Why I Don’t Recommend How Not To Die

I have not been silent about my criticism of Michael Greger, I wrote criticism of him on various sites, often to harsh criticism of me. Many people are unwilling to see Greger as anything but this all-knowing infallible fantastic vegan god, but he is about as much as an expert on nutrition as I am. Neither of us has a degree in Nutrition, for example. But people are still unwilling to accept that he is just a guy, and he cherry-picks more than anyone I have ever met, besides maybe Vani Hari.

Although I detest Authority Nutrition as a source, as it is a really biased source that seems to suck the toes of unqualified quacks like Weston Price and push supplements and diets for something our body naturally makes, like Vitamin K2, but this post was written just a couple of days ago actually does a really good job in pointing out all the cherries picked by the wannabe nutritionist. Now if only they’d notice the cherries they pick themselves…

Now not to say that Michael Greger is wrong on all counts, even the Authority Nutrition article admits that a fair but of what Greger says is true and useful. However, criticism is not a bad thing, and I personally refuse to trust him on the basis that he only picks studies that he deems beneficial for himself and his preconceived notions.

But aside from all the cherry-picking, there is one real big reason that I really dislike this book:

It pushes the fallacious idea that vegans are immune to disease and possibly won’t die. 

Now I know that sounds crazy, as he says at the end of his book that “everyone is
going to die eventually. It’s about how not to die prematurely.”

But at the beginning, he says:

“There may be no such thing as dying from old age. From a study of more than forty-two
thousand consecutive autopsies, centenarians—those who live past one hundred
—were found to have succumbed to diseases in 100 percent of the cases examined.
Though most were perceived, even by their physicians, to have been healthy just
prior to death, not one “died of old age.” Until recently, advanced age had been
considered to be a disease itself, but people don’t die as a consequence of maturing.
They die from disease, most commonly heart attacks.”

This is especially worrisome when you consider that many vegans consider veganism to be a metaphorical philosophers stone, and they will refuse to get a colon examination to check for colon cancer. They will refuse to get mammograms on the belief that vegans don’t drink milk, and won’t get breast cancer. They think that Gerson Therapy, a plant-based vegan quack juice diet, will cure you of advanced cancer. Also, there is a huge idea that any time that anyone has cancer, that it has to be due to the consumption of animal products, like in the case of Furious Pete. Many vegans even go as far as to say a plant-based diet can treat depression and anxiety as a replacement for pills… that’s total crap!

Now with all these vegans running under the false assumption that they cannot get cancer or other diseases, they are more likely to do other risky things, like not getting checkups. Pushing this idea that nobody dies of old age, that they die of disease, while immediately talking about how a vegan diet cuts your disease risk to very small numbers, meanwhile downplaying the role of genetics. This will put into the mind of many people that “Hey, a vegan diet lowers my risk of a heart attack by 90%, so an extra serving of coconut butter is practically healthy!” In fact, I have heard commonly that a junk food vegan diet is healthier than a whole food diet that contains some animal products, so this idea does not seem too out of the blue.

Spreading a message that a vegan may be able to cheat death if they just eat enough strawberries and curry powder does not seem to be helpful at all. Books like Ginny Messina’s (A real registered dietitian) Even Vegans Die is an excellent testiment to help vegans realize that they are not this bulletproof shield that can reverse, prevent, and eliminate diseases and cause us to live forever! Just realize that vegans are human. Vegans get sick. Vegans get diseases. Learning this sooner, rather than later, will help prevent a great deal of shock when their Icarus Complex fades and a random disease they believed they were immune to hits them like a set of bricks.

Greger did not make his title “How not to die prematurely” as he knew that would not sell as well. So he seems to have catered to the worries and woes of vegans, and of vegans struggling with so many fellow vegans urging them to drop their meds and follow a plant-based diet (I have severe acid reflux and was off and on vegan for over a year. The months and months that I was vegan, however, I still had severe acid reflux. It got better after I took medication. A vegan diet did jack squat to cure me). This can be potentially hazardous, as many people have gotten ill after refusing medication in favor of a vegan diet.

He cherry picks, he isn’t qualified to make any statements about nutrition as he does, and he promotes (or at least portrays) a very dangerous idea amongst vegans (He also promotes organic foods, which often puts animals through cruel and harsh testing to push an agenda), so is it of any surprise that I don’t support his book? He may be right on many things in the book, but his obvious bias and harmful ideas push me away.

Is Ramen Inherently Unhealthy?

Ramen gets almost as bad of a reputation as Mcdonalds, and often for just as fallacious reasons as well (Imagine that “Mcdonalds burger that never rots” viral gag that shows absolutely nothing except that their burgers are too small and dry out too quickly). A similar viral gag would be how Ramen doesn’t digest, which makes no sense. Unless you are literally crapping out noodles, it digested. However, it brings up some good questions: Is it nearly as unhealthy as the opponents would have you believe?

Well, it’s not really as simple as a yes or no answer.

The first thing we need to look at is the Nutrition Facts and Ingredients:

Note that the serving size is just half a block… nobody eats that little, so all the numbers listed are actually double. That’s 380 calories for a whole pack. Is that a lot? Well, 180 of those calories are from added fats, which enhance the flavor and texture, but are otherwise unnecessary.

Looking at the Sodium content, it’s enormous! Over your whole day’s worth of sodium in just one bowl. You can, however, circumvent this by simply tossing out the seasoning packet and add your own seasonings to control the sodium intake. And this about does it for the nutrient properties. It has very little protein, no vitamins or minerals, and no fiber, so it provides very little in actual fuel for your body.

Now for the ingredients. Since we decided to toss out the seasoning packet and add our own, half of the ingredients are now gone. But what we have left is not pretty. But it pretty much only has 2 main ingredients:

Enriched Flour: Enriched flour, or bleached flour, is just white flour, or flour that has been stripped off all its nutrition and has some nutrition put back in later. It’s best to just stick with whole wheat flour

Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is best avoided, but would work great in cooking, such as sauteeing. It is not bad by itself, but there is very little reason for it to be added to a dry soup.

The other ingredients are preservatives, which are not bad by themselves, but is better if avoided.

Now Ramen is a staple of many college freshmen as a meal replacement and can be eaten every once in a while without issue, but is not something that should be a daily occurrence or even something that should be made for many meals, no matter how many vegetables you put in it. A healthier alternative is to just make your own soup using regular pasta noodles, which will reduce your fat and sodium intake. However, to make it healthier, I suggest whole wheat noodles and make your own if possible.

Ramen is not this horrible, life-threatening thing that will kill you or degrade your health if you eat it, but it isn’t healthy for you. There are many beneficial foods that are cheap that can replace ramen, such as regular pasta, or rice. So it’d be better if you ate it in moderation.

Meal Prep: Freezer Burritos

Nothing is as versatile and tasty as a homemade burrito! That is why the idea of this meal prep tip is so genius! I, however, am not the first, or last, person to think up this concept. I actually got this idea from Mind Over Munch, and it’s a fantastic way of getting in vegetables and nutrition on those days or times when you are just too lazy to do any full-on cooking.

So what I did was take some tortillas, and put them to the side. In a skillet, I add freshly peeled and diced potatoes and cook them until they start getting crispy on each side. I often cook them with canola oil and a myriad of seasonings.

After they are cooked I set them aside, and sautee some peppers and onions. After I set those aside I start to cook a rinsed can of black beans and some kale. Now put them all together in whatever way and quantity you desire (I like mine with a lot of potatoes and sauteed veggies), and wrap them up in plastic wrap. Any extra ingredients can be frozen as well, or combined to make a delicious burrito bowl!

Now wrap up the burrito, place it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and put it in the freezer. When you want to eat it, just take out the burrito, microwave it for a few minutes, and you have a cheap, tasty, healthy lunch!

Now you don’t have to have them vegan, you can eat them with cheese and protein of your choice, but I much prefer them to be vegan.

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Eating Gluten/Grain-Free At: Mcdonalds

Ah Mcdonalds, you can never be put in a good light can you? Despite their various health claims, Mcdonalds has some of the least healthy foods on the fast food market, and yes, I am adding in their few slices of apple they give kids.

Like I have said before, you can make many of these food items grain-free by simply leaving off the bun on sandwiches, but a few others, like the Fruit Parfait, are made using corn starch. So for breakfast, all you can really eat are hashbrowns… I think I am starting to see a trend here.

Do note that their grilled chicken does have Rice Starch in it, so the only salad that is really grain-free is the side salad, unless you want to ask for it with no chicken. For your sides, you also have the option for French Fries, Apple Slices, and Cuties, noting that the Go-Gurt is made with corn starch.

So to sum it up:

  • Hashbrowns
  • Side Salad
  • French Fries
  • Salads w/o Chicken
  • Apple Slices, and Cuties.
  • Most burgers w/o bun

Although Mcdonalds can never win when it comes to health claims, it also cannot win when it comes to having available grain-free options. But at least it has a few available options for those trying to eat a grain-free lifestyle.

Eating Gluten/Grain-free At: Taco Bell

Now I am not against grains by any means, and don’t believe grains themselves to be a bad part of any diet. However, I am writing this because I do not like overly processed grains like enriched white flour, and also because I am allergic to most grains. This guide will mainly be for those who are Gluten-Free or Paleo and want to find foods at fast food places that they can incorporate into their diets so they don’t feel like they can’t eat anything.

Being grain-free at Taco Bell is pretty hard, as it means that you have to eliminate almost everything from the menu: No tacos, no nachos, no burritos, no rice, and no potatoes, as their potatoes are coated in flour. I will state that their nachos and mexican pizza’s are gluten-free, but not grain-free, as they do contain corn. You can, however, add or combine itels in any way to your desire to make delicious grain-free foods.

For instance: The Cantina Power Bowl. All you have to do to make this salad grain-free is to take out the rice. It is probably the healthiest choice as well, as it has romaine, black beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. It does contain dairy, so if you are avoiding dairy, just ask for it fresco style!

Some great side options are the Pintos N Cheese, and the side of black beans. These are a wonderful veggie protein, even though they are filled with way too much salt.  If it is morning time, hashbrowns are a great option as well, although they are deep fried. Also note that you can order anything without a shell or a tortilla, not only will this get rid of all or most of the grains, but will also lower the caloric content as well.

So to sum it up, the grain-free options are:

  • Hashbrowns
  • Pintos N Cheese
  • Black Beans
  • Cantina Power Bowl (No rice)
  • Most tacos/Burritos (No shell)

Additional Gluten-Free options include:

  • Chips and Guac
  • Chips and Cheese
  • Hard shell Tacos
  • Black Beans and Rice
  • All cantina bowls

Being allergic to grains or avoiding grains is hard, but that does not mean you cannot have a quick bite out to eat. Just plan appropriately and it should be OK!

White Castle’s New Veggie Slider

Every day it seems there seems to be a new vegan product being made at a large chain restaurant or manufacturer. Ben&Jerry’s came out with 3 new flavors of non-dairy icecream not too long ago, Starbucks has some secret menu Vegan frappe options, and just recently, White Castle has released their brand new Black Bean slider! This comes as a stark contrast with my earlier news showing that Taco Bell reverted to putting dairy-based powdered butter in their rice.

Now White Castle already had a pretty good broccoli-based veggie slider, but it is good to mix up the taste a little with their new Black Bean sliders, that contain corn and bell peppers! To date, I can’t seem to find the caloric content for these sliders, but I don’t think they are going to be too much more nutritious than their green (and amazingly delicious) counterparts.

I critiqued the nutritional content for their veggie-sliders in a previous post, as those sliders were severely lacking in any nutritional content, meanwhile being filled to the brim with near empty calories. I am hoping that since the new sliders are made with black beans and bell peppers, that their Iron, Protein, and Vitamin C content will at least be reasonable for a slider.

That said, I am happy to see that White Castle has went national with this new vegan creation, as we are still waiting for the meme-creating Wendy’s to allow their Black Bean burger outside of the 24 locations they debuted in last year. However, it is sad to note that the White Castle veggie slider is only a limited time offer, and not a full-time menu option, so if you are going to try it, I suggest you do so quickly.

Each slider is only 99 cents, which is the same price as their regular veggie sliders. So it is a good price for what you get!

Taco Bell’s Rice Is No Longer Vegan

Taco Bell has changed the recipe for their rice, altering the recipe. Their previous Laytin Rice has been changed for their new Buttery Rice, which does contain a small amount of Dehydrated Butter.

This rice is supposed to incorperate the best of their Latin and Mexican rice, but in my opinion simply falls flat, making the rice taste more like the rice you mix with melted butter at home.

This news, despite being minor, does not suit well with vegans. Since Taco Bell was certified by the Vegetarian Society a few years back, which worked with Taco Bell to point out their vegetarian and vegan menu options, they have been held in high regard by vegetarians and vegans alike. Since this alteration however, which seems to change a perfectly vegan food option, rice, and adds an unnecessary dairy ingrediant in it, left many vegans scornful.

Veganizing otherwise non-vegan options has been a past-time for many who eat at Taco Bell, and it used to be that all one had to do was ask for a 7-layer burrito to be “fresco” in order for it to be vegan. Now it makes it more complicated, as asking for a Cheesy Bean and Rice burrito to be Fresco will not take out the rice, leaving the butter-sodden rice to remain in the burrito, making it non-vegan.

This has also drew the scorn of a few people who suffer from rather severe Lactose Intolerance, making this yet another unnecessarily dairy-laden product, and therefore inedible. Hopefully Taco bell learns from this and reverts the rice back to a non-buttery state, but I doubt that such a thing will happen anytime soon.

Until then, I guess Taco Bell can stomach the lost sales by the myriad of people who can’t stomach their new rice.