By Heather Moore at PETA.ORG
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Experts estimate that the cost of treating cardiovascular disease in the U.S. will triple to $818 billion per year by 2030.
That prediction alone is enough to give some people a heart attack. But don’t panic — you can reduce your risk of a heart attack just by eating great-tasting vegan foods rather than meat, eggs, and dairy products. This February, American Heart Month, why not enjoy some hearty, heart-healthy vegan meals and help keep the economy—and your own wallet—out of the red?
Unlike animal-based foods, vegan foods are cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat. Dr. William Roberts, the editor of the American Journal of Cardiology, says that eating vegan is the “least expensive and safest” way to prevent plaque—cholesterol, fat, and other harmful substances—from building up in the arteries around your heart.
A study at Loma Linda University in California, which involved more than 26,000 African-Americans, showed that black vegans and vegetarians have a significantly lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, obesity, and high blood pressure than their meat-eating counterparts.
But everyone would be better off eating healthy, humane vegan meals, regardless of race, age, or gender. According to Dr. David Jenkins, a nutrition scientist at the University of Toronto, “the evidence is very strong that vegans, who eat no animal products, have the best cardiovascular health profile and the lowest cholesterol levels.”
If you want to reduce your risk of a heart attack, try eating tasty vegan foods, such as lentil soup, veggie burgers, fruit smoothies, pasta with marinara sauce, bean burritos, and oatmeal with almond milk and blueberries.
Here are a few simple heart-healthy recipes to get you started:
Cocoa–Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 medium banana, cut into chunks and frozen
1 cup soy or almond milk
4 tsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp. maple syrup
· Place all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.
Makes 1 serving
1 cup prepared vegan Italian dressing (such as Wishbone)
1/4 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 head leaf and/or romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Sunflower seeds or chopped peanuts
Finely chopped green onions (optional)
In a small bowl, gradually blend the dressing into the peanut butter using a wire whisk. Toss the lettuce, croutons, sunflower seeds or peanuts, and green onions in a bowl. Place in individual salad bowls and top with peanut butter dressing.
Makes 1 1/4 cups dressing
Flaming Firehouse Chili
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (12-oz.) pkg. cooked vegan ground beef (such as Boca or Beyond Meat beefy crumbles)
1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup hot chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups hot salsa
1 cup water
3 cups canned kidney beans
· Heat the oil in a large chili pot over medium heat.
· Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
· Add the vegan ground beef, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt, salsa, and water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
· Add the kidney beans and simmer 15 minutes longer to heat through and blend flavors. Add more water, if necessary, until the desired consistency is reached.
Makes 4 to 5 servings