Sunday, May 25, 2008

Interview with Masako and Ky

Masako & Ky
Age: 66 and 71
Vegetarian / Raw (50% Raw)

Masako and Ky can often be found at Simply Zen helping their daughter, Honey, in whatever capacity is required - customer service or tending to the newest staff member, 6 month old Jordan!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Honey's father KY and Honey's little girl, Jordan. While her Mommy was busy helping out customers, Jordan perused the activity from the safety of her Grandpa's arms. Masako has mentioned that when she and Ky eventually relocate to the Hamilton area, she will prepare some authentic vegetarian food for me. (How fortunate for me, I must say. But, unbeknown to Masako, I intend to bring a notebook as I plan to glean some tips and recipes!!)

1. How many years have you practiced this way of eating?

Masako & Ky: 13 years

2. What motivated you to adopt this particular diet?

Masako & Ky: We are believers of the "Tao" philosophy (different from the Tao religion). The soul of an animal is just as important and equal to that of a human being and consuming animals would be contradictory to our belief. Eating mostly raw is very healthy, and with the gas/hydro prices going up, we are also saving money!!

3. What challenges do you face to maintain this food lifestyle?

Masako & Ky: We often do not dine out even though there are many vegetarian options now available because we do not eat garlic or onions. Otherwise it's easy for us to maintain this lifestyle.

4. If you could give tips or advice to someone new to this type of eating, what would it be?

Masako & Ky: If someone wants to adopt this particular type of eating and is having a hard time, we suggest eliminating the intake of animal products gradually.

5. What is your favourite meal quick meal to prepare?

Ky: Natto (fermented soybeans) and green salad.

Masako: I love all food, so it's hard for me to choose a favourite.

6. Have you noticed any changes in yourself since you began eating this way?

Ky: I have high blood pressure for a good number of years and it has gotten better. I have become a much more calmer person.

Masako: We both have more energy than we did before.

Links for "Natto" and "Tao" selected by me & not suggested by Masako & Ky.
Photo: 'Tao' by Andrew Illachinski.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Interview with Thich nu Tinh Quang

Name: Thich nu Tinh Quang
Age: 61

Sister Tinh Quang, is the founder and director of the Blue Heron Zen Buddhist Centre community, here in Hamilton. It is not easy to describe Sister Tinh Quang and I have only known her since 1999...but I will try!

Some time ago, on the refrigerator in the centre's kitchen, there used to be a picture of a little girl, dressed up in a cowboy outfit....turns out that this was our Sister as a young girl whose very hero was none other than Roy Rogers (and very definitely NOT Dale Evans!). That little piece of historical trivia explains a lot about Sister.

OK, she doesn't keep a horse or carry a gun.....but she is certainly one small, powerhouse of a woman who charges forth into uncharted territory and could be described as a "pistol" (although pistol and Buddhist nun in the same sentence......not sure about that!)

With training and credentials (McMaster University, Gestalt Institute) in philosophy, human resources, addictions and mental health she is well-qualified for her work. Through her mindful practice and devotion to the Buddha's teachings , she works tirelessly, with kindness and compassion, to provide accessible workshops, seminars, counseling, outreach programs, to name but a few, to help one and all awaken to their fullest human potential. A lofty goal, but with quiet dignity, she stays true to her path inspiring all.

Here is her interview.

Compassionate: How many years have you practiced this way of eating?

Sister Tinh Quang: Since 1973.

Compassionate: What motivated you to adopt this particular diet?

Sister Tinh Quang: I was asked a couple of questions by a meat-eater, who was just making an observation. "How can you be eating a pork chop while you cuddle a kitten? How do you determine which animal is okay to kill and which one isn't?" I was given pause to think. I liked pigs very much. Why was it okay to eat them? Suddenly, it wasn't okay anymore.

Compassionate: What challenges do you face to maintain this lifestyle?

Sister Tinh Quang: I try to eat as close to vegan as I can, but it is not easy. As a monastic, I must accept whatever food is offered. Luckily, I'm not given meat, but sometimes I am given eggs, or dairy by well-meaning people. I'm leaving for Mongolia in a few weeks, and though I will be with monastics for most of the time there, the first 2 days will be a challenge, as I must find my own meals. I understand that finding vegetarian in Mongolia can be quite challenging.

Compassionate: If you could give tips or advice to someone new to this type of eating, what would it be?

Sister Tinh Quang: Learn as much as you can about nutrition, without becoming to dogmatic about it. Also, get yourself some good vegetarian cookbooks or go on the web - lots and lots of blogs with recipes and information. When I became vegetarian in 1973, there were very few vegetarians around, no internet, and any cookbooks had inedible (to me) recipes. Luckily, I knew some Hindus who helped me learn to cook healthy vegetarian meals. Before consulting with them, I ate a lot of grilled cheese and French fries, and boiled everything else. Not very appetizing.

Compassionate: What is your favourite meal?

Sister Tinh Quang: I enjoy most pasta dishes. I love tofu, now that I know how to prepare it properly (that took a few years). However, my favourite meal is very simple. A bowl of miso soup with cubed tofu, sprinkled with sesame seeds or cilantro. This is followed by brown basmati rice, covered with a vegetarian Korean Bipimbop. Spicy and tasty.

Compassionate: Have you noticed any changes in yourself since you began eating this way?

Sister Tinh Quang: I have to remember back as the changes were most evident in the beginning. I had more energy, and became more aware of what I was putting into my body. Before becoming a vegetarian I would look at a field of cows and think, "oh, how nice, a field of cows". Now, when I see them I see fellow travelers on this planet, who have a right to live a natural, cow life, and have as much right to be here as I do.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Interview with Honey

Honey, pictured with her beautiful little girl, Jordan, is proprieter of
SIMPLY ZEN on Locke Street here in Hamilton. The small shop near Main Street is brimming with the most amazing selection of gifts, clothing (organic), fair trade, raw & vegan food, environmentally safe cleaning products, personal care, incense, candles, cushions.....I could go on. Tightly packed into a small space, Simply Zen is one of my favourite places to shop - for it's peaceful atmosphere, friendly, helpful staff and unique merchandise.

NAME: Honey
AGE: early 40's

How many years have you practiced this way of eating?

Honey: 27+ years, mostly RAW for 2+ years

Compassionate: What motivated you to adopt this particular diet?

Honey: The taste of non-veg items repulsed me - going raw seemed to be a natural diet to adopt after being Vegan for so long.

Compassionate: What challenges do you face to maintain this food lifestyle?

Honey: Eating out can be challenging, as well as dinner parties.

Compassionate: If you could give tips or advice to someone new to this type of eating, what would it be?

Honey: Always listen to your body and if you fall of the wagon, don't stress out about it.

Compassionate: What is your favourite food or meal?

Honey: Anything with Kale or (fresh) Coconut!

Compassionate: Have you noticed any changes in yourself since you began eating this way?

Honey: More energetic, feel much more connected to nature, and more sensitive to my environment.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Calvin was really before his time...

Click on the title window to view the whole sequence!

For my hubby and also a couple of the deer hunters in my family!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

US Food Pyramid & Vegetarian Diet

"Vegetarian diets can meet all the recommendations for nutrients. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs. Follow the food group recommendations for your age, sex, and activity level to get the right amount of food and the variety of foods needed for nutrient adequacy. Nutrients that vegetarians may need to focus on include protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12."

Source: USDA Food Pyramid

For more tips, visit the USDA My Pyramid website.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Food Crisis Worldwide

This morning, during breakfast with my husband, I mentioned that I was getting concerned about what I am reading in the papers lately about the food crisis. More specifically, what does it mean for me and our family. I decided I would grab the articles and give you some of the statistics that our local paper is reporting.

But before I proceed, let me tell you in a nutshell how we eat (and have eaten all of our lives): (1) I have never experienced a shortage of food ever; (2) we have always had an excess of choices of food; (3) we waste food continually - be it leftovers gone bad or fresh food just not eaten in time, and gone bad; (4) we have enjoyed mostly good health when eating moderately and choosing nutritious foods, but also compromised heath at times, due to our often excessive lifestyle (consuming too much and selecting foods at the low end of the nutritious scale).

Now let me tell you about a woman living on the edge of the Sahara. She is a widow, raising her family of 3. She works to live, weaving textile and earns .50 cents a day. How is Manthita Sou coping with the her piece of the world's food crisis? She has stopped eating breakfast, has tea for lunch and serves "soupy sorghum" for dinner. Because wheat prices are up 67% in her local market, she chooses the cheaper sorghum (even sorghum is up 20% in the last 12 months). I seriously doubt that she nor her children have ever suffered from excess weight. Quite certainly, they are barely surviving which falls into the compromised health arena.

Hmmm...... looking at these two pictures, there's me, throwing away food (BUT it's in the green bin....where it gets transferred to the composting centre, which makes the waste all the more acceptable) and there is Manthita Sou with barely any food for herself and children!

The glaring statistic is that there are 1 billion people living on this planet surviving on less than $1.00 per day. "The UN World Food Program has warned of an alarming surge in hunger... This crisis, it fears, will plunge more than 100 million of the world's poorest people deeper into poverty."

What are the reasons for rising food prices?
1. Trade restrictions (export taxes, bans, etc) by the countries who produce the rice, grain, corn, wheat and soybean. This effect pressures the tight supplies and increase prices.
2. Increased demand for meat. Effect - grain crops intended for human consumption now diverted for livestock consumption to "feed" the human consumption of livestock. (1 lb of BEEF requires 7 to 8.5 lbs grain; 1 lb or PORK requires 5 to 7 lbs grain). (Are we completely stupid? This equation is just plain crazy! There isn't enough grain to go around because we are giving it to the animals that we want to eat and fueling the cars we want to drive - the big problem is, billions of us don't have cars to drive and can't afford the meat to eat.)
3. Weather (heat, drought & excessive rain) damage crops. Stocks have fallen world-wide due to weather conditions.
4. Biofuels - corn used for car fuel (ethanol). In the US back in 1997, only 5% of corn crops went into ethanol production; today, 25% is produced for ethanol. Effect - corn prices up 50% since last year. European countries importing cheaper sorghum for livestock feed (there's that meat consumption factor again). Effect - sorghum prices went up. (Sorghum is a grain widely consumed by the poorest of our fellow-men.)
5. Fuel - over the past year and a bit, a barrel of crude oil cost $61.05. A few weeks back, the same barrel cost $118.52. Effect - tremendous increase in cost to transport food around our planet. (Example: US to Japan, one year ago, freight cost was $60/ton - today it is $110/ton; US to Europe, a year ago, freight cost was $38/ton, today $75/ton.)

If you are reading this page, I know you are concerned too. We are the movers and shakers of this world....let us be action now.

UN world Food Program -
CARE International -
World Vision -

May 5, 2008: a reader also suggested this site -

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is a vegetarian diet healthier?

Yet another article about the benefits of a vegetarian diet. We've read it all before - the conclusions are not clear....are vegetarians living longer, disease free, healthier lives because they eat so much vegetables & fruit rather than the absence of meat? Or is it because, generally-speaking vegetarians are also less likely to smoke, over-eat, etc.? To read the whole article and decide for yourself, visit the link to the web page.

Surprisingly, the author quotes
Vesanto Melina, the author of Becoming Vegetarian: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Vegetarian Diet (Wiley, 2003), as stating that small amounts of low fat meats can be a part of a healthy diet.

I'm sorry, but this misses the point for me completely. We are always talking about our health, but what about the health of the animal? Our so-called requirement for animal products, means for the average chicken or pig a life of confinement, while being fed a diet specifically aimed at fattening the animal up to marketable level in a unusually short timespan, then hauling the livestock cross-country (or even over seas) again in cramped confined quarters, often without water for lengthy stretches. Then at the end of this horrific journey, the point of no escape - the killing floors of our abattoirs. This is the point for me - the point of no return.

I've said it before, I did not stop eating meat for my health. I stopped eating meat for the animals health!