Tag Archives: heart health

Heart-healthy for Valentine’s Day!

From the Worcester Historical Museum: a Whitney Valentine

By Edith Morgan
February is Heart Month, too, besides being the month for Valentine’s Day. 

And while, for most of us, Valentine’s Day means lots of sweets (many very sugary), big boxes of chocolates, candies of all sorts, cakes and cookies and cupcakes, I would like to suggest a few treats using healthy foods that nevertheless satisfy the sweet and living theme of this holiday:
Chocolate is always at the top of the list of emotionally satisfying treats, but nowadays we have at our disposal a number of varieties. Chocolate comes in many shades now, and the darker they are, the healthier they are.  So we can buy those chocolates that have at least 70% cacao and use them to create better treats.  You can recognize them by their deeper brown color, and usually their packaging identifies the percentage of cacao in them. Combined with healthy fruits, fresh or dried, makes them a delicious yet healthy choice.
You can buy dark-chocolate covered pomegranates, berries of all kinds, dried fruits, nuts – and put them into creative packages of your own invention.  Or you can buy fresh berries (large strawberries, for example) and dip the tips into melted chocolate and display them around your Valentine cake.

If you feel very creative, dip different fruits into melted chocolate, mount them on a shish-ke-bab skewer and create a “bouquet” of colorful fruits. Of course, they must be eaten fairly soon after you have put them together – but they make a stunning centerpiece for your Valentine’s Day brunch.
A word of warning about melting chocolate: Whether you use dark chocolate chips or break up chocolate bars or try any other form of cooking chocolate, it is easy to try to melt it too fast, and to end up with hard lumps. Chocolate requires patience: If you are not using an old-fashioned double boiler but are using your microwave, as most of us do nowadays, it is important to melt your chocolate gradually – no more than 30 seconds at a time. Check and stir frequently, until the chocolate is smooth and creamy. And then work fast, before it solidifies again.

Lay the dipped fruits on a wax sheet to cool, poke the skewers through (if you are creating a bouquet) and enjoy!

Other fruits are also very decorative, if cut right. Of course, star fruit (carambola) always look good; but oranges and apples, if cut across, also have interesting designs formed by the seeds at their center.
And if you MUST have cupcakes and cakes, try the many new recipes using whole wheat flour, nuts, bran and other healthy foods – and throw in dried berries and nuts to your favorite recipe and make them more heart-healthy … so you can have a delicious, guilt-free holiday.

I wish you all a happy and tasty Valentine’s Day!

In 2016, eat like you mean it!

By Jennifer Bates
2016 is here, and if you’re like millions of others, you’re looking for a way to start the new year off right. You’re mulling over a diet to lose those holiday pounds or finally quitting a bad habit.

But what if your resolution were something life-changing and life-affirming? What if your resolution positively affected not just your life but the lives of millions? What if you finally went vegan in 2016?
You care how animals are treated. You may even have an animal in your life you love dearly. You hate the thought of dogs in China bludgeoned and skinned to make leather. You can’t stand hearing about cats who are tortured and killed by cruel people.
You likely already know that animals raised for their flesh, eggs and bodily secretions are intelligent and sensitive. Pigs can understand a simple language of symbols. Chickens can count and plan for the future, and cows play games with their friends.
And you probably also know that these animals are violently abused and traumatized from birth to death. Turkeys are bred to grow breasts so large that their legs often break under their own enormous weight. Farmed fish have to live in crowded, filthy enclosures full of their own waste. And each year, nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are still alive and conscious when they’re immersed in the scalding-hot water of feather-removal tanks.
But chances are, you still eat foods that come from animals. You tell yourself that it can’t be that bad.
For years I did this, too. I told myself that cows were happy as I downed their milk—milk that I had access to only because calves had been torn away from their mothers to be turned into veal or cheap beef. And, despite the fact that scientists have determined that fish do, in fact, feel pain, as all animals do, I told myself that they didn’t, even though I surely would’ve rushed to the aid of any fish who had washed up alive on the beach.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that animals should have legal protection, and nearly 75 percent of us believe that we should work to eliminate all forms of cruelty to animals and animal suffering. We’re a nation of people who “love” animals.
But we’re also a nation of people who pay others to slaughter animals. We’re a nation of people who devour our “loves” at every meal.
As the number of Americans who say they care about animals increases, so, too, does the number of animals we eat. More than 9 billion land animals are raised and slaughtered for food in the U.S. each year—and that figure doesn’t even include all the sea animals we eat. All told, we’re slaughtering billions more animals than we were 50 years ago.
What’s stopping us from bringing our dinner plates in line with our values? 
As shown by the countless compassionate people who have opted to say no to SeaWorld, bringing our actions in line with our values is nothing more than making a conscious decision to change.
We all make dozens of decisions every day, many of which give us the opportunity to choose kindness. In the grocery store, you already swing by the dairy aisle—try adding almond milk, nondairy coffee creamer and soy cheese to your cart instead of milk-based foods. In the frozen food section, pick up vegan chicken tenders and veggie burgers instead of animal-based ones. Try beans and tofu, squash and mushrooms, rice, pasta, fruit and salads. The animal-free options are endless, not to mention healthier—and delicious. 
Will 2016 be the year you start eating in line with your values? Your new beginning is just a grocery store away.

Tired of being a fatty?

Sick of feeling helpless in the face of global warming? Need a new wardrobe? Love animals and want to see them respected – not abused?


– R.T.



It’s a new year, and that means New Year’s resolutions may be on your mind. Perhaps you’ve decided to drop a few pounds to fit back into those favorite jeans that are hiding in the back of your closet, or maybe you’d like to do your part to save the planet. No matter what your goals are, follow through this year by going vegan, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier 2016!

You won’t believe how easy it is.

You can accomplish all of the following New Year’s resolutions simultaneously—just by going vegan:

1. Be More Adventurous


If you’re bored with your daily routine and eating the same foods, there’s a whole new world of vegan food for you to explore. Seitan, tempeh, and tofu can all be prepared in a number of delicious ways.

2. Be Kinder


What could be more kind than saving animals? This new year, give up animal flesh and other animal-derived foods and switch to a compassionate plant-based diet.

3. Lose Weight

Following a vegan diet that’s full of fruits and veggies has helped many people lose weight. Of course, tons of junk food options are vegan, too, so be sure to steer clear of processed foods if you really want to kick your weight loss to the next level!

4. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint


A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute.

While biking to work is a great way to cut down on emissions, nothing compares to the impact you’ll make when you go vegan.

5. Save Water

While skipping showers is one way to conserve water, the very best way is by going vegan. More than half of the water used in the United States today goes to animal agriculture, and since farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human population, the run-off from farm waste is fouling our waterways.

6. Be Healthier

Vegans are approximately one-ninth as likely to be obese as meat-eaters and have a cancer rate that is only 40 percent that of meat-eaters. People who consume animal-derived foods are also at increased risk for many other illnesses, including strokes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, multiple allergies, diabetes, and food poisoning. Learn more about the health benefits of vegetarian eating.

7. Reduce Your Cholesterol

Did you know that cholesterol is only found in animal-derived foods? For a healthier 2016, go vegan to cut out all cholesterol from your diet.

8. Update Your Wardrobe

Being vegan isn’t just about food choices—animals suffer and are killed for fur, leather, and wool. If your New Year’s resolution is to update your wardrobe, be sure to make compassionate choices like buying fashionable vegan leather and other synthetic options.

9. Donate to Charity

Consider donating old fur items to the homeless to help keep them warm this winter.

10. Save Money

Not only does eating veggies keep you healthier, it also helps you save money! Compared to the prices of animal flesh, plant-based staples—like beans, rice, pasta, and tofu—are much cheaper than meat.

11. Travel More

Put aside any savings you have from not purchasing meat or expensive animal skins, and use the money for a trip to a place you’ve always wanted to explore.

If any of these New Year’s resolutions are on your list, make sure you follow through with them by going vegan—you’ll accomplish your goals and so much more!

Pledge to go vegan!

A vegan holiday gives everyone reason to be thankful

By Craig Shapiro
If it’s OK to be happy about who won’t be there this year when the clan gets together for Thanksgiving, then I’m happy. Really happy.
We’ll once again dig into a festive, flavorful dinner with all the fixin’s, and no one’s going to push away from the table hungry. But for the first time, turkey won’t be on our menu. After masquerading as a vegetarian for some time — my rickety resolve always dissolved at this time of year — I recently went all in and committed to going vegan.
Thanksgiving, in my book, tops the holiday list. It’s about family, grace and, especially, compassion. So why celebrate it by tearing into the flesh of another being?
Did you know that turkeys will sit for hours to have their feathers stroked? Or that they’re gentle by nature but will also protect their friends? They’re intelligent, too, and, like our cats and dogs, are playful individuals with unique personalities. Wild turkeys, who live for about 10 years, can fly 55 miles per hour and like to roost in oak and pine trees.
Most of the 45 million turkeys who will be slaughtered for Thanksgiving this year get to enjoy none of these simple pleasures. They are hatched in incubators, not by their mothers, and, at a few weeks old, are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds. To prevent them from hurting each other in these stressful conditions, parts of their beaks and toes are cut off, without the use of any painkillers. They’re bred to gain a lot of weight very rapidly—so much that many experience organ failure and heart attacks. They can’t fly, and many can’t even walk because their legs can’t support all that unnatural weight.
When they’re 3 to 5 months old, turkeys raised for their flesh are violently stuffed into crates and trucked to slaughterhouses, where they are shackled upside-down, have their throats cut and are dunked into tanks of scalding-hot water—often while still conscious.
I’m certain I’ll enjoy Thanksgiving more without having any of that cruelty on my conscience.
And I’ll feel good, too, knowing that my choice is the greener one. A sweeping U.N. study singled out animal agriculture as being largely responsible for 19 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, 38 percent of land use and 70 percent of freshwater consumption. The tons of waste produced by factory farms have contaminated groundwater, lakes and rivers.
And here’s the (vegan) icing on the cake: My family will tuck into Thanksgiving dinner without worrying about the health issues, among them heart disease and cancer, that have been linked to eating meat, eggs and dairy products. Vegan foods are cholesterol-free, usually low in saturated fats and high in fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
I’ve only been vegan for a few months, but the early returns look good. My blood pressure is 112/58, lower than the 120/80 favored by the National Institutes of Health. My cholesterol is down, too. Pretty soon, I’ll need to buy new pants. Goodbye, size 36. Hello, size 34!
I’ve even been sleeping better. While I can’t say with scientific certainty that going vegan is the reason, I do know there’s a rock-solid connection between a clear conscience and the choice I’ve made—that no animal will ever again suffer to fill my plate.
I couldn’t be more thankful.

Bacon is “trending” now: Pass the carcinogens!

By Heather Moore
The meat-eating public’s general reaction — disbelief, denial and anger — to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) announcement that bacon and other processed meats cause cancer and that red meat, including beef, pork and lamb, is probably also carcinogenic, shows that meat is not just cancerous. It’s also addictive. Even after reading reports linking meat to colorectal cancer — which can cause diarrhea, rectal bleeding and abdominal pain and even be fatal — many meat-eaters are refusing to change their eating habits. Some even insist that they’d rather die than stop eating bacon. 
I think those people need to attend Meat and Dairy Eaters Anonymous meetings to help them kick their unhealthy addiction, or they may well get what they want.
Seriously. There are 12-step programs to help people kick their addictions to alcohol and cigarettes, and according to WHO, cured and processed meats belong in the same category. Kim Robien, a cancer epidemiologist at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, says the WHO report is “very legitimate” and confirms longstanding research showing that meat consumption raises one’s risk of cancer.
Just a few days after the WHO report first made headlines, scientists from Oxford University revealed that eating one steak per week increases one’s risk of colorectal cancer by more than two-fifths and that people who eat meat twice a week have an 18 percent higher risk compared with vegetarians.

Other studies have linked meat consumption to heart disease, diabetes, strokes and several other types of cancer.
And yet many people are still eating meat!
This may be because meat and other animal-based foods contain opiates and other drug-like chemicals that cause people to get “hooked” and keep craving more.

A recent study conducted at the University of Michigan and released by the U.S. National Library of Medicine indicates that the more processed and fatty a food is, the more likely it is to cause addictive eating behavior. Meat-eaters and vegans alike can agree that many vegan foods, such as strawberries, peaches and pasta with marinara sauce, are quite tasty, but they’re not chemically addictive.
Researchers identify addictive foods based on people’s responses to the Yale Food Addiction Scale questionnaire. Many people reportedly have a hard time controlling their intake of foods such as pizza, steak, bacon, cheeseburgers and ice cream. Cheese is thought to be especially addictive because the casein (milk protein) it contains releases opiates called casomorphins.
According to Dr. Neal Barnard, the author of Breaking the Food Seduction, it takes just three weeks to kick cravings for addictive foods like meat and cheese.

This explains why 21-day vegan programs are so popular—and effective. If you stopped eating addictive foods for three weeks, you’d crave them much less than you would if you had eaten them the previous day.
Giving meat and other animal-based foods the boot will reduce your risk of life-threatening illnesses and help animals at the same time.

Researchers have found that people who eat plant-based meals are between 25 and 50 percent less likely to get cancer, and each vegan spares more than 100 animals every year.
Bacon isn’t worth dying for — not for people and not for pigs. With so many tasty vegan foods to enjoy, kicking the meat habit is entirely possible. And it could save your life!

February is American Heart Month! Hearty Vegan Recipes help keep your “ticker” in tip-top shape!

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

Peanutty Salad

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
Vegan croutons
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 

Flaming Firehouse Chili Credit PETA


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