Jane Goodall Inspiration

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Jane Goodall, the inspirational primatologist who is credited for her efforts in the field of chimpanzee research and protection, recently turned 80. But age isn’t holding this chica down, she continues to lecture all over the world and recently released a new book, Seeds of Hope.

I recently ran across an interview with Goodall and was moved by her answer to what working with chimpanzees taught her about life. She said, “:…we humans are not the only beings on the planet with personalities, minds capable of rational thought, and above all, emotions. Now we know many other animals have intellectual capabilities once thought unique to us”.

Then later when asked about how people should treat the environment, she responded “…animals need us to respect them. The way we abuse them is so terrible. The billions of animals raised for food around the world—this process is destroying the planet. Vast areas of forest are cut down to make space for growing grain, or grazing. Vast amounts of methane gases are produced—a worse greenhouse gas than C02”.

Powerful words from an inspirational woman!

You can find the full interview at FEMPOWER. And if you’re not familiar with how eating meat is bad for the environment, check out the article, Why Eating Meat is Bad for the Environment.

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Vegan Easter Candy!!!

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I have a serious sweet tooth, so I thought I’d never be able to follow a Plant Strong Diet because it doesn’t allow sugar. But giving up sugar was easier than I thought it would be, mostly thanks to medjool dates. Once reserved for royalty, medjool dates are so soft and sweet that they taste like caramel. I use them to sweeten everything from chocolate pudding to hot chocolate.

As wonderful as date-sweetened desserts are, there are times when I still eat regular ol’ sugar. I try not to do this often, but it’s an indulgence I allow myself for holidays. That being said, Easter is fast approaching so bring on the candy!

Here’s my vegan Easter candy round up:

Rice Crisp Bunny & Chocolate Eggs 

This adorable vegan chocolate bunny speckled with rice crisps and flavored solid chocolate eggs makes a delightful vegan Easter gift. From Allison’s Gourmet.

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Rice Crisp Bunny & Chocolate Eggs

Veeps – Vegan Peeps

No Easter basket is complete without a few Peeps. Thankfully, Sweet & Sara make a vegan version of this must-have Easter treat. And isn’t this Veep photo from Bittersweet adorable!

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Vegan Peeps

Spring Organic Vegan Dark Chocolates

If you want to ignite a Spring romance, this box of chocolates from Eco3P might just do the trick.

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P Spring Organic Vegan Dark Chocolates

Box of Chocolate Bunnies

Give your loved ones healthy Easter treats with Organic & Fair Trade chocolate from Mama Ganache! They have a great selection of Easter goodies like these delicious handmade Bunnies.

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Box of Chocolate Bunnies

Jelly Beans

Get your vegan jelly beans from Vegan Sweets. And if you’re giving them to a grown up, why not fill a martini glass instead of a basket.

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Jelly Bean Martini

Easter Eggs Gift Box

Celebrate Easter with a gift box of fairly traded and organic egg-shaped chocolates! Be sure to get the dark chocolate ones that are not only vegan, but also soy and gluten-free. From Equal Exchange.

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Organic Easter Eggs Gift Box

Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny

I love the fun collection of chocolate bunnies from Premium Chocolatiers like Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny and Vincent Van Vegan Painter Bunny. I also read on Go Dairy Free that these chocolates are especially tasty.

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Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny

Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Easter Egg

This milk chocolate tasting dairy free Easter egg has infused pieces of caramelized hazelnut in the shell. Sounds delish! It’s manufactured by MooFree in the UK.

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Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Easter Egg

Happy Easter!

Jelly Bean Martini photo courtesy of Elle Ellinghaus. Mikey the Magical Milkless Bunny photo courtesy of Go Dairy Free.

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Recipes to Make You Say, “YES!” to Vegan Cheese

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My mom, my blogger friend, Mike, and countless others have told me that they can’t go vegan because they could never give up cheese. I get where they’re coming from – I was there. I found, however; that giving up cheese was easier than I imagined it would be. Sure, it was hard at first, but once I discovered how to make wonderful sauces, cheese-free pizzas and other cheese replacements it was a cinch (and delicious too!).

I’ve been perfectly content without cheese, but a few weeks ago my sister mentioned that a vegan cheese shop, Peace Cheese, opened up in San Diego. I thought this was strange because I didn’t think it was possible to make really good vegan cheese. Online, however; their cheeses – like Cashew Glow and Pumpkin Sun – looked tasty.

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“Pumpkin Sun” – Vegan Cheese Alternative to mild Cheddar by PeaceCheese

I have yet to make the trip to San Diego to check out Peace Cheese (I will soon!), but they’ve awakened me to the possibility that great vegan cheese exists. What’s funny is that once I opened my mind to vegan cheese, I started noticing tempting recipes on blogs I follow. How did I miss these for the past two years?

So now I’m embarking on a new phase of my veganism, I’m getting cheesy with it! I’m gonna start making artisan vegan cheeses so that the next time someone tells me, “I can’t go vegan because I can’t give up cheese,” I’ll simply stuff their face with a cheese I’ve made and smile.

If you want to “get cheesy” with me, check out these great recipes.

Recipes to Make You Say, “Yes!” to Vegan Cheese

Baked Cashew Cheese

Emma, from Coconut & Berries calls cashews, “the magical nut!” One look at her Baked Cashew Cheese has me convinced that she’s right. Also check out Superfoodista’s remake of this recipe.

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Baked Cashew Cheese

Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese

Annie from an Unrefined Vegan always wows me with her luscious recipes, and her Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese is no exception. Just imagine this stuff on a bagel!

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Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese

Quick and Easy Vegan Cream Cheese

If you want vegan cream cheese in a jiffy, try Welcome to Abby’s Kitchen’s Quick and Easy Vegan Cream Cheese.

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Quick and Easy Vegan Cream Cheese

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

I found lots of recipes for vegan Parmesan. The one pictured below is from Veggiful.com and is made with cashews. Since a lot of the cheese recipes I’ve found use cashews, I was also excited to find The Passion for Compassion’s recipe made from almonds.

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Vegan Parmesan

15 Minute Grate-able and Melt-able Vegan Cheese

Leave it to Poppy from Bunny Kitchen to make what she calls, “a fast, simple vegan cheddar style cheese”. Also check out matchamochi’s version of Poppy’s recipe.

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15 Minute Grate-able and Melt-able Vegan Cheese

Macadamia Nut Brie

The hardest cheese for me to give up was brie, but I guess I never had to. Just look at this Macadamia Nut Brie from Vegged Out. If I bring this to a party, I bet I’ll never get told, “I can’t give up cheese,” by anyone ever again.

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Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute

Tofu Ricotta

Here’s a simple Tofu Ricotta recipe from Girl Eats Greens.

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Tofu ricotta

Cashew Mozzarella

No need to skip the cheese on pizza, just whip up this Cashew Mozzarella.

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Pine Nut & Chives Cheese Ball

This festive cheese ball is perfect for a dinner party or for a holiday gathering.

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Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheese

I just discovered that my blogger friend Sophie has some wonderful vegan cream cheese recipes like her Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheese.

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For more recipes, check out Two Broke Vegans Vegan Cheeses.

If you’re feeling lazy…

If you don’t want to bother with making your own cheese, Celeste from Compassionate Tummies recomends Door 86 Vegan Cheese. They can be ordered online. And check out this Review of Vegan Cream Cheese Brands. Also check out 2 Broke Vegans Vegan Cheddar Cheese Review.

I’ll close with a cheesy smile 🙂

Pumpkin Sun Vegan Cheese photo by Yelper, Reenie V.

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Why Go Vegan? Isn’t Being a Vegetarian Enough?

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My new blogger friend, Margaret, asked me why she should go vegan if she can get eggs and dairy from humanely raised sources. I thought I’d share my answer to her, and I’d love to hear what others of you have to say on this topic.

Why go vegan? Isn’t being a vegetarian enough?

Until two years ago, I didn’t understand why vegans didn’t eat eggs or dairy. Since cows and chickens aren’t killed to produce eggs and milk, what’s wrong with it? I’ve since learned that the majority of eggs and milk we consume come from factory farms where animals suffer horribly.

But is it still wrong to eat eggs and dairy if you take the suffering out of the equation? I believe that vegans are divided about this. Some would argue that it is still wrong because you are exploiting the animals and using them for your benefit. Others might concede that in this situation it is okay.

For myself, even if I could get eggs and dairy from animals that were humanely raised, I still wouldn’t consume them. For one, I don’t believe that eggs and dairy are healthful. They’re often promoted as wholesome foods, but research has shown that they contribute to diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

I’m also wary about the “humanely raised” labels farmers use. I’m sure that some farms that use such labels care about their animals and treat them well, but many do not. Humanely raised labels are often deceptive and don’t necessarily mean that animals are raised in humane conditions.

Birds raised for meat, for example, may be sold as “free-range” if they have government certified access to the outdoors. In order to fulfill this, a door needs to be open for only five minutes a day.

Why don’t I find a farm that I personally check out to make sure they treat their animals well and get my eggs and dairy from them? Other than the health reason I mentioned above, I’d be promoting eating eggs and dairy as well as farms that are deceptive about their humanely raised labels and I don’t want to do that.

I’ve been on an egg and dairy-free diet for more than two years and I love it! I admit that it was a challenge at first (especially giving up cheese), but once I learned how easy it was to replace these items with delicious alternatives it was a cinch. It’s not the life of denial I thought it was going to be at all. I love my vegan diet and lifestyle and this is what I want to promote.

Quotes

Here are some thoughts on the topic from my blogger friends, Annie, Poppy and Vegan Social Justice.

“I think it is very important not to support an industry that uses the very important issue of nonhuman animal liberation by pretending to be humane.” – Annie, author of Vegan Grammie Annie blog

“Cows milk is meant for calves not young and adult humans! Mention drinking human breast milk to someone and it’s the grossest thing ever yet they’re happy to drink from a cows breast?” – Poppy, author of Bunny Kitchen blog

“Not only is the meat, dairy and egg industries one and the same, literally because spent cows are processed into ground beef, calves into veal and male chicks ground up into animal feed, but using cows for milk or chickens for eggs is illogical. Nonhuman animals are individuals not resources for humans to use as they please.” – Quote from the author of the blog, Vegan Social Justice

A few articles of interest on this topic

Milk…It Does a Body Bad

Is There Life After Dairy?

Is Eating Eggs Really as Bad For Your Heart as Smoking?

How Does Drinking Milk Harm Cows?

Why I Don’t Eat Eggs

Photo courtesy of howtobecomegorgeous.com.

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Why we blog.. Honk If You’re Vegan

My good blogger friend, Elaine from the blog Foodbod, recently interviewed me about why I blog and posted it today. Since it’s ALL ABOUT ME (hehe), I had to share it. I have to admit, however; that it’s hard for me to look at that extreme close up of me.

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Vegin’ Out in Ventura County

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California Street, Ventura California

I recently got back from nine days of lounging on the beach. Not really. I was on a trip and I was near the ocean, but I never stepped onto the sand. In reality, I was scrubbing and painting the 3-story Oxnard, California condo that my husband and I used to live in to get it ready to put on the market.

It was a working trip, but I still had to eat. And boy did I eat (hey, I was working hard). Anyway, I discovered some wonderful restaurants that you might want to try if you’re lucky enough to venture to Ventura county. Or you could move there – I know of a great condo for sale – hehe.

1. Midtown Cafe, Ventura

My husband and I drove to Ventura on a Saturday morning, and we were famished when we got to town. A Yelp search brought us to Midtown Cafe for a late lunch. The atmosphere was quaint and they had a nice selection of vegan and raw vegan fare. My husband and I both ordered veggie burgers (I know it’s dull, but we were tired and didn’t feel like experimenting) and they were delicious! We didn’t have the chance on this trip, but someday we’d like to go back and try their breakfasts, smoothies and Raw Veggie Burger.

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Midtown Cafe’s Raw Veggie Burger

2. Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana, Oxnard

We had dinner that Saturday night at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana located in The Collection. The atmosphere was lovely and they actually had a cheese-free pizza, the Marinara, that was amazing!! I have to admit that we didn’t ask to make sure it was vegan, so check before ordering. We also enjoyed the Insalata Grande which was made with artichoke hearts, roasted mushrooms, olives, pine nuts and cracked pepper. This is a great place to stop at if you’re traveling, because it’s just off the 101 freeway.

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A photo from Settebello’s website

3. Red Brick Pizza, Ventura

One of our favorite casual restaurants when my husband and I lived in the area was Red Brick Pizza. We liked sitting on their patio with our dog, Mambo, and ordering a big salad and pizza to share. Despite the fact that we had pizza the night before, we wanted to go to our old haunt. It was too cold that night to sit on the patio, so we sat inside. This would have been great if we had kiddos because they had a TV at every booth. We, however; found cartoons that we couldn’t turn off distracting, so I put my sweater over the screen.

The food was as good as we remembered. My favorite part of our meal was the huge Veggie Proteina Salad (without the cheese). It was loaded with goodies like artichoke hearts, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, kalamatta olives, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, corn and tomatoes. This would have been enough for me, but we still shared a Veggie Gourmet Works pizza that you can get with Dayia cheese. This time I asked and was assured that the pizza was vegan. I didn’t get a photo, but here’s one  from blogger Debbie Woodruf.

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Veggie Gourmet Works pizza

4. Whole Foods Juice Bar/Hot Bar, Oxnard

We didn’t eat anything share-worthy for the next two days and then my husband left me all by my lonesome to finish the job (can you hear the violin playing?). I don’t like going out to restaurants alone, so I ate most of my meals for the next few days at Whole Foods Market. They have an amazing juice bar, so I ordered green smoothies for lunch. Then for dinner I’d get something off their hot bar like a big salad, sautéed veggies with rice or their delicious and oil-free White Bean and Kale Soup.

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Whole Foods Market Juice Bar

5. Sticky Fingers Baking Company, Ventura

When the work was done and my husband came to pick me up, I wanted to celebrate. I’d read that Sticky Fingers Baking Company made vegan baked goods, so that’s where we went. The shop was adorable and they had lots of vegan, gluten-free and vegan and gluten-free options. We shared Mocha Chocolate Chip and Coffee Cake muffins (the coffee cake one was to die for!) and we brought a selection of cookies home with us which were all wonderful. Next time we go, we want to try their almond milk latte’s.

l6. Mary’s Secret Garden Cafe, Ventura

My husband and I didn’t get to Mary’s Secret Garden on this trip, but I wanted to share about this wonderful restaurant anyway. It’s an organic vegan bistro in the heart of downtown Ventura. We’ve been there many times and have always enjoyed our meals. Click here for a post I wrote about them.

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The Deluxe Raw Tostada from Mary’s Secret Garden

I have to be honest, I’m feeling sad about putting our condo up for sale. I liked Ventura and I know that we’ll probably never move back. Don’t get me wrong, I love where we’re living now. It’s closer to where my sister lives and it’s actually a better place to be vegan. It’s just that being back in our old town reminded me of all it’s charms (and I didn’t even get to the best part – it’s lovely beaches!).

Photo Credits

California Street photo courtesy of photopedia.com, Whole Foods Juice Bar photo courtesy of http://yelp.dk. Midtown Cafe Raw Veggie Burger photo courtesy of Midtown Cafe. Sticky Fingers photo courtesy of http;//yelp.at.

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The Lamb That Changed My Life!

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my thoughts on starting a nonprofit group that feeds vegan food to the hungry. Maybe I’ll do it someday, but so far I’m all talk. John from Vegan Hills, however; is feeding vegan food to the needy. It’s so cool what he’s doing that I wanted to blab about him on my blog. Here’s his story:

The Lamb That Changed My Life!

Whilst patting a lamb one day, John began to question how it was that he could adore these little animals, yet also eat them. It made no sense. From that day onwards, he gradually stopped eating meat, chicken, and fish. Then he learned about cruel practices involved in the poultry and dairy industries. He wanted no part of this, or any other animal cruelty.  So he became a Vegan. Vegan’s don’t consume or use any animal products.

He never felt better. Vegan food is super healthy, so he knew he was doing his body the world of good. After he learned that around 50% of global carbon emissions stem from animal agriculture, he also felt great knowing that he was doing his bit for the environment too. What’s more, he discovered that vegan food tastes fantastic and that there are many recipes to be found in books and online.

In February 2013, he began volunteering in Belgrave at Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service (DRERS). DRERS helps people in crisis. This can be caused by issues such as illness, loss of job, or domestic violence.

Knowing how important it is to eat healthy food, he wanted to include more vegan options for people at his organization. Thus, he started a project called, ‘Vegan Hills’. He sources vegan food and toiletries from the public and adds these to DRERS offerings. He also arranges for volunteers to come together to cook up vegan meals. The meals are either served to patrons at the drop-in centre, or frozen for clients.

If monetary donations are made (above $2 is tax-deductible), he purchases vegan supplies and includes these in his organization’s offerings. Any donations are much appreciated.

Photo courtesy of adpost.com.

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7 Healthy Vegan St. Patty’s Day Recipes

Who says you have to eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s Day? Here’s a selection of veganized and healthied up traditional Irish dishes as well as some fun green fare that will make any Irish eyes smile.

Lucky Leprechaun Dip

This rich, creamy dip from Healthy. Happy. Life is perfect for a St. Patty’s Day party.

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Vegan Corned Beef and Cabbage

You can always count on Fat Free Vegan for healthy vegan versions of almost any recipe like this Vegan Corned Beef and Cabbage.

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Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

My Vegan Cookbook’s version of a traditional Shepherd’s Pie uses lentils instead of meat and has a full beefy flavor thanks to slowly caramelized onions.

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Parsnip Irish Soda Bread

Cupcake Project’s sugar-free soda bread gets a subtle sweetness, and health boost, from parsnips. This is not a vegan recipe, but can be veganized by substituting plant milk soured with a small amount of lemon juice for the buttermilk.

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Mint-Lime Spring Green Fruit Salad

Babble’s bright green colored healthy salad is perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day lunch, brunch or dinner.

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Shamrock Shake

Skip McDonald’s fattening shamrock shake and make Chocolate Covered Katie’s healthy, minty version instead.

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Vegan Banana (Spinach) Ice Cream

Give Popsugar’s luscious sugar-free vegan ice cream the green light for St. Patty’s Day.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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How Do Vegans Get Protein?

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When considering going vegan, my husband’s biggest fear (surprise, surprise) was, “How will I get enough protein?” I haven’t written a lot about protein and veganism, but it’s an important issue that came to my mind today when Uncle Guacamole, a new vegan, asked me this question:

Passover is coming up in about a month, a time when we traditionally eat a lot of meat and eggs, largely because all legumes, including soy, are prohibited for eight days. Can you recommend any plant-based sources of protein other than beans and peanuts, both of which are prohibited?

I’m posting my answer to him because it addresses the basic questions about protein that many people have when considering veganism.

Protein in a Nutshell

Even if you just ate fruits and veggies for the 8 days of Passover, you would likely get all the protein you need. Many people don’t realize that fruits and veggies have protein, but they do! Here are some examples:

Protein in veggies

• Spinach – 51 percent protein
• Mushrooms – 35 percent protein
• Corn – 12 percent protein
• Potatoes – 11 percent protein

Most people think they have to eat “protein rich” foods to get enough protein, but this is a fallacy. It’s one that most of us believe, however; due to the billions of dollars meat and dairy companies spend to make us believe that we need a lot of protein and that it should come mostly from animals. Balderdash! Check out the book, Meatonomics, to see exactly how the meat and dairy industries dupe us.

In reality, our bodies don’t require a lot of protein. Only 10% of our calories need to come from protein (and even this is likely more than we require). As you can see, just eating veggies would provide you with more than adequate protein.

If you’re consuming enough calories, then you’re getting enough protein. As Rip Esselstyn says, “look around you and tell me the last time you saw someone who was hospitalized for a protein deficiency.”

It’s actually more likely for people in modern society to become ill from eating too much protein. Consuming excessive protein is not good for you. Your liver and kidneys may become overburdened and you will start leaching calcium from your bones to get rid of the excess. This leads to health concerns. Most omnivores take in at least 20 percent protein, which is dangerously high.

Although most vegans consume many high protein foods like legumes, nuts and seeds, even without these protein powerhouses, a vegan diet provides adequate protein. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend abstaining from legumes for a long period of time because they provide fiber, lots of nutrients and are filling and delicious.

Disclaimer: I should note that I’m NOT a nutritionist. I’m only sharing info I’ve learned from personal research I’ve done.

For more info on protein, check out Can I get enough protein eating a plant-based diet?

Photo Credit

The photo is of vegan bodybuilder, Joel Kirkilis, and is courtesy of Melbourne Vegan Strength.

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Cute Cat Photo and Quote of the Day

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I’ve been on vacation and have lots to share, but I need a catch up day today. So instead of writing a post, I’m sharing a quote from Do Dogs and Cats Have the Right to Live? It’s short but packs a punch.

Quote of the Day

“…Humans are animals.  Is it okay to kill a human if it’s done humanely?”

Photo courtesy of prayerpicsrus.blogspot.com.

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