Thursday, September 18, 2008

Supplements for Vegans

While a vegan diet can provide you with just about all the nutrients you need, sometimes we all need to take a supplement, to well, supplement what we get in our diet. A vegan diet is just about the healthiest out there compared to the standards of many other diets, but if you aren't the healthiest eater, you should consider taking a pill. It is recommended for most people (which includes omnivores) to take supplements. However, before deciding to take anything, you should have a good idea what you are already getting. If you are already getting what you need for a certain nutrient, do not exceed your DV. It can be harmful to have too much of certain vitamins and minerals. Now, here are some nutrients that vegans should consider supplementing if they are not getting them already.

Iodine: In the United States, China, and India (and other countries), table salt is already fortified for iodine. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, fatigue, skin problems, tingling sensations and elevated cholesterol. In Britain and Ireland, iodine is usually consumed in milk from iodine-fortified cattle feed. If you live outside the US, check to see if your salt has iodine in it. If not, try a kelp supplement or iodine supplement, or try kelp tablets, which are a source of iodine.

Calcium:Calcium is often consumed in milk, but the animal protein in milk is known to cause some calcium to be leached from the bones. Minerals like calcium help to make strong teeth and bones, but also work with the nervous system and muscular system. Most soy milks have calcium, and dark green vegetables do as well. However, if you don't think you are getting enough, try a supplement (perhaps only taking a half or third of a dose.) If you are an athlete, minerals help prevent cramps, so make sure you are getting enough. Many calcium pills come with magnesium, and a magnesium deficiency causes the worst cramps (the ones where your calf muscles tighten into a ball, often in the middle of the night.)

Iron: Iron is most commonly found in red meat. It is also in many fortified foods and in chocolate, grains, and greens. Iron from plant sources (non-heme) is less easily absorbed than meat sources (heme). However, it is easy to fulfill your iron requirement without a supplement by eating the aforementioned foods. On the other hand, if you are not getting enough (females also need more than men, for once, because of menstruation) a supplement is a responsible option. Truth be told, in many studies, vegans have had iron levels and hemoglobin levels similar to those in non-vegans, so its not just us who need the supplements. Iron absorption is aided by a healthy Vitamin C intake (something vegans usually get A LOT of, that non-vegans don't.) Iron supplements are easy to find in the grocery store, and you can always take just half a dose if you already get some from your food intake.

Vitamin B12: B12 is necessary for proper neurological functions. It is a byproduct of bacteria, and is not found reliably in plant sources. This is the ONLY nutrient that cannot be naturally consumed in a vegan diet. Long ago, before we washed every thing we ate, we took in enough by eating the dirt on the food (you need only a few micrograms.) Now, that is not the case since we wash everything thoroughly. Some seaweeds and other foods have been thought of to have B12, but since nobody is positive, it is best to take a supplement. Many fortified foods (soy milk, cereal, other supplements, and even Vitamin Water) have plenty of B12 in them, but if you aren't getting any, take a supplement or switch another supplement to one that also has this essential vitamin.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is often found in dairy products, but can be easily found in many fortified foods. It also can synthesized with sun exposure (10 to 15 minutes daily on just the hands and arms.) Many people get this on just their morning commute to work. However, if you have dark skin and live up North where the winters are very dark, you may not synthesize enough during the winter months. If you aren't eating fortified foods then, consider a supplement. There are two main forms of Vitamin D, D2 and D3. D2 is found in mushrooms and fungi, whereas D3 is only made from animal products (fish oil or lanolin [wool fat.]) Some orange juice has D3 in it, so check labels. The body produces both forms from sunlight.

All of that may seem like a lot, but it really isn't. Chances are, as a vegan, you are getting most of that already, and may be only lacking one or two things if any. However, I put all the major things up there just to cover most people. If any meat-eaters are reading this and think vegans are unhealthy because I'm recommending supplements, you probably need a whole slew of things vegans get PLENTY of. Very few people eat 100% of everything unless they make a point to, so it is common sense for EVERYONE to at least consider a supplement to aid their bodies (the government recommends it in the US.)

Also, please note; I am not a dietitian nor a doctor, so it is best to check with you health care professional before starting any new habits. Of course, nobody pays attention to these warnings, have you every done a 48-hr test for new cosmetics or hair dye? But I'm saying this to cover my ass, even though I did get my information from reliable sources. Always be careful when adding supplements if you take prescribed or even OTC medications, as bad reactions can occur.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sarah Palin = An Animal's Worst Nightmare

Usually I try to keep politics out of my blog, but in this case I owe it to every animal in this country.

As the hotly contested election draws nearer, I am going to shed some light on America's favorite "pit bull with lipstick." We all have probably heard that she is a big hunter and wants to drill the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for oil (which McCain actually opposes), but here is some more juicy, or shall we say, "bloody" information on Sarah Palin.

  • Palin supports "aerial hunting", where low flying planes shoot animals with no chance of escape.
  • She encouraged this monstrosity with a proposed bounty of $150 for each severed wolf foreleg, and also introduced legislature to make this hunting easier.
  • She promotes wolf hunting because wolves hunt caribou and moose, and those are the two favorite targets of Alaskan hunters. So by killing wolves, there would be more moose and caribou to kill.
  • Alaska is the ONLY state to allow aerial hunting of wolves.
  • She authorized $400,000 of Alaska funds to oppose a ballot initiative to end aerial hunting.

See this video, which was not produced by the Obama campaign, on what happens in aerial hunts (I cried). Thanks to for posting this:

  • Alaska sued the federal government to keep polar bears off the endangered species list. Why? Because the bears were in the way of oil drilling!
  • She is a lifelong hunter and NRA member.
  • She owns a commercial fishing business with her husband.
  • She had no qualms about authorizing the killing of mother and cub bears in Alaska.
  • Her husband's favorite sport is dog sled racing, and she is a promoter the Iditarod race.
  • She has publicly declared global warming a "farce" that wasn't created by humans, and it is in Alaska where most of our country's animals will be paying the price for the climate change.

I know animals aren't everything in politics, but if this is who John McCain is picking as a vice-president, I have serious questions about his judgment. Do we want a cold-hearted savage in the White House?

And in case you're wondering about the other side, Biden has an excellent animal-rights record, and so does Obama. He has been endorsed by the Humane Society. Read this short article about Obama supporting animal rights.

Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad. I'm eating it right now. I can't really post a recipe for it because its pretty self-explanatory, chilled pasta + Italian dressing. I probably eat way too much of it, but it's addictive!

I think the best dressing for it is Wishbone Italian, I don't know why, I just think it tastes the most "pasta salad-y." But I don't like it when the pasta is swimming in the dressing, I think a light covering is good enough, along with some black pepper. And what really makes it great for me is some diced onion and bell pepper, and even some black olive pieces. The one I'm eating right now also has some homegrown raw zucchini dices in it. Which makes it absolutely amazing.

What's your favorite way to prepare pasta salad?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vegan Videos

Every so often I like to check out videos on YouTube about veganism. Here are some good finds I think you may enjoy!

Farmer Man

Funny Vegetarian Quotes

Ten Stupid Things Vegans Hear On A Daily Basis

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Vegan in Europe (specific to Ireland)

This summer I went to Ireland for three weeks. Three weeks in a quintessential meat and potato land is quite a challenge (or so I thought it would be.) It actually wasn't that bad. So if you live in Ireland (or UK or other parts of Europe) and think being vegan won't work where you live, here are some tips. This guide is mostly to point out brands, and I wrote this specifically for what I could find in Ireland (I was in Clare, Waterford, and Carlow to be even more specific.)

In the U.S. the best soya* milk is said to Silk. I found that both Alpro (a soya company) and Tesco brand (aka supermarket brand) were about equal and even better than Silk. Alpro also makes some FABULOUS vegan chocolate pudding. Cadbury's hot chocolate powder can be made with soya milk for amazing results :) I brought home 3 tins of it!

If you look in the nutritional aisles of the grocery stores, you should be able to find some vegan products (often made for those with allergies.) In the butter section, you should be able to find Pure brand margarine made from soya oil. It tastes just like butter! Many breads are often vegan, if you're having a hard time finding any, look for French bread, it is not supposed to have any dairy or eggs in it. Irish Pride is vegan.

I found the most amazing soya ice cream to be made by HB. It was chocolate flavor, and nothing I've ever had in the States could ever compare. It had fudge swirls in it and tastes just like real dairy ice cream. Even my non-vegan cousins who've never tried vegan alternatives before said they couldn't tell the difference. I think it also came in strawberry, so look for that next to the normal ice cream in the freezer section.

Don't forget, fresh fruits and vegetables are always available. Pasta and red sauce is always a nutritious meal. Products made for those with allergies are often a good place to look. And don't be afraid to look at random items, (Doritos Chili Heatwave are vegan!) One last note, Guinness beer is processed with animal products :(

I hope this mini-guide is helpful, just comment if you have any specific questions, I may be able to help. Also if you are from Europe and have more country-specific tips or other general tips, please post them!

* In the US, we call what Europeans call soya just soy. They are both the same thing.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Layout Switcharoo - Ads

I kind of changed the layout around a bit। I put the Google search bar on top where it is more accessible, and I put the disclaimer on the bottom of the page so it would stand out more. In case you haven't seen it before, it just says to give me credit if you use anything from this site.
I also rearranged the sidebar to make it a little more logical (important things coming first and more noticeable, making the ads easier to see.)

I didn't put any more ads up, but I put the Google search where you can see it now (I have no idea why I put it in a place nobody would look for it.) The search bar does generate revenue, so if you need to search for something please use it, it does the same thing as going to My plan for the ad money is to do things to help animals and/or my college fund (I'm trying to find a career that will let me help animals.)

So legally I can't ask you to click on the ads, but I can say what the money will be used for. I'm not a person who is usually for ads, but college is expensive and my career or donations will help animals. And to be quite honest, some of the ads are actually really good, I just printed out a coupon for vegan cheese!

If you have any suggestions on the site layout or any gadgets I should add, please let me know I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Time??? What Time??

Well I haven't posted in quite some time.. I feel extremely guilty about it. Lets see, here are my excuses. I worked about 30 hours every week once school ended and did driver's ed on top of that. Then right afterwards I went to Ireland for 3 weeks and never was able to get on a computer. Then immediately after I got home I went to soccer camp for a week, and then I had pre-season training.

And school just started two weeks ago and I am already royally sick of it. I'm taking 5 honors credits. 5 classes (Government, Euro History, English, French History, and French Literature) count as 16 credits for the University of Connecticut (they're transferable), and then I'm taking AP Calculus and AP Chemistry, along with Health and Gym. So even with my study hall, I have multiple papers due each week. Argh!

So I'm trying my best to blog. I love to do it, but I have other things I should probably be doing instead :( I'm going to try to write multiple posts at once and then have them be uploaded automatically at different dates so it looks like I'm posting content regularly. But no guarantees yet, I need to find the time to write them! I cant wait til I'm out of school!!!

Google Search!