Opinion: Veganism and Health

Paul Landini wrote . . . . . . .

I’ve covered a variety of health and fitness topics, although there’s one in particular that I’ve refrained from tackling despite it being the most near and dear to my heart. Well, here it is: My name is Paul and I’m a vegan.

This is hardly the radical statement it may have been 10 years ago. When you can find dairy-free ice cream and organic tofu at Walmart – or when McDonald’s announces the test launch of a vegan burger – you’ve officially entered the mainstream. Hollywood, health gurus (both phony and legit) and pro sports have all embraced veganism with a fervour typically reserved for pseudo-religious cults (which, some might say, is exactly what veganism is, but that’s a topic for another time).

So while, yes, it’s now easier and more socially acceptable to live a plant-based lifestyle, in the gym, the idea still raises some skeptical eyebrows. To many lifters, vegans are skinny, patchouli-stinking hippies that can’t bench-press worth a damn. I assure you, this is not the case. I’m not the biggest or strongest guy on the block, but I can dead-lift more than twice my body weight, fire off 30 strict push-ups with relative ease and, last I checked, my pull-up max was 15 reps. These numbers won’t win me any world titles, but they do prove you can build muscle and get strong without eating animals.

The belief that meat equals muscle is deeply entrenched in lifting culture, but that’s changing. Strong and shredded vegans such as Mike Mahler, Scott Shetler, Vanessa Espinoza and Torre Washington have helped disprove many of the myths surrounding our ever-growing subculture. Now, here I am doing my part: I present to you three of the most pervasive fallacies that dog athletic vegans.

We’re not protein deficient

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me where I get my protein from. No joke, it happens every day.

For such a protein-obsessed society, we know little about what this macronutrient does, how much of it we need and where it comes from.

Dietary protein is needed because it delivers amino acids to our bodies. Amino acids perform many important functions, including tissue repair and muscle growth, so it’s understandable why lifters value it so highly. Here’s the thing, though. Protein isn’t hard to come by.

You can easily obtain all you need (1-2 grams per kilogram of body weight is sufficient for just about everyone) on a plant-based diet. Lentils, tempeh, beans and quinoa are all protein-rich foods that never had a face.

We’re not hormonally challenged

Earlier this month, I heard my favourite bit of anti-vegan misinformation. In between sets of squats, a newly vegan lifter was talking about his recent conversion with a group of friends. They were discussing diet when, upon hearing the word “tofu,” the largest of the group snorted and said, “Dude, you know that stuff is filled with estrogen, right?”

Dude-bro wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t right either. Tofu is made from soy and soy contains a plant-based estrogen (also called phytoestrogen) compound called isoflavone.

But guess what? So do dozens of other foods – apples, yams, carrots and coffee, to name a few – that people eat all the time. Outdated studies once linked phytoestrogens to breast and prostate cancer, but they have since been discredited. The hysteria over soy’s estrogen-like qualities are overblown, to say the least. Guys, fear not: You won’t need to go bra shopping if you pour soy milk in your smoothies.

We’re not paragons of virtue and health

A small but vocal contingent of vegans carry themselves with an obnoxious aura of healthiness that would make Gwyneth Paltrow proud.

These people, well-intentioned as they may be, are misguided. Removing animal products from your diet isn’t a magical panacea. It’s true that, when done right, a vegan diet has a bunch of health benefits, but the same goes for non-vegan diets, too.

The key here is the “when done right” part

I know proud vegans whose vegetable intake is limited to french fries and onion rings, just as I know meat-eaters who pile greens on their plate at every meal. I don’t buy the notion that eating meat is inherently unhealthy. Processed and packaged meat is garbage, yes, but so are processed and packaged meat alternatives.

A healthy diet looks the same for everyone: lots of fruits and vegetables, some whole grains and healthy fats, plus some protein.

Source: The Globe and Mail


Cute Bread Loaf with Pink Heart in the Centre

It is a Danish bread made to celebrate your birthday. When you cut it, a pink heart appears in the cross section. This is perfect for the present!

The bread is available for a limited time at 1404 yen each (tax included).

Savoury Potato Pancake


2-1/4 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 oz carrots, peeled and coarsely grated or 1-2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 level teaspoon ground coriander
1-2 level tablespoons freshly chopped basil or 1 level teaspoon dried basil
fresh basil leaves to garnish


  1. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes until tender.
  2. Drain and mash boiled potatoes, adding milk and seasonings.
  3. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a pan and fry onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes until soft.
  4. Add carrot and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. In a bowl, combine onion mixture with potato, coriander and basil and mix well.
  6. Heat remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan and add potato mixture, flattening it out with a spatula. Cook over a gentle heat until just browned underneath then place under a moderate broiler (grill) until the top is evenly browned.
  7. Serve cut into quarters and garnished with fresh basil.

Makes 4 servings.


Make individual galettes by dividing the mixture into 4 round cakes and finishing as above.

Source: 50 ways with potatoes

In Pictures: Toasts with Eggs

High-intensity Interval Training Alters Brain Glucose Metabolism in Insulin Resistant People

Researchers at the University of Turku studied how high-intensity interval training (HIIT) alters the brain’s glucose metabolism in physically inactive insulin resistant people. Only two weeks of HIIT training reduced glucose metabolism in all areas of the brain.

​A study lead by Jarna Hannukainen and Kari Kalliokoski at the University of Turku shows that HIIT training reduces brain glucose metabolism of people suffering from type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

– Previous studies have shown that the brain’s glucose and fatty acid uptake is increased in type 2 diabetes, and that glucose uptake decreases after weight loss. We wanted to study if a similar effect could be achieved by exercise, without a significant weight loss, says Doctoral Candidate Sanna Honkala from Turku PET Centre.

However, the mechanisms behind the changes in the brain’s metabolism are still speculations. During HIIT training, e.g. ketones and lactates are being formed which the brain can use as a source of energy. Glucose being supplemented with ketones, such as D-β-hydroxybutyrate or other substrate, could be one of the explanations for the decreased glucose uptake caused by exercise.

Both High-intensity and Moderate Training Improve Insulin Sensitivity

The participants of the study were middle-aged, non-exercising men and women, who had prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. The research subjects were randomised into two different exercise intensity groups, one of which was for HIIT training and the other for traditional, moderate intensity continuous training. The two-week training intervention included six instructed training sessions which were performed by using exercise bicycles. HIIT training consisted of 30-second training sessions with 4-minute recoveries in between, whereas traditional exercise consisted of uninterrupted, moderate intensity cycling.

– Both forms of exercise improved the whole body’s insulin sensitivity equally efficiently and most likely, we would have seen a change also in the brain’s metabolism after moderate training if the exercise period would have been longer. In order to improve their insulin sensitivity, everyone can choose the form of exercise they are most comfortable with, which also motivates to exercise regularly, says Hannukainen.

The results were published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

Source: University of Turku

Today’s Comic