Monday, 30 July 2007

Lose weight with the V-Plan Diet

Forget faddy diets which are doomed to failure, the V-Plan Diet, developed by the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation (VVF), is a lifestyle choice that has a solid scientific basis. Research has demonstrated that it can produce greater weight loss than Atkins, Weight Watchers or the Zone diet. According to the British Medical Association vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, large bowel disorders, cancers and gallstones, so from a health perspective the V-Plan Diet makes bags of sense.

The 40 page V-Plan Diet is chock full of healthy recipes and straightforward advice to assist weight watchers. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey have reported that meat and meat products are the primary source of fat in most people’s diets. Numerous studies have shown vegetarians and vegans to be both slimmer and healthier than meat eaters, with decreased risks of health problems and longer life expectancies, despite veggies eating the same quantity of food as meat eaters. Plus, if around 10% of meat eaters stopped consuming meat or animal products there would be enough grain left over to end world hunger, which is certainly food for thought.

The V-Plan Diet is a fantastic way to tackle the growing obesity epidemic, which is on the verge of overtaking smoking as the leading cause of death. Rather than encouraging quick fixes it proposes a long term solution, which involves altering eating habits. On average veggies’ BMI is lower than meat eaters by 2, which is quite significant. Vegetarians tend to weigh less and have less body fat than meat eaters according to research. A study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine demonstrated that low-fat vegan diets result in quite dramatic weight loss without having to restrict calories, carbohydrates or portion sizes or even exercise!

It is not enough simply to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, you need to eat natural rather than processed foods. A Harvard University Study of 75,000 women over 10 years found that the more vegetables and fruits women eat, the less at risk they are of becoming obese. You can eat a limitless amount of fruit and vegetables, with the minimum being five servings a day.

Below is one of the delicious recipes from the V-Plan Diet, which can be downloaded from the
Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation Website.

Lunch – Hummus, Tomato & Alfafa Sprouts in Pitta PocketsServes
1.5 minutes (10 if making hummus)Per serving: Calories (kcal) 352, Fat (g) 6.4

Keeps 2-3 days in a sealed container in the fridge. You can buy hummus in supermarkets but it is easy and cheap to make your own – and it won’t be so high in salt! Alfalfa sprouts are tiny green shoots full of vibrant vitamins and minerals. They are found in plastic bags in the chill section of health stores or delis.

1-2 dollops of hummus
2 small wholemeal pitta pockets or 1 large wholemeal pitta
1 tomato, sliced
Handful of alfalfa sprouts

1. Lightly toast pitta bread.
2. When warm, slice a little bit from the top if it’s a pocket or slice in half if it’s a large one.
3. Open pitta carefully.
4. Spread inside of pitta with hummus.
5. Add alfalfa sprouts and tomato.6.
Serves 4. 5 minutes

If you have leftover chickpeas, use them in a salad, soup or stew. They also freeze well.

1 tin chickpeas
1 tbsp tahini
1⁄2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic depending on taste
Juice 1⁄2-1 lemon depending on juiciness
Juice from chickpea tin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Drain chickpeas, retaining juice.
2. Blend first five ingredients.
3. Add some juice from tin if necessary –traditional hummus is quite runny.
4. Season and serve.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Vegan Beauty brand of the week: Organic Botanics

Considering that 60% of what we apply to our skin is absorbed into our bodies and most conventional beauty products contain a cornucopia of synthetic chemicals that have been linked with a variety of illnesses, including cancer, it seems crazy not to buy organic beauty products. Almost 100% of all plant products used in cosmetics are grown with artificial chemical fertilisers and sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, leaving residues of these substances in non-organic ingredients and therefore products. If you think about it logically, a pestcide is designed to repel or destroy particular pests, whether insects, fungi or bacteria and so it follows on that these chemicals can cause adverse reactions in our skin cells.

Along with poisoning human beings, ironically in the name of beauty, there are still beauty products that are tested on millions of animals, to evaluate the toxicity of the chemicals used in those products. Rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and other animals are forced to swallow or inhale huge doses of toxic substances, or else endure the pain of chemicals burning into their eyes or shaved skin, whilst they are completely immobilised with restraints. Manufacturers that have sanctioned such treatment in the name of beauty, couldn't be further away from the true realisation of that term. There is no beauty to be found in the suffering of living beings.

Brands who stick their neck out and create genuinely natural products are a breath of fresh air in a world of mass-produced, chemical infused 'beauty' products. Even better are those companies who refuse to test on animals and avoid the inclusion of animal ingredients in their beauty and skin-care items.

My brand of the week, Organic Botanics, is an ethical, family run company, which was established by herbalist and vegetarian Celsi Richfield and her family, over eight years ago. Celsi has been producing natural skincare for over 20 years and eventually she came up with Organic Botanics, a range of unique vegan and cruelty free products with certified organic ingredients and thankfully without chemical nasties, such as: parabens, artificial colour, synthetic perfume, chemical UV filters and petro-chemicals.

Organic Botanic's range of skin-care products consist of organically grown cool-pressed plant oils, herbal extracts, floral waters, aloe-vera, pure essential oils and other lush, natural ingredients. Having sampled a few of their products I am now officially a huge fan and their Moisturising Nutritive creams (rich in natural vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants with a natural UV filter) and Satin Body Lotion (rich in vitamin E and sunflower, almond and apricot kernel oil) will be taking pride of place on my bathroom shelf, alongside my other organic and vegan beauty brand favourite, Raw Gaia. If you haven't tried Organic Botanics yet, I suggest you do so right away!

Friday, 13 July 2007

PETA's cyberspace anti-fur protest

PETA US and animals rights supporter and vegetarian Stella McCartney are coming together to cohost the world’s first anti-fur protest on Second Life – a 3-D virtual world built and owned by its residents, which you can join at anytime from now until 29th July.

This demonstration will occur on a purpose built island in the Second Life virtual world and visitors can lend their virtual support. All those who participate will receive a goodie bag, chock full of anti-fur accessories, for their avatars to utilise in spreading awareness about the anti-fur campaign to the 8 million residents of this online settlement. Visitors can also donate money in the currency of the island (Linden dollars), which PETA US will exchange for real money to benefit animals.

Millions of fur-bearing animals are slaughtered each year on fur farms and in the wild. 85% of the fur industry's skins come from factory farms where animals are held captive in shocking conditions, often trapped in small cages. Some animals are conscious whilst they are being skinned and others are poisoned, gassed, beaten to death or electrocuted with rods that are forced into their mouths or anuses. Companion animals such as cats and dogs are also used for fur. The online protest is not only a fun activity but a serious endeavour, so get protesting.

As well as the joys of cyberspace involved, there are bonafide prizes, including two tickets to McCartney’s spring 2008 runway show in Paris, one of her Appaloosa bags and her Care skin care line. The competition is for a new slogan based on the tagline, “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

To enter the virtual world and take part in the 3-D protest go to the website and enter “PETA and Stella McCartney Anti-Fur Protest” in the search field, to discover the island.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Advocates For Animals takes on Tesco

Why is it that animals are loved by most people, yet their suffering is tolerated by the majority? We all recoil at the RSPCA adverts on the television that show cats and dogs in awful states, yet how many of us think about the farm animals that are kept in the most torturous conditions? When people tuck into their breakfast eggs and bacon do they think about the suffering of the animals they are eating? Advocates for Animals is one of Britain’s leading animal protection organisations and provides a voice for animals. They campaign against animal cruelty in all its nasty, horrid forms.

Which brings me unfortunately onto the topic of battery hens. We all know how cruel the treatment of chickens is on factory farms, yet supermarkets still support the practise of keeping chickens in tiny cages with barely room to move. One of Tesco’s egg suppliers has been exposed by Advocates for Animals for keeping up to eight chickens in wire cages that are legally only permitted to hold a maximum of five. It is bad enough that chickens are kept in cages for their entire life, unable to stand up properly or to stretch their wings or legs, but to cram even more into these tiny cages is criminal.

Advocates for Animals has launched its ‘Go Cage-Free’ campaign to try to persuade Tesco to stop selling eggs from caged hens. The campaign will focus on educating the public about the plight of caged hens and visiting Tesco stores in 16 towns to spread their message.

The supermarkets have the buying power to dictate to farmers how they treat their livestock. It is about time supermarkets used their clout to ensure that all farmers they deal with treat their livestock with humanity and stop the barbaric practises of factory farming. If supermarkets are unsure about this issue, maybe we can help them to decide by not buying eggs from caged hens. The easy answer to cruelty in farming is for us all to become vegan, but for most people this is not an option. The next best thing is for people to be aware of what they are buying and only buy animal products that are sourced from farms where animals are kept in a humane environment and allowed to live their lives in a natural way. The supermarkets depend on us for their profits, so if we spend our money ethically, they will have to change their policies.

We can make the difference!

Friday, 6 July 2007

Marc Bouwer shows ethical is fashionable

Marc Bouwer is one of the top fashion designers, known as the man that dresses celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Paris Hilton, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey, his creations add glamour and style to many red carpet events around the world. He is an influential designer in the world of high fashion, so, when he decides to go ethical and stop using any animal skins or products in his designs it’s big news. Bouwer stopped using fur, leather and wool from his collections once he became aware of the horrific conditions the animals were kept in. Thanks to PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) he saw videos of animals being subjected to the most painful and barbaric treatment, such as conscious cows having their hooves and lips cut off.

This is not an unusual practise in the world of animal farming, this is not some rare occurrence, animals are routinely kept in conditions that cannot be described in any other way but torturous.

Bouwers 100% animal-free clothing line ‘Imitation Is Life’ premiered at New York Fashion Week. Bouwer proved that fashion does not have to be part of the animal trade, fashion can be as glamorous and exciting and beautiful without the cruelty. Hopefully more designers will follow and distance themselves from cruelty and make an ethical statement as well as a fashion statement.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Get your FREE vegetarian starter kit

There are so many great reasons for becoming vegetarian and vegan, from boosting your health to helping the planet. According to a 2006 U.N. report, rearing animals for food produces more greenhouse gases than all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined. Raising animals leads to the production of vast amounts of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, all of which are incredibly detrimental to the planet. Feeding grain and water to farm animals and then slaughtering, processing and transporting their flesh, expends a great deal of energy. Farm animals take up a great deal of land, in fact over two-thirds of agricultural land worldwide. With water scarcity being a problem, a vegan diet uses much less water than a beat based one. An average cow consumes around 100 litres of water a day. Plus, people are starving because crops are being used as food for farm animals, rather than nourishing some of the world's poorest individuals.

The biggest step we can take towards halting global warming is becoming vegan. To give you a helping hand, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are providing a free vegetarian starter kit, chock full of recipes, tips on changing to a vegetarian diet and much much more. If you need an incentive or more information, order your kit online today!

July 14th: National Day of Action Against Tesco

On July 14th Viva! is planning a National Day of Action against Tesco, because of the inhumane practise of chopping up live turtles. In its China stores Tescos are selling live Turtles, which are either decapitated in the store itself or taken home to be chopped up.

Tesco purchased the Hymall chain of 39 supermarkets in China and failed to halt the store’s policy of selling live turtles. If they can coax the turtle into popping its little head out of its shell, they chop it off. The head can live for up to an hour after being decapitated.

The live turtles that people take home may be boiled alive or have their shells sliced off and organs and fat cut out, whilst they remain in constant pain.

According to Tescos they are killed quickly to reduce suffering and sourced in a sustainable way. The truth of the matter is that it’s very difficult to kill turtles in a painless way because of their slow metabolism and ability to live on small amounts of oxygen and most turtles sold are caught in the wild and laundered through turtle farms. I agree with Viva! and the Tortoise Trust when they say: “We find Tesco’s attitude ethically repugnant and morally bankrupt.”

If you want to complain to Tescos see the Viva! website.