Celebrate Earth Day, Go Vegan!

 

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I’ve been hearing lots of people talking about Earth Day, and the truth is, I honestly feel as though my diet and lifestyle celebrate the Earth and all of her beauty every day. Since I have a plant-based diet, I know I am making healthier choices for myself and leaving kinder footsteps on the Earth. Plus, I’m pretty sure that animals are very happy that I love to play with them and not eat them :).

I believe that one of the best ways that we can take care of ourselves and our planet is to cut down on our meat consumption. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund states that, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads” – wow! Imagine what participating in Meatless Monday might do. Or, better yet, going meat-free for an entire week. Or forever! There is no denying that a vegetarian diet would save countless lives and help save the environment.

If you are interested in knowing how a vegan diet may benefit your health, read about Loma Linda University’s Adventist Health Study-2. The study started in 2002 and followed 69,120 Seventh-day Adventists; what’s special about this study is that people were divided into several categories (non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and vegan) based on their responses to a questionnaire that asked them how often they eat over 200 different kinds of food, so researchers were really able to determine how certain foods affect our health. In the end, researchers concluded that vegans have an overall reduced cancer risk – yay! Vegetarians had less gastrointestinal cancer, especially among lacto-ovo-vegetarians (those who do not consume any meat products, but eat dairy and eggs); and there were less cases of female specific cancers in the vegan group. I would also encourage everyone to read T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health. I could go on and on about the health benefits of veganism, but I want to share more on how eating meat is hurting us and our planet.

We are currently using too many of our resources to feed livestock that are being bred for the sole purpose of consumption. These animals are confined to tiny cages and are forced to “live” in miserable, filthy, inhumane conditions. The majority of meat sold in stores comes from factory farms, so if you eat chicken, eggs, beef, turkey, and/or pork, you are contributing to the suffering of animals and to the increase in greenhouse-gas emissions that we have been experiencing for years. In fact, PETA reports that, “a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is” – that’s crazy!

If you’ve been thinking about reducing your meat and dairy consumption, consider making a delicious, vegan smoothie for breakfast. Enjoy a yummy veggie burger or scrumptious tempeh bowl or even a chickpea salad for lunch, and a vegan quiche, shepherd’s pie, sushi, sautéed Brussels sprouts, green beans, tortilla soup, or roasted sweet potatoes for dinner. If you think you’ll miss all of your favorite foods, enjoy these vegan nachos with friends and/or family members for a delicious appetizer. Last night I made vegan chocolate covered strawberries and they were amazing! I meant to make them for Easter, but I felt that we had so much food already, so I waited to have more treats later and they were worth it! I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips and the organic strawberries that I bought from the farmers’ market on Sunday. I wish that I would have taken a picture, but they were gone so quickly after my boyfriend and I made them! I used to have such a sweet tooth, but after switching to a cleaner, plant-based diet that’s filled with fresh, healthy foods, I indulge in sweets on special occasions, instead of constantly reaching for chocolate like I used to.

I have lots of people in my life who love ice cream, so I set out on a hunt to find a vegan ice treat that’s not filled with GMOs, artificial colors/flavors, and other junk. I discovered Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss and it’s amazing! I know that some people think that vegan foods are bland, but that’s just not true. I want people to explore more plant-based options, and it’s important to me that people enjoy what they’re eating.

Since I am a Health Coach and I believe in the healing power of food, remember to fill your plate with lots of greens, such as organic kale, organic spinach, broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, and more. Explore new whole grains such as organic quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, organic brown Jasmine rice, and much more. Make smoothies, eat lots of fruit when it’s in season, and indulge in your favorite veganized treats every once in a while. You will feel so much lighter, healthier, refreshed, and at peace knowing that you are doing what’s best for yourself and the environment. Start slowly. Skip the eggs and bacon for breakfast and have a smoothie, oatmeal, beans and rice, miso soup, or something else that you would enjoy. Instead of getting a beef burrito from Chipotle, try a vegan bowl filled with brown rice, beans, vegetables, guacamole, and salsa. Have a bbq with tons of veggies and skip the meat. It’s easier than you think. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Happy Earth Day!

Need Electrolytes? Eat Celery!

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Many people, especially athletes, reach for Gatorade or a similar sports drink to replace electrolytes in their bodies. But did you know that since celery is so rich in vitamins and minerals, you can eat celery or add it to a smoothie or even juice it instead and it will work just as well as these not-so-good-for-you drinks? Celery is an amazing source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K. Since celery also has a healthy amount of vital minerals such as magnesium, potassium, folate, manganese, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium, it’s a great choice for adding to salads, smoothies, juices, and more. Celery also has many amino acids, including  all 9 essential amino acids and it has been known to help lower blood pressure. Carrots were the go-to vegetable to be used as the base for juices, but since celery is so detoxifying and has been known to have a calming effect on our nervous system, celery is being more and more. (Also, when carrots are juiced, they have a high glycemic index, which is not ideal for many people.) With all of these vitamins and minerals, it’s no wonder why more people are making sure to eat this delicious, crunchy, vegetable – and you should, too!

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Other Ways to Enjoy Celery
In addition to adding celery to salads, smoothies, and juices, you can also try making this childhood favorite: celery filled with peanut butter! You can add any nut butter you want (even a homemade one if you want to get extra fancy :)) and enjoy! I also like to chop up vegetables and dip them in hummus, so maybe you can try that as well. The great thing about celery is that you can do so many things with it.

I always encourage my clients to try new things: eat healthy foods they’ve never had before, make a new recipe, join a fun exercise class, take a dance break in the middle of the day, and much more; perhaps adding celery to your diet can be a new thing for you to try. If you can, purchase organic celery, because this is one of the items that’s on the dirty dozen list.

Toss those sports drinks and reach for celery instead!