Earthling covers what happens behind the scenes of the animal products humans consume, and discusses the relationship between humans and animals.
Contains graphic footage.
(video no longer available? let me know in the comments please! Thank you)
Cowspiracy explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and on the climate.
Facts and interviews – little to no graphic images.
(video no longer available? let me know in the comments please! Thank you)
(video no longer available? let me know in the comments please! Thank you)
Planeat compares the environmental footprint of different ways of eating.
The full documentary is no longer available on Youtube, so here’s the trailer:
and here’s where to watch it besides maybe Netflix, etc:
Watch Planeat on the official Planeat website.
(video no longer available? let me know in the comments please! Thank you)
Forks over Knives
(facts and interviews – no graphic images)
What the Health
Looking into the dietary advice of large health foundations we trust with our health, the producer takes on a journey of wondering “Why are they telling people to eat foods that make people sick?”. Surreal encounters and findings guaranteed.
This documentary goes through the journey of a person in process of going vegan. In this process a lot of questions are asked such as “Where to get protein from?” or “How to get calcium without dairy?”, etc…Nutrition experts, athletes, and people from all walks of life answer these very common questions and dispel a number of widespread irrational fears and myths around vegan diets and health.
(video no longer available? let me know in the comments please! Thank you)
Vous avez récemment pris conscience que l’industrie laitière est aussi cruelle que l’industrie de la viande, qu’elle maltraite et tue des vaux, maltraite et tue les vaches, etc… et vous avez décidé de vous désinscrire de la contribution à la souffrance animale et à l’exploitation ?
Vous vous êtes renseigné et avez découvert que les laitages d’origine animale sont pas du tout bons pour la santé ? ou que l’exploitation des bovins est destructrice de l’environnement ?
Bravo! Le plus dur est donc fait maintenant que vous avez ouvert les yeux à la vérité.
Vous êtes en train de vous renseigner sur comment transiter vers des laitages véganes, à partir du laitage dont vous dépendez le plus: le lait de vache. Parce que vous êtes un humain comme tout le monde, vous allez forcément vous poser les mêmes questions que n’importe qui à votre place se pose.
Voici mon petit topo pour vous faire gagner du temps et vous éviter de réinventer les mêmes erreurs.
1. La quête du Sacré Graal: Un lait végétal au goût de lait de vache
Parce que le lait de vache est omniprésent, ou oublie qu’il a un goût et que ce goût est très spécifique. Par exemple, le lait de vache n’a pas le même goût que le lait de brebis ou de chèvre.
Bah de la même manière, un lait d’avoine ne va pas avoir le goût d’un lait d’amande, de riz et encore moins de chameau, ou de vache ! C’est logique mais beaucoup de gens oublient et (comme j’ai fait moi-même) se lancent dans une quête classique pour trouver un lait de plante qui a exactement le même goût que le lait de vache. Autant chercher un dahu !
“On nooooon, quel drame ! Mais comment je vais faire alors Jammy, moi je suis habitué au lait de vache !”
Petit rappel des faits sur notre capacité à apprendre à aimer un nouveau lait
Mais noooon, t’inquiètes pas Fred !
Ton C.V. montre que tu as déjà de l’expérience en la matière !
“Ah bon? Baaaaah je comprends pas Jammy.”
Mais si Fred !
On a appris à aimer le lait de notre mère à la naissance (rien de plus naturel vous me direz), puis à aimer le lait en formule, puis à aimer le lait de vache en briques. Ce qui fait 3 transitions.
Ces laits sont très différents à chaque fois. Donc forcément, ça a pris du temps, on a même carrément beaucoup vomis au début puis on a fini par s’adapter…même si ça a franchement…un goût de vache.
Avec le lait végétal: c’est un nouveau lait qu’on introduit une fois de plus. Là où pour certains ça se fait tout seul, pour d’autres ça demande un peu de temps pour s’y habituer, et c’est tout à fait normal.
Notre capacité à apprendre de nouveaux goût n’a pas changé.
C’est peut-être même plus facile en tant qu’adultes parce qu’on est pas forcés par nos parents, on le fait de nous même, à notre rythme. Aussi, et parce qu’on a la maturité pour comprendre pourquoi on introduit certains aliments, on a des motivations qu’un bébé n’a pas encore, et ça rend l’adaptation plus facile.
Enfin, comme on passe à un lait végétal, ça correspond physiologiquement davantage à une alimentation humaine, contrairement au lait pour le nourrisson d’une autre espèce.
Les troubles digestifs et autres dégâts, parfois graves, causés par le lait de vache disparaissent au lieu d’apparaître. Dans ce sens là, la transition vers le lait végétal en est d’autant plus facile.
Donc, au diable le goût de vache, la question qui importe dans la transition vers un lait végétal c’est: “Est-ce-que c’est bon ?”
2. Quel est le meilleur lait végétal ?
Celui que tu préféreras !
Tout le monde a son avis sur la question et une préférence perso. C’est une question de goût donc une affaire personnelle. Différentes marques en plus utilisent différentes recettes et procédés. Donc le lait d’une même plante (par exemple avoine, mon préféré) va avoir un goût/aspect différent si on prend deux marques différentes.
Aussi, suivant l’utilisation principale qu’on a du lait, on va aussi faire un choix différent. Par exemple, quelqu’un qui boit le lait dans un verre ou avec des céréales, va moins être contre un lait qui a un goût prononcé (exemple: lait de noisette) par rapport à quelqu’un qui le boit avec du café, et qui préférera peut-être un goût plus neutre.
3. Comment savoir lequel je dois d’abord acheter ?
Il y a pas de solution miracle, faut en essayer plein et choisir ceux qu’on aiment.
J’ai trouvé très vite le lait d’avoine ici (Marque: Vitasoy) est délicieux, pour moi.
Dans le cas peu probable ou t’as tout essayer et rien n’est super séduisant là tout de suite :
- Avant de conclure que t’aimes pas le lait végétal ou le lait de telle ou telle plante: Essaye la même plante (avoine au pif) mais d’une autre marque.
- Prends le meilleur quand-même et donne lui une chance. Les papilles c’est comme les humains: elles peuvent apprendre à aimer, souvent c’est juste une question de temps.
4. Comment éviter le gaspillage
Si pendant que vous faites du speed-dating avec les laits végétaux, vous achetez un litre d’une combinaison marque/plante que vous trouvez vraiment pas top, recyclez-le en mettant dans une pâte à gâteau ou un smoothie. Vous n’aurez rien gaspillé.
5. Où acheter du lait végétal ?
Dans les supermarchés et supérettes. De nos jours ça se trouve à Paris comme dans les supermarchés de province.
Les magasins bio ont des laits un peu plus exotiques, parfois plus cher aussi à cause du bio, mais pas forcément, en particulier quand ils vendent aussi du non-bio.
S’il y a un lait que vous adorez et qui n’est pas dans tous les supermarchés que vous fréquentez, soyez proactives et pro-actifs : faites une suggestion à vos magasins et relancez-les si besoin. Ils ont des formulaires pour çà, il suffit de demander à un•e responsable de caisse ou au guichet d’information. Si vous demandez pas, ça leur viendra pas forcément à l’esprit. Vous rendrez la vie plus facile à d’autres aussi qui cherchent ces laits.
Ah aussi, à cause du zèle de l’industrie en France, il est interdit pour les fabricants de lait (et autres laitages) végétaux d’utiliser les mots “lait”, “yaourts”, “fromage” etc…Donc si vous utilisez un site web, ou que le responsable des achats trouve pas ce que vous cherchez, faudra utiliser “Boisson de <plante>”, pour les yaourts: “Dessert à la pêche”, etc…
6. Faire son lait végétal à la maison
Perso, j’ai essayé de faire plein de laits à la maison, pas tous.
Bien qu’on arrive facilement à faire de très bons laits, il y a certains cas d’utilisation ou c’est pas bien adapté:
- le lait de soja fait maison (ou artisanal en boutique Asiatique) est aussi opaque que le lait de vache mais il a goût un très fort goût de soja par rapport au lait de soja en brique
- le lait d’avoine fait maison devient très épais au fond d’une tasse d’une boisson chaude.
- le lait de riz fait maison est plutôt transparent, pas très opaque.
- les laits de noix fait maison ne se mélangent pas toujours bien avec le café etc…ça fait des “micro-grumeaux”.
Bref: Pas top pour mettre dans le thé ou le café (où il y a besoin que ça soit uniforme, très blanchissant, fluide, etc).
Dans d’autres cas les laits végétaux faits maison peuvent convenir très bien pour:
- les céréales
- les smoothies
- la cuisine (gâteaux, crème épaisse, etc…)
7. Cas rare: “J’ai tout essayé, rien ne me va”
Pour les gens qui ont vraiment, mais alors vraiment beaucoup de mal (ce qui est extrêmement rare parce qu’il y tellement de choix et de laits végétaux très bons): une solution de transition consiste à le mélanger d’abord avec du lait de vache, puis en diminuant progressivement (sur un mois par exemple) jusqu’à éliminer complètement le lait de vache.
8. Exemples de laits végétaux
- noix de coco
Ces laits végétaux ont été observés en France.
La liste est en réalité très longue mais les disponibilités varient selon les pays. Certaines personnes font leur propre lait végétal à partir d’autres plantes.
9. As-t-on vraiment besoin du lait dans la nutrition ?
On pose trop rarement cette question pourtant ça devrait être la première question quand on cherche à remplacer le lait de vache.
Non, le lait végétal (ou autre) n’est pas du tout vital sur le plan nutritionnel.
Une alimentation végétalienne bien implémentée (variée, riche en aliments complets non-transformés, avec un supplément de B12) satisfait les besoins alimentaires.
Certains laits végétaux (ou pas) sont souvent renforcés en:
- Vitamine B12: l’indispensable du/de la végétalien-n-e. On peut la prendre en supplément à part.
- Calcium: pas indispensable dans une alimentation végétalienne équilibrée.
- Vitamine D: attention, elle est le plus souvent pas végane (laine de mouton). La vitamine D végane peut s’obtenir par une:
- exposition au soleil en été/hiver en extérieur, en tenant compte de l’indice UV au sol et du teint de la peau
- et/ou par supplémentation en vitamine D3 végane (extrait de lichen) en particulier pour l’automne hiver.
- et/ou par exposition de certains champignons au soleil dans des conditions spécifiques, qui forment alors de la vitamine D2.
- iode: les laits de vaches de nos jours ne contiennent plus autant d’iode qu’avant. C’est à cause d’un remplacement d’une sorte de Bétadine jadis utilisée (qui contient de l’iode) par des détergents moins chers (non-iodés) pour nettoyer les mamelles des vaches ou les désinfecter quand elles sont infectées. Des traces d’iode finissaient dans le lait et contribuait à un apport appréciable en iode.
De nos jours, on trouve de e l’iode le sel iodé contient, et pour les personne qui adoptent un régime sans sel, ou dont le sel n’est pas iodé, prenez un supplément d’iode, ça coûte trois fois rien et ça évite des problèmes de thyroïde.
- autres nutriments: les nutriments rajoutés ne sont pas nécessaires, ni indispensables, et souvent inefficaces sauf en cas de grave déficience. Une alimentation végétalienne avec des aliments complets (non-tranformés) fournit les nutriments dans leur forme naturelle où ils sont le mieux assimilés si besoin.
Beaucoup d’idées de petits dej’ ne font pas appel au lait. Il est aussi possible d’apprendre à aimer ses boissons sans lait. Le lait est rarement indispensable en cuisine. Donc on peut vivre très heureux sans une dépendance au lait, même végétal.
Je connais des gens qui le font, ils ont pris l’habitude et ne manquent de rien 🙂
Bonne transition à vous !
Beaucoup de gens voient les atrocités de l’exploitation des animaux et pensent que cela se produit seulement dans les processus industriels de masse. S’ouvre alors le grand piège du BIO et du local pour revenir au fantasme des petites exploitations avec des vaches et des poules heureuses en plein air sur de la pelouse bien verte et le mythe des aliments d’origine animale bons pour la santé. Puis tant qu’à faire local, autant aller chercher nos animaux morts et sécrétions de vache d’une ferme dont on connaît bien le propriétaire et à qui ont fait confiance. C’est l’histoire classique de celui ou celle qui fait ses premiers pas dans la prise de conscience des problématiques de l’exploitation animale, ça a été mon cas.
L’intention est bonne mais je vais vous faire gagner du temps.
Voici ce qu’il se passe en réalité quand on consomme des produits d’origine animale BIO ou locaux:
En bio, en local, ou sur même sur sa propre ferme, de l’esclavage reste de l’esclavage, les maîtres esclavagistes gentils n’enlèvent rien à la brutalité de l’esclavage et de l’exploitation.
Tuer bio, local, industriel, hallal, kosher, AOC, label rouge, etc…ça reste tuer aussi.
Pour vraiment comprendre pourquoi il y a un gros problème éthique considérez ceci:
Imaginez que vous héberger chez nous deux femmes humaines. Paulette (avatar humain d’une poulette), et Marguerite (avantage humain d’une vache).
Vous êtes gentil•l•es avec elles et vous les aimez beaucoup. Vous les aimez tellement, que vous faites en sorte qu’elles arrivent jamais à sortir de votre maison ou de votre jardin: clôtures, grillage, la totale.
Vous possédez maintenant ces deux femmes.
Imaginez maintenant que vous allez manger les produits protéinés du cycle menstruelle de Paulette. Après tout elle jette tout ce qui est infécond et qui sort de son corps par le trou de la vie, et il parait que c’est nutritif…
C’est ce qu’on fait avec les poules, les œufs étant leur menstruat, c’est à dire ce qui résulte du cycle menstruel: les règles + des œufs miniscules chez les femmes humaines, des œufs chez les poules.
Marguerite, que vous avez probablement “aidé” à tomber enceinte, vient d’avoir un enfant, ses seins sont énormes. Imaginez que l’adulte que vous êtes pousse le bébé de Marguerite (à qui le lait de sa mère est dédié) et que vous prenez votre tétée régulière sur le sein de Marguerite.
Vous viendrait-il aussi à l’esprit d’attendre que nos convives Marguerite et Paulette meurent pour les manger, ni de les manger avant qu’elle deviennent malades.
C’est pourtant ce qu’on fait avec les animaux même dans le contexte le plus idyllique qui soit: des poules “libres” qu’on aurait dans notre jardin, ou d’une vache qu’on bichonne sincèrement sur une petite ferme toute mignonne.
J’ai pas mentionné que Paulette et Marguerite sont le fruits de croisements génétiques sur des siècles pour qu’elles aient une ponte prolifique et un production de lait hors-norme. Des organismes “naturellement” génétiquement modifiés. Des Frankenstein. Arrêtons de faire se reproduire et de profiter de ses animaux dont l’esclavage est inscrit jusque dans leurs gènes. Une fois nés, ces animaux sont destinés à souffrir à cause d’un système reproductif rendu anormalement actif pour satisfaire des exigences commerciales.
Les bichonner ne changera rien, bichonne-t-on vraiment une femelle à qui on va tâter les mamelles alors qu’elle n’a pas de voix pour dire si elle est consentante ou pas? Un peu de raison! Foutons leur la paix une bonne fois pour toute.
“Oui mais une vache a mal aux mamelles si on la trait pas.”
Faux. ça c’est quand dans l’industrie du lait, quand on a séparé et tuer le vaux qui était censé boire le lait et éviter naturellement une accumulation de lait et les douleurs qui vont avec.
“Oui mais une vache ça produit du lait, faut bien en faire quelque choses sinon franchement c’est du gaspillage.”
Les vaches comme les humains ont besoin d’être enceintes pour produire du lait., ça se fait pas tout seul. Comme les humains elles sont pas là pour “donner du lait” mais pour allaiter leurs enfants. 100% de ce lait est pour le bébé, personne d’autres, et certainement pas un adulte qui a arrêté le sein depuis très longtemps.
C’est la plus grosse erreur que fait le grand public.
Dans l’esprit du/de la consomma-teur-trice lambda, bio veut dire meilleure santé et on nous le vend comme ça.
Dans la réalité le bio, qui n’est pas que le rejet des produits chimiques mais surtout un ensemble de pratiques agricoles, cherche avant tout à résoudre des problèmes environnementaux (biodiversité, pérennité de la constitution minérale et de la vie biologique des sols…) et politiques (regain de liberté du fermier: réutilisation de la graine, non-dépendance aux semenciers et aux firmes de pesticides, engrais, etc). Statistiquement parlant, le BIO pour la santé du grand public est un mythe.
Manger des protéines animales BIO pour une meilleure santé, c’est un peu comme fumer des cigarettes, mais attention…des cigarettes de tabac BIO s’il vous plaît!
C’est exactement pareil.
Mais le Roundup ça peut pas être bon pour la santé?! Et les antibiotiques systématiques dans la viande? Et tous ces agriculteurs atteints de cancers?!
Bah oui, je suis d’accord. Mais tout est relatif: il y a davantage de lait cancérigène dans le lait qu’il n’y a de pesticides, et il y a davantage de viande cancérigène dans la viande qu’il n’y a d’antibiotiques.
C’est principalement la santé des travailleurs agricoles et des gens qui vivent à proximité immédiate des champs parce que c’est eux qui sont exposés aux hautes doses, en encore, le risque relatif est minime par rapport au risque de base qui consiste à manger une alimentation carnée.
Même bio, ou local, ou “fait maison” la consommation de produits d’origine animale reste extrêmement néfaste à la santé. La diminution du risque de maladie est futile par rapport au gain de santé phénoménal qui consiste à ne plus consommer d’aliments d’origine animale.
Le seul avantage, minime et non-radical, n’est pas à cause du bio mais à cause du prix: Comme les fumeurs qui fument moins quand les taxes sur les cigarettes augmentent, les personnes dédiées à manger du bio ont probablement tendance à en consommer moins à cause du prix.
Pourquoi quasiment aucun bénéfice de santé avec le BIO animal?
Parce que fondamentalement, en bio ou pas:
- la composition d’une cellule de muscle ou d’organe animal reste la même avec tous les problèmes que ça pose quand on met ça dans un corps humain.
- les protéines animales contiennent toutes des amino-acides sulfurés, cause fondamental du lien entre protéines animales et cancer.
- les protéines animales sont anaboliques chez l’humain, elles augmentent la fabrication de facteurs de croissance qui font la promotion de cancers, et accélèrent le vieillissement.
- il y a inévitablement des hormones bien naturelles qui sont des perturbateurs endocriniens pour l’humain de toute façon
- des protéines étrangères au corps humain que le système immunitaire va combattre en permanence entraînant des réactions auto-immunes.
- le fer (heme) d’origine animale va causer des toxicités en fer et une oxydation dans la paroi intestinale
- notre flore intestinale qui décompose les protéines animales est putréfactive, pathogène et cause d’inflammation.
- la composition du lait va contenir de toute façon de la caséine cancérigène, des doses fortes d’œstrogène bovin, etc…
- le lait va causer de toute façon une ostéoporose, des allergies, des réaction auto-immunes etc…
Bon…la liste est très longue mais je vais m’arrêter là.
Visionnez le documentaire Forks Over Knives. En Français c’est “La Santé Dans L’assiette” (avec le Dr. T. Colin Campbell) pour plus de détails.
Une vache qui pète reste une vache qui pète! Enfin…une vache qui rote parce que le méthane responsable de gaz à effet de serre que les vaches émettent est principalement roté.
Les animaux où qu’ils soient urinent, défèquent, consomment des antibiotiques, même en bio, même sur des petites exploitations “toutes mignonnes”.
Ces déchets sont retrouvés dans les nappes phréatiques (eau de boisson humaine) et tuent la biodiversité dans les sols et dans les cours d’eau.
Donc si vous retirez votre pollution indirecte de la production de masse pour la diluer un peu partout sur le territoire, cela ne fait que déplacer le problème plutôt que le résoudre. Il y aura toujours autant de méthane, de nitrates, etc.
L’ampoule n’a pas été inventée par améliorations successives et incrémentales de la bougie. Le néon n’a pas été inventé par des petites modification sur une ampoule à filament.
Si vous cherchez à améliorer votre santé, la conditions des animaux, et réduire votre impact sur l’environnement, il ne sert à rien de chercher le meilleur moyen de faire quelque chose qu’il nous faut abandonner.
L’esclavage modéré, la pollution raisonnée, le génocide avec dignité, le suicide alimentaire modéré ne sont pas des solutions.
Je vous encourage à voir la réalité en face, et à adopter le plus directement possible, parce qu’il y a urgence, une alimentation végétale et un style de vie végane.
If you are still wondering why on Earth it matters that foods should be whole foods, look into Whole foods FAQ. That article addresses the “Why?” part of the question. Why whole-foods? Why not processed foods? Why low-fat? Why no oil? Why no salt? Why no sugar? Basically explaining why there is a problem.
What about the solution?
Well, the present article is the “What?” part of question. What is a whole food? What is not? What to buy instead? What to do instead?
~ WHOLE-FOOD MENU ~
ALTERNATIVES TO OIL / ADDED FAT / HIGH-FAT FOODS
SWEETNESS AND SUGAR
ALTERNATIVES TO SUGAR TO SWEETEN FOOD
ALTERNATIVES TO SALT
LEGUMES, PULSES, BEANS, AND PEAS
LEAVENING / RISING DOUGHS / BAKING NEEDS
PICKLES, FERMENTED AND PRESERVED PLANT FOODS
HOW TO DO WHEN EATING OUT?
Do we really need restaurants and take-aways to “eat out”?
Restaurants, take-aways, cafés, and other food venues
There are two ways I know to explain which foods are whole food, which are not, which are acceptable health-wise and which are not. Different people learn in different ways. Some prefer to learn by concepts, some prefer by examples.
If you learn with concepts, what to chose is easy, neat and concise:
“Eat nothing else but low-fat whole plant foods.
If it’s not entirely made of plants, don’t have it.
If it doesn’t look like a plant, make sure the low-fat whole plant food was used and nothing was discarded, nutritionally damaged, extracted nor added that is not a low-fat whole food plant itself.”
That’s it, done. I always prefer positive wording. Simple powerful concepts like this work really well for me. The whole-food concept is a like an alphabet. Once you get the new concept right, the pantry and fridge look more like it, and you then build upwards from that and can’t possibly go wrong. That approach can’t possibly be mistaken for something restrictive. There’s no right way to eat the wrong foods when it comes to health, so drop meals and products that contain processed foods altogether, don’t try to fix processed foods. That strange planet of delicious disease is already obsolete. Just focus on building a *whole* new edifice, that of delicious health, with solid whole-foods foundations.
Now, if you learn best through examples, it’s a bit different. There’s no other way for this than go through a “good/not good” list which may look like a long prohibitive list. But what is really prohibitive? Could it be the insane extent of our reliance on processed foods that is prohibitive to our health? Reading this, chances are that you leave animals alone and off the plate. So imagine making a list of all animal foods people should replace or stop having? It will inevitably be a long list, and will inevitably seem restrictive to some. But you would know better, you would know the reality of it from experience. You would know, that there is no restriction/prohibition when you actually eat far more nutrients, add more years to your life and more life to your years. You would know, it’s not about cutting/eliminating foods (or rather non-foods), it’s fundamentally about having the right foods and nothing else.
Particularly nowadays, and particularly in certain foods cultures, listing all the processed foods we should be weaning from or replacing to eat the right foods can be quite a mouthful!
But I braced myself today to put it all down so it can go to help whoever wants to go whole-food; starting from where many people are (processed foods from supermarkets, restaurants, cafés, take-aways) and moving to food compatible with health that you prepare yourself from whole plants.
Finally, I must insist on two points:
- Of all processed foods or non-foods below, oil, salt, and sugar will be of particular concern due the particular health concern with these. Please do not use them and consider instead the easy alternatives offered below.
- Every transition in life can take time to be operated painlessly and sustainably. This list should not scare you. It took us about a year from quitting sugar to being almost 100% whole-foods with no oil, salt, or sugar. With the advice below we could have done that much faster! If you can operate all these changes cold-tofu, do it, you have all the tools now! If you need time, do them one step at a time, just keep challenging yourself until you reach the destination. Pain should not be part of this journey. Do observe priorities: Start first with eliminating oil and high-fat foods. Meanwhile, reduce down to zero your use of sugar and salt gradually enough so it’s not a pain. Meanwhile also, replace the non-whole foods by whole foods. Start with those you eat most, what is it for you? pasta? bread? and rice? Then expand to other things. Expanding your whole-food repertoire can also be done adding whole foods you never had before. We’re learning for example how to prepare whole grain groats as a staple, or legumes. It’s not a very Anglo-saxon thing to do but if other cultures figured it out, and it’s whole foods, that’s more options for you!
In short: no oil *at all*, nothing that is high-fat. What does that mean? For an adult who is 100% oil-free low-fat whole-food nutrition (already a big pre-requisite) : no more than 1~2 tablespoons daily total of any combination of nuts/seeds/avocado. Coconut best avoided. Absolutely zero of all of these of recovering from cardiovascular disease.
Oils and fats are found naturally in all low-fat whole plant foods in sufficient amounts. By energy: kale: 12% (of calories are from fat); brown rice: 6%; potatoes : 1%, etc. Given enough diversity in a low-fat whole-food plant diet, *all* our fat nutritional needs are met, including omega-3. Yes, from just plants only. The addition of fat whether extracted from whole foods (i.e. oil) or even high-fat from whole foods (i.e. nuts and avocado) in large amounts is not just unnecessary, but majorly harmful. It contributes greatly to cardiovascular and metabolic disease; ending in heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, higher incidence of cancer, and of a number of degenerative diseases. In short, the unforgiving price to pay for our by-default under-informed, over-optimistic illusion of “moderation”.
Not whole foods, because all oils are extracts, or TO NOT EAT:
Everything that is called “oil” when you buying it from a supermarket, an online store, “health” store, organic shop, or even if you press it yourself from your uncle’s fair-trade organic locally-grown olives. It doesn’t matter. Do not have any oil, whether it’s:
- Cold-pressed oils
- Extra virgin oils
- Extra virgin cold-pressed oils
- Organic oils
- High-end oils
- High-quality oils
- Vegetable oils
- Coconut oils
- Olive oil
- <plant> oil
- Minimally-processed oil
- coconut cream
- coconut milk
- grated coconut
- all chocolate (=> cocoa powder although not technically a whole food, is a high-fiber less-high-fat food, a far more acceptable alternative to chocolate if you’re going to use chocolate)
If you are recovering from any cardiovascular disease (from impotence all the way to surviving a stroke or heart attack) the above was the #1 (plant) things you must start having an absolute zero amount of, besides of course ditching absolutely everything of animal origin.
Whole foods, but use at most in very low amounts*:
* Very low amounts = ~1 teaspoon per person per meal, maximum. Absolute zero if recovering from cardiovascular disease.
- nuts and seeds
- cocoa beans
Whole foods, but best avoided or kept for occasional use*
* Occasional use = 1 tablespoon per person once a month at most maybe. Absolute zero if recovering from cardiovascular disease.
- coconut flesh from fresh coconut (even then still among the worst possible whole-food fat there is, almost entirely saturated fat). At home we cut one yearly and freeze it for the whole year. That’s becoming how much coconut we have yearly for two people. Amazing taste, but not worth it as a staple.
Just skip the oil. Below is how to do that for common instances where most people use oil. I know it’s hard at first to think it’s even possible to prepare food without oil. But, trust me, let go of being anxious around this, everything below is based on 6 months of kitchen experience of home-cooking without any oil at all.
How to replace oil to heat up spices
If you need to develop the aroma of certain seeds like is done in Indian cooking, just dry roast on less-than-medium heat for a few minutes while stirring, then add wet foods (like chopped onions/garlic) first, then ground spices.
How to replace oils for stir-fries and caramelizing onions/garlic:
There are a few alternative options to oil-frying:
- Water-frying on high heat with just enough water so it won’t stick nor burn. Add ground spices if needed only after the onions/garlic have softened and become transparent.
- OR: Chop onions and garlic very finely and stir on less-than-medium heat in a pan on its own (no added water). Because it is chopped finely it will cook at similar temperatures as with oil, without burning because finely-cut onions/garlic give off their own water.
- OR: If stir-frying or frying is important to give a certain taste to food: consider baking instead. It works for French fries, potato wedges, garlic, bell-pepper etc. If you ever find that it makes the foods too dry, then bake a combination of dry/hard foods along with moist/wet foods. You will end up with nice glossy foods that look and feel exactly as if they were stir-fried.
These may not always give exactly the same result as with oil of course, but close enough that people will not even notice you changed something.
How to replace oil/added fat in baking:
Don’t be anxious, just skip the oil, it works in many cases for cakes, breads, etc.
In cakes and breads, oil serves the purpose of holding moisture, that can be done with prune paste. The amount of prune paste* is amount of oil needed divided by 3, there will not be a prune taste. Don’t worry your final food will not taste of prunes. Try for yourself, we did, as recommended in the China Study Cookbook.
*For Wellington, large bags of prunes can be found at reasonably low cost, in bulk, at Moore Wilsons. Store them in the freezer, and you’re good to go for ages.
Other ingredients help hold moisture as well: certain flours more than others, aquafaba, ground flaxseed, applesauce, and other whole-food vegan egg replacements. Also wet foods like applesauce, zucchini, beetroot, bananas, give great moisture-holding.
For dressings and dips:
See Section below “Dressings”.
To prevent sticking:
Use baking paper, non-stick pans, cast iron pans if you don’t like non-stick coatings, or even any regular stainless steel pot with lower heat.
Most sugars even the “brown” ones are generally extracted saps from trees or flowers, roots or corn, etc. Them being brown or having some nutrients does not make thin either health promoting not whole-foods. They are of similar concern as white sugar.
The sugars naturally found and consumed in whole foods do not pose health problems.
Commercial sweeteners are absolutely not whole foods, they are not even foods. Do not use them.
Besides, some do pose health concerns (like stevia or aspartame) others are experimental (erythritol) and may well be the next aspartame or MSG scandal, a risk we don’t run with corn or dates natural sweetness. The only safe whole-food sweetener I know that is a powerful natural sweeteener called Luo Han Guo (more below)
Sweetening sources that are not whole foods – DO NOT USE
Anything that doesn’t look like a whole plant food, and with the word sugar, syrup, or molasses in it, to list only a few:
- raw cane sugar (or Sucanat)
- raw sugar
- brown sugar
- coconut sugar
- palm sugar
- blackstrap molasses
- maple syrup
- rice syrup
- malt syrup
The most powerful alternative to sugar is to let your taste buds have less sweet foods so that they can learn to become more sensitive to the natural sweet taste of food and beverages. That should allow you to enjoy beverages with no added sweetness of any kind, and to enjoy food at a lower sweetness level. This being said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying sweetness or sweet foods, as long as that comes from whole foods and not extracted sugars.
There are some very common whole-food sources of sweet flavour that you can use:
- Apple sauce
- Date paste
- Date sugar, homemade only, when it’s made from dried pulverized dates = “date flour”, not the commercial “date sugar” which is often date-extracted sugar and therefore just as mertabolically hazardous as any other sugar.
- Prune paste
- Raisins, currants, sultanas and other dried fruits but read the ingredients: some come loaded with oil, sugar, preservatives which you can tell form the ingredients or the sodium content for preservatives.
- Sweet potatoes like baked orange kumara
- Sweet corn
- Whole-food sweetener: Luo Han Guo*, found in the near tea in many Chinese Shops. Boiled in water it is a very potent natural sweetener with, a long history of usage and not a single known health concern to my best current knowledge after researching it. It might be pulverizable into a powder for use in cooking, baking etc.
* For NZ-Wellington: This can be found at Yan’s Supermarket off Webb Street, or in NZ Lower Hutt’s Davis Trading for Lo Han Guo, see tea section.
The issue with salt has little to do with whole-food or not. Salt is simply not a food, so the wholeness (process salt vs unprocessed sea salt) is secondary and does not matter at all. Added salt is used as a flavour enhancer, for people who have grown a habit for it and not yet weaned off.
Unfortunately it is the source of unnecessary stress/damage on cardiovascular health because it creates a state of hypertension to push the sodium out of the body.
Hypertension leads to serious health concerns, and is considered a cardiovascular disease, yet it is virtually entirely caused by eating a lot of salt or preserved/processed foods. The sodium naturally occuring in plants is more than we need.
There is no right way to eat the wrong foods so all the salts below are salts and should never be part of food:
DO NOT USE:
- Himalayan pink salt
- Sea salt
- Kosher salt
- Celtic salt
- Guerande salt
- black salt (also known as “kala namak”)
- blue salt
- soy sauce
- or anything with the word “salt” in it or with outrageously high amounts/concentrations of salt or sodium in it.
If you buy partially processed products (like the jarred salt-free tomato paste we use off-season*) always read the ingredients and nutritional content. Sodium per 100g in whole foods is rarely ever above a few dozens: 5 mg, 10mg, 20mg are numbers that shouldn’t worry you. Just make sure it’s mg (milligrams) not grams like I see sometimes. If you start seeing hundreds, something’s wrong, except for a tiny handful or expections that are naturally high-sodium inside them.
Be aware that salt and sodium also are virtually everywhere in processed foods, from canned foods to cookies, to even dried fruit! In restaurants you may order salt-free food but if they relied on processed foods like pasta, or sauces, etc, those also come generously loaded with sodium. As I said in introduction, do not waste your time trying to fix a broken system, build your own, without any of the otherwise inescapable nonsense.
Quitting all salt, and processed foods, is the single best alternative to salt and sodium.
It can be done painlessly over 3 weeks to 3 months. After only 3 weeks most people start developing a dislike for salted foods and a preference for unsalted foods. Yes, your taste buds are magical, and you need to harness this power you already have.
What to do about flavour? Preparing food for people that are used to salt?
Simply use more of natural flavours!
We put more of the flavourful foods in our cooking: slightly more spices, more carrots, more celery, more onion, garlic, more whole-food sweetness to lift up the taste without salt, more sourness (from lemon or tamarind) or more whole-food sweetness from dates or other naturally sweet foods. If you hit the tongue right it won’t need a bang from salt, even the highly-demanding tongues and palates of people who have not yet weaned off salt.
People on low-sodium dietary lifestyles have used all sorts of spices instead of salt. They like to go by “salt alternatives” and “salt replacements”. I don’t like those phrasings because when you don’t need salt, you don’t need to replace salt.
I offer to transcend the idea of even replacing salt, and simply understanding that our tongue (and nose) is full of sensors for all sorts of things (for the tongue: sweetness, sourness, bitterness…) and your tongue likes a good whip to be happy. So whip up your tongue (wut-tish!) with everything you have that is an actual food, it will thank you for it.
When we quit salt, my first natural urge was to add sourness (lemon/lime) to everything, but that’s just me.
My tongue loves sour, bitter, sweet but not too chilli-hot, I like pungent but not too garliquey. For my partner it’s completely different. My partner likes NOT sour, NOT bitter, NOT as sweet as I do. She likes VERY spicy, NOT pungent, but VERY garliquey. If food isn’t chili-hot, for her, it’s not food! For me it’s the same but with sour.
So each person’s tongue likes to be whiped its own way. Find your taste spot and give it what it needs!
How to do about salt-containing products? like canned chickpeas, dried fruits with high sodium, spice mixes, etc? Simple: dont’ use them. Find salt-free options if it’s trivial to find, or just save time and make your own.
If you have concerns about health:
- The sodium in whole plant foods is far more than sufficient to meet our body’s needs in sodium. Look around, how many land mammals and animals do you see walking around with salt shaker? Salt does not contribute to health.
- For iodine which is important, you don’t have to have get it from chronic hypertension (i.e. salt, iodized), just introduce unprocessed seaweeds *gradually* (for safety) and check their iodine content before using them. While you sort that out an iodine supplement is very encouraged. I wrote a guide to common New Zealand seaweeds you can forage, how to desalt them, and their iodine content.
- Any white rice, because it is “milled” = removing the nutrient-rich outer layer (rice bran), then polished after milling to make it look good again.
Whole-food alternatives to milled/polished white rice:
- Brown rice
- Red rice
- Black rice
- Brown Basmati rice
- Brown Jasmine rice
- Brown Thai rice
Note: There are different “whole” grades of the rices below. Some rices that look whole (with a bran on top) are actually partially milled (to remove bran partially) or partially polished. Producers undoubtedly derive extra profits from bran as a by-product, sold as animal feed, for rice bran oil, etc. Ideally you want a rice that is unmilled and unpolished. Visual examination might be enough, I’ll start paying attention and see if I notice differences.
Not whole foods:
- Split peas
- Split beans
- Red lentils (they are what’s left when you remove the highly-nutritious brans)
Whole-food alternatives to split legumes:
- The unsplit whole grains, i.e. your typical chickpeas or lentils or beans with their skin.
- Standard pasta. This is why:
Whole-food alternative to white pasta:
- Wholemeal or whole grain pasta
- Any pasta made at home from whole grains or whole grain semolina.
Note: Commercial use of the term “whole” can be abused in “wholemeal” pasta due to expectable partial amounts of whole semolina or recombined whole semolina made from refined semolina some extracted bran or fiber to give a whole “feel”.
Most breads marketed as “whole meal” or “whole grain” use most often only a small amount of whole-meal flour 10% to 25% only typically. The rest is baker’s white flour, a highly- refined product. Besides whole-food aspects, baker’s flours or bread flours and the wheats they come from are generally under a lot of pressure to be high-protein, high-gluten, and have extremely specific characteristics all highly focused on one thing: to make their final processing standardized and idiot-proof. That requires both high selection of the wheat, and high processing, both of which make the job easy for bakers but has led to wheats that can nutritionally poor since nutrition never was the concern, unnecessarily high-protein, unnecessarily high-gluten, and which generally seem to cause more health issues than more traditional wheats, not specifically selected or refined for bread or bakers. Few people that are not bakers or cereal producers know this.
Commercial breads also come with high amounts of salt/sodium. About a gram of salt per 100g, and I know from personal experience it’s outstandingly easy to eat not just 100g of bread a day, but many hundred grams, which is utterly unnecessary hypertension on our blood vessels and the organs they supply.
Whole-food alternative to store-bought non whole-food breads:
I already wasted ample time looking for truly 100% whole and salt-free bread, let me save you some time. Like many quests to find healthy foods processed by industry, looking for a truly whole and salt-free bread in shops and bakeries was a quest for the Yeti, the Bigfoot, and the Unicorn combined. I would have made enough bread healthy bread for the year by actually not looking for one.
Solution? Make your own bread at home, with baker’s yeast or a sourdough culture, no salt, and if you want to flavour it maybe throw some fennel seeding in the dough. That’s what we’ve been doing.
If you are a breadoholic, invest 50~100$ into a kneading machine and visit op-shops for secondhand baking trays, rolling pins, whatever you may need.
We don’t often make bread anymore, maybe once or twice a month, about 2 kg, and it never lasts as long as we wish it did! At that pace, I actually love and very much enjoy the (minimal) kneading that is required. No machine or fancy equipment here. Home bread-making can be made very easy and very time-efficient.
There are many recipes online to make bread from 100% whole flour from any grain or seeds that’s suitable to you.
- Pretty much all commercial dressings, primarily due to oil, sugar, salt and other refined ingredients.
Whole-food alternatives to dressings:
- Find recipes for oil-free dressings, and remove salt, replace sugars by whole sweet foods, and high-fat foods by low-fat foods.
- Create your own: Play with sweet whole foods (e.g. apples, raisins and dates), sour whole foods (like lemon or lime) and instead of fatty base like oil or cashews use a starchy base like blended and cooked pea, beans, or grains with enough water will make a nice and runny cream.
- Baking powder (+ extra concern with sodium content as it is sodium bicarbonate)
- Baking soda (+ extra concern with sodium content as it often contains sodium bicarbonate or other sodium salts)
- Citric acid
- Tartaric acid
- Various essences, either natural or artificial flavours
Whole-food alternatives to baking needs:
- Baking yeast
- Sourdough cultures
- Aromas: spices, spice-seeds (fennel, caraway, etc), herbs, real vanilla, grated lemon, dried fruit, orange peels, bananas, etc.
This will not rise instantly, the rising processes takes longer, but good news: you don’t have to sit and stare at breads and cakes leaven! Yeasts are shy and prefer making babies when no one is starring at them and desperately waiting for them to be done 😛 Set an alarm and go on about your life while it’s rising 🙂
These are of particular concern to health not because of the whole-foods being pickled, but because of the ridiculous amounts of salt, oil, sugar and preservatives used to keep those.
I created a project group on Facebook especially for the purpose of pickling and fermenting foods without resorting to any salt, sugar or oil: sauerkraut, pickled lemon, etc.
Whole-food plant-based fermentation, no oil, no sugar, no salt
It’s a very good question!
We all like to go out, have lunch and dinners with friends.
How do we do?
At this point of time, my partner and I eat about 90% of our meals from home-made food. It’s all low-fat, whole-food vegan, with no oil, no salt, no sugar.
We eat from restaurants and cafés about twice a week, that the 10%. The food we eat out is not always perfect, but we try, and it’s been worth trying so far, even if sometimes it’s a bit of a sport. Restaurants like all businesses care first and foremost about one thing, that is making profit. The health officer in that trade is you and you alone, so you get what you encourage and ask for. Restaurants follow what the people holding the money want, and these people need to express their needs.
Everything you didn’t make yourself from scratch using whole plant foods is eating out. If you got your act sorted out, that eating out remains the only possible source of unhealthy eating.
Before zooming on restaurants and take-ways, let’s talk about “eating out”.
First of all there are a number of reasons why people eat out. Convenience, hanging out with people, getting food inspiration, etc…A number of these needs can be met without having to go to a restaurant. Since it can be a bit of challenge getting truly healthy whole foods from restaurants, with the help of like-minded friends we have been federating a culture of healthy eating among our friends and communities. So we’re having more potlucks, more dinners and meals at each others house, etc. To some extent, so many restaurants could exist only on a base of lack of community bonds, lack of time spent in the kitchen, and lack of direct sharing in people’s life. This is easy to remedy: Share and make foods for yourself *and* your friends!
There is also nothing wrong with bringing your own food to work, going to the company/school canteen with your boxes, and sitting at your friends table with your own food. The spotlight won’t be on you too long if you know why you’re doing it and how to articulate it. In fact you may get them to join you…who doesn’t want to spare themselves a heart attack? diabetes? hypertension and all the plagues of animal-based eating?
When eating out we skip everything that is deep-fried, or fried, expect stir-fries, more below on this. What’s left is either vegan or not, and to keep choices large, I include non-vegan options so I can explore if it can be veganized (in passing that encourages vegan options). If something is a stir-fry, I ask to water-fry as I ask for “vegan, no oil, no salt, no sugar”.
“No oil” is currently the most frightening new challenge for most restaurants. Oil is still very central to restaurant/café kitchens and it often seems unconceivable for them to not use oil, either for cooking convenience, time-saving, or for taste. It’s not rare that the person taking our order would go and check with the kitchen to see if they can do that.
Good news though: most often restaurants can remove oil, sugar or salt to some relevant amount, if not entirely. There is of course the odd one out where the waiter “vegan, no oil, no salt, no sugar” and the food comes either stir-fried with oil, or drizzed with it, or far too salty or sweet, it happened…but quite rarely. There is also the odd one out where a restaurant would insist “The chef doesnt’ want to do a stir-fry with no oil, he/she/it needs oil”. Other times, they would honestly say they wish but they can’t because the food is batch-prepared with oil, sugar, or salt. But most of the time they can remove something, if not all.
Where my face is not familiar yet, waiters taking my food order the first time often (unwittingly) patronizingly tell me that the food will not be very good. But that’s their worried untrained palate speaking, so it’s worth insisting that they shouldn’t worry about taste and that I eat like that everyday and like it a lot. They can get surprisingly insisting that your palate will not find it tasty basically, afraid perhaps to serve a customer a very unpalatable experience that may convert into bad business. But be “kindly firm” in those cases. And when you’re done with your meal and thank them before leaving, tell them what you thought about the food (it’s usually good!). It’s usually only the first time, it gets smooth and easy when you go regularly to the same food places. Once you develop relationships with them, if they’re open to it, they eventually get interested into your motivations to order in this unusual way for them.
A friend, Caitlin, also gave me the tip of ordering a few hours in advance, ahead of peak hours. Not sure why that works, but it works for her and for other people apparently.
We have had some really lovely restaurant experiences, some waiters, chefs or restaurants owners that would have dealt with disease themselves or through a close person. They’d know about why eating the way we do is vitally important, and they were accommodating. Such a breeze when that happens!
Such an accommodating place served us this, everything is no oil, no salt, no sugar. 3 out of 4 plates here are low-fat whole foods: Kachumber (Indian salad), wholemeal bread (Indian roti), and the best chana masala (Indian chickpea curry) I’ve had in my life. Only the rice on the top left is not a whole food, but white rice. Not bad at all overall relatively. The restaurant is Rangoli, in Kapiti, NZ. Great friendly/kind service, rather cosy, amazing food, some vegan wines too.
So far, I talked oil, salt, sugar, but that doesn’t make a tofu burger whole-food, does it?
No it doesn’t. At this point of time, most breads in restaurants are white breads (less so in Indian restaurants), pasta is still always refined white pasta, rice is not yet routinely brown rice or another whole rice, etc…We make do our best with what we have at hand. More and more, I do ask though about the wholeness of the pasta, rice, breads. I would know the answer in advance most of the time, so why do I keep asking? Because customers’ questions always act as subtle requests and they are! It can start very constructive educational conversations for the staff and restaurant, as well as for us in terms of the challenges that they encounter, which we may able to help with.
A restaurant we often go to even started to put on the menu that whole-food options are available with no oil, sugar or salt. The owner, it turns out, already had a preference for oil-free food and whole foods and just needed someone to request it to feel motivated to pursue that route.
This restaurant is in Wellington NZ: Adulis African restaurant, proposing currently essentially Ethiopian/Sudanese foods. Currently in the process of going using more whole foods and pro-actively encouraging options with no oil, salt, sugar. Wonderful! This is at long last the future that many of us have been waiting for, it’s amazing! And again, restaurant owner also very cheerful and friendly person, and so is staff generally. That’s becoming more and more one of regular healthy go-tos.
Was this helpful to you?
What did you learn from this?
Do you feel I forget something important in this list?
Is there something you want to suggest adding?
Do you have short videos (< 5 min) that show clearly the products we’re used to being processed from a whole food to an extracted, refined, nutritionally damaged product?
What struggles are you facing with going WFPN (whole-food plant nutrition)?
or with quitting salt, sugar, and oil?
Post you comments below!
Iodine content of New Zealand’s Common Edible Wild Seaweeds, for (low-sodium) adequate iodine intake
This article documents the amount of edible seaweeds commonly found on NZ’s shores, that adults can rely on as their exclusive source of iodine, in replacement for iodized salt. Why would anyone drop salt? That you will get a hint in the second part “The Story” but first…the facts!
It took me so much time to compile all this info together, so today is a very exciting day, finally putting this out for everyone to enjoy 🙂 Here’s the menu, and I wish you a lot of fun in foraging, and a healthy long happy life away from the unnecessary pains of hypertension! Later (in a future post hopefully) I will tell you the story of why I gave up salt completely, and how to achieve that in just about 3 months painlessly. But this post for now is more about the “how” part of staying away from salt.
This article is a work in progress. Since I am starting to have a set of actionable data, I am sharing so you can enjoy it as well.
SEAWEEDS WITH LOW IODINE (FOR EATING)
– Long sea lettuce – Ulva stenophylla
– Nori – Porphyra species– Karengo (Maori)
– Wakame – Undaria pinnatifida
– Bull Kelp – Durvillaea antarctica – Rimurapa/Rimuroa
SEAWEEDS WITH HIGH IODINE (FOR SEASONING)
– Neptune’s necklace – Hormosira banksii
– Bladder kelp – Macrocystis pyrifera – Rimurimu
– Paddle weed – Ecklonia radiata
The seaweeds below are found virtually everywhere on New Zealand coasts, if one is not, another will. There is no need to go specifically to the sites listed below, those are just sites chosen by the scientists for their own reasons. In any case, do your foraging safety homework first: always have a buddy, never pull but instead cut live seaweeds so they can regrow, watch your steps to avoid sea snails on rocks, small stand-alone rocks/boulders can are not stable even if they’re big and heavy, no stream pouring nearby, no industries and boating activity nearby, no sewage discharge nearby…I can’t be thorough here on these.
Basically, this article is not a thorough coastal foraging guide. There are some specific things you may want to know for different aspects of safety, other things you may want to know to minimize your impact on the intertidal biodiversity, some sites may be tapu (considered sacred by Māori) and better left alone, etc. All I do here is document the iodine/sodium content of a few common edibles.
Also, this article focuses on iodine requirement for adults. If you need the seaweed numbers for children or adolescents contact me, I’ll be happy computing them and updating this article for you.
The quantities below only apply to cleaned and dried seaweeds, not to wet seaweeds: not drained, not seaweeds that feel dry-ish to the touch. By dried I mean something you put effort into drying: crispy-dry if thin seaweeds or corn-chips-cracky/dry if thick just to be very clear. The cleaning to reduce salt content consists in soaking in freshwater (non-salty) baths with several water changes.
Seaweeds are known to show some variation in their characteristics like nutrient content, between species even closely related ones, based on the micro-ecosystem, weather, seasons, etc…In fact this applies to all plants, but people tend to be used to the idea that all foods contain exactly what the nutritional facts state. They don’t, those are averages and estimates from ranges that sometimes are very wide! This being said, some of these seaweeds have been measured in different places of a coherent geographic area (NZ) and at different times of the year. Also, the ranges of iodine are generally always in the same narrow range, most often.
Different seaweeds have different “iodine species” (different molecules that contains iodine) and they are not digested the same. So it’s difficult to know how much iodine is absorbable exactly from seaweeds in general, let alone variations among people etc. This article assumes all iodine in the plant is absorbed, it may not be the case, but this assumption provides a additional margin of safety to stay clear from excess. As for staying of deficiency, minimum iodine requirements are likely to be met at doses between the recommended daily value and the tolerable upper limit. Both will be provided.
The unit below will be “mcg / g” means microgram per gram. I prefer this unit for iodine because daily requirements are expressed in micrograms and grams are something people can measure in their kitchen. This unit is the same as “mg / kg” (milligram per kilogram) or “ppm” (parts per million).
The little number between brackets (i.e.  or ) is to direct to the source of that information, listed below in Sources.
If you found in the literature, or measured in your lab other values from these for LOCALLY HARVESTED/FARMED (in New Zealand) seaweeds named below, please comment the sources or drop me an email and I’ll get in touch with you to ask for the more info to update this article.
Long sea lettuce – Ulva stenophylla – (Maori name?)
Image credits: Photo: Algaebase;
Illustration: Setchell and Gardner, 1920b
More info: http://www.marinelife.ac.nz/species/1052
Note: Ulva stenophylla is a specific species of Ulva (sea lettuces). Data provided may be different for other Ulva. To illustrate that, for instance Ulva stenophylla was found to have double the protein of Ulva lactuca , another sea lettuce. Nothing guarantees all Ulva have the same nutritional profile.
Wild samples (3): 27 ±12 mcg/g 
The adult DRI of 150 mcg/day is attained with: ~10g (washed, dried, sodium: ~20mg)
The NZ Tolerable upper Limit is attained with: ~35g (washed, dried, sodium: ~55mg)
(DRI = Daily Recommended Intake, TUL = Tolerable Upper Limit, defined by NZ, as of 2010)
Wild samples (3):
Onehunga Bay, Auckland April 2004
Onehunga Bay, Auckland April 2004
Onehunga Bay, Auckland August 2004
Nori – Porphyra species – Karengo (Maori)
Image credits: (left) Kim Westerskov;
(right) Wendy Nelson, NIWA
More info: http://www.marinelife.ac.nz/species/990
Wild samples (3): 64 ±21 mcg/g 
Commercial sample (1): 45.03 mcg/g  (within range of wild)
DRI for iodine (150 mcg/day) is attained with: ~4g (washed, dried, sodium: ~6mg)
TUL for iodine (1100 mcg/day) is attained with: ~13g (washed, dried, sodium: ~22mg)
(DRI = Daily Recommended Intake, TUL = Tolerable Upper Limit, defined by NZ, as of 2010)
Wild samples (3):
Nelson May-October 2004 (3)
Commercial sample (1):
Kaikoura Coast 2004
Wakame – Undaria pinnatifida – (not a native plant => no Maori name)
Image credits: © Jon Sullivan
Image cropped from original..
some rights reserved
More info: http://www.marinelife.ac.nz/species/1053
Wild samples (3): 171 ±28 mcg/g 
Commercial sample (1): 100.67 mcg/g  (close to range of wild)
DRI for iodine (150 mcg/day) is attained with: ~1g (washed, dried, sodium: ~40mg)
TUL for iodine (1100 mcg/day) is attained with: ~5g (washed, dried, sodium: ~200mg)
(DRI = Daily Recommended Intake, TUL = Tolerable Upper Limit, defined by NZ, as of 2010)
Wild samples (3):
Nelson, April–September 2004 (3)
Commercial sample (1):
Wellington Harbour, 2004
Bull Kelp – Durvillaea antarctica – Rimurapa/Rimuroa (Maori)
Image credits: © lupra, all rights reserved
More info: http://www.marinelife.ac.nz/species/808
Wild samples (3): 291.9 ±270 mcg/g 
This seaweed has a very wide variation of iodine content. Only a tolerable upper limit can be given for the worst-case scenario.
That amount which should be safe in terms of avoiding excess can be in certain cases too low to meet daiy recommended value. This seaweed is safe for occasional seasoning, but not recommended to rely on safely as one’s daily only source of iodine.
TUL for iodine (1100 mcg/day) is attained with *potentially*: ~2g (washed, dried, sodium: ~100mg)
Wild samples (3):
Piha, Auckland, NZ , April 2004 (2)
Maori Bay, Auckland, NZ, in August 2004 (1)
Use only as seasoning: from the same way most people sprinkle salt or pepper, to rather the way toddlers would sprinkle super hot chilli pepper in their food 🙂
Neptune’s necklace – Hormosira banksii – (Maori name?)
Image credits: © Melissa Hutchison
Image cropped and levels adjusted from original..
some rights reserved
More info: http://www.marinelife.ac.nz/species/862
Wild samples (3) : 1041 ±292 mcg/g 
DRI for iodine (150 mcg/day) is attained with: ~0,2g (washed, dried, sodium: ~10mg)
TUL for iodine (1100 mcg/day) is attained with: ~0,8g (washed, dried, sodium: ~50mg)
(DRI = Daily Recommended Intake, TUL = Tolerable Upper Limit, defined by NZ, as of 2010)
If you do not have a microgram scale, to visualise how much that is, start from a large amount that your scale can measure (i.e. 10g) and divide the pile of seaweed just visually and with your hands, until you divide enough to reach those values. Divide 10g ÷ 2 =5g, ÷5 =>1g, ÷5 => 0.2g, *4 = 0.8g
Wild samples (3):
Piha, Auckland April 2004
Ti Point, Leigh April 2004
Beaumont, Auckland August 2004
Bladder kelp – Macrocystis pyrifera – Rimurimu (Maori)
Image credits: © Sue Mcgaw
Image cropped from original.
some rights reserved
More info: http://www.marinelife.ac.nz/species/894
Iodine concentrations reported:
2115.81 mcg/g* 
DRI for iodine (150 mcg/day) is attained with: ~0,07g (washed, dried, sodium: ~3mg)
TUL for iodine (1100 mcg/day) is attained with: ~0,5g (washed, dried, sodium: ~20mg)
(DRI = Daily Recommended Intake, TUL = Tolerable Upper Limit, defined by NZ, as of 2010)
* Commercial sample (1):
Tory Channel, near Nelson, NZ, 2003. (Sold as “kelp pepper”)
Paddle Weed – Ecklonia radiata – (Maori name?)
More info: http://www.marinelife.ac.nz/species/811
Wild samples (4): 3990 ±242 mcg/g 
Commercial samples (1): 3719.45 mcg/g  (within range of wild)
DRI for iodine (150 mcg/day) is attained with: ~0,04g (washed, dried, sodium: ~1mg)
TUL for iodine (1100 mcg/day) is attained with: ~0,25g (washed, dried, sodium: ~8mg)
(DRI = Daily Recommended Intake, TUL = Tolerable Upper Limit, defined by NZ, as of 2010)
You need a microgram scale if you want to visualize these amounts.
Wild samples (4):
Maori Bay, Auckland April 2004
Matheson Bay, Auckland April 2004
Beaumont, Auckland August 2004
Takapuna, Auckland August 2004
Commercial sample (1):
Wairarapa Coast 2004
Detail of the method used for calculating amounts of seaweed to attain adult DRI or TUL:
For DRI, the worst-case scenario is when the wild seaweed has the lowest possible average concentration.
This is because you want to have at least the DRI, so even the lowest concentration (in theory*) meets the needs.
Worst-case iodine concentration = Average of wild <minus> standard error (the number after ±)
For TUL, the worst-case scenario is when the wild seaweed has the highest possible average concentration.
This is because you want to not exceed the upper limit, so even the highest concentration (in theory*) meets the needs.
Worst-case iodine concentration = Average of wild <plus> standard error (the number after ±)
Then divide UL or DRI by worst-case concentration => How much covers the needs.
The sodium estimations are obtained in the following way: Average sodium concentration for that species <multiplied by> amount to meet DRI or TUL. The sodium quantities have their own standard error (small variations) but since the sodium amounts are extremely very low, high precision is irrelevant.
* There is no guarantee that seaweeds you may forage will match these number. They are quite likely too, but also may no. That means you can get “worse” with what you forage than my worst case-scenarios. Realistically, since people eat seaweed without caring at all to begin with, the guidelines and maximum edible amounts are very useful and far less risky than eating with no guideline.
Seaweeds are like Rome, all roads lead to them. I love to forage, to try new things in the kitchen, to try plant foods I never had, and to make sure people have the nutrients and health they need. These are some of many avenues where my insatiable curiosity roams to play, and each of them separately took me to seaweeds, like by enchantment. Can you imagine how fulfilling it can be walking by the beach and just snapping photos of seaweeds and intertidal species, going to the library to find books with pictures, learning to recognize, and then be foraging, preparing, something delicious and which takes an important place in nutrition? As fulfilling as falling in love for the first time. That is what life is all about, and I have yet a new lover. This time it is seaweeds!
Since transitioning to whole-food eating for evident health reasons, my partner and I no longer consume salt at home, like, interestingly, millions of other land-bound animal species that do very well without a salt shaker. Yes folks, sodium is of vital importance. What you may not know is that all the vital sodium you need, and far more than you need, is in all sorts of plant foods you eat, but we’ll keep the detailed story for another day, subscribe the RSS if you want to keep posted on new posts. Anyhow, since something as harmful as salt had been chosen as a vehicle for iodine fortification: if you skip the salt, you also skip the iodine, at least in iodine depleted soils like in New Zealand.
So we had three or really two choices:
- Replace the salt shaker by some sort of iodine supplement (in cooking, or as a tablet) but we had lost the salt shaker reflex and it is weird taking a pill each breakfast. You see, a cherry-flavoured vitamin B12 that melts in the mouth, once a week, is not a problem, but an iodine drug-like pill everyday, in a pill box and had with a glass of water, not for us…too medication-like.
- Rely on eating sea-animals (fishes, mollusks, etc…) but there’s a major problem with that.
Recently, we fixed an urgently needed upgrade in our frankly standard and deficient knowledge on animal exploitation and the pressing issues related. Watch these documentaries Earthlings, Seaspiracy, Cowspiracy, to get a better idea what made us a bit less less ignorant on rather very important things. Anyway we decided it made complete sense to stay clear of intentionally killing/exploiting animals and better to instead just leave them alone along with the ecosystems they live in => Everything but sea animals, not even an option.
- Simpler, tastier, and far more fun: Learn to forage seaweeds! Go have a fun walk on the beach regularly, forage seaweeds and eat the right amount regularly. Use the right ones as a food and the right ones as a pepper (to sprinkle in small amounts).
Option #3 is very appealing now 🙂
Before that, my first approach was “iodine supplementation only” as can be appreciated in this article. I was quite wary of variations in iodine content of seaweeds, some of which are enormous, and I did not want to take the risk. Having learned a bit more about seaweeds since that article, and a bit more about iodine acceptable intakes, I feel safe dropping the iodine supplement and relying more on locally foraged seaweeds. A decision like this is not done lightly and required good hands-on and knowledge on a few things:
- knowing iodine concentrations in local seaweeds locally documented (so basically not something you read about “kombu” or “kelp” in general as a product, but science journals publishing iodine levels in clearly named and specific seaweed species harvested locally). That’s the only thing this article will help with.
- a good ability to recognize exactly those species when foraging (not too hard but must be learned and practiced)
- foraging safety (i.e. foraging fresh seaweeds instead of decaying ones, away from sources of pollution such as manufactures, landfills, sewage …)
- nutritional awareness (safe levels of iodine).
 JL Smith , G Summers & R Wong (2010) Nutrient and heavy metal content of edible seaweeds in New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science, 38:1, 19-28, DOI: 10.1080/01140671003619290
When popular media relayed WHO’s statements on the carcinogenic nature of processed and cured meat, were you surprised? I was not. I knew the science, and the politics, I just wish everybody knew as well. This is what motivated me to write this article.
About the facts:
The facts come in a bit late, don’t they? And how selective was that still!
There is far more to animal products consumption and disease than the reductionist link between processed/red meats on just cancer. So from the science standpoint, that WHO announcement really did not teach me anything new, it also came to the public, far too late.
The question is: Why? Why isn’t the full extent of best practice widely broadcast loudly to the public as soon as the evidence is strong enough?
Well, the second aspect in which the WHO statement failed to surprise me is politics.
About the politics:
History has a bad habit of repeating itself. There is a major political dimension to such statements. It is not the first time that a major industry faces the economical threat of the truth coming into the public’s hands. This has been well-documented and the patterns are crystal-clear to me. But I want you to see it as well because it helps make wiser and life-saving choices. Today I want to save you thousands of pages of reading and get that clear in this relatively short and well-documented article. That’s the good news of history repeating itself, those who know the patterns can predict things far ahead of time, I’d love everyone to know! So let’s go back in a history similar to that of meat: the history of the cigarette. Let’s see how it helps predict the truth about our past relationship to meat, and more interestingly the future of meat. Let’s travel in the inevitable future and hopefully make it happen faster.
To do so, I will simply share my notes on the chapter “Saving the Cigarette” by Devra Davis in “The Secret History of the War on Cancer“. I highly recommend this book if you want a well-documented account of industry vs. health battles in recent history she has been at the forefront all her life. She focused on stories looking as far as the Nazi times up to now. I will elaborate on the Nazi German bit. We will also see if the pattern of public manipulation and fraud that happened with tobacco can apply to the meat, dairy, and egg industry. It may have already started…So we will pause one example of a communication from the meat industry, and analyze communication strategies in details. Because I love to have a solution to offer when I point to a problem, I’ll leave you with further practical advice of things you can do right now to avoid being taken advantage of any further. Happy ending…
But first, the rather epic story of the cigarette.
TOBACCO – A HISTORY OF CORPORATE DECEIT AND PUBLIC DENIAL
Chapter 7 : Saving Cigarettes
From the 1960s, US NCI’s smoker head Kenneth Endicott, and anti-tobacco Ernst Wynder got together to try and devise a safe cigarette. Wynder who had linked tobacco to cancer, also knew, perhaps from Graham’s death, that smokers wouldn’t give up smoking even with the best facts. Since it was going to be harder to get more smokers, the strategy now consisted in keeping the smokers addicted for longer. Filters were introduced but that was not enough. In 1967, $30 million of taxpayers money was spent by NCI to create a safer cigarette, about the same amount in the U.K.
Some cigarettes with filter actually had more nicotine and tar than unfiltered cigarettes, and the cigarettes that were retaining tar was also retaining taste and did not sell. In the efficient filters, it was crocidolite that was used, a filter for radioactive particles, made from a blue kind of asbestos. Less cancer-causing tar, more cancer-causing asbestos.
Because filters removed taste, the idea became to have a filter but one that would allow taste-causing tar to flow through. Then cigarette manufacturers found that by mixing some of the tobacco scraps with tobacco, the tar readings were lower but the smoke was still good.
NCI gathered bright scientists and funded their mission to develop a safer cigarette, even if privately the scientists knew “safe cigarette” is an oxymoron.
1969: Gio Gori became head of the Less Hazardous Cigarette Working Group, who unlike Wynder, had little knowledge and was easily disliked. He particularly lost credibility when he stated that filter cigarettes are safer, when in fact in was thought they’re worse because people smoke deeper and more cigarettes with filtered cigarettes. From 1954 to 1976, so before and after filters, the average smoker went from 22 to 30 cigarettes a day. But to attract public funding for research on a safe cigarette, Gori went against all his more scientifically-versed colleagues to build strong ties elsewhere, and promised that a safe cigarette was around the corner. He successfully had a set of research published, which ultimately made it to the prestigious journal Science. The tobacco sales doubled within two weeks for the brand mentioned in the paper as safe. However Califano, a powerful aide to President Johnson, wanted in 1978 to set up extremely hard preventive and tax rules on tobacco but faced opposition and threats from tobacco defenders saying he disregarded “economic realities” of the tobacco industry. North Carolina, the main producer of tobacco, was a part of Carter’s 1979 reelection growing campaign.
1979: The AMA (American Medical Association) officially recognizes that tobacco causes cancers, 15 years after the Surgeon’s general report. Days after, Gori published articles referring by brand the least hazardous cigarettes, which soon got him fired from government.
Sheehy of British American Tobacco preferred to carry out research on acceptability that smoking is personal and small risk and of the low risk of passive smoking, rather than on accepting that cigarettes are unsafe and designing a safe one.
The debate over tobacco capitalized on the scientists ability to love arguing, while it was clear compounds gave cancers to animals. The tobacco industry’s last science-based efforts was to nail in people mind that studies on rodents don’t apply to humans, although only 300 genes differ.
Sir Bradford Hill despair of the manipulation of public health studies in the debate over the hazards of smoking, and laid down principles to decide whether an exposure gives a specific health condition. By looking at statistics, statistician look for measurable differences between groups and then try to estimate if these differences are statistically relevant or not. To do so, we calculate the odds that the measured difference is accidental, it is the p-value, P can range form 0 to 1. If p=100%, the measured difference means nothing, if p=0,05 (the arguable maximum accepted limit in modern science), there is a 5% chance the results would be random.
For rare events or small numbers, the p-value is not used but confidence intervals instead. A confidence interval of 95% means there is a 5% chance the result would fall out of that range.
Epidemiologists also look at the dose-dependent effect of exposures, even if some people are armed with better resistance than others.
Hill urged to statisticians : “Too often I suspect we waste a great deal of time, we grasp the shadow and lose the substance, we weaken our capacity to interpret data and to take reasonable decisions. (…) All scientific work is incomplete (…) that does not confer us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, or to postpone the action it appears to demand at a given time”.
Hill also know that the problem is not only a statistical one, it is a political one. The Carter administration was filled with the influence of the tobacco industry. Most people were smokers, and the people in key pro-health positions were ordered to not carry out work that somewhat poses a threat to the tobacco industry. PR specialist Bernays had devised a very clever plan for his very rich client and knew how to manipulate public opinion, and use the biases of smoker scientists or people in government to act on the side of the plans for the tobacco industry.
That idea that health is the consequence of lifestyle was not a popular one in the U.S., where people believed bad health was a result of poor morals or bad luck.
But that changed as medical practices changed and statistical work could tell what was worked and what didn’t. That work gave a hard time to the tobacco industry, which would accept the evidence one bit at a time, and delay its acceptance as long as possible.
Judge Gladys Kessler has clear opinions about the ability of democratic societies to rely on expert advice as she found tobacco firms guilty of using zeal and deception for financial success without regard for the consequences on the public. What information is permitted to get to the marketplace, who decides when to release findings about public health hazards are not determined by scientific inquiry but by the social and economic realities that constrain them.
So there you go, I hope it helped open some eyes on reality of manipulation and deceit through PR campaigns from interested corporations, and their political networks of influence.
Remember here, this is the time line of research from Chapter 3 of the same book) :.
- 1939: Dr. Franz Müller provided the first irrefutable proof that smoking causes lung cancer. He investigated lung cancers from autopsies to collect information on lifestyle habits and published in 1939 a dissertation in the Journal of The American Medical Association. Shoniger and Schairer confirmed these results, along with effects of asbestos, chromates and dust. British celebrity epidemiologist Richard Doll in comparison published rather late (1950) and without being conclusive on the dangers of Tobacco.
- 1940: Angel H. Roffo, from Argentina, publishes research showing that lung cancer is caused by tobacco tars, not nicotine.
German research had begun with Kaiser Wilhelm much before, and from 1942 to 1944, 7 dissertations on tobacco were published by the Scientific Institute for Research into Hazards of Tobacco
IT WAS CLEAR BEFORE WW2
- 1957~59: Surgeon General Leroy E. Burney declared smoking was causing cancer in 1957 and 1959, his last publication was withheld by the AMA officially because there was not enough evidence to decide. It was about avoiding to cause trouble to member of Congress whose votes were much needed on various issues, like the threat of a national health insurance which the AMA feared.
- 1979: The AMA (American Medical Association) officially recognizes that tobacco causes cancers, 15 years after the Surgeon General’s report.
Let’s see this in pictures.
40 YEARS AN OSTRITCH – MANY MORE YEARS OF DAMAGE
- Notice how the sales doubled during the austrich-policy time
- 40 years of silence: 80 years of
good salesaggravated damage. It took 40 years for official recognition, and about 40 more to get back to where we started, the levels of 1940.
How did that translate into lung cancer death?
Epidemiologically, few things in cancer correlate as predictably as smoking and lung cancer.
So…how many people died unnecessarily and prematurely, only out deceit and denial?
Quick and dirty estimation:
We will focus on the US only since this is US data.
We will assume symmetrical bell curves, and even simplify them as triangle shapes.
The average population will be 200 Million all across, which is grossly inaccurate but sufficient to guesstimate.
Women’s death rate will be about 1/3 of the male’s rate when relevant
1) In a perfect world where best evidence goes immediately into practice and tobacco sales go down in 1940 (who cared then?):
- 20 years of delay between cigarette sales pattern and death curves
- Best evidence available in 1940 => hypothetical peak of death of lung cancer in 1960 at 45 per 10^5
- Death curve: Beginning to hypothetical end of curve death reached in 1960+30 = 1990.
- Total 60 years to peak then down. Max at 45 per 10^5. 200 M people gives 60 • 45/100,000 • 200,000,000 = 5.4 million males => roughly 6 million people (women barely smoked then)
2) In the real world, where it takes gigantic efforts for best evidence to make it out:
- Same calculation, but with 1930-2050 as a base, and a lung cancer death rate peak at 90 per 10^5 gives 120 • 90/100,000 • 200,000,000 = 21.6 million men => 28 million people
In the US alone, due to the delay in application of best evidence regarding smoking, a total of ~22 million people have been killed by smoking, through lung cancer alone, all of them preventable (among other way to be sick or die of smoking).
TOBACCO – NAZI GERMANY KNEW BETTER, WHY DID NO ONE LEARN FROM IT?
If you read further through Devra Davis’s book A Secret History of the War on Cancer, you will find that a lot of unorthodox things happened after the Germans lost, among a few:
- Science, knowledge and technology was stolen form the Germans, in fields that have little to do with war or safety, but a lot to do with money and financial gains
- Some German scientists were bought and cleared from their charges by U.S. firms
- Science done by Germans under Nazi times was recycled, re-appropriated and not fairly cited.
- Knowledge about the toxicity of certain chemicals and foods had been thoroughly documented in Germany at that time and is part of the knowledge that was stolen but intentionally secretly kept by corporations among the Allies.
- Germans under the Nazi times (perhaps for the wrong reasons) were increasingly adopting very healthy lifestyles. They advocated a vegetarian lifestyle and a particular hatred for smoking was developed for many reasons, far before the effect on cancer was scientifically proven beyond doubt.
Inevitably, you are left to wonder: If so many things have been gladly stolen from the Germans, why were some valuable things like toxicology knowledge and a culture of optimal health not taken as well?
As the book The Nazi War on Cancer puts it:
1939: Germany sets up a Bureau Against the Dangers of Alcohol and Tobacco. Workers missing too many days of work due to smoking related illness are forced to rehab, and fertile women are advised to have vegetarian diets and are banned from buying cigarettes.
Extreme, forceful techniques, no doubt. But the point is serious health advocacy was in place in 1939. Why did the Allies wait for so long to start taking effective action at all on Health Advocacy on the leading causes of illness and death?
IS THE SAME HAPPENING WITH MEAT TODAY AS HAPPENED WITH TOBACCO?
The pattern of delaying the application of best practice has happened over and over again. It is predominantly a matter of politics, and financial interests, more rarely matters of public acceptance. To cite a few the history of iodine deficiency, proactive cancer prevention (though fasting, supplementation and chemo-prevention) cancer treatment, toxicity of glyphosate, of leaded gasoline, toxicity and uselessness of statins etc…the list is virtually endless. That’s just in medicine, I am not even touching the history of science!
So, it is hard to predict the future in detail, but based on court cases it is rather safe to speculate that the following scenario is very likely:
- “There is not enough evidence”: Eternally asking for more proof, or claiming that there is not enough evidence. This creates a delay and buys time.
- Creating doubt: Bribed bad science financed to defend that meat is not that unsafe, usually coming from trusted sources of information.
- Reassuring people: Attempts to make “safe meat”, looking for good ways to do the wrong thing.
- Rallying the biased and influential: A persistence to portray meat as healthy and nutritious, using the bias of doctors and researchers that are very dependent on meat personally. It’s common in science-washing. As for influence, remember the Camel ads? More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette.
- Diverting focus: Financing studies that focus on other dangers things than meat, other contributors to cancer and disease. Cigarette manufacturers have financed studies on the the risks of chemical pollutants to divert attention.
- Limiting focus: Only cured and processed meats, not all meats. The same was done in France where only the Roundup brand (from Monsanto) of glyphosate was banned only from gardeners shops, instead of all glyphosate from where it’s most used: in the fields by crop producers.
More of these tactics are well documented by Devra Davis. As an epidemiologist, she is well used to the old same textbook tactics being used over and over again.
I will focus on the attempts to make meat safer, which is not without reminding us the attempts to make a safe cigarette. Why would the meat industry try so desperately? Let’s see things from their perspective:
It shows some extract from the paper: “Red meat and colon cancer: should we become vegetarians, or can we make meat safer?” published in the Journal of Meat Science in 2011.
Let’s analyze the statements above:
“If these recommendations [to reduce meat intake] were adhered to, cancer incidence may be reduced, BUT FARMERS AND MEAT INDUSTRY WOULD SUFFER IMPORTANT ECONOMICAL PROBLEMS.”
“These additives, and others still under study, could provide an ACCEPTABLE way to prevent colorectal cancer.”
It’s about keeping business going, health outcomes are secondary to that.
I am quoting below bits of the abstract, and will break it down so that you can see the tactics employed. I put in italics the bits you should pay attention to.
1) “The effect of meat consumption on cancer risk is a controversial issue. However, recent meta-analyses show that high consumers of cured meats and red meat are at increased risk of colorectal cancer.”
2) “This increase is significant but modest (20–30%)”
3) “Current WCRF-AICR recommendations are to eat no more than 500 g per week of red meat, and to avoid processed meat”
4) “Dietary additives can suppress the toxic effects of heme iron.”
1) LIMITING FOCUS: Here we limit our focus only on the effect of meat on cancer only of all health consequences. Of all possible concerns meat contributes to, we will only focus on the colorectal cancer specifically. Of all meats we will only focus on red and cured meat. Of all consumers this concerns only high consumers. Is this reductionist? What defines high consumers? Let’s continue.
2) DISCOUNTING GRAVITY: We also deem that a 30% increased risk of that very specific cancer is “modest”: How many people die from this modest risk increase?
Quick and very conservative back of the envelope calculation, staying within the extremely narrow focus of the study.
Let’s assume 1 billion people eat too much meat,
Lifetime risk is ~5% in the US, with ~50% survival. let’s assume it’s that same rate in all countries that eat too much meat.
If all of them have indulged, taking only a 20% increased risk because of meat, that’s 20% of 5% => 4% is what the rate should be if people were not “high consumers”.
The extra lifetime risk of only cancer, only colorectal, only because of meat is 1%. Sounds small? Hold on.
1% x 1 BILLION people = 10 MILLION people that develop colorectal cancer only because of meat.
5 million of them dying of meat-induced colorectal cancer. Is that modest?
And anyway, the real numbers of meat-induced avoidable deaths are more likely to be around not 0.5% like above but around 50% of all people in those countries, essentially of cardiovascular disease/accidents and cancer. That’s 500 million, 100-fold what the study points to.
3) DIVERTING FOCUS: It’s people’s fault. Look, we are good people, we do tell have recommendations written somewhere saying that people should eat in moderation, such as eating in a week what they eat in a day. Meat consumption in “first-world” countries is close to 300g/day all meats included, that’s 2300g of meat a week, rather easy to end up putting in that 500g of red meat and 500g of processed meat. In practice such obscure recommendations have little effect if any. What is the “WCRF-AICR” anyway?
4) THE SAFER MEAT: And don’t worry, additives are here to save the day and make more safe what we reckon has toxic effects.
DOES THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN AGAIN?
No, and that’s the good news. What would you do if you became aware that a craving or bad habit of yours was planted in your head, deliberately, assuming you are weak and have poor control of yourself? That is precisely what happened with tobacco; new adverts running while tobacco manufacturers knew the science and the harm. It was about creating new addicts and keeping the old ones. There are people that started smoking their first cigarette from 1940 to 1980, all ignoring they were being manipulated by people who knew the harm, but hoped the smokers would not find out the good research in a pile of junk. So are we manipulated now to do things that are not good for us? Are we the new tobacco fools only with meat? Will we look back in 50 years thinking it was ridiculous of much meat people used to eat while it was clearly a carcinogen?
More importantly what can we do now?
Well, there is no nicotine in meat. That’s a big bonus to your advantage!
Millions of people have gradually moved on to a plant-based diet, and for having done that change myself, it’s rather easy, and certainly far easier than I thought. Here are some resources to help this transition. Watch this documentary about:
- How meat is produced: Earthlings
- The environmental aspect of meat consumption: Cowspiracy (Official Trailer)
- The health aspect of meat consumption: Forks over Knives (Official Trailer)
- The story of people who have switched to a plant-based diet: Vegucated
- Watch Dr. Greger’s regular science-based videos with updates on nutrition: NutritionFacts.com
- More science: Check out T. Colin Campbell’s work. The book “Whole”, “The China Study”, and his website NutritionStudies.com
“I’m convinced, what can help me?”
- Join a local vegetarian or vegan community, on Facebook , Meetup, etc. This is by very far the best piece of advice I have. It’s great for support to be connected with people that have made or are making the important change you are making. Some branches or groups have regular meet-ups and events with delicious food and nice folks, it is so in New Zealand 🙂 It’s also practical to ask practical questions such as “where to find plant-based meat?”, what are some restaurants that provide plant-based meals, are there doctors that are up to date with nutrition and that won’t poopoo you etc…
- FAQ of very common questions: Gary Yourofsky – The Most Important Speech You Will Ever Hear
- If anything here was of interest to you, save this article for future reference, and share it or some of it with others. That’s more to help others, and to help with the general situation. You can make a change, that’s what got me sat for three days putting up this article 🙂
- Contact me if you have any question or concerns. I’ll do my best to help.
Update: July 2017.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN AUG 2015 – MAY NO LONGER REFLECT MY CURRENT UPDATED VIEW REG. VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTATION.
To go straight to the list of vegan D3 supplements, click here.
This article assumes that you are somewhat educated about Vitamin D or know what you are doing. It will focus only on the sourcing of vegan vitamin D3 in the form of cholecalciferol, extracted from lichen (which is vegan). The article also assumes that you have figured what doses you are looking to use.
This this list intentionally ignored any formulation that aims to supplement other things than vitamin D3, so excluded are multivitamins, combos, complexes, bone health pills…
Vitamin D2 was intentionally excluded, although it was proven to increase serum levels of vitamin D, it does not exactly function like vitamin D3.
Keywords: lichen, vegan vitamin D, D3, vitashine, cholecalciferol, plant-based, hallal, kosher, not D2, not from mushrooms, not ergocalciferol
WARNINGS ON DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS
1) Concerns with the safety of dietary supplements
Unfortunately, the free market of vitamins and supplements is poorly regulated, whether bought online, in your pharmacy, whether from reputable brands or reputable shops/pharmacies.
The dosage, content and ingredients (or contaminants) if they were measured may not be not be those on the label. They may if the manufacturer decides to impose on themselves a strict manufacturer process. But remember that by law, nothing or very few things forces them to.
If you can get a vegan prescription vitamin/mineral instead that is the absorbable safe/kind, always prefer that option over products available on the “free market”. This ensure that the vitamin/mineral is of pharmaceutical grade, precisely dosed, that the lab producing it is accountable, so in short the best quality possible. Depending on the country you live in, a check-up showing low levels may facilitate the process of obtaining prescription vitamin and minerals. Some non-conventional systems of medicine (i.e. naturopathic doctors) may be more willing to give a prescription for the pharmaceutical grade of vitamins/minerals.
2) Supplements & Testing: common sense and nerdier things
Different people, even of the same skin tone, synthesize vitamin D from the sun very differently. Moreover, different people also absorb nutrients and supplements very differently. Cherry on the cake, this even changes with age, health status, pregnancy etc.
All this makes it generally hard to throw a one-size-fits all regimen either for indirect sources like sun exposure or supplementation.
Instead of blindly prescribing everyone an intake objective, I believe serum vitamin D targets are much more sensible because that takes into account absorption issues.
Ensuring we have a healthy serum vitamin D level is asking oneself the question:
Do you I the vital stuff where it matters? Yes? or No?
That should always be the logic we use. We can only infer that much.
Hence why I insist that each person (even the healthiest diets/lifestyles) should get checked regularly for their nutritional status, to assess their deficiencies and needs, and do so until they find the dosage that works for them.
Avoid supplementing blindly and get checked to make sure your supplementation is not causing damage, doing what you are expecting/needing it to, and not too much so eventually. It is very common sense but few people do it.
Also be aware, that strangely, even with the best of technology in the wealthiest of countries, some minerals and vitamins status tests either do not exist, or their reliability is very questionable. When it is an issue, reliability depends primarily on technology/method used, direct/indirect method (looking the status or indicators of the status), on the brand/model of equipment used to process sample, on whether the populations chosen to define “normal ranges” represent you well, the kinetics of the markers (how fast the numbers they’re measuring are changing naturally in your body, i.e. things like vision and sugar levels change mildly to drastically within the day).
For vitamin D however, the serum levels of vitamin D levels are generally considered a robust method to assess vitamin D status, and the test is generally widely available.
3) Involving your doctor
You often hear “ask your doctor” about supplements. “Ask your doctor” has become so irrelevant that we are confused when to actually ask our doctors. Sadly few doctors are even educated about nutrition, let alone supplements. But there are cases where you would like to ask your doctor (even any doctor) if he/she sees anything wrong with supplementation, especially if you have health problems or taking medication, just had surgery, intending to take very high doses or supplement for a long time…that sort of thing.
Where to buy vegan/plant-based/halal/kosher Vitamin D3?
Safest bets: Certified vegan products
Safest sources in terms of certainty that it is vegan, brands directly certified by the Vegan Society :
- 200 UI/spray – approved by the Vegan Society
Vitashine, dedicated producer of lichen-based D3.
A few iherb products use the Vitashine D3 in their vitamin D3 products. They will be mentioned below in the iherb list.
- 400 UI/drop – approved by the Vegan Society
D.Plantes Vitamine D3++ Végétale, 20mL
FRENCH brand and website, ships internationally for a minimum of ~20€+ for furthest shipping addresses (simulated with New Zealand for 3 bottles).
Looks like D3 was historically the core of their manufacture and they then expended to sell other stuff.
- ~670 UI/spray – approved by the Vegan Society
Contains Stevia (harmful in “large” amounts)
One Nutrition® D3-Max, 30mL
IRISH brand with cheap/free delivery only in Ireland, 18€ flat within Europe, case by case out of Europe…).
Quite discreet about the vegan origins of the D3, while the two above are quite loud and clear about their research and the lichen source.
Products using Vitashine
Brands from iherb.com that are not vegan-certified but “using Vitashine”*, which is vegan-certified.
iherb.com ships worldwide, at relatively low shipping costs, and rather fast if all goes well.
- MRM Brand – uses Vitashine:
- Other brands that use Vitashine:
- 5000 UI
Country Life, Gluten Free, Vegan D3, 5000 IU, 60 Vegan Softgels
- 2500 UI
Doctor’s Best, Best Vegan D3, 2500 IU, 60 Veggie Caps
- 1000 UI
Nordic Naturals, Vitamin D3, Vegan, 1000 IU, 1 fl oz (30 ml)
- 1000UI (spray)
Garden of Life, Kind Organics, Vegan D3, Vanilla Spray, 2 oz (60 ml)
- (NEW) 100oUI (gums – contains some fats: coconut oil, a vitamin E, and a palmitate)
Vibrant Nutraceuticals, Vegan Vitamin D3 Gummies, 1000 IU, 60 Gummies
- (NEW) 1000 UI (contains added fats: last ingredient “vegetable lubricant (palm)”)
Natural Factors, Whole Earth & Sea, Vitamin D3, 1000 IU, 90 Vegetarian Capsules
- (NEW + CHEAPEST BY FAR) 1000 UI (contains added fats: magnesium stearate as second ingredient)
Jarrow Formulas, Vegan D3 , 1000 IU, 60 Veggie Caps
- 200 UI (spray)
Vibrant Nutraceuticals, Plant Based Vitamin D3, 0.65 fl oz (19.2 ml)
- 5000 UI
* The claim of “using Vitashine” is not a guarantee that the product entirely uses only that as a source of vitamin D3. Some brands go further and support this with “100% Vegan” claims or the likes.
More uncertain choices
More risky in terms of certitude that it is vegan/plant-derived/plant-based etc… :
- DO NOT BUY any brand that claims that it creates “D3 out of mushrooms” (highly likely D2) or that is not certified vegan.
- Unsure are: Any brand that does not contain Vitashine or is not vegan certified. Claims relying only on “Veggie capsules” or “suitable for all vegetarians” are generally utterly unreliable.
- Confusing is: SOLGAR BRAND
All “vegetarian” Solgar from the USA-Solgar – as opposed to the UK-Solgar which seperates vegan and vegetarian – are claimed to be vegan according to my last communication with their customer service. You are free to doubt this statement, I’m only sharing what they told me.
Solgar, Natural Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), 5000 IU, 240 Veggie Caps
- 2200 UI:
Solgar, Natural Vitamin D3, 2200 IU, 100 Veggie Caps
- 600 UI:
Solgar, Natural Vitamin D3, 600 IU, 120 Veggie Caps
Here’s a copy of the email that I sent to the Solgar customer service. It’s really difficult to know when you should trust a customer service or sales person with technical aspects of the product. Perhaps too many factors of doubt to have full certitude that Solgar USA products are vegan. I leave it entirely up to your personal judgement.
(Email received on Aug 27th, 2015 from Solgar.com, the USA website)
I hope this article saved you time and was useful. If you have comments, or questions, please share below.
- Official view of the French Vegan Society (Société Végane) on Vitamin D (FR) (ENG)
- Linus Pauling Institute (OSU) summary on Vitamin D (archive)
- Dr Greger’s videos on vitamin D and (arguable) best practice recommendations for Vitamin D / sun exposure (archive)
- New Zealand Ministry of Health view on Vitamin D (archive)
- Highly selective information on Vitamin D (archive) from meta-analysis rejecting all studies and results that are not double-blind, placebo-controlled, and that meet very high research standard (archive). This view is highly risk-averse and does inevitably discard a host of very relevant research and observations that have not yet met this criteria. This work was published around 2006 as well and may be obsolete even with this criteria.
As global warning is knocking at the death door of our species, the most conscious of us marvell at the advent of sustainability-driven brands. We are so eager to see change happen that we are ready to embrace, often without a question, anything that looks just like it. But are these companies and their products really delivering what they promise? Unfortunately, far from it most of the time. There are multiple reasons for that.
In a world where sales and purchases are driven by perceptions more than realities, there will always be people adapting their speech to sell the same junk. In a world where most of our knowledge is second-hand and we assume all we read and are told is just true without checking, we make ourselves the unwitting preys to unwitting predators, because there will always be people who sell junk while genuinely thinking what they sell is absolutely great, because just like us they assumed a lot of things instead of checking. In a world where people have such specific functions they end up living in their little worlds, people take part without knowing in ventures that seen as an individual contribute or create effects that are contrary to what everybody thought they were doing.
We don’t naturally care about the reality of things. We assume the reality of things and even if we don’t, we doubly assume 1) the vendors know it even better and 2) take adequate responsibility. Finally the system (division of work) isn’t working in a way where we would automatically know about the reality of things.
All these incoherences are becoming increasingly visible. So let’s look at some of the inconsistencies in the field of sustainable products, and how these inconsistency take form.
Naming and Branding
Brands containing “Earth” or “Eco”, “Wise”, “Green”…
That’s branding, and unfortunately it works like magic. That’s until the brands get an image blow when someone expose the deceipt.
I have seen cardboard packages for fabric-softeners and other products with “eco” products containing a list of products I wouldn’t want in my house. I have seen packages with graphics of flowers and leaves, and blue planets on them and a whole world and wording of sustainability…all lighting up excitement in our monkey brains that rush to assume “what more natural than something with a bamboo leaf drawn on it”? But read the ingredients, and research some of them. You will see that more often than not…it’s not nearly as green as it ants you to believe.
But also “plant-based”, “plant-extracted”, and everything that suggests it comes from a plant.
The real questions should be: The compound in question is it actually safe? or actually environmentally-friendly? quickly biodegradable with no toxic by-products? What else was used in the process? How efficient and sustainable is that extraction? Is that plant sustainably harvested?
Those “plants”, how were they grown, stored, and preserved? Could they have accumulated heavy metals from the soil they grew in?
This is the most pervasive word.
When you naturally have bushfire that naturally burns wood, that naturally creates benzene and other hydrocarbons and particles that are toxic to life, do you want to inhale those?
In the late 19th century /early 20th century, many products marketed for their medical benefits routinely contained mercury and lead, all sourced from mines, natural mines, does that make these products healthy?
If you eat certains ferns, it is natural, but many times also carcinogenic or deadly if you where to eat a death angel or a death cap mushroom. All natural, do you want to try them? No?
The almonds I buy are imported from the United States. For strange reasons, they must be pasteurized by law, but nothing says so on the label. Are foods that are pasteurized (undergoing high heat and chemical treatments) still natural?
Some grains for storage use powered pesticides, are they still natural?
Is it natural to grow “natural” foods with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides…?
Hummus from Alaska (naturally composted organic material found in nature) is ironically sold to people who care about health and sustainability nd grow their own food, but is it really sustainable?
Peat moss, used in gardening for instance, is sold to the same people, do they know peat moss takes very long to grow and is harvested in China faster than it grows?
An organic banana that is ripened with chemicals, is it a natural product? Or still organic? Let’s consider “organic”.
Is wild fish sustainably harvested?
Is that wild food even healthy at all? (are there parasites in the wild fish? or heavy metals in the wild seaweed?)
How wild is wild, is a closed culture in open sea give “wild” fish?
Is the word “wild” controlled in country with a label that strictly defines its definition?
Is “wild” only historically part of the name like “Wild rice” which is interestingly neither wild nor a rice.
Let’s first aside that are a gazillion different labels and sets of rules (of any rules) to describe what is organic.
An organic produce is grown on a land that because of the geology is rich in arsenic and lead, the farmer doesn’t know but complies with even the most stringent criteria to get the organic label. Is that healthy to eat food grown on that land?
An organic crop is naturally grown on land that previously was used using chemicals and pesticides that are persistent. Is that organic?
A wild mushroom in an ancient wild forest if probably as organic as it gets, do you want to eat one?
Naturally found in the body
This suggest that the compound is harmless since you already have some in your body. Ok, but since when is it safe to add something in on or the body just because it’s in the body?
Human blood is naturally found in the body, would you want to drink some?
Gut bacteria is naturally found in the body, would you want to inject or eat some?
And anabolic hormones are naturally found in the body, would you want to inject yourself some?
Is there a label for biodegradability? Who decides something is biodegradable? How long will it actually take? If it takes 1 day, or 1 year, or 1 century to degrade does that mean it’s biodegradable?
In the process of degrading, how much life will it damage and alter, or prevent? Let’s take crude oil as an example, a highly toxic material if you didn’t know, in a few thousand or millions years in a forest would probably digest it, but how many people, animals and will have been intoxicated? The question probably ought to be “immediately it is bio-friendly?”, as in does it actually promote life? That could be said of clean rainwater water, is “bio-neutral” as in it doesn’t demonstrably affect any living immediately organism at any time scale looked at?
I have found more than once, products that claim to be eco-friendly but packagings that are not recyclable, and ingredients that are far from being eco-friendly in the sense I understand it.
How is something like a detergent or soap that potent preservatives (meant to kill microorganisms to extend shelflife) or antibacterials (to kill microbes on your hand) eco-friendly.
Also, if a company produces the most eco-friendly product there is (something like pristine drinkable water) but does so using extraordinary amounts of toxic chemicals to keep a sterile environment, and extraordinary amount of fuel to transport it, is it deceitful or not to label the drinking water as “eco-friendly” or any of the sustainable labeling?
“Everytime they chop a tree they replant one”
That’s the last trick I fell into.
That’s what the young lady at TARGET NZ told me when I bought wooden furniture not too long ago and asked about where the wood was sourced. Of course, I hadn’t done my homework on TARGET NZ and ended up relying on a saleswoman as clueless as I was. I realize in hindsight that I could have done this better…Anyway, here’s what she said: “Everytime they chop a tree they replant one, that I can guarantee you”.
Ok, but is it in a plantation that has been there for a long time? or is it a tree from the Amazon forest that has been cleared by poor local men working for foreign-owned companies, in a land that will become a grazing area for the cows that produce the methane ranking cows as the top contributor to man-made global warming? I don’t care where they plant that other tree, replanting a tree for each tree we have cut doesn’t alone constitute a token of sustainability, not at all. Even asking all these questions, in a small retail shop with newly-hired staff, can you sense that to get the truth about the origin of that piece of furniture is a bit of Mission Impossible? Chances are, perhaps nobody in the entire Target company would know about that…
Ok, some furniture was recycled. But why not recycle for all the shop then? Or is it just to satisfy those who care?
And the recycling wood, is it safe? or was it used for pallets transporting dangerous chemicals which may have spilled on them?
There has been a trend of people seeking more and more sustainability, and there are unfortunately people, willingly, or unwittingly marketing products that are not in any way sustainable or bio-friendly or quickly biodegradable with no harm to any life form…but are marketing using terms that appeal to people as being “good” products, products that are sustainable, eco-friendly…
This was about the harm we do ourselves by letting companies decide for us what is sustainable, what is life-sustaining and what is not. There is a flip coin to this, is our assumption that anything produced synthetically, or using some chemicals, is automatically a bad thing. We are biased to think that it is, perhaps rightfully so to a large extent, because there has been countless abuses with chemicals and their wonders which turned out very harmful if not deadly. But thinking all chemicals or synthetic things are evil is the dangerous sister bias than assumes anything natural is good.
What we can do?
It’s easier to point to problems than to solve them. But I want to offer a solutions too.
What we need to understand, especially the greenies targeted by specific branding and marketing:
Perhaps it’s not about natural or not, it is about the effects we seek, and how ALL the processes involved in entire the cycle of a product are systemically beneficial to life, harmless to life, and sustainable at all time scales to life. It may not be the ultimate best practice, but if go by this tennet until we find better, it will probably be the best we can do now, and we are certainly not doing that just yet.
We can point out to the brands and in public debate why certain branding strategies are incoherent and deceitful. Most brands have a feedback line or some way to contact them. Contact them.
They have an office, go and talk (kindly) to the CEO, forget about emails and phone calls.
As for public debate, you have a blog, Facebook, social media, relevant forums online? Use them!
You know people, talk to them, don’t assume you’re the only one who cares.
Entrepreneurs or employed by a company that makes beautiful claims? Challenge your own beliefs that you are doing something good, make sure with your providers that they provide what they claim? Ask for evidence and be the only first-hand judge of the facts you broadcast. If you’re not happy with what the market offers, make it yourself and provide to others. If you’re an employee, be interested in what your company makes, how they make it,educate yourself about the cycle of the product or service that your company provides, ask yourself, is it coherent with the marketing claims? Are we lying to ourselves and lying to others? Do other people in the company know at all? Do the customers know?