Marlene Watson-Tara explains how easy it is to Go Vegan

Go Vegan – It’s Easy

It’s Not Difficult To Be Vegan

 

The very first lesson in Yamas, that first limb of yoga, is ahimsa. Ahimsa can be translated as non-killing, non-violence, or non-harm. To hurt another being is to hurt oneself. As a long-time vegan, my mission and vision to create a healthy world for all who live here is what makes me jump out of bed every morning.

In our combined ninety years’ teaching human ecology, my husband Bill Tara and I have high hopes we can all come together and make a better world, a healthy vegan world where humans and non-humans alike live in harmony. Success can only be achieved through education, understanding and, ultimately, action. Let’s face it, back in the time of Copernicus, most would have thought it impossible if you said that you were going to convince everyone that the Earth revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way around, but it did eventually happen! So, the past teaches me to have hope for the future.

Going vegan is simply a choice you make. Many people waste a lot of energy pondering this as if it were a complex issue, but the only difficulty lies in making the decision – it’s easy. Remove all the animal-sourced foods and replace with delicious plant-based foods – the choice is yours. You can do it right now. It may take you a while to locate your best food sources and become comfortable with your new way of eating, but it’s worth it.

When we reflect deeply on our relationship with the outer world, our environment, we realise that we are never independent of its influences. Food is the link between the inside and the outside world. Our Human Ecology Diet is abundant in every vitamin and mineral required for good health, vitality and longevity.

Rethinking Protein

Protein is a subject that always comes up when discussing veganism. When you think of the biggest animals on the planet – elephants, giraffes, buffalo – these are huge mammals; they don’t eat meat, so where do they get their protein? They eat what grows out of the ground and that is where they get their protein; it’s as simple as that. We have all been sold a mythology that only animals have protein, without asking where they got it from. Plants are the source of all protein. There are many foods in the plant kingdom that are especially rich in protein. All the legume family – anything that grows in a pod, lentils, beans and chickpeas – and whole grains are full of protein, and many vegetables are rich in protein too.

Plants are high-energy foods, and it’s good to note that an increasing number of athletes are switching to a vegan diet. Recent winners of long-distance events like triathlons, marathons and bicycle events are eating a vegan diet. These athletes recognise that they get injured less often, recover more quickly and have more stamina when they eat a diverse plant-based diet.

Animal meat is not required to build muscle or bone. This is a myth that is based on limited and biased science generated by the livestock and dairy industries.

Many years ago, I was listening to a webinar by Dr John McDougall and it reminded me of some of the things I learned as a twelve-year-old working at the veg, fruit, grain and bean shop. Here I am fifty years later, having so many of these same lessons gaining notice. It is mentors such as Dr McDougall, Dr Barnard and Dr T. Colin Campbell who brought these simple truths to light again. Here are just some of these gems:

Vegetables are easy to grow – any gardener can grow potatoes, carrots, greens, etc. – and they are inexpensive; rice and beans are also inexpensive (especially when you buy in bulk).

Animal meat is not required to build muscle or bone. This is a myth that is based on limited and biased science generated by the livestock and dairy industries.

Plants are lower on the food chain, so the environmental pollutants that are so prevalent in our food are in lower concentrations in plant-based foods. Animals are fed food grown with pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers, and drinking water exposed to industrial pollution. These contaminants are stored in the fatty tissue (including the milk) of the animal. They can concentrate 1,000-fold as they go up the food chain. This concentration of toxic products affects all animals on land or at sea.

Plants are environmentally friendly. You can grow 17 times more nutritional energy on a piece of land if you grow vegetables than you can if you raise animals for food. The difference between growing potatoes and raising beef is 100-fold.

We are all living on a planet that is food-stressed. There is a real risk of food shortages and security. We need to grow more healthy food. There are close to one billion people (our brothers and sisters) starving to death, while nearly one billion people are eating themselves to death.

85% of non-communicable diseases are related to the modern high-fat, high-calorie diet that is low in nutritional density.

Vegetables don’t grow microbes that are pathogenic to people. They don’t grow E. coli; they don’t grow mad cow disease; they don’t grow listeria. If a vegetable or grain does have a contaminant on it, then it originated from an animal. Animal faeces are a major agricultural pollutant.

Vegetables taste amazing. Sweet potatoes, fresh corn on the cob, rice, and so on, are full of natural sugars and a broad range of taste without any added sauces.

Vegetables store well – you can dry and store rice, beans and grains in a cool place for years. Tubers, roots and cabbages can last months and retain their nutritional vitality.

Wholefoods (not processed junk food) are great foods for weight loss. Remember, they are low in fat.

Everything that breathes wants to live – killing animals for our pleasure must stop. Please Go Vegan and love all of life is my message and has been for decades.

Making the Change

Don’t make a shift to a healthy vegan diet be a trauma (or a drama). You are already eating vegetables, grains, fruits and maybe even beans in your diet. You are simply removing the animal-sourced foods and the simple sugar. Your body will thank you. The key is diversity.

People around you may be amused or even sceptical about your new choices. Don’t worry – when they see that it can be done, and that you are happy with the results, they will become more interested (or not). Don’t expect everyone to support you; simply stick to your plan. Some people recommend that slowly introducing the new way of eating is the best. Everyone has to choose their approach for themselves, but our experience is different.

We always suggest that our clients and students make a commitment to adhere to their new eating plan for at least a three-week period to start. There are practical reasons for this.

As you change your diet you will find that your tastes change. When you remove some of the foods you are used to you may miss them for a short time – but remember your reasons for change. You will find that your new way of cooking opens up a different appreciation of plant-based foods. We call this period ‘creating a new normal’, and making veganism the new normal is my mission, so stay with me on this.

Changing our food habits is usually an eye-opening experience. How you feel, your energy levels and your food satisfaction will all improve. When you feel great on your new approach to eating why would you want to change? Simply make sure that your food is tasty, and your meals include a diversity of grains, beans and vegetables. The recipes you find in the following chapters will serve you well. I use an array of plant foods that are whole and natural and prepared with just the right mix of condiments, fresh and dried herbs, and mild spices to create robust, satisfying and delicious flavours.

Recipes from Go Vegan

Yakisoba Bowl

Yakisoba brings an eclectic mix of oriental dining to the heart of your table. Yakisoba, literally ‘fried buckwheat’, is a Japanese noodle stir-fry dish. Although soba means buckwheat, yakisoba noodles are actually made from wheat flour. Whether in the form of udon, soba, yakisoba, somen, the universally popular ramen or other forms, Japan’s love affair with noodles is rich and varied.

For the sauce

2 tbsp shoyu

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp filtered water

2 tsp ginger juice

1 tbsp mirin

Make sauce by combining the ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

Yakisoba

1 pack soba noodles

1 cup sliced onion (thin half-moons)

Few pinches sea salt

½ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

½ cup carrots, sliced into thin matchsticks

1 cup sugar snap peas

1 cup celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 cup mung bean sprouts

Fresh coriander

In a large pot, cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and wash well with cold water. Set aside. In a large wok, heat a splash or two of water and sauté the onions with a few pinches of sea salt for 4–5 minutes, until translucent.

Add the mushrooms, carrots and celery and keep sautéing for 3–4 more minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and continue sautéing, mixing all the vegetables well in the wok. Add the soba noodles on top of the vegetables, cover and steam for a few minutes on a medium-low flame. If the bottom of the wok is dry, add a little water before covering. Open the cover, pour in the sauce, and toss the bean sprouts over the vegetables. Still over a low flame, mix the noodles and vegetables together using tongs. Mix gently so that the noodles don’t break, but the sauce penetrates all the ingredients. Adjust the flavour if necessary by adding a splash or two of shoyu. Garnish with fresh coriander. Makes 4–6 servings.

 

Variations – You may also use udon or other types of noodles. If you are gluten-sensitive, use brown rice or quinoa noodles.

Chocolate Adzuki Bites

Why adzuki beans for dessert? Apart from tasting amazing, adzuki beans (also known as red beans) are high in protein and fibre. They are a low-fat plant food rich in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Their soluble fibre can help to stabilise cholesterol levels, improve digestive health and keep you feeling full for longer. All my clients and students love them.

1 cup cooked adzuki beans

1 cup pecans

8 medjool dates, stones removed

3 tbsp cocoa powder

¼ tsp vanilla extract

Desiccated coconut for rolling

Blend all the ingredients (except the coconut) in a food processor until you achieve a creamy texture. You may have to stop and push the mixture down with your spatula a few times. Take heaped teaspoons and roll into balls. Drop the balls into a bowl filled with the coconut and shake until well covered. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and enjoy. They also freeze well. Truly scrumptious and healthy. Makes 24 balls.

Note; Use canned organic cooked adzuki beans for quickness