I'm a Barista. I make coffee for a living. I get it.
Years ago, it felt super cool to hate on soy milk. I remember getting the orders in for a "decaf, half shot, soy latte" and doing the eye-roll, the look to my co-workers, the whole performance that says: "one of THOSE customers, guys."
Then, I gosh-darn went out and turned vegan. What a stick-in-the-mud. I became the asshole who has the temerity to ask the Barista to use soy.
"Soy milk doesn't froth the same way," if I had a pound for every time some idiot told me that I'd be a millionaire. I'm telling you now - soy milk DOES whip the exact same way as normal milk. Of course it does. I do this every day of my life, so anyone who tries to argue, come show me in person.
When I go to cafes and I'm the person on the other side, "THAT customer", I can't help but laugh to myself. Mainly because I know what utter crap their eye rolls are based on. I'm telling you from the other side.
Your Barista Thinks -
A) You're just a bit difficult. We do deal with annoying requests every day. Stupid ones, often. So soy drinkers can get lumped in this category of just being "difficult"
B) You are a health nut. And coffee people don't always love health nuts. We like people who look after themselves, of course, and latch on to every ridiculous Guardian article proving "coffee drinkers live longer", but health nut? Who will ask about the gluten free bread, order a soy decaf flat white and then have a slab of chocolate cake for afters without a bat of the eye*? Yeah, you're hated.
C) Soy milk is just "bad". It's bad guys! It's shit. It gives men boobs and girls muscles.
D) Soy is so BAD for the environment guys. Stupid soy drinkers killing forests.
E) The big one. Soy is annoying. It's "hard to froth" and likely, I have to run to the shops to grab a carton because my employer doesn't have a stash easy to hand. He will buy three in the morning and after that, I have to go myself.
I can tell you know (and I'm the authority on all things.... har har) these are all UTTER BOLLOCKS. ABSOLUTE UTTER BOLLOCKS. I remember my judgements, I remember how i would feel about soy drinkers and treat them if they dared request I go all the way to the other fridge for a carton of health-nut milk.
Guys - I was WRONG. I was wrong and you know why? Because all of these arguments. Yes, all of them - incidentally promote milk. It's that simple. No matter what you think of soy milk - all of your anti-soy arguments (even that come from VEGANS!) are promoting the use of real milk.
Let me explain.
Nine out of ten coffee houses have milk or soy milk. And that’s only taking into account the ones with both! Some places still don’t have soy milk at all and out of the ones that stock both, I would say one in ten have a third alternative (usually Almond).
Almond milk is becoming increasingly popular, which is impressive, but it is still a rare find. In your average coffee house - there is milk or soy milk. End of story. Anyone who gives anti-soy arguments to your average person - is telling them to drink milk again. Even if that's not the intent, that will be the reality with the world we live in. All of the reasons that prompted them to give soy a try - usually because they’ve heard it’s healthier - will disappear and they will go back to milk again, which, in my eyes is a travesty. If they only have these two options and if they are not remotely interested in animal rights, all they will do is think "oh, okay, Milk is better for me, then" and give up on the dairy-free milk idea.
Milk is unsustainable, cruel, evil and abhorrent. We are in desperate times and need to get people off the stuff as fast as possible to save animals lives and save our planet. I’m not under any illusions that soy production is good guys, I’ve done my research and I know that soy production is down the crapper - but for anyone who doesn’t know WHY this is - please go to your nearest “Vegan 101” page and figure it out.
I wish there were enough vegans in the world drinking soy lattes to justify the amount of soy production. But of course, there is not. Soy is in EVERYTHING and it’s not good. It’s in our foods, its in magazine pages, it’s in drinks, it’s in cartons but mostly, it’s in animals stomachs, feeding them up with cheap shit that is not healthy for them in the slightest.
Do I think everyone in the world should be drinking soy milk? Of course not. I don’t think this is the answer at all - but I think it’s a better transition to get people off dairy. Get off dairy and find the best alternative that is farmed organically. There are PLENTY of organic, wholesome soy brands out there producing soy milk free of any nasty additives or preservatives (my pick here in Manchester is just soy beans, water and sweetened with apple juice… mmmm) and farmed sustainably.
Soy milk is like anything - there is corruption, there is shit, there are wankers, you need to DO YOUR RESEARCH and find the companies doing a good job and give them your money.
In my humble opinion, the priority needs to be getting people off milk and ending animal slavery. Everything about our food model needs work, it’s completely fucked. Soy included. But that does NOT mean we should just get back to torturing animals. NO. Fix one problem, then move on to fixing the next. In my opinion - animal slavery and torture is the biggest problem of our time and requires drastic action.
So, this morning, what inspired this post, was getting my morning coffee at 7am before embarking on my epic train journey to rehearsals. The two baristas started having a chat as she made my coffee; the girl announcing (I didn’t hear the context) “No, I don’t drink soy milk anymore.”
My heard did a little sad flop. What? What’s going on? Can I intervene? I listened intently and all I heard was muffled talk and laughter and I was imagining what they must be saying about soy milk. Memories. I felt sad; someone has almost made a brilliant change, but now, is not going to see it through. I may not be an activist who is breaking into animals cages (though I hope to one day!) but I am absolutely a day-to-day activist and if every vegan did this I think we would make some serious ripples. As she handed me my coffee a few minutes later I asked: “sorry, as a soy drinker, can I just ask why you’ve stopped drinking soy milk.” She replied: “oh, my partner has gallstones and the doctor said soy milk is a contributing factor.”
Okay, I wasn’t prepared for that.
“Really? Wow… I can’t see how that could be the case..” I fumbled, making mental notes to Google as soon as I got home. I know absolutely NOTHING about this, but my immediate thought was: “I know plenty of people who’ve had gallstones that don’t drink soy milk.” I voiced this to her and she agreed with me. We had a really nice conversation where I just expressed my confusion, as someone who ultimately believes soy to be a healthy alternative to milk and urged her to do her own research and not just take the doctors word for it.
Leaving the coffee shop, I felt a bit angry. THIS is what doctors are telling people with gallstones?? Oh my god. So now, this girl who needs to be healthier and heal, is going to start having cow milk over her cereal in the morning and milk in her coffee instead of the soy milk she’s been having. Well, awesome, that’s going to make her healthier.
I have a drastic idea for people in bad health. Are you ready? CUT THIS MILK SHIT. If soy milk doesn’t work for you - please don’t just run back to milk. A much better idea would be cutting a reliance on milk from your life. Cow milk is NEVER the answer. Yes, you heard me - NEVER. If you want a cup of tea, coffee, bowl of cereal or to bake a cake, that’s great, the vegan community have come up with many alternatives to milk, I’m sure ONE of these can work for you. You only have to like one. Soy milk seems to work well for most people and, again, if farmed organically is absolutely not going to do you any harm at all.
Let’s also remember that most of your “milk needs” - cereal, cake baking, coffee, tea - ARE NOT HEALTH FOODS. If you want to be in supreme health, you shouldn’t have any of these things in your life as it is. So, let’s not pretend soy is the only thing wrong with your morning bowl of cereal. The cereal is the problem with the cereal. Have fruit, have a smoothie if you want to be in the peak of health. If you’re not so worried about being in the peak of health; some porridge with water or dairy-free milk is great, avocado on toast is great, plenty of vegan breakfasts are great - here is a post full of them - but be realistic about what your ‘healthy choices’ are and always be logical.
Be A Day-To-Day Activist
In conclusion I want to encourage three major points:
1) Don’t feel bad ordering soy in a cafe. The Baristas are probably more educated these days, but if they roll their eyes or give you a hard time, they’re just being dicks.
2) Soy > Cow Milk every time. If in doubt, just cut them both. EASY FUCKING PEASY
3) Be a day to day activist. Always ask people questions if they’re spouting weird logic. Don’t lecture them, ask them questions. Make people think for themselves. And always look for opportunities to be a vegan activist. They are all around you.
My last piece of advice? Have a juice in a cafe. Then all problems are solved ;)
Love and Sweet Potatoes,
My relationship with soy has always been a good one, to be honest. I approach soy as logically as anything else; eat it if I want, but an organic, wholesome version, don't have in excess and do my research. I drink organic soy milk, I eat organic tofu and that's about it. It worked for me and I didn't think too much of it.
But, after being vegan for a few months, it wasn't long before I started reading about how I should avoid soy. The most common is: "soy contains Estrogen!" or "Soy is destroying the environment", which isn't wrong at all, but I think we can all agree that's not because vegans are having a soy latte.
Kris Carr said in "Crazy Sexy Diet" that soy is the "Ping pong ball of the diet debate", meaning it's always going back and forth. Soy is healthy, soy is unhealthy, soy is healthy, soy is unhealthy.
What are we meant to believe? And, most importantly: who is saying it?
Well, personally I've never felt anything but fantastic since being vegan, apart from some obvious exceptions. Drinking alcohol doesn't make me feel great, drinking too much coffee doesn't make me feel great and eating too much bread doesn't make me feel great. But, apart from that, I've never had an issue.
Tofu isn't a major part of my diet, I have it sometimes and it always tastes good and gives me energy. Soy milk is delicious and, again, has never made me feel badly. Obviously if I had three soy lattes back-to-back I'd feel pretty rotten, but, that's just logic, right?
A few days ago I came upon this fantastic video on Youtube by one of my new favourite discoveries: The Unnatural Vegan.
If you have a spare 20 minutes and are interested in Soy (or just learning about diet in general!) I highly recommend giving it a viewing. And then, have a good old binge on her videos.
This is science, facts, studies, EVIDENCE.
Not opinion, bias, feelings or "vegan-logic".
I can't imagine a better or more comprehensive run-through of whether or not we should eat soy. It lays out all the facts, gives you a well-thought out conclusion and now, you really can make up your own mind.
I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have any to share. How does soy make you feel? Do you avoid it because of the environment? Because of your health? Or, like our friend above, are you comfortable knowing that there really isn't any evidence to suggest soy is doing us any harm? (Yay! Bring on the tofu stir-fries!)
Let me know if you have any thoughts!
Okay, I'm off to buy a hundred kilos of vegetables for the food stall this weekend!
Love and Sweet Potatoes everyone!
- Hannah xx
This entire post is basically an excuse for food photos.
Although, it's true there are plenty of people who still, in 2015, cannot imagine what a vegan eats. And I get it. If you've never been exposed to a meat and dairy-free lifestyle, it can be overwhelming. What do you eat for breakfast? What do you eat when you want a treat? What do you eat EVER?!
I'm more than happy to answer these questions and show you a MASS of vegan food. Basically - what I've been eating over the last week.
I keep my food simple, healthy and as true to whole foods as possible. I want to be a vegan for the rest of my life and for that to happen, I cannot live on Linda McCartney sausages, however delicious they may be.
I've been very slowly shifting to a Raw Till 4 lifestyle recently, which I will write a full post about soon. For now that's not affecting my diet a whole lot, but there will be plenty of photos of bananas and potatoes, hope you don't get too bored.
If you want more inspiration, be sure to check out my: "Seven-Day Vegan Meal Plan Extravaganza Cleanse of Abundance and Deliciousness" which is great if you're just getting started on this lifestyle or aren't sure where to start.
Jumbo oats cooked slowly with organic soy milk and a sprinkling of cinnamon, finished off with sliced banana and flaked almonds.
I EFFING LOVE PORRIDGE.
When I'm running around "on the go" - I cannot go past Overnight Oats. I make them in the evenings after dinner, shake 'em up, pop 'em in the fridge and they're all ready to carry around the next day and eat at the first opportunity.
In my attempt to live more "Raw Till 4" - fruit for breakfast is ideal. And a lot of it.
Just mentioning here - the bananas below are not at ideal "ripeness". You want to eat them when they're a bit spotty.
For days when I'm craving it, you really cannot go past classic Avo on Toast. I mix in some lemon juice and a tiny bit of sea salt with my avocado.
These may not be the prettiest photos as the food in question has likely been rolling around in my bag all day, but here ya go! Seven Vegan Lunch Boxes!
(They're usually leftovers)
This right here is a great Raw Till 4 Lunch to be carrying around. I have a delicious salad plus some bananas to snack on and a giant bag of dates. God, I love abundant eating.
This was lunch out today at an amazing spot called Earth Cafe in Manchester.
The above dinner I cannot take credit for - but will happily promote! My partner is quite a cook and (thank God!) enjoys a wholefood, high-carbohydrate, vegetable-orientated feast as much as I do. You're looking at delicious tomato and celeriac soup with thyme and with it, crispy parsnip fries!
Above - Asian Rice Salad and a big Raw Green Salad (Spinach, asparagus, avocado, tomatoes, spring onion, toasted almonds, red pepper and lemon juice). One evening I had friends over for dinner and made these two along with my Vegan Potato Bake.
Happy, abundant table :)
Below - Crispy potato wedges with homemade hummus, Brown Rice and a simple tomato, mushroom, spinach and bean sauce.
Dinner below is oven baked Sweet Potato, a simple salad with Hummus and some of the best god-damn potatoes I've ever made. Boiled and then dressed with lemon juice, crushed garlic, fresh basil, spring onion and sea salt.
THE VEGGIE STACK!!!
I love this recipe. This time I added a side of parsnip fries and a pretty incredible salad.
Okay - one of the best things I've made in a while. And delightfully simple.
A Vegan Mezze! So easy to adapt to whatever you like and improvise as you go along. Mine had homemade Falafel, Pita breads, Sweet Potato wedges, grilled artichoke, Hummus, Guacamole and Salad.
When in doubt? Go for Jacket Potatoes! I love a simple Jacket Potato dinner. Serve with a giant salad and a stuffing to go inside.
Sautéed onion and garlic, chopped mushrooms, 2 tins of Organic crushed tomatoes, black beans, lentils, fresh basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Let the flavours all marinate together and leave on a low heat until ready to serve.
And Some Treats to Finish....
And, what's a week without some treats? Yesterday I made some pretty banging Banana bread and do enjoy a good Mocha when I'm writing in a cafe....
I have a recipe for this particular Banana bread here. Too good not to share ;)
And there you have it! A weeks worth of low cost; super simple, mostly High-Carb vegan meals.
For daily updates - I post in Instagram constantly. Yes, maybe a little too much.
Have a great weekend everyone,
Love and Sweet Potatoes!
This morning I have a rare, amazing amount of time to sit and be with my own thoughts. In this scarce "down time" I love listening to podcasts, reading, writing (of course), but this morning I did something I do a shamefully small amount of - reading blogs.
I have a blog, so often feel guilty I don't spend more time reading other peoples' work and getting inspired. The truth is I barely have enough time to blog myself, let alone do any reading, but this morning I could and it was wonderful. I found a post from a non-vegan blogger about her thoughts on the "Raw Till 4" diet, which I happen to be quite a big fan of, despite not following it specifically.
Her post was well written and very inspiring, the major point being: don't expect any diet to cure you or make you a perfect person. Self love has to come from you and not from trying to achieve a perfect diet or lifestyle. I completely agree with this, but I also see these inspirational sentiments as counter-productive in some ways. Self improvement can and should AID self love. Becoming healthier should never be a bad thing, but there are always people who will abuse or misinterpret a healthy idea.
In my opinion, there is advice for those who may abuse a diet, who are suffering in some way, and then there is advice for everyone else! The logic that applies to one pool of people shouldn't be applied to the other, but SO often is. Don't shut yourself off to bettering yourself, or your diet, just because the diet may not work for everyone. If you are not recovering from any form of disordered eating, there is no reason to not try and eat as healthily as possible and certainly no negative of following a high-carb, vegan diet! The Raw Till 4 diet is not as extreme as you may think... It's not all Raw, for starters, but also it's about abundance, realistic living and keeping people VEGAN for life - not just for a six month cleanse.
Raw Till 4 was invented as a progression from the standard Raw diet because the amount of people who actually succeed and stay long term on all raw is painfully low. Raw Till 4 keeps the basic principals of staying high-carb, high calorie, high fruit, but allows cooked vegan food as well, which, we all know, isn't BAD for you! The Raw diet loses a lot of intelligent people when they try and say cooked vegetables are "toxic" or not optimum. In my opinion - what is optimum is a stress-free, healthy, sustainable lifestyle that people enjoy and can thrive on.
I have done nearly every diet out there. When I was trying to lose weight I did a week of soup, I've done juices, I've done Raw, I've done calorie counting.... It's very easy to let food rule your life. It takes over! The most intelligent and brilliant of women become compete illogical nut-jobs over food and it's staggering. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but there was a time when I was so ruled by my calories and my meal planning that I wouldn't eat, even if I was hungry, because it want "time" for my designated meal yet! As if my food planner has a better understanding of my body than I do?
Any diet or lifestyle that makes you ignore your own body? Not good. Far more toxic than a cooked mushroom.
What drives me crazy, now that I'm out the either side, following no food plan, just eating when I'm hungry, is seeing how many people don't know how to eat anymore.
I read articles, emails, messages or have real-life conversations with women that terrify me. So many people, not just women, don't know how to eat anymore because they've been following diets too long. The most basic of human needs has made into a minefield of misinformation and competition.
THIS diet is best! No this one is! Potatoes are bad! Potatoes are good! Coffee is acidic! Coffee drinkers live longer! Yogurt is a healthy snack! Yogurt is high in cholesterol! You should eat three times a day! You should eat six times a day! Eat no carbs at dinner! Eat nothing but carbs!
It's an absolute, fucking, ridiculous minefield.
Food is food. What is it's most basic purpose? What is food to you? My answer (now that I'm a bit more zen about it) is that it's fuel. Plain and simple. It's fuel for the most precious vehicle you have. Your amazing body that needs looking after and needs the best kind of fuel you can give it. What's good fuel? Well that's where the minefield begins, I suppose, but really - it's not hard to know some things. It's not hard to know we need a lot of fruits and vegetables. Can we agree on that? Vegan or not - fruits and vegetables are key. They contain nearly ALL of the vitamins and minerals your body requires to perform and thrive - that's fuel. Can we agree that deep fried shit isn't fuel? Please. Or even taste good enough to justify the shit-storm it's doing to your insides.
Can we agree that chocolate and chips and candy and shitty refined sugar is bad for you? Good. Can we agree fast food is bad? Okay good - thanks. Let's strip things right back to basics and help everyone remember how to eat again. Of course some people want to eat what is optimum, I consider myself one of them, but overthinking food can be dangerous. Your relationship with food should be a relaxed, educated and personal one. You should eat what YOU want assuming it's coming from an educated place. You should know about what is bad and what is good, but never at the expense of your peace of mind or other areas of your life. At the end of the day, it is just food.
I now also would argue that, in our day and age, food is a responsibility. The food you eat says something about what you stand for. What your vote is. What your place is in the world. When you buy cheap meat, you are voting. You are paying people to breed and lock up innocent, thinking and feeling animals, pump them full of hormones and slaughter them. That's what you are voting for. I love to be the one to tell you - that ain't good for you, it ain't good for the animals and it's certainly not good for our world. It's kind of a lose-lose situation. You get sick, animals are being murdered and our food system falls further down the crapper. It's all so illogical my fingers hurt trying to get the words out because I can't rant as much as I want to. Can you hear me yelling through your screen? USE YOUR VOTE! Don't be a mindless idiot who thinks what they do doesn't matter. It does.
You matter. What you DO matters. If you are lucky enough to have money to buy groceries, if you're lucky enough to be reading this post on some kind of computer, perhaps you're drinking a coffee or relaxing at home or distracting yourself from work, you are someone who can make GOOD choices. People may disagree about what they want to eat, they may disagree on what matters - but there are some things we all must agree on. We must agree that consumers have power - consumers influence industries. While you pay for shit - you will get shit. While you feed shit companies, they will grow. Why NOT feed good, ethical, sustainable companies? Companies that care about the environment, companies that are vegan, companies with a sustainable and moral ethos? Buy local, minimise imports, cut out needless animal suffering and support brands that don't exploit people and operate out of horrific sweat shops. Open your computer, spend a few hours educating yourself and get invested. It really isn't much more expensive and even if it is - it matters! You can make it work if you choose. I am the poorest person I know and I make it work.
Make food more than just "will this make me fat?" "How many calories are in this?". Yawn. Make food really matter. For something other than yourself.
I find it empowering to see my actions as a part of something bigger.... If more people were capable of this we may actually have a chance to turn things around.
If you can feel good about the food you eat, on a level that's deeper than your own body, you will have an overwhelmingly more positive relationship with it. You will grow and be more informed and, dare I say, more enlightened?
And, if you don't care about any of the ethical stuff, but just came to this post for some dieting advice, then I would say - eat when your hungry, stop when you're full and eat food you know isn't crap.
No shit - that's honestly what hit home for me. As long as the food I'm eating is GOOD (which, in my case means plant based, high carbohydrate vegan) then I just eat when my body wants food. When it feels full, I stop.
This approach has been working very well for the last four years and I know, 100%, I am forever out of illogical dieting hell.
Please use your money to vote. Please use your food to make ethical choices. Please see yourself as a part of the big picture.
Unlike deep fried food, It's a win-win situation.
This topic appears to be surrounded by a lot of confusion (like pretty much everything in the health world).
All the "experts" disagree and we are constantly given conflicting ideas about what is healthy and what should be avoided.
I've always been told, whether correct or otherwise, that Margarine is unhealthy. Margarine - bad! Margarine is highly processed, highly fattening, with absolutely no health properties and should be avoided by all.
Have I ever researched this? No. Did it ever feel illogical to me that Margarine was probably not a health food? No.
BUT - going vegan - I had buttery needs. If I wanted to bake a cake - I needed a butter stand in! If I wanted to have butter and jam on toast - I needed a butter to spread and melt deliciously onto my sourdough. Lucky for me - there are about a million butter alternatives these days. There are sunflower spreads, soy spreads and Earth Balance for all you lucky Americans out there. Here in the UK - you can buy dairy-free spreads in any supermarket or go to a health food shop and find an array of healthy-looking, well-packaged options that labels swear to high heaven are good for you.
So... these aren't Margarine....
Margarine is.... Margarine. These are.... not?
I've absolutely never thought about this. I have never wondered what the difference is. As someone who tries to question pretty much everything, it felt strange that I'd never thought to ask myself this question. Are these spreads any better than basic, old school Margarine? Or is it the same thing in different packaging?
Margarine - The Facts
I found reading about Margarine and how it came to exist far too fascinating. If you have a spare ten minutes, do go and read the entire Wikipedia page. I know, I know.. "Wikipedia" groan ... BUT it is a great, compact source that contained pretty much everything I wanted to know.
Margarine Wikipedia Page
Okay - let's start with the basics.
What the Hell is Margarine?
You came here for facts, I know. And facts I will give you, but delivered via angry, rant-like reporting. Hope that's cool. Head to the Wikipedia page for a non-bias version.
Margarine is a Frankenstein food - a mesh of animal fats (yup! Not necessarily vegan, people!) or vegetable fats or both, that is cooled or heated depending on the fat, hardened by adding hydrogen (and saturated fat as a result) and DYED before being packaged, distributed and sold. Old school Margarine survived the modern world by undergoing lots of makeovers to reduce its health risks (consumption has been linked to Cardiovascular disease among others) and seem more appealing to the masses. This included finding a new way to solidify the fats instead of using hydrogen, reducing levels of saturated fat and, in later decades, adding "go to" buzz ingredients like Omegas or Agave or Anything-Healthy-People-Like.
And with these makeovers Margarine becomes... what?
You guessed it .... what we call any kind of Vegan Butter? Boom.
The following from Wikipedia is a very concise explanation of how Margarine is made and segues nicely into "Are Vegan Butters Just Margarine???!!!" (Spoiler - yes they are)
"The oil is pressed from seeds and refined. It is then blended with solid fat. If no solid fats are added to the vegetable oils, the latter undergo a full or partial hydrogenation process to solidify them. The resulting blend is mixed with water, citric acid, carotenoids, vitamins and milk powder. Emulsifiers such as lecithin help disperse the water phase evenly throughout the oil, and salt and preservatives are also commonly added. This oil and water emulsion is then heated, blended, and cooled. The softer tub margarines are made with less hydrogenated, more liquid, oils than block margarines. Three types of margarine are common:
Any of that sound familiar? When I read this my dread was solidified. That first dot point had the key words I was looking for: "sunflower, soybean...or olive oil." Those are essentially what my Vegan Butters are made of. Meaning they are technically... Margarine.
Vegan Butters 101
"Vegan Butters" have a million forms, brands and distinctions, each with their own list of pros and cons.
Now we know WHAT Margarine actually is and have a definition - can this definition be applied to, Earth Balance, for example?
I go straight to Earth Balance because in my mind they are one of the top brands on the market and seem genuinely invested in health and welfare. If any kind of vegan butter is different to Margarine, I figure they're my best bet. Also Alicia Silverstone is their ambassador .... she only wants what is best for us. Right?!
Luckily, I didn't have to dig too deep at all. The answer is so blatantly obvious that Earth Balance answered for me, whether they wanted to or not.
Their first "Q" on their company FAQ Page is: "Why isn't Earth Balance Just Called Margarine"? Thanks guys!
What do they say? See for yourself -
So, what are your thoughts on that?
I like a bit of a rant, as you may know.... but I also like to think about things in a very BASIC and LOGICAL way. Shall we just break that answer down a bit? They start of by saying "for some really important reasons", meaning they are going to give me some really good, key differences, right? Can't wait.
Their claim of 0g trans fat is only accurate because of their first point - no hydrogenated oils... thanks, got that one already. No trans fat will be a direct result of not using hydrogen to harden your product... and that's great, don't get me wrong. But that, plus the absence of preservatives or emulsifiers is literally the only difference. Oh, sorry, I forgot about the "award winning flavor".....
That sentence should not be present when trying to distinguish your product from its original source. It's completely irrelevant and stating it makes you look a bit foolish. (In my opinion).
Earth Balance very much tout that their product is healthy and I want to believe them. I'm much more inclined to believe them, obviously! I want to make vegan cakes and have a butter option!
So - what are their claims?
Can I start of by saying (again) sentences like "all you have to worry about enjoying the irresistible flavor" don't do them ANY favors in my highly skeptical opinion. If your product is so good - don't resort to bubble-gum talk and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Properly educate me on how your food affects my body, without fluffing it up.
Not an easy task, I know. Especially with a marketing team. But honestly, when I read that stuff it just makes me suspicious.
So - the claims. Well their first claim is Organic. Cool. I'm down with that, no issues. Second claim - cholesterol. Look peeps - any person who switches to a dairy-free spread will automatically lower their cholesterol, so you can't claim that one. Cholesterol only exists in animal products - any animal-product free purchase will be a cholesterol win, whether that's drinking a galleon of Olive Oil or eating twenty packets of Oreo biscuits. (Please never do either of those things). This is a point for all Margarine and all dairy-free spreads, but doesn't equate to being GOOD for you. It means it DOESN'T contain cholesterol. Not that it contains Cholesterol-fighting-elixir. Does that make sense? The absence of something negative doesn't create a positive. Spinach isn't healthy because it DOESN'T have sugar all over it. It's healthy because it's spinach. Down?
I'm happy to do more research on this one... maybe there is something that genuinely helps reduce cholesterol on a level other than simply cutting it out, but I'm not convinced yet. **More research needed.
Their third claim - the presence of all essential Omega-3s. Okay, no issue - I'm sure they are in there, but reading that after reading the Wikipedia page was a comical experience. They've crawled right into the trap of trying to create a health food out of a tub of fat. Not the easiest task, but well played. I think the most logical option at this point is to go somewhere else for my Omegas... A original source without all the extras? (FYI: Walnuts and Flaxseed are the best sources.)
Finally - Soy Protein? Again... I think I'll just get it from a better source. The promise of protein shouldn't be a reason to consume Vegan Butter. I'll go for some beans, greens or tofu, cheers.
Am I being too hard on Vegan Butters? Honestly, I don't think so. I'm not saying these foods are BAD for you necessarily. I've intentionally not answered that question and wouldn't feel comfortable attempting to. I'm no health expert, merely an interested spectator who tries to do their best.
As always - I think we need to just try and know WHAT we're eating. When looking at Dairy-free spreads, just be aware these products don't have A LOT to separate them. Yes, there are differences - Earth Balance and other Vegan Butters are lovely, BETTER versions of Margarine, no question. They've made improvements, they've made the original concept much healthier and better for our bodies than old-school Margarine. But at the end of the day, is it something that will do us real good? Improve our health? Be a conscious addition to our diet?
I lean towards "no." I lean towards - Vegan butter should be something that is nice to have in the house for when you want to make a vegan cake and not have to pretend it's good for you.
It's okay to not be perfect. If you want to spread some Vegan Butter on your toast - go for it. BUT - don't live under the illusion it's packing your body with protein and Omegas and lowering your cholesterol. It may be doing these things on some level, but if health is your primary concern - maybe top your toast with some avocado instead?
Delicious, delicious avocado.
I don't try and live perfectly. Of course not. I like having a vegan brownie now and then, I like having a drink, I like plenty of things that may not be keeping me in perfect health.
BUT - I like to be educated and do my best. With this in mind, I will keep my Vegan Butter consumption to a minimum in the future. And I will definitely go for the brands that do THEIR best.
Overall - I will stick with the whole food source - an avocado, smashed up, with some lemon juice. What more could you want? That tastes WAY better than Soy Spread anyway.
When people go vegan, but do not feel the health benefits, I am devastated. Your health should improve when you cut out animal products and if not: I hope this article helps you.
If you are really wanting to THRIVE and succeed on this lifestyle - I beg you to take your diet seriously.
Of course, human beings can survive on anything. We can digest white, refined carbohydrates, we can digest deep-fried crap, we can even digest dead animals. I know I can digest cardboard and cockroaches (thank you childhood).
But, we do not want to just survive, do we? We want to THRIVE.
We want an abundance of energy that makes us burst out of bed and be a bright, shinning person for everyone around us. We want to feel present in our jobs, we want to be able to exercise, we want to be able to think clearly and brilliantly, but most of all: we want to FEEL GOOD.
It's incredible the role that food plays. Good food does have the power to make you FEEL good. Bad food absolutely has the power to make you feel lousy. There are various factors to wellness, but food is an enormous part. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, what you absorb. Your body is a machine and it will only be as powerful and smooth as the fuel you put in.
When people go vegan, they are likely to panic a little, do some googling, read a lot of conflicting articles with lots of different information and get confused. Then they may settle on - if it doesn't have an animal product: let's eat it!
This isn't a bad place to start. Begin by eliminating the animal products.
The next stage for many people is experimenting with fun vegan replacements (all the fake stuff). The fake cheeses, meats, giant vegan sub sandwiches, vegan desserts.... ice cream! Don't get me wrong, this stuff has a place in my life and I love a vegan desert now and then, but if these are making up the bulk of your diet, start examining your energy levels and where most of your nutrients are coming from.
You know where this is headed (I'm a broken record) the emphasis for everyone, vegan or not, should be WHOLE FOODS. That is fresh, ripe, organic, wholesome fruits and vegetables. They are the star, the leading lady, the hero of all meals. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain nearly EVERYTHING you need to be happy, healthy and thriving. I didn't believe this for a long time, but like with anything we naturally rebel against, you get a bit afraid of the truth. Fruits and vegetables are all my body requires to function? But when will I eat cake and sandwiches? NOOO! We must need to eat bread!
You can eat bread, of course you can (I do!) but make the hero of most of your meals fresh fruits and vegetables. And guess what? You'll be bloody ace. Imagine if everything you put into your body gave you something? If every morsel of food had a purpose? A nutrient? A protein? A mineral?
The majority of peoples diets are highly acidic (high in animal products, refined carbohydrates, sodas, sugar, processed crap, caffeine) meaning their bodies are working hard to digest these foods and function in spite of them. Food is meant to HELP your body... help it repair cells, rejuvenate.... thrive. Try flipping the ratio to beneficial foods and notice how your energy levels soar.
When you want to succeed and thrive - the best thing to do is look at the people getting the results you want. Who are the people that look the way you want to look? But also have the energy you want? The lifestyle you respect? BUT, make sure they aren't a con-artist. The most comical thing about a lot of fad diets (and the diet industry in general) is that so many "experts" and "gurus" are actually quite overweight or unhealthy.
Look at people who are genuinely succeeding. People who live this way all year around. People who are honest, bright, thriving and happy. In the vegan world, there are some who I respect above all others. They are healthy LONG TERM and, (funnily enough!) a lot of their advice overlaps. Funny that, isn't it?
Matt Frazier (The "No Meat Athlete"), Colin Campbell (The China Study) Dr Neal Barnard (Author of various books on reversing Diabetes), Harley Johnston ("DurianRider", ace vegan athlete and health activist) John McDougall MD (The McDougall Plan, Forks Over Knives) and many others including my beloved "Skinny Bitch" ladies all are remarkably healthy, happy long-term vegans who have a lot of the same advice.
So, where are the areas they all agree on? And the areas I KNOW have helped me thrive?
YES!! You heard me!! I said the blasphemous words!!
HIGH CARB HIGH CARB HIGH CARB!!! Get Carbs in ya!! (or as DurianRider says: Carb the Fuck Up!)
Nothing terrifies me more than hearing about "low carb" diets. Carbohydrates are literally energy. What your body RUNS on. Which is why they get a bad "rep", as it's easy to just call them "sugar" and if you stop eating them (like the Atkins diet) your body will start to eat itself and yes, you'll definitely lose weight. But at what cost? And how sustainable is that? Do you want to be a skinny zombie?!?! Or would you rather be a skinny ninja? Carbs can make you skinny too, ladies. I promise.
I am coming from my own experience, but also would only pass on information that was well-researched and based people who are THRIVING . When I started trying to get healthy, I listened to any kind of "popular" advice, so thought I had to eat less (around 1200 calories a day) and cut carbohydrates out. I started to lose weight (fucking up my metabolism in the process), but was I anywhere near as happy as I am now? God, no. Going high-carb (and eating healthy food till I feel satisfied) is the most liberating feeling.
Do not put white bread and a potato in the same category. Please. The experts are far better at explaining than I, (video below!) but guess what? The "experts" that are THRIVING are eating carbohydrates! They are not doing a quick fix cleanse or just going vegan for their photo shoot next week. They are long term, thriving vegans who eliminated animal products for health purposes, many coming from biological or scientific backgrounds and they eat fucking potatoes. Eat potatoes.
Obviously, we are talking about GOOD carbohydrates. Fruits and Vegetables are all in the "carbohydrate" family!
Bananas are a carbohydrate. If anyone tells you to be wary of eating bananas - shove one up their A**. Bananas are packed full of nutrition and GIVE YOU ENERGY. Do you want to be a zombie wafting through life?
And... enjoy the "controversy" of one of my favorite people alive (I haven't ever met).
Oil is not going to kill you... but it is not going to help you thrive. I'm sorry people. I do still use oil, but I use it sparingly and do no longer drown my salads in it or use a butt-load to fry onion.
Being aware of how much oil and "fat" I was consuming made a HUGE difference in my figure and energy. I hate saying things like "low fat" because it sounds faddy and weird... but genuinely, be aware that oil is 100% a refined food that has no real place in nature or our bodies. The "nutrion" many claim comes from oil is pretty easy to debunk and is far easier digested just from a real olive. Or from a real coconut. Or from real seeds.
See what I mean?
Use it if you want to - life is for living and olive oil is delicious - but just be aware. Little things like this can honestly make the difference between your vegan diet working for you and not. Examine how much oil and fats you are eating (vegan butters... nut butters.... dressings... sauces....) and see if you can cut back anywhere. Replace fatty dressings with blended tomato dressings or just have a bit less. See if your energy improves :)
Eat when you're hungry.
Stop when you're full.
You can eat A LOT of "good food" guilt free, before you'll be full. It's bloody satisfying and you feel almost glutenous.
DurianRider says "go to bed like Buddha, wake up like Gandhi".
Picture above is one of my favorites! Zucchini noodles (made with a spiralizer) cherry tomatoes and a lemon Tahini sauce served on a bed of spinach.
Check out the full recipe here on Vilda Magazine.
It's Not Just about Food....
What goes into making us happy is so much more than just the food on our plate.
Logically, most people know this - but it's good to be reminded now and then. Loved ones, getting outside in the sunshine, moving our bodies, fulfillment from our creative minds, our professional minds.... it all counts.
Food will help. It will help us be the best, but focus on all the elements of "wellness".
Understand Veganism - KNOW IT WILL WORK!!
The power of positive thinking people! If you believe this will be a fantastic change in your life - IT WILL BE!! If you let every meat-eater get into your mind and challenge you and threaten your opinion - you will probably panic and let their opinion change yours. Do as much research as you can - understand veganism - believe in it :)
To finish off - here is a brilliant article I just found on Happy Herbivore (a great resource site - though I don't know if you need to invest in any of their cleanses) that may explain things better than I can!
Love and Sweet Potatoes :) xxxx
How To Spread The Vegan Word Without Being a Preachy A***hole
10 Reasons to F**king LOVE Ricky Gervais