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Vegan Debate

December 14th, 2013

Last week, I caught this great live debate on veganism. The online viewership was so large that buffering issues were a problem. The good news is, it was recorded!

What I really liked about this debate was its formality, in that it followed standard rules of discourse and didn’t devolve into a shouting match. It also seemed each side had plenty of time to make their points and counterpoints.

The audience was polled before and after the discussion to determine whether they were for or against the motion “Don’t Eat Anything With A Face.” The pre-debate results were 24% for, 51% against, and 25% undecided. (See below for the after.)


Don’t Eat Anything With A Face (Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates)

Panelists Arguing For The Motion:

Panelists Arguing Against The Motion:

  • Chris Masterjohn – Nutritional Sciences Researcher and Blogger at The Daily Lipid (where he has since started a series of posts reflecting on the debate)
  • Joel Salatin – Farmer & Author

Post-debate Poll Results: 45% for, 43% against, and 12% undecided. Bravo! A pretty impressive change of heart. :)

For more information, including links to research papers, detailed biographies, and audio downloads, click the link under the video.

I also wanted to point out there is analysis by Animal Visuals debunking the claim of the panelists on the Against side that fewer animals would be killed by humans consuming grass-fed cattle than a vegan diet supplied via mechanized crop harvesting.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pumpkin Balls

November 29th, 2013

I was on dessert “duty” (oh no, twist my arm, lol) again this year for Thanksgiving. Here’s what I came up with. I’m happy to report it was well received. :)


(No Bake) Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pumpkin Balls

As requested, the recipe follows with apologies for the gram measurements; the digital kitchen scale is my friend as it ensures consistency versus volume measurements and allows for more accurate calorie calculations. I’ve tried to approximate standard measurements in parentheses.

• 240g oatmeal (3 cups)
• 300g pumpkin puree (1 cup)
• 130g peanut butter (1/2 cup)
• 140g maple syrup (1/2 cup)
• 10oz bag chocolate chips
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg
• dash ground cloves

  1. Process oatmeal in a food processor or blender to rough flour texture and empty into a large bowl.

  2. In a smaller bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, peanut butter (I use chunky), maple syrup, and spices (adjust to taste).
  3. Combine wet into dry and mix well until no dry spots remain.
  4. Roll mixture into balls and place on tinfoil or parchment and freeze for an hour or two. (The ones pictured were made using 2 Tb worth of mixture and resulted in 18 treats.) After the freezing time, we can move onto giving them a luscious chocolate coating or eat as is.
  5. Using the double-boiler method, melt 2/3 of the chocolate chips.
  6. Remove the chocolate from the steam and stir in the remaining chips until melted.


A smaller batch of melted chocolate

  1. Dip the pumpkin peanut butter balls into the chocolate and set back on the tinfoil, chocolate side up.

  2. Now dip the bottoms, place back on the tinfoil, and return to the freezer.
  3. After an hour, you can move them to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Tiny Houses

November 8th, 2013

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tiny houses, pouring over pictures and stories of others who’ve downsized and simplified their lives in such dramatic and intentional ways. I find the concept both aesthetically and philosophically pleasing. :)

There’s generally a back-to-nature feel to these houses with the focus on lots of windows for natural light, the loft beds, and the cozy porches. Add solar power, etc. to get “off the grid”, and you’re clearly living more lightly on the planet.

Here’s a short PBS segment on the tiny house movement…

And a moving TEDx talk from Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings who was featured in the above story:

She’s inspired many people with her journey and perspective on life, including this couple who have found freedom by being debt-free and mobile due to their tiny home…

Definitely an attractive lifestyle, wouldn’t you agree? My dream would be to have a few friends join me in setting up a circle of solar-powered tiny houses surrounding a common area on a nice chunk of land with a big vegetable garden and time to live life unencumbered.

Dr. McDougall on Paleo, Gluten Free, and GMO

October 14th, 2013

Here’s an interesting video from Dr. John McDougall that might prove a bit controversial (and he knows it). It’s his presentation at the September 2013 Advanced Study Weekend (Flamingo Resort and Hotel) entitled “Paleo, Gluten Free, and GMO – Distractions from Real World Food Problems.”

I certainly agree with his views on the Paleo diet (low carb diets in general), and it’s probably true that most people with self-diagnosed gluten issues don’t really have a sensitivity/allergy/etc.. Of course, neither of these critiques come as a surprise from the author of The Starch Solution. ;)

What did come as a surprise to me was his take on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) which starts around the 36 minute mark. He seems to brush it off (he is calling these things distractions, after all), and suggests that while food labeling would be nice on principle, it’s not a big deal because we can just buy organic — at least for now — and check produce labels to ensure their numbers start with an 9. He suggests the health risks are overblown and that rise in the incidence of various diseases correlated to the introduction of GMOs actually started well before and thus is more likely attributable to other factors (diet being primary). Valid point. He also questions the integrity of the animal studies. However, even if we grant that health may be unaffected, the environmental consequences of gene transference to non-agricultural crops and microorganisms could be dire.

If you haven’t been following the whole GMO debate to this point or if you just want to hear the latest from the other side, i.e., those scientists and activists who feel genetically modified foods really are a danger all-around, then you’ll want to tune in to the upcoming GMO Mini-Summit from October 25-27.

Speakers:
⊙ Thierry Vrain, PhD
    The Former Pro GMO Scientist Speaks Out
⊙ Vandana Shiva, Ph.D.
    Food Security In A Global Community
⊙ Ken Cook
    Sustainable Agriculture for a Hungry World
⊙ Robyn O’Brien
    Fighting Food Allergies
⊙ Andrew Kimbrell
    Your Right To Know
⊙ Senator Lisa Murkowski (Unconfirmed)
    The Truth About “Frankenfish”
⊙ Michael Hansen, Ph.D.
    What Does The Science Tell Us?
⊙ Rachel Parent
    How to Debate Biotech Industry Apologists
⊙ Claire Robinson, MPhil
    The Science, The Spin, & The Truth
⊙ John Robbins and Jeffrey Smith
    Protect Your Family and Make a Difference
⊙ And many more in the “Second Wave” sessions to follow

Topics to be discussed include:
⊙ Studies revealing the health effects of GMOs on animals, humans and the environment
⊙ The possible GMO connection to allergies, autism, and leaky gut
⊙ How to help your family eat healthier and avoid GMOs
⊙ Ways to get involved and become active in the fight for GMO labeling and the future of agriculture

Register for free today to catch this online event.


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