Entries in Vegan (8)


Mike Tyson Went Vegan to Flush Drugs, 'Bad Cocaine'

Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Mike Tyson’s ear-chomping days are officially behind him. The former professional boxer and world heavyweight champ has become a vegan.

Tyson, who actually committed to the strict vegetarian diet last year and has lost 100 pounds, offered a perfectly logical and cogent explanation for giving up his animal-based diet in a clip from Tuesday’s Oprah: Where Are They Now?

“Becoming a vegan gave me another opportunity to live a healthy life. I was so congested from all the drugs and bad cocaine, I could hardly breathe, [I had] high blood pressure, [was] almost dying [and had] arthritis. And once I became a vegan all that stuff diminished,” Tyson, 46, said.

But he has not always waxed so poetically on the topic of veganism.

“I just threw up the white flag,” he told Ann Curry on the Today show last year in an attempt to explain why he took up the diet. “Too many prison cells, too many jails, too many lawsuits, too many bankruptcies, too many women, too many venereal diseases, too many everything. I got tired … of every time my prostitute girl got back from a trip, I had to sleep with her. I’m going to live a different life.”

Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass gave Tyson’s dietary switch a thumbs-up but said he’d have to eat carefully to get adequate amounts of protein, zinc and calcium. And in order to avoid becoming “Low Iron Mike,” she recommended eating plenty of beans, legumes and nuts.

“It’s a good idea to pair iron-rich, plant-based sources such as spinach and broccoli with citrus and other good sources of vitamin C in order to enhance iron absorption,” she pointed out.

Sass said she has seen plenty of people declare they are vegan only to subsist on frozen vegan pizza, vegan ice cream and other vegan junk foods.

“You get rid of cholesterol and saturated fat but you don’t increase fiber, antioxidants and vitamins,” she said. “That’s not really healthier.”

This doesn’t appear to be the case with Tyson, who, in the Oprah Winfrey clip, is shown with his third wife, Lakiha Spicer, whipping up a vegetable smoothie and snacking on fruit.  Not a slice of beef or Evander Holyfield in sight.

The Tyson interview aired Tuesday night on the OWN channel. You can also catch Tyson in his one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, now touring nationally with director Spike Lee.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Children’s Book Encourages Vegan Lifestyle

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The cover of Ruby Roth’s children’s book, Vegan is Love, is adorned with whimsical animals, but the book takes on controversial issues surrounding veganism, food manufacturing and distribution, along with how our dietary decisions affect our world. Roth said the book is meant to introduce kids to a lifestyle of “compassion and action.”

“It’s clear we can’t rely on our leaders, CEOs, or major companies to fix anything — the environment, our food, the economy, or our health,” Roth told ABC News. “Instead of worrying or ‘occupying,’ I decided to write a book for a new generation who will need to think, eat, and treat the environment differently if we are to solve the most looming health and environmental issues.  With vegan choices, we can affect every major industry and reach every corner of the world.”

Roth, 29, is a mother of two and raises her children on a vegan diet. Roth became a vegan in 2003, when her husband challenged her to a “health experiment.” She said her health and energy “thrived so quickly” that she never went back to a non-vegan lifestyle.

Studies continue to link animal products with chronic disease, including diabetes, obesity and asthma, but these issues “are practically non-existent in the worldwide vegan population,” she said.

Still, some experts said the book oversimplifies a controversial subject, and while a vegan diet can be nutritious if properly planned, parents may have trouble getting children to eat the proper amounts of all the necessary food groups when kids can be finicky with food already.

Scaring people into changing a behavior rarely yields long-term behavior change, said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.  But “educating children about the many wonderful food options they have in the plant world would be a positive way to help them enjoy food, feel good about their food choices and develop an eating plan they really will maintain,” she said.

Nevertheless, Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, said children should be exposed to plants and animal foods at an early age so they can understand the healthy variety that is available to them.

“Any time you limit the variety of healthy foods, you chance limiting the nutrients they get,” said Ayoob. “Over time, that can catch up with them.”

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Center, said a vegan diet is “fine” for kids: “As long as any nutrient shortfalls are addressed, a vegan diet is certainly apt to be better for most kids than than the typical American diet they have now.”

A vegan diet not only excludes meat, fish and poultry, but does not use other animal products and byproducts, including eggs, dairy, honey, leather, silk and wool. The nutritional elements are centered around fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds and nuts.

A book may be just the thing to encourage healthy habits, Katz said.

“Adults are too willing to turn a blind eye to the way our animal-based diets are achieved,” said Katz. “The torture and maltreatment of animals are real, whether or not we acknowledge them. Adults can make the conscious choice not to look there, to help protect a lifetime of dietary preferences. Kids are more malleable and impressionable. Maybe childhood is the best time to create awareness and change behavior accordingly.”

Which is worse, Katz asked? “Telling kids about what’s going on? Or raising them in a world where it is going on and keeping them in the dark about it so they become complicit to it?”

Roth not only encourages parents and kids to do research on veganism, she said veganism is one of the most “patriotic, American things we can do.”

“We don’t have to fear anything we have the power to change,” said Roth. “This book is about the personal agency of people, big and small, in creating an active, more conscious, sustainable world. We have freedom in this country to play an active role in our communities and cities… Going vegan is an embodiment of the philosophies our country was founded on: independence, rugged individualism and self-reliance.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Seventh-Day Adventists Outraged Over McDonald's

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(LOMA LINDA, Calif.) -- The health conscious residents of Loma Linda, a small California city with a large Seventh-day Adventist population, have banned together to fight against the opening of the town's first McDonald's.

Nestled in a beautiful stretch of land east of Los Angeles, the 23,000 people who live in Loma Linda enjoy one of the longest life spans in the world -- on average, residents live well into their 80s. Its people are borderline obsessed with fitness and clean living, and they have a healthy population of centenarians to prove it.

So when McDonald's decided to move in, the people of Loma Linda went into red alert. When the issue to approve its opening came up before the city council, the meeting room was packed with outraged residents and health professionals, as if a nuclear waste dump, and not a fast food chain, was coming to town.

But the city isn't just full of fit families, it is also heavily Seventh-day Adventist, a religion that strongly encourages congregants to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as well as an alcohol, tobacco and caffeine-free lifestyle.

Pastor Randy Roberts of the Loma Linda University Church says healthy living is dictated straight from the scripture.

"In Corinthians, Paul speaking of the human body says specifically, 'you are the temple of the Holy spirit,'" explains Roberts. "Therefore, he says, whatever you do in your body, you do it to the honor, the glory and the praise of God."

He says the church has not taken an official position on the McDonald's controversy, but stands for living "a balanced, healthy, and whole lifestyle."

Dr. Wayne Dysinger, a physician of preventative medicine and a Loma Linda resident, is a leading member of the community coalition that opposes McDonald's. He says it is not just about the burgers and fries on McDonald's' menu, but also about what the fast food chain represents to Loma Linda's residents who cherish the community's health-conscious history.

"Loma Linda is sort of a symbolic city for healthiness, and McDonald's is sort of a symbolism of unhealthiness," said Dysinger, a Seventh-Day Adventist and father of two. "That's a significant issue. My kids know about McDonald's. McDonald's is the one that sells the toys."

In response to the community opposition, McDonald's said in a statement to ABC News:

"We have been working hard over the past several years to ensure we have options on our menu to meet a variety of dietary needs. For example, our line of Premium Salads can be ordered without meat. We also have other offerings including Apple Slices, Oatmeal and Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits as well as a variety of portion sizes ... McDonald's and our franchisee look forward to working with the Loma Linda City Council and residents to hopefully address any questions or concerns. We believe the new restaurant will support the Loma Linda community with a contemporary dining experience and help fuel economic growth."

McDonald's won't exactly be the first fast food chain in town. Though several health food stores are popular with residents, in recent years a handful of chains have arrived, including a KFC, Del Taco, Weinerschnitzel, Baker's Burger and most notably a Carl's Jr., which also came under intense fire when it first moved in.

Caught in the middle between the health food advocates and the burger eating population, as well as the land developers and those who welcome business growth, is Loma Linda Mayor Rhodes Rigsby.

A Seventh-Day Adventist and a physician himself, Rigsby says he has the desire to promote health, but doesn't feel limiting food choices is an appropriate mandate.

"I don't think it's the government's responsibility, personally, to legislate vegetarianism; I think if everyone became a vegetarian they would probably have a healthier life, but it has to be their choice," he said.

"I would hate to go to a town where vegetables are outlawed because the majority are meat and potato carnivores," he continued, "to me that doesn't make sense either way; I think people should have options."

Mayor Rigsby said that if the citizens of Loma Linda want to ban further fast food development, a ballot initiative enabling residents to vote on the issue might be an acceptable approach going forward.

The small city is a particularly unusual battleground, considering the first McDonald's opened in 1940, just five miles away in the town of San Bernardino. Now the country's most iconic fast food chain has over 33,000 locations worldwide in 199 countries around the globe.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Atlanta Couple Gets Life for Starving 6-Week-Old Son

GeoStock/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Georgia's Supreme Court has sentenced an Atlanta couple to life in prison for starving its infant son, rejecting claims by the defense that vegan rules were to blame.

Six-week-old Crown Shakur weighed three-and-a-half pounds when he died in 2004 from extreme malnourishment or starvation. His parents, Jade Sanders and Lamont Thomas, were convicted Monday of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children.

"No matter how many times they want to say, 'We're vegans, we're vegetarians,' that's not the issue in this case," prosecutor Chuck Boring told the court. "The child died because he was not fed. Period."

Bottles of soy milk -- not formula -- and apple juice, as well as a dirty, rancid baby bottle, were found during a police search of the couple's Buckhead apartment.

"This was not a well-nourished child on any level, but it sounds like this had more to do with not getting enough calories or protein overall than a vegan diet," said Keith Ayoob, director of the Rose R. Kennedy Center Nutrition Clinic at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "Veganism does not starve an infant."

Babies need at least 10 ounces of liquid food per day, with the healthy range spanning from 16 to 30 ounces, according to Dr. Ira Rubin, a private practice pediatrician in Naperville, Ill.

"Since the baby lost around half of its weight, it sounds like they certainly did not feed the infant enough volume," Rubin said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies breastfeed for the first six months -- a practice that, if manageable, conforms to vegan ideals. And for vegan women who can't or choose not to breastfeed, soy milk-based formulas are available. Soy milk, however, is not a substitute for fortified formula, Rubin said.

The prosecutors also argued the couple neglected their child by not seeking medical attention as his body wasted away.

"To me, even if the parents did not understand what to feed the baby, all they needed to do is ask the nurses or doctors at the hospital they delivered at, or even go back to their doctor's office to ask why the baby is losing so much weight," Rubin said.

As more adults adopt the vegan diet, more babies and children are inheriting it. Alicia Silverstone's three-month-old baby, Blu, is reportedly vegan. Natalie Portman dropped her vegan diet during pregnancy in favor of a more flexible vegetarian diet.

Experts say the vegan diet can be complete and nutritious for the whole family, as long as it contains enough protein, calcium and vitamins D and B12. But fussy young eaters can complicate things.

"Any time you remove a food you place a bigger burden on the remaining foods to pick up the slack," said Ayoob. "I recommend that vegan parents, in the early years, remain flexible. Let philosophy take second string to the child's nutritional needs at least until they're older and can make decisions for themselves."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Texas College Cafeteria Goes Vegan

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(DENTON, Texas) -- The Big Texan, an Amarillo, Texas landmark, has been serving 72-ounce steaks to customers since the early 1960s.  Now, a few hundred miles to the east, some Texas college students are going all vegan.

The University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton opened an all-vegan, full-service cafeteria on its campus last week, prompting applause from animal-rights activists, environmentalists and, of course, vegan students on campus.  Although college campuses around the nation have been offering vegan choices for several years, UNT’s cafeteria appears to be the first exclusively vegan venue.

The menu eschews animal products, like meat, milk, and eggs, and instead features vegetarian soups, paninis and vegetarian sushi.  The university’s dining services reports that so far, many of the students who eat there aren’t necessarily vegan, but just want to eat healthy.

These students aren’t alone.  A 2004 survey of college students by food service provider Aramark showed that one of every four students surveyed wanted vegan meal options on college campuses.

Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said it makes sense that college students would want to explore new diets.

“Lots of young people experiment,” Ayoob said.  “They do it with booze, drugs...why not a new way of eating?”

At first glance, going vegan seems far healthier than the typical college student diet.  But dietitians warn that meals missing animal fats aren’t necessarily more nutritious.

Connie Diekman, director of nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said that students who don’t choose their fruits and vegetables wisely may be missing out on key vitamins and nutrients, like protein, iron and vitamin B12.

“Vegetarian eating, and the vegan aspect, can be very nutritious if people are educated to make the right choices to meet their nutritional needs,” Diekman said.

And students still need to watch their intake of sugars, refined starch and oils, which are still included in vegan foods.

“Simply eating a vegan diet doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be eating better,” Ayoob said.  “There can be vegan junk food, too.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bill Clinton Marks One Year Victory as Vegan

Frank Polich/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Bill Clinton has reached a milestone as a vegan.

The former president has been on a strictly vegan diet for over a year now.

Clinton underwent bypass surgery in 2004, and then had a follow-up procedure in 2010. His cardiologist then urged him to follow an animal-free diet.

Clinton reportedly gained 20 pounds while in office due to stressed eating habits.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bill Clinton Now a Vegan

William J. Clinton Foundation(NEW YORK) -- Former President Bill Clinton, who turned 58 on Friday, now calls himself a vegan.

He has dropped more than 20 pounds, telling CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he now consumes no meat, no dairy, no eggs, and almost no oil.

Clinton began changing his diet after having quadruple bypass surgery in 2004.

"I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now," Clinton told Gupta.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Natalie Portman Drops Vegan Diet During Pregnancy

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, who is pregnant with her first child, has dropped her vegan diet. Portman, who launched a vegan shoe line in 2008, said the strict diet that prohibits animal-derived products, from meat to honey, took its toll when she started craving sweets.

Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said it's common for women to make the switch during pregnancy.

"A lot of people do, I think, listen to their bodies and switch from being vegan to vegetarian when they're pregnant," Greenfield said. "Some people can just feel they're not getting enough and have the smarts to say, 'My body is telling me something and my baby is more important."

And while a healthy vegan pregnancy is possible, it's tricky.

"I know there are people who do stay vegan," Portman told Atlanta radio station Q100, "but I think you have to just be careful, watch your iron levels and your B12 levels and supplement those if there are things you might be low in your diet."

Vegans often need to take supplements like iron and vitamin B12.

The biggest challenge for vegan moms-to-be is getting the right kind of protein and enough of it.

"In order to make whole proteins there are certain essential amino acids your body can't make. You have to combine your vegetable protein to make them," Greenfield said.

For babies to grow, mom has to gain weight too.

"If you're not gaining weight, that would certainly be a red flag," Greenfield said. "If you have a poor diet, the baby cannot grow well."

During pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions recommends six to 11 servings of grain products, three to five servings of vegetables, two to four servings of fruits, four to six servings of milk and milk products, and three to four servings of meat and protein foods every day.

"If you're not eating a standard diet, the take-home message is educate yourself about where the gaps might be and how you can fill them in a healthy way," Greenfield said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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