WebSpotlight: JackNorrisRD.com

veganstirfryWhen it comes to nutrition and health information, vegans have to be extra careful — not because it’s more difficult to eat healthfully on a plant-based diet than with an omni diet (because it’s usually actually easier) — but because many people who want to justify their poor eating choices will look for any excuse to dismiss the health benefits of a vegan diet.

Additionally, for vegan advocates who want to spread the good word about the many positive reasons to go veg, it can sometimes be tempting to spread information that hasn’t been properly verified, or to exaggerate health claims a little bit — not through any desire to intentionally deceive, but because of a deep passion for people, animals and the planet.

With a news media that regularly prints health and nutrition stories that contradict each other, that focus on a tiny detail rather than the larger context, and that mislead and sensationalize, it’s important to have veg health information you can feel confident is accurate and credible.

That’s one reason I’m really excited that Jack Norris, Registered Dietician and President of Vegan Outreach (one of my all-time favorite non-profit groups) has started his own blog with “news for vegan advocates and those eating plant-based diets.” Vegan Outreach (VO) is well-known for working hard to ensure that their information is accurate and credible; many of their quotes and statistics come from industry sources. As part of VO, Jack has a website, VeganHealth.org, which provides great information for those interested in the health aspects of a vegan diet. Now Jack’s blog will provide more frequent health information, analyze recent research, and answer questions. His blog has just started, but already he has tackled a great question — one that many people have asked me: “How can I get plant protein without soy?”

If you’re interested in or concerned about vegan health, be sure to bookmark this blog or subscribe to his RSS feed.

~ Marsha

Thanks to Vegan.com for the heads up.

The Protein Primer

Man chomping another man\'s head. Where do you get your protein?“Where do you get your protein?” If you’re vegan, your eyes probably ache from all the times you’ve rolled them from getting that most-frequent of questions. If you’re not vegan, you probably wonder, “Where do vegans get their protein?” and “Isn’t protein from animals better?”

Kathy Freston, author of the new Quantum Wellness, which is what helped spark Oprah to take her 21-day cleanse, posted a column today on the Huffington Post about this very issue. “Getting Past the ‘Protein Myth’” outlines the details about why protein isn’t the big deal people make it out to be, and just where vegans do get their protein. As Freston says, “I get my protein the same way everyone else does — I eat!”

Whether you’re vegan or not, it’s important to expand our knowledge about the nutrients we need, how to get them, and the effects on our bodies of getting these nutrients from different sources. Below are a sampling of reputable sources for more information about protein and other nutrients. If you’re vegan, please consider reading up so that you can give knowledgeable, accurate responses to people who have questions (and challenges). Omnivores (or, as I like to call you, pre-vegans :)), please consider reading up so that you can make well-informed choices about what you put into your body and how it can help, or harm you.

These resources focus solely on the health aspects of a vegan diet.

VeganHealth.org, the site by Vegan Outreach co-founder/President and Registered Dietician includes basic information about protein and other essential nutrients for following a healthy, plant-based diet.

The Vegetarian Resource Group has several articles about veg nutrition, written by Reed Mangels, Ph.D, R.D.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has several downloadable articles about nutrition.

Of course, there are a variety of excellent books on veg health. Two such titles are The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell and Becoming Vegan by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis.

And, straight from the American Dietetic Association, which isn’t a pro-veg group, is the 2003 position paper on vegetarian diets.

And remember two of the important tenets of MOGO: critical thinking and accurate information. If you read that soy is evil or that milk is the best source of calcium, or that fish are the best source of omega-3s, or that vegans never get sick or gain weight, be sure to check a variety of reputable sources. (It’s also fun to read all the comments to Freston’s post with a critical and thoughtful eye.)

~ Marsha

Photo courtesy of pinguino.

Oprah’s On! (A 21-Day Vegan Cleanse)

BlueberriesIt’s becoming a growing celeb trend to try a vegan lifestyle, but when Natalie Portman or Clint Eastwood announce they’re walking the vegan talk, hoards of folks do not follow suit. But. Recently, Oprah announced that she’s starting a 21-day cleanse that includes adopting a diet free of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and animal products. And, whenever Oprah reads or tries something, a whole lotta people pay attention.

Part of the impetus for the cleanse is to help her spiritually evolve. In her first blog post, Oprah mentions Quantum Wellness author Kathy Freston talking about being a “conscious eater.” Oprah says:

“She speaks of “spiritual integrity.” How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony? So this 21-day cleanse gives me a chance to think about it differently and see what my attachments are to certain kinds of foods—and what I’m willing to do to change.”

On Oprah’s blog you can follow along her journey, see sample recipes and menus, share your story or join an online discussion.

How exciting that such a renowned figure worldwide is publicly trying a healthy and humane diet!

~ Marsha

(Thanks to Vegan.com for the heads up about Oprah’s challenge.)