Do Vegetarians live longer than Meat Eaters?

I’ve just watched a really fascinating video, which I’ve included at end of this blog post. Dr Michael Greger is a vegan and presents studies showing that vegan and vegetarian diets are not as healthy as some people think they are. He presents studies that show that vegetarians and meat eaters both have the same rate of mortality, but that also vegetarians are more likely to die from breast cancer or degenerative brain disorders.

And another study of vegetarians and vegans which showed that the vegans had the worst mortality rates, then the vegetarians and the lowest mortality rate was ‘vegetarians’ who occasionally ate some meat…

The point of the video from the doctor’s point of view is to show how vegetarians and vegans can correct their diet (he is coming from the closed minded position of “vegan is best”), but from my point of view, the data he presents suggests that a diet very high in fruits and vegetables with some meat and fish is the best possible diet (interestingly that’s what I eat!).

Some of my other observations:

There is much research to show that soy is not healthy in large quantities, and as many vegetarians and vegans eat a lot of soy, that could explain the breast cancer link. From my understanding, what he says about some cultures eating lots of soy for a long time is not really true, soy products are generally used as condiments in small amounts, and are often fermented as in miso, which makes them healthier. See the Weston Price Foundation for more on the dangers of soy.

Flax seeds – I have read reports that they are not as healthy as once thought. They contain phytoestrogens, which can have similar negative effects as soy.

He is massivly against saturated fats, while there is lots of evidence that saturated fat is good for you (see the research of Weston Price). This is related to cholesterol, there is a lots of research to say that cholesterol is not a problem, see this article by Dr Mercola for more info.

Right at the end he talks about trans fats – while I agree that man made trans fats are not healthy, the research shows that naturally formed trans-fats in meat are different and are healthy. See this article by Chris Kresser for more info.

In conclusion, this video is well worth watching – if you are vegetarian or vegan he explains how you could possibly improve your vegetarian or vegan diet, and if you are a meat eater, how you could improve your health by eating more fruits and vegetables.

YouTube Preview Image

Living in Portugal, Forest Gardening

I’m a bit behind with this blog! I’ve been spending more time over on Facebook, you can follow me for shorter updates and ‘like’ Funky Raw for raw news. But I do plan to start updating this blog again now, as we’ve finally stopped travelling and found somewhere to live… The article below gives an update to our life, it was originally published in Funky Raw Magazine Issue 26:

If you remember back to 2010 my partner Jolita and I set off on a journey to find a place to live – land where we can grow our own food and run raw retreats and holidays. Well, eight countries and two and a half years later, our travels have come to an end, and our new life starts in Portugal. We’ve purchased 5 hectares of land in a “Parque Natural”, relatively remote and peaceful, with its own spring for drinking water in a reasonable climate – hot summers and mild winters, we still get some frosts in winter but also some lovely sunny days.

Orange TreeThere are lots of olive trees on the land plus a few other fruit and nut trees including figs and kakis and so far we’ve planted apples, pears, figs, cherries, apricots, lemons, almonds, blueberries and raspberries. And we’re looking forward to planting a veg garden in the spring.

Our land

We want to create a forest garden so we read the book Forest Gardening by Robert A de J Hart. It is a wonderful book, although not the one we were hoping for! This book is a general introduction to the forest garden concept, told through the author’s own experience of growing his forest garden, with ideas on how forest gardens can change the world for the better. The book we wanted is a practical guide to creating a forest garden, we’ve now ordered what we hope is the book we need, Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford. We watched a couple of videos on Youtube from Martin, he’s been doing a lot of research on forest gardens whilst growing one in Devon.
The idea behind a forest garden is to try and emulate a natural forest for minimal maintenance and environmental benefits, but with trees and plants which produce food and other useful resources, making use of 7 layers – large canopy trees, small trees & large shrubs, shade tolerant shrubs, perennial plants & herbs, ground cover plants, climbers & vines and root vegetables.

House

We’re happy to report that there are loads of wild greens on the land and lots of wild nature, birds, frogs, and some interesting lizard creatures we’ve never seen before, orange with black spots!

There are two houses on the land which we are in the process of restoring ready for running our retreats, more news soon…

Nettle & Red Pepper Paté

Yes, nettles again! I love them! I made this tonight, it was delicious:

  • 1 small red pepper
  • couple of large handfuls of nettle tops (top 4 to 6 leaves from each plant)
  • 4 sun dried tomato halves
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • small handful dried wakame seaweed, soaked for 5 mins
  • oregano (maybe 1/8th teaspoon?)
  • 2 egg yolks (optional)

Sorry, as usual I didn’t measure anything. Put everything except the egg yolks and wakame in the blender and blend, adding olive oil as needed. Then add the wakme and blend a bit more – I left it so the wakame wasn’t blended in fully. The paté was finished at this stage, but I wanted to make it a bit more filling so I stirred in 2 egg yolks.

Nettle & Walnut Paté

It’s walnut season! We’re still in Portugal and found a few walnut trees near where we are staying so we’ve been collecting. And there are lots of nettles coming up now, so I came up with the idea for nettle and walnut paté and it worked quite well:

  • A couple of large handfuls of nettles
  • 1 cup walnuts, soaked for 4 hours or more
  • 3 sun dried tomato halves, soaked
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • around a cup of olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • water if necessary to blend

Blend! I actually had problems blending as we don’t have the Vitamix with us while travelling and the blender we have is not very good, hence needing to add a fair bit of olive oil and water to make it blend.

Enjoy! Let me know in the comments if you like it, or make your own version of it.

Raw Chocolate Mulberries – in Portugal

I’m not doing a great job of keeping this blog updated with our travels! We’re in Portugal again, been here for about 3 months and quite possibly it is where we will decide to stay.

A couple of days ago I was in a health food shop in Lagos and saw Raw Chocolate covered mulberries and I just had to buy them!

Interestingly the ingredients were just white mulberries, cacao powder and cacao butter; no extra sweetener like there is in the choc mulberries we sell at Funky Raw – those have coconut palm sugar in them.

They were delicious, the only problem was that the chocolate melted fairly quickly as it is still hot here.

The company Iswari have a range of organic superfoods such as acai, wheatgrass, lucuma, goji berries, etc, which we have noticed in several health food shops around Portugal. It seems to be a Portuguese company and according to their website, they also operate in Spain, Ireland and the Czech Republic.

Interview with Anthony Anderson

Anthony, famous for being “The Raw Model” will be coming to the UK in September (date has been changed to 11 May 2013) to talk at the Vitality Planet conference in London. I spoke to him on the subjects of permaculture, diet and more. This interview was first published in the Funky Raw magazine.

What got you started with growing your own food and permaculture?

The original intent was to simply design a life that didn’t require lots of bills and headaches to maintain. I wanted to minimise expenses (without sacrificing most comforts) and have that extra saved money for travelling and manifesting projects. Once I got into conscious eating, the path eventually leads to growing your own. So these two worlds melded really wonderfully. I later found out that it was called permaculture.

Can you briefly explain permaculture from your point of view?

To be honest – its basically a way of designing paradise. Its more than organic gardening… its a way of life. It can include living in a house the produces more energy than it consumes, and having abundance in every facet of life, and living in a backyard that frankly looks like the Garden of Eden. I think it is a birthright for every human – and the beauty of permaculture is that it is more accessible and creates more abundance locally than anything I can think of. Especially with Agritourism (Eco Bed and Breakfasts located on working farms) and organic superfoods grown abroad.

Tell us about your Grow Paradise project?

Grow Paradise was a natural extension of what I was promoting through youtube and facebook via Rawmodel – I really saw that if an average suburban middle class family could adopt these principles of planting fruit trees and berries, and vegetable gardens in their yards, they would be overflowing with abundance within a few years. This seemed more than just green living, it was about personal and communal liberation. I saw the permaculture and food forests accomplishing this.

I want people to be free. I want them to be able to earn money from their passions and live in these paradise gardens that feed them nutritious organic food. With the internet these ideas could spread quicker than ever, and at a most crucial time, so its a must to inspire and show that it really is possible.

Grow Paradise is a social entrepreneurship. Its in early stages still, and we have already done a project abroad. The key is using the events to inspire people via youtube and the rest of the web.

Soon I will be offering stickers, organic tote bags, other aligned products to help pay for expenses, and any donations we get fund the future “planting parties”. We have a few coming up in Harlem within the next few weeks. We show the kids how to make easy smoothies and plant trees. There are few better things to do!

What can people do to help with Planting Paradise?

Ideally, one can physically start planting wherever its possible. Whether its a sprinkling of wild edible seeds on your walk to work, or planting a 20-tree food forest in your backyard, it all adds up.

I love it when a few citizens realise that their garden is actually their neighbourhood… and start to take care of it as it should be… suddenly magic infuses into the area. It only takes a few people to make this happen – that is the beauty of permaculture.

If one doesn’t have the space, there is always sprouting and growing seedlings to offer to friends, rooftop gardens, but even more importantly is to vote with your money and support the people who are already bringing good food to your table without dousing it in pesticides. Keeping the money circulating with the people that are actually walking the talk will result in more and more people adopting these practices. And that is where it will soon be going… where its just natural to have raspberries and chickens in your backyard, or to have cities covered in trees so when one flies over, it appears as if nothing is there. This is the world that I envision in the next 10 years if people actually want it and put just a little percentage of money into manifesting it.

Can you tell me a little about your diet? I’ve also recently added meat and fish back into my diet and it seems that many others are doing the same. Are you still eating a raw diet?

I still have a high raw diet, but I don’t focus on it too much as before percentage wise. Much of it is plant based, but there are now high quality animal products included. Grass fed raw dairy, especially from goats is a truly excellent food for me. Everyone is different. Most people digest fish quite well actually, and there are still options that are tested to be very clean and free of carcinogens. It changed everything for me. I had some times of really bad digestion, and the cravings would be replaced with loads of dehydrated crackers and nuts and would leave me feeling very sluggish. A little grass fed butter was all I needed.

From your experience, what’s the key to being super healthy?

High quality water is key, as is naturally grown food loaded with minerals and hopefully with love. Clear air too. Those three things seem to make all the difference. The details will consume some people… but those three core items will fix nearly all issues in life.

By “High quality water” I assume you mean spring water you have collected your self?

Yes that is optimal… I leave it open so people can do what works best for them. See findaspring.com for finding local spring water.

Tell us about the Vitality planet conference in London and what you will be talking about.

I’m very excited to be coming back to the UK! I worked there as a model in 2009 and am so excited to visit everyone. I will be speaking about “Growing Paradise”… everything around the idea of designing this way of life for true health, freedom, and abundance. Now is the best time to be talking about these issues, and I’m thankful for the organisers to be bringing this info to London.

If you could recommend people read one book, which would it be?

Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway.

And is there one video/dvd you would recommend? 

The Man Who Planted Trees… you can find it on Youtube and Amazon.

Find out more at Anthony’s websites www.growparadise.com and www.rawmodel.com
The Vitality Planet conference will take place in London on Saturday 8th September 2012 from 10am to 8pm. Edit: The date has been changed again to Saturday 11 May 2013.

Iskiate (Chia Fresca) Recipe

Purchase Born to Run at AmazonI’m reading the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougal, which is about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico who run hundreds of miles with seemingly little effort. I’m only part way through the book but it is excellent and very well written. It’s one of those books that’s hard to put down, it’s written like a novel although it is a non-fiction book.

Anyway, this post isn’t really about the book, it’s about a drink the Tarahumara make with chia seeds which is supposedly one of the reasons they can run such long distances without tiring. Chia seeds are amazing, there is a whole page in the book which reads like an advert for chia seeds: very high in omega 3 and 6, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fibre and antioxidants, etc, etc, actually I had a customer on the Funky Raw Shop say they bought the chia seeds after reading this book! So it’s always good to have another recipe of how to use them, and this is simple and delicious:

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 300ml water

Mix the lime or lemon juice with the water – the original recipe calls for lime but I used lemon as it was all I had. Dissolve the honey in this mixture. Add the chia seeds and stir well. Leave for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Drink! It will keep for longer in the fridge if you want to make a larger batch.

If you have any chia seed recipe (or other comments), feel free to share below.

Real Raw Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Mousse photo by www.WorthTheWhisk.comThe other day we had a meal in a non-raw restaurant. Not something we do very often, but especially while travelling where there are no raw places to eat it can be fun. Interestingly, it was the decision to stop trying to be 100% strict about my diet which enabled me to stick to eating raw more than when I was trying to be strict. Counter-intuitive, but life is so much easier when there are no rules! Anyway, back to the restaurant. We shared a chocolate mousse for dessert and it was so good that when I got home I decided to look up how to make chocolate mousse to try and make a raw version.

Surprisingly, most recipes didn’t need much tweaking to make them 100% raw – they already contain raw eggs, just substitute raw chocolate for the cooked chocolate (and use raw butter and/or raw cream in the recipes that call for these ingredients.) This is the page I found on the Guardian website with a good selection of chocolate mousse recipes and useful comments.

So yesterday I tried the first recipe from that site, the classic French recipe from the book French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David and it worked really well.

First I made raw chocolate using the following, quantities approximate:

I grated the cacao butter and paste, added the butter and melted over a bowl of hot water (bain marie style). When fully melted I slowly stirred in all the other ingredients. This made too much chocolate, so I took 90g of the still melted chocolate for the mousse, and put the rest in moulds.

I then followed the recipe from the Guardian website above, using 30g of chocolate and 1 egg per portion. So I mixed 3 egg yolks into the melted chocolate (although of course I didn’t have the water simmering, I just kept it warm to keep the chocolate melted). Then I beat the 3 egg whites until they were relatively stiff (they use the term “soft peaks”) and gently folded this in to the chocolate and egg yolk mixture. Put in the fridge to set and you have a delicious raw chocolate mousse!

I’m sure it would work with other raw chocolate recipes, or even a purchased raw chocolate bar that you melt back down. Let me know in the comments below if you try this or any of the other recipes on that web page…

What’s the difference between High Quality Food and Organic Food?

I hear from a lot of people thinking they are doing a good thing by buying organic fruits and vegetables from the supermarket. My experience of supermarket fruit and veg is that it is of very poor quality, even the so called organic. The problem is that of course the supermarket is trying to make as much profit as possible, so they buy the cheapest possible food they can, to sell to the public at the highest profit they can. Which means that it is grown on a massive industrial scale (including the organic), shipped from a long way away, fruit is picked too early, and the flavour and nutrition are low.

Try and find a local farmers market to buy food from and you will instantly know the difference. Even if the food on the farmers market is not certified organic, you can talk to the farmer personally and find out how they grow the food. You will probably find that it is fresher, fruit is riper and it all tastes a lot better – I think you notice the difference in flavour even more when you eat it raw. And it can even be cheaper than the supermarket, as there is no middle man taking a (large) slice of the profit.

To find your local farmers market in the UK, see www.localfoods.org.uk, or www.lfm.org.uk and www.weareccfm.com for London.

Why I added raw liver to my diet – Beyond Broccoli Book Review

This book review was first published in the Funky Raw magazine issue 23.

I was so happy to read this book, a book the raw food movement has been waiting for. Almost every book about raw food is about the raw vegan diet, with many people assuming raw food means raw vegan.

The author, Susan Schenck, was a raw vegan for 6 years and even wrote a book The Live Food Factor about the raw vegan diet, but over time she realised that the diet wasn’t working for her. A lot of research led to Susan writing Beyond Broccoli, which explains the reasons for what seems to be a common problem – people try raw veganism and feel wonderful for the first few years, before nutritional deficiencies start to show up.

For me, the fact that Susan was a vegan, and really wanted to make the vegan diet work for her is important. I feel this mirrors my experience of discovering the vegan diet and the ideals behind it, but finding it didn’t work long term for me either.

The first part of this book discusses vegetarianism. The chapter “Vegetarian Myths Dispelled” discusses the myths we are told and the real scientific answers, including “vegetarians live longer” which she shows is not true. “Vegetarian diets are more sustainable” is another myth that is proved false. It also includes a chapter on well known vegetarians who went back to eating meat.

Part two looks at the “Evolution of the Human Diet”, how agriculture changed the way humans were eating and theories that eating fish was the reason humans have larger brains.

Part three “Finding Balance in Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein” is where Susan really gets into the details of creating the right diet for you. She looks at the different metabolic types, carb, protein and mixed. She says “So some people can do well with a high-carb diet, some need a high-protein diet and other do best on mixed.”

Everyone should read chapter 11, “Falling for the Big Fat Lie”, which discusses the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, eating fat does not make you fat…

There is also a whole chapter devoted (or maybe that’s not quite the right word) to “The China Study”. This chapter contains the critiques of both Susan and other researchers. The most important observation for me is “The fact is, none of the people in the study group were 100 percent vegan!”, which means that any conclusion from that study recommending a vegan diet is not scientific and frankly absurd.

So if you get this far in the book and decide you want to add meat back into your diet, you will probably need Part four, which goes on to the subject of “Morality, Spirituality, and Sustainability of Eating Meat”.

And then Part 5 “What’s for Dinner?” ties everything together, including sections on eating a balanced diet, why we need to eat our food raw (including any meat) and the safety of raw meat. The final chapter gives more specifics on what to eat.

There is a comprehensive bibliography at the end, references for the science bits and lots and lots of further reading if wanted.

Overall, this is an excellent book, I recommend it to everyone eating or wanting to eat a raw diet as it provides balance to all the other vegan books out there. And I especially think vegans should read this book – even if they are doing fine themselves on a vegan diet – just so that they can understand the reasons that not everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.

My personal experience with this book – it convinced me it was ok to try eating raw liver, which I have done several times now and feels like a very healthy food for me.

With 260 large pages, this is a comprehensive book. Order from your local bookshop or available at Amazon. ISBN: 978-0977679522