Veg talk on WashingtonPost.com

The Washington Post has frequent online live food chats as part of their “What’s Cooking” series. Today’s edition is a vegetarian chat and has a lot of Q&A-style discussion. Among the topics discussed: soy milks, vegan butters, egg replacer, and the requisite “How can i get my protein?” question.

Another idiot speaks

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Vegan.com points out this opinion piece that denounces Paul McCartney, Jason Alexander, and Alec Baldwin for taking an interest in animal rights. The piece ends with the obnoxious statement that “Human children growing up in Soweto, Chechnya and Haiti should have pals like Paul, Jason and Alec, don’t you think?” implying that these celebrities should pay attention to starving children instead of animals.

What is with this inane argument against animal rights? As if we have some sort of limit on compassion and that if we send some love the animals’ way, we’re somehow taking attention away from human suffering? Come on now.

Vegetarian diet can lower cholesterol as well as drugs

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All over the news in recent days is a small study that contends a vegetarian diet can lower cholesterol as well as drugs:

It involved 46 men and women with high cholesterol levels. Sixteen ate the vegetarian diet for one month, 16 consumed a very low-fat diet, and 14 ate the low-fat diet and took 20 milligrams of lovastatin (sold as Mevacor) every day for a month.

The vegetarian group showed an average drop of 28.6 percent in their LDL cholesterol, the “bad cholesterol” that can raise the risk of heart disease. That was about equal to the 30.9 percent reduction seen in the low-fat diet plus statin group. By contrast, the low-fat diet-only group had just an 8 percent drop.

This falls under that “yeah, but we knew that already” category, but it’s still good to see it get such wide coverage, even if some outlets refer to it as the “ape diet.”

Atkins, Fat, and Heart Disease

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Paul pointed out “The perils of the Atkins diet,” from Texas A&M’s The Battalion which discusses how Atkins isn’t healthy in the long-term and isn’t really all that effective as a weight-loss diet, either. One point the writer makes that’s kind of unique, though it’s probably not news to long-time vegetarians, is that the Atkins diet is more expensive than low-fat, reduced-meat diets. Add this to the years of research that goes against the Atkins hi-fat, hi-protein philosophy and the recent study of more than 90,000 women that links animal fats to breast cancer, and you have pretty much every reason in the world not to follow Atkins. Erik Marcus over at Vegan.com also made a good point a while back when he referred to the Atkins diet as a nightmare for the animals.

Someone said to me the other day, “I want to lose some weight… how can I cut out carbs from my diet?” I said, “Well, first of all, you don’t want to cut carbs from your diet. You want to replace simple carbs with complex carbs… whole wheat bread instead of white, whole wheat or mixed pasta instead of regular pasta, high-fiber cereals, etc. Then you want to cut back on saturated fat and trans fat… avoid the snacks with partially hydrogenated oils… replace your cooking oils with olive oil, canola oil, and high oleic safflower oil (for high-temperature frying)…” And then I realized I was starting to sound like my mom. :)

I think people just have this idea that they want to lose as much weight as they can, quickly, and with little effort. Eat more meat? Sure! Everybody loves their steak, why not eat more of it and lose weight! Really, who needs fiber, anyway? What we need to be thinking is, “How can I be healthier?” Weight loss doesn’t necessarily map one-to-one with health… after all, anorexia can help you shed those pounds fast, but it’s not exactly helping you get your nutrients.