Resource Centre

Canada Food Guide increases veg compatibility

A few weeks ago, Health Canada launched a new version of Canada’s Food Guide. It’s been 15 years since the guide was last updated. There are several changes of interest to vegetarians. The guide still uses a rainbow design, but fruits and vegetables now take the place of grains on the outer band. The veggie and grain bands are now wider than the milk and meat bands. The Milk group has been renamed “Milk and Alternatives“ and includes fortified soymilk. The “Meat and Alternatives“ group now emphasizes the vegetarian options instead of meats. The first recommendation is to eat “meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often.” While there have been some advances for vegetarians, the guide is far from perfect. Milk and Meat continue to be two of the four categories, and the only vegan milk alternative mentioned is soymilk. They recommend eating fish, but provide a footnote warning about limiting exposure to mercury. Presumably the fish promotion is to wean meat eaters away from land animals, and to provide a source of Omega-3. Unfortunately, there is no mention of vegetarian sources of omega-3. The guide also does little to address concerns about obesity and… Read More


Filed under: Healthy Living Resource Centre

How plant foods boost your immune system

Unfortunately, our air, water, soil and much of our food is full of chemicals that can cause health problems ranging from asthma to cancer. The good news, however, is that a natural chemical removal system is built into our basic biochemistry. It is powerful enough to eliminate thousands of different chemicals. It just needs to be turned on. This chemical rejection process is based on enzymes that can take the most dangerous chemicals and, in an instant, render them harmless. These enzymes arrest toxins and send them away, so they can, in fact, save your life but they need to be woken up to do their thing. This involves a two-phase process. In Phase I, an enzyme in the liver cell grabs hold of the toxic molecule and attaches oxygen to it. In Phase II, a second enzyme hooks the culprit molecule onto a large carrier molecule that drags it away. These are then sent out of your body in your urine or feces. As this process unfolds however, there is one very dangerous point. When a toxic chemical has had oxygen attached by the Phase I enzyme, it can be even more dangerous than when it entered your body. Read More


Filed under: Healthy Living Resource Centre

Definitions of Vegetarianism and Veganism

The word vegetarian, coined by the founders of the British Vegetarian Society in 1842, comes from the Latin word vegetus, meaning “whole, sound, fresh, or lively,” as in homo vegetus — a mentally and physically vigorous person. The original meaning of the word implies a balanced philosophical and moral sense of life, a lot more than just a diet of vegetables and fruits. Vegetarians Vegetarians don’t eat the flesh of any animals be they mammals, birds or fish. In addition, vegans don’t eat any animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs. Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians They include dairy products and eggs (free-range please!) as part of their diet. This is the diet most commonly thought of as vegetarian. Vegan Those practicing a full vegan lifestyle endeavour to live lives which do not cause any suffering at all to animals, or exploit animals in any way. This means not eating eggs, dairy, meat, or honey; not wearing leather, wool, and silk; and not using products that have been tested on animals. Entertainment that confines or exploits animals such as circuses, rodeos, and zoos is avoided. PETA has an excellent website on how to live a vegan lifestyle. The word “vegan” was invented… Read More


Filed under: Resource Centre Uncategorised

Five food choices for a healthy planet

Five simple food choices to help the earth. 1. Eat low on the food chain Moving toward a vegetarian diet is one of the most powerful personal choices you can make for a healthier environment. Your ecological footprint (the amount of non-wild land required to sustain you) is greatly affected by the quantity of meat in your diet. Meat-eaters need far more land than vegetarians because they eat domesticated animals that have ecological footprints themselves. On a larger scale it leads to the Earth becoming increasingly out of balance. Populations of non-wild animals have been exploding while wilderness areas shrink and the wildlife they contain become ever more endangered. Based on figures from Statistics Canada, our farm animal population averages around 132 million. Taking individual weights into account, food animals outweigh people by a factor of four to one! All these animals need food, water and transportation, and many require shelter and waste removal. Most of our farmland is dedicated to feeding them. By curtailing our meat consumption we could free up millions of acres of agricultural land that could be returned to forest and wild prairie. Using less farmland also means less soil erosion, less irrigation water, less… Read More


Filed under: Resource Centre Sustainability

Vegetarian energy foods for kids & athletes

Vegetarian energy foods for growing kids, active teens, and those with fast-paced metabolisms Book store shelves are stocked with “Eat more, weigh less” nutrition books, but little is written on healthy ways to increase your caloric intake. Enter vegetarian energy foods; vegetarian diets, particularly vegan diets, tend to have low calorie intakes because of their low fat and high fibre contents. There are many cases where “high octane” foods are required to accommodate high energy demands. Those engaged in physical sports have increased energy needs ranging from 2000 to 6000 calories per day. Others such as pregnant women may easily meet their energy needs but may not necessarily meet nutrient requirements unless some attention is given to nutrient-dense foods. Even children, with limited stomach capacities have high nutrient requirements. Big breakfasts granola-type cereal with soy milk, dates, figs, and other dried or fresh fruit. banana soy milk smoothies with tahini or almond, cashew or sunflower butter added nut butter, such as almond or cashew, with banana on whole grain toast and juice pancakes with sliced fruit, walnuts, non-hydrogenated margarine and maple syrup whole grain muffins with tahini & honey spread, banana and juice Lay it on for lunch hummus in… Read More


Filed under: Eat Veg Healthy Living Nutrition Resource Centre Vegan & Vegetarian Cooking Tips

Coretta Scott King & the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., died on Jan. 30, 2006. She had devoted her life to his legacy. An activist long before she met her husband, she embraced a vegan diet in 1995 due to the influence of her son, Dexter Scott King. Coretta believed that promoting animal rights was the next “logical extension” of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of non-violence. “She would always admonish us that … one of the ways you bring about change is, you must change yourself so that you’re prepared to lead people in the direction they should go. If your emotions are as bad as those you’re fighting, even if your cause is just, you disqualify yourself from being effective,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told CNN. Rev. Jesse Jackson recounted that when an assassin’s bullet killed her husband in Memphis in 1968, just prior to a planned march, Mrs. King organized her husband’s funeral, then “went to Memphis and finished the march. She was a staunch freedom fighter.” Mrs. King spoke out “on behalf of racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full… Read More


Filed under: Animal Issues Resource Centre

Cow’s Milk & Lactose Intolerance

Cow’s milk and other dairy products are included in many vegetarian diets. Dairy is a source of calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and other nutrients. It has been a part of many cultures for centuries, especially in Northern Europe. For religious Hindus, milk is considered sacred. Yet the majority of the world’s population does not have a history of dairy consumption. These people often have problems digesting it. With the advent of modern mechanized dairy production, milk may not be as pure as it once was. For a print version open Cowsmilk.pdf (100Kb) What follows is an in depth overview of some of the potential problems associated with dairy, and a look at the alternatives. Sections below: Lactose Intolerance Milk fat Allergies Osteoporosis Iron deficiency in infants Ovarian cancer Diabetes in children Women and dairy Stress, antibiotics, mastitis, and pus Non-dairy calcium sources Soy milk as a healthy alternative Is drinking milk natural? Human beings are the only species (other than house cats) to consume milk past childhood. We are also the only species to consume the milk of another species. Yet, at… Read More


Filed under: Healthy Living Resource Centre

Arthritis: Relief through a vegetarian diet

Written by Lara Greguric The symptoms began a few years ago. One morning, I awoke and was unable to move my hands. They were swollen shut into fists and attempting to wiggle my fingers was extremely painful. Over the next couple of weeks, the symptoms spread into other joints. My wrists, my shoulders, my knees and the joints in my feet became stiff, swollen, and tender. After a few weeks of suffering, I finally realized that this was not normal and went to see my family doctor. He referred me to a rheumatologist. At the ripe old age of 21, I was diagnosed with arthritis. I was in shock upon hearing this diagnosis. I kept thinking “why me?” Arthritis was something that 85-year-old grandmothers get, not healthy, fit young adults. Unfortunately, that belief is a myth. Arthritis is a blanket term for a disease that encompasses over 100 different conditions ranging from mild forms of tendinitis and bursitis to the crippling rheumatoid arthritis. As a disease, arthritis does not discriminate. It can inflict young children still in diapers, individuals in the prime of their lives, as well as the elderly. The condition is marked by an inflammation of the… Read More


Filed under: Healthy Living Resource Centre

History of vegetarianism: Leo Tolstoy

The great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy chose and championed vegetarianism by Gregory B. Betts Tolstoy was introduced and became a vegetarian, all on the same day. With only one conversation. It must take a special kind of intelligence to change one’s life so suddenly. The confrontation and reversal of personal hypocrisies can be harrowing, especially if the information is coming from someone who is less famous, of lower status, and hitherto unknown. Yet, Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy was one such man with proven ability to hear an argument, accept it, and change his entire life to meet his new knowledge. Instantly. Tolstoy was a strange and unpredictable man. Born on Sept. 9, 1828 in the Russian province of Tula, his supreme intelligence moved him through numerous roles and vocations, with very different affects on his life. He entered the University of Kazan in 1844, but tended to fritter his time away amidst the social explosion overwhelming the city. People were dancing in the streets, arguing in alleyways, and singing songs of Russia in every tavern, and the romance was too much for the young Tolstoy. He skidded through school, greatly unsatisfied with the experience and became thoroughly muddled about what form… Read More


Filed under: Animal Issues Resource Centre

Dairy-free calcium sources

Written by Bonnie Kumer, R.D. and Nicole Hambleton    No bones about it, vegetarians can maintain healthy calcium stores on a dairy-free diet. Eating a calcium-rich, vegan diet just takes a little knowledge about calcium requirements, an understanding of calcium absorption, avoidance of calcium thieves and a bit of menu planning. How much calcium do we really need? The amount of calcium recommended as the RNI (Required Nutritional Intake): Women 1000 mg/day Women 50+ 1200-1500 mg/day Men 1000 mg/day These requirements take into account the negative effects of protein and sodium on calcium balance. Calcium absorption levels of plant foods Deep green vegetables (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Chinese and green cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, etc.) 50-70% Milk 32% Almonds 21% Beans 17% Spinach, cooked 5% Studies have shown that the calcium in kale, bok choy, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables as well as tofu (set with calcium sulfate or calcium chloride) is absorbed at a rate equal to or greater than milk. The role of protein Animal protein (beef, poultry, fish, and egg) causes calcium to be excreted in the urine. A person following a diet that does not include animal protein may have lowered calcium needs. For example,… Read More


Filed under: Eat Veg Healthy Living Nutrition Resource Centre