Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Up Close and Personal with Mystery Meat

I check on a daily basis for health and nutrition news. They issue a lot of stories about government induced health mistakes, i.e. antibiotic overloads, tainted prescription drugs, etc. I have learned so much from their website including the dangers of BPA in plastics and canned foods, what microwaves do to your food, and the stunning finding that the antibiotic-resistant "Super Staph" can actually be cured with plant derivatives. Pretty cool.

One article that I have always loved of theirs is the "Mystery Meat MacroPhotography" piece. The Health Ranger, the site's leading writer, used his macro lens to photograph different types of processed meat that he picked up at his local Wal Mart (crazy that now EVERYONE has a local Wal Mart). He took the photos in his own kitchen without altering them at all, except for adjusting their brightness in Photoshop.

The results are sickening. White globs of fat sticking out from processed salami, chunks of other things floating around. He even mentions how red or colored all of the meat is despite it being dead. It should appear gray, but thanks to sodium nitrites and nitrates (more information about those here), the meat's red color is pumped up with nasty additives. For example, the image pictured above is of a Jimmy Dean sausage link. "Here's a 1x cross-section photo of a Jimmy Dean pork sausage. To get this photo, I simply sliced one of the sausages with a common knife, then pointed the camera at one end," writes the author, who mentions having to frequently wash his hands during this photo tour due to the stench of dead processed meat infiltrating his house. He also includes the ingredients, which are listed as follows:

Contains 2% or less of:
Corn syrup
Sodium lactate
Monosodium glutamate
Citric acid
Beef collagen casings.

Mmm. Perhaps they should have included "big white blobs of fat" in there. We all know fat adds flavor, but who would want to eat pork fat? You're eating the fat off of a dead carcass basically. Gross.

The funny part is, if you looked at a piece of spinach with a macro lens, all you'd see is the intricate design of nature up close, which is fascinating and beautiful. Whole grain bread under a macro lens? Delicious.

Perhaps whatever I eat from now on I will imagine under a macro lens. I'd love to do this with hamburgers from fast food chains. To see the entire piece, click here. What would you like to photograph close up? Add your comments!

Photo and quote courtesy of

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Echinacea: My new Best Friend. My Cold's worst enemy.

Yesterday I felt crummy all day. Blaming it on allergies, I took an antihistamine. Three hours later, I still felt crummy (sore throat), so I decided to chock it up and say maybe I have finally caught a bug.

I stopped by Whole Foods on the way home and picked up some liquid Echinacea. Since, I have taken 4 doses (40 drops in some hot water). I took two last night and two this morning, and I already feel better! My applause to Echinacea! Oh how I love you!

Who knows if it made a difference, if it's the placebo effect, or if it's my law of attraction thinking telling myself that I feel great. All I know is that this stuff worked for me, so I wanted to share with you!

A little info about why I bought the liquid supplement as opposed to the capsules: Liquid supplements are always better and more easily absorbed by your system. If you are taking something for fast action, like my echinacea binge to boost my immune system to "Ahnold" levels, a liquid supplement is always the best option. Daily vitamins and supplements can be in capsule form if you wish because they usually are a little bit cheaper. But overall, liquid is seemingly more effective.

I wanted to promote the echinacea I bought because I love it so much. Gaia Herbs Organic Echinacea Supreme: Ultimate Support for Healthy Immune Function.

Most importantly, does anyone else have any supplement cures that they want to share? Please do in comments!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What the f**k?!

The Daily Green, supposedly a "green" site, posted an article today about how delicious Fried Chicken was, especially the kind from KFC. Gross! This immediately threw me off because

a) eating and advocating eating meat is like Treehugger having Hummers for company cars, and

b) KFC is the WORST for animal cruelty. They have an entire campaign against them at

Their abuse of chickens (stomping on them, throwing them into walls, beating with wrenches) was my first glimpse into vegetarianism years ago. Now, Tree Hugger says that they have the best fried chicken? What the f**k?

In light of this terribly hypocritical move by Treehugger, I visited and found a video to share with you about why you'd want to be a vegetarian. PETA usually does some pretty overwhelming videos, but this one is toned down a notch and sensical. Watch it. And let me know what you think.

Follow the YouTube link to see it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My 4th of July Weekend

Consisted of over-indulgence after over-indulgence (aka lots of tortilla chips and beer). I traveled down to San Diego and made my way back up to Los Angeles over the weekend - with numerous stops in Orange County. I saw my friend Kina Grannis play at the Kaleidoscope. She is truly breathtaking to see live and I highly recommend you check out her music here.

As for my food choices, I strayed from my vegan habits at the show Saturday night. There was a make-your-own frozen yogurt shop with my favorite flavors (chocolate and peanut butter) so I "split" a cup with my boyfriend. Needless to say, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling awful and am still feeling nasty, two whole days later. I hadn't eaten dairy in about three weeks, so that was a dumb idea. It's good to know how dairy makes me feel now (as I may have lost the majority of my lactase enzymes over my dairy-free week) so I can avoid it at all costs without thinking, "eh...maybe it won't make me feel bad".

I got harassed at my family BBQ by my sister's boyfriend for being a veg (he's a 5 star chef), but other than that everybody was supportive (or not un-supportive). My Dad had read my blog and bought me vegan veggie burgers (made by Yves and really tasty) for me to enjoy while everyone else chomped down on ground beef. Isn't that sweet (the thoughtful Dad, not the chomping on ground beef part).

I picked up some sub-lingual B-12 and some milk thistle (for liver health), as well. It's good to know I'm getting my supplements sorted out. Trying to stay as pure and natural today as possible - apples, oatmeal, hummus, salad, etc. to avoid any further complications. And, I took a bunch of pictures with my Holga over the weekend so I'll post those soon!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Healthy, Affordable, and Quick Vegan Meals!

Healthy, Affordable, and Quick Vegan Meals!

For all of us vegetarians and vegans or people just looking for a healthy quick-fix meal. These are perfect to bring to work or use at home for a quick but nutritional and tasty vegan meal. Vegan cooking isn't always the easiet, but with these it always is! Enjoy. And let me know how you like!

See more of my Healthy, Affordable, and Quick Vegan Meals! list at ThisNext.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ground Beef Recall in the Midwestern U.S.! Happy Monday Folks!

Last Tuesday, officials linked outbreaks of E Coli in Michigan and Ohio together and said they were most likely due to contaminated ground beef. Kroger grocery stores then voluntarily recalled all ground beef products sold in their Michigan and Ohio stores because it had been linked to the outbreak.

Due to the outbreak, 15 people have become ill in Michigan and 17 people in Ohio have been infected. Kroger advises shoppers to check their ground beef products for sell-by dates of May 21 through June 8, and return them to Kroger stores for a full refund. Questions? Call Kroger at 800-632-6900.

In April, a big recall out of Texas was placed on cases of "BEEF WHOLE HEAD". The tonsils weren't removed from the beef heads, and the tonsils are where the infective mad cow disease agent lurks. I don't know which is grosser: "BEEF WHOLE HEAD", mad cow disease, or E. Coli.

So basically, Midwestern meat eaters have some bad news this morning. I hope everyone recovers safely and the outbreak is contained. And hopefully, more people will start questioning their beef consumption.


Read the full article here.

P.S. Like the picture?

Friday, June 27, 2008

No Ice in the North Pole This Summer?!

The Independent reports - there is a very feasible and more than 50/50 chance that there will be no ice at the North Pole this summer for the first time in human history. Read the article here.

An iceless North Pole "would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet," writes Science Editor Steven Connor.

This article is freaking me out, and it shows us just how drastic of a problem global warming really is. I've seen videos of polar ice cap waterfalls because they're melting so fast, but for some reason this is really hitting home harder than ever before.

The part that scares me the most is, "Inuit natives living near Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland are also reporting that the sea ice there is starting to break up much earlier than normal and that they have seen wide cracks appearing in the ice where it normally remains stable." When natives are noticing that the arctic is changing, I know its for real.

And, seriousness understood, where is Santa gonna go?

For more, read here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Eating Meat and Dairy more harmful to the environment than all of those cars on the road..

Just flipping through National Geographic's Green Guide and had to share this:

"The United Nations reports that meat and dairy production account for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions- that's more than transportation! The best way to reduce global warming is to adopt a plant based diet. In addition to our recycling and energy-saving efforts, we can make choices at every meal that protect our planet, save farm animals and wildlife, and improve our health."

The ad is sponsored by FARM - check them out at

Just another reason to tell people why you're a vegetarian and to congratulate yourself. I have been so worried about my carbon footprint since I can remember and little did I know that my chicken dinners were a major contributor. Share this info with your friends!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back in LalaLand

I'm back from my trip to Florida, which means less eating out, which makes it easier for me to stay true to my vegan/veg life. It's hard going out to italian and ordering "eggplant parmigiana with no cheese" without looking like a psycho. I really do notice a big difference in my digestion since I stopped eating dairy, though. I did have a few bites of cheese over the week but stayed away from dairy overall, and I feel a lot lighter. I somehow always knew my stomach didn't agree with my milk addiction, albeit organic, and taking the step to cut it out as much as possible has proved positive. Not for weight loss, but health reasons. I re-read today in Skinny Bitch that by the age of four years old, humans lose 90-95% of their lactase enzymes (the ones necessary to digest lactose in dairy) in their stomachs. Which means we are supposed to consume milk as a baby, but the enzymes then die off for a reason - we aren't supposed to eat dairy anymore!

Anywho - let me know what u think.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Who Knew Boca Burgers have Cheddar Cheese in them?

After reading Skinny Bitch while here on vacation in Ponte Vedra, I decidedly can't eat dairy or eggs for the next couple of days. I have decided to go on a non-dairy stint just because the arguments against dairy are convincing and proliferate. First, it's super un-natural to drink another animal's breastmilk. And second, it's laden with hormones and pesticides.

So, Ryan's parents were making burgers for dinner. We volunteered to ride our bikes to the local market for some veggie burgers for me to enjoy and substitute with. I immediately opted for the Boca burger, because it performs well on the grill. Skinny Bitch highly emphasized reading the ingredient list on every singly product you are thinking about eating (something I already do) so I made sure to check it. Lo and behold - Boca burgers have cheddar cheese as their 3rd ingredient. Gross! They don't even mention on the packaging that cheese is included in your soy protein patty.

Anywho - a warning to any vegans out there. Boca burgers are a no-no. I'm sure they make vegan varieties, however. I ended up opting for Dr. Praeger's veggie burgers, which I absolutely love because you recognize EVERY ingredient on the box. No processed soy or anything. They do get a little flimsy on the skillet, however, so I recommend BBQing or toaster grilling them.

Lesson learned - read ingredients. The only other major thing I want to share is read Skinny Bitch. For any guy, girl, pet, etc. The book is laden with important nutrition information and tells you everything that certain foods do to your body. Far from a diet book or trend, Skinny Bitch is all about losing your ass through good nutrition. Vegans, vegetarians, and people thinking about overcoming animal product-cravings will love it. It's a quick and fun read. I don't normally plug things this heavily, so you know I really respect it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hamburgers Usin' Up All of Our Water!

Everytime I shower, wash my car, or run my dishwasher, I conciously feel bad about the water I'm wasting. Little did I know that eating meat wastes way more water than my 15 minute shower. Once I add up all of the water it takes to grow food for the animals, water their fields, and keep them hydrated, I learn that eating a pound of meat is like throwing 441 gallons of water down the street. That would take a while...

"The meat industry is a major cause of fresh water depletion. According to Ed Ayres, of the World Watch Institute, "Pass up one hamburger, and you’ll save as much water as you save by taking 40 showers with a low-flow nozzle." []

One hamburger requires that much water!? Had I known earlier, I would have always opted for the veggie burger at in'n'out. It's not just hamburgers though. It's those meaty sandwiches and chicken salads that are using up all of our water, too. Here's to opting out of meat and doing my part to prevent the daunting water crisis.

Imagine how much water would be saved if we ALL went vegetarian. Food for thought next time you're craving animal.

Photo Source:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's Lurking in Your Turkey Sandwich?

There are dangerous carcinogens lurking in the majority of deli meats. Unless you buy organic or all natural deli meat, your sandwiches most likely contain one of two (or both) ingredients labeled "sodium nitrite" and "sodium nitrate".

What are sodium nitrites and nitrates?
They are preservatives used in processed meats (deli meat, hot dogs, SPAM, bacon) to retain coloring. They are also reported to inhibit the growth of botulism, to some degree.

Why I choose not to eat them:
Once in your stomach, these preservatives react with your stomach chemicals to produce nitrosamines, which have been shown to cause cancer in lab testing after being consumed in large quantities by animals. Once produced in the body, nitrosamines produce the growth of cancers, particularly colorectal and pancreatic cancer. So, they're proven carcinogens.

Recent research:
A study conducted at the University of Hawaii followed 200,000 men and women for seven years to track health differences between those who ate meat and those who did not. The results? A frightening 67% increased risk of pancreatic cancer was found among those who consumed meat. Mike Adams, a nutritionist, cites the widespread use of sodium nitrites in processed meat as the cause of the increased cancer risk. He writes, "This is clearly not due to macronutrient differences. This is the kind of risk increase you only see with ingredient toxicity. Something in these processed meats is poisoning people, and the evidence points straight to sodium nitrite."

Children and pregnant or nursing women are warned to stay away from this preservative, so I stay away too. If it's not good for a newborn baby, it can't be that good for me.

How do I avoid nitrites and nitrates?
Processed meats like deli meat, hot dogs, SPAM, bologna, ham, and breakfast meats usually have sodium nitrite or nitrate in them. An often overlooked culprit is pepperoni. Most sandwich shops and restaurants use nitrite-laden meat, so avoid ordering meat on a sandwich. If you or someone you know must eat meat, there are nitrate and nitrite-free meats available. Any meat that is labeled all-natural, preservative free, or organic shouldn't have this dangerous compound in them (Ralphs sells a couple types of all natural lunch meats), but always check the labels yourself to be sure. I personally just stay away from all meat. It's much easier.

A refreshing cucumber sandwich with freshly cracked pepper and dijon mustard just sounds so much better to me than hunting for and spending extra bucks on non-cancer causing meat for lunch.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Bacon bacon bacon

Ok. It's literally things like these that I just never knew about. That's why I didn't care if I splurged on some bacon every once in a while. I think if everyone knew the tortuous conditions that animals are raised in for slaughter, they'd resist the bacon, as well.
These are gestation crates. They are where sows (female pigs) are kept during pregnancy.
Via Wikipedia: "A gestation crate, also known as a sow stall, is a 7 ft by 2 ft[2] metal enclosure in which a female breeding pig (sow) may be confined during pregnancy, and in effect for most of her adult life.[3]
Between 60 and 70 percent of sows are confined in crates during pregnancy in the United States,
[4] each pregnancy lasting four months, with an average of 2.5 litters every year.[5] Sows, who can weigh 600 lbs,[6] spend most of their three or four years of adult life in crates,[6] giving birth to between five and eight litters. As the sows grow larger, they no longer fit in the crates, and must sleep on their chests, unable to turn, until they are slaughtered.[7] The crates are usually placed side by side in rows of 20 sows per row and 100 rows per shed, the floors of the crates slatted to allow excrement to fall into a pit below."
These have been banned in Florida and Arizona. They will be on the ballot to be banned in California in the November 2008 election, if you want to vote on it.
If I had known that my bacon was lineaged from pigs kept in feces-ridden gestation crates where they couldn't even turn around, I wouldn't have ever eaten it. It's like eating bad karma. How the hell did these conditions ever become normal? And why didn't I know about it until today?

Why I'm here

I started being a vegetarian a couple months ago after reading Happy Yoga by Steve Ross. Basically, all of the information on what was in today's meat (toxins, antibiotics, hormones, etc) really grossed me out.

What I've learned so far is really how gross mass-produced and slaughtered meat is, whether its beef, lamb, poultry, or pig.

So I started this blog to share information and resources for similar-minded people. I'm not a fist-pounding vegetarian who's going to get down on anyone ordering a hamburger. I just chose to do this for myself, and want to share with others who are interested.