Is Bread Vegan?

Is Bread Vegan?

Is Bread Vegan?

 

The simple answer is yes. Most breads are vegan friendly. Always check those labels though. 

Well-made bread (not the processed kinds found in supermarkets), is traditionally made with a few simple ingredients. Yeast, water, a very small amount of sugar, a healthy fat and flour.

 

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Vegan Yes – But Healthy?

 

Is bread vegan? Mainly, yes. Is it healthy? Not so much.

It has been known for a long time that refined grains (particularly in the form of white bread) aren’t particularly healthy, beneficial or nutritious for humans. 

For the last 20 years doctors, dieticians and nutritionists have advised us to consume whole grains instead.

But are whole grains really any better for us and should bread ever be categorised as healthy?

 

The Gluten Controversy

 

Bread is largely made of wheat, and wheat is predominantly made of gluten, which is a type of protein that gives bread it’s stretchy/springy quality.

Over the last 15 years there has been mounting evidence that a growing proportion of the population is particularly sensitive to gluten.

It was generally thought that it was only those with Celiac Disease that experience an immune response to gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt). But there is now growing speculation that even those with gluten sensitivity experience a certain amount of immunological damage after consuming wheat products. 

There have been a number of controlled trials (studystudy)  in the last decade that have demonstrated that gluten has the propensity to damage the digestive tract, even in those without Celiac disease. The immunological response can cause symptoms such as tiredness, pain, bloating and irregular bowel movements. 

There have also been strong links between gluten sensitivity and certain disorders of the brain. Schizophrenia (study,study) and cerebellar ataxia (studystudy), for example. 

I always believe there is no smoke without fire. Most bread contains gluten and we know gluten has the propensity to trigger an immune response in certain individuals who have a susceptibility. So if you have unexplained symptoms of tiredness, digestive pains, bloating or even anxiety or depression, then seek medical advice. The only real way to establish whether you have a gluten sensitivity is to remove gluten from your diet for a period of 30 days and then reintroduce foods containing gluten to see if your body reacts (but this should be under the supervision of an experienced professional). 

 

The Toxic Ingredients of Bread

 

The reality may be that Gluten is actually the lessor of two evils. The real dangers of bread may actually come from some of its unsavoury ingredients: 

 

  • Artificial Flavours & Colours: Obviously these vary in usage from country to country. Artificial flavours and colours are also normally derived from petroleum. And many of these additives have been linked to health issues in children such as allergies, asthma and hyperactivity. 

 

  • Preservatives: All foods are supposed to be eaten fresh, and bread is no exception. Steer clear of any breads that contain preservatives. A common one in a lot of countries is calcium propionate. Again, this has been linked to child health problems such as ADHD.

 

  • Refined Sugars:This can be an ingredient that is incredibly difficult to spot, even in breads that are marketed as “low sugar” and “healthy”. Some common household breads contain as much as 2-3 grams of sugar per slice. The World Health Organisation advises that we should consume no more than 6 grams a day. There is also the contentious issue in some countries that the sugar used is derived from GMO sugar beets.

 

  • Dough Conditioners: In traditional bread making techniques these would never have been used. They have literally been introduced so that manufacturers can speed up the manufacturing process and maximise profit. Many dough conditioners are derived from extracting fat from corn or soybean oil and then manipulating it with other ingredients. Some common examples (and also ones that have been banned) include: sodium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides, azodicarbonamide and DATEM.

 

  • GMOs: Thankfully these haven’t made their way into the UK yet (but I am sure it’s only a matter of time). A lot of countries (especially the U.S.) use multiple GMO ingredients in the production of household breads. GMO soy flour, corn oil and soybean oil are all common. GMO use is clearly a contentious issue. The issue for me is that there have never been any long term tests on humans that assess the health impacts. And the argument that GMO’s are safer because no pesticides are used is incorrect. Some GMO’s are actually engineered by inserting toxic pesticides into the seed. This then causes the insects stomach to explode when trying to eat the crop.

 

Nutritional Profile of Bread

 

Bread is really just empty calories. It contains only low levels of vitamins and minerals.  High levels of sugar. Low levels of protein. Often high amounts of unhealthy fats. High amounts of salt. And not much else. 

But what about whole grain bread, I hear you cry? Well, it’s not much better I’m afraid. 

While whole grains offer slightly more vitamins and minerals than processed grains, whole grain bread will contain higher levels of phytic acid, so it will potentially block any increased nutritional profile. 

 

Is bread vegan? Is bread healthy? It can be. Why not try one of these healthy recipes?

 

Deliciously Ella: Date & Pecan Loaf

 

 

Plant Based Judy: Date & Pecan Loaf

 

 

Vegan Corner: Gluten Free Buns

 

 

 

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Vegan Documentaries

Vegan Documentaries

Vegan documentaries……. I love nothing more on a Sunday afternoon than turning on Netflix (other film providers are available), making some vegan treats and watching a good old vegan film that puts the world to rights. 

But for me, these films mean more than a bit of Sunday viewing pleasure. They help instruct and maintain historical records. They document aspects of modern life and reality that often get overlooked in the mainstream media. They inform. And they inspire people to make fundamental and lasting changes in their lives. 

If you are vegan, then you will know what I mean. We have all had that moment in life when the penny finally dropped. It was a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon in November. You have just been to the supermarket and are overdosing on sweets that are rotting your body and your mind. You are sat flicking through film options when a thumbnail catches your eye. You start watching and within 15 minutes your whole life has been turned upside-down. You have just realised you are living in the matrix. 

The reality for most is that once you know the truth there is no going back. Within days you have removed all animal products from your house. The freezer, the fridge and even your cleaning and toiletries are not safe. Your family thinks you are having a nervous breakdown. 

The documentary you watched on Saturday provoked such strong emotions that you were compelled to change your diet and lifestyle forever. A lifestyle that had remained largely unchanged since birth.

That is the power that well-made vegan documentaries can have over people. And these type of documentaries have probably done more for veganism in the last 15 years than anything else combined.

Below I have listed some of my personal favourites. Documentaries that have had profound and lasting impacts on my life. I hope you find the list useful, and if I have missed off any great choices then leave a comment in the comments section below and I will update the list regularly. 

Goji Man xxx

 

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1. Fork Over Knives 

This is the one that changed it all for me. 

Fork Over Knives is a documentary that examines the claim (or as I like to call it, TRUTH), that most, if not all of today’s degenerative diseases can be prevented, halted and even reversed by rejecting animal products and replacing them with plant based foods. The majority of the story is focussed around the work and research of two leading Dr’s. Dr Colin Campbell and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn. The film also discusses the findings of Dr Campbell’s 20-year China-Cornell-Oxford project that were laid out in Dr Campbell’s book, The China Study. The China Study shows how the majority of diseases in the western world (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes and obesity etc) are a direct result of animal based foods and other processed foods in people’s diets. This is a must watch film for anyone who is concerned about their family’s health. 

 

 

2. Vegucated

Is one of the best vegan documentaries out there! The producers follow 3 New Yorkers for 6 weeks as they give up meat, dairy and eggs and adopt a vegan diet. The film documents (with hilarity at times) their journey as each of the participants discover how they can create a greener, kinder and cleaner world, one bite at a time. 

 

 

3. Earthlings

I am not going to lie; Earthlings is a very tough watch. It was made in 2005 and documents how humans have created a total reliance and dependence on animals purely for economic purposes and greed. The film is broken down into 5 elements: research, pets, food, clothing and entertainment. If you are easily upset, then I suggest you watch some of the other films on the list and avoid this one. 

 

 

4. Cowspiracy

Is one of the first vegan documentaries that was funded almost entirely through crowdfunding. And it has probably turned more people vegan than all the other films combined (slight exaggeration there!). The film chronicles the journey of Kip Anderson as he uncovers animal agriculture as the most destructive industry facing the planet today. You are taken on a journey where you learn that the meat and dairy industry is the number one cause of deforestation on the planet. The industry creates more pollution and greenhouse gases than all of the transportation industries combined. And many, many other mind-bending statistics are revealed. The story gets really interesting as Kip approaches leading environmental groups with his research only to find that there is an intentional refusal by these organisations to discuss the issues in hand. But why is this and what are the consequences for Kip’s personal safety? 

 

 

5. Crazy Sexy Cancer

This is the unbelievable journey of Kris Carr and her battle with cancer. She changes her diet, juices, takes up yoga and changes many other aspects of her life in order to beat the disease and obtain optimal health. The emotional fight is sprinkled with humour and even romance. A must watch for anyone who wants to understand the disease in greater detail. 

 

 

6. Speciesism: The Movie

This film uncovers what farms have been struggling to keep secret for years. The conditions that animals are kept in, as well as their treatment and diets are all exposed. This is one of the great vegan documentaries that takes viewers on a white-knuckle ride that crawls through bushes, flies in planes and hides in factories, all to come face-to-face with the farmers who are rearing animals in such poor conditions. A must see!

 

 

7. The Cove

The Cove was released in 2009 and is an Oscar-winning film. The film follows a group of brave and courageous animal activists as they expose a small Japanese town, that is home to an industry that slaughters dolphins for meat. The film also follows the story of a former dolphin trainer (from hit TV show, Flipper), as he tries to forgive himself for exploiting these intelligent creatures in his earlier days. A great all round watch!

 

 

8. Blackfish

I only saw this for the first time a few months back, but it quickly became a personal favourite of mine. Blackfish chronicles the story of a captive killer whale, that has taken the lives of several people. The film undercovers the poor conditions that these creatures are kept in and highlights problems within the sea-park industry that have been deliberately covered up for years. 

 

 

9. Live and Let Live

Is one of the lesser known vegan documentaries out there, but it’s still a great watch. This feature film documents the human relationship with animals. It also looks at the history of veganism and the reasons underpinning why people turn to veganism. The health reasons, the ethics and environmental reasons are all discussed. 

 

 

10. Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

This is a great documentary that documents the journey of 6 Americans with diabetes as they switch to raw vegan diets in an attempt to reverse this disease. The participants give up meat, dairy, eggs, processed foods, nicotine, caffeine and all cooked foods for 30 days. The results are startling. A must watch for anyone who has diabetes or who has family members battling with the disease.

 

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The Main Reasons Why Fish Is Not A Health Food

The Main Reasons Why Fish Is Not A Health Food

There is a common misconception that fish is a healthier alternative to meat and that it actually promotes health in the human body. In reality this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are many reasons why fish is not healthy I have listed the main four below.

 

Proteins & IGF-1

 

Regardless of whether you eat fish, meat, eggs or dairy you will run into problems at some point in your life due to the higher concentrations of essential amino acids contained in these foods. One of the main reasons these amino acids are so detrimental in the body is that they increase the levels of IGF-1 (an insulin-like growth hormone) (study, study, study)

The knock-on effect of this is that IGF-1 speeds up the process of cell division in the body. This extra stimulation of cell multiplication has been heavily linked with cancer proliferation for many years. The science is very clear in this area and we know with certainty that animal proteins increase IGF-1 levels in the body and raised IGF-1 levels cause cancer (study, study, study, study).

 

Saturated Fats And Cholesterol

 

If you ask most people why they consume fish the standard response is that it’s heart healthy as it contains omega-3 fatty acids. So let me clear this area up for you:

  • While SOME fish do indeed contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), the vast majority of fatty acids derived from fish is actually in the form saturated fats. Fish also generally contains high levels of cholesterol. Both cholesterol and saturated fats are among the main risk factors for heart disease.
  • To give you an idea of how much cholesterol is contained in fish – in both a 3 ounce portion of bass and beef there is the same amount of cholesterol (approx. 75 milligrams). Yet most people don’t associate fish with cholesterol.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is derived from the plants they eat in the sea. Fish do not make omega-3’s. You can get omega-3’s by eating plant based foods like nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables and fruits. These foods provide ALA (fatty acid) which then gets converted in the body to the longer chain fatty acids EPA and DHA (both of which protect us from heart disease).
  • We only need the 1000mg of cholesterol our bodies make every day for optimal health. We DO NOT NEED ANY dietary cholesterol in our bodies. The more dietary cholesterol we load the body with the more we increase our risk of heart disease.

 

Chemicals & Pollutants

 

Most health authorities around the world have advisories around the amount of fish people consume. The reason for these advisories is that most oceans are heavily contaminated with metals such as mercury, chemicals such as PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls) and insecticides and pesticides such as DDT and chlordane (See sample advisory). In this recent study by the United States Department of Agriculture 84% of all fish sampled from around the world contained unsafe levels of mercury. And why is mercury so bad for the body? Well mercury is neurotoxin (kills brain cells). When you eat foods that contain mercury it is very difficult for your body to remove it. It can then accumulate in the heart (for example) and inhibit normal heart function as well as causing causing central nervous system damage in foetus’s during pregnancy (study, study)

 

What Fish Is Lacking

 

So we know that fish today contains dangerous levels of mercury, hazardous chemicals and high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. So lets also talk about what healthy nutrients fish doesn’t contain. Fish contains no carbohydrates (essential for optimal health). It also contains no fiber, essential for healthy bowel movements and the prevention of digestive cancers. It also lacks any real amounts of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other macronutrients essential for health promotion. So in reality people are eating fish for perceived health benefits when in reality its a pretty poor dietary choice.

 

Surely Fish Is Better Than Meat Right?

 

This is a ridiculous notion that we humans love to use. Just because fish is slightly less damaging in the body compared to meat, we classify it as a “health food”. While the science supports fish eaters being healthier than meat eaters in terms of parameters such as diabetes, weight and other important health factors, lets not be under any illusion. Fish eaters still have very high rates of disease and illness compared to those on plant based diets. So yes, you might be slightly healthier than a meat eater, but if you want to live a long and healthy life then avoid both fish and meat (and dairy for that matter!).

 

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