Kale yeah*.

Nov. 7th, 2015 04:13 pm
ofearthandstars: (tofu love)
Today I made a (vegan) "smoky" cheeseball. It is glorious.


*Despite the title, this cheeseball contains no kale. I wouldn't do that to anyone!
ofearthandstars: (Avocado)
A little planning/jotting down - I bought a bunch of ingredients to make things, but I'm starting to forget what I wanted to make! Terrible, terrible planning this week.

-Peach Salad w/ Chipotle-Maple Dressing
-Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus
-Baba Ganoush with Roasted Veggies
-Thai Chickpea Almond Curry
-Chocolate Cherry Black Forest Smoothie and Pineapple, Mango, Banana, and Kale Smoothie
-Broccoli Fritters
-Pizza Potato Skins
-This is probably too much work and I'll never actually do it, but these ice cream snickers cakes

Also, I think I may have shared this in the past, but if not, don't be afraid to try these Chipotle Not-Chicken Salad Wraps. The salad comes together very quickly and is good by itself (though I love in the collard leaves, too.) Let me rephrase - it is fucking magical. I am a little addicted to it.

With all that in mind, it seems appropriate to share this awesome post from Shakesville: A Letter about Food and Judgement.
ofearthandstars: (tofu love)
A friend recently asked me if, being vegan, it was hard to know/like people who believe in eating meat and dairy. My first response was "oh, I can definitely like those people, I happen to *love* certain people who do so". But then I also wrote a TLDR response in which I was honest with zir about how it feels, and I thought I'd put it here (with a few clarifications in []), because I think it expresses my thoughts/truth fairly well. (And since one person asked the question, I thought others might have the same question.)
Read more... )
ofearthandstars: Colorfully drawn hearts in sidewalk chalk. (chalk hearts)
+ Today was my first run in many weeks! I wrote words about it in [community profile] c25k. I am encouraged, but still feeling cautious, because this is one of the slowest-healing injuries I've had.

+ Mini's toe continues to look better and is MUCH closer to approaching hammie-size. I am overjoyed. She is over-joyed when I share my kale with her after she takes her medicine. I'm pretty sure that's *bonding*.

+ Which reminds me, L. awesomely shared this video with me, which has me convinced we *must* make tiny cakes for the hammies on their birthday.

+ I made this dish for supper tonight using some of the basil I'm growing. Honestly, the boys were not all that enthusiastic about it, but being a basil-and-pesto lover, I ate 2 big plates and saved all the leftovers. I thought it was nom(!), I just worry about whether the avocado in the dressing will brown in the fridge before lunch tomorrow (avocados, I love you, but you do not last long in your glory).

+ I am trying to post less on Facebook and more on DW/LJ. You may have noticed. Facebook is useful for keeping up with a certain subset of friends, but I really like it here better. I'm sorry. No, wait, I'm not.

+ Which reminds me, tonight Oldest said to me, "Do you know what I'm tired of? HASHTAGS! They are everywhere!" I kinda-sorta agree with him. In other Oldest news, he is applying for a job and today learned that he is definitely enrolled in college courses at the community college this fall. The school asked a select group of students if they would participate in a program in which the college is partnering with the high school and offering select courses to be taught at the school (and some on the community college campus). At the time it wasn't clear that there would be enough interest for the program to pan out, but apparently, there was. So, huzzah! He can earn college credits starting in his junior year. The only downside is that the first classes are English/Writing classes, which is his weak spot (he is much more a math/science/engineering kid). But hey, maybe it'll be good for him. Also, OMG WHY IS HE GROWING UP ALL IN ONE WEEK?!?!

+ I became a lemming and bought a copy of Choosing Raw, which has been reviewed everywhere I turn. (Uhm, yeah, I read a lot of vegan blogs - the food is good, okay?) I am not a raw foodist by any means, although my breakfast (smoothie) and lunch (big salad + fruit) tend to be raw, and I have been ALL ABOUT collard wraps lately, so I was intrigued and oohhed and ahhed by the recipes and photographs. I also found Gena's approach, which is very moderate and not a YOU-MUST-EAT-COLD-RAW-THINGS-ALL-DAY-LONG approach, to be likeable. She did not expect me to run out and buy a dehydrator or spiralizer (although I am eyeing the spiralizer, oh yes I am).

+ Work is okay. People have been very supportive. Today I got out a big deliverable. I'm gonna make it, yes I am.
ofearthandstars: (chocolate cake)
An easy way to glamour up a regular bread pudding.

Ingredients:

~10 slices of leftover bread, or bread ends
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2/3 cup sugar
3 cups plain unsweetened soy milk
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 block extra firm tofu, crumbled
1 tsp coconut extract

Directions:

Grease an 8 x 8 glass pan. Tear/shred the bread slices into small chunks (about 1/2-3/4 inch) and arrange in the bottom of the pan. Stir in the dried cherries and unsweetened coconut. In a medium saucepan, combine the soy milk and sugar, and heat until just simmering. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips until well-melted/incorporated.

In a food processor/blender, crumble the tofu and add the coconut extract and about 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture. Blend until creamy, then add the rest of the chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. Be careful and hold a dishcloth over the food processor/blend, as the mixture is hot and will need to vent.

Once the mixture is fully blended, pour it over the bread/cherry/coconut mixture. Make sure the bread is well-soaked, and let sit for 20-30 minutes so that the bread absorbs some of the milk. Bake for 1 hr at 350 F.

Serve with coconut whipped cream, and, if you fancy, flakes of dark vegan chocolate.
ofearthandstars: The letters W and T followed by a fork. (WTFork)
A couple of days ago, I started looking around the 'net to try to find some good body-positive, even fat-positive vegan blogs, that still focused on providing some healthy recipes (for me this means low-sugar, low-fat, low-refined carbs/processed foods, as I'm predisposed towards diabetes). I don't particularly mind discussions of how adopting a vegan diet has resulted in weight shifts or health changes, although I've written before about my thoughts on the trend to parade a vegan diet as a weight-loss diet. In short, I'd love a vegan blog with at least a HAES approach, although it doesn't have to have one.

Of course, while conducting my latest search, I came across an even more alarming trend, the claim that a vegan diet cures cancer (See, e.g., Cancer Free Without Chemo; Woman Cures Breast Cancer with Vegan Diet; My Winning Battle with Breast Cancer.)

It's hard for me to verbalize how much these posts bother me. I just want to scream No no no no no! Stop ruining everything!, but since that only scares away the birds, I will sit here and grind my teeth and try to explain why I feel that articles that make this claim can do harm.

I'm not against alternative medicine (that has some supporting research and evidence - sorry, ear-candling and homeopath enthusiasts). I'm certainly a proponent for the vegan lifestyle, because it reduces suffering to animals and farm/slaughterhouse workers, and reduces environmental pollution, and is more sustainable than current factory farming practices. (This is not to say that I think people who eat meat are unethical, either. To each their own.) I'm not against people who want to express how they feel that veganism has improved their life/health/spirituality.

However, I do find the sort of claims above to be incredibly problematic. In the first article, we learn that Karen Binkoski is diagnosed with breast cancer (intraductal, triple negative) and decides to forego conventional medical treatment, instead adopting a vegan diet as prescribed by Dr. McDougall. It is mentioned that Binkoski had surgery, but there's no specific mention of whether she included any other medical treatments. In the second, Ruth Heidrich (incidentally, the person who inspires Karan Binkoski to make her decision) undergoes a double mastectomy, and then uses a vegan diet in lieu of chemo to stop the spread of the remaining cancer that had metastasized. In the third article, Jessica Bowen undergoes two months of chemotherapy before reading about Forks Over Knives and refusing further treatment. I'm not going to challenge the authenticity of these stories, but I would say these three stories, even taken together, do NOT constitute evidence that the vegan diet will cure cancer. This is because anecdata and individual stories are not equivalent to objective, large-scale scientific studies that are representative of larger populations, meaning, results may vary. There are too many other variables in play.

Given the data that's available on the vegan diet and cancer, I don't think it's harmful for a cancer patient to consider the vegan diet as a complementary treatment, but I think there's a danger to presenting it as an alternative treatment. That said, let's look at what we DO know about the vegan diet and cancer.

There is definite research that shows that vegans have a lower incidence of developing cancer. Note that there is very little data actually available on vegans, and that most of this data relies on reporting from vegetarians. And despite what Oprah and Kathy Freston are selling us, the data cited in that article is all in regards to low-fat diets that are heavy in vegetables, and complementary exercise. That's probably because there is no definitive scientific evidence that the vegan diet will cure cancer, step metastatis, or shrink tumors. In fact, in some cases there's conflicting studies. Even Dr. McDougall admits (in his addendum to "Winning My Battle With Breast Cancer") that there's already a 22% chance that most breast cancers will go into remission spontaneously.

There is also the case of long-term vegans who still end up with cancer. Note that Sarah Kramer, a lovely author and vegan activist for well over 15 years (she runs GoVegan.net and was one of the first people who inspired my interest in a vegan diet), has been bravely blogging her journey over the past year fighting the very same breast cancer that Karen was diagnosed with. (Sarah has chosen to use surgery and chemotherapy). And then there's Robin Gibb (a Bee Gee and long-time vegan), who passed away of colorectal cancer. And lately, Steve Jobs, whose death Dr. McDougall tries to explain with some weird math. As Ginny Messina, vegan dietitian, put it so eloquently:

"The bottom line though, is that some vegans—including those who are doing all the right things as far as we know—get cancer. It’s popular to say that a vegan diet will make you “bullet proof” against disease....

Sometimes despite following every recommendation for reducing cancer risk, people get cancer anyway. It is, after all, a hard disease to pin down. It develops over decades, and there is evidence that it’s what you ate 20 or 30 and 40 years ago that matters the most, not what you are eating now. - See When Vegans Get Cancer

Given that a vegan diet certainly hasn't prevented cancer in all cases, I find websites that promote a story as a "cancer cure" (particularly for profit, as Forks Over Knives and the McDougall Program do) are delving into questionable ethical territory. Although it may seem that there is no harm in providing information that could potentially help someone, I find it disturbing that there are no qualifiers in these articles, and that, in some cases, the diet is promoted as an alternative to conventional treatment. And this is what I find scary. Because many individuals, when first diagnosed with the disease and faced with the costs of treatment, become frightened, overwhelmed, and look for anything promising a cure. Yet not everyone has the means or know-how to understand the relationship between a vegan diet and cancer, to understand the research and lack of it. Certainly, everyone must evaluate their individual situation, and make the decision that they feel is most right for them - each decision will depend on the individual's health at the time of diagnosis, the extent of the disease, the general prognosis, the opinion of their doctors and family, and whether conventional treatments will even help. (Again, I follow the premise of "to each their own". I want you to do what's right for you.)

However, I worry that those hocking the vegan diet as an alternative to conventional treatment or as a cure - without confessing to the rockiness and the lack of data supporting it - those people have the potential to create harm. If a patient comes across these articles, and like Binkoski they come across Dr. McDougall's/Dr. Ornish's work, they may then decide that the vegan diet is the trick, because chemo is expensive, and scary, and really not any fun at all. They may refuse treatment. But unlike Binkoski, they may, like a long list of vegans , potentially lose the battle anyway.

For me personally, veganism is a way to practice ahimsa. It is way to practice not inflicting harm (and truth be told, I have a long way to go in regards to this in my own life). And so while I would never begrudge anyone for wanting to try to a vegan diet to improve their survival chances, I find it unconscionable for others to use or sell veganism as a cure-all or a cure for cancer. It's untruthful. Perhaps in time we will find that this will change; perhaps we will not. Until then, we should do all that we can to stay informed, and to tell the truth.

Again, quoting the reasonable Ginny Messina, who says it better than I could:

"At any age, we vegans can expect that our compassionate diet has the added advantage of lowering our risk for certain diseases. But, vegan diets are not “miracle” cures or guaranteed prevention and it’s a mistake to ever believe that they are. As always, the only true promise that comes with veganism is that it will remove your contribution to the use and abuse of animals.
- See When Vegans Get Cancer



Disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts, and this post is not directed at anyone. I fully realize that people have the right to chose the cancer treatment that they feel is in their best odds, and I'm sure that those who share their cancer stories are likely only trying to pass on information that may help. I am only against the expectation that veganism provides a cure all, or that it is sold as a cure-all, and my only interest is in making sure that people are informed of the reality data.
ofearthandstars: View of starry night through treetops (fruit)
Personal thoughts/feelings on veganism, weight loss, and body image. Read more... )

"The Knowledge That...

...the atoms that comprise life on earth - the atoms that make up the human body, are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars- the high mass ones among them- went unstable in their later years- they collapsed and then exploded- scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy- guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems- stars with orbiting planets. And those planets now have the ingredients for life itself. So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us.”

― Neil deGrasse Tyson

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