Health & wellness articles and infographics

Vegan Websites: A Few of My Favorites

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Is it just me, or are more and more awesome vegan websites and blogs popping up all over the Internet?  I’ll confess that my blogroll isn’t nearly as extensive as it should be.  Truth be told, there’s no way one person could amass the whole of the Internet’s vegan awesomeness in a way that would do it any justice.  But given just how much there is to be found out there, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites!

  • Healthy. Happy. Life. — There are a lot of reasons I love this blog.  It’s chock full of inventive vegan recipes, each represented with a set of beautiful photos.  Instructions are clear and concise, making even the more complicated recipes easy to follow.  There are occasional recipe “series” for times of year, holidays, or just plain awesome stuff like vegan smoothies.  Also the home of an extensive Best Vegan Blog list.
  • Finding Vegan — Started by Kathy of Healthy. Happy. Life., this is the place to go for an amassed collection of great vegan things from all over the web.  A word of warning, though; it’s extremely easy to get caught up looking at all the amazing pictures!
  • VegWeb — It’s really no secret that VegWeb is awesome.  It would take several lifetimes to try out all the amazing user-submitted recipes that are cataloged on this site.  I love that you can browse by ingredient, right down to the type of rice, pasta, or beans you have in mind for dinner.
  • Gone Raw — When I feel like dabbling in raw food, this is where I go.  I stumbled across it back in February when I felt the need to detox a bit after a vacation that involved a little too much vegan indulgence.  So far I’ve liked everything I’ve tried, especially the red cabbage tacos!
  • Manifest Vegan — I’m not gluten-free, but I love looking at the pictures on this blog.  The recipes are awesome, too, and I often find myself sharing then with gf friends.  I kind of envy how inventive this blog is.

There are so many more, it’s not even funny.  I know my list is just the tip of the iceberg–possibly the tip of the tip.  But I do love all these sites and blogs for what they have to offer, and I hope to be able to try more recipes from all of them in the future!  I’m sure the list will continue to expand as time goes on.

Question for the comments: What’s your favorite vegan website or blog, and why?

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When Food Recalls Affect Veggies

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Because food recalls so often affect meat, eggs and other animal products, it’s easy to forget that vegans aren’t exempt from the possibility of food-borne illness. What’s a vegan to do when the recalls start hitting veggies?

It’s happened in the past, most recently with bagged spinach.  Tomatoes at Taco Bell were suspected of causing illness in the not-so-distant past.  Despite being associated with undercooked meat, salmonella clearly can attack our vegetables, as well.  But how?

If soil becomes infected with salmonella from a source such as tainted water, some strains can infect plants and multiply inside their cells.  Salmonella can also be transmitted to a vegetable’s surface by cross-contamination with raw or undercooked meats, or simply by someone who doesn’t wash their hands before preparing food.  Any improperly-cleaned preparation surface that has come into contact with raw meat can also spread the bacteria.

The bottom line here is that salmonella spreads when people aren’t careful about cleanliness in regards to food.  The current conditions of factory farms don’t help in regards to meat-borne salmonella, which in turn increases the risk of potential infection in veggies when food preparation is sloppy.  I’m not saying that the meat industry causes all salmonella outbreaks, but it certainly is part of the problem.

So even if you don’t have to worry about your own vegan kitchen, it’s best to be discerning when shopping or eating out.  If you’re at a restaurant that prepares meat, don’t hesitate to ask about the cleaning procedures used in the kitchen.  Make sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly when preparing them yourself.  And vegan or not, it never hurts to keep your hands clean!

Sources:
http://www.science20.com/news_releases/vegetables_and_salmonella_washing_is_not_enough_says_study
http://www.lifespan.org/services/infectious/diseases/sal_sal-veg-qa.htm

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The Other Side: Being Underweight in a Weight-Obsessed World

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It’s well-known that obesity is a growing concern in many developed countries. We hear about the negative health effects of being overweight all the time. By contrast, we see television shows, movies, magazines, and advertisements full of ultra-thin women and buff men–images that often evoke a negative attitude toward our own bodies.

There are of course many health benefits to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. However, the contrast between the sizes and shapes of real people and those of models and actors has led to the belief that you can never be too thin.

In truth, being underweight carries its own list of health risks, depending on the cause:

  • osteoperosis
  • anemia
  • weakened immune system (due to poor/improper nutrition)
  • amenorrhea/infertility in women
  • pain/discomfort due to lack of padding

I am currently about 10lbs. underweight. The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this post, but for clarity’s sake I will say that it has nothing to do with eating a vegan diet. (Far too many people assume that vegan and thinness are synonymous!) It’s also not for lack of trying. I eat quite a bit of food and try to keep my diet full of varied fresh, plant-based dishes and nutrient-packed snacks.

When I first began talking to doctors about my weight, I was startled by the repeated question, “Have you tried exercising less?” I was exercising maybe 20-30 minutes a day, five days a week–not an excessive amount. It still strikes me as astonishing that multiple medical professionals would suggest cutting out exercise as a tool for weight gain rather than eating more food. This shows how deeply ingrained the idea of extra food being a bad thing is in our society.

The other thing that disturbs me about being underweight is the envy it can elicit from other women. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in a conversation about food or health and heard the remark, “Well, you don’t have anything to worry about!” In public, I’ve been on the receiving end of dirty looks from complete strangers. And sometimes when I mention how much weight I lost, I get a response like, “Good for you!” Rarely, if ever, have I gotten a concerned reaction from people outside my family.

I try to make it a point to tell people that being underweight is no fun.  Can I pull off outfits I never would have considered wearing when I was 20lbs. heavier?  Sure.  But I also can’t enjoy walking around barefoot because my feet are so thin it’s painful to walk without shoes on.  Pants of all sizes fall off me.  In a bathing suit, I look like a walking skeleton.  I have no hips on which to balance things like heavy laundry baskets or big bags.  In the grand scheme of things, looking good in one outfit or another is hardly a positive trade-off.

With all the focus on weight loss and hype over diet products, it can be very hard to find useful information on how to gain weight in a way that’s healthy. Essentially, underweight people are dealing with a problem that very few others believe is a problem. In my experience, the best thing to do is take charge of your own health. Read what you can find, ask questions of people you know are knowledgeable, and seek out the truth rather than sensationalism.

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