Monday, November 27, 2006

Vegetarian Diet is More Healthy - Fact or Myth?

Some said that vegetarian diet is healthier, others do not agree. What is your view?

Contrary to popular belief, adopting a vegetarian diet simply by eliminating meat is not necessarily healthier. Nor is it less fattening. Giving up meat totally does have some beneficial effects on your body. However adopting a total vegetarian lifestyle is more important as it will definitely result in a healthier body & mind.

The first thing to change when one thinks about adopting a healthier diet is to avoid JUNK food. Yes, you have heard me correctly. Everyone knows that junk food is - junk food. Your body is not getting any healthier with those sweets, chocolates, cookies, cakes, fries, pizzas. It also makes vegetarian fat too. So are instant noodles and many other pre-cooked or other fattening can foods. Being a vegetarian does not give you the freedom to indulge in large amount of those, so cut down.

Second, don’t cook with oil. But if you must fry with oil, use as little as possible. You might want to consider changing your style of cooking instead. Stir-fry, bake, steam and eating raw are some of the options available. Most hawker centre food like fried prawn noodles & carrot cakes (the hawker centre uncles and aunties are going to hate me for this) are cooked with large amount of oil. Animal fats are also added to make their food tastier. So watch out for those.

Thirdly, consume a wide variety of food. If you do not eat meat, you must try to consume other plant alternative to replace the nutrients that you would normally get from meat because no single plant is as nutritious as meat. (Surprise!)

Lastly, exercise regularly. You can walk briskly, climb stairs, dance, jog, or even cycle to nearby stores for groceries shopping. The trick is to fit it into your daily routine so that you will not be too lazy to move that body. Any form of regular exercises will help to increase metabolism which results in burning of calories. This in turns helps you to stay in shape.

Remember, nutritious diet and regular exercise is the key to a better, healthier body and mind.

Monday, November 20, 2006


People who switch to a vegetarian lifestyle do so for many reasons. It might be for the purpose of reducing suffering, improving ones health, environmental issues, or religious requirements. Just to name a few.

Whether is by choice or circumstances, leading an animal friendly lifestyle do make a difference in the world. By abstaining from meat, eggs, diaries and other animal by products from your life, you can make a statement against cruelty to animals, raise awareness toward environmental issues which results in helping to heal the earth, as well as gain health benefits. By supporting the production of vegetarian products through your purchases, you are supporting a more sustainable vegetarian lifestyle. It also helps to send a strong message to the society to become aware of a more humane way of living.

Contrary to popular believe of boring, tasteless dishes with limited choice, the fact is that you don’t have to go without your usual favorite food at all. Here are some of the many foods that are available.

You can get veggie burgers, hot dogs or sausages, tofu, minced meat, bacon, almond milk, soy milk, rice milks (mostly fortified with calcium, vitamins D and vitamin B12), non-diary ice cream, sorbets, desserts, cheeses, etc…from most supermarkets. You can even find a variety of vegetarian beers, wines, and champagne too, if you look hard enough. Not to mention the different types of fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables to choose from. And if you are craving for some more local food, you can also get chicken rice, rojak, mee rebus, mee siam, laksa, shark fin soups, and a whole variety of hawker food choices, from vegetarian food stalls & food courts that are scattered in many towns areas in Singapore.

So you see? There is an abundance choice of food and living a life of compassion by adopting the vegetarian way could most probably change your life for the better.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vegetarian - How to Prevent Food Poisoning

As more and more food passes through processing plants and less thorough inspection occurs, it is increasingly falling on the consumer to avoid the many known pathogens that commonly occur in food. Going vegetarian solves much of your problem, because one of the prime sources for contamination is meat. But if you eat eggs, for instance, you need to be extremely vigilant about what you eat and how you prepare it. Because ovo-lacto vegetarians are still in danger of some types of food poisoning, and this is the level of vegetarianism you will most likely be striving for in your early stages, we will provide you with a guide to some of the most common types of food poisoning.

Typical food-poisoning symptoms are unpleasant but short-lived. They include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Headaches, fever and muscle weakness may also occur. Levels of illness depend on the level of contamination, so be sure to see your health practitioner if you think you may have food poisoning.

Botulism - One of the most serious forms of bacteria shows up most frequently in canned goods. It is actually fairly rare, but to safeguard against it, date canned or bottled foods as soon as you bring them home and discard those that are more than a year old or are in swelling or bulging cans or in glass containers with bulging lids. Other signs of botulism in canned goods include discolored contents, spurting when the can is opened, and a clouding of normally clear liquids.

Salmonella - Salmonella is the most common cause of food poisoning and is found mainly in meat, poultry, and eggs. Avoid foods prepared with raw or undercooked eggs. These may include homemade mayonnaise, Caesar salad dressings, mousses, meringues, homemade eggnog, true hollandaise sauce, uncooked custard pie fillings, sunnyside up or over-easy eggs, or any eggs that are soft or runny. Symptoms begin twelve to twenty-four hours after eating contaminated food.

Staphylococcal Poisoning - This is a bacteria that occurs naturally in skin and nasal passages and is passed on via unclean hands, coughing and sneezing. Toxin-producing staph germs multiply rapidly, especially in cream or egg sauces, custards, or starchy salads, such as potato. Symptoms begin from one to eight hours after food is eaten, and include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. After providing you with a few of the more memorable hours of your life, staphylococcus will generally be subdued by your body's defenses and disappear within one to three days.

Clostridium - This bacteria taints meat and other high-protein foods that are undercooked or left standing too long without refrigeration (on steam tables, for example, in cafeterias and all-you-can-eat restaurants. Symptoms begin six to twenty-four hours after tainted food is eaten.

Susan Carey

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival

First time visitors arriving in Thailand at the start of any October might be puzzled by the myriad of eye-catching bright yellow pennants displayed by street vendors or nowadays even strung out in front of restaurants. What it simply means is that the annual Vegetarian Festival is upon us once again.

This unique Thai festival had its origins on the southern island of Phuket some 180 years ago and has gradually spread to virtually all parts of the kingdom. Rather surprisingly, it is actually of Chinese origin and not really Thai at all. It began among the Chinese immigrants who had flocked to Phuket in the early 19th Century to work in the tin mines that once provided the island’s economy. According to local historians, about the year 1825, a mysterious epidemic struck the Chinese miners and their leaders met to discover the cause. They noted that the traditional Chinese rituals were being neglected, and the mining community was accordingly ordered to undergo a period of fasting as a penance. After nine days, the disease vanished as mystifyingly as it had arrived.

Now no one likes going hungry for days on end, so the village elders decided on a compromise. They vowed that each year on that anniversary the Chinese on the island would practice a period of cleansing by adopting a vegetarian diet. Offerings to the Chinese divinities would naturally be made and a strict code of conduct would be followed, which included sexual abstinence and foregoing the consumption of alcohol. As the years went by, something bizarre also took place. Individuals spontaneously began to be “possessed by spirits” during the festival and would take to impaling themselves with sharp object or slashing themselves with razor sharp knives. Yet once the spirit had left them, there would be no visible wounds or even the slightest scars. This Hindu like self-mutilation naturally drew Thai tourists to the island, and these Thais carried the idea of a vegetarian festival back to their home provinces.

Nowadays, the Vegetarian Festival is observed in virtually every fair sized city in Thailand. The yellow pennants one sees bear a Chinese character in red, with the Thai word “jeh” next to it. Both mean vegetarian. Any vendor displaying these flags will be selling flesh free food and the restaurants will have adapted their usual recipes to meatless cooking.

In Bangkok, the Vegetarian Festival is best seen in Yaowarat – the city’s picturesque Chinatown. It begins there on the first day of the 9th month of the Chinese lunar calendar with ceremonies similar to those on Phuket. Even before that, Chinatown residents will have started stocking up on vegetarian meat substitutes – usually high protein soy bean products, and it has been estimated that meat sales drop by as much as 70 percent during the ten days of the festival.

But the festival is not merely limited to Chinatown or the Chinese-Thais. Many ethnic Thais and even foreign expats welcome the change to a vegetarian diet, and perhaps one restaurant in five will switch over. In fact, vegetarian tourists have been known to plan their visits to the kingdom to coincide with this period.

The dishes offered during the Vegetarian Festival are nothing short of delightful. All of the Thai favourites are available, but with a slightly different twist. Instead of tom yam gung (spicy shrimp soup), there will be tom yam jeh (spicy vegetable soup). Gaeng matsaman, a delicious southern Thai curry made with chicken, potatoes, onions and peanuts, instead will have the chicken replaced by tofu. Gaeng kiao wan, a mild green curry usually made with chicken or fish, will now be made with soy protein. Mushrooms of all types will be used in abundance, and the big yellow Japanese soba noodles are used to produce a version of kweitiou pat Thai (noodles fried Thai style) that is well worth waiting for.

In fact, Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival is probably one of the best times to visit the country, even though it does fall within the rainy season. After all, you can always carry an umbrella. And the choices of food offered at this time of year rival the best of any cuisine that Asia has to offer.

So next time you come to Thailand, look for those yellow pennants. If it is not that time of year, just tell your waiter you want to try the aharn jeh, the dishes on the vegetarian menu. Most restaurants will have one. It makes a pleasant break from the usual meat heavy diet that is so common in the west.

Aharn jeh aroy mahk! Thai vegetarian food is delicious. Try it and see if you don’t agree.

John Turner

Vegetarian Does Not Have To Be "All Or Nothing"

Many people contemplate becoming a vegetarian at one point or another. Some consider a meatless diet because they feel sorry for the animals. Others think a vegetarian way of eating will improve their health.

However, out of those well-intentioned people very few actually follow through and change their way of eating. The idea of completely giving up meat forms a big stumbling block for most.
For some reason, when it comes to vegetarian cooking, most people only see the "extremist" approach: either give up meat completely or you might as well include the meat in every meal. This "all or nothing" thinking becomes a mental barrier that keeps a lot of people from eating more vegetarian meals.

How about finding a happy medium? Drastic changes to one's diet never last. Do not beat yourself up for eating meat. There is no need to give it up completely. Just try eating a little less of it, that's all.

Start right now by making one meatless dinner every week. Keep everything else the same. Eating just one vegetarian dinner every week is definitely doable and easy. It will be just a nice change instead of deprivation!

If you think going meatless one day a week would not make a big difference, consider these simple numbers: if everyone ate vegetarian meals just one day a week, it would save one out of seven animals. Out of 92 million animals that are consumed in the United States alone every year, over 13 million animals would be spared. This is a huge impact!

In addition to doing good for our planet, you'll enjoy great health benefits by including more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, nutrients, anti-oxidants and fiber - all the things that are good for us. They can help with weight loss and prevent diseases. Numerous studies show that diets high in fruits and vegetables reduce the risks of deadly diseases such as cancer, heart attack and stroke.

Also, by trying out new dishes, you will break your food routine and discover new tasty recipes and food combinations. It's really nice to eat something different once in a while instead of being stuck in a food rut.

This simple shift of mindset from "all or nothing" to a happy middle ground will do wonders. Vegetarian eating does not need to be a full-time commitment, sacrifice and strive for unattainable perfection. Just do what you can to eat a little less meat, have fun trying new vegetarian meals and enjoy the benefits.

Melanie Mendelson