Tag Archives: diet

Science vs Vegans


One of my favourite podcasts just did an episode on veganism, and its great. Science Vs tackled three questions:

  • Is going vegan better for the environment?
  • Do you need milk for strong bones?
  • If you don’t eat any meat at all, is it bad for you?

Listen here or wherever you get podcasts.

And if you liked that episode, check out:

Note: While the vegan episode shows that the science is firmly behind the diet, the same can’t be said for the other episodes above (sorry keto, detoxes, supplements, and even organic food). You might find your beliefs and lifestyle choices refuted by the science. That’s ok. Listen with an open mind, and challenge your own preconceived notions. Committing yourself to constantly learning and improving is probably the healthiest diet.

Astrid: Resilient

Creekside daycare
Astrid is now in her 3rd daycare in less than a year. She’s now spending her days at the Creekside Child Development Centre. It’s our dream daycare, so hopefully she’ll be there until she starts school in 4 years. It’s a fabulously run group daycare (think Club Med for little kids) conveniently located across the street from where we live. Like most well run daycares in Vancouver, they have a really long waiting list. We added Astrid to the list before she was even born. Since most new spots go to siblings of existing kids, we’re lucky we got in.
Creekside daycare

It’s an awesome facility and the teachers are excellent. It’s well structured but also flexible to the kids’ needs. They have a schedule that includes walks outside, circle time, meals and snacks. They are much more rigid about food and regulations than our previous daycares – we’ve gotten lots of feedback on the food we pack for Astrid – grapes have to be quartered, not just halved, no dried fruit, and sunbutter sandwiches must be clearly labelled so there’s no worry about nuts. The check-in procedure every morning includes hand washing, shoe changing, sign-in sheets, and food and diapers placed into very clearly labelled bins. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that they have no problem using cloth diapers and feeding Astrid the vegan food we provide.

For the first two weeks there were tears during drop-off and pick-up, but otherwise she transitioned very smoothly with no problems napping, eating, or playing with the other kids.

2 Person Crib

New daycare means new germs. Astrid has been sick with colds for the past 2 weeks. Her cold has moved to her chest and she often has a rasping cough at night that sometimes keeps her up. Luckily no fever. We’ve been treating her cold with steamy baths, a humidifier while she sleeps, warm water with honey, and herbal cough medicine before bed. Hopefully she gets better soon because we’re flying to Mexico in 2 weeks.

BC Children's Hospital Emergency

A few weeks ago, Astrid ended up in the hospital. She was playing at the dining room table and dancing on a chair like she often does. They’re heavy chairs, but she managed to rock it far enough that it tipped over. She was crying for a while and couldn’t put any weight on her right foot. After talking to the nurses hotline, we took her to the children’s hospital. By the time we went through triage, Astrid was already in a better mood and was limping around the waiting area and exploring. When a nurse came by to check her out, she said her foot seemed fine and they wouldn’t do an x-ray but we could wait another 2-3 hours if we wanted to see a doctor. We figured sleep would be more helpful, so we went home. She had a slight limp that lasted for a week and we ended up taking her to our family doctor, but he quickly dismissed us letting us know that if anything was wrong she wouldn’t be putting any weight on the foot. Classic first child over-reaction on our part.

Dosa Factory

Last Saturday, I was curious if Astrid was getting enough nutrients. She’s always been slightly above average for weight and height and she’s never shown any sign of a nutritional deficiency, but I thought it would be interesting to track all of the food she ate and compare it to the recommended diet. If I was more concerned, I would have tracked it for a full week and averaged it, but tracking a single day was enough work. In one day there were 24 foods to track and calculate nutritional information for. Here’s a summary of my big spreadsheet:

Recommended Actual (Nov 25)
Calories 1000-1300 1375
Fat 35-40% of calories 41% (66 g)
Carbohydrates 50-55% of calories 48% (157 g)
Protein 10-15% of calories 11% (44 g)
Vitamin A 400 mg 700 mg
Vitamin C 60 mg 175 mg
Calcium 500 mg 315 mg
Iron 5.5 mg 5.5 mg

The calcium value was little low, but otherwise her diet was pretty good, and completely vegan. What she eats varies from day to day, but she consistently has breast milk twice a day and 250 ml of smoothie. The smoothie is perfect for cramming in nutrients. I like to add kale, Vega One protein powder, omega oils, and hemp seeds to ensure she’s getting lots of healthy fat, protein, and vitamins. Peanut butter and sunbutter are the other nutrient dense foods she often eats.

Astrid has now learned the concept of ownership and has become very forceful about enforcing it. In the morning, she loves to bring Emily and I our shoes, jackets, and cellphones. It’s cute and almost helpful. But she gets very upset if anyone other than the owner tries to take something. I think this is the start of her “that’s mine” phase.

More pictures.

Veganism in the News

Borscht Ingredients
There’s been a lot of articles in the media recently about vegan diets. The Huffington Post ran an article Shattering The Meat Myth: Humans Are Natural Vegetarians.

Although we think we are, and we act as if we are, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us, because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores.

The New York Times has six articles arguing for and against vegan diets in there Room for Debate series: Is Veganism Good For Everyone?.
1. The Jury Is Still Out

B12 isn’t the only nutrient missing from veggies. Creatine, carnitine, taurine, cholesterol, DHA, EPA, menaquinone and retinol are sparse to nonexistent in plants.

2. We Are Not Grizzly Bears

Humans are thought to be omnivores – just like the grizzly. Look in that mirror … we’re so much alike, aren’t we?

3. Meat is Brain Food

Clinical research finds that people on vegan diets commonly suffer from a variety of nutritional deficiencies.

4. It’s About Food Quality

The reality is that, while veganism may not be for everyone, quality matters. And, in a rush to give consumers value, food producers have jeopardized the quality of most meat out there. Veganism may not be the solution, but “reduced consumption” can very well suit us all.

5. Plant-Strong Is The Way

The primary reason it’s hard to give up animals is because most of us have grown up eating animal products and don’t have the first inkling of how to eat anything else. But it’s a “piece of kale” to eat “plant-strong” in 2012.

6. A Choice With Definite Risks

You may choose to be a vegan. Your baby doesn’t have that luxury. Let her grow up omnivorous and healthy.

Elimination Diet Recap

Captain ColanderLast fall, Emily and I went on an elimination diet. The results were surprising, and I’ve discovered a few foods that bother me. I still have a few questions, but here’s what I’ve learned.

When Emily and I embarked on our dietary adventure, we spent 2 weeks eating a bland diet of mostly rice, beans, and vegetables. Then we started reintroducing foods, starting with tofu and then adding in eggs, gluten, dairy, nightshades, corn, citric fruits, peanuts, and sugar – with 3 days in between each new food. Throughout the whole process, we kept a detailed log of everything we ate, the hours we spent sleeping and exercising, how we felt, bowel habits, skin rashes, you name it.

Before we started, I expected to have problems with lactose and Emily was avoiding wheat and gluten. After 6 weeks on our elimination diet, Emily was able to reintroduce everything, including gluten, without any negative reactions but I had problems with soy, dairy, and eggs. My reactions included skin rashes and problems with my digestive system.

The elimination diet is setup to isolate the affect of each potential allergen, but when I started having digestive problems or skin rashes, my immediate reaction was to blame it on something other than the new food. The skin rashes only showed up on my hands, so I figured the cause was more likely environmental than food related. The digestive problems were obviously food related, but soy is such a huge part of a vegetarian diet that I didn’t want to believe it was the cause of my problems.

(Warning: gross details to follow.)
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Elimination Diet – Day 9

Rice, veggies, and guacamole
Emily and I are 9 days into our Elimination Diet, and things are going well. We have 5 more days on a strict diet, and then we can start adding foods back. We just have to survive Thanksgiving first.

I’m surprised I haven’t had any food cravings thus far. I’m getting sick of the limited foods we can eat, and how hard it is to add flavour, but we’ve been eating pretty good. For the most part, our diet has consisted of fresh fruit and vegetables, rice and quinoa, and beans and nuts. I’ll include a few sample meals at the end of the post.
Continue reading Elimination Diet – Day 9

Prepping for an Elimination Diet

Faux Turkey
Emily and I are going on an elimination diet. Starting tomorrow, for two weeks we’re restricting our diet to the most basic of foods – basically rice and vegetables. Then, we’ll spend several weeks slowly adding foods back into our diet, like a carefully controlled science experiment.

The goal is to identify any food sensitivities we have. I’m pretty sure dairy gives me gas, but it’s difficult to be sure and I’m not sure what other foods might be causing problems. Emily is pretty sure bread bothers her, but she’s not sure if it’s the yeast or the gluten.

We’re doing this on our own, without the help of a dietitian or naturopath. We’ve come up with a list of foods we can still eat by looking at a bunch of websites (1, 2,3, and 4). They each have a different list of what foods should be excluded during the cleanse phase of the diet, but we have come up with a list that works for us.
Continue reading Prepping for an Elimination Diet