Archive for August, 2012

The Great GMO Debate

There’s big news in health and nutrition this week. It’s an issue that’s much older than just a few days, but it’s hot button topic right now. #Prop37 is a trending topic on Twitter and it deals with GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).

I guarantee that acronym is familiar to you, but maybe you don’t know exactly what it means, or what the big issue is. Let me give you a quick run down. A GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using another organism’s genes to obtain desired traits. It’s a preferred method because food can be genetically modified be resistant to herbicides and/or produce their own pesticidal proteins. The company Monsanto is the largest producer of GMO food crops.

It sounds great, right? The issues is the fact that we don’t know what the effect is overtime on humans. Rats that were fed GMOs showed liver damage. Despite this, the FDA says that GMOs are “generally recognized as safe.” GM crops were supposed to increase production with less use of pesticides; however, that’s not what’s actually happening.

The bottom line is do we want to consume foods that might hurt us down the line, or are hurting us already? The issue lately is Proposition 37 in California. Proposition 37 is all about making it mandatory for food companies to properly label foods containing GMOs. Europe is already doing this, but we don’t have it in America. It’s predicted that the direction California goes (as in voting yay or nay), the rest of the country will soon follow.

Some big companies that consume every day are donating BIG bucks to make sure that this gets voted down. Monsanto, the biggest producer of GMOs and a huge abuser of farmers across the country (have you seen Forks Over Knives?), has donated 4 million bucks to ensure that you don’t know what you’re eating.

What’s worse, a lot of awesome veg brands who are owned by non-veg parent companies are involved. Dean Foods, parent company of Silk, donated $253,000. Silk will adamantly deny involvement and will declare that they have been properly labeling their products, and they have. Other brands, such as Lightlife, Larabar, and more are involved as well all because of their parent companies.

My problem isn’t specifically with these companies. You can’t blame the child when it’s the parent’s fault, right? My issue is that these companies have completely different values from their parent companies. Dean Foods is a dairy company, yet Silk commercials promote not drinking milk! Meanwhile, the dairy industry is laughing at us when we think we’re making an environmental difference when we choose Silk over dairy. Either way, they profit.

So, what can we do? First, look in to Proposition 37, even if you aren’t a resident in California. Maybe GMOs are totally harmless, but I want to know what’s in my food. There’s a reason these companies don’t want us to know what’s in the food. I’m tired of big money companies having the power over what goes into my body and having no concern of the negative consequences. Second, look in to GMOs and learn everything that you can learn.  Buy products that label with No GMOs. There’s a great app for the iPhone called ShopNoGMO – look into it! Third, check out Monsanto, but not just their website. Watch Forks Over Knives and Food, Inc. to see behind the scenes of the food industry and learn how Monsanto is changing the farming industry, perhaps not for the better.

The best thing we can do is be informed consumers. An excuse that the big companies like Monsanto use to fight Proposition 37 is that a change of labels and including GMO ingredients would just confuse the consumer. They don’t think we’re smart enough! Prove them wrong.

Info from Say No to GMOs


August 22, 2012 at 12:52 am Leave a comment

Fak’n Bac’n: to Eat or Not to Eat

It’s a big question in the vegan community. Are we screwing “the cause” by eating vegan meat-like products?

I read a blog  a couple months ago and, unfortunately, I cannot find it to post. The entry discussed that very question. After finishing the article, I commented with my most immediate reaction. A good life tip: that’s usually not a good idea. Take a moment and really think about it.

My first reaction to this was go ahead and eat fake meat! It’s a substitution for all the vegans of the world who weren’t born vegan and it eases the switch. More importantly, fake meat is just that – fake! Not one single animal suffers for the production of vegan fake meat. How does this harm our cause at all??

Weeks later, I’ve got to thinking. A couple days ago, I stumbled upon another blog (which, of course, I also can’t remember) that posted a video from Gary Yourofsky. If you’ve never heard of him, he’s a HUGE animal activist and vegan. He started ADAPTT – Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today & Tomorrow. Among other things, he did a college lecture tour. He’s a fantastic lecturer and I’m sure he convinced many, many students to make the switch. His presentation included two videos: one of a slaughterhouse and the second at a dairy farm. If you’re wondering which was worse for me it was the dairy farm. Seeing the animals get slaughtered was brutal and disgusting, but at a dairy farm in Ohio, workers were literally BEATING defenseless animals for absolutely NO reason. One actually said, “I don’t think it hurts ’em. I just keep going until I hear [moaning cow noise impersonation].” How stupid do you have to be to think that, nevermind actually say it out loud? Let me kick YOU in the head and ribs and we’ll see if it hurts. It amazes me that someone would actually think that an animal wouldn’t feel pain. I mean, we all know animals feel pain. Have you ever stepped on your cats paw? They freak out because they feel PAIN just like us.

Moving on, Gary does a LOT of promotion of several different fake meats, milks, and cheeses, stating that he’s tried all of these products and more and the products he discusses are what he enjoys most. His lectures are done in front of college students, most of which are unlikely to be vegans, so this is a great way to get them to see the options that they may not have known existed. My issue was when he said that these products have the same (or similar) taste and texture as meat. I haven’t tried ALL of the products, but for what I’ve tasted, that’s simply not true. And I think it’s more of a turn off to walk into veganism thinking nothing will change only to find that everything has changed and nothing tastes the same. That would send me right back on the path to Meatville. And it has, multiple times.

Now, back to the question – does fake meat harm the cause? Gary is deep into the cause. He’s been arrested several times and is banned from multiple countries all in the name of animal rights. And here he is fully promoting fake meat products. I honestly don’t believe that consuming fake meat products hurts what vegans are trying to do.

Lately, the vegan movement has become a health movement because that is what people want to hear. “This is healthy and better for your body, and by the way, you’ll be helping the world, too!” People are selfish and want to hear how something benefits themselves first. Well, veganism is the opposite of selfishness; it’s a sacrifice. “I’m choosing to give up foods that I love and traditions that I hold dear to help the animals of the world.” That might be what encourages vegans to not partake in the fake meat industry. They don’t even want to substitute meat. And, truth be told, fake meat isn’t the healthiest stuff you can eat. It’s loaded with sodium and can include preservatives. Some are better for you than others, but nothing beats full on whole foods made in your kitchen.

I think there’s a compromise here, though. Variety. Most of the time, you should be eating whole foods, but sometimes, you can include fake meats. Honestly, I think they are good for meat eaters to get a glance into the vegan world. Tacos with Fieldroast Mexican sausage or with meat crumbles are delicious and the meat eaters in my family enjoyed the sausage more than I did! The important thing is not to take a bite of a chik’n nugget and think it’s going to be identical to a chicken nugget. As for that question you may get from an omnivore, “Why do you eat fake meat if you don’t want to eat meat?” you have the answer: “No animals were harmed in the making of this meat.”

August 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

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