Monday, June 8, 2015

How much protein do we actually NEED?

Way less than you'd think, that's for sure.

Despite our growing obsession with it, protein is no more important than the other two macronutrients we require: carbohydrates and fat. When we strictly minimize one of these or bombard our bodies with another, it throws everything out of balance and health problems ensue. As a nation, we are unthinkably sick, and that is largely a result of our eating habits and the confusion that surrounds nutrition.


So how much protein do we actually need?


DAILY PROTEIN REQUIREMENTS
Babies - 10 grams
Children - 19-34 grams 
Teen Boys - 52 grams
Women and Teen Girls - 46 grams
Pregnant or Nursing Women - 71 grams
Men - 56 grams

These estimates include a margin of safety and are actually more than we need on a daily basis. Total grams may vary based on age, lifestyle and activity level, but most people thrive when 5-10% of total calories come from protein. Caloric intake is rarely an issue in this country, and with an emphasis on pounding the protein at every meal, most people are eating in excess of what they truly need. 

Have you ever heard of someone being deficient in protein? Neither have I.

Here's the truth: if you are consuming the correct amount of calories for your lifestyle (hopefully from healthful foods!) it is virtually impossible to be protein deficient. The makeup of food is always a combination of protein, carbs and fat, so when we eat enough of it, we get what we need. It's as simple as that! Potatoes, rice, and bananas all have protein. They may not be significant sources of it, but the point is that you really don't have to look very hard to find the stuff!

Today, most Americans consume anywhere from two to five times the recommended amount of protein their bodies need to thrive. FIVE TIMES! That's just crazy. Believe it or not, even those following a whole foods plant-based diet tend to get more protein than they require.

How much is too much, and why?


The RDA for protein intake has been rounded up to about 10% of total calories for overall health and wellness. When more than the recommended amount of protein is consumed, especially from animal products, we are far more likely to experience weight gain, osteoporosis, heart disease, impaired kidney function, and the development of certain types of cancer.

Animal proteins are escorted into our bodies by saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, and carcinogens, and they're severely lacking the stuff that we all need more of: fiber and nutrients. When we lean toward high-protein/low-carb diets, we tend not to fill our plates with whole plant foods (whole grains, vegetables, legumes, etc) which aid in cell regeneration and usher out toxins, thus helping us to fight disease.

Geting more "bang" for your protein "buck"


The lesson here is that protein is ridiculously easy to find, and that we really just need to calm down about it already. As you prepare your meals, pay attention to the protein sources you're choosing and consider what else comes along with them. Avoid the fatty stuff and gift yourself with a fiber-filled feast. Your body will thank you! 

Take a look at the graphic below to see how easy (and delicious!) it is to reach your protein requirements from plants. I can assure you, I do it every day without even trying!

*this graphic was borrowed from here*

References:
http://nutritionstudies.org/mystique-of-protein-implications/
http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/how-can-i-get-enough-protein-the-protein-myth



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Coconut French Toast

Sometimes breakfast needs to be a bit more fun than oatmeal, am I right? This coconut french toast really hits the spot without being too sweet. It's just as easy to whip up as your standard recipe, but it's completely free of dairy and eggs. If you're looking for a filling treat that's cholesterol free, low fat, low on the glycemic index, and bursting with fiber and nutrients, you've come to the right place!


Coconut French Toast
makes six pieces

Ingredients:
  • Six pieces whole grain or sprouted grain bread
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp organic corn starch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (the finely grated stuff, not the shreds)
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat (or low, if your pans get really hot!). Add the flour, corn starch and salt to a bowl and combine. Gradually add the non-dairy milk (I used almond milk because it's all I had on hand) and vanilla extract and whisk together until no lumps remain. Set aside. If needed, add the coconut oil to the pan so that it begins to melt.

Place the shredded coconut and cinnamon to a plate and toss with a fork to combine. Dip each piece of bread in the batter, coating all sides. Dip both sides of the bread in the shredded coconut and cinnamon, then place them in your pan. Cook for approximately four minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat!

Garnish with fresh berries, organic maple syrup, and your favorite nuts or seeds and serve immediately!


Tips:

THE BREAD: Check the ingredients list on your loaf and be sure that it is made from whole grains as opposed to whole wheat. Whole wheat is a deceiving term that tricks consumers into thinking they're making a healthy choice, when in reality that "whole" wheat has been refined and most (if not all) of its fiber and nutrients have been stripped away. Fiber is vital to a healthy diet for many reasons, mainly because it slows digestion and helps to regulate our blood sugar. That's important for people of all ages, even those of us who are in good health. I use Ezekial bread, which can be found in the freezer section at your local grocery store or even found in a two-pack at Costco! The grains are sprouted before they're added to the bread, meaning more protein, fiber and nutrients for the consumer. That's a major win!

THE CORNSTARCH: Most of the corn grown in the United States is genetically modified, but you can avoid GMOs by buying organic cornstarch. It may not be at your local store, but you can easily and cheaply find some online or at Whole Foods.

THE MILK and THE COCONUT: In order to keep this breakfast as low on the sugar scale as possible, it's ideal to use both unsweetened coconut and non-dairy milk. Trust me, it will be sweet enough on its own! Especially if you're adding syrup. I use the finely ground coconut flakes, but if you can only find the shreds you can pulse them in a blender or food processor to make the pieces smaller.


This recipe was inspired by the coconut french toast in the cookbook Isa Does It! Isa is the bomb, and you should definitely check out her recipes.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Leaning into Change



We all get that there are certain foods we should be eating more of, right? Veggies and beans do the body good, but there are no billboards or magazine ads out there singing their praises so we rarely invite them to dinner.

There are so many distractions out there pulling us away from real, whole foods. Marketing dollars, sugar cravings, social norms, and so on. We might know full well when we need to make a change, but there are so many reasons not to that it's often easier to just, well... not. But who decided that this whole food thing has to be all or nothing, perfect or pointless?

We make major life-altering decisions all the time. We switch careers. We move across the country. We commit to another human being for eternity. We become parents. Changes like these can happen in a split second, but the process of mastering them doesn't happen overnight. It can take days, weeks, months, or years to feel like we're in control again- and we all know we're never perfect at any of it.

So before you write off the crazy idea of a lifestyle that centers around plants, consider the strategy recommended by Kathy Freston:

Lean into it.

You don't have to dive head first into an ocean of tofu and broccoli without your life raft of cheese. There is no rule that says the only way to be healthy is to commit 100% right here, right now, forever and ever, or else! Make small changes that work for you.

Add some chia seeds to your smoothie or cereal in the morning. Replace one meal a week with a giant salad. Buy a big bag of apples and indulge whenever your sweet tooth starts making demands. Make your own desserts instead of buying them at the store. Experiment with some meat and dairy alternatives once in a while and use them to re-create the hearty, flavorful foods you know and love. Believe me, it can be done, and it can be done well!

Whoever you are, wherever you are: lean into it. 

Lean in that direction.

Lean as slowly and as gingerly as you'd like.

If there's even a glimmer of curiosity about how this kind of change might make you might feel, or how you'll positively impact the world around you... keep leaning. There is no right or wrong way to walk your path in life. The world will always be filled with distraction and doubts and dogma, but you get to decide the direction you want to go and the rate of travel that works best for you.

Lean into it with care, consideration and love. That, my friends, is how progress happens!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

An ode to nachos and 28 years of living


As of approximately 2:00pm today, I am 28 years old. I've always loved my late Spring birthday. If I'm lucky, I get to celebrate another year of living at the same time that Michigan is in full bloom. There are buds forming everywhere, leaves are breathing life into the streets, and the sun finally feels warm again. It's a beautiful time to reflect on a year gone by, and to practice gratitude for all that I have and all that's yet to come.

Last night I was hurriedly preparing myself a plate of nachos (my longstanding favorite meal) and I couldn't help but laugh as I noticed how much of my life has shifted and changed in the last 28 years, but how many things have ultimately stayed the same. Yes, apparently 28-year-old me finds inspiration in a plate of chips and hot sauce. Getting old is so cool.


Nachos were the first meal I learned how to effortlessly prepare for myself in high school. I'd pile my plate high with cheap tortilla chips, ground [insert available meat here], shredded cheese, and sour cream. I advised my college roommate of the ideal plop-to-chip refried bean ratio, and shared many a plate with friends and family over the years that followed. Cheap ingredients, minimal time, and oh-so satisfying. How I loved my mindlessly delicious nachos!

For me, a significant part of "growing up" has been learning to be intentional in daily life. For a while there I was crashing through life without being mindful of what I was doing or why. These days I do my best to invest in my own happiness and well being every single day. Sometimes the investments are modest little moments of self love, and other times they are giant leaps of faith that reap greater rewards than I ever could have imagined. Either way, life looks different because I've decided to live it as consciously as I possibly can.

This year would be nearly unrecognizable to the version of me who celebrated her 25th birthday just a few years back. A new home. A new career path. A new outlook on just about everything. At the end of the day I'm the same person who was there all along, but this time I'm awake and am truly feeling every vulnerable moment that life has to offer.

Now I'm the hippie-dippy who layers her non-gmo blue chips with quinoa and tempeh, garnished with cashew cheese sauce and whatever fresh vegetables I can find. Every choice I make matters, even that silly (and still delicious) little plate of nachos. The meals made in my kitchen now fill my heart just as much as they fill my belly, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I heap my plate with love and joy and positive energy every chance I get, and nothing could be more satisfying.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Plant-Based Kitchen Essentials

In honor of Earth Day tomorrow I wanted to share the top ten kitchen essentials that help to make plant-based living as enjoyable, efficient, and eco-friendly as possible in my home. These items save time, help cut back on plastic waste, and allow me to try fun, flavorful new recipes every day!

You certainly don't need a kitchen full of gadgets to incorporate more whole foods into your lifestyle-- but the more you can simplify preparing and cooking your food, the more likely you are to enjoy the process... and the final result!
---

 A Sharp Knife
If you're eating a lot of plants, that means you'll be slicing and dicing more often. I cannot express the importance of a decent knife for these tasks. When I removed meat from my diet, my knife needs changed. That sounds weird, but it's true! I don't need a big block set of utensils and steak knives. I use one good quality knife every single day, and that's truly all I need. I also have a bread knife on hand, but I rarely use it. I use Calphalon because I've been gifted with many of their items over the years from relatives who work for the company, but any brand will do if it slices through your food with ease.

Dual Citrus Squeezer
There are a lot of citrus juicing tools out there, but this kind is easy to use and easy to clean, and the slits allow the juice to escape while also catching stray seeds. Lemon juice is often used to enhance the flavor of veggie dishes and vegan "cheese" recipes, so I'm pulling this out constantly. Fresh lemon juice has anti-viral and immune-boosting powers, so do yourself a favor and juice them as you need them instead of buying bottled lemon juice. You'll be using less plastic and gaining countless nutrients! I use this one, but I see other versions at the grocery store all the time.
Garlic Press
Some might turn up their nose at the idea of using a garlic press, but I'm not trying to win Top Chef over here so they can take their noses elsewhere. If a gadget can save me time, energy, and help me avoid garlic fingers, then I'm sold. Garlic is a great source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties-- but only when it's FRESH. Ditch that tub of minced garlic if you're hoping to reap the nutritional benefits and incredible flavor of the real thing. A garlic press will help keep your hands clean and your nutrient intake high, and that's one less container you have to throw away or recycle!



Steamer Basket
Steaming is one of my favorite ways to prepare veggies and greens because it helps to retain the nutrients of the plants. Boiling, on the other hand can rob your food of its nutrients. This inexpensive vegetable steamer is versatile and easy to use. I bring an inch or two of water to a boil and set this inside of or on top of the pot. In just a few minutes, your veggies are ready to go! This is the one in my kitchen, but there are several other types out there to choose from.

Herb Keeper
When I first saw an herb keeper, I assumed it was one of those frivolous items that retailers make you think you need, but oh was I wrong. If herbs aren't watered, they'll wilt rapidly in the fridge. I don't know about you, but I rarely use the entire bunch when I buy herbs for a recipe, and this little guy does an incredible job of keeping them fresh. I've tried storing herbs in cups or mason jars with a plastic baggie covering the top, but the results were definitely not the same. I have the older plastic version of this one, which is now made with glass! 





High-Powered Blender
I have the Ninja Ultima, which is sort of like the cheaper little brother to the Vitamix, and I absolutely love it. I use it to make soups, smoothies, cashew "cheese" sauces, salad dressings, banana "milkshakes," and so much more. A high powered blender is the one appliance that I'd encourage plant-curious peeps to invest in because it is so versatile and powerful. I love that the Ninja came with individual size travel cups and a smaller blade, which I use even more often than the large pitcher these days.

Food Processor
I debated leaving this one off the list, since a good quality blender can perform many of the same tasks, but there's still a special place in my heart for my food processor. I use this bad boy to chop and shred vegetables (in seconds!), to puree beans, to knead doughs and mixes, and to make nut butters and banana ice cream. If you have the ability to add this small appliance to your kitchen, you will definitely save yourself time that would otherwise have been spent at the cutting board.


Mason Jars
Oh, mason jars. What aren't they good for, really? I bought a pack of the quart sized jars last year, thinking I'd mostly use them to store dry goods in the pantry. Since then I've also started using them to hold my salads for the week, and I even use them as drinking glasses because I'm cheap and hey, why not? It's easy to track how many ounces you're taking in throughout the day as the measurements are listed right on the jar! They're cheap (less than $20 for a dozen), and are usually BPA free and made in the U.S.!


Glass Storage Containers with Lids
We all know not to microwave our food in plastic anymore, right? Right. I love having various sizes of glass storage containers on hand for easy-to-grab leftovers and homemade dips and nut butter. Brands like Pyrex are freezer and oven-safe too, so you can bake or re-heat without having to dirty another dish. Win! I can't get enough of these. In fact, I need to add another set to my collection soon...


Glass Straws
My brother gave me these straws for Christmas last year, and while they don't necessarily save me time in the kitchen, they certainly have helped me cut down on waste and the annoyance of plastic straws that bend and crack. The Hummingbird brand is made in the United States and is sturdy and easy to clean. I love how solid these straws are! I recommend rinsing them out immediately after use or cleaning can become more difficult.


So there you have it! My favorites. If you're hoping to add more to your kitchen lineup, don't feel like it needs to happen all at once. Remember these items at holidays, or when you have a retail gift card burning a hole in your wallet. Start to accumulate them slowly over time, and before you know it your kitchen will be stocked with items that will make your life easy breezy.

What are YOUR favorite kitchen gadgets?!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Meatout: Eat Vegan for a Day!

My goal is not to tell people how to eat or to guilt anyone into shifting toward this lifestyle. I truly believe that better health can be achieved for all by simply incorporating more whole plant-based foods into our daily diets- plain and simple. And the benefits don't stop with our health! Cutting back on meat and dairy has an incredible impact on our environment and on the welfare of the animals we farm. 

It's so easy to get lost in the crowd and feel discouraged. There have been many times that I've struggled and questioned whether my choices would ever be enough to make a difference, but I always come back to the "big three" that motivates me every single day: Our health, our planet, and the treatment of creatures that have no voice. Truly, everything I value in life fits into that list.

On March 20th, Meatout is challenging people across the globe to cut out animal products for just one day. One day. Three meals. That's it! Do you think you could do it? I know you can!

The Meatout website is filled with recipes and advice to help everyone succeed in this challenge. They have meal suggestions for cooks of all skill levels, as well as a listing of plant-based menu options at popular restaurants. Check it out!


When discouragement sets in, sometimes numbers speak louder than words! According to meatout.org, giving up animal products has an incredible impact on that big three:

Eating plant-based for one day: Saves 3,400 gallons of water and 148 square feet of rain forest per year

1-2 days per week: Saves 44 animals, 11,550 square feet of rain forest, and 288,600 gallons of water each year

3-4 days per week: Saves 102 animals, 26,950 square feet of rain forest, and 673,400 gallons of water each year

Every day: Saves 204 animals, 53,900 square feet of rain forest, and more than 1.3 MILLION gallons of water each year.


I've been plant-based for almost two years now, which means that I've saved more than two million gallons of water. Holy cows!

If you're up for this EASY and IMPACTFUL challenge and are looking for fun new recipes to try, some of my favorite resources are Forks Over Knives, Engine 2, and Vega. Are you on Pinterest? Search for any recipe and add the word "vegan" to the end of it. You wont be disappointed!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

On Monday evening I threw a small post-class party for my good friend and fellow Zumba instructor Liz, who is getting married in Mexico this weekend. I was in charge of the dessert for our little gathering, and that morning I challenged myself to find a recipe that I could whip together without making another trip to the store. Our gym is right next to a Kroger, and I'm there way too often.


The final product was a ridiculously-easy-to-make batch of peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They were moist and rich without being too sweet, and I definitely ate three of them right after they came out of the oven. I just can't resist desserts in the morning! It's a problem.

In addition to being delicious, these cookies are oil-free, dairy-free, and very low in sugar. They can easily be made gluten free as well if you use GF flour and oats!


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes approximately one dozen cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the applesauce, peanut butter and coconut sugar until combined. Add the vanilla extract. Gradually add the remaining dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips. The dough will be very sticky. Fold in the chocolate chips.

To avoid getting the dough stuck to your fingers, I recommend spraying your hands with coconut oil or using two spoons to form the cookies. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on your cookie sheet. Gently flatten them into discs. You don't need to worry about spacing with this dough, because the cookies will not spread as they bake!

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and slightly golden on the edges. Enjoy!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunshine Smoothie

This weekend was filled with friends and food and fun, which means we're needing a little "detox" on this Sunday morning. I'm calling this the Sunshine Smoothie because light is currently pouring in my windows and because the pineapple and banana really "shine" through and hide any tartness you might expect from the greens in this recipe.


Sunshine Smoothie
makes approximately 20 oz - serves two

In a powerful blender, combine:
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1.5 frozen bananas
  • 4 kale leaves (stalks removed)
  • 5" piece of cucumber
  • 1 small organic apple (seeds and stem removed)
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds

Toss them all together and blend until there are no visible pieces of the fruits and veggies. If your cucumber and apple are organic, feel free to leave the skin on. You'll be gifting yourself with more nutrients and fiber! With no added sweeteners, this smoothie is packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and plant-based proteins.

Use regular water if you don't have coconut water, or you can add an unsweetened nut milk to bump up the protein, calcium, and creaminess of this smoothie. Chia seeds can be used in addition to or in place of the hemp!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Calcium and Bone Health

It's common knowledge that we should all be consuming significant sources of calcium each day, but what many don't realize is that it's even more important to eat foods that prevent calcium loss. Not all calcium sources are created equal!

We store more than 90% of calcium in our skeletal system, where it's used to strengthen and rebuild our bones while maintaining adequate bone density. The rest hangs out in our bloodstream, helping to regulate our heartbeat, aid in muscle contraction, transmit nerve impulses, and more. Pretty important stuff, right?

Whether or not calcium stays locked away where it belongs has a great deal to do with the pH balance of our bodies. Kris Carr wrote an amazing post about it here, if you'd like a refresher on the subject. Essentially, our bodies are constantly seeking balance between alkaline ("good") and acidic ("bad"). There are certain foods and beverages that promote acidity in the body, and others that have an alkalizing effect. Everything we eat and drink will affect our pH balance.



The dairy industry tells us that milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best sources of calcium to be had. It's true that these products contain calcium, but what's left unsaid is that they're also on the acidic side of the scale. The Standard American Diet is filled with animal proteins, white breads, refined sugars, sodium, alcohol and caffeine, all of which promote acidity in the body.

Guess which mineral does most of the dirty work neutralizing that acidity? CALCIUM!

Our bodies are brilliantly efficient machines that utilize what they have on hand in order to restore that ideal pH balance. Calcium will actually be leached out of our bones to neutralize our overly acidic state. Although the United States consumes more dairy than most of the world, we have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis and bone fracture. This trend is true across the globe.


Simply because a food contains calcium does not mean that it does the body good.

It's unrealistic to completely avoid acidic foods- how boring would life be if we did? But consider how many people eat these foods day in and day out while also living a sedentary lifestyle. The effects can be disastrous for our bone health.

The good news is that there are a few simple steps that you can take to promote bone health and calcium retention! Try incorporating these tips into your daily routine:

  • Exercise Against Resistance: I can't express the importance of this one enough! After about the third decade of life, our bones have a tendency to break down. Weight bearing exercise causes new bone tissue to form, which improves our overall strength. Try to work against gravity every chance you get- walk up and down stairs, bend down to pick things up, lift objects (safely), or simply go for a walk or hike. If possible, lift weights! Your bones will thank you.
  • Get Your Vitamin DVitamin D helps our bodies absorb the calcium we take in. You'll find that it's fortified into some foods, but the best way to obtain it is to spend about fifteen minutes in the sun each day. If you live in an area where this is not possible, have your levels checked and talk to your doctor about other options.
  • Eat More PlantsSignificant sources of calcium include leafy greens, legumes, and seeds. Next time you're at the store, consider adding some spinach, broccoli, northern beans, and unhulled sesame seeds to your cart! Need more ideas? Here are even more plant-based sources of calcium...

Now that's what I call plant STRONG!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dear dairy: It's not me, it's you.

Throughout our lives, most of us have unquestioningly enjoyed a glass of milk with dinner, an ice cream cone on hot summer days, and creamer in our coffee. Since childhood we've been asked the question, "got milk?" without ever asking ourselves how we feel about drinking the breast milk of another mammal. What's up with that?

I follow a lot of vegan-friendly pages on social media, but one of the stories that popped up in my news feed this week really captured my heart and attention. It epitomizes our backwards thinking about the dairy industry, and the unnatural steps that are taken to get those products to our refrigerator.


A former dairy cow named Clarabelle was rescued by a farm sanctuary in Australia when she was just weeks away from slaughter. She was no longer keeping up with demand for milk production, and therefore was of no use to the dairy. Her rescuers soon discovered that she was pregnant, but when it came time to give birth she surprised everyone by delivering secretly and hiding her calf in a nearby field.


As with all dairy cows, before her rescue Clarabelle's life was an endless loop of artificial insemination, pregnancy, and her babies being taken from her immediately after birth. Dairy farms can't afford to allow cows to bond with their babies, or for the calves to nurse on the milk that exists solely for the purpose of their growth and development. The two literally cry for each other while the mother is hooked up to milking machines and the newborn is sent off to begin its journey to our plates, fed a diet of commercial milk replacement.

Having been through this heart wrenching process countless times before, Clarabelle acted as any mother would and protected her baby the best way she knew how. Her calf, born on February 14th, is called Valentine. How's that for a love story?


With Clarabelle and Valentine, it's easy for us to let our emotions take over. When we see these photos we melt at the newness of that baby and we relate to the maternal instincts felt by her mother and we can truly appreciate the beauty that unfolded in that field. When we unhook them from machines and witness them in nature, it's easier to see that animals serve a purpose that reaches far beyond our tastebuds and our wallets.

Whether your goal is to feel better, to minimize animal cruelty, or to help the environment, saying goodbye to dairy products is an amazing first step to take. If the story of Clarabelle and Valentine isn't convincing enough for you, here are some eye-opening facts about that glass of milk:

  • A cow's milk is designed to turn a 90 pound calf into a 2000 pound cow in about two years. The high levels of fat are intended for rapid development that our bodies are not designed for.
  • Dairy cows are female mammals with hormones, just like us, and most are injected with additional hormones to boot. Consuming dairy of any kind means you're consuming active estrogen from an ever-pregnant cow, which has been tied to early onset puberty in children, increased risk of breast cancer and uterine fibroids, prostate cancer, and... wait for it... man boobs.
  • The protein in cows milk has also been significantly linked to allergies, asthma and acne, as well as Type 1 Diabetes in children.
  • A 2500 cow dairy farm produces waste comparable to that of a community with 411,000 residents. The harmful gases emitted by the manure easily contaminate nearby land and water systems, including the stuff we drink.
  • Casein, the main protein in dairy products, is the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered. Whoa.
  • Though calcium is present in cows milk,  drinking it does not guarantee strong bones. In fact, countries like ours with higher milk consumption actually have a higher rate of osteoporosis and bone fracture. More on that later!
  • There is literally nothing in milk that we can't get from other foods. Where do you think that 2000 lb cow gets her calcium? Not from drinking her own milk, that's for sure. FROM PLANTS!

Don't fret! Weaning yourself off of dairy (pun intended) doesn't mean that you're destined to live a life without pizza and ice cream. It seems like every time I set foot in my local grocery store I spot a new dairy-free option! There are plenty of delicious plant-based, cruelty-free alternatives out there.

Personally, I'm a fan of Daiya cheese, SO Delicious creamers and ice cream, and Silk beverages, to name a few. As someone who used to suffer from dairy-induced stomach aches, I can honestly say that although these products are technically "processed," they are far gentler on my system (and on the planet!). They're my guilt-free guilty pleasures.



**The images in this post were borrowed from here.**