Tag Archives: Cage Free Eggs

Vegetarian Diets and Nutritional Needs

Image by fo2Trends
Image by fo2Trends

Should You Be a Vegetarian?

More and more people are choosing to go vegetarian for health reasons, which brings us our topic of the day: Vegetarian diets and nutritional needs.

Most traditional “healthy” diets typically include animal products, which are nutrient dense and readily available year round. I think you will agree it is much easier to eat a juicy steak for your protein needs than it is to eat two pounds of collard greens or spinach.

Unfortunately, for dedicated vegetarians, meat is not an option. Personal philosophy has health, environmental, or ethical objections that prevent them from eating meat. Bread, pasta, and rice are the staples of vegetarian diets. They also often eat soy-based meat alternatives such as soy bacon or soy turkey.

Trained nutritionists warn against the anti-nutrients and acids found in conventional grains that can make vegetarians nutritionally deficient. They also warn against soy because it is higher in phytoestrogens (plant based estrogens) than most other food sources, which has caused soy to be linked to a variety of health problems.

Is there any middle ground on this? Can vegetarians get enough nourishment from diet of traditional, real, unprocessed foods without contradicting their values? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, it is easier than it may seem.

Let’s start first with the basic types of vegetarians.

  1. Flexitarian (Semi-vegetarian) – new term coined to describe people whose diet is primarily vegetarian, but choose to eat meat occasionally.
  2. Pescetarian – avoid all meat except fish. This is a diet that is becoming more and more popular for health reasons, or is used as a step toward full vegetarian.
  3. Vegetarian (Lacto-ovo-vegetarian) – Vegetarians who do not eat animal flesh of any kind, but eat eggs (ovo) and dairy (lacto) products.
  4. Vegetarian (Lacto-vegetarian) – Do not meat or eggs, but will eat dairy products.

Below are some tips that can help depending on the type of vegetarian:

Buy Pastured Dairy and Eggs – In order to get the greatest nutritional value, it is important to buy the raw dairy products from pastured cows that are grass-fed. Eggs should be purchased locally from farmers who raise cage-free chickens that are fed a natural diet. This ensures that you are eating the healthiest forms of these foods as well as advocating for the humane treatment farm of animals through your support of ethical farmers.

Ferment Your Food – Your first reaction to this idea may be negative, but you may be surprised as foods that are either fermented or made from an ingredient that has gone through the fermenting process, such as sourdough bread, pickles and kimchi, yogurt and kefir, and kombucha tea.

All of the above are super-rich in nutrients and make foods easier to digest and assimilate. The fermentation process adds healthy bacteria and/or probiotics into your system. We do not recommend soy products ever – unless they are fermented as found in tempeh and soy sauce. Fermentation greatly reduces the phytic acid content of soy.

Eat Nuts, Grains, and Seeds – These should be eaten regularly for nourishment in any vegetarian diet, but they should be prepared properly. All contain enzyme inhibitors that protect them from premature sprouting that makes them difficult to digest and access to the nutrients difficult.

Nuts, grains and seeds also contain anti-nutrients that interfere with mineral absorption. The simple act of soaking or sprouting nuts and seeds eliminates the problem. Whole grains should be soaked before cooking or grinding.

Make Eating Veggies Easier – Find easy ways to get veggies and all their wonderful nutrients into your body quickly and easily, for example – green smoothies. This is not your traditional way of eating veggies, but wise eating habits do not have to come from the distant past. The green smoothie has been going strong for several years now.

In case green smoothies are new to you, let me explain. They are a blended drink made from leafy greens, other vegetables and a little fruit for sweetener. They can be delicious, especially when you experiment with different combinations and find those that suit your personal palate. As the old TV commercial says, “Try it! You’ll like it!”

In Summary With a few simple changes, you can ensure that your vegetarian diet is high in nutrient value even without meat.

 

5 Steps for Transitioning to Healthier Foods

Technological Changes Have Not Been Good for Our Health

We live in a world of continuing technological advancements – and the food industry has not escaped the impact. Farming methods and food production is vastly different than it used to be.

Traditionally it has been a deeply personal experience. People grew their own food, preserved it, hunted for meat (or raised it on the family farm), and we bartered with others for the items we could not provide for ourselves.

Today, the vast majority of our food comes from huge factory farms, which are so massive in scale and contamination that food is typically sterilized to make it safe for consumption.

Essentially, the human touch has been removed from the process. As a nation we have abdicated our food choices to corporations. Scary thought!

The health cost is extremely high. Obesity, diabetes, and a number of other serious health problems are on the rise.  We have reached a critical turning point. We must regain control of our food choices – and it is up to each of us individually to do so.

Transitioning to healthier foods is critical for your well-being.

There are some simple steps we can take to move in that direction, but they do require focus, dedication, and in some cases higher food costs – but, isn’t a long healthy life worth it?

Below are five simple changes you can make to immediately improve your diet.

  1. Buy at the Farmer’s Market.
Image by Baloncici
Image by Baloncici

Local, freshly harvested foods are much more nutrient dense that supermarket foods, which are typically shipped long distances that requires several weeks travel time.  The shipping time destroys the freshness and depletes the nutrients

The local Farmer’s Market usually has a nice variety of fruits and veggies that are picked in the early morning before being transported to the market. Obviously, buying there is a smart choice.

Search the Internet for fresh local produce. You can look into CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture).  When you become a member of a CSA, you purchase a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. The alternative is to visit local farms yourself.

  1. Grow your own or pick your own fresh produce.

This is another alternative for a supply of fresh produce. Unfortunately, some people are intimidated by the idea of growing their own food; but, they shouldn’t be.

Start small. Select a couple of items that you use frequently for family meals. Plant those in pots or in raised beds in your back yard. You don’t need a lot of space, and just enough sunshine to nurture the plants.

You can buys seeds or starter plants from a local nursery. (Be sure to ask for growing tips while you are there). Tomatoes or strawberries are excellent choices for beginners who want to become more self-sufficient.

If your time or space is a limitation that cannot be overcome, you can still harvest fresh produce at local “pick-your-own” farms. You can walk the rows of the farm and pick your own food.

Some popular choices for picking are: sweet corn, pumpkins, raspberries, strawberries, apples, peaches, squash, and beans.

  1. Learn to ferment food.

Fermenting? Sounds strange, I know, but the fermentation process inactivates anti-nutrients in some foods so they are easier to digest. This makes it possible for the body to more effectively absorb the nutrients.

Fermentation also creates healthy live bacteria and yeast in the digestive track, which are needed for a healthy balance and to do its job effectively. Food fermentation can be done at home very inexpensively.   Check out this article: Fermenting Veggies at home.

  1. Change to raw, pastured dairy products.

This is an important investment in your health if you can purchase them in your area. Raw dairy is loaded with healthy bacteria, numerous vitamins, and nutrients that are destroyed with pasteurization.

 You may not be aware that people with milk allergies can often drink raw milk without the same types of problems they experience with standard processed supermarket dairy products.

  1. Eat only grass-fed and pastured meat and cage-free eggs.
Image by meinzahn
Image by meinzahn

In order to mass-produce meat products and eggs at the lowest possible cost, animals are fed sub-standard foods and are badly mistreated. Unhealthy animals do not provide healthy nutrition for the body.

When animals are raised on a natural diet with free-range grazing, they are leaner than their “fattened” unhealthy counterparts. A natural diet is nutrient-rich and contains a large supply of omega-3 fatty acids.

For more details on this topic, go to one of my earlier posts:  Why Eat Grass Fed and Pastured Animals Products.

I encourage you to try these five steps to transition to healthier eating and better health.  You do not have to do them all at once.  Make the changes one at a time and enjoy the benefits!

Why Eat Grass Fed and Pastured Animal Products

In my last post, Nutrient Rich Meals, I mentioned the importance of using grass fed and pastured animal products. As I thought about it, I realized I should be more explicit why I made that recommendation. So, here we go . . .

There is an old saying, “You are what you eat,” which is absolutely true. For eons nutritionists have been emphasizing that food choices are directly linked to health and quality of life.

The food choices we make and the nutrients found in those choices provide the building blocks for new cell growth. Without adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients, our bodies cannot replenish and regenerate efficiently. Empty calories or unhealthy foods weaken our foundation for health and wellness.

The same nutritional principles apply to animal meat and products that we consume – not just fruits and vegetables. As the drive for faster, more efficient, and cheaper ways of producing meat products has increased, the quality has decreased.

Many of the “modern-day” factory farm operations feed their animals empty-calorie foods designed to fatten them up quickly so that they can be slaughtered in much shorter-than-normal time frames. They are also fed genetically-modified crops that have been sprayed heavily with pesticides and fed foods that are not appropriate for the animals’ digestive systems.

For example, cows were meant to feed on grass and have a digestive tract that works in a very specific way for that type of diet; but, factory farms cows are forced to eat grains such as corn instead of grass. In addition to being the wrong type of food for their digestive system and cannot be digested properly, the sugars in corn increase the fat content to dangerous levels and cause illness and disease.

Chickens also love to roam free and when allowed to do so eat bugs, greens, and whatever else they can find. When they are cooped up indoors and kept from the greens they love so much, there can be serious health problems.

In addition, you may have heard horror stories about diseased animals that die in factory farms and are recycled as food for the remaining animals. Just the thought of it makes me want to never eat meat again – but I am not a vegetarian.

If the old adage is true and we are what we eat, the question is – “What will be become if we continue to eat animal products that come from factory farms?”  That is a scary thought and has been one of the drivers behind the every-increasing popularity of the grass-fed and pastured foods movement.

Many consumers, including me, are no longer comfortable eating factory-farmed meat and eggs. They prefer to shop for beef from cows that have been allowed to graze freely and eat the healthy food that they were intended to eat with minimal pesticide ingestion because it is a much healthier choice.

Grass Fed Beef Stats

Grass-fed meat is lean and has a fat content that closely resembles wild game. The lower fat content actually helps improve cholesterol levels rather than raise them. Even though the meat still has a fairly high fat content, it is low in the bad fats associated with high cholesterol, and it is very high in the good fats, the omega-3 fatty acids. The nutritional quality that results from grazing in green pastures translates into lean cuts of meat and delicious milk that are nutritionally superior and much healthier for the body.

Cage Free EggsThose same people are also more likely (if possible) to buy farm fresh eggs from farms where the chickens are cage free and allowed to roam and eat grass, seeds, bugs, fruit, and other foods more natural to them. At the very least, they are willing to pay more for cage-free eggs offered in the local grocery stores.

Eggs produced by pastured chickens are said to have about 20 times more omega-3 fatty acids than eggs produced by factory-farmed chickens. You know you have an egg from pastured chickens the moment you crack one open. It will have a dark orange yolk indicating that it is rich and full of nutrition. They also taste much better than other eggs. It is difficult to ever “go back” once you have tried them.

If you are like me and still love your meat and eggs, you would be very wise to choose the best products available, which come from grass fed and pastured animals.

Never forget – you are what you eat!