MK Gandhi on Vegetarianism

I just returned to Bali from a quick trip to Singapore and want to share something inspiring.

I arrived in Singapore on Sunday, which happens to be market night in Little India. Amongst an ocean of ultra modern buildings, non-stop advertising and super high technology, Little India is one of the few places in the city which still has some character. I took a walk through the busy, colorful streets full of people and fresh fruit and vegetables for sale. In a gap between the crowds I spotted a sign for a vegetarian restaurant called Ananda Bhavan and decided to have a look.

Indian restaurants aren’t known for having a lot of raw food options, but I was able to find a few dishes that worked for me. The food was average but what really struck me though was the calm and peaceful feeling inside the restaurant. In my experience, that’s common to vegetarian places around the world.

As I was about to leave, I went downstairs to pay and I spotted this quote from M.K. Gandhi painted in white stylized letters on the dark green wall:

“An examination of the structure of the human body leads to the conclusion that man is intended by nature to live on a vegetable diet. There is the closest affinity between the organs of the human body and those of fruit eating animals. The monkey for example is so similar to man in shape and structure and it is a fruit eating animal. Its teeth and stomach are just like the teeth and stomach of man, while those of carnivorous animals, as for instance the lion and tiger are entirely different.”

Alongside this quote is also painted Gandhi’s comparison of the physiology of meat eaters and vegetable eaters:

Meat eaters:

Have claws
Don’t have skin pores – so perspire through the tongue
Have sharp teeth for tearing and no molars for grinding
Have an intestinal tract 3 times the length of the body – so meat can pass quickly, before rotting
Have very strong hydrochloric acid in the stomach

Vegetable eaters:

Have nails instead of claws
Perspire through the skin
Have no sharp front teeth and have rear molars for grinding
Have an intestinal tract 10-12 times body length
Have stomach acid 20 times weaker than meat eaters

Based on these comparisons it’s quickly clear which group humans naturally belong to. I’ve belonged to that group now for the past 15 years and I’m really glad I have.

As much as I’m inspired by this restaurant so proudly presenting Gandhi’s argument in favor of vegetarianism, I want to make one important addition that can help you save some time and get you healthier faster.

Interestingly, there’s not a significant difference in health between meat eaters and vegetable eaters in the wild. Both tend to live healthy and disease free until the final 5% of their lives. Also both of them eat all of their food raw.

And, in my experience, that’s really the key – keeping it as raw as possible. Yes, we are physiologically designed to be vegetable and fruit eaters – raw vegetable and fruit eaters.

To me it’s become so clear and makes so much sense. I was a 75% cooked food vegetarian for 7 years before discovering raw foods. During that time I ate tofu, beans, lentils, whole grain breads, brown rice and all the other foods I thought were really healthy. The problem with all of them is that they were so heavily cooked and devitalized.

I did feel that leaving meat out of my diet helped raise my awareness, kindness and compassion pretty much straight away, but I didn’t experience major physical health benefits like weight loss, clearer skin, improved digestion, less mucous, greater immunity and more until I became a 95% raw food vegetarian.

If I could turn the clock back in my own life, I would start with raw vegetarian instead of just vegetarian. The difference is truly that big.

So, if Mr. Gandhi’s analysis and words resonate with you and you feel pulled to try a vegetarian diet, I’d encourage you to look toward a raw vegetarian diet first. I know you’ll be glad you did.

One last thing you should know. I regularly hold raw food seminars and classes to help people learn how to consciously transition to a raw foods diet. You may have already been to one. But since not everyone can come to one of my classes I’ve put my entire course manual together as an eBook that anyone can download and learn from starting today.

Vegetarian Diet

There is more than one vegetarian diet. If someone tells you that they are a vegetarian that could mean many different things. With each style of a vegetarian diet there are certain foods that are restricted. With each food that is restricted it is important to consider what those foods do for your body so that you can find other ways to get the nutrients they used to provide. Any of these ways of eating can help you to lose weight and more importantly keep it off and be healthier.

Here are a few categories of vegetarianism:

· Vegan – a vegan diet is one that does not have any animal products in it at all. There is no meat, diary, fish, poultry, eggs, or any products that contain any of these items. Many times vegans will also not eat honey.

· Lacto-vegetarian – a lacto vegetarian consists of a diet that cuts out meat, fish, poultry, and egg, but diary is allowed.

· Ovo-lacto-vegetarian – an ovo lacto vegetarian will not eat meat, fish, or poultry, but they will eat eggs and dairy products.

If you are considering switching over to a vegetarian diet for weight loss there are a few things that you can do to slowly change you meals. It might not be a good idea for you to completely cut out the meat, especially if you have had a diet heavy in meat for a long time. Instead slowly change what you eat. Start this process by increasing the meat free meals that you already eat. For example if you make a vegetable stir-fry make this more often.

Once you are comfortable with a few more meat free meals during the week add in substitutions. For example there are many meat free versions of faux ground beef, or fake chicken. Some of these are really great and much healthier for you than their fleshy counterparts. Try to substitute a few meals with these alternatives. Even with this simple switch you will start to see a change in your waistline.

Finally try new menus. There are hundreds of great vegetarian cookbooks and the internet has a never ending supply of interesting recipes that you can try. There are also many vegetarian restaurants or restaurants that offer vegetarian options. Try some of these places and when you find foods that you enjoy ask for the recipe so that you can try to make them at home.

It has been proven that people who eat a vegetarian diet, no matter what style of that diet eat fewer calories than people who eat meat. A vegetarian does need to be more careful with their protein choices. It is easy to pick high fat proteins on a vegetarian diet, like cheese. But there are many low fat proteins that are good for you and have less negative dietary issues and less fat. Many of the protein foods that you love can also be found in low fat options. So feel free to eat the cheese if you want it, just try it in low fat.

How you cook your foods can also affect their nutritional value. If you are changing your diet for weight loss it is important to know that foods that have been fried are the least good for you. If you enjoy fried foods try to bake, grill, or steam instead. Often these cooking styles can make your food taste better and they are much better for you. If you do a lot of stir-fry cooking try to use less oil which will help make that cooking process healthier as well.

For any type of healthy eating diet, it is a good rule of thumb to always choose whole foods. This means eating foods that are natural. If you have the choice between French fries and an apple, go for the apple. If you have a choice between spaghetti with canned tomato sauce or roasted vegetables, go for the vegetables. This way you are making the healthy choice with foods that are fresh and natural.

New York City Restaurant Reviews and Other Matters of the Hat

In NYC for The Headwear Association’s 98th annual dinner at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, I was enthusiastic about trying a restaurant that I had seen reviewed some months previously in the NY Times. Favoring vegetarian cuisine for the past 16 years (James Rachel’s 1990 book CREATED FROM ANIMALS: The Moral Implications of Darwinism sealed this decision back then), I have been waiting for what I knew would arrive some day- Vegetarian Fine Dining. So on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, the day after the association dinner (good event but, at best, middling meal at T on the G), I set off for the East Village and Heirloom. I wasn’t disappointed. When one enters most vegetarian restaurants, what is almost always palpable is the fidelity of the staff to the work. It feels good to be at a business where the people working there have a passion for what they are doing. In the case of vegetarian restaurants, for most staff, it is also a philosophical conviction that they are doing is the right thing.* So in Heirloom, you are met by hip, attractive, friendly well-dressed hostesses, wait persons, bar tenders, with whom you are on the same wave length (there’s also something sexy about this – but unfortunately I am old enough to be these people’s father). They might be cut from the same cloth as the jeans and t-shirt people that you encounter in most veggie joints, but here we’re all playing dress-up – it’s fun, it’s sophisticated, the décor is cool, it’s all well done. It’s also an important statement – Vegetarianism** is not mutually exclusive from fine dining.

On to the food: I’m seated with a good view of the bar and the front door – I’m catching the scene – I am happy. The wine menu is interesting, but California is conspicuously absent as are the great pinot noirs of Oregon. I’m not sure what this is about (I hope not another example of pretentious New York demonstrating their imprudent superiority by dissing California in favor of Europe- I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt). The two different reds I ordered (glasses) were good – the quality was right for the price. The menu is simple – a good idea – divided into “First Course” and “Second Course”. This works very well as one doesn’t need a lot of choices as one can eat everything on the menu. Vegetarians are usually eliminating four-fifths or more of a menu right out of the gate in most restaurants. So after seriously considering “Truffled Portobello Crostini with Apple Celeric Compote: balsamic vinegar reduction, truffle corstini and lavender honey”, I go with “Sous-Vide Poached Egg with Crispy Sweet Potato: meyer lemon foam, greens and horseradish oil”. Both my waitress and the server make the point that I should thoroughly mix the various parts of this dish before eating. Wow! What a brilliant idea – this really works. You’ve got warm-cool, crispy-soft, bland-spicy, runny-dry, and lots of great flavors all happening in harmony. This was the big winner of the night. I was having more trouble picking a “Second Course”. I intended to go with the favorite of the NT Times reviewer, but it was no longer on the menu. I settled on something unusual (for me at least), “Anson Mills Creamy Grits with Smoked Hominy: avacado, queso fresco and roasted tomato-poblano salsa”. I surmised that this down-home, mid-America sounding dish would be just the ticket for my weekend theme – don’t accept New York as cutting-edge Mecca on reputation alone.*** Well, this dish was fine, but it couldn’t keep up with the superior opening act. After couple of bites, I did come to appreciate the simple comfort food that was the objective. But the dessert almost did measure up to the appetizer – “Black Cocoa Cake, with Chocolate-Bourbon Glaze: sweet chestnut filling and espresso ice cream”. (Like most of the rest of the world) I consider myself an authority on chocolate – this was great. And the big surprise was that the chef de cuisine herself, Amanda Cohen, served me. After a perfunctory inquiry about the meal, she mentioned that she noticed I was carrying the Times review. Given the fact that I had had this article tightly folded into the palm of my hand and was reading it very discreetly, Ms. Cohen’s observation really impressed me. And that says something else about Heirloom – people are paying attention to their diners. As a merchant myself, that virtually says it all.

On Saturday afternoon, I caught the R-train for Brooklyn and visited with Tom Toomey, certainly one of the finest California hat store managers of the 1980s. Tom was a pioneer in the, now full-blown, downtown San Diego renaissance when he managed The Village Hat Shop in the then new Horton Plaza. Many years after his tenure at the hat store, customers would regularly come in asking for and about him. After a long stint in Russia and surrounds, he has settled in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and is following his passion for art – http://www.tcatdesigns.com. We took a long walk in his neighborhood and ultimately landed at Al Di La Restaurant. And what a good landing it was! Everything was top notch at this restaurant including the best entrée of the weekend, the truffles and ricotta ravioli.

Briefly: For an over-priced brunch at the Carnegie Deli you can get insulted by grumpy old-school waitresses at no extra charge. Dukes on Broadway in Midtown makes a good sandwich (hot or cold) highlighted by the bread.

And the winners are:

Heirloom – On Orchard Street near Houston in the East Village.

Al Di La – On the corner of 5th Avenue and Carrol in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

* I spent that afternoon at The Museum of Modern Art where a MOMA lecturer argued that the modern “art object” need not be beautiful, need not be skillfully executed, need not be tangible. Nothing mattered but “the idea” and that all ideas are fair game today with no cannons and no rules. She argued for a kind of relativism where all ideas are equal and nothing mattered other than if the art was “interesting”. She used examples of “artists” shooting themselves in the foot or nailing themselves to a Volkswagen as arguably having merit as art. She, the lecturer, refused to pass any judgments on these so-called works of art (or anything for that matter). In the end, it was hyper-academic drivel – really unnerving. I was left believing that this borough, where the St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers had refused to let gays and lesbians march, was in fact really as provincial as some argue. [But Heirloom, where something mattered, saved the day for Manhattan.]

** My philosophy professor friend (and a native New Yorker) argues that not eating animals is really quite conservative philosophy – anything but an eccentric stretch in thinking. For those of you still grappling with this question, ask yourself if your cousins should suffer so that they can be your food. Then realize that we are all animals differing only by some matter of degree.

*** I met Diane Feen, the editor of the yearly HAT LIFE Directory and bi-monthly HAT LIFE Newsletter at Bergdorf-Goodman, a NYC department store temple, for a visit to the men’s and women’s hat departments and lunch. Hats were way over-priced and their “lunch special” fussilli that I ordered was runny and tasteless (I think they opened a can of tomato sauce and poured it on poorly drained pasta – no kidding) – this was the worst meal I can remember eating at a restaurant in a long time ($18!). And, everywhere you looked, women were wearing full-length fur coats (okay with MOMA I guess, but it would be equally okay if I tossed a gallon of blood on these ignoramuses). What are these pathetic people thinking? This could never happen in California.

Fred Belinsky

VillageHatShop.com [http://VilliageHatShop.com/]

http://Berets.com

Vegetarian Weddings

Vegetarian weddings are the latest fad afflicting modern couples. Planning a vegetarian wedding is labor intensive but exciting. Wedding couples veering from conventional customs are highly common.

Vegetarian diets contain no poultry, shellfish, fish or meat. Most vegetarians are comfortable with both eggs and dairy products. Strict vegetarian weddings also shun refined sugar and honey.

Vegetarian wedding is the same as other weddings, except that it involves more labor and plenty of choice.

Coping with Non-Veg Guests

Offer regular vegetarian foods to non-veg guests such as sweets, pasta bars, breads, soups, salads, potatoes and cheeses. These are familiar items and would make the guests comfortable. Better inform the guests in advance about the vegetarian reception.

Find good caterers who are experts in preparing vegetarian food. Vegetarian cuisines come in wide range. So, there is no reason to settle for stir fried veggies or pasta primavera.

Another option is to book at a vegetarian restaurant to host and cater to the wedding reception. Couples who have eaten at a restaurant would be sure of the food quality. Limit exotic ethnic dishes to accommodate the guest’s palate.

Vegetarian cake

Ordering a large vegan cake is the most difficult aspect of vegetarian wedding. Many bakers unfortunately don’t know how to prepare a delicious cake without milk, butter and eggs.

If you are unable to find a vegan cake, prepare your own. Use flaxseeds as substitute for eggs. However, some people are allergic to flax. For such cases, use EnerG egg replacer available at various departmental stores.

Many vegetarian cookbooks have simple and easy to make recipes for white cake and vegan chocolate cake. You can even try applesauce cake, vegan carrot cake or tofu cheesecakes. Little effort and time pays off and you would be surprised in the end when guests would leave the hall with a long lasting smile on their faces.