Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Vegan at Little Caesar's? Forget it!

There is a website, called Eat This! No That! that rates restaurants for its vegan options. They claim to rate vegan options. It reports that Crazy Bread and Crazy Sauce at Little Caesar's would be a vegan meal, but I beg to differ. It would not even be technically vegan, for there is parmegian cheese on the bread.

There are of course two ways of looking at "vegan." One is in the negative, which is, in Dr. Esselstyn's words: Don't eat anything that had a father and a mother, or has a face, or, more prosaically, don't eat meat, poultry, fish, or dairy. However, that does not cover it. The real issue is what you do eat, more than what you don't eat. What drives the vegan revolution is the no-oil WFPB diet: Whole Foods Plant-Based nutrition, i.e. nutritionally complete and balanced nutrition. Generally speaking it means whole grains, legumes, fruit, mushrooms etc., and no heavily processed foods, as well as no added oil or sugar.

Little Caesar's Crazy Combo (Crazy Bread plus Crazyu Sauce) scores a zero on a #WFPB scale from 1 - 10. Don't even bother. I got my sample from the Little Caesar's at Parkchesterstation. The $4.43 would have been better spent at the fruit vendors who are around in Hugh Grant circle.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore

Patients come in and cry over the progress they are making with a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet; nobody ever cries tears of joy over a Lipitor prescription.
                                                   Robert J. Ostfeld, MD. MSc.
I just spent my Saturday morning with Dr. Robert Ostfeld, Director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore and Lauren Graf, nutritionist to the program. This was a half-day workshop intended for cardiology patients and their significant others, which they teach numerous times during the year. The purpose evidently is to help people adopt their new no-oil Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) lifestyle, and helping the process by involving their household. The general tenet of the program is that, the whole foods plant- based diet of Dr. Esselstyn and T. Coin Campbell, Ph.D. is the way to go and except for in severe cases, a small amount of oil in the form of oil-rich fruit, e.g. nuts, avocado, etc., is healthy, but that it is mostly the added oils that cause harm, so you want to avoid added oils in all forms.


There were perhaps 30-40 people in attendance, and the workshop was both practical, and deeply informative, showing the scientific foundations of the dietary approach/ life style that is being taught in this program, as much as hands-on dietary recommendations. There was a nice lunch catered by Tastee Vegan. Check out their site. They have catered among others for Mike Tyson, who is vegan now too! The meal was an absolutely delicious sampling of vegan dishes, with lots of inspiration for stuff you could try at home.

Good for what ails you

Being that Dr. Ostfeld is a cardiologist, that is his primary focus, but the WFPB lifestyle is about more than that - it is about the whole new nutritional paradigm of eating Whole Foods, and stopping the fallacy that you can make it up with supplements: Whole foods are in, expensive urine is out. Even supplements of vitamin B12 and vitamin D are needed only sporadically and in small amonts, not necessarily every day.
Good for what ails you is the motto here, and besides the massive improvements in heart health that Dr. Ostfeld routinely sees with the WFPB diet, he produced a chart with a list of other health outcomes that are positively impacted by the adoption of a WFPB diet, which - with a little tongue in cheek - he calls the kale scan.
The Kale Scan
Just in case you have trouble reading the slide, here is the list:
  • ALS
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Skin Appearance (acne is a nutritional deficiency)
  • Ear infections
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Acid Reflux
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Lung Disease
  • Breast Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • Colon Cancer and Constipation
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Sexual Function (ED is the canary in the coal mine for CVD - Cardio Vascular Disease)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Athletic Performance
  • Arthritis
 The bottom line is that all or most degenerative diseases that make up 75% of our healthcare spending are preventable and often reversible with a Whole Foods Plant-Based diet.
  • This is obviously an area where half-measures are not much help, although Dr. Ostfeld is willing to work with people in steps.
  • Added oils of any kind will collapse your veins for upto six hours after the intake, which in practice means you should avoid them at all cost, and all oils and fats are equally bad for heart health.
  • At the supermarket, read the label, not the claims on the front of the box. 
  • Avoid most sweeteners, including sugar, with the possible exception of Stevia, or some blackstrap molasses.
  • Juice is not generally a good idea - getting the sugar without the pulp is a bad idea, while on the other hand eating whole fruits is not a risk factor with Type 2 Diabetes, but instead can be a help.
 Last, not least, there were many useful discussions about foods to buy and not to buy, and mention of a cookware line that is very suitable for the WFPB lifestyle, called 360 Cookware.

What's next: 

 On Friday October 27th, 2017, there will be an all-day conference, the Montefiore Preventative Cardiology Conference (you can register at the link), that is open to the public. Speakers will include:

  • Robert J. Ostfeld, MD, MSc, Host
  • Paul M. Ridker MD, MPH - Beyond LDL Cholesterol: Does Inflammation Matter?
  • Neal D. Barnard, MD - Nutrition in the prevention and Treatment of Diabetes
  • Kim A. Williams, MD - Personal evolution towards lifestyle changes for prevention and treatment of CVD (CardioVascular Disease)
  • Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. MD - Nutritional Reversal of Coronary Artery Disease: Fact or Fiction?
  • Robert j. Ostfeld, MD: The Impact of Lifestyle Change in Cardiovascular Risk Factors and the Bronx
This is a training for Cardiologists and other doctors, but it is open to members of the public. If you're not a patient of Dr. Robert Ostfeld, send your doctor! It is high time they find out.
The Bronx's #not62 program to improve health outcomes in the Bronx has not (as yet) been very successful, yet this program at Montefiore deserves to be a center piece in the strategy.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Online Resouces for a Whole Foods Plant-Based Lifestyle

There is a plethora of viable online information available today to make it easy for anyone to successfully ease into a Whole Foods Plant-Based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle and not a diet, for as long as you shift to the new paradigm of eating only whole foods and everything plant-based, you can pretty much eat what you like and any sense of "dieting" is gone. One reason I never tried any diet seriously was because I don't like dieting, but my cooking/eating style has evolved over the years and with the arrival of the plant-based diet, cooking has become more enjoyable than ever. For whatever it is worth, all my life cooking was essentially my favorite hobby, so for me to say that has to mean something.
I went from vegetarian as a kid to omnivore in my twenties, including a macrobiotic period, an Italian period, a Japanese period, various garbage periods, and eventually drifting back towards mostly vegetarian, and vegan since May of 2015, and realistically that was primarily based on the Esselstyn information, so I like to call it "no-oil WFPB," or "oil-free WFPB."

The salient facts

  • 75% of our healthcare spending is on treating degenerative diseases, such as CardioVascularDisease (CVD) - including Erectile Dysfunction (ED),  Type 2 Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Prostate cancer, Colon cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts, arthritis, osteoporosis. See a.o. this blog on Vegan.io.
  • A diet based on animal proteins is 10-20 times more resource intensive than a diet based on plant-based proteins. See this infographic on the True Environmental Cost of Eating Meat. On the whole, the environmental impact of animal husbandry is greater (18% of greenhouse gas emissions) than that of the entire transportation industry (13% of greenhouse gas emissions).
  • In short, by switching to a WFPB diet, you are becoming healthier yourself, you are making a huge contribution to the environment, and you are helping to feed the world: four billion people could be fed from what is now "feed grain," for cattle.

Online support for the WFPB diet


Here are some of the online resources that can help you.

We want to be very conscious of the fact that WFPB is gaining traction in the medical community and presently both the AMA and the American College of Cardiology are urging hospitals to offer vegan meal options at all times. The AMA is urging to take cured meats off the menu as they are carcinogenic, and additionally, it is also urging the government to focus SNAP benefits on healthy food choices.

Vegan Videos

There are videos, there are many powerful documentaries that have helped lots of people, some are found on Youtube, some have their own sites:
  1.  The Mad Cowboy. Howard Lyman, former cattle rancher turned vegan, is at the center of this absolutely classic documentary which followed on from Lyman's appearance on Oprah, and the lawsuit by the Texas Cattlemen that tried to stop Lyman's message that beef was not as healthy as they say it is. Howard's book and the documentary "Mad Cowboy"followed.
  2. Forks over Knives. The most important documentary on the work of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn about the new nutritional paradigm of the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet, based on the results of the China Study, and Esselstyn's clinical work. The message is: 75% of our healthcare dollars go to the treatment of degenerative diseases that can usually be prevented and often reversed by switching to a Whole Foods Plant-Based diet.
  3. Cowspriracy puts it all together from an environmental angle as well. Very powerful.
  4. What the Health. The follow-on project from the makers of Cowspiracy, which explores the connection to how medicine and bad diet go hand in hand.
  5. Talk by Howard Lyman, has the whole story of the lawsuit, and lots of useful information.
  6. Meat the Truth, another useful documentary that puts together the environmental angle.
  7. Dairy is Dangerous, by Dr. Neal Barnard. Powerful story by Dr. Neal Barnard, president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, (PCRM). His latest book, The Cheese Trap is also highly recommended.
  8. The Perils of Dairy, Another excellent production on the perils of dairy by Dr. John McDougall.
  9. Best Speech You Will Ever Hear by Gary Yourovsky. An incredibly powerful presentation on the benefits of the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet from Israeli activist Gary Yourovsky. He is now retired from 'activism,' but his contributions stand the test of time.
  10. Animal Protein Causes Cancer. This is a very powerful recap of the main findings of T. Colin Campbell on how animal protein causes cancer, and plantprotein turns it off. No more needs to be said.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Molecular Hydrogen Story and Nature's Perfect Antioxidant

This is a simple recap of what I know today about nature's perfect anti-oxidant, the humble H2 molecule.

The discovery of it for me, in this role, happened very recently, although I was pointed in the direction since 1998. At that time, I had worked for a while with Water Electrolysis Machines, or water ionizers, as they were then commonly known. In 1997 there had been a scientific publication that pointed to the fact that Electrolyzed Reduced Water (ERW) had anti-oxidant properties, which would explain the apparent health benefits people experienced from the water.
The 1997 research by Prof. Sanetaka Shirahata, did look in the wrong direction however. He thought there was stabilized atomic hydrogen in the water, which seemed improbable.

More recently it has been established that the antioxidant properties of ERW are due to H2, and moreover, the typical water ionizer is not the most efficient way to make that. So new generations of machines are now hitting the market, and even more simply, there is one company that markets a tablet to create your own H2 Rich Water (HRW), and it is quite powerful, the company is called Drink HRW. This may be the simplest solution yet.

Besides the tablets, there are a plethora of machines on the market, and you can find a whole section on Amazon on Hydrogen Rich Water with loads of different machines.

The Science of H2 and Health

As to the science of H2, we now have the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, whose founder, biochemist Tyler LeBaron, has pursued his studies of the topic with a stint at Nagoya University in Japan, which is a center of H2 research. There is copious material on the site, and it can only be highly recommended, since a lot of the commercially available documentation is often still tainted by the nonsense of "alkaline water," which has refused to die out, even though that particular mythological explanation of the health benefits of HRW was seriously undermined starting by the 1997 research paper of Prof. Sanetaka Shirahata, published at the time in BBRC. Prof. Shirahata remained allied with Nihon-Trim a manufacturer of water electrolysis equipment. His line of inquiry, which led him to postulate atomic H as the operative factor in the anti-oxidant properties of ERW, became obsolete when the role of H2 became clear and moreover when it became evident that the existing water electrolysis equipment was inefficient in producing it, leading to the development of dedicated HIMs (Hydrogen Induction Machines).

H2 reduces oxidative stress as a selective antioxidant and by maintaining homeostatic levels of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, catalase, etc. (from the home page of the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation)

Nano-particles of Platinum in ERW

It appears that Shirahata et al. are still pursuing deeper ERW research, and in fact they are starting to legitimize what has been suspected for a long time, namely that nano-particles of platinum from the electrodes in ERW machines are partially responsible for the observed antioxidant effectiveness.
However, this is largely a non-issue, and may even be dubious. Tyler LeBaron made the following comment on the Facebook group on Hydrogen Water:
The study was done by Nihon-Trim who owns about 60% of the market share of ionized water in Japan, followed closely by Panasonic. They are, however, transitioning away from "alkaline" idea and now focus on the H2. They don't talk about microclustering nonsense....

Anyways, the study is very predictable. It is well known that platinum nano particles (PtNps) can be eluted by force-detachment upon electrode degradation. And these platinum nano particles have antioxidant activity all by themselves. This is clearly stated in the article.

It's like adding vitamin C to hydrogen water, and then comparing it directly to hydrogen water only. Of course the one with the hydrogen and the vitamin C will have more antioxidant activity than hydrogen only.

Also the study was only in cell cultures not in animals or humans. There is doubt that when ERW is orally consumed that: 1) we would absorb the platinum, and 2) that the concentration would be high enough , and 3) there is some early human data out of Japan that suggests that drinking water containing platinum nano particles may be toxic to the liver (which is one reason why the Japanese gov. states the water should not exceed pH 10, as the higher pH correlates with greater electrode degradation resulting in more platinum particles).

They also state in the study that the concentration would not likely be high enough for direct antioxidant activity in the body. Anyways, it is a fine study, and as mentioned, very predictable because they are basically adding another ingredient to the water.
(Tyler LeBaron, private correspondence, based on posting in Facebook group on Hydrogen Water) 
and in an additional clarification, Tyler wrote the following to me:
One comment is Shirahata mainly believed in stabilized atomic hydrogen, which he called active hydrogen, not so much hydride. It was a convoluted confusion between his stuff and Patrick Flanagans false info that merged the concepts of the two meaning the same thing.  But Shirahata believed it was atomic hydrogen stable in the water and minerals in the water. See: http://www.molecularhydrogenfoundation.org/core-information/alkaline-ionized-water-characteristics-benefits-and-future/


In short, it is best to leave behind all the confusion about alkaline water and active hydrogen, and focus on the massive body of research about the role of molecular hydrogen as the real actor which explains the healing properties of certain waters that are naturally rich in Molecular Hydrogen (H2), such as Zamzam from Mecca, or the waters from Nordenau (Germany), Lourdes (France), Tiacote (Mexico), or Nadana (India), and now also Taean (South Korea). Now that the real issue has been identified, HRW can now be made either with tablets that are dissolved in water, or with the growing range of HIMs of all sizes and shapes.
To a lesser degree, HRW can also be derived with the various mineral sticks, starting from Dr. Hayashi's mineral stick, which is absurdly expensive. Dr. Hayashi was one of the early proponents of ERW, but switched to HRW and he developed probably the first mineral stick. His stick is over priced. Why pay $70 for something you can get for $5? The problem with all the mineral sticks is not knowing for sure for how long, or even if they produce therapeutic levels of H2 in the water. You want to watch out for the ones that promote alkalinity, there is no known benefit in highly alkaline water - stories galore, but there is no solid research that ever proved it.

The Machines


There is a continuous process machine, called H2FX, you can hook up to your faucet, and there are an endless variety of batch machines with pitchers. I am using the "Lourdes" machine, and the same company offers quite a variety of machines. There is a growing collection of HIMs available on Amazon too.




Clearly this area is exploding, and who knows what other solutions we might see coming along.

H2 is the only selective antioxidant

What makes H2 so desirable is that it is the only selective antioxidant, that targets only cytotoxic processes, and leaves healthy oxidative processes alone. No other antioxidant can do that, and therefore you can always overdose with regular antioxidant supplements. H2 does not have that effect at all, but it is the quickest way to help your immune system get back up to speed and stay healthy as long as you have regular intake, and for that, drinking water is about the easiest solution.
All in all, we should note that a WFPB (Whole Foods Plant-Based) diet makes most supplements superfluous, since you'll get loads of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins the natural way, and usually only some B12 is recommended and depending on circumstances possibly some vitamin D. HRW will easily round out the picture and remove all doubt, so you can leave most of your supplements behind. What we have here is a paradigm shift in the making.

Putting it in practice

I would filter my drinking water anyway, but just to make sure, I filter my drinking water with a resin-exchange filter before it goes into the Lourdes machine. Among other things I don't like, it takes out the fluoride, which is my biggest single concern.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Simple Salad at Neerob/Packsun

This time our planned No-oil vegan supper did not work out, but we made use of the occasion to plan for the future.

Many people said they would come, few of them came.

The party was father David from St. Helena's Parish and myself Father David sampled some of the typical Packsun fare, including a somosa, while Khokon fixed us a simple salad that would pass muster as a no-oil vegan dish, and we planned the next proper No Oil Vegan Supper for July 25th, again the 4th Tuesday of the month - that day in June being the end of Ramadan. The rules are going to be different. The RSVP will be closed the previous day, and Walk-ins will be $12, while it will stay at $10 by RSVP.

As per our commitment to publish the recipes after each supper, here is the salad:

A Simple Salad with Cucumber and Tomato

  • Cucumber, grated/shredded
  • Tomato, diced
  • fresh lemon
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Ginger, grated fine.
And that's all. Obviously it was not a full meal, but the combination of Cilantro, Ginger with salt and peper in lemon juice was a perfect improvisation for a quick dressing.

Eating at home you could combine something like this with rice and beans and a vegetable of your choice, spinach, chard, broccoli or anything.

The more you start getting it, no-oil vegan cooking can be done on a budget, just don't be stingy with the vegetables, that's where your nutrients including protein come from. Meat is expensive! Essentially all vegetables have some protein, and the beans are a rich source of protein. The variations with beans are endless, it bears to experiment. The key is to realize that varied intake is the secret, and two or three vegetables at a meal is perfectly OK.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New Food Realities WFPB - Whole Foods Plant-Based

For most of my life, I thought I knew something about nutrition. As a child I loved to help out in the kitchen, and learn cooking. In our household cooking was a serious affair: my mother ran the place like a hotel, for my father was a psychiatrist and had his practice at home, and meals were a major social occasion, both lunch and dinner. Whether it was us kids bringing friends over, or my father's friends and professional contacts, including other doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists from all over Western Europe, authors, economists, ministers of state, and clergy. Lunch and dinner were often social events. Proper meals were being served and conversation was usually in three languages, mostly Dutch and German, but sometimes French or English. Ever since we went vegetarian when I was age two-and-a-half, my mother was always preoccupied with meal planning and nutrition. In those days, there seemed to be a lot of preoccupation with: but how do you get your protein? This being Holland, the answer was of course dairy, although there was some awareness of pulses, peas, beans and certain grains as sources of protein. But we definitely thought cheese was a health food, and eggs weren't bad either. Milk was still nature's perfect food. That was then, this is now.

As an adult, during a 20-year marriage, I was the cook. Cooking was my relaxation when I came home from work. In those years I had become omnivore, but still always had a vegetarian-leaning cooking style. I made pasta sauce completely vegetarian, using mushrooms, and my Italian (now ex-) wife within six months admitted my pasta sauce was better than her mother's. For which my mother-in-law never forgave me. During those years however, I also thought an organic filet mignon was health food, and if it wasn't organic I'd eat it too.

The last 20 years, I was slowly drifting back to a more vegetarian lifestyle, until I decided for health reasons that it was necessary to become a bit more rigorous, and after one false try maybe five years ago, I finally and completely shifted to the Esselstyn diet in May of 2015, and the results were dramatic. These days I am off of all medication and back at my fighting weight of age 22.

Vegan or Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB)

Vegan means strictly speaking that you're not eating animal protein: no meat, fish, fowl, dairy or eggs. Strictly speaking the term means little else.
Ever since Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's work gained popularity (which got a big push when Clinton credited him with overcoming his heart disease), a more strict regimen has become more popular, no-oil vegan. No processed oils, and moderation in oily fruit (avocado, coconut), nuts and oil seeds. The biggie for most people is no more cheese. No, cheese is not a healthfood, as Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explains in his tell-all book about cheese, The Cheese Trap. Three months after stopping all dairy, I indulged in cheese at a reception, along with some red wine. The taste still seemed attractive at first, but the after taste was of having eaten window caulking and it felt heavy. Then I read the book and finally it all made sense. No wonder statistically cheese is totally correlated with the American obesity crisis... from 4 lbs per person per year, we are gobbling 33 lbs per person/per year today.

Most people fail to make the transition at first, as did I when I first tried the Esselstyn approach, because the preparation of food became a challenge, but this time around I prepared myself better, got some more vegan cookbooks, and accessed all the information I could find. Meals became fun explorations of new possibilities, and presently, a year and a half later, it feels like I am entering a consolidation phase based on a whole new cooking paradigm and a new ability to improvise with flavors and textures with the excitement of the discovery that everything tastes better and more flavorful if you stop cooking with oil. And your arteries will thank you!

The truth is not in what you don't eat but in what you can and should eat, and that is a very rich and varied plant-based diet, full of veggies, legumes, fruits etc., and it becomes an entirely new journey of discovery, as this blog tries to show. In short, the first time I tried the Esselstyn diet, I made two mistakes. One was to focus on what I could not have and trying to find alternatives, and the other was not to be sufficiently clear on the methods of preparation.

One practical example was about cooking without oil, in the Esselstyn book there is talk about stir-frying with water, but I don't believe it explains it clearly. I am finding that though some pans are more suitable to this than others, in general you can dry-fry onions, garlic and chilis, and then when it starts to brown you can add a half a cup of water, or vegetable broth, or even water from steaming vegetables, and with that base you can cook spinach, or malabar spinach or almost any other vegetable dish, lentils, etc. Once you are handy with this, it is a cinch, and the bottom line is, all vegetables taste endlessly better prepared this way. Oil or butter ruins the taste. Here I was making sautéed spinach all of my life, and I thought I was pretty good at it. I knew nothing until I tried the oil-free method. Spinach prepared this way is heavenly!

And there are tons of resources, such as Forks over Knives, the Engine2 diet, and the 21-day kickstart program from PCRM, and many other places where you can go for support. Here in the Bronx there is the wonderful resource of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Hospital, run by Dr. Robert Ostfeld, who offers a half-day course to learn the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet, in the best of the Caldwell Esselstyn tradition, and on a budget. You can even bring your significant other, so that at least you get support at home. I am now registered to go to his next workshop on July 15th. The bottom line is with the growing support options, people who are looking to make the change have an extensive support system at their finger tips. A lot of it is free, and once in a while perhaps you'll buy a book or do a workshop. And the fear that you can't afford it is not well founded, for meat and dairy are expensive both in dollars, and in the toll you pay with your health.

Books

  • Always first: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure and 

  • T. Colin Caldwell, The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health 

  • Dr. Neal Barnard, The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy

  • Not strictly no-oil vegan, but a helpful little guide: Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey, The Vegan Cheat Sheet: Your Take-Everywhere Guide to Plant-based Eating

 A new life-style

Most surprising for some is the experience that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want once you're on this track, as long as you stay within the bounds of no-oil veganism, and use only whole foods. But there is never a sense of dieting. Eat to your heart's content, and your body will adjust, and weight management is no longer an issue.

The potential for no-oil vegan for the restaurant business

This to me is the most exciting realization that has come to me, and I've begun to discuss it with restaurant owners: Not only does no-oil vegan cooking simply taste better, but it is the most universal choice for a restaurant menu. A vegan won't touch a merely vegetarian meal, but a vegetarian will eat no-oil vegan, a vegan will eat no-oil vegan and a no-oil vegan will obviously eat no-oil vegan. So, when a party of 6 enters your restaurant and one is vega-anything, you can always accommodate them with a no-oil vegan dish. You simply cannot go wrong. This new life is getting interesting.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Power Breakfast: Natto over tomatoed brown rice.

Our Chang-Li Supermarket now carries natto. A package of three is $1.99.

Natto at Chang-Li
While Natto is definitely an acquired taste, but, with a little experimenting, I developed a nifty breakfast. Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts, but sometimes I have a hankering for something heartier, more tangy and stimulating for breakfast, and with natto you can definitely do it and you can make it as spicy as you like.

First, here are the nutritional credentials of natto, from Nutritiondata. As you will see, it is low in cholesterol and sodium, but it is a good source of protein, Vitamin K, Magnesium and Copper, as well as Iron and Manganese.


It starts with a good brown rice with a tomato. I simply boil the brown rice in the rice cooker with a whole tomato in it and then I stir it up.
Then, at breakfast I chop up an onion, and crush one or two garlic cloves, and I shave some Daikon radish, and, if available, I add some beansprouts. I dry roast that all in a frying pan, adding a small amount of liquid when needed and a trace of Marmite or some Braggs Liquid Aminos.
I serve the tomato rice with the natto, and the supplied soy sauce and mustard over it, and cover it all with my vegetable mix. I top it with some roasted sesame seeds or some gomasio, and I sprinkle a crumpled sheet of nori on top. If you want, you can top it all off with some Kimchi. There's a breakfast that will put hair on your chest. If you wish, you could also include a chili pepper in your breakfast.

Ingredients:
  • Tomatoed brown rice
  • One package of natto
  • An onion, two garlic cloves
  • Some shaved Daikon radish, and some bean sprouts (if available),
  • optionally a chili pepper
  • some veggie bouillon, marmite or Liquid Aminos with water.
  • Roast Sesame seeds.
There's a power breakfast for you if you're into hearty tastes.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Senior Symposium at Sonia Sotomayor Community Center: Health and nutrition

On Friday April 28th, we had our second annual senior symposium from Community Board #9 at Sonia Sotomayor Community Center on Rosedale Avenue in the Bronx.

Amidst all the updates from various elected officials, I helped deliver a segment on natural health measures both from a nutritional and a treatment aspect, with the star of the show being Dr. Carina Lopez, a homeopath and acupuncturist. Dr. Lopez delivered an impassioned presentation on the natural remedies that surround us, using dandelions, violets and another herb that she found growing in the lawn at the Sonia Sotomayor Community Center.

Her presentation garnered strong response with some of her accounts of helping people with serious conditions to get off of medications with purely natural remedies. The underlying theme being to work with nature and our bodies, instead of fighting it, and taking responsibility for your health and well-being.



For introduction to Dr. Lopez, I spoke about nutrition as the first place to start healing and I used the information in my previous post to emphasize again what we can all do for ourselves with a healthy, plant-based diet. The bottom line is the evidence is all stacking up in favor of the whole foods plant-based diet, and increasingly, the establishment including the USDA, is losing the battle over the misinformation about nutrition that is at the basis of our national health crisis.The problem has always been that USDA serves their clients, the agri-businesses, and not US consumers. For decades now the evolving nutrition information, has pointed to plant-based nutrition as the healthier choice. With the incredibly solid research foundation of the China Study, we are really entering a new era, and the work of PCRM increasingly steers us in that same direction. Most importantly, they are winning in court. But, there's no reason for any of us to wait for that drama to play itself out - we can all begin to make those changes.

 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Some stats, public and personal to tell the story of the whole foods plant-based diet

Here are some data points to put the nutrition revolution in perspective.

 Which one is the crisis?

 My facts.
  • in ca 1985 a doctor wanted to prescribe a medicine (for allergies) that I was supposed to take for the rest of my life, After finding out what it did, I refused to take it, and solved the problem instead with nutrition and supplements instead.
  • in ca 2010 another doctor did the same thing with blood pressure medication, and initially I took it, thinking I was going to improve my diet enough, but that did not work for me until I decided in May 2015 to go totally on whole foods plant-based nutrition, and get rid of ALL animal protein. Nine months later I had a physical, and my weight came down 25 lbs (to what I was at age 22), and my cholesterol came down 20 points (to 150). My BP was in normal range once again, so the doctor did not prescribe any further meds. I celebrated my 65th birthday being free of any medications, and/or their side-effects.
Meanwhile here is what happened in the big picture:
  • In 1996 Howard "Mad Cowboy" Lyman was on Oprah, and she swore off beef, and they prevailed in a lawsuit brought by the National Cattleman's Beef Association.
  • In 2005 the China Study was originally published delivering extensive scientific backup for whole foods plant-based nutrition. It proved that high protein diets turn cancer on, and low protein diets turn it off. More specifically, animal protein increased cholesterol, plant-based protein lowers cholesterol.
  • In 2007 Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn published the book "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," also recommending whole foods plant-based nutrition, with a special emphasis on oil-free plant-based food.
  • On February 28, 2017 Dr. Neal Barnard published "The Cheese Trap," which documents the role of cheese in the obesity crisis, and again recommends a no-oil, whole foods, plant-based diet.
  • As of February 22, the German government banned meat from all official functions.
  • Recently PCRM won a lawsuit against the dairy industry, which limits the deceptive claims they can make about how healthy milk is for you, specifically that they cannot claim it will help you lose weight. PCRM has established that milk is definitely not part of a healthy diet.
  • On April 12th PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) along with parents and teachers filed suit against LA County to take cured meats out of school lunches, because they are carcinogenic.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Jackfruit again, seeds and all

The other day we got ourselves another Jackfruit at Premium Halal Meat & Fish, where we buy only fruits and vegetables despite the name...

Jackfruit, cut open.


Thanks to some recent inspiration about sharpening knives on YouTube channel Burrfection, my kitchen knives are now sharper than they have been in 20 years, and that's exactly what I needed to surgically dismantle this jackfruit, and cleanly take out the pods and get rid of the rest, except... save the seeds!

I have grown to absolutely love the taste of jackfruit, even if it is a bit of work to take it apart in an orderly fashion - it is worth the effort in spades. The nutritional value of the fruit is exceptional, see here.

There are some amazing things being done with jackfruit, such as jackfruit carnitas, and jackfruit barbcue, see here:
and there is more where that came from. Some companies are already producing packaged BBQ jackfruit and jackfruit carnitas, which is great for saldads, sandwiches and wraps.

Do not forget the seeds. I don't like slicing the jackfruit in half as is often done, exactly because the seeds will be halved as well. So, we like to buy a whole jackfruit and harvest the seeds whole. Once you understand the jackfruit, you can start with an incision at the ends, and surgically dissect it, harvesting all the pods whole and taking out the seeds whole as well. You need to take the hard white skin off the seeds, which again requires a sharp paring knife.

Stew with Jackfruit seeds

Last night I made a simple stew, first roasting some onions, garlic, and diced peppers (including some hot peppers) in a stainless steel pot, then I added 2 cups of vegetable bouillion, and cooked the jackfruit seeds in that for 15 minutes, then I added a purple sweet potato, peeled and sliced in half inch slices, and I let it go for another 15 minutes, after adding in some turmeric. Separately, I steamed some Brussels sprouts, and put some nutmeg on that, et voilà: a simple healthy meal. Finger-licking good actually. Continuing the tradition: everything tastes better if you stop cooking with oil, and your heart will thank you!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Dunya Harvest Steel-cut Oats at Chang-Li: Breakfast of champions

Dunya Harvest is a beautiful collection of organic staples that is avalaible at Chang-Li Supermarket. One of my favorites is their Steel-cut Organic Oats.

Dunya Harvest, Steel-cut Organic Oats
The best way to prepare them is always with your automatic rice cooker, in my case a Zojirushi NP-GBC05. There's nothing like just setting the timer at night for 6:30 and waking up to the smell of the oatmeal cooking.

Shredded Granny Smith, raisins, craisins, and some fresh ground Ceylon cinnamon


Once it's done, all I do is shred a Granny Smith apple with my trusty Börner V-Slicer mandolin, and add in some raisins, some craisins, and optionally other dried fruit (apricots work fine too), and some ground cinnamon. I add these dried fruits during the "keep warm" cycle and just wait a few minutes, and voilà you're ready to go. You can top the whole thing with some fresh fruit, and you have a breakfast you can't beat.

Adding the dried fruit in the "keep warm" cycle

As to the cinnamon, the usual "supermarket" variety, is actually chinese cinnamon (Cassia Cinnamon), which has a more full-bodied flavor. For the gourmets out there, the alternatives are Ceylon (Sri-Lanka) cinnamon, which is very aromatic and milder and Saigon cinnamon, which is a little spicier. Much has been made of the fact that Chinese cinnamon contains more coumarin, but it would appear that the amount is so small that the concern is not warranted, as this excellent article points out.

Topped off with persimmon

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Yet Another No-Oil Vegan Dinner at Packsun

My hunch that Bangladeshi cuisine is particularly suitable to be adapted to the no-oil vegan lifestyle, is proving to be amply true. And of course, I was lucky enough to get to know Khokon, the owner of Packsun Halal Chicken, where we had our second no-oil vegan dinner yesterday, Tuesday April 4th, 2017. Conveniently, he also owns Neerob Bazaar on Starling Avenue, and he always cooks for the restaurant with ingredients from his store. And it's all home style food, people come from far and wide, and slowly but surely his clientele is expanding beyond the Bangladeshi people.

Our Dinner Last Night



Last night, we had a beautiful salad of chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, with purple onion, cilantro, salt and lemon juice. There was also a dish of daikon radish cooked with some water, turmeric, garlic and cilantro. There was another excellent dish of yellow lentils, and a dish of greens (poi greens) as well. Rice and bread were the foundation.

Khokon is taking ownership of this initiative to such a degree that he is not letting his regular chef come close to the food - he prepares it himself, and he is all excited about the fact that without oil everything tastes better. Everyone at the table was complimentary of the food, and only one person of eight even wondered why there was no meat in it, and when he got the explanation he promptly became very interested in the whole idea. One of the diners will probably go to the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore.

On to Forks Over Knives on April 25th

On April 25th, NYPL Parkchester will be showing Forks Over Knives from 5-7, and at 8 PM there will be a free oil-free vegan dinner sampling menu at Packsun. You do need to make a reservation.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Neerob Tradition at Packsun Restaurant, some recipes

Neerob is Mohammed "Khokon" Rahman's favorite symbol, both for his store on Starling Avenue, and for his restaurant, called Packsun on Westchester avenue, where the Neerob label is also prominently displayed.

Last week Packsun was extensively written up in the New York Times. Clearly, Khokon and his team produce quality food for a moderate price in our neighborhood.

I am deeply honored to be working with Khokon on the no-oil vegan project. For now, the plan is to launch with a taste testers dinner on Tuesday 4/4 at 9PM. After that on 4/25, there will be a dinner following the showing of Forks over Knives at NY Public Library at Parkchester, from 5 - 7 PM.


Here are some of the recipes we prepared last week for the first time, which I now made at home over the weekend, and with great success. Here is the list, followed by comments on the preparation.

  1. Sautéed spinach with onions, garlic and serrano peppers.
  2. Yellow lentils, tomato, onion, garlic, serrano peppers, and some turmeric, salt and pepper
  3. Water squash (this is a light green squash that is popular with the Bangladeshi community), eddo (a delicious tuber, Jamaicans call this white coco), tomato, onion, serrano peppers, garlic, turmeric, a bay leaf and salt.
Because of timing, the rice should come first. I used Lundbergh Organic Brown Basmati Rice, cooked in my Zojirushi rice cooker on the GABA (germinated) Brown Rice cycle. That takes two and a half hours, but obviously, you can make it ahead of time. I put it on at lunch with a timer for dinner time.

The next dish should be the lentils:
  • Start with softening the onions without oil or water, but just before they start to brown too fast, add in the crushed and chopped garlic, a half dozen of small green peppers. Finally add a tomato, diced.
  • Now, add a half a cup of vegetable bouillon (or can be water from steaming vegetables), then add the lentils and more boullion till the lentils are adequately covered, and add turmeric, salt and pepper to taste.
  • This needs about 35-45 mins until the lentils are done.
 Then comes the squash dish
  •  Peel the water squash and eddo, peel and slice or chop the onion.
  •  Start with the onion, again, dry without oil or water, and when the onions start getting soft, add the crushed/chopped garlic, and the sliced peppers, and now add first the eddo in 1/2" slices, and next chunks of water squash (I quartered it lengthwise and then cut it in 1/4" slices). Add the diced tomato, and again, add some vegetable bouillon before anything starts getting burned, in small amounts.
  • Add enough bouillon to allow this to simmer and cook nearly dry while you prepare the spinach.
The spinach comes last, because it cooks the quickest:
  • Stir-fry the onions first, adding the garlic and serrano peppers (halved length-wise), allow to simmer long enough so it starts getting soft.
  • When the stir-fry gets soft, add the spinach, after a thorough washing and chopped to manageable size. 
In this dish there should be no need for any water, as the spinach contains a lot of water and creates a delicious flavor.

The above should take you no more than 45 mins to one hour to prepare. It is a festive dinner, with delicious aroma. Obviously, you can vary the level of "heat," depending on the number of pepper, and salt & pepper can be used to taste.

The plan is to continue replicating these recipes at home every time, before writing them up here. All ingredients are available at Neerob Bazaar, 2085 Starling Avenue.

Happy and healthy cooking to all.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Is there a secret to cookware for vegans?

I think this question is fraught with fallacious arguments, although there are a few things that belong in the arsenal if you want to make life manageable. What is important is the staples you use, and you set up a program so you're always cooking ahead certain staples, so you can just reach for them during the week... For that, as I have pointed out in earlier blog entries, I recommend a top of the line Rice Cooker, with a GABA Brown Rice cycle. The timer will free you up tremendously. I start my breakfast before going to bed, so that it's ready at 6:30, and then I can setup anything for during the day, even lunch first, and dinner later, but in reality I cook these staples in batches for a few days.

But then it comes to pots and pans, and what is the best for cooking without oil, and sometimes even without water?

For the last forty years I have used Demeyere Silvinox, and these pans were designed to cook without oil or water. They stay beautiful, but they are a bit

pricey.



Then, some of my favorite pans are Calphalon, and that is what Khokon, the owner of Packsun was using when we had our Oil-free Vegan dinner there. Calphalon is also high quality cookware, though again a bit pricey, but not as high as Demeyere.

Recently, I found some budget options, and they seem to work well, though I don't know if they'll last forty years. There is the Gotham Steel, Titanium & Ceramic Non-stick frying pan, and here is a Youtube video on it. I have used it for vegetables quite successfully, and I like it.
And lastly, there is the Red Copper (TM) pan, which is also a good candidate. And here is another review, which is quite impressive, and confirms my first impressions with this material. The green one in the video I have never tried.



The confusing part is that the Red Copper (TM) pan says to season it, while the Gotham Steel pan does not say so, and visually the materials look quite the same. You can get these everywhere in the city at Bed, Bath and Beyond, or online. I like the way both of these work with oil-free cooking of various vegetable dishes, and they remain easy to clean.

By comparison, for a while I had a Uniware Ecolon pan that also claims a ceramic coating, but I found it did not stay as easy to clean, or as forgiving for oil-free cooking. Different from the ceramic coating used in Red Copper and Gotham Steel, it does not tolerate steel utensils. To me this is not a big point per se, for I use mostly wood or silicon utensils for cooking, as I generally don't like any risk of scratching in any of my pans. For now, it is not one of my favorites.
But the choices are endless, but it does seem some pans are better than others, and quality does pay for itself. Notice how Demeyere claims 30% lower energy consumption, that really does make a difference also. Quality does pay.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Inaugural No-oil Vegan Dinner Improv at Packsun

Tonight, Monday March 27th, 2017 we spontaneously had our first no-oil vegan dinner at Packsun. It all started with a conversation at Neerob Bazaar at 2085 Starling Avenue, with owner Khokon (Muhammad Rahman), and a few friends. He then simply said, let's do it right now, and with that he grabbed some ingredients, and our little group was on its way to the Packsun Restaurant, at  2160 Westchester Avenue, which he also owns.

There, inside of 40 minutes, Khokon whipped up a beautiful no-oil vegan dinner with basmati rice, whole wheat roti, and three vegetable dishes:

  1. Sautéed spinach with onions, garlic and chili peppers.
  2. Yellow lentils, tomato, onion, garlic, chili peppers, and some turmeric, salt and pepper
  3. Water squash (this is a light green squash that is popular with the Bangladeshi community), eddo (a delicious tuber, the jamaicans call this white coco), tomato onion chili peppers, garlic, turmeric, a bay leaf and salt.
The food was too good, so I only took a pic of the last bit of #3(bay leaf in the middle)
This was not a joke, people inhaled the food. Khokon himself was an inspiration, he had only just discovered the whole idea of oil-free vegan cooking recently, through our conversations, but he loves it now himself. So we have a motivated owner (and part-time cook).

In short, this experiment is off to a roaring start. All the ingredients can be found at Neerob Bazaar.
Neerob Bazaar


Asked by one of the diners what was the secret of his preparation, Khokon answered: "All you need to cook a good meal is heart." Now, that's my kind of cook, I'll go to his restaurant any old time.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bronx #not62 and Dr. Robert Ostfeld, cardiologist at Montefiore

If you weren't paying attention, the plant-based lifestyle has gone mainstream at least four years ago, for since that time, Dr. Robert Ostfeld, a cardiologist at Montefiore Hospital, has been teaching plant-based nutrition at Einstein College in the Bronx. I had the pleasure of attending his workshop at the Chappaqua library recently, and if you missed it, don't fret, you can still catch up with a video the library posted, here.

The presentation was impressive, even for me, for to hear this doctor saying how he's never seen any medication achieve such dramatic results as the simple dietary change to a plant-based diet, was music to my ears. Generally speaking, the presentation reinforced everything I needed with my knowledge from Dr. Esselstyn's books, and the documentary Forks over Knives.
At the cost of one visit with Dr. Ostfeld at Montefiore, you can participate in his four-hour Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore.

Note the key statements: 
quote
"We have been humbled and awestruck by our results" says Dr. Ostfeld. When asked about why the program, still in its infancy, is meeting with such success, he explains, "Our patients are presented with scientific evidence of this diet's powerful effects during our four-hour Wellness Program. It's harder to get all the information across during a 20 minute patient visit." In addition to the dramatic impact on heart disease, research continues to mount on the effectiveness of a plant-based diet in reducing the risk of many forms of cancer, osteoporosis, chronic kidney disease, many digestive diseases including IBS as well as autoimmune diseases.
unquote


In the aftermath, I have started to organize some more specific activities in the neighborhood:
  • NYPL Parkchester will be showing Forks over Knives on April 25th at 5 PM.
  • I have set up a Meetup group to work with local restaurants to put oil-free vegan dishes on the menu,
    https://www.meetup.com/Starling-Avenue-Triangle-Vegan-Cuisine/
  • And on April 15th, I will be at a health fair from Metro Plus at Devoe Park.
Last, not least on March 25 I met some young people at a meeting at Community Board #9, who are planning a healthy restaurant in the area, probably vegan. In short, inspiration galore.

It all reminds me of a young mother I met at one of our community planning events, who said her number one priority for our neighborhood was to not have another fast-food restaurant. She wanted more healthy food choices for her kids.

The times they are a changing. They sure are! If the Bronx wants to change health outcomes, such as the #not62 campaign seeks to achieve, it should do more to supports programs like this one.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rice in the hood

Buying, keeping, and preparing organic brown rice is easy, but it does require some thought.

First, if you are equipped with that most essential kitchen tool, the automatic rice cooker with an GABA brown rice cycle, that will determine what rice you buy. If you are still wondering if you should own such a device, do read my earlier post that I linked to in the previous sentence. The long and short of it is: if you have one of the fancy models with GABA brown rice cycle and a timer, it's better than having your own personal cook - they don't talk back, and they deliver like clockwork, never mind the GABA brown rice cycle takes two and a half hours.

If you do not have such a device, nor a pressure cooker, you might have reason to buy parboiled brown rice, which recently was available in many stores in the neighborhood, including this one at Neerob Bazaar:
Della Parboiled Organic Light Brown Rice (Quick Cooking)

The facts of life are that brown rice is healthier, but it takes longer to cook, and that is an excuse to buy parboiled rice. However, the downside is that it won't keep as long as raw brown rice, and you cannot cook it on the GABA-cycle, so if you do have a pressure cooker, or certainly a good rice cooker, you might want to skip this one and go for the raw (preferably organic) brown rice. Neerob Bazaar offered a good choice here too, from Laxmi brand:
Laxmi raw Brown Basmati Rice




 Basmati rice is always a flaverful choice, and Laxmi is certainly a good brand, however this is not organic rice. For a good organic rice, you need to make the trip to Good 'n Natural, at 2173 White Plains Road. They carry the full line of Lundberg Organic Rice, which is the best rice you can find in America today.

Lundberg Organic California Brown Basmati Rice


Personally, being a household of one, I prefer these 2 lbs packs from Lundberg, or other similar packs, because raw brown rice has limited shelf life.  You can find the best guidance on keeping food on the StillTasty website, and their specific advice for brown rice, here, states clearly that brown rice has a shelf life as follows:
  1. In the pantry, in air-tight containers, 3-6 months.
  2. In the fridge, 6-12 months
  3. In the freezer, 12-18 months
The bottom line is: buy rice according to your usage pattern. Stale rice spoils the fun. Particularly if you're learning how to enjoy food more, which is what happens when you go vegan, the flavor of rice will hit the palate strongly, and life is too short to eat inferior rice.

Aside from this general guidance, there are some interesting rice mixes coming on the market, which are certainly worthwhile if you can find them. In our area you can find some mixed rices in the Lundberg family at Good 'n Natural, but also Chang-Li Market sometimes has interesting options, such as this Healthy Grains Rice from Taiwan, which is mix of raw brown rice, black rice, wheat, pearl barley, millet and buckwheat in a vacuum-sealed 2.6 lb bag:
Healthy Grains Rice Blend at Chang-Li Market
 Other good staple rices are Nishiki brand, which is a regular at Chang-Li, here:
2 Lb packs of Nishiki Brown Rice at Chang-Li Market
Other interesting varieties you can find at Chang-Li are red rice, here:
Red Rice at Chang-Li Market
and black rice - sorry, I forgot to take a picture, but you'll find it in the aisle with Chinese staples. The oriental black rice, also known as forbidden because it once was the reserve of the emperor, is real rice, and it is absolutely delicious. It is very different from American black rice, which you will find in gourmet stores, or in health food stores such as Good 'n Natural, which is a grass variety, and not a proper rice at all. Having said that, it is also delicious, and people often mix about 20% with their rice when they cook it, which adds depth to the flavor of the rice.

Lastly, another interesting rice blend, which I love, is this one:
3-Lb bag of Organic 10 Mixed Grains, from May-Wah on Hester Street, NYC
May-Wah Vegan Market is a good resource to know about for vegetarian or vegan foods, and/or meat alternatives. It is worth a periodic shopping expedition. This particular blend, Organic 10 Mixed Grains, contained Organic Brown Rice, Organic Sweet Brown Rice, Organic Oat Groats, Organic Rye Berry, Organic Barley, Organic Buckwheat Hulled, Organic Millet Hulled, Organic Wehani Rice, Organic Forbidden Rice, Organic Quinoa. It is a delicious alternative to just plain rice.


That's all for this report. Happy rice shopping! And, not to belabor the point, but, there obviously never is a reason to eat white rice in any form, it essentially has very little nutritional value.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Vegan/Vegetarian options at Taqueria Tlaxcalli

Recently, we went to Taqueria Tlaxcalli for my birthday, and to my delight, I found that the place is eminently survivable for the vegan/vegetarian palate, more so than I was aware. In the past, I had stuck to the cactus salad and maybe some rice and beans. This time we found more options, not to mention one that was particularly gorgeous and delicious. A true culinary piece of art.

Vegetable Burrito at Taqueria Tlaxcalli


In particular, the vegetable burrito was delightful, and, for an appetizer, I had the cactus salad - sin queso, of course. My girlfriend had herself a delicious black bean soup for an appetiser.
Naturally, if I'd have my 'drathers, the rice would be brown rice, and I'd like to double check the soup stock on the bean soup for I would suspect it's not all that vegetarian.
The bottom line is the options are growing compared to what I was used to in the past. Plus, I also know more about nutrition today than I ever did before, so menus are getting easier to navigate. The simple fact is there are more and more people going vegan, all around us, and you see it reflected in supermarkets and increasingly in restaurants. Nice to see one of my favorite places catching on.