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VRG Journal November 1993


Note from the Coordinators:

VRG Publishes Vegetarian Foodservice Newsletter

We continue to receive numerous calls from foodservice personnel and chefs requesting assistance in incorporating vegetarian items into their menus. As a result of this demand, The Vegetarian Resource Group is now publishing a quarterly newsletter called Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update. The publication is being edited by Mary Clifford, R.D., and is appropriate for all institutional settings. (Write to the above address for ordering information for yourself or as a gift to your favorite hospital, school cafeteria, or restaurant.)

Back in August, 1993, Debra attended a public hearing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the U.S. Nutrition Plan of Action. The meeting was held in conjunction with an earlier International Conference on Nutrition the United States had attended along with 158 other nations. At the August meeting groups and individuals were invited to submit either oral or written testimony to assist in the U.S. government's drafting of a nutrition plan. Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D., one of our nutrition advisors, formulated written testimony for The Vegetarian Resource Group urging the federal government not to subsidize high-fat foods in school lunch and hunger programs.

Once again the Natural Products Expo East was a huge success. The Vegetarian Resource Group exhibited at this show and shared vegetarian information with natural foods store owners. Our new book, _Vegetarian Journal's_Guide_to_Natural_Foods_Restaurants_in_the_U.S._and_Canada_ was a big hit. Many store owners promised to carry the book.

Pictured on the front cover of this issue of Vegetarian Journal are several new natural foods products you can expect to find shortly in your local health food store. The products include a new rice beverage from Eden, a delicious vegan burger and shepherds pie from Amy's, Wheat Balls from Knox Mountain Farm, and Vegan Rella from Sharon's Finest. All these products are terrific! Other new products to watch for in the near future include two seitan products from Lightlife and another delicious vegan burger from Yves.

Finally, we recently learned that the vegan Harvest Burger manufactured by Archer Daniel's Midland will soon be distributed by Pillsbury under the Green Giant label. The product is expected to be available in 50% of all grocery stores in the United States by late 1994.

We wish you and your family a very happy and healthy new year!

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group

Veggie Bits

Vegetarian Dining in France

Readers planning on traveling to France in the near future can purchase Paris Bio, a book published by Editions La Couee Gargault and widely available throughout France. The book reviews 37 restaurants serving vegetarian food, and provides a list of health food stores and organic street markets. Paris Bio was written by Benoit and Anne-Helene Lafleche Braschi.

Animal Rights Forum in NY City

The New School for Social Research (America's oldest adult university) will present a forum on animal rights on Monday, November 8, 1993, from 8 to 9:30PM. Participants in the program include Ingrid Newkirk, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights. For further information contact The New School, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011; or call (212) 229-5690.

Amtrak Offers Some Veggie Options in NE Corridor

While traveling on Amtrak from Baltimore to New York we've been able to purchase a vegan burger and hummus with pretzel chips in the dining car.

Non Leather Drum Heads

Recently a reader called the office looking for a non-animal skin drum head. We called local Baltimore musician Ed Goldstein (a member of The Vegetarian Resource Group), who in turn let us know that the company Remo makes synthetic drum heads. You can reach the company by calling (800) 525-5134.

Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease

The soybean growers from Nebraska and Indiana, as well as the United Soybean Board, are sponsoring the First International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease. The conference will be held February 20-23, 1994, in Mesa, Arizona. Topics to be discussed include the connection between soyfoods consumption and heart disease and cancer prevention. Speakers from soy companies, hospitals, universities, and government agencies will participate. For complete information write to Soyfoods and Chronic Disease Symposium, PO Box 178, Libertytown, MD 21762-0178; or call (301) 898-5769.

News from New Jersey

New Jersey now requires that all women in that state referred for a routine mammogram receive a booklet which describes recognized dietary and lifestyle implications for the prevention of breast cancer.

Congratulations to Vegetarian Resource Group member Robert Baker, M.D., who initiated legislation in New Jersey that was recently passed. All women in that state referred for a routine mammogram receive a booklet which describes recognized dietary and lifestyle implications for the prevention of breast cancer. Perhaps this bill can be introduced in other states by some of our other medical doctor readers.

Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Cheese Alternatives & Non-Dairy Yogurt

By Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D.

Walk into a natural foods restaurant today and you're likely to see a choice such as Veggie Burger with Cheddar or Soy Cheese on the menu. What is this soy cheese? Is it better for you than Cheddar cheese? Is it an acceptable alternative for vegans? What about substitutes for other dairy products like cream cheese and yogurt? How do they rate?

Actually, the name used on the package of these cheese substitutes is not soy cheese at all but cheese alternative. Cheese alternative is a loosely defined term. Most, but not all, are made from tofu. At least one brand, Almond Rella, uses almond milk to replace cow's milk.

At first glance, cheese alternatives would appear to be vegan products. However, careful label reading reveals that casein (or calcium caseinate) is on the ingredient list of many of these products. Casein is a protein derived from cow's milk. It is added to most cheese alternatives to make them stretchy when melted, like cheese. Since casein is derived from cow's milk, most cheese alternatives are not acceptable to vegans. The only product on the market today which appears to be casein-free is Soymage, made by Galaxy Foods.

It's hard to tell just whom these cheese alternatives were developed for. Most lacto-ovo vegetarians eat cheese made from cow's milk (perhaps made with vegetable rennet; for more information see Vegetarian Journal reprint "Rennetless Cheese" available in our catalog on page 34). Cheeses containing casein are not acceptable to vegans and, while some cheeses are kosher, they are still considered a dairy product. A company spokesperson for one manufacturer said they see their market as those who want to avoid cholesterol and lactose. Most cheeses are not that high in cholesterol (15-30 milligrams in an ounce) and the fat content of many cheese alternatives keeps them from being heart-healthy products. Many people who are lactose intolerant are able to eat hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Swiss without any problems, since much of the lactose is removed in the cheese-making process. Perhaps people buy soy cheeses because they think soy products are healthier.

Are these products actually any healthier than cheese? Yes and no. Table 1 shows the nutrient content of some cheese alternatives compared to cheeses made of cow's milk. The American and Cheddar styles are lower in fat than Cheddar cheese made of cow's milk, and some are as low or lower in fat than reduced-fat American cheese. Mozzarella-style cheese alternatives do not fare as well. Only three, Lite'n' Free, Almond Rella and White Wave Fat Free Soy A Melt are lower in fat than part-skim mozzarella cheese. The cheese alternatives are lower in saturated fat than cheeses made from cow's milk. No cheese alternatives which we found contained any cholesterol. The sodium content of the mozzarella-style cheese alternatives was higher than that of mozzarella cheese made out of cow's milk. The American and Cheddar-style cheese alternatives were generally close to Cheddar cheese made of cow's milk in terms of sodium content.

Protein content of the cheese alternatives was similar to mozzarella and Cheddar cheese except for Soymage which was low in protein and high in fat. Many cheese alternatives are good sources of calcium; in some cases (Soymage, Lite'n'Less Mozzarella-style, Lite'n' Free, Almond Rella, White Wave Fat Free Soy A Melt, and Zero-Fat Rella) they are even higher in calcium than cheese made from cow's milk.

Taste-wise, the cheese alternatives which I tried were acceptable but not great. They tended to have a bland taste with a faintly sweet after-taste. The mozzarella-style cheese alternatives tasted more like mozzarella, while the Cheddar and American-styles bore little resemblance to Cheddar or American cheese. The cheese alternatives would probably be acceptable in a dish where the texture of cheese is needed but the taste is not that important. All the products I tried which contained casein melted like cheese. Soymage, which does not contain casein, did not melt well and formed an unappetizing rubbery puddle when melted. (Note: When grated and added, for example, to cooked beans, Soymage does melt.)

Cheese alternatives are not cheap. They cost $6 to $7 per pound at natural food stores in Baltimore. I examined only Cheddar, American, and mozzarella-style cheese alternatives. Other flavors include Monterey Jack, jalapeno, garlic herb, Swiss, and Parmesan.

Cream cheese, whether made from cow's milk or tofu, is a high-fat product. As Table 1 shows, only Nu Tofu's Cream Cheese Alternative is lower in fat than low-fat cream cheese made of cow's milk. The cream cheese alternatives are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than cream cheese made from cow's milk. All the cream cheese alternatives which we found, except for Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese, contained casein.

The only non-dairy yogurt which I found in Baltimore was White Wave's Dairyless Soy Yogurt. It comes in raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, peach, vanilla, lemon-kiwi, and apricot-mango flavors and is available plain in a quart-size package. All the flavored, dairyless soy yogurts are similar in fat to low-fat yogurt. The plain soy yogurt is closer to regular yogurt in terms of fat content. The soy yogurts are not very good sources of calcium (only 40 milligrams in a 6-ounce serving). All are sweetened with brown rice syrup; the fruit flavors also contain grape juice concentrate. None contain casein or any other animal-derived products. I think their taste is quite acceptable.

As the demand for alternatives to dairy products grows, we hope that a truly dairyless cheese will be developed that will melt well, taste good, be low in fat and sodium, and be competitively priced. In the meantime, if you choose to use one of the cheese alternatives, look for one which is low in fat and use it in limited amounts.

(Editors Note: Several companies have told us that they are trying to develop a good-tasting, healthier vegan cheese. As we go to press Sharon's Finest, after seven years of research, has just released a new vegan cheese called Vegan Rella. We had an opportunity to taste the cheese and found it to be a big improvement over Soymage. Vegan Rella contains organic Brazil nut milk, tapioca, rice, oats, canola oil, Irish moss, garlic, spices, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, citric acid, and salt. It is available in hard cheese form, as well as cream cheese. The hard cheese comes in two flavors: Mexican and Italian. The cream cheese is either plain or onion and dill flavor. Look for these products in your local health food store.)

A review of salad dressings will appear in the January/February, 1994, Vegetarian Journal.

Table 1. Cheese Alternatives

Mozzarella-Style (1 ounce)         Calories     Fat(g)   Sodium(mg)

Almond Rella*                         50          1          170
Lite'n' Free*                         30          0          140
Lite'n'Less*                          93          7          185
Soya Kaas*                            70          5          190
Soymage                               80          7          140
White Wave Soy A Melt*                80          5          170
White Wave Fat Free*                  50         <1          370
Cow's Milk Mozzarella*                80          6          106
Part Skim Cow's Milk Mozzarella*      72          4          132

American/Cheddar-Style (1 ounce)   Calories   Fat(g)     Sodium(mg)

Lite'n' Free Cheddar*                 30          0          170
Lite'n'Less American*                 80          5          190
Nu Tofu Low Sodium Cheddar*           70          4           55
Nu Tofu Cheddar*                      70          4          160
Soya Kaas Mild American Cheddar*      80          4          250
Soymage Cheddar                       80          7          170
White Wave Cheddar Soy A Melt*        80          5          170
White Wave Fat Free Cheddar*          40         <1          370
Zero-Fat Rella California Cheddar*    45          0          170
Cow's Milk Cheddar*                  114          9          176
Low Fat Cow's Milk American*          73          4          411

Cream Cheese (2 tablespoons)       Calories     Fat(g)   Sodium(mg)

Lite'n'Less*                          70          7           95
Nu Tofu*                              50          4           45
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese      80          8          135
Cow's Milk Cream Cheese*              99         10           84
Low Fat Cow's Milk Cream Cheese*      62          5          160
*Contains casein, a cow's milk derivative

Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., is a nutrition advisor for The Vegetarian Resource Group. She is also Chair Vegetarian Nutrition, a dietetic practice group of The American Dietetic Association.

The Vegetarian Resource Group Distributed 1,000 Quantity Vegan Recipe Packets to Food Service Directors

The Vegetarian Resource Group had a booth at the American School Food Service Association's (ASFSA) annual meeting in Boston and thanks to several generous donations we were able to hand out 1,000 of our Quantity Vegan Recipe Packets for free. Food service directors said that students are requesting vegetarian options.

In attendance at the ASFSA conference was The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to representatives from USDA, the organization is experimenting with a pilot project that may, in the future, give schools the option of planning school lunches based upon the total nutritional profile of the meal as opposed to a pre- determined number of servings from traditional food groups. USDA has been under pressure to initiate changes that will help schools meet current dietary recommendations.

The nutrient standard demo project will begin this autumn, with 30 school districts from around the country participating. In 1995, the plan is to open the program up to any school district wanting to give the system a try. Under the new system, it would be much easier to offer meatless menus that would meet with federal guidelines for reimburse- ment under the school lunch program.

Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D.

Scientific Updates

A Review of Recent Scientific Papers Related to Vegetarianism
By Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D.

Move Over Oat Bran -- Maybe it's Avocado or Walnuts

Nuts and avocados are commonly said to be high-fat foods that should be used in limited amounts. Two recent studies question this advice.

The first, supported by a grant from the California Walnut Commission, studied 18 men who were either placed on a diet with 30% of calories from fat from a variety of foods, or a diet with the same amount of fat which included about three ounces of walnuts per day. Walnuts were substituted for high fat foods such as oils and margarines, and the portion size of meat was reduced, so that both groups ate similar amounts of fat and calories. The walnut-containing diet was lower in cholesterol.

The men who were placed on the 30% fat diet had a 6% drop in blood cholesterol. The men who ate walnuts had a drop in blood cholesterol of about 22 mg/dl, or about 18%.

The researchers believe that the drop in cholesterol in the walnut group was due to the walnuts' high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids and fiber, and their amino acid content. Several questions arise from this study. The subjects already had low blood choles- terol levels. Would the same effects have been seen in men with higher cholesterol levels? In women? Was the effect of the walnuts actually due to a reduction in meat intake? What would be the effect of adding nuts to a vegetarian diet? How would a 30% fat diet with walnuts compare to a 20% fat diet? Which diet would be more effective in reducing cancer risk?

Do the results of this study support eating more nuts? Not if doing so increases your calorie intake, fat intake, or weight. Remember, the results of this study were achieved by replacing foods with walnuts, not by adding nuts to an already adequate diet.

A similar study, supported by a grant from the Australian Avocado Growers' Federation, studied 15 women who either ate a diet with 37% of calories from fat including a half to 1-1/2 avocados per day, or a diet with 20% of calories from fat. The avocado diet was higher in monounsaturated fatty acids.

The women on the avocado diet had an 8% drop in blood cholesterol, which was statistically more than the 5% drop seen in the women on the low fat diet. Although this is a statistically significant decrease in cholesterol, it is certainly not as dramatic as that seen in the walnut study. The authors attribute the favorable changes to the monounsaturated fatty acid content of avocado.

We can only wonder if an even greater drop in blood cholesterol would have been seen on a lower fat diet containing avocado, or on a low-fat vegetarian diet. Should we all eat half an avocado per day? Probably not. The results of this study and of the walnut study suggest to me that neither walnuts nor avocados should be absolutely prohibited. They can be used, as part of a low-fat diet, to replace other fatty foods so that the amount of fat remains low.

For further information see: Sabate J, Fraser GE, Burke K, et al. Effects of walnuts on serum lipid levels and blood pressure in normal men. N Engl J Med 328: 603-607, 1993. Colquhoun DM, Moores D, Somerset SM, Humphries JA. Comparison of the effects on lipoproteins and apolipoproteins of a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids, enriched with avocado, and a high-carbohydrate diet. Am J Clin Nutr 56: 671-677, 1992.

About this document:

These articles were originally published in the November/December 1993 issue of the Vegetarian Journal, published by:

The Vegetarian Resource Group
P.O. Box 1463, Dept. GR
Baltimore, MD 21203
(410) 366-VEGE

The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, ethics, and world hunger. In addition to publishing the Vegetarian Journal, VRG produces and sells cookbooks, other books, pamphlets, and article reprints. For more information, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the above address. Subscriptions to the Vegetarian Journal are $20 per year. All contributions above the $20 subscription are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Contributions help VRG promote vegetarianism.

For questions or comments on this article, please contact Brad Scott at 73052.2610@compuserve.com. This article may be reproduced intact or with credit given to The Vegetarian Resource Group.

HTML by: Jonathan Esterhazy / Manitoba Animal Rights Coalition / jester@mail.cc.umanitoba.ca

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