Wellness Connection

Alicia Marie


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Cancer Prevention with a Vegan Diet

My blogging adventure initially started when I realized three things in this exact order.

  1. Eating a vegan diet eliminated the frequent stomach discomfort I was experiencing.
  2. Eating a vegan diet significantly improved my relationship with food.
  3. Eating a vegan diet could save my boyfriend.

I’ve talked about the first two in previous posts, but the last I have yet to share. Meet Shane, my high school sweetheart and my best friend.

Alicia Marie Health Blog

When Shane and I dated in high school I was vegetarian and he was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. That was that. Neither of us really cared that the other ate differently. I didn’t really know much about being vegan nor did I really have any interest in looking into it. Like most of us, I was happy with the way I ate. And of course, I loved cheese.

Slowly the puzzle pieces started coming together. I gave a presentation in college about the health benefits of being vegetarian and along the way I found that for every good health statistic about a vegetarian diet, there was a better one for being vegan.

I ignored this for several months. I figured I wasn’t eating that much cheese anyway and I looked fit enough, so what did it matter?

Later I as described in an older post, I learned that animal rennit (the inner lining of a calf’s stomach) was found in many “vegetarian” foods. That totally grossed me out. I stopped eating dairy right then and there.

Shortly before I stopped eating dairy, Shane and I were faced with one of the biggest scares of our lives. It was the week before finals during our senior year of college. We were preparing for graduation, thinking about our future and where we would be in the next few years. Then Shane found a lump. Just like that at the age of 22 my boyfriend was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

I don’t know whether to call it niave optimism or a type A personality, but I was bound and determined to find a way for Shane to be okay. I’m so lucky that he is now—because I know that there are so many others in my position who felt the way I did when Shane was diagnosed and were faced with a terrible loss despite their determination to find a happy ending.

I was alone in my room one night scrolling through Netflix when I stumbled upon this documentary called Crazy Sexy Cancer. The title caught my attention and I paused. I sat there for a solid ten minutes going back and forth about watching it. I didn’t need anything to make me feel more upset and I wasn’t convinced that this documentary wouldn’t make me feel worse.

I took a chance. I can’t remember if I laughed or cried, but I remember being deeply inspired because I still am today. Kris Carr was diagnosed with a rare stage IV cancer on Valentines day with no promising cure. She was basically told to go on and live her life the way she wanted until she died. Ten years later she is alive and thriving.

Kris did something different than the collective population. She took control of her own life and refused to simply accept what the majority of doctors and society told her about the path to recovery. Well actually, they didn’t really give her a path to recovery. They told her she would soon die.

Kris filmed a documentary about her own journey and her search for alternative remedies. She admits now that she thought perhaps she could fully heal from cancer, that perhaps it would go away all together. While that didn’t exactly happen, Kris’ cancer has been stable—in remission for ten years. And get this, her tumors have shrunk.

So what exactly did Kris do? Kris went on both a physical and spiritual journey. She changed her frame of mind and opened it to the possibility of healing. She stopped eating meat and dairy.

The largest health study to-date, “The China Study”, will tell you that a plant-based diet will prevent and reverse heart disease and it will significantly reduce your chance of getting cancer.

It’s really quite simple, except that we’re so used to thinking about meat and dairy as critical components of our diet, the idea of not eating meat and dairy is immediately shut down. It’s tied to our taste buds, our culture, tradition, the media and more.

It’s simple in that we put food into our bodies everyday, multiple times a day. If that food isn’t good for us—what do you think will happen?

A lot of food today is processed and a lot of that food is meat and dairy. Commercials on TV or in magazines never advertise kale. You don’t see a commercial pop up about spinach, tomatoes (unless it’s ketchup), quinoa, brown rice, but we see a lot of meat and dairy. Yogurt, Got Milk?!, hot pockets, KFC.

The former fast food king, Bill Clinton, went vegan by the way.

After watching Crazy Sexy Cancer, I watched Forks Over Knives and I was blown away. I asked Shane to watch the documentary with me and I told him that if he still wasn’t convinced then that was okay, but that I wanted to at least get his perspective on the research. I wanted to see if he would be sold too.

I really didn’t think Shane would go veg. I really didn’t. I was planning on learning how to cook him up a steak only months earlier. To this day I am both impressed, surprised and inspired by the changes he has made with nutrition and fitness. (He just made a salad and now he’s cooking tofu with rice, mushrooms and peppers.)

He did it though. Today he is cancer free two years after his diagnosis. While we will never know if poor diet is exactly what caused his cancer, the approach he is taking to owning his health significantly reduces the chances of the cancer coming back.

I could give you a million different books, documentaries, articles and statistics about why we choose to eat the way that we do, but the reality is most people will read this and save the idea for a rainy day. Most people will jump on Google and find a bunch of articles to refute a vegan diet. Go for it. You can find many of those articles. I challenge you to open your mind, to learn through our story. Don’t wait for the cancer scare or the diabetes, osteoporisis or heart disease that may come later down the road when you are 40, 50 or 60. You can take steps to prevent it.

I meet so many people with acid reflux, diabetes, weight issues, etc who come to me for nutrition advice. In a nutshell this is it. You can save yourself. You can make yourself feel better now. The choice is yours.

With that, I’d like to share some quotes to challenge you and perhaps to inspire you:

Regarding heart disease:

“Despite the apparent success of the dietary approach, some critics say eating this way is extreme. Now, with the western diet, this guarantees there’s going to be what, a half a million people in this country this year who will have to have the front half of their body divided, their heart exposed, then veins will be taken from their leg and sewn on their heart. Some people would call that extreme.”—Forks Over Knives

“We’ve never treated a single patient with protein deficiency; yet the majority of patients we see are suffering from heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses directly resulting from trying to get enough protein.”—Dr. Alana Pulde and Dr.Matthew Lederman

“There’s a great metaphor that one of my doctors uses: If a fish is swimming in a dirty tank and it gets sick, do you take it to the vet and amputate the fin? No, you clean the water. So, I cleaned up my system. By eating organic raw greens, nuts and healthy fats, I am flooding my body with enzymes, vitamins and oxygen.”—Kris Carr

“Never feel like or say you are “giving up” your favorite foods. Those words have a negative connotation, like you are sacrificing something. You’re not “giving up” anything. You are simply empowered now and able to make educated, controlled choices about what you will and won’t put into your body, your temple.” –Rory Freedman

“Every year in America, without mercy, we murder 10 billion land animals, and 18 billion marine animals.

Not for health, survival, sustenance or self-defense. People eat meat, cheese, milk and eggs for 4 reasons:

Habit

Tradition

Convenience

Taste”—Gary Yourofsky

“When we were young…When we were kids…Man!…We used to be in awe of animals. They used to make us laugh, and giggle and smile. They made us pretty happy! And there was a time in our lives, when we would do just about anything in the world to make THEM happy as well. To protect them from cruelty! Or to, at least, ACKNOWLEDGE the cruelty they were receiving. I mean, if somebody was mean to an animal in front of us when we were little, we would have screamed and cried. And that’s because we all used to understand right from wrong, when it came to the treatment of animals. Until somebody told us, and taught us differently. You better believe that somebody told us to ignore their suffering! To MOCK and excuse, their pain, and their misery. To make fun of their very existence. And this is something I want you to focus on – today, tomorrow and beyond…What in the hell happened along the way?! Who taught us to be so mean, and nasty and vicious and hateful, or indifferent towards animals when they used to be our friends? These are innocent beings, who have done nothing wrong to us. Because I’m pretty sure, we can all agree on at least one thing right now… That hatred, in its purest form, is a learned behavior. Racism. Sexism. Heterosexism. Antisemitism. Misogyny. These are all learned behaviours! When kids are 2, 3, 4 years old, playing on a playground they couldn’t care less about the color of their friends’ skin or their religious background. I don’t think there is any doubt, that hatred, in its purest form, is learned. So species-ism is no different. I want to define this word as the unethical, unprincipled point of view, that the human species has every right to exploit, enslave and murder another species. And all because we believe that our species is so more special, so more superior than the other ones, that we’re the only ones that count, and we’re the only ones that matter. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that line of thinking, that thought process, that is the basis of all forms of discrimination. One group saying and thinking that they’re more special than everyone else, and they proceed to exploit them, oppress them, denying them their right to be free.”—Gary Yourofsky

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Halloween Goblin Goop Energy Bars & Yoga Surpises

Goblin Goop Bars

I finally made it to yoga! I anticipated being on the struggle bus since the instructor today was one of the senior instructors known for the fire she brings to class. That, and the fact that I have not been able to practice much since I injured my hip a third time after my half marathon in June.

The class sequence was exactly what I expected. Chaturanga after chaturanga and then plank position and HOLD. And then it was move onto your right elbow, left elbow, back into plank repeat. So essentially a series of pushups integrated into yoga practice. And crunches later. And side planks. You get the picture.

Prior to class I foresaw myself taking several moments to transition into child’s pose while all of the other students continued with their warriors, crows and half moons. I would be laying on my mat in shavasana convincing myself that I was actually ahead of class waiting for everyone else to catch up.

But it was not that hard for me! I felt strong. And surprised! So this is what happens when you become better at listening to your body and give it the rest it deserves 😉 I felt that my practice was even better than it was before, as if I am starting on a clean slate. I only hope that I will continue to find good news as I strive to reach the level of exercising I was committed to before my injury. I think between my chiropractor and my adoration of crafting new kinds of nutritious fuel for my body I should be okay.

I will often joke that yoga makes me hungrier than running. Well, it does. After practice I want comfort food, chewy food, energizing food and healthy food that will not counteract all of the wonderful things I just did for my body and mind.

For a before or after yoga snack and of course for Halloween, try these Goblin Goop Energy Bars.

 

Goblin Goop Energy Bars

1 Cup Cashews

5 or 6 Medjool Dates, Pitted

1 ½ Tbs. Cocoa Powder

3 Tbs. Green Powder ( I used Amazing Grass Raw Reserve)

¼ Cup Coconut

2 Tbs. or ¼ Cup Almond Milk (optional-depends on the consistency you want. More liquid means it will be ground much finer and goopier)

Soak dates in a cup of water and set aside. Pour cashews and coconut into food processor. Grind until finely chopped. Add cocoa powder and green powder to mixture and grind briefly until mixed. Takes dates out of water with a spoon and add dates and almond milk to the food processor. Grind until dates are evenly mixed with the ground nuts and powders.

Scoop mixture out of food processor and spread evenly in a small glass pan. Cover and put the pan in the freezer for 2 hours.

Take pan out of freezer and cut goblin goop into 10 even squares.

Goblin Goop Bars

Nutrition: 106 calories each, 2.8 grams protein, 6.4 grams fat

Highlights: 22.8% vitamin A

“Vitamin A fights cancer by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells. It slows down tumor growth in established cancers and may keep leukemia cells from dividing.” (Source.)

  • Keeps skin healthy
  • Keeps mucus membrane cells healthy (this makes cells more resistant to bacteria, viruses, and cancer)
  • May relieve eye dryness

Give them a whirl. They give you instant energy!

Alicia Marie Health Blog


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Easy Fall Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

My first instinct was to create something yummy with pumpkin since it is fall and I am a fanatic about that flavor right along with everyone else. Instead, I thought I would move outside of my comfort zone. This is where cinnamon raisin scones came in to play. I was walking through the baking isle at Whole foods when it occurred to me that it would be super easy to take a pre-made mix and transform it into something entirely different. Bob’s Red Mill makes a variety of gluten free mixes. I noticed the cinnamon raisin bread mix, and so the experiment began!

They turned out wonderful if I do say so myself. The pictures are of the regular vegan, gluten free scones. I also made a plant based version that replaced the added sugar and earth balance butter with a couple medium sized bananas. The plant based scones still taste good, just different. It is an adjustment, just like going gluten free. And I will warn you that they also look different than regular scones. Don’t let that deter you if you are trying to be healthy. You could also substitute apple sauce instead of bananas. They may have a more uniform appearance that way.

 

Vegan Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

3 Cups Bob’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix

1 Tbs. Baking Powder

2 Tbs. Potato Flour

1/3 Cup Maple Syrup

8 Tbs. Earth Balance Butter

1 Tbs. Chia seeds + 4 tbs. water

3 Tbs. Almond milk

Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

1. Mix the dry ingredients cinnamon raisin mix and baking powder in a large bowl.

2. Cut in the earth balance butter with a pastry knife or two regular knives.

3. Mix the chia seeds and water together for a minute before mixing with almond milk.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir.

5. Sprinkle potato flour onto a surface such as a glass pan for kneading the dough.

6. Knead the dough 8 times.

7. Form a circle with the dough.

8. Divide the circle into 8 scones. *

9. Place the scones on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

10. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees.

If you want a thicker scone you can make the circle of dough smaller.

Plant Based (Also Vegan Gluten Free) Cinnamon Raisin Scones

3 ¾ Cups bob’s cinnamon raisin bread mix

1 Tbs. Baking Powder

2 Medium Size Bananas

½ Tsp. Stevia

¼ Tsp. Cinnamon

2 Tbs. Potato Flour

1 Tbs. Chia Seeds + 4 Tbs. Water

3 Tbs. Almond Milk

Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Scones

Enjoy!! 🙂

xoxo,

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Eating Yummy on your “I’m Broke” Budget Part. 1.

Now that I am back from vacation and it is Fall the most inspiring season for baking and cooking, I plan on making some more yummy creations.

However, I am keeping it simple until my budget is less depleted from spoiling myself. Steamed veggies and rice are a favorite of mine. If I am ever having tummy troubles, hoping to get back on track and eat more healthy, or do a mild detox for a week or so, this is something I love to cook.

I grab whatever veggies I want to steam from Whole Foods. This time I grabbed a container of pre-cut veggies for about $7.00. The organic brown microwaveable rice was on sale for $3.69. That will last me three servings totaling about $3.50 per meal.And after all that is said and done I will have tons of rice left over for future cooking creations. This is IDEAL for your college budget or your I’m out of college, still broke and can’t get a job budget.

It is the easiest thing you’ll ever do. Fill a pot with water about an inch and a half high. Place your steamer inside the pot. The water should not come up over the steamer at all or your veggies will get soggy. Cover the pot with a lid for a few minutes and cook on medium high for 7-10 minutes. They are finished when the broccoli is bright green! You can test the veggie with a fork. It should be tender but it should not crumble into mush in your mouth. (That would be gross.) Add a tiny smidgen of earth balance butter and soy sauce if you like! I did 🙂

Rice & Steamed Veggies with Avocado

Yummy! You can do the same thing with quinoa. See below.

Healthy Quinoa & Steamed Veggies. Fitness eating on a budget!

XOXO

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Tips and Tricks to Healthy Travel

  1.    Happycow.net will give you a quick list of veg-friendly, vegetarian, and vegan restaurants at any given location. I want to give a big squeeze to the genius who invented that site. (There is also an app for $2.99)
  2.   Scope out menus online first.
  3.   Don’t be afraid to ask if there is dairy (or any animal products). You might find yourself pleasantly surprised. I sure did! Ono Gelato in Maui has several vegan flavors. When I started inquiring to the woman scooping gelato “This might be a weird question…but is there dairy in all of your gelato flavors?” She said “No there isn’t, not a weird question at all by the way” and went on to show me nine different options I had to choose from! And yes, one of those was chocolate! I went with the tasty creamy pina colada with real fruit chunks while Shane got a combination of Maui gold pineapple and lilikoi.Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling
  4.   Ditch your rental car. Travel on foot. The first four days of our trip, we did not have a rental car and walked everywhere. It was equivalent to going on a good run for some cardio which was great because my injury prevented me from jogging on all but one day.
  5.  Blogilates. Pilates is my favorite form of injury prevention and healing. It is also my favorite way to build a six pack fast. I remember training for cross country in college. I was running 5-6 miles consistently each day. I went to one pilates class for an hour and could not move or work out for the next three days. It will kick your butt and tone you up. You can count on Cassie Ho to keep you motivated and challenged on any given day. She was my go-to youtube college dorm and apartment workout. She just came out with an app that I used religiously in Maui. It is awesome because you can choose which part of your body you want to target.
  6. Scope out nearby health markets. They are multiplying like rabbits. Who would have guessed? There was an amazing health market a short three minutes from my condo. They made these delicious “Aloha Bars” that are actually almost identical to my A-Game Energy Bars. In this cute hippy town Paia, there was a gigantic one of a kind health market. An entire room consisted of bulk items as did a separate room for natural supplements and medicine. There was a hot bar and quite the selection of premade meals. The big downer was that the people who worked there were rude and seemed to dislike tourists.  I fit quite the tourist portrait with my hefty camera. I had one man practically ignore me when I asked where the restroom was located. Had they known I was a little health nut hoping to contribute to their profits with my love of unique vegan products, I should think they might have been a bit more amiable. Oh well 😦

Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Redefine Indulging and Do It Often. I consume fruit in two ways, as dessert and as breakfast. And sometimes dessert occurs more than once a day. I am a fruit fanatic. Ditch the ice cream, get some vegan gelato, a soy based protein smoothie, vegan froyo if you can find it. If you are traveling somewhere warm, let fruit be your biggest friend for your natural sugar fix.

Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling

8. Read Ingredients. I was fortunate enough to find a ginormous vegan oatmeal walnut cookie that was decently healthy! Organic cane sugar was the fifth ingredient followed by apple sauce. Typically recipes are ordered in the proportion of that ingredient. Therefore if organic cane sugar had been the first ingredient, I may not have selected this as my breakfast cookie two or three mornings in a row. But it was the fifth ingredient, alas I had a delicious breakfast cookie more than once.

Alicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy TravelingAlicia Marie's Tips & Tricks to Healthy Traveling

9. Careful with Airplane Food. Check out the ingredients on this snack. Is the color yellow edible to you? Personally, I would opt for avoiding airplane meals altogether. You can usually find a veggie dish at one of the airplane restaurants, oatmeal, salad, or fruit cups at Starbucks. And never fear because there is always a Starbucks.

Alicia's Marie's Healthy Travel Tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Relax. How many of us tell ourselves we are going to be bikini body ready in x amount of time. Congratulations if that works for you, but I am going to bet that for most people it does not. Our lives are crazy, overbooked, overwhelming in all respects. Hence the need for vacation. This is your time to indulge and relax. Find some love and self-acceptance to truly enjoy this gift to yourself. Struggling to do that? Hop in a yoga class. Make a habit of going for a morning walk to start your day off right and let go. Make any healthy habit to start your day off right and let go. Have a cup of tea. Watch a concert of your favorite band. Watch an inspiring Ted Talk. You are not going to get fat in ten days. You are not going to get completely out of shape in ten days. You can still feel good about your body and indulge in copious amounts of tasty treats at the same time.

These are tips that worked for me. I am sure there are many more ideas that would suit your lifestyle and eating habits wonderfully as well and I would love to hear them! 

xoxo,

Alicia Marie's Wellness Blog


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Aloha Maui Virgins!

Aloha Mauiiii Virginsss!-We were welcomed with enthusiasm by our round, happy Hawaiian shuttle driver. Driving was questionable and included talking, texting, showing pictures and giving history of the landscape often simultaneously. Pictures were of shark attacks and sunrises; the tour of a whale sculpture apparently resembling his wife. An interesting guy to say the least! If you prioritize money over safety “Trans Van” is your best option over a taxi from the airport and is $30 vs $50.

Upon arriving at our condo, I unpacked quickly so that Shane and I could fill our tummies and enjoy the beach across the street! What a view…not bad for youngins on a budget.

Travel on a Budget

Travel on a Budget

At one of Shane’s close friend’s recommendations we headed to Maui Tacos. It was maybe three minutes walking from our condo. No time was wasted making the decision. And we had no desire to find energy analyzing restaurant options regardless, thus it was a perfect destination for our first meal. We took it to go and enjoyed it by the ocean.

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$6 for a jumbo sized burrito or a hearty taco salad. A mouthful of Shane’s food is always sacrificed to his better half and thus I can attest to the AMAZING enchilada sauce on his burrito! So many flavors and spices. They whip it up in under five and hand you a creation that will blow your mind. My taco salad had yummy seasoned potatoes and the black beans had some sort of brilliant chipotle flavor. We kept agreeing they should bring their goods to the mainland!

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Following our dinner we walked down the beach and further downtown towards the bars in Kihei and indulged in Froyo from Tutti Frutti. I had the soy vegan cherry flavor topped with granola and fruit. Shane had some concoction of a fruit smoothie.

Immediately I found success with a plant based diet in paradise. I had been warned that there was fish, fruit, fish and nothing but fish! Nonsense! Over the span of my trip I indulged in plant based sushi, gelato, coconut based coffees, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Italian, and more.

Even on the airport there are options if you are willing to work with them. I sought out Starbucks for peppermint tea and a warm, filling cup of oatmeal with raisins and nuts to hold me over through the plane ride. Shane had a veggie noodle salad from a sushi stand.

We were off to a good start. Little did I know there was a local health market in our neighborhood and my soon to be daily smoothie/coffee stand as well! Food, freedom, boyfriend, beach. Awww yeah 🙂

How do you stay healthy while leaving PLENTY of room to indulge while traveling? Lots of personal tips coming up in the next post-would love to hear yours too!

Plant Based Travel Tips


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Plant Strong Chat & Book Signing with New York Times Best Selling Author Rip Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn

Armed with my matcha green tea latte in hand, I marched towards the Whole Foods Market entrance prepared to be fully attentive and satiated with knowledge at Rip Esselstyn’s book signing for his number one best seller  My Beef With Meat.

The surrounding audience was amiable and openly shared their personal health journeys as we waited for the plant-cool man to begin his talk. I became friends with the sweet woman sitting beside me. We discovered that we had both been following a vegan diet for about eight months. As a former omnivore, or 90 percent carnivore as she described it, she developed cholesterol well over 200. While still implementing a full plant-based diet into her lifestyle, she had already lowered her cholesterol to just over 160. The energy from forty seated eager to learn, open-minded individuals was invigorating to say the least. Rarely do I find myself surrounded by like-minded veggie lovers.

My Beef With Meat

Goody Bag to the Left & Book of Plant Based Facts & Recipes

Before the Crowd Arrived

Before the seats filled. (Accidentally deleted the picture of the crowd–made me so sad!)

A round of applause circulated through the cozy outdoor venue as Rip Esselstyn’s presenter noted that at that very moment, “My Beef With Meet” was listed as The New York Times number one best seller.

Rip began his talk with a list of “Most People Don’t Know’s” regarding many unknown facts and myths about a plant-based diet and the standard American diet.

Some of my favorites included:

  • 99% of the food on the planet comes from plants.
  • Your average bean is 25% protein, whole grains 12% protein, leafy greens 25% protein ( you can go to nutritiondata.com to search other foods.)
  • The complete protein theory is invalid, it was originally written by  Frances Moore Lappe who later published an apology stating that she had been incorrect.
  • Does the word “kwashiorkor” meaning protein deficiency sound familiar? No? Do you know anyone who has kwashiorkor or has died from kwashiorkor? No? Didn’t think so.
  • Fish oil contains oxidative by-products meaning that as soon as the oil is derived from the fish it starts to go rancid. It is also linked to heart disease.
  • Meat itself does not give animals vitamin B12-it comes from the dirt attached to the plants animals eat.
  • Humans on average have a 3-5 year supply of vitamin B12 supply stored in their liver.
Extra Lean Meat Still 30% Fat

Extra Lean Meat is Still About 30% Fat

Although I am fairly versed in vegan factoids, I must admit I was presented with a wealth of impressive information that I had not heard before. Rip’s tough love presentation was twirled with a witty undertone and not short of jokes on senseless American concepts.

He ended the evening with quote by Winston Churchill “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”

The tide is already turning, the plant-based diet is receiving increased media attention, New York recently revealed its first ever vegetarian school, celebrities and famous athletes are encouraging plant based living, and events such as this book signing are becoming more accepted in venues that are not exclusively vegan such as Whole Foods.

A Little Bit About Rip

A competitive world-class triathlete, Rip Esselstyn is best known for his presence in the riveting documentary Forks Over Knives, during which he describes his experience as a fireman in Texas. One of his squad members’ cholesterol was over 300 and therefore at an incredibly high risk of developing heart disease. Rip challenged his squad to adopt a plant-based diet for 28 days and thus his journey and influence began.

Following his segment in Forks Over Knives, Rip wrote The Engine 2 Diet in 2009 and appeared in Forks Over Knives Presents Engine 2 Diet Kitchen Rescue in 2011.

Now all 44 fire stations in Texas have transitioned to plant-based lifestyles. Rip developed a partnership with Whole Foods Market where he sells his own brand of plant based products. His plant based program was inspired by his father, Caldwell Esselstyn, MD., a reputable cardiologist also featured in Forks Over Knives. This very program that Rip advocated today also inspired Bill Clinton to take on a vegan diet after his life threatening heart condition resulted in a quadruple bypass surgery.

“In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without mean, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought.”—Frances Moore Lappe, Best Selling Author of Diet for a Small Planet.