Beyond Meat, Being Vegan & Our Long Term Health

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Overhauling our food system is a primary focus for nations across the globe as the world quickly moves forward with mapping out urgent and effective mitigation strategies to lower global warming in an effort to stay below 1.5ºC. Additionally, the goal for all G-20 nations heading to COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, is to implement clean energy, zero waste, carbon neutral solutions so we can transition to a sustainable culture aligned with biodiversity in nature. 

Conventional farming, (those farms where farmers plow the soil, releasing all the stored carbon, and who use strong microbe-destroying pesticides that contain glyphosate), along with the notorious animal feed lots, have been identified as the chief villains in our global food system which generates extraordinarily high levels of methane and CO2 emissions. Many climate activists around the world are insisting that we all become 100 percent vegan so we can win this particular battle in our fight to cut carbon emissions.

We only have until 2030 to cut carbon emissions by 50%. Half the battle is knowing what to do first. Reach out so we can help you figure out the best path forward.

I was all in on becoming vegetarian 16 years ago, and more recently trying diligently to become 100 percent vegan. This mission of mine was for health reasons, though, after surviving Stage 3 invasive cancer at a relatively young age. Once the 7 surgeries, 3 months of chemo, and 2 months of radiation were completed, my plan had been to stay away from the toxins found in our food supply. I had learned more about these hazardous chemicals while sitting in a chemo chair, researching, trying to keep myself busy during treatment. I simply could not figure out how I got cancer. I ate a healthy diet, and exercised regularly. I didn’t know anyone who had cancer, no family or friends. I became convinced that if I could uncover how it happened, I’d be able to prevent a recurrence.

I wasn’t eating organic before being diagnosed with cancer. I also knew nothing about the glyphosate that was covering the fresh broccoli and other fresh fruits and vegetables that I consumed daily. After all, it was 2005.  But, in 2006, following the conclusion of my my cancer treatments at the end of 2005, I was determined to rebuild my immune system and had the good fortune of meeting with a life-changing doctor associated with what was to become Duke’s new holistic wellness Integrative Medicine Center, which sent me down a bright new path in life. This wonderful wellness doctor offered several natural remedies. One was the daily regimen of pressing a garlic clove into broth and heating to boost my immune system. (I now add the pressed garlic clove to a quarter cup of water instead of broth and heat in microwave for 35 seconds, then chug.) This is super cheap and easy. As is the fresh ginger added to tea.

My cancer doctor at UNC wasn’t expecting any miracles, and had explained when my treatment was completed that I only had a 34% chance to live longer than 2 – 4 years if I didn’t take Tamoxifen. But, I didn’t want Tamoxifen side effects. There had to be another way. I was determined to prove that rebuilding my immune system by establishing strong daily wellness habits based on natural and holistic principles that incorporated medicinal plants in my diet would work. I’d done everything else my doctor had recommended, but I couldn’t take Tamoxifen. Natural remedies had kept humans alive for thousands of years. There simply had to be some truth behind the belief that it was beneficial, and I was determined to prove it. My initial cancer doctor was not happy with me, at all.

I relished the opportunity to test different plants and vitamins and combinations of plants and vitamins, as well as sleep 8 hours a day and exercise vigorously. I quickly found myself involved in endless days, weeks, and months of testing, altering various amounts of plants, vitamins, sleep and exercise, and after approximately 9 months, ended with a powerful formula that made me feel happy, healthy, and fit, much more so than I’d felt before cancer. My bloodwork even returned to normal with a boost.

All my curiosity and effort paid off. At the two year mark, my pet-scan showed 100% cancer free. I continued maintaining the same rigorous health routine, and 16 years later feel extremely grateful for the guidance I received in 2006 at Duke, that set me on a successful path and taught me so much about health, wellness, and a strong immune system.

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But to become 100 percent vegan for climate, I had to somehow find, or create, the right “complete protein” formula. I learned back in 2006, that for me, powders and supplements weren’t the same as medicinal plants. They seemed the same in theory, but they didn’t feel the same when I used them. I had learned the hard way that too much of a good thing isn’t good. IE, B6. Why so many vitamins have 1000 percent daily recommended amount of B6, is something I’ll never understand. High doses of B6 negatively alter my mood and make me very emotional. I can’t have more than the simple 100 percent B6 and thus have to take children’s chewable vitamins. Another example is garlic. I’ve found, that one clove fresh garlic everyday is different than a garlic supplement. This might just be me, though.

Morning Star products have been around for awhile and they typically have 9g protein, versus Beyond Meat’s Beyond Sausage’s 16g. None of my lentil, chickpea, black bean or kidney bean formulas were working perfectly, so I had to eat a small piece of antibiotic-free turkey everyday. But 16 months ago, a vegan friend told me about Beyond Meat and how amazing it was, and the effectiveness of the protein. When I spotted it in the grocery store, I grabbed a package of plant-based Beyond Sausage Hot Italian. It tasted great with organic black bean spaghetti and organic marinara sauce. An ideal plant-based product with the perfect protein level. Finally! I was 100% vegan which felt like a big win. But:

  • I never connected my sudden vision deterioration to Beyond Sausage (suddenly not being able to read a text when out in the city without my reading glasses was a problem).
  • Nor could I figure out why every time the water that the sausage was cooking in bubbled over the top of the pan, it started a fire on the stove (with real flames).
  • It also changed my mood, although I didn’t pick up on Beyond Sausage being the cause at the time. I simply wondered why my serotonin rich sunflower seeds, dark chocolate squares and running 5k every day didn’t make me happy any more. That magic “happiness” formula had worked for 15 years, then it abruptly ended after I began eating Beyond Sausage.
  • And I was astonished and very frustrated that changing one thing in my diet could make me gain 10 pounds.

I began to fret, still not piecing together that these issues were connected to Beyond Sausage, but rather I attributed them to staying home during covid. Covid stay home side effects.

As a soil health advocate and believer in regenerative agriculture, I’m also a big fan of Gabe Brown and Understanding Ag and watch their webinars. It was in June 2021, that I viewed Regenerating Human Health: The Soil and Human Microbiomes with Sara Keough that I learned that those of us who eat these high protein, plant-based meat alternatives should be careful, that recent studies had shown that faux meats aren’t as healthy as they appear to be.

I love to follow the advice of those I trust, and I trust Gabe Brown’s advice implicitly (as well as those connected with Gabe Brown). Thus, I stopped eating Beyond Sausage after Sara Keough’s webinar. In less than 4 weeks, my vision was back to normal, as was my happiness level. And after 2 months, the 10 pounds was gone as well.

I haven’t been able to find much information on the Beyond Meat side effects of vision, mood, and flammability that I experienced, so maybe my symptoms are a one-off. But I did discover one article that mentioned weight gain.

I’ll now begin researching more about these other concerns, but wanted to document my anecdotal experiences at this time, a few days prior to COP26, since veganism and meat alternatives will be a big discussion at COP26 and the months that follow. These types of health conditions — vision, mood and weight gain — are tough for medical professionals to properly diagnose when the cause is something as innocuous as plant-based meat.  How would a doctor possibly determine that a patient’s health condition might be related to a meat alternative. Is that even a question that doctors ask patients? 

I’m currently hypothesizing that the side effects might have something to do with the pea protein.

With any new product like Beyond Meat, and now a whole line of competing brands, (that climate activists have been hoping will become one of the many silver bullets that lower atmospheric CO2 levels), it’s vitally important that we have assurance that each solution is healthy and safe. With so many forever chemicals hiding in plain sight all around us, any one new drop of an extra chemical added to a daily diet can be the final straw that pushes our health into the danger zone. 

I’ve returned to eating a little bit of meat each week and it feels like the ideal balance for my overall health and wellness. I’m back to being happy, healthy and fit, while still maintaining a very low carbon footprint.

Beyond Sausage Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Pea Protein Isolate
  • Refined Coconut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Natural Flavor
  • Contains 2% or less of: Rice Protein, Faba Bean Protein, Potato Starch, Salt, Fruit Juice (for color), Vegetable Juice (for color), Apple Fiber, Methylcellulose, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Calcium Alginate Casing.
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Which Vegan Milk is Best For the Planet? | Vegan Scene

Washington (GGM) Analysis |July 22, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), approximately 270 million dairy cows live on farms and factory farms across the globe. The dairy industry produces greenhouse gas emissions that negatively impact the environment and contribute to climate change. Additionally, “poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources. And unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can” also “lead to the loss of ecologically important areas, such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.”

Just one glass of cow’s milk produces .63 kg of carbon emissions. Additionally, that same glass requires 1.79 square meters of land and 125.6 liters of water to make. Because of the negative effects of producing dairy, many lobbyists and organizations encourage people to swap out cows milk for vegan alternatives. One Green Planet– among other companies- is currently asking people to “ditch dairy.” 

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With the increase in popularity of vegan options like almond, cashew, rice, and soy milk, you may be wondering which one to choose. Luckily Science Focus has come out with an easy way to measure the impact of the various vegan alternatives to dairy milk. The milk with the lowest carbon emissions per glass is almond milk-which produces .14 kgs- followed by oat, which produces .18 kgs. The milk with the lowest land usage per glass is rice at .07 square meters. Lastly, the vegan milk responsible for the least amount of water needed in production is soy- which uses 5.6 liters- followed closely by oat, which uses 9.6 liters.

Twitter: @oatly

If you are looking to make a significant impact in the fight against climate change, the proof is in the vegan pudding! Ditching dairy and swapping it out for a vegan alternative will lower carbon emissions and reduce land and water usage. As for which alternative to dairy milk is the best for the environment, there are two winners. Choosing almond milk or oat milk for your morning coffee or bowl of cereal is a vegan and eco-friendly way to start the day.

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem. CLICK here today and join Earth Cafe!

Tl;dr

  • 270 million dairy cows are living on farms and factory farms across the globe
  • One glass of cow’s milk produces .63 kg of carbon emissions
  • One glass of cow’s milk requires 1.79 square meters of land and 125.6 liters of water to make
  • Almond milk has the lowest carbon emissions per glass
  • Rice milk uses the least land to make
  • Soy milk uses the least water to make
  • The most eco-friendly milk options are Almond and Oat
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act Now! CLICK here.

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Winter Activities for Kids | Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 31, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

It’s cold out there! You might be wondering about how to keep the kids busy, active, and productive. While remaining tucked away in the warm, cozy house, you can occupy them as they get ready to be Climate Superheroes! The hope of spring can inspire everyone to dig in and prepare for the near future, a future made better because you are helping fight climate change.

What’s the heart of the matter?

Climate change demands our attention now, and the new administration is on board. Discussing his executive actions on climate change, President Biden confirmed his commitment. “It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that is now facing us, climate change, with a greater sense of urgency.” Every person is needed in the fight, adults as well as children. Utilizing fun, creative activities, we can guide the younger generation to a great appreciation of trees, plants, and soil. 

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How does this impact you personally?

Engaging children in climate activities early on will help them internalize the message that they can make a difference in the world. Composting is one activity that allows children to get their hands dirty, literally. From placing food scraps in a jar to turning over compost in a barrel, each step draws youngsters into the process. If you are short on outdoor space, consider gathering food scraps for the community. Your town may have a drop off spot nearby. Composting is more than just a way to keep the kids busy during frosty winter days; it also educates them about the importance of cultivating soil so that it can store more carbon.

Some quick facts:

  • Adding compost to the lifeless dirt transforms it into microbe-filled soil, which stores a giant amount of carbon.
  • Not only does compost increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil, it boosts the nourishment of plants that feed off the soil, enabling the plants to store that much more carbon.
  • Now more than ever, the soil needs more microbes, especially if the US is to be the climate role model for the world, as Mr. Biden hopes. 
  • One of the main goals of the Paris Climate Agreement is soil health. Increasing carbon storage in the soil is the way to achieve this. As countries around the world strive to reach the target carbon neutrality goals set forth in the agreement, composting becomes even more important. The only way to hit our targets is if every household composts.
  • Remember: compost nourishes plants and prevents pests.
  • Compost can be donated to your community for fertilizing common areas.

What can you do about this? 

Start by talking about composting as you make a salad or chop vegetables for soup. Specific elements of compost are right at hand! Reading age-appropriate books about the life of plants, from seed to fruit, will grab the attention of some children. Helpful videos are also available, if your children aren’t maxed-out on screen time. 

Hands-on activities make time fly. Building a climate change project using long-forgotten resources in the attic or garage can lead to a meaningful learning experience for your child. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Primary age children could write and illustrate a book explaining composting. (Your compost jar provides a helpful visual aid.) 
  • Challenge your eight to twelve-year olds to create a game board about composting and its benefits for the climate. Game pieces can be made of card-board or even repurposed barrettes, action-figures, thimbles and who knows what? 
  • Young writers can compose a poem or song about composting. 
  • Budding scientists can keep a record of what goes into the compost bin, carefully observing the color, texture, and smell over time. 
  • Young teens might make a documentary explaining the importance of composting in the fight against climate change. 

These types of projects challenge young people to use 21st Century skills of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration and they might have fun along the way!

What climate change project are you involved with? We hope you’ll be part of ours! We’re growing a forest in North Dakota. CLICK to find out the awesome details.

Next steps

  • Start gathering your veggie, fruit and other food waste for composting
  • Investigate compost collection methods in your area
  • Find high-interest resources to engage your child (See below)
  • Plan an activity your child will find fun and engaging

Resources

Climate Change for Kids website:

Start Learning

NASA website for kids:

The Greenhouse Effect: Keeping the Balance

VideoWhy all life depends on plants (3:06):

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/videos/spectacular-science/#/1019900995730

Video about composting for young children (5:00):

Composting for Kids With Peppa Pig

SciShow Kids video for kids 8+ (5:00)

Make the Most of Compost!


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A Vegan Thanksgiving Guide

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 19, 2020 by Sarah J. Kings

Folks across the globe are going green to save mother nature. For many people, that green and clean attitude is going beyond recycling and getting an electric car—many people are changing up their eating habits as well. Animal agriculture practices are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, and slaughterhouses worldwide contribute to unnecessary land and water usage. As the Holidays approach, we must think about the estimated 300 million turkeys that are killed each year in the United States. Forty-six million of these birds are killed for Thanksgiving alone. Imagine the global impact we could make if we took turkey off of our plates this year. Here are some must-haves for an eco-friendly–very vegan–Thanksgiving. 

Vegan Whole Turkey – Vegetarian Plus

By now, we have all heard of Tofurkey. This year change it up with a Vegan Whole Turkey by Vegetarian Plus. This is a 4-6lb “whole turkey” that will give your vegan table a Norman Rockwell Worthy centerpiece. The non-GMO soy “turkey” is juicy and delicious. It is cruelty-free and guilt-free, as it has a very low ecological impact.

Twitter: @VegeUSA

Miyoko’s Organic Cultured Vegan Butter

Luckily many Thanksgiving favorites, like mashed potatoes, green beans, and butternut squash, are already vegetarian. To make these dishes vegan try swapping out dairy and beef stock for things like vegetable broth, almond milk, and vegan butter when cooking. When choosing a butter alternative, try Miyoko’s Organic Vegan Butter, as it is cashew-based, and doesn’t use palm oil. If you ditch animal products and palm oil when serving up your side dishes, you can rest easy knowing that your dinner table didn’t contribute to deforestation or global warming.

Twitter: @MiyokosCreamery

Pumpkin Pie – Midnight Munchies

If you are vegan, trying to be vegan, or simply thinking about having a vegan treat, you need to know the name Cherise Danae. Cherise is a vegan chef, author, and founder of the site Midnight Munchies. Cherise’s Pumpkin Pie recipe is inspired by her late grandmother’s original recipe, and you can taste the love in each bite. The texture and taste are so on point that this pie will have everyone looking for second—or thirds. 

Tl;dr

  • Animal agriculture is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions
  • 300 million turkeys are killed each year in the United States
  • 46 million turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving 
  • Vegetarian Plus’ Vegan Whole Turkey soy “turkey” is juicy and delicious
  • Miyoko’s Organic Vegan Butter is cashew-based, and doesn’t use palm oil
  • Midnight Munchies’ Pumpkin Pie is a delicious vegan must-have for Thanksgiving 

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