Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Afternoon I Turned Into A Tomato

Today as I was making lunch I noticed a hot sensation in my face and began to wonder... So I went over to a mirror and to my dismay my face was beet red and it was spreading in blotches down my body! What could this possibly be!? Well I did buy a different kind of vegetarian multi-vitamins this week, maybe that had something to do with it. On the label, I discovered the answer: "Contains niacin, which may cause harmless and transient flushing and itching". Damn you niacin for temporarily turning me a different colour and making me "flush" uncomfortably!

What's the difference between a standard once-a-day multi-vitamin and a vegetarian multi-vitamin? What's the deal with niacin?

A vegetarian multi-vitamin will usually contain more variations of the B vitamin, especially that of B12 which is the hardest B vitamin to acquire on a veg diet.

Meat-eaters consume B minerals largely in animal products but they are found in many types of food as all vitamins are.

Niacin is also referred to as Vitamin B3, making in a part of the B vitamin category.

Niacin or B3 is also found in a variety of food sources but as I learned on Wellness Blog our body makes the niacin we need from tryptophan, an amino acid obtained from protien. Since veg's eat alternative protiens, niacin is included in some but not all vegetarian multi-vitamins.

The purpose of consuming Niacin in mineral form is rooted in treating various deficiencies

After some investigation I found that what I experienced is an almost always reported side effect of consuming niacin. I knew I should have followed the directions and not taken the 2 capsules on an empty stomach, a factor which severely increases the chances of turning into a tomato. Half an hour later and back in my everyday skin. Since I do not have any singular problem or deficiency which I would need niacin for, I am not going to continue taking this particular multi-vitamin! I can get B vitamins by finding another brand or switching back to the other non-side-effective one I was taking which did not contain B3. I will switch back to the multi-vitamin that I was taking before. Upon looking into it I actually found that it also contains B3 as most veg multi-vitamins do except they have a time release that prevents flushing completely! Goodbye neck and facial flushing!

Check out the Wellness Blog post about finding the right multi-vitamin to learn more about vitamins and why certain kinds of people, such as vegetarians, should be concerned about them more than the average bear.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mmmm...meatless chicken noodle soup

My last post ended off with David Suzuki's challenge to have "meat-free-Mondays". It seems this is a popular idea as I found on the Meatless Monday website! I found a recipe for meatless chicken noodle soup when not feeling well and craving any sort of childhood ailment comfort. Ginger ale and crackers out of the way, as a vegetarian i have missed the comfort of chicken noodle soup! You know, the soothing feeling - the one that makes you feel like you are recovering from what ever is making you sick. This just shows that with a few alterations to your favourite menu items, meatless options are an easy possibility!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eco-Footprint of Food is the Key to Saving the World!!!

Ecological Footprint: Measures human impact upon the environment - how much space or productive land is needed to support an individual's lifestyle. The larger the footprint the more impact the individual has on the Earth.
Ok so it is important to first acknowledge that we all impact each other and everything by every choice we make, conscious of it or not. This is really at the heart of thinking of the ecological footprint simply as the consequences of our actions on the environment. One of the main factors surrounding all this is where and how we come to acquire the food on our plate and what we choose to eat. The current industrial food system is perpetuating that the lack of choice we have when it comes to how our food is grown, processed and transported and is responsible for a number of environmental effects.David Suzuki is pretty much the best Canadian ever. One reason is that he highlights the importance of the "ecological footprint of food" in his latest publication David Suzuki's Green Guide (printed on forest friendly paper of course!). According to Suzuki, one of the most environmentally sensible ways you can cut down on your ecological footprint is by being aware of what you eat. He goes into depth about them in Chapter 3 of his Green Guide:

"Producing meat uses vast volumes of water"

"the amount of grain fed to livestock in the U.S. could feed about 840 million people on a plant-based diet"

"By eating a local, organic, and predominately plant-based diet you can reduce the ecological footprint of the food you eat by as much as 90%"

"Compared to plant protien, red meat is responsible for 6-20 times the land use, 5-17 times the water pollution, and 5-25 times the water use "

It is all about the realization that you have the power to directly influence the demand for alternative choices that will help to create a new food system. One with less impinging on the lives of animals and lowering the level of violence. One with the potential for more equal distribution of food throughout the world. One that is sustainable: creating healthy bodies and healthy local food economies.
"Eating is an agricultural act, a biological act, a social act, an economic act, and a political act. With every meal you can vote for the food system that you would like to see".
Find out how productive and easy it is to think about these simple choices which literally effect the world - Drastically Lower Your Eco-Footprint of Food by:

1. Eating less meat, eggs and dairy products
-the most environmentally damaging foods that people consume!

2. Choosing Local Food
-this reduces "food miles" which is the energy used to transport food far distances and back so as to be produced

3. Buying Organic Products
-avoid synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics

4. Whole Foods Over Processed Foods
-whole foods consist of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and beans that have not been extensively processed or refined

5. Consuming Fewer Calories
-higher quality whole foods with a lower consumption quantity

6. Avoid Bottled Water
-the bottles themselves are made of plastic that is energy and water intensive to make

My favourite one David Suzuki Nature Challenge is "Meat-Free-Mondays", encouraging meat eaters to cut out meat one day a week to acquire a perspective. This challenge especially illustrates how easy it can be and how much there is to learn about how even one meat-free day can help you reduce your ecological footprint. (Yes, this challenge is for YOU!)