Veganism is Easy

Many people say they cannot go vegan because it’s too hard, but my experience has been the opposite. I actually find it is easy to be vegan, and it is easier than being an omnivore.

Going on a vegan diet doesn’t require you to actually do anything. However, what it requires you to do is to not do something. For example, if someone serves you chicken, you don’t eat it. Whereas previously you did something, now as a vegan you are not doing something.

The vegan diet is about not eating meat, not eating dairy, and not eating eggs.

What you do need to do, however, is learn how to say no.

I have always been a nice person. In fact, I am too nice. I am the type of person who has trouble saying no and would often try to please people too much, and over time I learned this was not healthy. Being nice is great, but if you’re too nice, people take advantage and walk all over you.

Going on a vegan diet, it turns out, had helped me practice how to say no. When I stood up and defended what I ate, people seemed to take note that I didn’t just accept whatever they put upon me, and over time they took advantage of me less.

So if you’re too nice, if you’re a people pleaser, then give the vegan diet a go. Not only will it help you practice being assertive, it will also help the environment and spare animals from torture and slaughter.

 

 

Aldi Sells Cage Eggs in Australia

Update May 2016: Aldi has listened to customers and has now phased out cage eggs.

In Australia, supermarkets are normally a duopoly between Australian retailers Coles and Woolworths. However, things are changing. I have been shopping at Coles and Woolworths for many decades and suddenly there are foreign discount retailers like Costco and Aldi.

I remember visiting Aldi maybe a year ago and was shocked at how plain the place was. I admit I was a bit of an elitist and was turned off by the sort of people who shopped at Aldi. They seemed to do all their shopping on the weekend and when they shopped they purchased everything in bulk whereas I was there to just buy one box of tea.

My father also didn’t seem to be a fan of Aldi, saying they didn’t offer good brands. He also claims that whenever there are discounts offered at Coles and Woolworths, the prices are often cheaper than that found in Aldi or Costco.

Nevertheless, I decided to give Aldi a try. I went there and purchased almond milk and soy milk. I was surprised at the cost. One liter of almond milk was A$2.19 and and one liter of soy milk was A$1.09. This was about two to three times cheaper than the almond and soy milks in Coles and Woolworths.

Aldi also seems to be vegetarian and vegan friendly. Virtually all their products had vegetarian or vegan labeling on them, making them easy to identify.

I don’t drink much soy milk. I used to believe that soy was filled with estrogen and would give me manboobs, but after looking deeply into the soy and estrogen issue, I started to believe that soy was safe (see Does Soy Phytoestrogen Give You Manboobs?).

So I was a convert. I started buying almond milk from Aldi. I was annoyed that Aldi applied a surcharge if you used PayPass as I am effectively cashless nowadays and I was unhappy with withdrawing cash, handling dirty notes, and keeping coins in my pocket (Coles and Woolworths do not charge a surcharge for use of PayPass). However, I have since found that if you buy products carefully, the surcharge on PayPass or other credit card transactions can actually be less than the rounding up, so if you really want to save money, you need to make sure you pay in cash and make sure that you purchase an amount that ensures there is rounding down. I may write a separate post on this topic as I don’t want to go into too much detail here.

Recently, Aldi has been criticized for using cage eggs rather than free range eggs and not committing to reduce or phase out cage eggs at all. In fact, Coles and Woolworths have made commitments to reduce or phase out cage eggs. This issue has blown up on the media.

So this presents me with a tricky situation. I love Aldi, and they have lots of vegan options. They also have good prices on products. I don’t eat eggs at all, even free range eggs. However, animal welfare is amount making incremental improvements, so moving from cage eggs to free range eggs is a step in the right direction, but even in farms with free range eggs, male chicks are thrown into blenders alive because they don’t lay eggs.

Ever since this issue came up, I have not purchased any milk from Aldi, but I have set up a Google Alert to keep me updated on the issue because I will go back to Aldi if they commit to improving animal welfare. Whenever I go to Coles or Woolworth and look at the price of soy milk or almond milk, it seems as if the prices have gone up even higher. My guess is that I am not the only one suddenly buying vegan milk from Coles and Woolworths rather than Aldi, and Coles and Woolworth see an opportunity to raise prices because customers who buy for ethics are often very willing to pay extra.

Does Soy Phytoestrogen Give You Manboobs?

I used to avoid soy because I was scared of its phytoestrogen content. However, after looking into the issue in more detail, I now have no issues with soy. I still don’t like the taste of soy milk, so when I order coffee I normally opt for a long black (or Americano) or a latte with almond or coconut milk. However, not all cafes have almond milk or coconut milk, and a long black has zero calories and is often very hot, so sometimes I opt for a soy latte. Vegan meat also tends to use soy protein, although many now use pea protein, e.g. Beyond Meat Beast Burger.

In terms of protein powder, I get all my protein powder from BulkNutrients.com.au, which I find is the best source of protein for Australians. At Bulk Nutrients, pea protein is the cheapest protein powder of all, cheaper than soy protein and whey protein, and the cost savings are even better if you buy in bulk. (If you live outside Australia, consider buying pea protein from iHerb, which has international shipping. They also have a great selection of vitamins.)

The bottom line is to not worry too much about soy as studies show that in moderation it has no impact on hormones. Even in extreme doses soy seems to have no impact. If you like the taste, work it into your diet, but remember there are many other vegan protein sources such as beans, nuts, and seeds. I’ve been eating soy in moderation for a few months now and have noticed no manboobs.

Below is a collection of YouTube videos on the topic.

 

 

Problems with the Sugar Tax

A sugar tax has been announced in the UK, and Jamie Oliver is urging the Australian government to implement one as well.

The main argument given for a sugar tax is that sugar makes you fat. In my opinion, the problem with taxing sugar is that businesses can simply replace the sugar with something else that can cause weight gain. For example, rather than putting sugar in its soft drink, Coca Cola might mix in butter and coconut oil instead (similar to Bulletproof coffee) and overall calories may increase as a result. Wouldn’t it be better to tax calories directly if weight loss is the goal?

But sugar doesn’t fill you up?

There is an argument that refined sugar does not satisfy but other high-calorie food does. However, if we tax sugar because it doesn’t satisfy then we’d need to tax all food that is not satiating, and that beings up a whole issue of how to quantity satiation. It is also a major problem for people trying to gain weight such as bodybuilders who rely on high calorie food that don’t satiate in order to gain weight. There are also many diabetics who must carry sound sugary drinks to give them energy when they are low on sugar (hypoglycemic).

 

But doesn’t sugar cause inflammation in the body?

A lot of food other than sugar cause inflammation in the body. For example, food that is high in protein and fat naturally contain high levels of glycotoxins (AGEs and ALEs), which cause inflammation, so if we are to tax based on inflammation we’d need to tax numerous other food products and perhaps even implement a “glycotoxin tax.” The bottom line is that consumers need to take responsibility and be aware themselves of what is healthy.

Animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein are generally AGE-rich and prone to new AGE formation during cooking. In contrast, carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk contain relatively few AGEs, even after cooking….Advanced glycation end products (AGEs), also known as glycotoxins, are a diverse group of highly oxidant compounds with pathogenic significance in diabetes and in several other chronic diseases. AGEs are created through a nonenzymatic reaction between reducing sugars and free amino groups of proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids. This reaction is also known as the Maillard or browning reaction. The formation of AGEs is a part of normal metabolism, but if excessively high levels of AGEs are reached in tissues and the circulation they can become pathogenic. The pathologic effects of AGEs are related to their ability to promote oxidative stress and inflammation by binding with cell surface receptors or cross-linking with body proteins, altering their structure and function.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704564/