Saturday, October 31, 2009

Update On Personal Challenge

I was able to put in a good 12.8km run tonight between work and the Halloween festivities. My map got a lot of extra red put on it. I decided mid-run that I'm going to change the rules slightly for this challenge. It's my challenge and I can do that! I've excluded any roads that are cul-de-sacs or dead ends. I've never lived on a cul-de-sac so I feel I have no need to respect their existence. Besides, they're an un-sociable road. They only want to be friends with one other road - two roads is way too many.

However, if I can, I will run on as many dead ends as I can before the November 16 deadline. The best thing is, my achilles did not bother me over my almost 13km today and there was a significant amount of hills on the run. That bodes well in the completion of this challenge before jetting off to Panama.

Here's the latest map udpate:

Here are links to my other posts for this challenge:

10 Things You Can Do On World Veg Day 2009

Tomorrow is World Veg Day and is the kickoff to World Veg Month. Since, most likely, if you don't live in one of the world's major cities, your town is probably not having an event to celebrate this day, what can you day to make your mark? There are many things that little old you can do to promote Veganism and get the info out. Here are 10 ways I came up with:

  • Make a delicious vegan dish for family and friends to share and wait for them to say, "Holy shit! This is what you eat? I thought you just ate bean sprouts and lettuce..."
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about the benefits of eliminating animal products from our lives - and dare them to publish it. It would actually be doing them a favour because they would have reaction letters for weeks to come.
  • Since the day falls on a Sunday this year, chances are you might be sitting around watching a sporting event with friends and/or family. Make sure to mention the professional athletes that adhere to a vegan lifestyle.
  • Visit a vegan restaurant and give them the business they deserve and need in order to survive. If your town doesn't have a vegan restaurant but you find yourself in a local eatery, make sure to point out their lack of vegan friendly meals (or compliment them if they do have these items).
  • Bring to light the fact that this is the 65th anniversary of Donald Watson coining the term 'Vegan'.
  • Since the Gorilla is the mascot of this year's vegan day, bring to light the fact the one of the largest, strongest mammals on earth (and a direct relative of ours) is vegan.
  • Since Veganism and the environment are so closely tied, make an effort to leave the car in the driveway today.
  • Try a fruit or vegetable that you've never tried before.
  • Visit an animal shelter and walk one of the dogs (if allowed...).
  • Write a letter to your local school board, asking why they don't offer vegan options in the school cafeterias (compliment them if they do...).

Of course, these are things we should be doing EVERY day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Coconut In Your Diet

I love coconut. One of my favourite parts about taking vacations down in the Caribbean is getting groundskeepers to lop the top off a fresh fallen coconut to get at the milk. Of course, it doesn't stop there. The meat of a fresh fallen coconut is simply something that can never be experienced from a grocery store bought version in frosty Canada.

While at home, I have several cans of coconut water every week. A company called Grace imports to Canada and their stock is found in most grocery stores. I also use coconut milk as a cooking ingredient in many of my dishes.

Like all good things, coconut has some supposed faults. I'm sure you've heard the coconut is high in fat. You may have also been told that coconut is a natural laxative. As for the laxative part, coconut has never really had an effect on me. As for the fat part, it turns out that the fat contained in coconut is nothing but good for the body.

Click on the following link to read a great story about the health benefits of coconut.

coconut in your diet

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Challenge Update and My Opinion On H1N1 Hype

I took yesterday off to rest my achilles. It feels pretty good after putting in 8.7km tonight and making my map a little redder. I played hockey last night and it really seems to be the miracle cure for the achilles problems. The day after playing hockey, I can feel no pain at all in the heel.

Here's my pretty map:

About the H1N1 hysteria...

Anything that the government and the media are hyping as urgent, can only mean there's a hidden motive. I, nor anyone in my family, will not be taking any vaccine that has been created and mass produced in such a short time with supposedly already known side effects. Especially, since it is for a virus that, in reality, affects very few people in proportion to the population and kills an even lesser amount. I've heard it said by reputed doctors, even on mainstream media, that the odds of dying from H1N1 are about 1 in 8,000,000. I like them odds.

For all those germiphobes out there, that do nothing else to ensure a healthy body, but believe constantly washing your hands is going to be your saviour: think about all the hands that have touched every food product you buy at the grocery store. Are you scrubbing down those cans and jars? Are you really cleaning your raw fruits and vegetables? What do you do with the receipt that the cashier with the germ covered hands has just ripped off the cash register and handed to you? She/he also had her/his fingers all over your credit card, debit card or cash change.

The cure for this and any other manufactured virus, is to eat properly, exercises daily and sleep when needed. What we don't need is more crap injected into our systems. It seems in the last 10 years, governments of the world have done nothing to calm and ensure their citizens. Instead, they seem to thrive on creating hysteria and paranoia. What is their motive? It certainly makes the citizens of the developed world live in fear. Are they trying to keep us from travelling to less developed countries and realizing that we don't really have it as good as we've been told? Are they trying to suppress us so that we buy and use less products and commodities and therefore bring down the economies of emerging markets such as China, India and the Middle East?

I'm certainly not one to throw a complete blind eye to threats to my health. I just believe that H1N1 (or heiny - 'high knee' - as my 85 year old Mom calls it), SARS, Avian Flu or any other virus of the day can be overcome and even prevented by living a healthy, vegan lifestyle. One must also go against the western world's idea that sleep is bad and lazy and missing work is such a mortal sin. Sleep cures all. Work just isn't that friggin' important.

My message is: Don't succumb to the paranoia. Continue to live a healthy, active vegan lifestyle and we'll all disappoint the politicians when their game doesn't go as planned. Yes, I still support non-violence but I'm also feeling rebellious lately. Don't even get me started on the Catholic School Board in my area banning Halloween costumes from school!

To follow my latest challenge, check out these posts:

Update 1

Update 2

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Challenge Update

Here's the latest update on my latest personal challenge. Okay, it's a little crappy quality but I've scanned up a map of Orangeville and I'm using the old-reliable Microsoft Paint to fill in the roads I've run on. I put in between 7 and 8 km tonight and filled the map in a little more. I may have screwed up my Achilles tendon again, though. I had a sharp pain early on going up a particularly steep hill for Orangeville. I was able to finish up the rest of the run in relative comfort and actually did the run at a decent pace even though I was trying to shuffle along as slow as possible.

Here's the blank map of Orangeville:

Here's what I've run so far. The roads in red are obviously the ones I've knocked off:

Just an update on some important dates coming up very soon:

November 1 - Of course, it's World Vegan Day! I'll be celebrating on Sunday, I hope you will be too.

November 4 - Celebrating my first full year of being Vegan! I'll be cooking up a storm on that day.

November 16 - I depart with 28 of my closest friends and family members for two weeks at the Decameron Beach Resort in Panama! Actually, the last two days will be at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort on the Canal. Of course, the highlight of the trip will be my wedding!

There will certainly be more to come on the challenge at the other three items happening in November.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Personal Challenge: Run All The Streets Of Orangeville

I've slacked off on major personal challenges lately but the running season ended last weekend with the Vulture Bait 25km Trail Race and I've got three weeks before I'm in hot and sunny Panama for two weeks. That gives me three weeks to do something with my running that I've wanted to do for a long time: Cover all the streets in my town, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada.
If you want to find Orangeville on Google Earth, just input into the 'fly to' box, these co-ordinates: 43 55.0682N 80 05.5114W and you should be directed right to the centre of town. Orangeville is not a large town at approximately 6km long from east to west and 4km from north to south. With a population of 30,0000, it serves mostly as a bedroom community for people who work in the Greater Toronto Area.
I'm going into this challenge having done absolutely no math on if this is possible in three weeks or not and what mileage I'll need to put in on a nightly basis if I'm to seriously consider completing this. I'm pretty sure it can be done - I just have a good feeling! One of my rules for this challenge is that all runs must start from my home on William Street. My strategy is to plan each night's run to hit a point on the outskirts of town before returning on a different route. With a series of runs that kind of look like a spirograph drawing from the 1970's, it should be fairly easy to cover all the pavement in a fairly efficient manner.
I started this challenge last night with a 7.8km run through town. I'm taking tonight off and will be back at it tomorrow night. I'm just in the process of getting a semi-interactive map up so that I can post my updates in a graphic form. Wish me luck - I wasn't overly successful in a few of my challenges over the summer, so I'm looking for a big win with this one.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ten Commandments Of Shinny Hockey

Adult pickup hockey, or shinny, is still growing exponentially in Canada. Once a sport that was played as a youth and hardly ever played after the age of 19, now is so popular with adults that some arenas in major cities have been built specifically for adult hockey. In saying that, there are a lot of adults that are picking up the game for the first time in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. Like any sport, many non-participants have been long time fans of the game and have watched their favourite pro team on the television for years.

This is an issue. Learning a sport from watching professionals on television has some advantages but is not an accurate method for learning to play at the recreational level. For one thing, what the camera captures in only a fraction of the game. The camera only follows the puck but a lot of the game is played off the puck. The other issue is the aggression level at the pro level. This should not translate to recreational hockey, obviously. Unfortunately, it does.

My ten commandments of shinny hockey have been rolling around in my head for years. I play a lot of ‘unsupervised’ pickup hockey and I see a lot of things that just make me shake my head. Of course, it’s not the new players fault. There is no guidebook handed out when someone walks into the dressing room for the first time. Hopefully, my ten commandments will serve as this guide for whoever reads this post. The great thing is that most of the commandments can be translated to any other sport.

1. Shots above the shin pads are allowed only when there is absolutely no other player between the shooter and the goalie.

2. Despite the fact that you don’t feel tired, you must take your turn coming off the ice so that everyone gets an equal amount of ice time.

3. Once the goalie has made a save and the puck is in relative tight quarters to his body, the play is over. Thou shalt not dig at the goalie’s glove hoping for a hack goal. Goalies for shinny are a premium and the last thing anyone needs is a goalie with a broken hand or just does not want to come out anymore because someone is constantly hacking at him.

4. Under absolutely no circumstances should your stick be above your waist. If the puck is in the air, let it go or use your glove to pull the puck down.

5. Realise that there is no possible chance your performance will give you a shot at making the NHL.

6. Give the newer, weaker players a chance. Some players are getting their first taste of hockey in their adult life and don’t have the luxury of decades of playing the game. If we don’t give them a chance, they will quit and we won’t have enough players to pay the bills to keep the ice.

7. When your side scores, for god sakes, at least let the other team come out to centre with the puck before stripping them of the puck and scoring again.

8. Do not, ever, provide the guy who’s renting the ice with any undue stress by showing up without the right amount of money. This guy has put a heavy amount of money on the line to ensure you have a place to play hockey every week.

9. Give the benefit of the doubt to the other team on offensive off-sides and icings. Throw the puck in the corner, and clear out of the zone.

10. There are no referees, scorekeepers, scouts, agents, coaches, trainers and/or fans attending these events. You and everyone else is there to have fun and get some exercise. Make sure you have fun and get some exercise.

As a side note, if anyone that reads this lives in the Orangeville, Ontario area and is interested in playing some pickup hockey but doesn't know how to get involved, let me know and I should be able to set you up.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Importance of Zinc in the Diet and other Updates

Zinc is an essential nutrient very important in many aspects of human metabolism. Adults males need 13 mg of zinc per day and adult females need 8 mg per day. Zinc deficiency can result in stunted growth and / or delayed sexual maturity.

Nuts, potatoes, and beans are all high in zinc, however, most fruits and vegetables contain some zinc and a varied daily diet will most likely ensure that the RDA is achieved. The standard daily vitamin contains around 7.5 mg, so if you're on a one-a-day, it won't take much at all to achieve your daily goal.

World Cup Animal Sacrifice Update

I posted yesterday about the breaking news regarding South Africa's decision to potentially have animal sacrifice rituals at each of the ten stadiums that will host the 2010 World Cup of soccer. As I expected, the issue has exploded fast. I have found one petition site that is trying to put pressure on the World Cup officials to deny this request for such a barbaric and immoral act. Click here to go to that site.

New Recipe In Progress

I started meddling with a new guacamole recipe today and though it is not perfect, I thought I'd share it with you and if anyone can add the perfecting touch to it, let me know. Basically, it's a mix of raw, mashed avocados, a small tin of tomato paste, and a tiny jar of marinated artichoke hearts.
I only used two avocados because despite the fact I have a tray full of avocados in the fridge, only two were ripe enough to be mashed with ease. I didn't add the juice from the marinated artichokes but did save the juice for another cooking venture. I added my garlic powder, black pepper and celery salt in unmeasured doses.
So basically, I ate it all and my stomach had no complaints. I spread it on crackers and it certainly made the staleness of the open package of crackers much more bearable. It could use about two more avocados to weaken the tin of tomato paste. The addition of lemon juice would probably add to the final product. I also think next time, very thinly diced mushrooms will be involved.
Guacamole is one of the vegan highlights of the world. There are literally thousands of variations to be found on the internet and with the magical taste and versatility of the avocado, it is very hard to find a variation that doesn't work.

For A Great Read...

Check out this website. . Tynan is a very interesting cat living a nomad or vagabond lifestyle. He lives out of an RV when in North America and out of a backpack when anywhere else in the world. And yes, he is a vegan. He has produced an e-book that can be downloaded from his site for a donation you deem appropriate. The book covers how to be a nomad. Even if that is not your plan, there is great advice on how to travel cheaply and efficiently and how to embrace a minimalist lifestyle.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Animal Sacrifices for World Cup 2010????

I've just read some disturbing news that seems to be making its way onto the internet. The South Africans plan to hold an animal sacrifice ritual at each of the ten stadiums that will play host the the 2010 World Cup of Soccer. I don't see anything on PETA's site about this but I'm sure that a response is not that far off.
These sacrifices are in the name of Native traditions and have been, for the most part, shrugged off my the media as some exotic ceremony that the rest of the world has no business stopping.
I'm a huge World Cup fan, but I can't support something like this. I'm hoping that outside pressure will stop this from happening.
Get the gory details here:

The Goods On Spaghetti Squash

It's autumn in Southern Ontario and that means it's squash season. One of the tastiest yet one of the more overlooked is the Spaghetti Squash. This yellow fleshed delight is easy cook and even easier to eat. The only question is whether to cut before or after cooking. The skin of the Spaghetti Squash is quite tough when raw.

If you cut before baking, it is suggested to clean out the 'guts', cut into two halves and bake for 10 minutes at 350, cut side down. After the ten minutes, flip the halves over and bake for another 20 or so minutes.

If you don't cut, bake at 375 for 1 hour but before putting in the oven, pierce the squash with a sharp knife in a few locations so that the squash does not blow up in your oven. After an hour, take the squash out of the oven and cut in half. Remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.

The reason why it is called Spaghetti Squash is because the flesh separates into thin strips that resemble strands of spaghetti. Form follows function (or, I guess, function follows form...) and one of the best ways to eat the squash is as a substitute for pasta.

The way I like to prepare Spaghetti Squash is by baking the whole squash for an hour while preparing a tomato based sauce on the stove top. I start with some sauteed onions mixed with a cubed zucchini squash. Once the onions have browned, I add a can of crushed tomatoes (or a mason jar of homemade, Italian-style tomato sauce). I add garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning, black pepper and turmeric and let the mixture simmer until the squash is done. When all is cooked, I scoop out the flesh from the squash. I put a serving on a plate then cover it in the sauce.

The Spaghetti Squash is not a essential nutrient powerhouse but does contain a decent amount of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and Manganese. The seeds can be roasted in the same manner as you would Pumpkin seeds and have a very similar taste.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Race Rating: Vulture Bait 25k Trail Race

It was during the beautiful 25km journey through the trails along the shores of Fanshawe Lake in London, Ontario that I realized my rating system was flawed and gave too much emphasis to things that only big budget, big draw races could provide. I resolved to amend the rating system for 2010 with a handicapping option that would help reflect the true quality of the race.
Until then, I would like to note that the Vulture Bait race was one of my favourites and has spurred me on to participate in the Ontario Trail Series next season and possibly the Ontario Ultra Series in 2011.
But, to be fair to the other races I've completed this season, I will rate the Vulture Run according to the original rating system.

  1. Bathroom facilities - 3 (plenty of park facilities and a forest full of other options)
  2. Race day organization - 3 (a running race run by runners - can you ask for anything more?)
  3. Course scenery - 3 (autumn in the woods in Southwestern Ontario - awesome!)
  4. Course creativity - 3 (despite the obvious run around a lake, the race took advantage of pretty much all of the conservation area's nature trails)
  5. Value - 3 (great value!)
  6. Shirt or gift - 3 (the shirt was very basic with nothing at all on the front and a text line on the back. normally, I would find this to not be a good thing, but in this case, it represented the race to a T. no flash, no phony crap - just the basics. just the running)
  7. Parking availability - 3 (free, bountiful and at the start line)
  8. Website quality - 2 (all the basics - could have had more race day details)
  9. Online registration - 3 (very simple)
  10. Accessible for spectators - 3 (because roads also circle the lake, the trails intersected at several points and gave supporters the opportunity to see their runners at many locations)
  11. Convenience of race packet pickup -3 (race day only - no need to take the day before to go to some inconvenient hotel banquet hall to pickup)
  12. Pre-race expo - 0 (not available)
  13. Entertainment on course - 1 (no official entertainment, but car stereos were blaring at more than one water station)
  14. Post race food - 3 (as this also serves as the year end banquet for the Ontario Ultra Series and the Ontario Trail Series, the food was pretty darn good. I could only eat the salad, however, if I'd inquired, I think the bountiful lasagna and pasta may have been void of meat)
  15. Race day vendors/exhibitors - 0 (but that's okay...)
  16. Volunteers/marshalls/police & emergency services support - 3 (as usual... most were runners and were full of info and sincere encouragement)

Well, apparently my rating system can reflect the true quality of this race. At 39 points, this is by far my highest rated race this season, 5 points higher than the next best, the Run for the Grapes Half in St. Catherines last month.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vulture Bait 25k Trail Run: Race Report

The weather co-operated nicely! Although frosty and around zero near the start of the race, the temps rose to scorching highs of around 8 celcius during the run. The wind was negligible and the surface conditions of the trails could not have been better. In contrast, the morning before, the city of London was blanketing in a white layer of snow.

I reached my goals that I laid out in this post. I finished wonderfully injury free. At no point in the run did I even have to slow down in fear of a twinge turning into a tear or strain.

I enjoyed seeing the old trails that I spent so much time on 16 years ago. I was disappointed that the race didn't run down my baby - a trail extension that I built. In fact, I missed the entrance to the trail and I'm under the impression that they may have closed it off.

I finished in 2 hours and 31 minutes. I was a minute over pace at 5km and 7km then I never saw a marker until the finish line. Finishing with little struggle and only a minute over 6 minute km pace has to be attributed partially to the fact there were no km markers. I didn't have to think and calculate every passing kilometer. I just relaxed and enjoyed the trail scenery. The fact that the trail was thin enough at points that passing was almost impossible, made me slow down and take a rest every so often when I got behind a pack of runners. And yes, I was able to be back in Orangeville to watch my oldest son play his hockey game.

The shirt and medal were pretty cool. Not flashy, but to the point. Just like everything else that made this event wonderful. It was a running event for runners. There were no packs of joggers that had been training for a whole month leading up to the event. There's nothing wrong with that, it's great that thousands of people embark on a running journey with little or no training each weekend, but the distance and the running surface here called to a different type of runner.

There was no speech by some local celebrity at the starting line. There was no aerobics warmup put on by some local fitness club before the race. There was no starters pistol blast or air horn to signify the start of the race. Apparently, someone said 'go' and we 'went'.

Throughout the 25km, whenever I was around other runners, I enjoyed listening in on their conversations. For a lot of the runners, this was the last in the Ontario Ultra Series and many were running the 50km race. With the relative silence of the wooded trail, it was quite easy to listen in on conversations many metres away. I listened to more than one conversation that evolved around how they were going to do at the Toronto Marathon - the next morning! One guy was doing the 50km then the Toronto Marathon then a 90km somewhere in the U.S. next weekend.
I forgot to enquire at the finish line whether there was an award for the most falls on the course. I went down twice, tripping on roots. On the first, I had an audience as I somersaulted down the trail. On the second I was alone - too bad, I was much more spectacular. I was disappointed that I didn't draw a trickle of blood down from my knee to impress the spectators and other runners!
The after race meal was pretty spectacular - for a non-vegan. Lasagna, meatballs and caesar salad was on the menu.

In short, I loved this race. More to the point, I loved this running community. It's a running community that I want to be part of. I'm not sure I can be ready for a full Ultra Series next season, but I definitely want to move in that direction (yes - running the actual ultra distances and not the junior version like I did yesterday). I've also realized that when I do my race rating in the next couple of days, the love of this race will not be reflected in my race rating system. I think I have to revamp the race rating system for next season by maybe changing categories or adding a handicapping system for races under 1000 entrants - there are simply things that smaller races cannot or will not provide that the bigger ones can. These items (on-course entertainment, pre-race expos, super ultra websites), I've realized, although making the whole event experience better, these items do nothing to make the race better. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vulture Bait 25k Trail Run: Pre-Race

Just got back from my last training run before Saturday's 25k trail race. I felt sluggish but finished the 8.5ish km run without any serious problems with the achilles, calfs, hamstrings, etc...

The Vulture Bait 25k is a loop around Fanshawe Lake in London, Ontario. The main event is the 50k, which, of course, is a double loop. 50k is not my thing yet but hopefully by this time next year I will have tasted my first ultra (and lived to tell the story).

I'm off after work tomorrow (Friday) to spend the night at the ol' family home in Byron (west-end London) with Mom and Dad. Then it's off to the far Northeast end of town for the 9am start. The start time is perfect for those like me who absolutely do not like to rise early on weekends. It also will give the air a chance to warm up out of the negative digits (celcius).

The weather shouldn't be a huge factor mid-October in Southwestern Ontario but as it has for the past many, many months, the temps are way below normal and the air is going to be crisp on Saturday AM. At least, the sun should be shining and hopefully the winds will stay calm.
My goals for this run are pretty simple:
  • finish without tearing any of the iffy muscles and tendons that have signalled that my body has peaked already for the season. My message to them is that after Saturday, it'll just be nice easy runs mixed with hockey for the next month. Then the big treat comes when they get to do nice barefoot jogs on the beach in Panama for two weeks.
  • enjoy and reminisce about the trails that I helped maintain and build for a summer back in 1993 when I was a college student. 'Trail Guy' I believe was my official title that summer as I was hired as a fresh student out of the Parks and Forest Recreation program at Sir Sanford Fleming College in metropolitan Lindsay, Ontario.
  • be done in time to be back to Orangeville to watch my oldest son's hockey game at 2:30.
  • snag a pretty cool shirt that should make me look like a rugged, tough guy - it will say 50k on it as well and if people assume that I was tough enough to go in that, well, I'll just have to let them think that...

That's it! Hopefully I'll have nothing but good things to say on the other side.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day

Thursday, October 15 is Blog Action Day, an initiative powered by to bring to light the need to change our ways and change our ways now. Specifically, the initiative means to inform about Global Warming and encourage all to do all possible to change so that there is an 'us' in years to come.

As a Vegan and a Vegan blogger, I would like to focus on the effects that adopting a vegan diet has directly on the environment and ultimately on slowing down and even stopping Global Warming.

By more and more of the world moving away from a meat diet and towards a vegan diet, essentially factory farming and livestock farming in general will be greatly reduced and hopefully eventually eliminated. Raising livestock has been proven to be the primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity and with all these factors put together Global Warming is the ultimate result.

Here are some facts as to why damage at this magnitude is done by simply raising livestock for food:

  • 10x the amount of crops are needed to feed these animals that are meant to feed humans than if the crops went directly into the mouths of men, women and children.

  • livestock agriculture takes up 70% of all agricultural land and 30% of the total land surface of the earth.

  • 70% of the former Amazon rainforest is used as pastureland with the rest used to crow crops to feed these animals.

  • methane and nitrous oxide are responsible for 1/3 of the warming since the beginning of the industrial revolution - gases that primarily come from the digestive processes of farm animals.

  • animal agriculture is responsible for 9% of carbon dioxide emissions, 37% of methane emissions and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions.

  • meat consumption has increased 5 fold in the past 50 years.

  • livestock agriculture emits 2/3's of the acid rain causing ammonia.

  • 5 million tons of manure are produced every single day in the U.S. - ultimately, this oozes into the water system, polluting drinking water and killing sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

  • livestock agriculture is responsible for 19% of the USA's overall energy consumption.

It's like we're paying a dollar for 4 nickels because we like the shiny colour of the coin and we have a thing for the picture that is minted on it. Sooner than later, we're going to run out of dollars. I know that I'm preaching to the converted on this blog but every angle you look at it, there is no place for the consumption of meat on this planet. There is simply no logical reason to eat the flesh of another living being. It is environmentally, economically, morally, spiritually wrong and it is nothing but a death excelerant where human health is concerned.

By adopting a vegan diet, you help to eliminate the effects of livestock farming. The more you subject others to your uncompromising resolve, the more others will see the positive effects and the more you will influence others to learn the facts and change their ways.

Remember: Lead by example. Provide accurate information when requested. Always maintain your resolve.

Essential Nutrients - Part I

essential nutrients
This is the first in a series of post discovering the essential nutrients that the body needs. I am not a nutritionist and everything I post on nutrition is something I've researched and learned about quite recently. If anyone spots something that is not correct or can add anything to the discussion, please do so.
Today, we'll take a look at vitamin A, C, D, E and K. We'll look at why each is essential to our good health and what foods can provide us with a substantial amount of these vitamins. For my list of power foods, high in essential nutrients, see this post.

Vitamin A

Is essential for:
  • maintaining the immune system
  • maintains vision
  • differentiation of cells

Plant based foods providing Vitamin A:

  • carrots
  • apricots
  • pumpkin
  • sweet potatoes
  • red pepper
  • melons

Vitamin C

Is essential for:

  • the formation and maintenance of connective tissue
  • essential for amino acid metabolism
  • protects the system from chemicals

Plant based foods providing vitamin C:

  • red pepper
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • kale

Vitamin D

Is essential for:

  • helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus

Plant based foods providing vitamin D:

  • no plant based foods naturally contain vitamin D, however, we can absorb plenty enough from sunlight, even on a cloudy day to meat our requirements

Vitamin E

Is essential for:

  • having an anti-oxidant effect and clearing free radicals from the body
  • improves blood glucose metabolism - great for diabetics
  • keeps arteries from clogging by not allowing bad cholesterol to oxidize
  • helps speed up the healing process for cuts

Plant based foods containing vitamin E:

  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • broccoli
  • soybean
  • kiwi
  • mango
  • spinach

Vitamin K

Is essential for:

  • helping blood to clot
  • helps regulate flow of calcium to tissue and to bones
  • keeps calcium out of the arteries

Plant based foods containing vitamin K:

  • beet greens
  • swiss chard
  • collards
  • romaine lettuce
  • kale

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rating 99 Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts

Rating 99 fruits, vegetables and nuts for essential nutrients
I'm always getting asked if I'm getting all my essential nutrients being on a vegan diet. My answer is always, "Of course." Then under my breath, I say, "At least, more than you my meat and potato eating friend." Then I wonder, "Am I getting all the essential nutrients? What the hell are the essential nutrients?"
I've really started doing the research and crunching the numbers to learn what the hell this body really needs and what can most efficiently fulfill those needs. My first in a series of posts on this topic is a rating system I came up with. I'm big on rating systems...
Using data from, I've made a simple system taking each of the fruits, vegetables or nuts that I've chosen and given 5 points for every essential nutrient where that item provides 25% or more of the daily RDA in a 100 gram serving. If the item provides 15-24% of the daily RDA of an essential nutrient, 3 points are given for each. If the item provides 5-14%, 1 point each is given.
Keep in mind, to give each item equal ground, all are measured in their raw state and all info is for a 100 gram serving. This may skew items like the Sunflower Seed as 100 grams is a fair amount of Sunflower Seeds!
In following posts, I will cover just what the essential nutrients are; How much of each vitamin, mineral, fats, proteins and carbs we need each day; What powerhouse non-meat sources can provide your daily RDA in just one serving; What essentials are fully covered by a one-a-day vitamin; etc.
I am not a dietitian, by any means, but I hope this ratings list will provide everyone with some great info when choosing what to eat for meals and snacks. I do have to apologize for the crooked formatting - Excel does not go into Blogger well so the spacing was all done manually...

Food 25%+ 15-24% 5-14% Rating
sunflower seed 14 3 2 81
peanut 12 4 3 75
lentils 12 2 6 72
sesame seed 12 3 2 71
pistachio 10 2 9 65
cashew 11 2 4 65
walnut 9 3 6 60
almond 8 5 3 58
spinach 5 3 9 43
chicory greens 4 3 9 38
green peas 2 5 11 36
beet greens 3 4 8 35
swiss chard 3 2 10 31
brussels sprouts 2 4 8 30
kale 4 0 10 30
collards 4 0 8 28
okra 3 1 10 28
parsnips 3 2 7 28
coconut 3 1 10 28
avocado 2 2 11 27
navy beans canned 0 5 11 26
durian 2 3 7 26
watercress 3 0 10 25
romaine lettuce 4 0 5 25
artichoke 0 5 9 24
broccoli 2 1 11 24
chickpeas canned 1 3 10 24
blackberry 3 1 5 23
jalapeno peppers 2 1 9 22
asparagus 1 1 13 21
bell peppers red 2 1 8 21
butternut squash 2 0 10 20
white mushrooms 0 4 7 19
broccoli stalks 1 1 11 19
guava 1 1 10 18
raspberry 3 0 3 18
green beans 1 1 9 17
banana peppers 1 1 9 17
shallot 0 3 8 17
red kidney beans canned 0 1 14 17
loganberry 2 1 4 17
kiwi 2 0 6 16
white potato 1 1 8 16
cabbage 2 0 5 15
radicchio 1 2 4 15
sweet potato 1 0 10 15
papaya 2 0 5 15
pineapple 2 0 5 15
cauliflower 1 1 6 14
rutabaga 1 0 9 14
breadfruit 1 1 6 14
blackcurrant 1 0 9 14
cassava 1 1 6 14
carrot 1 0 8 13
pumpkin 1 1 5 13
mango 1 1 5 13
pomegranate 0 3 4 13
beet root 1 1 4 12
celeriac 1 0 7 12
yellow corn 0 0 12 12
cantaloupe 2 0 2 12
red tomato 2 0 2 12
banana 0 2 6 12
celery 1 0 6 11
bell peppers green 1 0 6 11
blueberry 0 3 2 11
zucchini 1 0 6 11
iceberg lettuce 1 0 5 10
rhubarb 1 0 5 10
apricot 1 1 2 10
green grape 0 2 4 10
orange 1 0 5 10
strawberry 1 1 2 10
clementine 1 0 4 9
cranberry 0 2 3 9
jackfruit 0 0 9 9
red radish 1 0 3 8
turnip 1 0 3 8
mandarin 1 0 3 8
persimmon 1 0 3 8
quince 1 0 3 8
honey dew melon 1 0 2 7
pink grapefruit 1 0 2 7
chicory raw 0 0 7 7
lemon 1 0 1 6
lime 1 0 1 6
red plum 0 1 3 6
onion 0 0 5 5
fig 0 0 5 5
nectarine 0 0 5 5
eggplant 0 0 4 4
cucumbers 0 1 1 4
red cherry 0 0 4 4
peach 0 0 4 4
bosc pear 0 0 3 3
watermelon 0 0 2 2
apple 0 0 1 1

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Georges Laraque Update - Bringing Veganism to the Habs

George Laraque Habs Vegan Update
Big Georges has finally given us an update on his blog and is indeed still following the vegan diet. Georges is feeling awesome and the Montreal Canadiens are looking like they are going to be a strong contender in the 2009-10 NHL season.

I had planned on doing some spotlight posts on other 'famous' athletic vegans, but it's hockey season in Canada (actually, hockey season is 12 months a year in Canada...) and Georges is on the television at the moment taking on the Edmonton Oilers. So, I felt it was time for a follow-up to my previous post on the big man.

Just last week, Georges and the team were actually in my little town (Orangeville, ON, CA) for a few evenings. There is a christian sports camp just to the south of town that often hosts professional and international amateur hockey teams for mini-camps and retreats. Teen Ranch is also host to yours truly twice a week for shinny hockey that comes really close to the level of the Canadiens! I was sent a hazy cell phone picture of Georges from the local bowling alley, where the team went for some leisure activities on one of the evenings - the man was a block away from my house.

In his latest blog post, I was impressed to hear that the team caterers not only provide him with vegan food at the rink, but make extra for anyone else to consume. Apparently, the reception has been quite positive and teammates are surprised at how tasty the vegan options are. Teammate, Mike Cammalleri, is reportedly a yoga enthusiast and I predict with his open mind, will be the next to follow Georges' diet choice.

Big Georges is only in his 5th game of the gruelling 82 game schedule and has only engaged in one fight but I'm expecting big things this year on his and the team's march to the Stanley Cup - I already have them finishing first in the their division in my official 09-10 predictions posted here.

To read Georges latest blog entry, click here.

Achilles Pain - An Old Nemesis Makes Its Return

Achilles Pain - An Old Nemesis Makes Its Return
I've had bouts with Achilles pain before. At times, it was to the point of not being able to run for a long period of time. I learned that the root cause was weak, tight calves and over-training. I learned to stretch, did calf raises and didn't try to make each and every training run my longest and fastest.

For a few years, I found that balancing running and cycling was a great treatment for the problem and eventually it disappeared and until this week hadn't been an issue for about 10 years. I also took glucosamine sulfate supplements for a long period of time. Whether the glucosamine actually had an effect, I guess I will never really know, but it obviously didn't make things worse as the problem did, in fact, go away.

Two runs ago, while on a leisurely trail run at a park called Monora Park at the north end of my town, my left achilles started to make its presence known. The trails are by no means mountain material, but there are a few steep hills and I think that they were the biggest suspect.

Last night, I had heal pain for most of my 9.7km run and this morning and throughout the day, I walked with a noticeable limp. After playing hockey tonight, at which I played the full 60 minutes as there were no substitute players, the pain had actually gone away.

My big concern is that in 7 days, I'm running 25km around Fanshawe Lake in London, Ontario. It is a trail run, however, hills are at a premium and the course is fairly flat. Hopefully, Mother Nature will finally turn the tap off on Southern Ontario and there won't be much running through mud on Saturday.

My plan is to keep away from running for a couple of days and then try some light running. If it feels good, that's great. If the pain returns, I'll shut it down until Saturday and hope for the best.

Here's a little primer on Achilles Tendinitis:

What causes it?
  • Rapid increase in training.
  • Improperly stretched calf muscles.
  • Weak calf muscles.
  • Improper footwear.
  • Lack of rest and recovery.

How can it be prevented?

  • Do calf muscle strengthening excercises.
  • Always stretch before running.
  • Shorten your stride.
  • Do hill training.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain between the base of the heel and the calf muscle.
  • Lump may appear just above heel as a result of scar tissue build-up.
  • Swelling over the achilles tendon.
  • Redness over the tendon.
  • Creaking when moving the ankle.

How can it be treated?

  • Stay off your feet! Up to two weeks without running may be necessary - or even more.
  • Apply ice directly to the swollen spot.
  • Put a pad or insert in the heel of your shoe to lessen the strain on the tendon.
  • Light calf raises after the pain has subsided.
  • Light stretching after the pain has subsided - no stretching while the pain is still there - this just aggravates the problem.
  • Try glucosamine sulfate. Unfortunately, the effects of glucosamine only kick in after around 60 days of continuous daily use.
  • Keep up the fluid intake and make sure your nutritional intake is more than adequate.

The important thing is to listen to your body and stop the abuse at the first sign of an injury like this or any other injury for that matter.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Random Thoughts About Veganism

It occurred to me today that, according to Star Trek, everyone travelling through space in or after the 24th century would essentially be a vegan. All food aboard the Enterprise, or any Federation craft for that matter, is created via a replicator. Therefore, all food is synthetic and does not come from the dead flesh of an animal. Therefore, the whole issue of to be or not to be vegan is pretty much a non-issue in the years to come - as long as everything that we see in Star Trek today does, in fact, come true.

I am a fan of the franchise, especially Next Generation, but I am no Trekkie. I ventured out into the world of the Trekkies in cyberspace today and found that there is still meat consumed on the Enterprise. Captain Picard, despite his greatness, had an issue with replicated caviar and always kept his personal supply of real, dead fish eggs on board. I seem to also recall that the crew were periodically given certain delicacies from strange planets and at times it was the flesh of a dead being.

All in all, the crews of the many Enterprise ships can pretty much be classified as vegan.

This got me thinking about space exploration in reality. There is a push on to explore beyond our planet. The logical next steps would be manned missions to Mars and beyond. If Earthlings were to colonize Mars or some other planet, moon, asteroid, I don't believe it would make any sense to take farm animals along for the ride and have them luxuriously feed on the limited food supplies available.

It seems to me that the only way we are going to leave this planet is by moving to a plant based diet. Think about it: just the extra antibiotics and veterinarian supplies alone would take up a massive amount of space. Not to mention, one or two crew would have to be veterinarians. Plants might easily adapt to an environment unlike our own whereas farm animals are as fragile as us. Plants are definitely the key to interstellar travel. Hell, maybe even when we try to plant our plants in some distant alien soil, the plants will interact with the new soil and become something more powerful than us and become the new 'masters of the universe'.

Back to Earth for a moment. I've just been reading a few articles (more like debates) about whether cigarettes are vegan. The reasoning behind it is that a number of cigarette companies test their product on animals. The sickest thing I read was that they sometimes cut holes into animals' throats and force the smoke in.

I'm by no means a 'smoker'. However, on the rarest of occasions, when drinking a few vegan-friendly beers with friends who do smoke, I have been know to light up a cigarette or on the best of occasions, light up a Cuban. At these times, I don't feel that I've betrayed my vegan commitment. I do, however, feel that I've betrayed my good-health commitment to myself - especially the next morning.

I am going to continue to look into this one. If anyone has any information or opinion on this topic or the science fiction ideas above, I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Many Benefits of Hot Peppers

Before I was 21, my idea of spicy was a dash of black pepper. Then I spent a few nights on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and my eating habits changed forever. Peppers, or Capsicum, have become such a huge part of my dietary life and are so for many cultures around the world. Interestingly enough, black pepper, the spice I once thought would send smoke shooting out my ears, is not of the Capsicum family at all. It is the product of a berry that is dried and ground down. The nutritional benefits of black or white pepper is not nearly that of the Capsicum family, which ranges from the sweet green bell pepper to the fiery hot jabanero. I will get into more information about black and white pepper at a later date.

What makes Capsicums hot is a little chemical compound called capsaicin - I'm sure there's a tongue-twister or two out there involving these C-words. The 'hotness' of peppers is measured on the Scoville Scale. Bell or sweet peppers have a rating of zero on the Scoville Scale as they contain no capsaicin. A jabanero pepper has a rating of 200,000. This means the pepper would have to be diluted 200,000 times to reach a zero rating. By the way, the Jalapeno which most Canadians associate with really spicy food, hits the scale somewhere between 2500 and 8000.

Where Capsicums kick ass is in the vitamin C department. Jalapenos produce 66% of the RDA in a 90g serving. Sweet green peppers serve up a whopping 200% in a 149g serving. These stats are provided by

Benefits of hot peppers include:
  • Production of sweat leading to smoother skin.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Contains major antioxidants.
  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory.
  • Can help in the treatment of colds and fevers.
  • Can speed up metabolism and burn more calories thus acting as an aid in weight loss.
  • Can trigger the release of endorphins.
  • Can be beneficial for those suffering from diabetes.
  • Improves digestion by increasing stomach secretions.

The most important benefit of any kind of pepper is that they truly make a meal great. A great website for make it yourself hot sauce recipes can be found here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How Strict is Strict?

"You know there was egg in that Vegetable Curry Pad Thai you just ate, right?"

Carnivores just love to catch us with statements like this. They say it with a sense of pride and accomplishment, like they've just brought you back down to earth to suffer with the rest of the chicken wing eating masses.

Whenever I find myself in a situation like this, it does happen - not often - but it does happen, I almost always immediately picture the character 'Silas' from the movie 'The DaVinci Code'. You know the one - an insanely strict catholic who is constantly whipping himself and digging all sorts of objects into his flesh.

Should I feel like that for inadvertently eating a product that I'm morally against and quite frankly repulsed by? The answer should be a big 'No'. I feel a little bad and it strengthens my resolve to avoid this situation in the future but by no means do I consider myself a killer of innocent animals. After all, I didn't walk up to a street-meat stand, order a big ol' greasy sausage, eat it then put my hand to my mouth, and shout, all wide-eyed, "Oh my god! I just ate the flesh of an innocent living being!"

I believe when it comes to eating out and putting your faith in the hands of some stranger, you take the chance of inadvertently eating something you didn't expect to. If you notice after it's too late you should merely take note, use it as a wisdom-gaining experience and remember not to order the same dish next time.

Please, when a situation like this happens to you, don't bring out the whip and draw the blood. But, don't stay silent. Inform others of what to look out for. Also, take note of what questions you can and should ask next time.

Now, if you've been duped into eating something that those around you know you are strongly against, I suppose your reaction should be quite different. Then again, if you have friends like that, you may want to reconsider who you hang out with!

In saying that we vegans should stick together and provide as much information to each other as possible, it would be great to hear from you on situations where animal products were inadvertently consumed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Flying the Vegan Friendly Skies

With my two week wedding/vacation in Panama fast approaching, I've started looking into what is available to me for the in-flight meal. I've only flown once since becoming vegan and it was a short 3.5 hour flight from Toronto to Cuba. On the flight down to Cuba, I hadn't yet gone public with my lifestyle change so I complained of an upset stomach and let the kids attack my meal. On the way home, I heard someone in front of me ask for a vegetarian menu and heard the not so helpful response from the flight attendant that they were basically shit out of luck. Once again, the kids got a little extra for their meal.
Panama is a longer flight and I figured I deserve to eat an appropriate meal, after all, I'm the groom and I've brought together nearly 30 people that are spending money on the airline. I was pleased to find out the Air Transat does indeed cater to their customers needs and you are able to order ahead of time special meals for several types of diets. It was a bit tricky to find on their website but you need to go to the bottom menu and click on the customer service link at the far left. From here you need to look for the special meals link. You can go directly to this page by clicking here.
On this page, a toll free phone number is provided and you simply have to call within 72 hours of your flight and provide them with the 4-letter code of the meal you wish to have. A list of these codes are listed on a table on this same page.
After November 16, I'll tell you how this all worked out. My sister-in-law to be is lactose intolerant, so she too will be using this service.
As for other Canadian airlines, Air Canada offers a program called NutriCuisine. As far as I can tell, you don't have to pre-order your food, it is something they carry. This is vegetarian and not vegan.
I could not find anything on Westjet's website, but I will put in an e-mail to their customer service to find out more.
Skyservice, a popular charter airline that flies Canadians away from the snow and into the beautiful heat and sunshine of the south, has a meal pre-order system similar to Air Transat except their choices are limited. There are 4 specialty meals and the closest you'll get to vegan is the vegetarian. Their pre-order information page can be found here.
I believe that covers the Canadian airlines that travel far enough to offer in-flight meals. In posts to come, I'll be looking at international carriers and what they have to offer.