In September of 2015, I became a nutrition teachers for the non-profit, the Coalition for Healthy School Food. I taught fifteen classes of second, third, fourth and fifth graders about eating better in four different high need schools. The Coalition does heroic work because our young people are suffering from a diet heavy in candy, soda and processed food.
The first step in my training was taking an online Cornell University class called "Plant Based Nutrition". During the course, I found out about the health hazards, environmental destruction and ethical violations that result from eating meat, dairy and eggs. By October, I was eating plants exclusively.
* Plants come in five categories:
nuts & seeds
legumes (beans, peanuts, lentil & chickpeas)
* Neither teachers nor doctors learn about nutrition in school or during their post-graduate professional development. We need to become informed because we cannot rely on others to provide accurate information about food.
* Some examples:
My father, a physician, died from eating a high animal fat, high saccharine diet that resulted in hypertension, type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
A doctor I was eating with said there was no relationship between diet and cancer. He then covered his food in salt, so much that it looked like there was snow on his food.
My own doctor became curious about adopting a plant-based diet after he saw that my cholesterol dropped, and I reported having more energy. He asked me about the details and is considering trying it. He knew nothing about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams had severe type 2 diabetes. After visiting Dr. Esselstyn (President Clinton's cardiologist) at the Cleveland Clinic, he began eating plants only, no oil and no added sugar. He did not take ANY insulin or other diabetes medication. He cooks all of his own meals. Within three months of his diagnosis, his diabetes was gone.
As I taught my 580 students about healthy eating, the teachers were frequently at the back of the room eating unhealthy foods like chips and drinking soda. Teachers are as educated or uneducated about nutrition as the rest of us.
Who benefits from the teachers' and doctors' lack of knowledge? The more diseases we contract, the richer the healthcare, insurance and pharmaceutical industries become. As we eat ourselves into an early grave, the profits fill their pockets!
* How do I feel since I stopped eating animals and animal products?
Higher energy, sick less often, lowered cholesterol, & improved digestion.
* Have I lost weight?
Yes, and I eat as much as I want, as often as I want.
* How about sugar?
Added sugar (not the sugars naturally present in plants) is highly toxic for our bodies. The only sweets I eat are those I bake, including banana bread, carrot cake and zucchini bread. As a substitute for animal milk, I use unsweetened soy milk. For each egg called for in recipes, I use 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tablespoons of water. Instead of butter, I use refined coconut oil.
Occasionally, I eat Ben & Jerry's non-dairy frozen desserts. There are seven flavors. Let them sit out of the freezer for 5 minutes before eating. They're tastier than real ice cream, especially the coffee caramel fudge.
* Our digestive systems resemble herbivores, not carnivores.
* Health problems resulting from eating meat, dairy and eggs include cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, impotence, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and strokes.
* In a study of Dr. Esselstyn's heart disease patients who adopted an oil-free, added sugar-free, plant-based diet, 100% of them reversed their heart disease and had no heart attacks during a 5 year longitudinal study. 1 in 4 Americans deaths (610,000 people) are from heart disease every year.
* The average American eats 33 spoonfuls of sugar each day. The average American child eats over 40 spoonfuls per day. We are only supposed to eat a maximum of 6 spoonfuls per day. 6 grams = 1 teaspoon. A can of Coke has 9 spoonfuls of sugar. You can take this quiz to see how sugar savvy you are.
* Half of people under 18 are predicted to contract type two diabetes in their lifetimes, based on their current diet that is overflowing with added sugar, processed foods and animal products. Diabetes is a pandemic.
* Americans do not eat enough plants. Only 14% of American adults consume at least 2 servings of fruit and at least 3 servings of vegetables daily. What passes as a serving of vegetables can be french fries (hot oil is a carcinogen. Fried foods are toxic for our bodies) or apples in an apple pie. The dairy and sugar cancel out the health benefits from the apples.
We could do an apple taste test, found out our favorites and eat one or more each day. The inside of our bodies will smile!
* Why cut out dairy? This video says it all. Dairy products WEAKEN our bones by removing calcium from them. The dairy industry is no longer allowed to lie and say that milk builds strong bones. Now they claim to be a good source of protein. Animal protein is not as healthy as plant protein. Much of what we were taught about nutrition ("Milk builds strong bones.") belongs in the dustbin along with those old "cigarettes are great for your health." advertisements that we laugh at now.
* Why not eat fish? Fish are high in cholesterol, just as high as poultry or steak. Often fish and shellfish are scooped up after a detonation of a coral reef that paralyzes or kills sea life that floats to the surface. The seafood is sometimes processed by enslaved people from countries in Southeast Asia.
* And poultry? I could keep going. Aside from the arsenic in 70% of chicken meat, just like all animal products, it's bad news for our bodies. Basically, I don't eat anything with eyes, except potatoes.
* What is Cholesterol? A crumbled-up, waxy, blobby fat that sticks to the walls of our vessels.
All animal products are cholesterol laden foods.
No plants have cholesterol.
* A common myth is that soy products cause cancer. Below is a quote from WebMD:
"In one study of more than 73,000 Chinese women, researchers found that those who ate at least 13 grams of soy protein a day, roughly one to two servings, were 11% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who got less than 5 grams.
“In Asian cultures, where people eat a lot of soy from a young age, there are lower rates of breast cancer,” Meyers says. And in those societies, people still eat soy in its traditional forms.
Meanwhile, another analysis of eight studies showed that those who got the most soy isoflavones -- about the amount in a serving of tofu - were 29% less likely to get the disease compared to those who got the least.
“As part of a healthy diet, whole soy foods are safe,” says Denise Millstine, MD, director of integrative medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ."
* My favorite websites:
Dr. Michael Greger's Nutrition Facts - Dr. Greger reads the research and creates super informative short videos.
Jenne Claiborne's Sweet Potato Soul - Great cooking guidance.
What do I eat most days?
I try to maximize cinnamon, tumeric, fresh herbs and other spices in my diet for their amazing health benefits.
2 cups of coffee with unsweetened soy milk.
1 packet of "Nature's Path organic flax plus oatmeal" microwaved with water for 75 seconds with cinnamon sprinkled on top
Sometimes I add a couple spoonsfuls of my homemade granola to my cooked oatmeal. When preparing the granola, instead of the egg white, I use 1/2 tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with 1 and a half tablespoon of water. I use maple syrup instead of agave.
Boiled cubed potatoes
Salad with ingredients like sweet potatoes, quinoa, wild rice, broccoli, cauliflower, seeds, nuts, beans, grilled tofu, raw beets, & homemade dressing
A slice of whole grain bread
Soup like lentil, vegetable or split pea
Medjool dates, apples, nuts, seeds, dried fruit
A mix of nuts & seeds I roast and then add to melted dark chocolate to make amazing bark. The bark solidifies on my kitchen counter.
Dried sour cherries, dried apricots and unsweetened cranberries in my homemade granola
A Starch (boiled potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, couscous)
A Legume (beans, chickpeas, lentils). Fry some onion, garlic or shallots in 1.5 Tablespoons of oil. When they are as cooked as you like, add the canned, rinsed legume. Season as you like.
Instead of a legume, sometimes I make fake meat like faux Italian sausage or sauteed tofu. For the legumes or other proteins, we can get creative and create any flavoring dressing or sauce. Explore & experiment with some cool recipes.
A Green, Vegetable that I make on the stovetop. Ideas include:
Steamed artichoke dipped into Veganaise mixed with hot sauce
Steamed broccoli with soy sauce, sriracha, rice vinegar and a couple drops of sesame oil. Combine ingredients in a proportion that tastes good to you.
Warmed up frozen green peas or spinach. After they are ready to eat, add the juice from 1 lemon, 1 Tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper. You can also add fresh herbs if you have them because they are supremely healthy. Sometimes I fry up extra onions and add to the vegetable at the end.
Roasted Vegetables - Cut up vegetable(s) into coarse, large chunks,. Put in roasting pan. Add unpeeled garlic, sliced onion or sliced shallots, fresh herbs if you have some, salt, pepper, 2-3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil. Roast at 450 degrees between 20-40 minutes. You can squeeze out the roasted garlic, delicious in both dressings and sauces.
Vegetables that work well: I love cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms (prepare in their own dish, because they are watery), sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and carrots. For eggplant, use extra oil.
You can roast one or many vegetables in your pan. Check cooking times on the internet. Mix it up. Make what you already like and try new ones too.
A Whatever-You-Have Salad. Throw in some sliced avocado, radishes, fresh corn, raw beet, tomatoes, cucumber. chickpeas, hearts of palm, raw mushrooms, carrots, raw shallots (cut from small), beans, raw or roasted nuts and seeds. Let your guests add a homemade favorite dressing at the table. Most of the time, no dressing is needed because the raw vegetables add crunch and flavor when eaten with the other foods.
I eat unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
Here's a study that shows us that the more fruit we eat, the better!
I've only been a pure plant eater for 2.5 years. I'm learning more every day.