. Lots of fresh fruits in the morning which makes a great start to the day (a delicious weight loss suggestion from the "Fit For Life" books by Harvey Diamond)

2. Lots of fresh made juices, especially vegetable juices - my personal favourite is carrot, beet and apple. The juices are both delicious and highly nutritious (lots of minerals and enzymes as well as other nutrients the scientists are discovering) so I don't feel any inner hunger. It definitely does take time to buy the vegetables and make the juices and it's not always possible when a busy life crowds out everything else. However, I really notice the difference when I don't have juices for a few days. If I have any "secret" to share it's definitely the value of fresh juices - without them I am sure I would have found the transition to a vegetarian diet much more difficult.

Hope this helps. All the best, G.

From Judy: Thanks again, G.!
You probably have no idea how much your writing can help others - SV gets many letters from people who are desperate to lose weight and wonder if vegetarianism is the answer.

Note From Savvy Vegetarian:
Of course I have to add my bit to what G. has said! Fresh fruits and veggie juices are excellent! So is fiber - it will make you full without lots of calories. So don't neglect raw and cooked whole fruit & veggies, lots of them, and whole grains like barley, quinoa, oats, bulgar wheat etc. (Carbs by themselves do not make you fat!) Sprouting is also a great way to bump the nutrients way up. FYI, Get the SV Vegetarian Nutrition Report and read the SV weight loss advice letters:

Final Note From G.M.
Thanks Judy - I hope it does help others. I have spent much of my life fighting - and, more often than not, giving up on - weight problems. My first big diet was at age 13 when I was 30% overweight (that diet was successful but it was very hard too). I don't know why vegetarianism works so well but I'm thrilled that it does!

Ask Savvy Vegetarian

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Valentine's Day Candy - Carob, Not Chocolate

Question for Savvy Vegetarian:

I would like to buy Valentine's Day chocolate for a woman, but she cannot digest chocolate. I know she uses carob chips as a substitute for chocolate chips and likes them, but I cannot find any carob based Valentine's Day candy. Where can I find nice Valentine's Day candy (not cheap kid's stuff) that isn't chocolate based? Does carob Valentine's Day candy exist? Thanks! - M.A.

Answer: Carob Valentine's Day Candy Exists!

First, try a natural food store - maybe call around to see if they have carob valentine candy or gift baskets including carob candy.

I looked online and found a few sites selling carob candy. These two were okay in a pinch: Goddess Chocolate, and Bulk Foods.

The best was Healthy Trader. They had a carob truffle valentine gift box for $15.89 + shipping, a little more for gift wrapping - look under February. If you order today and rush it, you should be able to get it in time for Valentine's Day.

Consider Other Options:

Take her out for dinnerat a restaurant of her choice.

Give her a beautiful card and roses (be aware that the flower industry is extremely non-fair trade, and uses more toxic chemicals than any other agricultural industry)

Maybe give her a gift, or gift certificate instead of the roses, or an organic fruit basket instead of candy.

Bake her a carob cake, if you're handy in the kitchen. If not, hire someone who is. SV's Valentine's Day Chocolate Cake was submitted to us as a carob cake, so it should work well if you substitute carob for chocolate. Hint: Buy a heart shaped cake pan.

Tell her how you feel about her - that's the best Valentine's gift of all!

Combine any of the above for a Happy Valentine's Day!

Judy at Savvy Vegetarian

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vegetarian Diet Without Weight Gain

Question for Savvy Vegetarian: How can I eat the proper veg diet with out weight gain?


Vegetarians tend to be thinner, on average, particularly vegans, but the same principles of weight loss apply to a vegetarian diet, as to a non-vegetarian diet. There are quite a few variables, but there are lots of ways to eat a proper, nutritious vegetarian diet without weight gain.

First, some of the main variables:

1. Your lifestyle and activity level: If you're physically active, especially if you spend time in outdoor activity every day, you won't have as much problem with weight gain, whether or not you're vegetarian, because you'll be burning calories as you eat them. Exercise is an inescapable component of weight control.

2. Vegetarian or Vegan: Vegans tend to be leaner, as a balanced vegan diet tends to be higher in fiber and lower in calories, because of the absence of dairy and egg. For example, beans and whole grains are protein staples of a vegan diet, and the protein/fat/carb balance in those foods fall more into the recommended balance of 10 - 20% protein, 15 - 35% fat, and 50 - 70% carbohydrate per 100 calories. Tofu being the exception. Nuts and seeds are very high in fats, but a little goes a long way, and they are prime sources of vital nutrients.

3. Your physical characteristics and metabolism: If you tend to gain weight, and be a slow moving, earth mother type, then you need to eat accordingly, and not like your friend who eats everything, never exercises, and is a stick. Ayurveda is based on the principle of three basic constitutional types, plus seasonal and life cycle variations, which means that you're unique, just like everybody else, and should cater to your unique individual needs.

Ways to control your weight on a vegetarian diet:

1. Favor vegan sources of protein. That doesn't mean you have to go all vegan, just go easy on the high fat, low fiber foods.

2. Make every calorie count, nutritionally, with high quality, fresh, organic whole foods, and very little processed food or instant food - that way you control the contents of your diet.

3. Maintain 50 - 70% of your diet in carbs, to keep your metabolism and your blood sugar steady and avoid food cravings.

4. Get plenty of liquids, especially warm liquids, like teas, but very little soda, cold or sweet drinks. Favor high liquid, but nutrient dense foods, like soups, salads and fruits.

5. Exercise daily, consistently, with at least 30 minutes of moderately vigorous excercise.

Dietary Don'ts:

1. Don't cut fats and carbs out of your diet. High protein diets of any kind are harmful. You still need a good protein/fat/carb balance. For more info on this topic, read the SV Article: Vegetarian Protein - Myth and Reality

2. Don't starve and binge, or adopt a punitive exercise routine that you can't maintain. Think long term, and be consistent. Have realistic expectations and goals. Size 4 may be unattainable, but last I heard, size 10 or even 12 was perfectly respectable.

3. Avoid extreme diets, like strict vegan, raw food, macrobiotic, or high protein, low carb diets. It's better to learn what your individual body needs, on a daily basis and go with that. Think sustainable.

4. Don't take diet pills, or other chemical or herbal weight loss aids. That goes right along with starving and binging.

5. Don't overeat - quit before you're full, don't snack, and eat light at night.

Here are some more thorough, detailed sources of information on a balanced vegetarian diet without weight gain:

1. The books 'Becoming Vegan', and 'The New Becoming Vegetarian', by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis - excellent and indispensible vegetarian nutrition primers - they cover the weight issue pretty well.

2. Anne Collins has a vegetarian weight loss diet support site, which seems sensible and reasonable, and costs $20 to join.

3. Ayurveda is an ancient system of preventative medicine from India, and there are some excellent guidelines for healthy eating and weight control. The MAPI site has some helpful suggestions - you don't have to buy the products.

Here's an article by Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf M.D., on ayurvedic weight loss. She's written several excellent ayurvedic books for women.

4. More SV Weight Loss Advice Letters:

Thanks so much for writing. Your question was short, but significant - I'm inspired to expand this letter into an article or report. I hope it has helped.

All the best, Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Will A Vegetarian Diet Help With Weight Loss?

Question for Savvy Vegetarian:

I am 40, 5'4" and currently weigh 220lbs. I am concerned about my weight obviously for health reasons and I'd like to fit into a normal size pair of jeans in this life time. Additionally I'd like to be healthy enough to play in the yard occasionally with my 10 year old son. I'm considering a change to a vegetarian diet, but have some reservations about going full blown vegan. Also how do you go about committing to a vegetarian diet in a house full of meat eaters? I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to eat nothing but vegetarian meals for a week...I truly enjoyed them and thought then that I might give it a try...I'm also concerned about the expense involved...vegetarian vs. "regular" diets and the cost. - M.A.

Advice From Savvy Vegetarian:

Dear M.A.,

You bring up a number of issues in your letter - let's take a look at them one at a time.

Vegetarian diet and Weight Loss: It can be easier to lose weight on a vegetarian diet, but it's also easy to gain weight, depending on what you eat. If you substitute large helpings of cheese, eggs and soy products for meat, and otherwise don't change your diet, being vegetarian won't help. And if you can change to a healthier diet that has more whole grains and veggies, and less calories, and exercise more, and maintain that consistently, you'll tend to lose weight, whether or not you are vegetarian.

Full Blown Vegan: In spite of the ethical and health benefits of a vegan diet, and the fact that vegans do tend to be thinner, I agree it's a bit much for most people to go completely vegan right off the bat, or make any sudden full scale dietary changes. In my opinion, it's better to change your diet gradually.

Being vegetarian in a house full of meat eaters: That's not as much of a problem as the general unhealthiness of a meat based diet. It's not just that people eat meat, but that they eat far too much meat, and not nearly enough, or often any, of whole grains, veggies, fruit, and plant based protein. If you could change your family's diet in that respect, it would make your life easier. I've attached another report for you, Veg and NonVeg Eat Together - veg/nonveg cohabition is one of the major topics.

The Expense: Again, it isn't a question of vegetarian vs non-vegetarian. A nutritionally superior diet can be more expensive than one that isn't. For example, organic food costs more. Better quality anything tends to cost more. BUT, processed food (frozen, canned, packaged - pre-cooked food, and fast food, or restaurant meals) always costs more, whether vegetarian, organic or not. And costs you your health - you are what you eat, etc. In my experience, it costs less to make your own food from scratch, with fresh quality ingredients, as well as being more satisfying and nourishing on all levels. And you have complete control over what you eat, which makes dieting easier.

I'm not an expert on weight loss; there are many aspects to consider, and I don't know what might apply to you. Also, you've indicated that this isn't just a matter of a few extra pounds for you - it's a serious health issue. Please find a professional who can help you put together a diet and exercise program that will work for you to gradually lose weight, and control your weight over the long haul. Gaining cooperation and support from your family would be a big plus, and again, you might need help with that, as in counselling.

As you say, the important thing for you is to lose weight, get healthy and improve your physical fitness. Whether or not you go vegetarian in the process is up to you, but a lot of doctors and dieticians agree it's a good direction to take for weight management. For a detailed reference on plant based nutrition I recommend 'The New Becoming Vegetarian' by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis, also 'Becoming Vegan', by the same authors - they also talk about weight control on a vegetarian diet.

I wish you all the best in meeting this challenge, I'll be thinking of you, and I hope you'll let me know how you're doing.

Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

11 Year Old Asks How To Go Vegetarian Successfully

Question for Savvy Vegetarian:

im only 11 and i am really wanting to be a vegetarian because i love animals and i hate the thought of them getting ate. my mom and all her friends are like no more steak no more corn beef hash no mom accepts it but i dont think my dad will. how do i get everyone to accept this. P.S. I've tried this before but never succeeded how do i succeed this time. - l.h

Advice From Savvy Vegetarian:

Dear l.h.,

That you're 'only 11' means you have lots of time to become a vegetarian. It also means that you still have lots of growing to do, and you need to be sure you're getting all the good nutrition you need for your growing. And any step in the veggie direction is positive for you and the animals.

If you read the ten tips report, you'll see that I emphasize making the change gradually, because there's a lot of new things to learn, and you need time to adjust. Just as it takes years of training and learning to be a good musician, or athlete, it takes time to get the knowledge and skills to be a successful vegetarian.

Your parents are responsible for your health and well being, and worry about you, so you need to come up with some solid information for them that will reassure them that you're not just being wierd and harming yourself with your veggieness.

If you want your parents to take you seriously, then you need to show them that you're willing to be responsible about your diet, and learn and do things for yourself. For instance, you could start learning to cook and shop vegetarian, and make some things that they can eat too.

o get a couple of good books - one on vegetarian nutrition (I recommend 'The New Becoming Vegetarian' by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis'), and an easy vegetarian cookbook - I recommend Nava Atlas's Vegetarian Family Cookbook, and her website, In a Vegetarian Kitchen. Ask your parents to read the books and visit the site with you.

Gradually reduce the animal food in your diet, and try new vegetarian foods as much as you can. One thing I want to really stress - you can't be a healthy vegetarian, and live on fast food and junk food - for instance, going to McD's regularly and eating everything but the patty. Most of what you eat should be good for you - vegetarians eat vegetables (and grains, and beans, and nuts).

I've attached the SV report you requested on Vegetarian Nutrition, and also the report 10 Tips for Beginning Vegetarians - I think that one will be helpful for you too. Please let me know if you have any questions about all this.

All the best, Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

Monday, January 16, 2006

Going Vegetarian With Four Year Old

Dad asks advice on vegetarian transition and nutrition with four year old.

Question For Savvy Vegetarian: My wife and I have both decided to change our lifestyle. Our main issue is our 4 year old son. We ate healthy before we decided to stop eating meat all together. I guess our concern now is will he be getting everything he needs and what to expect while were all adjusting. Any advice will be greatly apppreciated. - R.W.

Advice From Savvy Veg:

For the first part of your question - will he be getting everything he needs, the answer is yes, depending on several factors. You already have a healthy diet. If you are ovo-lacto vegetarians, if he has no food allergies or sensitivities, and if he's a 'good eater', he should easily get enough protein, Vit B12, and other essential nutrients.

If you are vegan, there's more of a challenge, and I recommend that you not jump straight into a vegan diet for your four year old. Those are all big ifs. Whatever the variables, if you don't already, I would consider giving him a kids daily vitamin. Rainbow Light makes an excellent chewable one.

For the second part of your question, what to expect while you're all adjusting, the answer is expect the transition to take much longer than you would think, and expect that there could be some going back and forth between veg and non-veg, for all of you. Don't expect your four year old to just get with the program and be happily vegetarian for the rest of his life. That could happen, in which case, congratulations on your saintly child!

My experience with four year olds is that they are distinctly individual, and have formed definite opinions about what they want to eat. Ultimately, it will be up to him whether he goes vegetarian for the rest of his life - don't make it an issue in your relationship.

Take it slow and easy introducing new foods. Make it fun, get him involved in food prep, shopping, meal planning, and encourage his cooperation by giving him choices and rewards. When it's easy and welcomed by him, introduce the concepts behind vegetarianism, being careful not to overwhelm or frighten him - think education, not indoctrination. (I know of one father who showed his young children pictures of slaughterhouses - it gave them nightmares for years)

Here's a few resources for you:

Nava Atlas, of Vegetarian Kitchen, has a lot of kid friendly info and recipes on her site, and several excellent family oriented vegetarian cookbooks.

Many of the Savvy Veg recipes are kid friendly. See the basic recipe section, particularly tofu and beans. We'll be adding salads in the next few days.

I've also attached another SV Report, 10 Tips for Beginning Vegetarians.

Find more vegetarian advice letters

Regardless of what I or anybody else thinks, you are responsible for your child and his upbringing, and must follow your own feelings and best judgement with regard to his diet. As with all parenting, there isn't really a map or a manual, except in your own hearts.

I hope this has helped. All the best to you and your family,
Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

Friday, January 13, 2006

Jeffrey M. Smith, Seeds of Deception, Noseweek

For anyone who hasn't heard of
Jeffrey M. Smith, he's a global leader in the fight against GMO's in our food supply. He wrote a best seller, Seeds of Deception, an expose of the GMO industry, which should be required reading everywhere.

Jeffrey Smith has been touring the world, tirelessly fighting GMO's, writing, lecturing, giving interviews, debating, etc. He's a true hero. Lately, he's been in South Africa, where South African investigative magazine Noseweek ran a five-page interview

Excerpt from the Noseweek Interview:

Noseweek: Scientists representing the biotech industry claim that GM foods have been extensively tested and are safe. They say that anti-GM campaigners like you are unscientific and base their arguments on emotion. Can you comment?

J M Smith: A recently published linguistic analysis of biotech advocates concludes what many of us have observed for years. Using unscientific, emotional, and even irrational arguments, GM proponents attack critics as unscientific, emotional and irrational. In reality, critics demand more science, not less. We demand facts, not PR hype.

From Jeffrey Smiths' newsletter,

Spilling the Beans:

J M Smith: Hans Lombard, a public relations consultant for the biotech industry, wrote a rebuttal to Noseweek that was pure industry spin. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to respond. Both his letter and a condensed version of mine were published side by side in their January issue. The magazine put my full response on its website.

(Here is) the text of Lombard’s letter, broken up so that I can respond to each accusation. As this is quite long, it will be sent in three parts over a few days. If you prefer to read the whole thing at once, it is posted at Seeds of Deception.

The shortened version that was published is available with graphics and photos.

Excerpt from Jeffrey Smiths rebuttal to Hans Lombard's letter:

Hans Lombard: GMO Food Safer Than Conventional: Allegations by Jeffrey Smith of 'dangers and health risks' to humans and animals posed by GMO food in the article: 'Rammed Down Our Throats, Noseweek, September 2005' are blatant lies. Shocking, misleading information with no substantiated scientific evidence.

What he failed to tell us is that his so-called 'best seller' book condemning GMO crops which he hawked around South Africa has not received the backing of any academy of science or medicine, any faculty of agriculture/science, or any agricultural research institute anywhere in the world.

J M Smith: Hans Lombard, a public relations man paid to 'hawk' GM foods around South Africa, provides a superb example of industry spin. He attacks so-called 'lies' and 'misleading information' using nonexistent safety tests that passed with flying colors, false attributions to national academies and unsupported safety claims. It is a pleasure to respond to these accusations.

'So-called' best seller without 'backing'... Seeds of Deception is the world’s bestselling book on GM foods and rated number one on the subject by the
Ecologist. It documents attempted bribes, fired and threatened scientists, hijacked regulatory agencies, cover-ups, rigged research, and the ways in which industry manipulation and political collusion got genetically modified (GM) foods approved. It also explains why the foods threaten our health.

Subscribe to Spilling the Beans

Order Seeds of Deception

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sustainable Agriculture Through Vegetarianism

Greetings from Savvy Veg,

We have lots of visitors, thanks to Editor Harlan Weikle shoving us out in the blogosphere, but nobody's asked for advice in a while. I like to think they're finding what they need in the indexed advice letters
Or maybe vegging isn't their thing.

Anyway, I took the time to write an article about something that's been on my mind - sustainable ag thru veggieness. Here's the intro:

If vegetarianism were common, agriculture would be effortlessly and automatically sustainable.

How? Most food grown would be organic and non-GMO, and much more food would be locally grown, rather than imported and trucked thousands of miles – those things tend to be important to vegetarians. Processed food would be reduced, because optimum vegetarian nutrition comes from whole foods in their natural state, and most vegetarians are interested in a healthy diet. So, much of the energy that goes into producing, packaging, warehousing and transporting processed food would be saved.

Vegetables and grains need much less land and water than animals, so it wouldn't be necessary to destroy rain forests or irrigate arid land, or create deserts with over pasturing. Perhaps just enough animals could be raised to satisfy the ovo-lacto vegetarians, and those few people who haven't quite made the vegetarian transition, but even they would consume far less meat, for the sake of their health.

Reading through various articles and books on sustainability, I've noticed that this concept isn't necessarily obvious to a lot of sustainable ag experts, mainly because they aren't vegetarian, and can't picture agriculture without lots of animals. They are reluctant to be associated with what they regard as a fringe group of cranks, eccentrics and wierdos. In other words, they can't think outside their meat-eating box.

Read Sustainable Agriculture Through Vegetarianism

Saturday, January 07, 2006

World Change

Feeling Philosophical About World Change This Evening:

Recently I've been raiding the alternative mags at the local library - disappointed they don't have e-magazine. Guess I'll have to break down and buy it. The reason for this sudden reading binge is to compile a list of prospective green sponsors for Savvy Veg and friends, although I couldn't help but read some articles too.

The ads and the articles taken together over the course of several days in Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, Natural Home, Mothering, Vegetarian Times, Acres USA, Yoga Journal, Body and Soul etc. had quite an effect on me. (By the way, are you impressed we have all those magazines in our little library in Fairfield IA? I am!)

Anyway, in spite of all the **** that's happening all over the world, and living in a country that's a global disgrace, all these people who produce the magazines, write for them, read them, advertise in them, have a huge collective desire for a better world, and are all doing whatever they can as individuals to make it happen. And of course they all have websites!

There are the vegetarians, the homesteaders, the moms, the environmentalists, the alternative energy types, the sustainable builders, the activists, the organic farmers, the green manufacturers - bleeding heart liberal tree huggers, who don't care if their phones are tapped. In spite of the apparent trends, they have faith, they're cheerful, they persevere, and work, and find joy in the process. Sort of Mary Poppins by way of Monty Python!

But maybe you've heard that saying, where did it come from - the Upanishad's maybe - 'The World Is As You Are'. There's a huge upswelling of 'right action' in the world, which comes from - what? Growth of consciousness, epiphany, religious experience, natural law, evolution? Who knows! But thanks! We'll take it!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Watching As The World Vanishes

Re: Article by Roxana Robinson, Published on Sunday, January 1, 2006 by the Boston Globe, reprinted by Common Dreams

I subscribe to Common Dreams newsletter, and it's almost always grim and depressing, as in "Yes, our not-so-duly elected government is still lying like a sidewalk, trashing the environment, enslaving the third world, and we're still doing Iraq twenty ways to Sunday, and it's painful and let's wallow." I think I read it so I don't forget why we have to be idealistic, not cynical, and keep trying to make the world a better place.

I'm rewarded for my persistence by gems like Roxana Robinson's article. This thoughtful, far-seeing plea for action is about the disappearance of half the species on the planet by the year 2050, and how nobody did much to stop it, because it's always someone else's responsibility, or fault. As Ms Robinson says, "Maybe this was a place where the curves of ignorance, courage, and survival instinct intersected, to exclude the possibility of action." The point, I think, is that evolution is inevitable, but rarely voluntary.

At the start of the new year, we always resolve to reform, to fix things, such as the fact that we're 10 lbs overweight and really need to exercise more. This year, let's trim the fat from our lifestyles, exercise our consciences, and fix the
future. Why not!

Judy Kingsbury
Savvy Vegetarian

Read 'Watching As The World Vanishes'

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Make Tofu Appetizing Instead of Disgusting

Note: Things have been a little slow in the advice dept over the holidays - people are too busy practising peace on earth and goodwill toward men to worry about their diets or much else, so I've dipped into the archives for a recent advice letter. Happy Veggie New Year to you all! - Judy

Dear Savvy Vegetarian,

I have been an strict ovo-lacto for about 10 years now and have never been able to find a way to cook tofu with a pleasant consistancy. Not to be offensive and disgusting but whenever I make it, my husband (a meat-eater) and I joke that the texture is like brain-matter. Am I doing something wrong??? I have tried freezing and draining, but it has been a while since I have attempted and have forgetten tips I have researched previously. I have an 11 month old who I am very afraid is lactose intolerant and has a nut allergy so I would really love to learn how to cook tofu in a way that my whole family will be able to eat together. Thank you!! - P.S.

Advice From Savvy Veg:
Dear J.W.,

I think I can help you!

First, tofu shouldn't be frozen, then thawed and drained. That definitely contributes to the brain matter appearance. It makes it more like meat in texture, but also dry and tasteless. Plus, it's way more work than you need to do!

Here are a few simple things to do with tofu that your baby will probably like, and you too I hope:

The number one tofu tip is the fresher the better. The ideal is made today by your local tofu maker - it tastes wonderful! Failing that, favor organic, get some that isn't anywhere close to it's sell-by date, and use it quickly. Avoid the vacuum pack keep forever varieties.

If you need to use only part of a brick, drain, rinse, and submerge what's left in fresh water, store in a sealed container in the fridge for no more than a few days. Rinse again before using.

Small children will eat tofu straight up, raw, sliced, but since it's raw, it should at least be steamed, to kill bacteria, and prevent gas.

Use firm tofu for the following recipes. If it seems too soft, you can wrap in a dishtowel, and press it with a brick or pan of water, or something heavy to squeeze out excess water, just for 10 - 15 minutes.

Slice the firm tofu in 1/2 x 1" pieces, marinate for a few minutes in Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce, then fry both sides til crispy. Kids love this, and you can toss the pieces into pasta, rice, casseroles, stir fries etc.

For more adult tastes, add spices like ginger, cumin, etc to the marinade, OR use a spicy marinade, then stir fry with veggies OR add an Indian or Oriental spiced sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.

Cut tofu in 1/2" slices, or in 1" sticks or fingers, marinate and bake or broil, serve with a grain and vegetables or salad. If you want to get fancy, coat with fine dry bread or cracker crumbs first. Great with catsup!

Add raw sliced tofu to any veggie dish, or sauce. It'll soak up the flavors. It goes well with stir fried greens. Especially if you throw in a few spices, like cumin, turmeric, ginger, hing.

There's a few tofu recipes on Savvy Vegetarian. E.G., tofu burgers, which have been a weekly staple at our house for many years.

Tofu is so simple it almost doesn't require recipes, but still, we'll be adding more tofu recipes very soon! Regarding the nut allergy, babies generally don't tolerate nuts well until age 2 - 3 anyway. You may do better with nuts later on.

Let me know how it goes, and Happy Vegging

All the Best,
Judy Kingsbury, Savvy Veg