Why is Tal Ronnen, The Conscious Cook, Vegan?

I picked up a copy of The Conscious Cook because I was getting in a culinary rut and wanted some inspiration. I had heard of Tal on various websites and because of his connection with Oprah, so I knew his cookbook would be a great resource.

In the book, I found a nice infographic about why Tal is vegan. He put it so succinctly that I felt compelled to share it.

Cutting out animal products means virtually eliminating the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and several types of cancer. Your energy shoots up and your weight is likely to drop.

Most of us question the morality of eating animals, and many people who feel it’s absolutely wrong do it anyway out of habit. Eating with a clear conscience – feeling good about everything you put in your mouth – lightens up your life.

Factory farming of animals consumes and pollutes insane quantities of water and demands so much feed that it threatens forests. And because greenhouse gases from animal emissions are destroying the atmosphere.

Helping Others
The grain fed to livestock could feed at least twice as many hungry people in third-world countries. Weakening the livestock industry by buying less or no meat is a step toward rejiggering resources to save lives.

And he tosses in a couple extra noteworthy quotations…

Because Albert Einstein said so: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

Because Paul McCartney says so: “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you can do.”

Have you read Tal’s cookbook? Please share your thoughts below, on Facebook or on Twitter.


I just got a B12 Booster!

Recently, I noticed I was running out my Pure Vegan B12 spray. I was contemplating going back to the Healthy Habit B12 Energy Patches I had used before just to mix it up a bit. My top priority, regardless of the form of my B12, was to buy local (a commitment I made at the beginning of the summer). Unfortunately, no one in my area sells any B12 except in the form of a pill. I don’t like pills, so I decided to take a leap that I had been thinking about for while. What about getting a B12 shot?!

It seemed a bit drastic and to be honest the only time I had heard anything about them was from celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Madonna (yes! I still consider myself hip enough to reference them in my blog!). I knew there was a local lab that did it but I didn’t know any of the details. So, of course, I did a bit of internet research.

According to Any Lab Test Now’s website, a Vitamin B12 injection can:

  • Increase Your Energy
  • Help You Lose Weight
  • Enhance Your Mood
  • Improve Your Sleep

Who doesn’t want all that and for only $15!? So I sucked up some courage, made my way down to the lab and sat in the waiting area for my turn. In less than 5 minutes, my body contained a B12 booster. I thought I was going to have to get one every week, but the woman giving me the shot said she had one every 3 weeks to help her sleep. I’m anxious to see if I get all of the promised benefits in the coming weeks too.

Have you had a B12 shot? What benefits did you experience? Please share your thoughts below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Forks Over Knives | A Must See!

Thanks to Netflix, I finally saw Forks Over Knives! It has been on my list for a while and I am so happy I watched it. It is chock full of great information in an easy-to-understand presentation. This movie will appeal to newbies and veteran plant-based eaters alike.

If you want to see the trailer and learn more, the website is a great source of info. Check it out!

Say It Ain’t So Susan Sarandon!

Is anyone else as disappointed as I am in the latest round of milk commercials that are airing on TV?

They feature Susan Sarandon (and others) suggesting that you “Pour One More” serving of milk to be healthy.

Up to this point, I have seen Susan Sarandon as a wonderful example of an independent and empowered woman who makes wise decisions. She is brave, controversial and steadfast in her commitment to making the world a better place. So I was really perplexed and pissed off at her choice to participate in this campaign.

Does she really believe that cows milk is good for her and her children?

In an added twist of disgusting tactics, they have her say that kids are more likely to drink milk if they see their Mom drinking it. So it’s not enough that the California Milk Processor Board has been shoving the Got Milk? campaign down our throats for almost the last decade, they are now asking Mothers to up the quantity!

Does anyone see the irony in asking mothers to promote a product that has to be stolen from a mama cow and her babies in order to be consumed by humans?

Before I start ranting endlessly, I want you to see this

or read the info here, here or here.

It will help you understand the TRUTH about milk.

Now I realize that Susan Sarandon doesn’t give a flying leap what I think of her and she will likely never see this post, but my hope is that it will offset some of the misinformation out there and help everyone to understand more about what this campaign and the dairy industry is really about.

Have you seen the commercial? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, Facebook or Twitter.

Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness Book Review – Part I

Robert Cheeke recently sent me a copy of his book Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness and requested that I review it. Even though I am not a professional bodybuilder, I was thrilled to learn more so that I could create a more muscular and healthier body of my own – all on a plant-based diet.

Since the book is 317 pages, I decided that I would do the review in sections. This post is my impression of the beginning sections of the book and Chapter 1.

Robert’s book and cover includes pictures of himself from age 10 to age 29 intermingled with pictures of animals, which are referenced throughout the text. He humbly begins the book with a dedication and acknowledgments, which I thought was a very positive beginning.

In his About the Author section he gives an overview of his life up to this point and what drives him every day to do what he is doing. I especially like his attitude as reflected in this quote:

“My vision is to be right more than wrong, happy more than sad, nice more than mean, caring more than apathetic, and to live without limits.”

The Introduction explains his professional background and how the book came into being. It is encouraging to see that although the book was delayed, Robert was not put off and followed through with his commitment to the original goal of sharing his knowledge in book form.

The first Chapter, Why Vegan?, in addition to a general overview of veganism, describes in more detail Robert’s childhood, his progression into veganism and eventually into bodybuilding. It is all very personal, heartfelt and sincere.

He is definitely a man on a mission and I am confident he will reach his many goals.

I look forward to reading Chapter 2 and reviewing it in a future post.

Are the Claims Made in the Latest Truvia™ Commerical True?

I have recently seen the Truvia™ commercial below several times on TV:

It was noticeable to me because of the irritatingly bad song throughout it. At first, I couldn’t believe they even used the song, let alone made it the central theme of the commercial. Maybe it was an attempt at reverse-psychology or they didn’t want you to notice any subliminal messages. Whatever the case, I noticed it BUT I didn’t like it.

After I got over my initial negative reaction, I got to thinking about the claims they made and thought I’d find out if they were true.

Claim #1 – Zero Calorie

The ingredients for a packet of Truvia™ are erythritol, rebiana and natural flavors. According to the label information on the Truvia™ website, a 3.5 gram serving contains zero calories and has 3 grams of carbohydrates. In an email response from the company, they explain the variance between the caloric count and the carbohydrate count by saying it is because the body cannot convert Truvia™ to glucose or blood sugar. This means that it cannot use it for energy, so it does not contribute to the calorie count. But let’s take a look at the individual ingredients to see if we can find out more.

Erythritol is a polyol or sugar alcohol created when glucose (from corn) is fermented with a yeast. Cargill created the Zerose version that is present in Truvia™. The Food and Drug Administration states that erythritol has a caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram. So if you consume a packet of 3.5 grams, you are actually consuming 0.7 calories.

Rebiana is the common name for an extract of rebaudioside-A in stevia leaves. Stevia is an herb native to South America that has been used as a natural sweetener for centuries. I could not find anything official regarding the caloric count of Rebiana, rebaudioside-A or Stevia. Everyone seems to consider them to be zero-calorie foods but unfortunately I could not find any reputable sources to confirm it. If anyone knows a true and accurate source of information regarding Rebiana, please contact me. For now, we will just have to believe the general consensus.

Natural Flavors is a bit more tricky. The Food and Drug Administration defines natural flavor as an essential oil, oleoresin, extracted or essence, protein hydrolysate or distillate. The natural flavors in Truvia™ are the derivatives from the stevia plant, according to the manufacturer. So, we have to presume that they are zero-calorie as well – assuming that the claims regarding Stevia’s calorie count are accurate.

This claim is partially true and gets less true as you eat more Truvia™. So, if you decide to consume it, use it in moderation if you are worried about calories.

Claim #2 – Guilt-free

This is a bit more difficult to determine. The assumption they want everyone to make is that you can ‘have your cake and eat it too’ without worrying about any possible ill-effects such as weight gain or high blood-sugar levels. Truvia™ is metabolized first in the gut where the steviol glycosides are broken down to steviol. The steviol is excreted in the urine as steviol glucuronide. So basically, it is changed by your body as it goes through your system but it is not absorbed. So, if your definition of ‘guilt-free’ is something you can eat but that does not cause your body to change, then this claim is true.

Claim #3 – No artificiality

Merriam Webster dictionary defines Artificial as ‘humanly contrived often on a natural model.’ Even though all of the ingredients in Truvia‘ begin as natural substances, they all must go through processes created and performed by humans to become the combination found in the sweetener. So, my conclusion is that this claim is false.

What do you think? Have you tried Truvia™? Do you like it? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, facebook or via twitter.

To learn more:

Food and Drug Administration
Zerose Official Website
Truvia Offical Website

Glucose is produced commercially via the enzymatic hydrolysis of starch

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating – Book Review



Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus


When I picked up the revised edition of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus at my local library, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t read a book about vegan issues in a while and as I flipped through the pages deciding whether to check it out or not, the content seemed interesting and broad enough to retain my interest. It did much more than that!

Erik starts the book with Part I: To Your Health. It looks at the state of our nation’s health and our quality of life. He highlights Dr. Dean Ornish’s work, including personal stories about people who have suffered from heart disease. Cancer and The China Project are also examined and links are shown that the consumption of animal products can trigger the development of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Of course, a section about health benefits without weight loss would be incomplete, so he also talks about how a vegan diet can easily reduce your body weight to its optimal level and discusses the work of Dr. Terry Shintani.

The ‘Perfect Food Isn’t’ chapter was of particular interest to me because I experience a dramatic shift in the happiness of my body when I cut out dairy products and I am dismayed by the implications of the constant barrage of messages to drink milk and eat cheese that we experience as Americans. Mr. Marcus does the topic justice by explaining what dairy does to your body and how we are being manipulated by special interests.

The final chapter in this section was the most eye opening for me. It is entitled; ‘How Now, Mad Cow.’ I had no idea what was going on in the 80’s regarding mad cow disease. Now I know that was intentional. I also didn’t fully understand that a discussion on Oprah Winfrey’s show between Howard Lyman and Dr. Gary Weber about the disease was what spawned the well known lawsuit she endured. I also know much more about how this disease proliferates and how we as a species are seriously compromising the health of ourselves and our children (throughout the world) by consuming beef products from factory farms.

Part II starts off with Rescued! a chapter about Gene and Lorri Bausten who started Farm Sanctuary. The chapter Chickens and Eggs is next with a devastatingly complete depiction of the horrific conditions of poultry which are used for egg production or slaughtered for meat. If you are a Vegetarian who eats eggs, you may want to take a look at this chapter before your next shopping trip.

Erik goes on to explore the lives of pigs, dairy cows, veal calves and beef cattle. He notes throughout these chapters how breeding practices and conditions are creating an environment of disease, misery and death, not only for the animals but for the people who consume their products. This section ends with a chapter named The Killing Business. It explores both sides of the slaughterhouse situation and completes the horrific life cycle of the animals.

If you weren’t convinced by now that consuming animal products is not in anyone or any animal’s best interest, Erik goes even further in his discussions about world hunger, public property violations by the National Cattlemen’s Association and his personal journey to his current stance on veganism. The New Four Food Groups from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Vegetarian Starter Kit is included for those who are interested in eating a more plant-based diet.

Overall, I agree with Howard Lyman when he says, “Reading Erik Marcus’s Vegan is a critical first step for anyone wanting to extend both the quality and length of their life, and the planet’s life.” So read the whole book or just those chapters that interest you. I am sure that you will be more informed and more able to make better choices when it comes to deciding what you consume. Once you do take a look, please let me know what you thought!

The revised edition of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus is 211 pages and includes a foreword by Howard Lyman the Director of Eating with Conscience Campaign of the Humane Society of the United States. There are three main sections; To Your Health, The Truth About Food Animals and Beyond the Dinner Table along with two appendices; The New Four Food Groups and Resources.

If you would like to learn more about Erik Marcus, his website and blog can be found at vegan.com. You can also find him on facebook, and twitter.