About Meghan

My current field of interest is computer programming, however I have many more things I am eager to master in my life. I enjoy the outdoors, live music, animals, piano playing, and makeup. Some things I am not so good at but still enjoy include singing, painting, and playing guitar!

Playing Chicken

Each year, 9 billion chickens are slaughtered for meat in the U.S.  Chickens are social, animated animals turned into a product for consumption.  They are bred at alarming rates, and fed hormones to grow far beyond their normal growth rate.  Sometimes, their growth occurs so quickly, their legs do not develop fast enough to support their weight.  They typically live in warehouse-like buildings, crowded among as many as 20,000 other chickens.  Forced to walk over each other, many end up with scratches and sores, posing risk for infection.

Continue reading

The Cheese Disease

In the United States, cancer is the cause of death for 25% of people.  Approximately 5-10% of cancer cases are hereditary.  The remaining cases are caused by environment and lifestyle.  Studies have found that dairy consumption is linked to different types of cancer.  Specifically, dairy increases chances of hormone related cancers.  Milk itself is a hormone based product, so these correlations make sense.  Even “organic” milk with no added hormones or antibiotics still contain hormones.  After all, it is breast milk designed to turn a baby calf into a 1,500 pound cow.

A human male’s risk of prostate cancer increases by 34% simply by consuming dairy.  Women who have breast cancer increase their risk of death by 49% by consuming dairy.  If these numbers are true, why do companies such as Susan G. Komen use their logo on Yoplait yogurt?  The American Cancer Association recommends English-muffin pizzas or bagels topped with cheese as healthy diet choices.  The reality is that these companies are sponsored by businesses such as KFC, Tyson, YUM, and Yoplait.  It is impossible to trust these organizations who are being paid off by the very companies that are making us sick.

 

In attempts to discuss the correlations between animal products and various diseases, multiple health organizations have refused to comment or deflect the conversation in another direction.  We simply cannot believe what media tells us is healthy, especially when all the leading organizations are driven by money.

Do not fear for a lack of protein – the largest animals on earth are herbivores.  Gorillas, elephants, and pandas all make due just fine on a plant based diet.  70% of deaths in the U.S. are lifestyle related, meaning they can be prevented.  By switching to a vegan diet, one significantly reduces their risks of many diseases, including cancer.

 

 

 

A Gassy Meal

Greenhouse gases are generated by all kinds of things.  Burning fossil fuels is likely the most commonly known cause of these gases, however it is not the most substantial.  Animal agriculture causes 18% of emissions, more than all forms of transportation combined.  Transportation is the cause of 13% of emissions.  Livestock byproducts are responsible for 51% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, due to the 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide released per year.  Additionally, the waste produced by livestock produces more methane than any other source.  Methane has been shown to do more damage to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide – possibly 100 times more destructive on a 20 year timeframe.  150 billion gallons of methane are produced every day from livestock.  Livestock also releases around 65% of emissions of nitrous oxide, a gas almost 300 times as powerful as carbon dioxide.  Nitrous oxide can remain in the atmosphere for 150 years.

These emissions are expected to increase over the years, possibly up to 60% of all emissions.  Energy emissions are expected to increase to 20%.  When global warming begins to substantially affect our planet, one can expect prices to increase on many day-to-day items, and some may even lose their homes.  We can expect to see climate wars due to the rising ocean levels destroying some inhabited lands.

Of course, riding a bike or walking is much better for than planet than driving a car, however leaving meat off your plate will have a much greater impact.  How else might someone reduce their impact on the atmosphere?  Should there be better laws in place in order to protect the environment?  Or is the health of the planet the responsibility of every one on it?

Behind Closed Doors: Pigs

 

Pigs are known to be quite intelligent animals.  They eat both plants and animals, using their snout as a tool for searching for food.  Newborn pigs recognize their mothers voices, and can even recognize their names by the age of two weeks.  Pigs communicate with one another, using more than 20 different inflections.  They will snuggle close to each other, and dream when they sleep.   They can run up to 11 mph and squeal as loud as 115 decibels.   Pigs have a lifespan of 10-15 years, though are slaughtered around six months of age.  There are millions of pigs on the planet, and the majority are confined to a life of pain and suffering.

THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES.  

Continue reading

Meal Prep

Once someone has made the decision to go vegan, they may feel the task is a little daunting.  One of the first steps is replacing foods you typically eat with vegan alternatives.  Keep in mind that basically any dish can be made without animal products!

A great first step is to stock up your pantry.  Some may need to replace their entire cupboard; some are already just about there.  It can be extra difficult to cut out certain foods if you do not already have a replacement for it, so be sure to stock up on your favorites!  A few vegan staples you should consider include beans, nuts, tofu, and loads of fruits and vegetables.  Condiments are essential – stock up on olive oil, mustard, tahini, hot sauce, and anything else to add some flavor to your meals.

To make the transition even easier, plan your meals ahead of time.  Meal preparation might be the key to your success; check out the following meals to create a plan!

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with maple syrup, bananas, almond milk, and flax / hemp seeds
    Fruit juice or smoothie
  • Toast with jam or nut butter
  • Vegan tofu scramble with vegetables – try mushroom & spinach!
  • Avocado & bean toast
  • Potato pancakes
  • Vegan sausage and bacon

Lunch:

  • Chickpea salad with pita or naan
  • Grilled tofu over greens or rice
  • Vegan tacos – try Beyond Meat beefy crumbles!
  • Pumpkin and mushroom pasta
  • Lentil soup
  • Tempeh pita

Dinner:

  • Bean chili – try adding quinoa!
  • Roasted zucchini and tomato pasta
  • Vegetable soup
  • Grilled tofu “steaks”
  • Falafel and veggie wrap

 

 

The key to a vegan diet is planning.  It is easy to get all the required nutrients on a vegan diet, though just as easy to miss some as well.  By planning ahead, one can make well-rounded meals which cover the essential food groups.

Fresh fruits and vegetables can be tricky to plan for.  You can never be absolutely sure when your avocado will be ripe, or when your bananas will be perfectly freckled.  Be sure to buy frozen and dried produce, so that your dinner plate is never lacking.  Frozen produce is flash frozen at peak ripeness and dried produce is great for snacking between meals.

If you currently partake in meal prep, you are already underway to an easy transition.  A simple search on the internet will return tons of recipes you already love – just add the word “vegan” in there and you are all set.  Have you found any surprising alternatives?  I know I never thought a vegan would have bacon and eggs for breakfast! All it takes is a little creativity and passion.

A Lot to Digest

A common stereotype about vegans and vegetarians is the “lack of protein.”  This could not be farther from the truth! In all actuality, many meat eaters consume 4-6x the recommended amount of protein a day.  Most people are recommended to consume around 40-50 grams of protein each day.  A single cheeseburger has 15 grams of protein alone.  Plant based foods tend to have healthier amounts of protein, and even greater amounts of other minerals and vitamins which animal products may frequently lack.  Vitamins such as B12, which animal products tend to be known for, are actually an additive, and not naturally occurring.  Iron is another common deficiency among vegans.  However, iron can be found in many whole grains and raw foods.  Sometimes it just takes a little extra effort to get all the necessary nutrients.

A vegan diet has been found to have some positive effects on our digestive track.  For example, vegan diets tend to consist of more fiber than an omnivorous diet.  Fiber helps us feel full longer and helps with regular bowel movements.  Vegetarians are about 31% less likely to develop problems with the colon, specifically diverticular disease.  When switching to a meat free diet, some bloating may occur due to the increase of fiber.  Some ways to combat this include staying hydrated, avoiding gassy foods, include healthy fats, and try new recipes.

A human’s digestive system is not designed to tolerate a diet high in meat.  Compared to a pure carnivore such as a cat, the human digestive system is very short and produces little hydrochloric acid – an enzyme necessary for digesting meat.  Humans also do not possess the sharp teeth necessary for shredding meat.  The so-called “canines” many people point out when arguing against veganism are actually the same teeth commonly found in herbivores.

So how does this actually affect us?  It has a bigger impact than one might think.  Osteoperosis is highest in societies who consume high amounts of animal products, whereas it is nonexistent in many vegetarian cultures.  Studies done by Michigan State found that overall in both male and females, vegetarians tend to have stronger bones than their meat eating counterparts.  Why might there be such an emphasis on drinking milk for strong bones, if that is not quite the case?  Should we always trust the recommended daily nutrition we commonly hear about?

Land

The world only has so much land to be used for growing food.  As of right now, 1/3 or earth’s livable land is dedicated to livestock or livestock feed.  As much as 70% of crops that are grown are fed to livestock.  We could be using these crops to feed hungry people all around the world, but many people would rather have meat on their plate.

Animal agriculture is also considered the greatest cause of ocean dead zones, species extinction, water pollution, and habitat destruction.  Rain-forests are destroyed in order to create more land to raise animals and their crops.  This destroys not only the homes of animals in these areas, but also homes of people.  Many tribes still survive in these forests, and the industry has come in and taken over their home.

Waterways are contaminated through all the pesticides and herbicides that are used to aid in the clearing of land.  These waters often lead to the oceans, and are creating ocean dead zones.  It has been said that we will see dead oceans by the year 2050 if we do not change our ways.  There are currently over 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones in the oceans, and this number is steadily climbing.

Even if people decide to cut animals from their diet, there is still much work to be done.  We much actually make an effort to reverse the damage we have caused.  What other reasons might be causing ocean dead zones or extensive land usage?

 

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars

Here in Western PA, the sun is shining and the temperatures are climbing.  What a great opportunity to try out a new ice cream recipe! Because who doesn’t like ice cream?

 

For the ice cream layer, you will need:

  • Full-fat coconut milk
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt

For the yummy crumbly topping, you will need:

  • Vegan vanilla cookies
  • Freeze dried strawberries
  • Vegan butter

A couple popsicle sticks will also come in handy for these strawberry bars.

To make the ice cream, blend 14oz of coconut milk, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt together until smooth.  Taste and adjust if needed.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 4-6 hours.

Begin making your crumbly outer coating by blending 3/4 cup vanilla cookies into small crumbs.  Pour 1 tablespoon of melted butter on top of dish of crumbs, and use your hands to blend it all together.  Next, add 1/2 cup of strawberries to the blender and shred away.  Set these crumbs aside.

Once the ice cream is frozen, bring the popsicles out and use warm water to help remove them from the molds.  Allow the ice cream to melt just a little, to help the crumbs stick.  Next, place the bars into the cookie crumble, and cover using a spoon or your hands.  Then, add the strawberry crumbs, letting the bars thaw if you are having trouble getting the crumbs to stick.

Place these bars back into the freezer for 15 minutes, and wha-la! You have made those yummy strawberry bars the ice cream man used to deliver to your neighborhood.  Even better, these ones didn’t involve any animals!

Tip: Add some strawberries to the ice cream mix for a strawberry overload.

These bars are both vegan and gluten free.  What a great complement to this sunny day!

Good for the Heart

While going vegan may seem like it is good for the heart in terms of being kind to animals, it is also a healthier option than eating a diet consisting of meat.  When people discover they are at risk or diagnosed with heart disease, one of many doctors’ recommendations is reducing meat intake in the diet.  Why is this so?

According to WebMD, Harvard’s Health Blog, Cleveland Health Clinic, and many others, eating meat has a direct correlation to the development of heart disease.  A diet consisting of meat typically includes higher amounts of cholesterol than a plant-based diet, which is a direct cause of heart disease.  Cholesterol exists in the arteries, and gradually builds up over time.  This eventually narrows the arteries, making blood flow more difficult.  However, this cholesterol can be eliminated over time – if the consumption of such products is eliminated.  The body will work to reduce the amount of cholesterol, and ones’ risk of heart disease can decrease.

Red meat specifically, including lamb, beef, and venison, contain carnitine.  Carnitine is a protein building block converted by bacteria in the large intestine, which thickens the walls of arteries.  Typically, the redder the meat, the more carnitine it contains.  Carnitine triggers a certain reaction which can be dangerous for our health, if it occurs excessively.  Research shows that carnitine may also be found in energy drinks, egg yolks, and fatty meats.  Many doctors agree that deciding the eliminate meat from ones’ diet is a personal choice, however it is a choice that may assist in reducing problems of the heart.  It is also important to consider that ones’ family history plays a very important part in how heart disease may affect a person.  Additionally, vegans tend to be more health-conscientious than the typical meat eater, so the overall lifestyle may also have an impact on health.

Check out the following site for more information regarding vegans and diseases:

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/dxrates

 

 

 

That’s vegan?!

Eating vegan is not just carrots and celery.  Just about any dish can be made without animal products, and there are loads of snacks people already eat everyday without even knowing they are actually vegan!  Check out some snacks you may not have guessed were animal-free:

 

Oreos
Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Ritz Crackers
Unfrosted Poptarts
Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
Goya Flan
Nutter Butters
Nabisco Grahams
SuperPretzel Soft Pretzels
Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams
Super Sweet Chili Doritos
Cracker Jacks
Airhead Taffy
belVita Bites – Chocolate, Cinnamon Brown Sugar, Mixed Berry
Big League Chew Bubble Gum
Clif Bars
Dum Dums
Fruit by the Foot
Herr’s Onion Flavored Rings
Hubba Bubba gum
Jolly Rancher hard candy
Lay’s Potato Chips
Lay’s Kettle Cookied potato chips
Nabisco Ginger Snaps, Oreo Chocolate Cones, Saltine Crackers, Original Grahams
Smarties (U.S. only)
Sour Patch Kids
SunChips Original
Tic Tacs
Zotz
Velamints
Wheat Thins
Wise Onion Rings
Smucker’s Uncrustables
Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch
Aunt Jemima Pancake/Waffle Mix
Thomas’s New York Style Bagels
Unforsted Poptarts

Red Bull
Monster
Kool-Aid Drink Mix
Minute-Maid Frozen Juice Bars, Lemonades, Individual Cups

Luigi’s Real Italian Ice
Keebler Fudge Shoppe Fudge Pops
Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle Icing
Duncan Hines Cake Mix
Jello-O Instant Pudding Mix
Smucker’s Marshmellow Ice Cream Topping
Sara Lee’s Frozen Pie
Ghirardelli Chocolate Brownie Mix
Krispy Kreme Fruit Pies
Life Original Cereal
Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite-size
Baker’s Baking Chocolate Bar (Unsweetened and Semi-Sweet)
Tropical Source Dark Chocolate Chips

Crisco No-Stick Cooking Spray
Campbell’s Mushroom Gravy
Classico Bruschetta
McCormick French Onion Dip Mix
Old El Paso Seasoning Mix
Smucker’s Ice Cream Topping

 

 

Next time you go to the grocery store, you may realize cutting out animal products is not as difficult as one may think.  A simple search on the internet will provide loads of snacks to try while living a vegan lifestyle!