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VRG Journal March 1994


Notes from the Scientific Department

VRG Attends the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions

As stated in the last issue of Vegetarian Journal, The Vegetarian Resource Group exhibited at the American Heart Association's (AHA) annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in November, 1993. Media coverage of the meeting picked up on the lack of attention placed on the benefits of lifestyle change. Cable News Network (CNN) drove home the point by filming crowds of physicians having lunch at a nearby food court, where they dined on hamburgers, fries, etc. Shots of doctors smoking outside the convention center were accompanied by sound bites of their own excuses for their poor habits.

The findings of two studies of interest to vegetarians were presented at the AHA meeting. The first described the four-year results of the Lifestyle Heart Trial. Dean Ornish, M.D., presented the findings of the continuation of his research, which uses a combination of stress management, smoking cessation, moderate exercise, and a lowfat, vegetarian diet to treat heart disease. Findings include:

Ornish concluded that people with heart disease who are willing to make the lifestyle changes advocated on this program can get better. Those who are unwilling should receive drug therapy or consider bypass surgery.

A second interesting study was presented on the cost of cholesterol- lowering diets. People who are counseled to follow a lowfat, low-cholesterol diet frequently complain that it costs more to eat this way. They cite the high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables. The findings of this study, presented by researchers from the Mary Imogene Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, New York, and Penn State University, showed that food cost is actually lower on a lowfat, low-cholesterol diet.

The study found that those who decreased their intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol the most had the biggest decreases in food cost. Savings totaled approximately $0.75 to $1.00 per day for those on a "heart healthy" diet. -- Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D

Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cooking -- Healthy Traditions from Around the World

The Vegetarian Resource Group is publishing in March a new vegan cookbook titled, The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cooking -- Healthy Traditions from Around the World, by Debra Wasserman. Included are over 150 lowfat, international recipes and menu ideas. Complete nutritional breakdowns are given for each recipe. The following are sample dishes from this new cookbook, which can be ordered by sending $15 per book to VRG, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

Syrian Wheat Pudding

(Serves 8)

This unique Syrian pudding traditionally would contain more nuts, and thus more fat. This version is lower in fat and absolutely delicious.

Place bulgur, water, raisins, and caraway seeds in a covered pot. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add nuts and syrup. Simmer 5 minutes longer. Serve warm. Cold leftovers are good, too.

Total calories per serving: 206
Fat: 2 grams

Greek Okra Stew

(Serves 4)

Traditionally, beef is used in this okra dish. Here I've substituted seitan (or wheat gluten) for meat to create a delicious vegetarian alternative.

Stir-fry onion with oil in a large frying pan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add okra and remaining ingredients. Stir-fry 10 minutes longer. Serve hot over cooked brown rice.

Total calories per serving: 152
Fat: 3 grams

Russian Sauerkraut Soup

(Serves 8)

The broth for this soup is a combination of tomato puree, vegetable broth, and sauerkraut juice. Add caraway seeds for flavor, and the end result is absolutely delicious.

Place all the ingredients in a large covered pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 1 hour. Serve hot with fresh bread.

Total calories per serving: 73
Fat: 1 gram

Turkish Pilaf

(Serves 6)

This Turkish pilaf consists of brown rice, dried fruit, chopped nuts, and a touch of cinnamon. Try different types of dried fruit and nuts.

Cook the brown rice in boiling water in a covered pot for 45 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve warm.

Total calories per serving: 203
Fat: 4 grams

Two Articles have been Published which are Important for People Concerned about the Relationship between Diet and Cholesterol.

The first article, published in the July 1, 1993, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that a diet high in soluble fiber lowers cholesterol levels in the blood. The small study examined 43 men and women with mild to severe abnormalities in cholesterol and other blood fat levels. The effect of a high-fiber, lowfat diet was greater than a lowfat diet alone.

The sources of the soluble fiber included "barley, dried lentils, peas and beans in precooked form (as instant soups, in cans or glass jars, or as frozen dinners such as kidney-bean chili), oat bran, and a commercially available breakfast cereal enriched with psyllium." Men had greater improvement than women as a group. The mechanism for all changes observed is not understood. See David J.A. Jenkins and others. Effect on Blood Lipids of Very High Intakes of Fiber in Diets Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. Vol. 329, No. 1, pp. 21-26.

Another interesting study was published in the June, 1993, issue of the American Journal of Medicine. This small controlled study examined the effect of 900 milligrams of garlic powder taken every day for twelve weeks. The group of people studied had at least mild to moderate elevations in cholesterol at the beginning of the twelve weeks. The group given the garlic powder overall showed about a 6% reduction in total cholesterol levels and an 11% reduction in the LDL cholesterol, the so-called "bad cholesterol." This study was supported by a garlic tablet manufacturer; so some caution is suggested in interpreting the results. See AK Jain and others. Can Garlic Reduce Levels of Serum Lipids? A Controlled Clinical Study. Vol 94, pp. 632-635. -- Jerome Marcus, M.D.

Resources Available from the American Dietetic Association (ADA)

A handful of vegetarian references is listed in the ADA's brochure, Eat Right America -- The Good Nutrition Reading List. Included on that list are two books published by The Vegetarian Resource Group -- Simply Vegan and Meatless Meals for Working People.

The National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics (NCND), the ADA's public education initiative, makes a toll- free phone line available to consumers. Callers can listen to prerecorded messages about various topics in nutrition, or they can speak with a registered dietitian. Available upon request are single copies of the ADA's brochure, Eating Well -- The Vegetarian Way, as well as a copy of Nutrition Fact Sheet: Vegetarian Diets. You can reach NCND by calling (800) 366-2011, weekdays, 9 AM to 4 PM Central Time. -- Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D.

Scientific Updates

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

A Vegetarian Diet Helps to Protect Older African Americans from Hypertension

Hypertension, the medical name for high blood pressure, affects 38 percent of African Americans. It is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Vegetarians have often been found to have lower blood pressure and less hypertension than non-vegetarians.

Elderly Seventh-day Adventists were studied to see if long-term use of a vegetarian diet could help to control blood pressure, especially in blacks. The Seventh-day Adventist religion encourages members to follow a vegetarian diet.

The vegetarians who were studied averaged more than 65 years of age. Black vegetarians had followed a vegetarian diet for an average of 30 years, while white vegetarians had followed this diet for 36 years. Vegetarian subjects were compared with black and white Seventh-day Adventist non-vegetarians. Black vegetarians weighed less and had lower blood pressure and less hypertension than black non-vegetarians. Vegetarians, regardless of race, had fat intakes which averaged less than 30% of calories. Black vegetarians had lower fat, cholesterol, and calorie intakes than black non-vegetarians, while the diets of vegetarian and non-vegetarian whites were similar to each other.

The results of this study suggest that long-term adherence to a vegetarian diet by African Americans is somewhat protective against hypertension. However, African Americans, whether vegetarian or not, still had higher blood pressure than whites. Despite the higher blood pressure seen in black vegetarians, they still had a lower prevalence of hypertension and lower average blood pressure than did black non-vegetarians. Long-term adherence to a prudent vegetarian diet appears to partially offset the unknown factors that contribute to blood pressure elevation in these black adults.

For further information see: Melby CL, Goldflies DG, Toohey ML. Blood pressure differences in older black and white long-term vegetarians and non-vegetarians. J Am Coll Nutr 12:262-269, 1993.

Dietary Calcium and Bone Density Among Elderly Women in China

As we age, we experience a decline in the amount of bone we have. The mass of the bone and its density both decrease. This decline is especially pronounced in women after menopause and can lead to osteoporosis, a decrease in the amount of bone, which is often so severe that it leads to fractures even after a minor bump or fall. Many factors have been reported to affect risk for osteoporosis including heredity, physical activity, and dietary factors such as calcium and protein.

T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and other researchers from Cornell University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, investigated the association between the amount of calcium in the diet of middle-aged and elderly women in China and their bone status. More than 800 women from 5 different counties were studied. Those in a county where dairy products were common had average calcium intakes of 724 milligrams per day, 67% of which was from dairy products. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for calcium for women over age 25 is 800 milligrams. Their protein intake was 75 grams per day, higher than women in any other county. Calcium intakes in the other counties averaged less than 400 milligrams daily, even in the one county where some dairy products were used. Women in two of the counties appeared to consume few animal products and their diets consisted mainly of wheat noodles and millet or rice and corn flour and vegetables.

The women's bone mass and bone density were measured. Bone loss increased with age, beginning around 35-40 years, with a faster rate of bone loss after menopause. The women in the county with the highest calcium intake had the greatest amount of bone at every age. Thus, total dietary calcium appeared to have a significant impact on bone mass. The women in the other counties appeared to have similar bone status to each other. Calcium appeared to be the most important nutrient in terms of its affect on bone.

Protein content of the diet was also examined. The study found the higher the intake of non-dairy animal protein, the lower the bone mass. However, the association between protein content of the diet and bone status was not as significant as the association between bone mass and dietary calcium.

This study supports other research which suggests that it is important to have adequate dietary calcium early in life (before age 35-40) in order to establish a greater peak bone mass so that when natural bone loss occurs, the absolute amount of bone remaining is higher.

A study such as this does leave us with some unanswered questions. When studies of many countries are done, the people with the highest calcium intakes also have the highest rates of osteoporosis - a result opposite to that found in this study of women in China. The women from the county in China with the best bone status were Mongolian and apparently of different genetic stock than the women in the other counties, who were Kazak or Han. The role of heredity in bone status was not addressed in this study. The area of calcium and bone health remains full of questions, and much additional research needs to be done.

For further information see: Hu J-F, Zhao X-H, Jia J-B, Parpia B, Campbell TC. Dietary calcium and bone density among middle-aged and elderly women in China. Am J Clin Nutr 58:219-227, 1993.

VRG Testifies at the USDA's Hearing on "Healthy Kids: Nutrition Objectives for School Meals."

On December 7, 1993, Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D. (a Nutrition Advisor for The Vegetarian Resource Group), presented testimony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) hearing called, "Healthy Kids: Nutrition Objectives for School Meals." Presiding at the meeting were Ellen Haas, Assistant Secretary for Food and Consumer Services at the USDA; Richard Riley, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; J. Michael McGinnis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Christopher Martin, Mid- Atlantic Regional Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA. The following is the text of our testimony:

The Vegetarian Resource Group applauds USDA's Fresh Start Initiative. I offer my comments regarding nutrition objectives for school meals on behalf of the nonprofit Vegetarian Resource Group.

The Vegetarian Resource Group believes that the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) should adhere to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Toward this goal, the following recommendations are made:

The current guidelines that schools must follow in planning menus in order to qualify for reimbursement require a preset number of servings of specific food groups. This method is outmoded. Not only does it encourage the inclusion of foods that contribute to nutritional excesses, but it also limits other options that may add variety, interest, and favorable nutrition components. Many ethnic dishes, for instance, make extensive use of such lowfat, fiber-rich foods as vegetables, grains, and beans. Meals including these types of foods can easily meet known nutrient requirements while limiting excess fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

I represent a vegetarian organization. Vegetarians and ethnic minorities should be consulted regarding food preferences. Soy substitutes for high fat meats are also an option that should be encouraged in school lunches. The current rationale for excluding 100% soy substitutes for meats should be re-examined, since these are staples for so many people. Already there is an exception made for Seventh-day Adventists; this option should be extended to everyone. A school district in Hawaii has a large number of students for whom tofu is a staple food. These students should be given the opportunity to enjoy tofu-based foods in their school cafeterias.

Furthermore, if school meals are to be evaluated based upon nutrient composition and not a preset number of servings from specific food groups, then there should be no requirements for any specific foods in school menus. There is no reason to mandate the inclusion of milk, for instance, since menus free of dairy products can be devised which are nutritionally adequate.*

A system that allowed for nutritional evaluation of meals based upon the total nutrient content of the meal, rather than a preset number of servings of specific foods, would be much more flexible and make it easier for schools to adhere to the Dietary Guidelines. The variety and interest that this would add to school meals would likely result in greater student satisfaction with health-supporting meals, as well. The Vegetarian Resource Group and the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of The American Dietetic Association are available for consultation.

Thank you for this opportunity to express my views. -- Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D.

(*Editors' Note: It is written into law that cow's milk must be offered in the school lunch program; therefore, the law would have to be changed in order to eliminate this requirement.)

Veggie Bits

Vegetarian Products Appropriate for Individuals with Food Allergies

Readers with food allergies may want to purchase products from Ener-G Foods, Inc. This company offers a wide variety of brown rice pasta, egg replacer, brown rice pilaf, soy milk powder, etc. When requesting information from this company, be sure to mention which food allergies you have and to state that you are interested in vegetarian items. They will then send you a list of their products that meet your needs. Write to Ener-G Foods, Inc., 5960 First Avenue South, PO Box 84487, Seattle, WA 98124-5787; or call them at (206) 767-6660.

Clemson University Promotes World Vegetarian Day

Congratulations to Clemson University's Food Service Administrator, Cam Schauf, for sponsoring a food fair in recognition of World Vegetarian Day, last October 1st. Over 400 students, staff, faculty, and their families were treated to tasty vegetarian entrees, organic snack chips, and healthy desserts. Chefs were on hand producing stir-fried tofu and vegetables, and lentil, rice, and garbanzo bean burgers. All the food was vegan. Vegetarian information was distributed to attendees. The event was also supported by Friends of the Earth Vegetarian Society in South Carolina.

Vegetarian T-Shirts

Ambler Clothing offers t-shirts with a wide variety of vegetarian messages including Only Cannibals Eat Animals, Pig Out on Veggies Please, etc. Discounts are available on orders of 15 shirts or more. For more information write to Ambler Clothing, 709 East Gray Street, Martinsville, IN 46151; or call (317) 342-7728.

Student Wins Animal Rights Award

Congratulations to Katy Jo Reagan, a senior at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, Colorado, for winning the 1993 Bill Rosenberg Award. The prize, consisting of a $250 bond and a beautiful plaque, is presented annually to a person under the age of 18 who has made a substantial contribution to ending farm animal abuse. Katy persuaded her school district to serve meatless meals on the day of the Great American Meatout and also has spoken to classes in her school on vegetarianism and factory farming. For information on this year's contest, call Riki Jones at (703) 823-8951.

Non-Leather Drum Heads

Musicians searching for non-leather drum heads can write to Laughing Crow Arts, 25370 Wolf Creek Road, Crow, OR 97487; or call (503) 935-3372. Their drums are ceramic with man-made Fiberskyn * heads. The drums are heat and water resistant.

Vegan Seitan Products

Vegan Epicure, 210 Park Place, Ithaca, NY 14850; (607) 272-0432, manufactures vegan seitan (wheat) products in several flavors including Hungarian peppercorn, pepperoni style, Cajun style, curry style, hot and spicy Szechuan style, BBQ style, etc. They will ship items directly to your door via UPS.

Eco-Visions Conference

Friends of Animals is sponsoring Eco-Visions, a conference to explore the vital connections between women, animals, the environment, and the future of the planet. It will be held March 18-20, 1994, in Alexandria, Virginia. Write to FOA, 2000 P Street, Washington, DC 20036; or call (202) 296-2011.

Food Not Bombs Event In California May 1st Offers Vegetarian Food

The public is invited to celebrate 14 years of Food Not Bombs' support of dignity, joy, and free expression with live music and dancing, poetry, free vegetarian food, information tables, arts and crafts, etc. on May 1, 1994, in San Francisco, California.

In May, 1980, Food Not Bombs began providing an alternative vision to a military economy by giving away free food on the streets of Boston. This all-volunteer organization takes nonviolent direct action to protest war and poverty. They feed hundreds of hungry people every week and now have over 40 autonomous organizations across North America.

Contact Food Not Bombs, 3145 Geary #12, San Francisco, CA 94118; or call (415) 330-5030.

Animal Rights Conference To Be Held In New Jersey June 3-5th, 1994

The Rutgers Animal Rights Law Center and The Culture and Animals Foundation are sponsoring Animal Rights: Strategies for the Nineties, a conference to be held June 3-5th, 1994 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Brunswick, New Jersey. This conference will focus on grassroots work. For information write to Mary Ann Serino, Coordinator, PO Box 32427, Newark, NJ 07102; or call (201) 648-2011.

Cornell University offers Vegan Meals at Every Meal

The Cornell University dining service is now offering vegan entrees at every meal in each region of the campus. Since the 1970's, Cornell has provided vegetarian entrees at every meal, but now they have added vegan options. This move was prompted by seven months of discussion between Cornell Dining and two student groups, the Cornell Greens Consumption Committee and the Cornell Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Letters of thanks can be sent to Patricia A. Bando, R.D., 2336 South Balch Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-2011.

Vegetarian Dining Guide for South New Jersey Area

The Vegetarian Society of South Jersey has produced a vegetarian dining guide for the South Jersey and Greater Philadelphia area. Copies can be requested by sending a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope to Dining Guide Offer, VSSJ, PO Box 272, Marlton, NJ 08053.

Kitchen Staff Needed at Environmental Education Center

Meadowcreek, a non-profit Environmental Education Center located on 1500 acres in the Ozark Mountains of north-central Arkansas, is currently looking for individuals to fill two positions -- a kitchen manager and a facility manager. You must be knowledgeable in health and dietary issues and able to meet various dietary preferences including non-vegetarian, vegetarian, and vegan. For details write to Meadowcreek, PO Box 100, Fox, AR 72051; or call (501) 363-4500.

National School Lunch Program does not meet Dietary Guidelines

According to a handout titled, "Findings From the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study -- The National School Lunch Program (NSLP)," virtually no schools conform to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for fat and saturated fat. Only 1% of schools offer lunches that provide an average of 30% of calories from fat and only one school surveyed meets the goal of 10% of calories from saturated fat.

Children eating in the National School Lunch Program have significantly higher intakes of saturated fat and total fat than children eating other lunches. Participant intakes of fat are 37% compared to 33% for children who eat other lunches. Students' daily intakes of sodium at 4,633 mg are almost twice the recommendation of less than 2,400 mg per day. In Fiscal Year 1992, 24.6 million students participated in the lunch program each day. Almost 99% of public schools and 83% of private schools participate!

New Items From The Vegetarian Resource Group

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook -- Healthy Traditions from Around the World

This 224-page vegan cookbook, by Debra Wasserman, costs $15. It features international, lowfat recipes. Each recipe has a nutritional breakdown and menu ideas are offered. Try dishes such as: Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup, Polish Plum and Rhubarb Soup, Yemenite Green Bean Soup, Eggless Challah Bread and Polish Apple Blintzes, Pumpernickel Bread and Russian Flat Bread, Greek Fava Bean Spread, Lebanese Potato Salad, Czechoslovakian Noodles with Poppy Seeds, Greek Lentil Croquettes, Indian Curry and Rice, Passover Vegetarian Kishke (stuffing), Romanian Mushroom Paprikash, Russian Blini, Spinach Pies, Ukrainian Kasha Varnishkes, Armenian Stuffed Eggplant, Israeli Stuffed Grape Leaves, Italian Sauted Chicory, Mushroom Barley Kugel, Potato Knishes, Turkish Pilaf, Greek Zucchini Pastries, Eggless Hamentashen, Moroccan Couscous, North African Barley Pudding, Romanian Apricot Dumplings, Syrian Wheat Pudding, plus much more.

Simple, Lowfat & Vegetarian

This 368-page book, by Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D., costs $15. It is an easy-to-use guide to lowfat eating that shows you how to reduce the fat in your meals with a few simple changes, but allows you to continue enjoying dining in Chinese, Mexican, fast food, Indian, natural foods, and other restaurants. You'll also learn what to order when flying, traveling on Amtrak, going to the movies, or visiting an amusement park. Good food choices, before and after menu magic, fat content of foods, and helpful charts are presented for these and many other situations. The book also contains 30 days of quick lowfat meals, tips on how to modify your own recipes, sample menus, weekly shopping lists, plus 50 lowfat vegan recipes by Mary Clifford, R.D.

Send check to The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Or call (410) 366-VEGE to charge your book order by Mastercard or Visa credit card.

About this document

These items were originally published in the March/April 1994 issue of the Vegetarian Journal, published by:

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

For questions or comments on this article, please contact Brad Scott at brad@vrg.org. This article may be reproduced for non-commercial use intact or with credit given to The Vegetarian Resource Group. The contents of this article, as with all The Vegetarian Resource Group publications, is not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional.

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

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