The Plant Rx

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Posts Tagged ‘Lifestyle Choices’

Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!

Posted by Jenn on April 13, 2011


The Plant-based health study concluded on March 15th.  Since then we have been testing our participants and gathering the final results and we are just about ready to present them all to you.  In the meantime, we will have some special posts on the individual participant’s results and their thoughts on participating in the study now that it is over.

 

Today I am very excited to present to you  Vanessa’s study results!

 

Vanessa's Plant-based Health Study Results

Vanessa entered our study as a 30 year old Dental student (who btw, is now a licensed Dentist! Congrats, Vanessa!) who consumed a Standard American Diet (SAD).  She was thin with a very good BMI.  Her pre-study lab work showed that she had hyperlipidemia with a total blood cholesterol of 255 (anything over 200 is considered “high”) and an LDL cholesterol of 130 (anything above 130 is considered “high”).  Her HDL values were phenomenal, among the best I’ve ever seen, and her triglycerides were also very good as was her A1C value.

After 30 days on a plant-based diet, Vanessa’s total cholesterol dropped from 255 to 206.  A 49 point drop! Her LDL cholesterol dropped from 130 to 86.  A 44 point drop!  These reductions almost brought her into acceptable blood cholesterol ranges.  Her LDL was now considered well within normal ranges and her Total Cholesterol was now only 6 points above what is considered to be the “normal” range.  All other values remained fairly constant including her weight and BMI.

After another 30 days (at the 60 day conclusion of our study), the results were even MORE impressive! Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol dropped another 28 points to 178! Further, her LDL cholesterol dropped an additional 28 points to 58! Talk about impressive!  In 60 days, Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol went from 255 to 178, a 77 point decrease! Her LDL Cholesterol went from 130 to 58, a 72 point decrease!  Thus, not only does Vanessa NO LONGER HAVE HYPERLIPIDEMIA, but she cut her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) more than in half!

As if that weren’t enough, her LDL values are now below what even Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn would consider safe and cardio-protective from the likes of heart disease and its co-morbidities!  Great job, Vanessa!

To read about Vanessa’s journey visit Vanessa’s Page under the Plant-based Health Study tab. Her final labs will also be posted on the main Plant-based Health Study page by weeks end in the interest of transparency.  Additionally, her final post and thoughts on her experience after getting her final results have been pasted below for you to read.

Please join me in thanking Vanessa for participating in our study as well as congratulating her on her amazing results!

Vanessa’s Final Post

(March 29, 2010)

The plant-based diet study has been over now for a few weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been keeping a strict plant-based diet since then, but that is not the case.  However, I am still keeping a diet which is predominantly plant-based.   I would say that over the course of two days, I might have one meal that includes some form of dairy.  Meat is a different story – I’ve never been a big meat-eater, so I don’t have as strong of a desire to include it back into my diet.

However, today may have been a game changer!

I just received the results from my final blood work and I am SHOCKED at the results.  I was pretty happy at the midpoint blood work when my LDL went down so significantly.  However, I had blood work done back in September that produced similar results.  I was happy that my cholesterol improved, but I honestly thought that things would probably plateau around these levels. Totally wrong! My LDL levels continued to plummet during the last 30 days.   My LDL levels went from 130 at the beginning of the study to 58! So now I feel like I need to rethink things…  I had originally decided that I didn’t want to completely eliminate all traces of dairy from my diet – a minimal amount would certainly make keeping this lifestyle a little easier without having a large impact on my physical health.  I think I still believe this, but I will definitely give pause before I opt to eat foods outside of a plant-based diet. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Plant-based Health Study, Success Stories, Tips, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Lessons Learned: From the participants in the plant-based health study

Posted by Jenn on March 12, 2011


The Plant-based Health Study ends this upcoming week on Tuesday, March 15th.  It has been a great experience for myself and the participants.  As we await the final (60 day) results from the study I asked the participants what were the top thing(s) they learned from participating in the study: switching from either a SAD or a vegetarian diet to a plant-based one.  Here’s what they had to say!

Jax

I cannot expect most doctors, manufactures, and producers of any edible products to be looking out for my best interests as far as what i put into my mouth. And you know what, I shouldn’t. It is my responsibility.  To  blame anyone other than myself would be like blaming  the man  who just hit me because it stepped into the middle of traffic because I thought they would stop for me as they were going 50mph. It is truly our own obligation to ourselves to read labels and educate ourselves. If our doctors are not properly trained and educated in nutrition as part of their training how can we possibly expect them to educate us?

And finally, eating plant-based all the time is not easy. It does take commitment. Commitment to our very lives. But even with that being said I am learning that moderation is KEY. However in America we don’t have any concept of what that really means and to me it means just this, treat animal based products like I would, say an Ice Cream Sundae.. yummy every once in a while but not an every meal occurrence or even an everyday occurrence.  See Jax’s Page.

John

This study has shown me that the SAD way of eating is a slow and sure way of cutting years off of all of our lives.  All of America has been brought up to think that the simplest way to get something to eat is to pull up to a drive thru window and grab a bag of pure poison to add to the hormone fed dinner that will be added to their bodies later in the evening.  I am not by far the healthiest person on the earth but this study has opened my eyes to a better way of eating through a mostly Plant Based Diet.  I do not know if I will stick strictly to a Plant based Diet but I do know that my hormone fed SAD eating is a thing of the past.  See John’s Page.

Amber

I have learned so much about ingredients and how everything has an effect. the smallest things can make the biggest differences. This has opened a huge window for me, not only am i staying vegan, i also would like to be gluten-free. after the major differences in how i feel and look i want to further my healthy life style. i am truly inspired. thank you Jenna!!!  See Amber’s Page.

Vanessa

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t actually have to be that drastically different.   Sure, eating hemp seeds and tempeh and wheatgrass are great, but it’s probably best to keep things simple and stick with what you know in the beginning.  There were plenty of foods that I was already eating that fit in perfectly with a plant-based diet.  Also, don’t forget about beans, lentils, nuts, sweet potatoes, etc!  These guys filled me up and kept me full for longer.  Loads of veggies are great, but I felt a lot better when they were combined with some heartier foods. See Vanessa’s Page.

Nikki

One of the things I learned from the study was that there are so may other sources of protein that you can eat besides meat or fish or eggs. I have found that beans, legumes and tofu fill me up just as much. Also my husband who has mostly been vegan on this journey with me has seen a huge improvement in his brittle nails. His fingernails are now soft and supple and they don’t break as easily. He attributes this to the change in diet. Although I still struggle with my weight my cholesterol has come done significantly and I have learned I can control it with a plant-based diet.  See Nikki’s Page.

Megan

I can still make all of the dishes I love and make them vegan. Once they make a great vegan cheese, it will be perfect! But, it takes more time and can be expensive. One doesn’t find too many vegan options at the 99 cent store 🙂  I can still be satisfied and don’t feel ” cheated” by eating vegan. I had to get creative, and thank goodness for Mothers and Whole Foods! See Megan’s Page.

Stephanie

I learned that planning on a plant-based diet is absolutely essential.  I can pretty much “veganize” any recipe that I like.  That isn’t the hard part.  The more difficult part is when you are out to eat or tired and don’t feel like cooking, etc. It you plan ahead you can be prepared for those times and this makes eating this way a lot easier.  It takes time to get used to but you do get used to it and it isn’t as hard as you might think.  I do like the food.  I don’t miss meat at all, but I do still have cheese cravings.  Yes, Jenna, I know it’s the casomorphins! 🙂 I am planning on remaining plant-based for life as my health has improved substantially as a result. Now if that cheese craving would just go away… 🙂 See Stephanie’s Page.

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Success story of the week: Lindsay!

Posted by Jenn on March 4, 2011


(This week’s success story is a little early, but better than late!)

Meet Lindsay:

Lindsay

 

 

Lindsay Wolf is a Los Angeles-based animal advocate, actress, and founder of Kiss Me, I’m Vegan!, “a blog for the happy vegan in all of us.” KMIV blends Lindsay’s personal vegan journey with the journeys of other vegan superheroes who endlessly inspire her, including interviews with authors Colleen Patrick-Goudreau of Compassionate Cooks, THE Skinny Bitch herself, Rory Freedman and Veganomicon‘s Isa Chandra Moskowitz, as well as Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary, Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Animal Rights Hall of Fame recipient Zoe Weil. Lindsay has also guest blogged on The Kind Life, Your Daily Vegan, Vegan At Heart, and LeaveItBetter.com, and she’s a regular visitor and fan of Animal Acres Sanctuary in Acton, CA. Check more out at www.kissmeimvegan.com.

The Plant Rx’s Interview with Lindsay!

 


  • What your diet was like before adopting a plant-based diet?

Before I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, my diet consisted of occasional trips to McDonald’s for midnight double whopper runs. That alone should tell you that I was not at all connected to the food I ate or my health! I definitely didn’t eat whole foods, but rather consumed a lot of processed, “low fat” junk food and animal products – cheese, steak, and ice cream being huge go-to choices, for example. I was completely disconnected from consuming wholesome, healthy food, but rather ate to get to a certain weight or ate from being stressed – not a good way to live, if you ask me. It wasn’t until I went vegan that I ever began to listen to my body to discover what foods I really need on a daily basis – and those foods are a far cry from the double whoppers of the past!

  • Why did you choose to adopt a plant-based diet? (health, animal ethics, environment, etc)

I am doing this 100% for the animals. After witnessing documented animal cruelty back in 2007, I could not in good conscience support a system where, in order to make me a delicious meal, an animal had to suffer, be confined, and die a painful death (you can learn more about my journey into veganism here: http://kissmyvegan.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html). What cemented my decision was the experience of learning that we don’t need animal products to live healthily, which made eating an ice cream sundae just because I liked ice cream not so enjoyable anymore. That’s not to say I don’t eat ice cream – I do now, and plenty of it! I just eat coconut milk-based or soy-based alternatives to my favorite ice cream dishes of the past. They are just as delicious, and no mommy or baby cows had to suffer for my dessert!

  • Was it hard/easy/as you expected?

The first few months were only difficult because I didn’t know how to cook or bake for myself. I had to basically re-teach myself how to make food! Besides that, it was super easy. Since I was choosing to take into account the well being of animals at every meal, I didn’t think twice about turning down a slice of cake when out with friends or butter-topped popcorn at the movies. It was the least I could do to help the world a little each and every day. Over time, I learned how to make my own delicious versions of the foods I used to love, and it got easier and easier with each bite. Now, the thought of ever going back to eating animal products just seems silly to me – I will be a vegan for my entire life, happily and healthily!

  • What changes have you seen as a result of switching; has it changed your life? If so how?

Well, for starters, I have more energy, I’m in better general health, and I actually care about the food I put into my body! Read the rest of this entry »

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Success story of the week: JL

Posted by Jenn on February 28, 2011


A Success story interview with JL!
  • What your diet was like before adopting a plant-based/ vegan diet?

I was on an eight year vegetarian journey before going vegan. I ate most vegetarian (still at fish) for four years and then for four years I ate completely vegetarian.  I ate mostly whole grains, “good fats,” veggies and lots (lots!) of cheese, milk, eggs, milk and tofu.  During these eight years I took up running and triathlon.

  • Why did you chose  to transition/switch (health, animal ethics, environmental reasons)?

I went vegan for dietary reasons.  I wasn’t feeling good (digestion) and had some recurring skin issues.  I went to a nutrition counselor to try a seasonal cleanse. By the end of the cleanse, which omitted whole wheat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, I realized I was an egg away from being vegan. I decided to try a vegan diet.  Several months after going vegan I noticed a shift in my thinking. I say that I became vegan for dietary reasons. I remain vegan for ethical reasons.

  • Was it hard/easy/as you expected, etc to transition?

It was surprisingly easy to begin and maintain a vegan diet!  But it’s because I surround myself with support.  I read vegan blogs religiously. I bought cookbooks.  I follow hundreds of vegans on Twitter.  I’ve never had an unanswered question and I think that it was has been key.

  • What changes have you seen as a result of switching to a plant-based diet? has it changed anything in your life? If so how? Motivated you to do things you hadn’t done in the past? Try new things?
Physically, I feel better than ever.  In addition to eating vegan, I have increased raw foods into my diet. I’m sleeping well, my energy is high and finally some of those nagging skins issues (eczema and candida-ish skin reactions) are subsiding.
But most importantly, I have fallen in love with food. I love preparing healthy, delicious vegan food.  My relationship to food has changed drastically. So much so that this January, when I would normally start my “annual” diet, I decided to simply embrace those 10 pounds that always found me by January 1. I realized that perhaps those 10 pounds were part of me and shouldn’t be banished.  I bought bigger clothes and quit weighing myself on a daily basis.  At 45, I feel free!
  • How do you feel now?

Never better. Seriously.

To read more about JL’s journey, check out her blog:  JL goes Vegan: Food & Fitness with a side of Kale

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Success story of the week: Alicia

Posted by Jenn on February 21, 2011


In Alicia’s words:

Hi, my name is Alicia and in 2008, when I hit my high weight of 299 lbs, my dad Rick, who I never knew, died from diabetes.  He lost both legs, went blind, and finally died of kidney failure. He was 47. Due to my weight my mom always worried about me getting diabetes which runs on both sides of the family. Then when she found out about Rick she was even more concerned, and suddenly so was I.

My cholesterol was high, my sugar was hovering right around ‘dangerously close to becoming diabetic’ and then I quickly dropped about 40 lbs since fear is an absolutely fabulous motivator, but motivation is fleeting. In July of 2009 I went veggie. I wasn’t eating very healthy stuff, boxed veggie burgers and too much pasta and deep-fried veggies. Turns out it’s just as easy to be a fat vegetarian as a fat meat-eater. I spent most of 2010 regaining 28 of the 40 lbs I had lost.

In October of 2010 I realized that although I’ve been in therapy most of my life and I’ve definitely suffered from disordered eating at both ends of the spectrum I had never once discussed food issues in therapy. I realized I was an emotional eater, my health was suffering, I was 30 years old and as much as I wanted to bury that thought of Rick dying so young, it kept popping up that I needed to do something.

Things happened pretty quickly after that. I got sick of the guilt and shame that came with binging at the Chinese buffet on all manner of deep-fried and overly sweet saucy veggie foods. I decided to discuss my disordered eating in therapy. I started back on plan on October 19th. I set a weight loss goal of 32 lbs lost in the first 4 months. By November I was eating a 99% whole foods diet and had stumbled on a blog about the deception of the terms ‘cage free eggs’ and the dairy industry’s part in raising veal.  So in November I went vegan.  Although my main motivating factor in eating a vegan diet is health, it was these few points that drove me from veggie to vegan.

It’s been amazing since I love to cook and it’s forced me to become seriously adventurous in the kitchen. Let’s be honest, no one wants to live on salad and rice packets or veggie burgers forever. I try not to eat things that come in a box with weird ingredients that I can’t pronounce. I love sweet potato spinach curry and I have come up with an amazing alfredo recipe as well (recipe is on my blog).

I’m having a good time learning to cook things in new ways.  People that I cook for are always so shocked that vegan food is delicious, this boggles my mind. I read my grocery list off to my mom once and she said “But what can you make out of that stuff?” “That stuff” she was referring to was mainly veggies, whole grains and beans. Really, this is what it has come to? As a society we have no clue what to do with real food?  Sadness.  Anyhow, I’m having a great time and eating amazing food that tastes great without making me feel miserable and guilty and worst of all, unhealthy.

I reached my first 4 month goal 3.5 weeks early, so I readjusted it from a 32 lb loss to a 37 lb loss. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Diabetes, Success Stories, Weight Loss, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

30-day results here soon! The plant-based health study has reached it’s mid-point

Posted by Jenn on February 15, 2011


The participants are getting their labs and measurements taken throughout this week.  Results will be posted as we get them.  We will have the results for two of our participants, Stephanie and John, as early as tomorrow! As promised, we will be posting full copies of their medical results so that you can compare them to their pre-study values.

A word of caution when evaluating this data –  while it is well documented that after only 30 days on a plant-based diet we can see improvements in the various components of our lipid profiles (among other parameters) it is important to point out that everyone is different and it can take longer in some cases than in others.  I say this because there are other factors at play here that we did not take into account for this particular study.

For example, although I didn’t recommend eating processed foods or limiting oil use for this study, these were not off-limits to the participants.  The only requirement was they could not eat any meat or dairy products.  Consequently, it is clear how skewed consumption of these items could heavily impact the results.

Note: Some of you may be wondering why the parameters were not made more strict regarding food intake. There are a few reasons for this.  The first is that, as many of you well know, it is not easy to transition from a SAD to a plant-based one.  Even those transitioning from a vegetarian diet still the transition difficult at times.  Thus, the hope was to increase greater compliance and minimal discontinuation considering the small scale of the study.  The second was that  all things considered this is likely how the transition occurs in most cases, if not more gradual.  Lastly, I wanted to see what the impact of  diet completely free of animal protein would be independent of other factors such as processed foods, junk foods and high/moderate oil consumption.  Answering the question, even if poor eating habits are continued, if there still a substantial health benefit as long as those habits are free of animal protein.

Click here to meet our participants!

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YumUniverse.com ‘s Interview of yours truly…

Posted by Jenn on January 25, 2011


http://www.yumuniverse.com/2011/01/21/the-plant-rx-plant-based-health-study-interview-with-dr-jenna-taylor/

Visit Heather Crosby’s YumUniverse to read the full interview (Link Above).


The Plant Rx Plant-Based Health Study: Interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor – By: Heather Crosby of YumUniverse.


If you do one thing for yourself and your health today, please take 10 minutes to read the following interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor, founder of The Plant Rx.

Jenna is an inspiring woman who is currently conducting a very important 60-day plant-based diet study, in which participants (StephanieNikkiVanessaMegan,John and Jax and Amber) will be changing their diets from either a Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) or a Vegetarian Diet, to a Plant-based (Vegan) diet for 60 days. Dr. Taylor and her team will be measuring the participants changes in health, both quantitatively and qualitatively—and in an effort to be as transparent as possible, all test results will be published at ThePlantRx.com.

Dr. Taylor’s perspectives not only as a physician, but as a vegan, are invaluable, and I am looking forward to sharing more of her progress and efforts to share the benefits of a plant-based diet with YU.

One of the most important things she said during our interview is that “[physicians] have been subjected to the same programming as you and I were and just like lots of other people out there, they still believe it. That being said, this is why it is imperative for people to be in charge of their own health. Ask questions, read, research, etc. No one is going to care more about you, than you do.”

Amen, sister.

– – –
YU: So, you have had some pretty significant personal results from adopting a plant-based diet. Tell us a little more about that.

Dr. T: I have and I didn’t expect any of them. Everything about transitioning toThe Plant Rx has been a positive, pleasant surprise. I was in very good health from a medical perspective, but I had no idea the harm that I was potentially causing my body.

You see, we practice what I call “reactionary” medicine in the United States. We don’t go to the doctor unless something is wrong. The problem with this approach is that many of us feel just fine until our mid-thirties, early forties or even longer. We don’t see what is happening on the inside of our bodies and our health system isn’t set up help us look at those things before that. In my case, the only “real” health issue I struggled with that I was aware of was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I didn’t think that it had anything to do with my diet as I had kept food logs and couldn’t identify any “trigger” foods so to speak. I would have episodes about once a month and the pain would be so terribly excruciating that I would literally pass out because my body could not tolerate it. Since adopting The Plant Rx diet I have not had one episode. Further, my cholesterol numbers got significantly better, I felt better—more energy, better sleep and I lost some weight too.

YU: What health goals do you have set for the future? Any issues you are dealing with now that you feel confident will go away eventually?
Dr. T: I feel great right now. I am rarely sick and the only issue I need to find a solution to is my poor posture while typing on my laptop! I plan on taking care of myself the way that I think we should practice medicine, preventatively. We need more of a focus on overall wellness in addition to The Plant Rx. This includes things like regular exercise, meditation and strong interpersonal relationships.

YU: How do you personally stay on track? Share some favorite tips (ie: travel, busy schedules, budget, dining out).
Dr. T: Planning ahead. The one thing that I wish I would have known when I transitioned was to always plan ahead because you will inevitably find yourself in a situation with little to no options for eating. For me, this means always keeping snacks with me. I make sure I have stuff at work and even a few things in the car. L.A. traffic is not kind to a hungry vegan at times!

At home, I cook on the weekends. I’m single, so cooking every night doesn’t make sense and I’m usually too tired by the time I get home from work and just want something, anything, as long as it’s immediate. Thus, I cook on the weekends and make enough to have left overs for my lunch that week and I freeze some of it so I can easily have something for times when I’m away for the weekend and don’t have the time to cook. Also, while I would prefer to have fresh organic fruits and veggies in the house, that isn’t really feasible all the time so I do buy a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables. Dining out can be a challenge, but I live by the “be creative” rule. I look at it this way, the worst case scenario is that the restaurant folks think I am difficult and weird when ordering, maybe my friends even will too, but that’s ok because I’m not going to get heart disease. I can live with that trade-off!

YU: What are your favorite plant-based meals?
Dr. T: For my Plant Rx I make super yummy pasta fagliole, chili and lentil loaf. My all-time favorite Plant Rx is a wheatberry curry casserole. The recipe as written should have chicken in it but I leave out the chicken and add more veggies.

YU: Are you eating any new foods now that you didn’t before (ie: quinoa, superfoods)?
Dr. T: Yes! I had never eaten quinoa or pomegranates, which are two of my favorites now. I also found out about this stuff called liquid aminos from Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book. I love it and use it in a bunch of different things.

Click here to read the rest of the article at: YumUniverse.com

Posted in Foods, In the Media, Plant-based Health Study | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

#2 ranked golfer in the world, Phil Mickelson, adopts a plant-based diet

Posted by Jenn on December 29, 2010


PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Phil Mic...

Image via Wikipedia

Phil Mickelson, the second-ranked golfer in the world and owner of the rights to a California burger chain called Five Guys Burgers and Fries, has chosen to eliminate animal products from his diet. Days before his 40th birthday, Mickelson experienced debilitating joint pain, which was later diagnosed as psoriatic arthritis.

Mickelson says that his inflammatory joint disease – which typically results in intense pain, stiffness and lack of movement – is normally managed with an anti-inflammatory drug called Enbrel but after reading a book about plant-based nutrition and its health benefits, he “thought maybe it would help”.

Michelson’s illness is currently inremission and he says he intends to stick with plant-based foods in order to ensure that he doesn’t have a relapse.  He admits the change has been difficult, bur when asked if he thinks he’ll stick to it he replied, “if it will somehow keep this (arthritis) in remission or stop it from coming back, yeah, I’ll be able to do it.”

There are several ways that a plant-based diet can benefit patients with autoimmune-related arthritis. First, many plant-based diets are low-calorie and appear to be helpful in maintaining a healthy body weight. Obese adults face a higher risk of psoriatic arthritis, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Second, plant-based diets are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which may help reduce inflammation in the body. Red meat in particular has been linked with increased inflammation. Third, plant-based diets that are well planned and include lots of fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants that block inflammation.

So what does Phil say when asked about Five Guys Burgers and Fries? “We’re working on a veggie burger!”

Posted in Arthritis, Athletes/Athletics, In the Media, Inflammation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Steve Wynn Continues To Speak Out About His Plant-Based Diet

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


Steve Wynn, developer, taken inside the Wynn R...

Image via Wikipedia

Steve Wynn transitioned to a plant-based diet and he didn’t stop there.

First, he required all the restaurants on his many properties to include vegan items on the menu. Next, he gave his entire staff a copy of Eating — a 88-minute movie that explains why a vegan diet is the way to go. Now, Wynn is speaking out about the dangers of animal protein to the Las Vegas Weekly.

Quotes from Wynn:

“The notion that you need animal food as protein is one of the great conspiracies of bullshit by the government,” said Wynn. “Did we not all grow up saying we had to have four glasses of whole milk a day for healthy bones? It’s ridiculous. It’s liquid cholesterol.”

Posted in In the Media, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Protein in a Plant-based Diet: Is combining necessary?

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


Diversity in dry common beans

Image via Wikipedia

It is very easy for a plant-based diet to meet the recommendations for protein, as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein combining is not necessary; it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout the day.

Some Americans are obsessed with protein. Vegans are bombarded with questions about where they get their protein. Athletes used to eat thick steaks before competition because they thought it would improve their performance. Protein supplements are sold at health food stores. This concern about protein is misplaced. Although protein is certainly an essential nutrient which plays many key roles in the way our bodies function, we do not need huge quantities of it. In reality, we need small amounts of protein. Only one calorie out of every ten we take in needs to come from protein 1. Athletes do not need much more protein than the general public 2. Protein supplements are expensive, unnecessary, and even harmful for some people.

How much protein do we need? The RDA recommends that we take in 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram that we weigh (or about 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh) 1. This recommendation includes a generous safety factor for most people. When we make a few adjustments to account for some plant proteins being digested somewhat differently from animal proteins and for the amino acid mix in some plant proteins, we arrive at a level of 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight (0.45 grams of protein per pound that we weigh). Since vegans eat a variety of plant protein sources, somewhere between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per kilogram would be a protein recommendation for vegans. If we do a few calculations we see that the protein recommendation for vegans amounts to close to 10% of calories coming from protein. [For example, a 79 kg vegan male aged 25 to 50 years could have an estimated calorie requirement of 2900 calories per day. His protein needs might be as high as 79 kg x 1 gram/kg = 79 grams of protein. 79 grams of protein x 4 calories/gram of protein = 316 calories from protein per day. 316 calories from protein divided by 2900 calories = 10.1% of calories from protein.] If we look at what vegans are eating, we find that between 10-12% of calories come from protein 3. This contrasts with the protein intake of non-vegetarians, which is close to 14-18% of calories.

So, in the United States it appears that vegan diets are commonly lower in protein than standard American diets. Remember, though, with protein, more (than the RDA) is not necessarily better. There do not appear to be health advantages to consuming a high protein diet. Diets that are high in protein may even increase the risk of osteoporosis 4 and kidney disease 5.

Table 1: Sample Menus Showing How Easy It Is To Meet Protein Needs
Protein (grams)
Breakfast: 1 cup Oatmeal 6
1 cup Soymilk 7
1 Bagel 9

Lunch: 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread 5
1 cup Vegetarian Baked Beans 12

Dinner: 5 oz firm Tofu 11
1 cup cooked Broccoli 4
1 cup cooked Brown Rice 5
2 Tbsp Almonds 4

Snack: 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter 8
6 Crackers 2
TOTAL 73 grams
 

Protein Recommendation for Male Vegan [based on 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight for 70 kilogram (154 pound) male]

56-70 grams
Breakfast: 2 slices Whole Wheat Toast 5
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter 8

Lunch: 6 oz. Soy Yogurt 6
2 Tbsp Almonds 4
1 Baked Potato 4

Dinner: 1 cup cooked Lentils 18
1 cup cooked Bulgur 6

Snack: 1 cup Soymilk 7
TOTAL 58 grams
 

Protein Recommendation for Female Vegan [based on 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight for 57.5 kilogram (126 pound) female]

46-58 grams
*Additional food should be added to these menus to provide adequate calories and to meet requirements for nutrients besides protein.

Table 2 shows the amount of protein in various vegan foods and also the number of grams of protein per 100 calories. To meet protein recommendations, the typical adult male vegan needs only 2.5 to 2.9 grams of protein per 100 calories and the typical adult female vegan needs only 2.1 to 2.4 grams of protein per 100 calories. These recommendations can be easily met from vegan sources.

Table 2: Protein Content of Selected Vegan Foods
FOOD AMOUNT PROTEIN(gm) PROTEIN(gm/100 cal)
Tempeh 1 cup 41 9.3
Seitan 3 ounces 31 22.1
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 29 9.6
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18 7.8
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.7
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 13 6.4
Veggie burger 1 patty 13 13.0
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 12 4.2
Veggie baked beans 1 cup 12 5.0
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 12 5.7
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 11 6.2
Tofu, firm 4 ounces 11 11.7
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 10 5.7
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 9 3.5
Tofu, regular 4 ounces 9 10.6
Bagel 1 med.
(3 oz)
9 3.9
Peas, cooked 1 cup 9 6.4
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), cooked 1/2 cup 8 8.4
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 8 4.3
Veggie dog 1 link 8 13.3
Spaghetti, cooked 1 cup 8 3.7
Almonds 1/4 cup 8 3.7
Soy milk, commercial, plain 1 cup 7 7.0
Soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces 6 4.0
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 6 3.7
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6 3.3
Whole wheat bread 2 slices 5 3.9
Cashews 1/4 cup 5 2.7
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 5 2.4
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 5 2.1
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 5 13.0
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 4 6.8
Potato 1 med.
(6 oz)
4 2.7
Sources: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18, 2005 and manufacturers’ information. 

The recommendation for protein for adult males vegans is around 56-70 grams per day; for adult female vegans it is around 46-58 grams per day (see text). Read the rest of this entry »

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