Managing Diabetes Through a Vegetarian Diet

Woman with Diabetes Measuring Blood Sugar & Eating Fresh Vegetables

While there is no cure for diabetes, whether Type I or Type II, it can be controlled and managed through several treatment methods.

Diet can play a large part in managing diabetes, to the point where some patients may even experience a remission of diabetic symptoms and can decrease their insulin use.

However, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center, that does not mean the disease has been cured, as by the time Type I has been diagnosed about 90 percent of insulin-producing cells in the body have already been destroyed.

The same mechanism can still be active, even though weight loss and blood sugar management through dietary means could potentially reduce the need for insulin. It can also significantly reduce the complications from the diabetes disease later on. One of potentially beneficial diets to help manage blood sugar levels and begin a weight loss program is the vegetarian diet.

Woman with Diabetes Measuring Blood Sugar & Eating Fresh Vegetables

Different Types of Vegetarian Diets and Their Impact on Mortality

Strictly speaking, vegans do not eat any form of dairy or eggs, as well as no red meat, poultry, or seafood. However, that change can be too drastic for some people to start right away, and isn’t critical if you are just trying to get health benefits from reducing red meat consumption in your diet.

However, vegans experience a 15 percent drop in mortality rates compared to non-vegetarians, according to a study done by the Seventh Day Adventists on a sample of over 73,000 individuals surveyed between 2002 and 2007.

Friends Enjoying Healthy, Vegetarian Meal Together

But most vegetarian diets show a drop in mortality rates even if they’re not strictly vegan. For instance, here are a few possible diets that can help with diabetes that aren’t strictly vegan:

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet

In this diet, people are allowed to eat eggs and dairy as well as a plant-based diet. No meat is allowed. This group experienced a nine percent drop in mortality rates for the same study.

Semi-Vegetarian Diet

This diet includes poultry and fish, but very sparingly. It avoids red meat completely. The bulk of the diet is plant-based. However, semi-vegetarians in the study experienced an eight percent drop in mortality rates compared to non-vegetarians.

Pesco-Vegetarian Diet

This diet includes fish as a meat substitute in the diet with some surprising results. The drop in mortality rate was even higher than for vegans. The drop in mortality rates was 19 percent higher than non-vegetarians, and 15 percent higher than strict vegans.

How a Vegetarian Diet Helps Promote Health

Red meats and poultry tend to have higher quantities of fats that can clog the arteries and thus can contribute to the development of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. The extra pounds tend to exacerbate conditions like diabetes. High blood pressure can also result.

However, once a vegetarian diet is implemented the same drawbacks can become positives that vegetarians experience:

Beneficial Weight Loss

By reducing meat consumption, many people easily reduce total inbound calories in their diets. By including more plant-based fiber, they still get the experience of feeling full without all the extra fat. The weight loss can help lower the need for insulin in some diabetes patients.

Less fat in the diet can also lead to a lower Body Mass Index (BMI). Overall, diabetics can help control blood sugar levels more easily and with fewer complications from the disease when patients are not dealing with being overweight as well.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Cancer

The Loma Linda University did a study on vegetarians and their rate of colorectal cancer decreased when compared to non-vegetarians. In particular, vegetarians reduced their risk of the disease by 22 percent, whereas pesco-vegetarians reduced their risk by as much as 43 percent. The Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to help in the reduction of heart disease and cancer and thus a pesco-vegetarian diet, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, can be helpful for the reduction of chronic conditions like diabetes as well.

Eating Vegetarian Diet for Heart Health

Management of Blood Sugar Levels

Not only can a vegetarian diet help in the control of blood sugar levels but, according to the Mayo Clinic, it can also help with insulin response. This can help reduce the need for insulin.

What About Nutritional Requirements?

Vegetarian diets are often criticized for lacking important nutrients. After all, red meat is one of the best sources of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, right?

Fortified milk is a good source of vitamin D and calcium. Fish is essential for omega-3 fatty acids and iodine. However, many of the fears of nutritional deficiencies can be alleviated with a semi-vegetarian or pesco-vegetarian diet.

If one goes full vegan, it is wise to pay attention to what foods can take the place of meat to provide the same nutritional benefits and even supplement the diet with vitamins and minerals, when necessary. (Learn more about where vegetarians get their protein, calcium and iron.)

How to Make the Switch and Stay on Track

Dietary changes can be challenging, but with so many different types of vegetarianism to choose from it can be less daunting. Going strictly vegan from a Standard American Diet (SAD) is simply not doable for some people, and might impact their nutritional needs.

There is some education that an individual must undergo as one starts to pay more attention to their food choices, particularly for diabetics. They may not realize that if they choose to be strictly vegan they will need to substitute nuts and beans to obtain the same proteins they got from meat. So, it can be easier for some to try a semi-vegetarian diet for a while before going full-blown vegetarian or vegan.

In addition, high-glycemic foods can derail even the best vegetarian diet if eaten to excess. By testing out the different forms of vegetarianism, people can get a good idea of how it feels emotionally and physically to be on a different diet and find the right dietary arrangement that works for them and their diabetic conditions.

After some reading and experimentation with new recipes, the switch often becomes more smooth and it becomes easier to stay on track when you have a repertoire of good vegetarian recipes to choose from with the ingredients in your pantry or refrigerator.

Make It A Fun Exploration, Not A Chore

For some, switching to a new diet can even be fun. It means you get to explore new recipes and new ingredients you may never heard of before. You may find you like tofu and tempeh, or that lentils and rice are your new comfort food. You can find novel ways to use nuts, including whirring them in a blender to produce your own almond milk.

Explore ethnic foods that have a high degree of vegetarianism built in, like Indian and Mexican cuisines. Go to vegetarian restaurants and see what’s on the menu then try to reproduce it at home. Explore whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Be adventuresome with the diet!

Couple Enjoying Dinner at a Vegetarian Restaurant

Keep In Mind Your Diabetic Needs

To make sure that your diet is on track to meet your diabetic needs, always seek advice from your physician or nutritionist. They may steer you clear of high-glycemic foods, depending on how your diet turns out.

Your physician or nutritionist can educate you on the need for combining legumes with grains for a complete protein, or how to add products that are fortified with necessary dietary requirements, like soy milk fortified with vitamin D.

Beans & Legumes as Vegetarian Protein Source

They can also monitor your progress and provide additional community resources as you continue on your fascinating voyage of vegetarianism to manage blood sugar levels, reduce your need for insulin, and reduce complications from diabetes.

Wendy’s Announces New Vegetarian- and Vegan-Friendly Black Bean Burger

Wendy's Black Bean Burger

Move over, McDonald’s and Burger King; there’s a new vegetarian-friendly burger in town and it’s drawing rave reviews among diners, especially among vegetarians and vegans.

Wendy’s, America’s third largest fast food chain, is test marketing a new Black Bean Burger that finally gives vegans and veggie lovers alike real, edible options – virtually unheard of at other quick service chains.

Unlike McDonald’s not-so-successful attempt 15 years ago at making a meatless patty called the McVeggie Burger, Wendy’s has crafted a completely different blend of black beans, peppers, wild rice and zesty spices.

Wendy’s is also giving Burger King’s Veggie Burger and some stiff competition. While BK’s burger has historically received reasonably high ratings, critics say it’s high in sodium and cholesterol – a whopping 1,090 grams and 10 mg, respectively. Calorie-wise, BK’s Veggie Burger is comparable to Wendy’s vegan version at 420 calories each. Wendy’s standard recipe packs 19 grams of protein, compared to BK’s whopping 23 grams—great if you like textured soy protein.

Black Beans vs. Textured Soy Protein

Rather than try to offer another soy-based meat substitute, Wendy’s instead focused on creating a mouthwatering burger packed with wholesome flavor, something that vegetarians will love, and meat eaters can appreciate too.

If you’re looking for that chargrilled flavor meat lovers crave, you’re more likely to find it at Wendy’s than the other quick-service chains. The Wendy’s Black Bean Burger is even courteously cooked on a separate grill so there’s no cross-contamination with meat products served at the restaurant. (Thank you for realizing that the grimy meat grill is a huge turn-off for vegetarians!)

This zesty burger is tender on the inside with a hearty outer crust you’d expect from a grilled hamburger. There’s simply no comparison with BK’s microwaved version, which uses a Morningstar Farms© Veggie Burger, running the risk of sacrificing taste and texture. BK’s Veggie Burger derives its meaty taste from mushrooms, water chestnuts, black olives, rolled oats, and sugar — sadly, an ingredient carb conscious consumers might want to nix. Both the McVeggie and BK Veggie Burger were made with textured soy protein, a far cry from the fresh legumes, grains, vegetables and spices Wendy’s includes in its Black Bean Burger.

Is the Wendy’s Black Bean Burger Healthy?

While we won’t say that a black bean burger from a fast food restaurant is a “healthy” food, we can say that studies suggest that black beans can help prevent colon cancer, Type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. They’re a low-sodium and cholesterol-free food, but we can’t say the same for the other parts of the burger. Even without the cheese and sauce, this burger is a hefty portion of sodium, so we don’t necessarily recommend making this a staple of your diet. At the end of the day, it’s still a special treat.

The Wendy’s Black Bean Burger is naturally vegetarian-friendly, and without the cheese or Asiago Ranch sauce, it can be vegan-friendly as well.  The standard preparation includes milk and cheese, but customers can opt for Wendy’s vegan version without dairy products. The vegan version is just as tasty with only 420 calories, zero cholesterol, a mere 12 grams of sugar, 14 grams of protein and just 68 carbs.

Wendy’s new vegetarian Black Bean Burger is a quarter pound patty – round, not square in the Wendy’s burger tradition – topped with a slice of Colby Pepper Jack cheese, tomato and leaf lettuce, crowned with a hearty dollop of Asiago ranch sauce on a toasted multi-grain bun. Wendy’s new burger patty combines tender black beans blended with red and green bell peppers, quinoa, farro (an ancient grain), brown rice, wild rice, sea salt, oregano, and a Southwestern trio of cilantro, garlic, and chili powder for a little kick. It’s hard to believe this is straight off of a fast food menu.

Wendy’s Black Bean Burger Test Markets

At present, the Black Bean Burger is being tested in just three U.S. cities: Columbus, Ohio, home of Wendy’s corporate headquarters; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Columbia, South Carolina. Tasters say Wendy’s new veggie burger is pleasant and savory enough to justify paying an average $4.59 per sandwich. Yes, the price is higher than your standard dollar menu Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, but it’s an absolute steal for vegetarians who historically don’t get to enjoy the occasional quick-service drive-through meal like the rest of America. It’s also a great price if you want robust flavor in a healthier and more environmentally sound alternative to meat in your fast food experience.

People are practically begging to have the Black Bean Burger brought to their cities. If you’re interested in getting Wendy’s to debut its new veggie Black Bean Burger in your hometown, try voicing your opinion in the online petitions at and to hopefully bring the Black Bean Veggie Burger to your neighborhood.

Learn more about the Wendy’s Black Bean Burger straight from the restaurant here, and view the commercial here:

W.H.O. Links Red Meat to Cancer

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research division of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), recently announced that processed meats and red meats have clear correlative links to to cancers. Any meat that has been modified to change the taste or to add preservatives is considered “processed.” This includes a variety of foods common to your grocery store shelves, like bacon, ham, hot dogs, beef jerky, canned meats, and even meat-based sauces. Red meats, or muscle meat from mammals, including beef, pork, lamb, horse and goat.

A team of 22 experts from 10 different countries around the world worked together analyzing more than 800 studies of meat consumption worldwide, as well as past scientific research, and concluded that processed meats increase the risk of developing cancer, and that excess consumption of red meat may increase the risk as well. According to their findings, a mere 50 grams of processed meat per day in a person’s diet can increase their risk of developing colorectal cancer by 17 percent. Processed meats have thus been classified as Class 1 carcinogens, placing them in the same category as substances like tobacco and diesel fumes. Unprocessed red meat, given a classification of 2A, was found to be “probable” carcinogens that may cause colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.

The U.S. Ranks #2 Worldwide in Meat Consumption

Considering the fact that the United States ranks third worldwide in meat consumption at 90.0 kg of meat per capita (almost 200 pounds of meat per year per person), just slightly behind Australia in the #1 spot, these findings may be quite alarming because of the number of meat products included. The World Health Organization has essentially revealed that many of the meats that make up a huge portion of American diets are dangerous.

Everything in Moderation

So is the W.H.O. suggesting that we all become vegetarian or vegan? Or should we limit our meat consumption to only fresh poultry and fish and become pescatarian? Not necessarily. Officials at the W.H.O.’s International Agency for Research on Cancer are saying that while the risk of developing cancer from these meats remains small, but increases with the amount consumed. While we at Vegetarian Nation always support anyone who wants to reduce or eliminate meat and meat byproducts from their diet, eating red meat is not automatically a carcinogenic death sentence. Many health and nutrition experts agree that it is all about moderation.

Although processed meats and red meats have been found to be associated with cancer, you do not necessarily have to eliminate them completely from your diet. Although processed and red meats have been linked to cancer, they are still far less dangerous than smoking. For years, processed foods and red meat have been said to have unhealthy effects if consumed in great quantities, so the W.H.O. announcement does not come entirely by surprise. This new evidence just further proves that balance is a very important part of a healthy diet.Although processed meats and red meats have been found to be associated with cancer, you do not necessarily have to eliminate them completely from your diet. Meats have protein and other beneficial nutrients – aim for organic, grass-fed, hormone-free, and humanely farm-raised meats in small portions for optimal nutrition and safety – and many of their harmful affects can be counteracted with greater intake of healthy, fibrous fruits and vegetables.

(Warning: Terrible pun forthcoming.)

The “Steaks” Were Never Higher

What does this announcement mean for the meat industry? Not surprisingly, the meat industry is reeling against the W.H.O. announcement in defense of their industry.

Many people have already started eliminated meats and processed foods from their diets in recent years, and for a number of reasons. Beef consumption peaked in the mid-1970s and has been on the decline since, while turkey has held relatively steady, and chicken consumption has risen dramatically to an all-time high.

Could this news about red meat being linked to colorectal and other cancers encourage even more people to stop eating processed and red meats? Anything is possible, and for that reason the meat industry has had a lot to say about the World Health Organization’s findings, going so far as to call the organization’s findings “biased,” “dramatic,” and “misleading.” The executive director of human nutrition for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Shalene McNeill, told CNN that she feels the evidence does not support “any casual link between any red meat and cancer.”  The North American Meat Institute made light of the World Health Organization’s report, citing that they have also classified yoga pants as a cancer hazard. The Meat Advisory Panel in the U.K. said that “avoiding red meat in the diet is not a protective strategy against cancer.”

What Happens Next

Despite the news that processed meats and red meats have been linked to colorectal and other cancers, the meat industry isn’t in full panic mode just yet. It has been a well-known fact for many years that consuming too much of these foods can lead to a number of health issues. But to say that a few slices of bacon or a hot dog will give you cancer would be a huge reach, nor is the W.H.O. report claiming as much. It is very likely that people who consume processed and red meat will continue to do so. The World Health Organization’s findings instead support the need for a balanced diet, which can include these meats in small portions and lots of healthy fruits and veggies.

It is highly unlikely that people will eliminate these foods, purely out of habit and desire. Hot dogs will continue being served at barbecues and bacon will still be present at breakfast. At first glance the World Health Organization’s findings may be shocking to some, but there are many carcinogens associated with cancer. People are aware that things like tobacco and over-exposure to the sun can increases the risk of developing cancer, but cigarettes are still sold and families still go to the beach.

Planning to Cut Back Your Meat Consumption?

If you are one of the many people who will consider reducing or eliminating meat consumption, though, we welcome you to the Vegetarian Nation with open arms. No judgment here. If you need any help cutting back on meat and adding more healthy, balanced, vegetarian-friendly dishes to your menu, we’re here to help. Whether it’s help with vegetarian and vegan recipes, recommendations for meat substitutes, or simply moral support – call on the vegetarian community and we’ll be there for you every step of the way.

Top 9 Travel Tips for Vegetarians & Vegans

Food is a fundamental part of culture, especially in foreign countries. Think of the bratwurst in Germany, the tapas in Spain, or the famous roadhouse barbecue across the United States. Meat plays a very large role in the majority of food dishes throughout the world, so traveling can be a bit of a downer when you visit a restaurant and find that your options as a vegetarian are limited. You may even feel a bit left out watching your travel mates dine on some delicious looking, traditional fare while you’re stuck with a plate of steamed veggies or snacks you packed from home.

Being a vegetarian doesn’t have to mean missing out on the good stuff while you’re traveling, though. Food should be the best part of your vacation. While you may not wish to eat any of the typical plates common to some destinations, you have the opportunity to explore other aspects of the local diet and unlock culinary tidbits that may go unnoticed to the traditional carnivorous tourist.

Below are 10 tips you can follow in order to make your travels a little less stressful at mealtimes, and still have a fantastic time enjoying all the amazing food the world has to offer, while staying true to your vegetarian or vegan diet.

1. Learn the Local Food Lingo

If you’re traveling abroad, it’s important to pick up on a few essential phrases before arriving. Apart from being able to ask for basic directions or tell your name, vegetarians have a few other sentences they’ll want to have memorized. You’ll want to go beyond simply saying, “I’m a vegetarian,” because that alone may not mean the same thing in each country. In some countries, fish isn’t considered meat. In some cases, even chicken isn’t considered meat!

Instead, focus on learning the specifics. In addition to learning Je suis vegetarienne, you may also wish to learn phrases like, “No meat, please,” and, “I don’t eat beef, pork, chicken or poultry.” Even learn how to ask, “Is there a vegetarian option or menu?”

Woman Ordering at Restaurant

In popular tourist areas abroad, most restaurant staff speak some English these days. If you’re in the U.S. or an English-speaking country, then just remember to be polite and respectfully inquire rather than demand a menu or food options for vegetarians, since no one wants to serve a cranky customer from abroad. You chose to eat there, so be understanding when the restaurant menu was not created with your vegetarian diet in mind.

2. Do Your Restaurant Research

There are actually many vegetarian-friendly restaurants throughout the world, but particularly in major cities where the demand is likely to be higher. Looking up places ahead of time, whether its via the Internet, a guide book or simply asking like-minded vegetarian friends, can give you something to look forward to.

It may be tough to come by fully vegan or vegetarian restaurants in some areas of the world, but in other areas, vegetarian diets may be more popular or even the default! Look for restaurants, stores or even street food vendors that have one or more vegetarian or vegan options to suit your diet.

3. Check Travel Apps for Dining Tips

There are two great free mobile apps – VegOut (iOS) and HappyCow (Android, iOS) – that can help you locate vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants all around the world. And, going back to languages, since you may need a little help ordering once you arrive, the mobile app VeggiePassport (iOS) helps diners translate their vegetarian-specific requests into 33 different languages, and counting.

Tourists Consulting Vegetarian Mobile Apps

4. Pack Snacks (and Even Meals)

Road trip snacks are essential for anyone, but particularly a vegetarian who will find their options limited at many pit stops, on flights, or at foreign restaurants that offer little besides burgers, hot dogs, candy and chips. Having prepared snacks on-hand that travel well can be a life-saver when you find yourself in a pinch on the road. Find recipes for some delicious trail-mix and whip up a batch before packing.  Consider bringing along some of your favorite cheeses and healthy crackers in a cooler, along with yogurt, granola, dried and fresh fruit. If traveling by car, healthy sandwiches/wraps or pita and hummus can be a great fit. For air travelers, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, granola bars or protein bars will be your best bet.

5. Map Out the Local Natural Food Stores

According to the United States Organic Food Market Forecast & Opportunities 2018 study, the popularity of organic and natural food stores is on the rise. The market is expected to grow 14% from 2013 to 2018. These can be valuable tools when traveling to different parts of the country or world.

If there isn’t a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods around (mainly U.S. travelers), there still may be small natural food stores that have vegetarian-friendly snacks or even ready-to-go meals on-hand. If you’re going to be staying in a vacation rental, home, or other lodging that has access to a kitchen, you can make a game out of it by picking a recipe on theme with your trip, shopping at the local groceries, and putting it together that night for dinner.

6. Make a Vegetarian Bucket List

If you’re going out of the country, research a lot of the local cuisine beforehand and take note of all the vegetarian-friendly options. Compile a list of the ones that appeal to you the most, and make it a mission to check off each one at various restaurants throughout your vacation. It’s a fun and delicious way to explore your destination. These days, nearly everywhere in the world has vegetarian options. Make it a point to find creative ways to experience the quirks and qualities of the local cuisine within your vegetarian diet. When you find delicious vegetarian options that creatively demonstrate the local flavor, I guarantee you will go home inspired to add new tastes from around the world into your home cooking.

7. Go Crazy at Local Markets

Countries like Spain and most parts of Asia are known not just for their fish and meat markets, but also they’re incredible variety of fresh fruits, cheeses and breads. The market on the canals of Venice in Italy was one of the most beautiful spreads of fresh produce I’ve seen. For a vegetarian, this is paradise. You can make an entire meal out of the fresh fruits and veggies at the street market and not just stay healthy but also save yourself the extra cash that you’d spend in a restaurant.

Woman Running Farmers Market

For example, when I traveled to Paris, I was struggling to find great vegetarian options (surprisingly enough, in PARIS!) near where I was staying in Montmartre. I was burned out on what I had been eating, and was desperate for something a little different. Instead of spending a fortune at a nearby restaurant eating the same thing for the umpteenth time in a row, I meandered into a few of the local markets and shops to pick out crepes, fresh fruit and berries, yogurt, and juice.

Confession: That simple little meal in my rented 18th Arrondissement flat while it gently rained outside and I listened to the sounds of the neighborhood was one of the best and most memorable of my trip.

8. Hotel-Friendly Vegetarian Haven

Consider requesting a room with a mini-fridge if you’re staying in a hotel. This option will let you keep your pre-packed snacks, hummus, salads and any great leftovers from delectable vegetarian restaurants you find fresh for the duration of your trip and save you the hassle of having to repeatedly refill a cooler with ice.

Pro-Tip: Bringing a collapsible, portable food storage container or plastic baggies can be very handy when you have a big, delicious meal somewhere and want to extend the food joy one more day.

In the event you can’t find any restaurants nearby that suit your diet, make sure to pack along some hotel meals that can be made in a pinch with nothing more than some hot water.

9. Embrace the Challenge

Being a vegetarian may make some travel adventures a bit more challenging, but that’s exactly what you should view it as – a challenge, and a fun, adventurous one at that. Take the opportunity to hit the road on foot and seek out some yummy vegetarian treats you can pass on to your friends back home. Getting out and exploring the city with a different pair of eyes can help you not only experience a side of the area you may not have otherwise, but will also keep you feeling good and in shape throughout the course of your stay. Soak it up, enjoy every minute of it. Best case scenario, you discover something amazing you didn’t know existed. Worst case scenario, you have a great story to tell friends and family when you return.

OldWays Releases a New Vegetarian Food Pyramid

People are expressing a growing interest in plant-based diets recently. Because this strays from the norm, many people are left to try and figure out how to approach the vegetarian lifestyle on their own.

Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, recently released an updated food pyramid for vegans and vegetarians, modernizing the standards and guidelines to assist both newcomers and seasoned vegetarians alike in achieving a healthy, balanced diet.

What Makes Oldway’s Vegetarian/Vegan Pyramid Relevant?

oldways-vegetarian-food-pyramidThere’s a ton of of competing – and sometimes contradicting – information available, so it’s not always clear which approach is best take to achieve the healthiest vegetarian diet possible. Transitioning from a meat-based to a plant-based diet means a lot more than simply eliminating meat. Often, knowledge, training and planning can help you achieve more balanced, well-rounded, healthy and satisfying vegetarian or vegan diet so this can be a positive, lasting lifestyle change.

Oldway’s vegetarian food pyramid shows combinations of meals over a period of time, highlighting “the big picture,” a longer term plan to achieving better health on a plant-based diet. A well-balanced variety of foods is essential for a healthy life. Nutrient deficiency, oftentimes the basis for criticism of plant-based diets, is an avoidable problem foe vegans and vegetarians if they are properly educated. Armed with this knowledge and experience, a healthy and balanced vegetarian balanced diet will become second nature.

Updates to the Oldways Vegetarian Pyramid

The latest version of the Oldways pyramid combines vegetarian and vegan pyramids together, which makes sense due to many areas of overlap. The new pyramid also includes a wider variety of plant-based foods and fruits than before. Fruits and vegetables makeup a huge proportion of the food pyramid, establishing the base.

Depictions now include some of the more unusual but nutrient-rich choices to help inspire people to try new things, including kale, avocado, collard greens, and turnips. Herbs, spices and plant oils also got added to the food pyramid, bringing attention to the numerous phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals they can provide.

Also noteworthy in the new pyramid are great ideas to get vegetarians and vegans outside of the bread box. It suggests the whole grain choices can be diverse and include things like amaranth, millet, barley, and millet, whereas vegetarians may have relied more heavily on just pasta and bread before.

Daily Guidelines in the Updated Oldways Vegetarian Pyramid


Aside from the food pyramid itself, Oldways includes elements they name “plates” and “real food” as part of their nutritional guidance program. They emphasize that consuming real vegetarian/vegan food does not need to be tedious or tasteless. The new Oldways Vegetarian Food Pyramid recommends the following daily intake for an optimal diet:

  • 3-4 servings of fruit
  • 4-5 servings of vegetables
  • 5-6 servings of whole grains
  • 3-6 servings of beans, peas, lentils, or soy
  • 1-3 servings of nuts and seeds
  • Use herbs and spices liberally
  • 5 servings of plant oils
  • 4-6 servings of dairy/eggs (not for Vegans, obviously)

The modernized Oldways vegetarian/vegan food pyramid also includes reminders to drink plenty of water, exercise, and to share meals with family and friends.

History of Oldways and the Vegetarian Food Pyramid

The Oldways mission seeks to help people lead healthier lives by highlighting the fact that traditional foods not only delicious, but also nutritious. Among their most noteworthy  projects has been to create Heritage Food Pyramids that specifically address the dietary needs of various cultures such as Mediterranean, Asian, Latino, and African.

Their website,, includes a lot of great information and resources, including great recipes, time saving tips on meal prep, and reports of interesting studies that link diet with health.

Review of Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips

Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips Nutrition Facts
Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips

I first read about Beyond Meat in WIRED Magazine in an article by celebrity chef Alton Brown, who toured the facility and tasted the product to give an honest omnivore’s assessment of whether Beyond Meat has a real shot at cutting back meat consumption in the U.S. Of course the article piqued my interest because I’m a loyal WIRED reader and a vegetarian constantly in search of inspiration for my next meal. But when I saw that Beyond Meat is located in Columbia, Missouri – the town of my alma mater and just two hours from my home in Kansas City – I got irrationally excited to try it. It’s local after all! Then, much to my surprise, the brand also popped up in a recent issue of Popular Science magazine not long after!

The WIRED article featured delectable-looking recipes featuring this new meat substitute product, including one for Chicken-Free Stir Fry that we made (photo below). A quick visit to the Beyond Meat website pointed me to my local Whole Foods, where I found its three varieties in the refrigerated section right next to the tofu and Soyrizo. I expected it to be exorbitantly expensive, but was pleasantly surprised that it was around the $4 price point for about 4 servings worth of Lightly Seasoned Chicken-Free Strips.

WIRED Chicken-Free Stir Fry  Recipe
WIRED Chicken-Free Stir Fry Recipe

Immediately upon opening the package I gave the cold product a taste. Not overpowering on the chicken flavor right away – which to me is a good thing. Most meat-like fake meat freaks me out, to tell the truth, but it was just chicken-y enough to be persuasive. I needed to “shred” the chicken strips for this recipe, and the strips almost seemed to peel apart in layers. It’s just as easy to chop it up roughly with a hefty knife. I will say that when we used chunks of it in a Mexican soup later, they were too hefty and dense. The only notable down-side I found to this product is that you almost need to shred this product to get optimal texture and flavor. Otherwise it’s a gray, dense hunk of faux meat that doesn’t quite “mesh” with your dishes. But if you shred it or chop it, you’re good to go.

Cooking with the product was an absolute breeze. It really is as simple as substituting the product for chicken in this recipe and the several others we tried with it. No special treatment. We have made it in this stir fry recipe, a soup recipe and soft tacos so far, and will continue to try various treatments and recipes we may have enjoyed prior to going vegetarian.

The most important thing about the Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Chicken-Free Strips is that it meshed well with the recipe and it was fully satisfying. My husband is a more recent (2 years ago) convert to vegetarianism than I (10 years ago), so his standards are even higher than mine when it comes to meat substitute products. The Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips managed to satisfy him and his voracious appetite, so all was good in the ‘hood. He even requested that I put it on the grocery list again not long after.

I would definitely recommend trying this product to my fellow vegetarians and vegans. Pick up a box of their Lightly Seasoned, Grilled or Southwest seasoned Chicken-Free Strips at your local Whole Foods or Nature’s Pantry. Work it in with some of your favorite vegetarian-friendly recipes, or chicken-based recipes from your pre-vegetarian days. Share in the comments what you think of it!

Vegetarian Diet Makes #11 on 2014 U.S. News “Best Diets” List

The beginning of each new year brings about the promise of a fresh start, a chance to make good on our good intentions. For many of us, this means changing our diets to lose weight or to control certain health issues. Each year, U.S. News and World Report magazine researches major diet trends, compiling a list of the best and worst diets and rating them according to seven specific criteria: both short- and long-term weight loss, ease of implementation and use, nutrition, safety, and diabetic and heart health. A panel of health experts, including physicians, nutritionists, and food psychiatrists, carefully examines each dietary plan and ranks it on a scale of 1 to 5; all seven factors determine the diet’s overall score.

balsamic-caramelized-onion-mushroom-baked-potatoesU.S. News evaluated more than 32 diets for Best Diets 2014. The list is “designed to help consumers identify a diet that suits their specific needs,” according to Angela Haupt, Health and Wellness editor for the magazine. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension plan (DASH), developed primarily to combat high blood pressure through portion control and protein/carbohydrate balance, came in at number one. But both the flexitarian and vegetarian diets placed in the top third of this year’s list. Last place was awarded to the popular “Paleo Diet,” which was deemed too restrictive and difficult to follow to regularly achieve the desired results.

The flexitarian diet placed at #6 for 2014. Flexitarians follow a vegetarian diet most of the time, but with some flexibility factored in to allow for the occasional consumption of meat products. It is balanced, nutritious, usually results in weight loss, and is entirely customizable according to taste and health needs.

Vegetarianism placed 11th on the list. A vegetarian diet is nutritionally sound, aids in the control of diabetes, and is heart healthy if followed correctly – consisting mostly of plant-based proteins, fruits, and vegetables rather than high amounts of fats or sugars. It is restrictive in that no meat is consumed at all, and therefore requires a certain amount of planning. It can also be somewhat costlier to begin than a traditional mixed diet as you’re learning to modify your meals to not include meat and animal byproducts. However, the cost is quickly offset by its numerous health benefits, and by eliminating the cost of meat in the long-term from both your grocery bills and restaurant tabs.

Studies show that balanced, plant-based diets are instrumental in preventing heart disease, losing weight, and keeping blood pressure and bad cholesterol in check. Both flexitarian and vegetarian diets are deliciously varied, safe to follow, and highly beneficial to one’s overall well-being.

40 Vegetarianism Quotes (and counting!)

Ideas & Quotes About VegetarianismThese are some of our favorite quotes about vegetarianism as spoken by celebrities, philosophers, politicians, activists and other smart and influential individuals who have graced this planet. We are not alone in our pursuit of kindness to animals and the spread of the vegetarian diet. Enjoy these inspirational vegetarian quotes – we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Do you have a favorite vegetarianism quote? Add it in the comments below! We just might add it to this article!

  1. “Killing an animal to make a coat is sin. IT wasn’t meant to be, and we have no right to do it. A woman gains status when she refuses to see anything killed to be put on her back. Then she’s truly beautiful.” Doris Day, Actress/Singer
  2. “I’ve been a vegetarian for years and years. I’m not judgemental about others who aren’t, I just feel I cannot eat or wear living creatures.” Drew Barrymore, Actress
  3. “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” Linda or Paul McCartney, Musician
  4. “You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.” Paul McCartney, Musician
  5. “I became a vegetarian out of compassion for animals and to live as healthy as possible. I realized soon after that I was truly concerned with nonviolent consumption and my own health, a vegan diet was the best decision.” Davey Havok, Musician
  6. “For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” Pythagoras, Mathemetician
  7. “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.” Leonardo da Vinci, Artist/Scientist
  8. “Animals are my friends. And I don’t eat my friends.” George Bernard Shaw, Playwright
  9. “While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?” George Bernard Shaw, Playwright
  10. “Thou shalt not kill” does not apply to murder of one’s own kind only, but to all living beings; and this Commandment was inscribed in the human breast long before it was proclaimed from Sinai.” Leo Tolstoy, Author
  11. “A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.” Leo Tolstoy, Author
  12. “To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.  I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body.” Mahatma Gandhi, Political Activist
  13. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi, Political Activist
  14. “Ethically they had arrived at the conclusion that man’s supremacy over lower animals meant not that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, and that there should be mutual aid between the two as between man and man. They had also brought out the truth that man eats not for enjoyment but to live.” Mahatma Gandhi, Political Activist
  15. “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist
  16. “What is it that should trace the insuperable line? The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but, ‘Can they suffer?'” Jeremy Bentham, Philosopher
  17. “In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, Author
  18. “Even in the worm that crawls in the earth there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, Author
  19. “As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, Author
  20. “People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, Author
  21. “Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Albert Schweitzer, Physician/Theologian
  22. “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President
  23. “Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” Thomas Edison, Inventor
  24. “The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” Charles Darwin, Naturalist
  25. “You’re thinking I’m one of those wise-ass California vegetarians who is going to tell you that eating a few strips of bacon is bad for your health. I’m not. I say its a free country and you should be able to kill yourself at any rate you choose, as long as your cold dead body is not blocking my driveway.” Scott Adams, Cartoonist
  26. I can’t count the times that upon telling someone I am vegetarian, he or she responded by pointing out an inconsistency in my lifestyle or trying to find a flaw in an argument I never made. I have often felt that my vegetarianism matters more to such people than it does to me.” Jonathan Safran Foer, Author
  27. “Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I’ve discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening. Our sustenance now comes from misery. We know that if someone offers to show us a film on how our meat is produced, it will be a horror film. We perhaps know more than we care to admit, keeping it down in the dark places of our memory– disavowed. When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.” Jonathan Safran Foer, Author
  28. “Flesh eating is unprovoked murder.” Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father
  29. “I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.” Henry David Thoreau, Author/Philosopher
  30. “Nothing’s changed my life more. I feel better about myself as a person, being conscious and responsible for my actions, and I lost weight and my skin cleared up, and I got bright eyes and I just became stronger and healthier and happier. I can’t think of anything better in the world but to be vegan.” Alicia Silverstone, Actress
  31. “I did it for political, moral reasons, thinking that I was making this great sacrifice. But it was absolutely necessary. I was not going to contribute to the violence in the world anymore.” Alicia Silverstone, Actress
  32. “Chickens, pigs and other animals are interesting individuals with personalities and intelligence. What people need to understand is that if they’re eating animals, they’re promoting cruelty to animals.” Pamela Anderson, Actress
  33. “When people ask me why I don’t eat meat or any other animal products, I say, ‘Because they are unhealthy and they are the product of a violent and inhumane industry.” Casey Affleck, Actor
  34. “I like animals – all animals. I wouldn’t hurt a cat or a dog, or a chicken or a cow. And I wouldn’t ask someone else to hurt them for me. That’s why I’m a vegetarian.” Peter Dinklage, Actor
  35. “If the entire world decided to become vegan tomorrow, a whole host of the world’s problems would disappear overnight. … With that one action of becoming vegan, you are quite effectively making the world a better place.” Moby, Musician
  36. “Thousands of people who say they love animals sit down once or twice a day and enjoy the flesh of creatures who have been utterly deprived of everything that could make their lives worth living, and who endured the awful suffering and the terror of the abattoirs.” Jane Goodall, Anthropologist
  37. “I would feel guilty that what was on my plate was walking around yesterday. Either I could live with that or stop eating meat. I choose the latter, and I’m happier for it.” Carrie Underwood, Musician
  38. “I think there’s something odd about eating another living anything.” Shania Twain, Musician
  39. “It practices respect and love for life all through the day. So three times a day, you make a decision to eat things that have not been killed.” Natalie Portman, Actress
  40. “Animals are nicer than humans and they’re conscious beings. If you stick your grandmother in an oven, she will probably be tasty. But is that any reason to eat your grandmother?” Morrissey, Musician
Do you have a favorite vegetarianism quote? Add it in the comments below! We just might add it to this article!

How to Become a Vegetarian

First of all, congratulations on choosing to become a vegetarian! Whether it’s for health reasons, ethical reasons, environmental reasons or all of the above, we commend you for making a positive decision to change your life, and the lives of many others. Contrary to popular belief, becoming a vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re condemning yourself to a life of just salad. Here are some strategies for making the transition from omnivore to herbivore!

Method 1: Becoming a Vegetarian or Vegan Gradually

How to Become a Vegetarian

Some people choose to become vegetarians gradually. This gradual method of becoming a vegetarian is ideal for someone who has been a lifelong meat eater and mistakenly thinks, “I could never do this completely!” Believe me, you can! I’ve done it! The gradual removal of meat products can make the transition a little easier and make you less likely to rebound and binge. You could start by cutting out all red meat, then two weeks later cut out white meat, then after that remove fish from your diet. After that comes the surprisingly non-vegetarian products like gelatin and becoming more aware of what ingredients are in your food. As your diet becomes more wholesome and produce heavy, your body and mind will start to miss meat less and less. If you decide to take the next steps to become a vegan, you could begin by cutting out eggs, then cheese, milk and other dairy, and then for strict vegans any honey or other animal byproducts.

Method 2: Quitting Meat Cold-Turkey

“Cold Turkey.” Haha! See what we did there? Some people never consumed much meat, or are very familiar with cooking or vegetarian food, so quitting all at once is the right choice for them. It can be more challenging for someone who is accustomed to having meat and animal byproducts in their diet, but it IS doable. It takes strength, commitment and resolve. If you’re quitting all at once, we commend you and are here to support you if it gets tough!

Method 3: Becoming a Part-Time Vegetarian

Not ready to commit to the full-on vegetarian lifestyle? That’s ok. There are many levels of vegetarianism. We hope you’ll join us fully eventually, but in the meantime there are many ways to cut back your meat intake and start seeing the benefits of vegetarianism for yourself. Try “Meatless Mondays” – one day per week where you are guaranteed to go entirely meat-free in all your meals. After that, try cutting back to having meat no more than two days per week. Even that big reduction in meat consumption can have a significant impact on your health, your waist line, your pocketbook and the environment.  We hope that you start to see the many benefits of vegetarianism and decide to take the plunge full-time!



Prominent Scientists Sign Declaration That Animals Have Conscious Awareness

On July 7, several prominent scientists signed Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness, which states that animals do, in fact, have conscious awareness. The basic tenets of the declaration include:

  • Research and data is rapidly evolving in the field of Consciousness study, and new non-invasive techniques are available to collect that data.
  • The absence of a neocortex doesn’t prevent animals from experiencing affective states (moods or emotions).
  • Artificial stimulation in animals of the same brain regions that affect emotional states of humans generate corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-humans.
  • Birds in particular demonstrated a “striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness” in their behavior, neuropysiology and neuroanatomy, especially in the African grey parrot species.
  • Hallucinogens have similar effects on animals to what they have on humans.

View the full Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness.

The document was signed at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals in the presence of British theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking.