Winter 2006

    Issue: Winter 2006

    Table of Contents


      Last issue, we discussed how important it is to keep our bodies healthy, and how to make exercise part of our daily routines. A healthy body will allow you to support your active, progressive mind.

      Becoming more physically active will require a change in diet as well. As our activity levels increase, we must also pay attention to what we put into our bodies. Not only is food the body?s fuel; it?s made up of the building blocks of a future, fitter you!

      While plant-based foods are no longer synonymous with health food — note the abundance of delicious organic desserts and soy-based sandwich fillers we still need to focus on building up our new, healthy bodies with wholesome basics. We should focus on getting fresh fruits, beans and vegetables, and whole grains such brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley, and wheat. Treats — even organic and vegan — should be an exception rather than a habit.

      To deal with cravings, replace the treats with healthful snacks. An apple or banana with a dozen almonds is actually a really nice treat, and won?t leave you with the inferior ?building blocks? of more commonly eaten cookies or chips. This doesn?t mean that cookies and chips can?t be eaten — certainly not, the horror! — but at the same time they shouldn?t be a daily fixation. It may take a few weeks, but with a bit of effort, we can look forward to the healthful snacks as much as we did for the not-so-healthful ones. It just takes a little imagination and retraining.

      At various times it is just as easy to under-eat as it is to over-eat. The premise is simple thermodynamics: energy in versus energy out. The more active you are, the more calories you?ll need. Conversely, the less active you are, the less calories you should consume.

      Shedding or Gaining Extra Weight: The Formula

      To shed weight, one must decrease the calorie intake, and increase the calorie output by exercising the body.

      It?s important not to cut out too much, or you?ll run into potential health problems or diminish your potential to drop weight. 500 calories is often considered the ?magic number? in weight loss. If your basal metabolic rate requires you to eat 1,800 calories, then make sure you?re eating at least 1,300 calories a day. But I?d recommend keeping the reduction lower and steadier. A 200-300 calorie deficit might be optimal. You won?t shed weight as quickly, but the change will be easier to sustain, and that?s a key to your success. This type of calorie deficit should melt one to two pounds (one-half to one kg) per week. Also, remember that if you?re working out, you?ll need to increase total calories to match your extra efforts and recovery. If you aren?t eating enough, you?ll likely feel tired and listless, and it will be hard to motivate yourself to be more active.

      The reverse of this ? gaining weight — requires an increase in calories (as well as physical activity). Simply eating larger portions, adding 50-100 calories per meal, will work for most.

      Final note: If you start going to the gym, and find that your weight isn?t changing very much, don?t get discouraged. It?s very likely that you?re toning up and gaining muscle. Muscle is actually heavier than fat, and so enjoy watching extra fat melt away as your muscle tone starts to show.

      Carbs Are Your Friends

      Unfortunately, due to fads such as Atkins, carbohydrates have been given a bad rap. While there is some truth in the harm of eating refined carbohydrates, the carbs found in whole foods, from apples and bananas to potatoes and corn, are actually a very healthful and necessary part of sustaining an active lifestyle.

      Looking around the world, the countries that suffer the same diseases as ours (obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes) are also quite high in protein and processed and refined carbs. Looking at the places where these diseases are rare or unknown, one finds that carbs are actually a large part of their diet, and protein is much lower on the scale.

      How can this be? The truth is simple: unrefined carbohydrates found in whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and grains, are the main fuel source for our muscles and organs. The brain, for example, is fueled exclusively by carbohydrates! Perhaps this is why those on the Atkins diet are so confused.

      Carbs are also essential for recovery from our athletic activities. While it?s true that protein is needed to rebuild muscles, it?s often overlooked that energy is also required to repair and heal. Think of it as building a house ? while bricks are needed, we?ll also need energy to use the bricks in building the house.

      Once more, it?s important to stress the difference between carbohydrates. Processed or refined carbs include white sugar, white flour and white rice. In these, much of the fibre, vitamins and minerals have been removed, leaving mainly sugars or starches. Raw cane sugar, brown rice and whole wheat, on the other hand, leave these nutrients intact, and react quite differently in our bodies.

      Fear no more, and banish your carbo-phobia, and enjoy all the healthy carbs out there!

      Next issue:

      Healthy fats and proteins!

    • Restaurant Review

      With the summer 2006 opening of Red Bamboo Brooklyn, we open a new chapter in the history of vegetarian dining in New York City.

      The original Red Bamboo in Manhattan?s West Village is a long-time favorite of the vegetarian crowd and is the city?s undisputed champ of fabulous faux-meat cuisine. Compact and cheery, it?s known as the place to impress omnivores with stunningly authentic versions of soul food. The crispy ?Soul Chicken? is legendary. The raging success of the original location is apparent to anyone strolling past the Manhattan local, with its lines of people waiting for a table almost every night of the week.

      It?s no surprise, then, that the creators of Red Bamboo decided to unveil a Brooklyn version. Located at the corner of an elegant brownstone building in Fort Greene, Red Bamboo Brooklyn retains the vision that has proven so successful for its predecessor. Owner Jason Wong is excited that ?the vegetarian and non-vegetarian communities have been very responsive.?

      In the warmer months, visitors can dine al fresco in the shade of the leafy trees adorning a spacious patio enclosed by the wrought-iron gates that frame the building. Live jazz bands perform outside during Saturday and Sunday brunch, while guests enjoy vegan waffles, pancakes, or tofu scramble. Relaxing at Red Bamboo Brooklyn for Sunday Brunch while enjoying live jazz is soothing to the soul.

      Inside, the d�cor will warm diners during the chilliest months. The earth-toned downstairs dining room is minimalist-posh: exposed brick walls, velvet draperies, lots of hanging lights, and candlelight in the evening. Features include a full juice and cocktail bar outfitted with bamboo wood and a recycled glass bartop. The upper floor is a well-appointed lounge complete with a smaller bar, and a back deck area with couches. Live bands perform on Thursdays in the lounge, and there is jazz on Sundays.

      Classic dishes from the original location are here, along with a fresh Caribbean influence. The delectable Soul Chicken — crispy, breaded, morsels seasoned with rosemary and a Cajun flair, and accompanied by a hickory smoke Vidalia dressing — is available both as hearty appetizer or a main course served with steamed greens, sweet corn, and mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy. Those in the mood for a light appetizer might try the Collard Green Rolls, with a filling of greens and vegetarian smoked ham, served with a sweet chili dipping sauce. The Cajun Fried Shrimp is an indulgent concoction, seasoned with paprika, thyme and sage served with a southern barbeque sauce. Then there are the new and enticing Barbeque Chicken Kabobs, sweet seitan kabobs marinated in plum teriyaki sauce grilled over an open fire, and served with sweet chile sauce, and all the classic vegetables.

      For a Caribbean touch, try the Oxtail Menudo — soy morsels wrapped around a bone of sugarcane and served in a peppery potato, carrot and raisin stew. Or the traditional Caribbean Calaloo Soup, rich and creamy, made with leafy vegetables and coconut milk.

      Innovative sandwiches include The Montego, grilled jerk-spiced soy layers over lettuce, carrots, onions, watercress and Vidalia onion dressing served on coco bread. Another Red Bamboo original is The Willy Bobo, a Cuban sandwich made of smoked soy ham, pickles, vegan mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and vegan Swiss cheese on grilled coco bread. All sandwiches are served with a choice of fries, spicy fries, salad or a cup of the highly recommended Calaloo soup.

      Sensational salads are also offered on the menu, with a fantastic option being the Mango Chicken Salad, a tender soy chicken marinated in a spiced tamarind dressing, grilled over an open fire, and served over a mixed green salad with mushroom, carrots, scallions, tomatoes and cucumbers, and a tropical touch of fresh mango slices.

      If faux meats are not your thing, you will still find plenty on the menu, including the Vegetable Skewers, the Portobello Mushroom Salad, a Vegetable Croquette with habanera aioli, and Broccoli & Sweet Potato Tempura.

      The popular ?Vegan Treats? cakes are available for dessert, along with vegan ice cream, or mango, coconut and peach sorbet. Vegan ice cream shakes, such as the mint chocolate chip shake, also make for a sweet ending.

      Red Bamboo Brooklyn is located at 271 Adelphi Street at the corner of DeKalb Avenue.

      Open Tuesday-Friday, noon to midnight; Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight.

      Brunch is served 11 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

      Tel: 718.643.4352 or 718.643.4806


      Delivery and catering services are available, as is space for parties and events.

      Note to vegans:  Several menu items contain milk or egg products, and all are designated by an asterisk on the menu. We?re glad that this restaurant has made the effort to make it as easy as possible to order vegan dishes without any surprises. It would not be a big step for the Red Bamboo to be 100% vegetarian, and we hope they do so. All of the dishes described in this review are vegan.


    • Restaurant Review

      Tucked into one of the quieter stretches of Philadelphia?s Germantown Avenue is a cheerful vegetarian enterprise that nourishes the body, mind and spirit. Its compact caf� overlooks the northwestern corridor of the city with the word ?Vegetarian? displayed proudly on the glass. This catches the attention of passersby who stop and wander inside.

      Enter the front door, and you may choose to go right into the informal caf� or left into the boutique.

      Initially, we browse through the calming accessories: comfortable clothing, incense and oils. Also prominent are inspirational greeting cards, and books on alternative healing, psychology, debate, and African culture. The emphasis on ?Tree of Life? Qi Gong shows the boutique regulars? interest in a blend of Nubian history1and the eastern healing principles said to be followed by the Buddha. The energy of life is called the Ra force, or as in China, the chi. The Nile is part of a growing North American movement to focus on living in harmony with this natural energy in order to experience increased vitality, healing, mental performance and emotional well-being.

      Next, led by the tempting aroma of cabbage and gravy, we proceed to the counter to order our meals. There, we?re greeted by a smiling face and a description of the day?s specials.

      There are four main dishes to choose from. The Roast Duck is made with herbed soy and spices; the Duck Medallions are lightly fried and dipped in a special sauce. Other hearty main dishes include Island Chicken in Pineapple Sauce, and Thai Curry Beef — wheat gluten in a coconut curry sauce with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. All of these dishes are fully vegetarian, and complimented with brown rice and a variety of side dishes — for at the Nile, home-style lunches and suppers always come with a healthy portion of vegetables. On any given day, guests may choose from southern classics such as okra, cabbage, string beans and sweet potatoes.

      If you?re feeling hungry, order a Platter, which includes one main dish and two side dishes. If you?re famished, make it a double with the Combo Platter. Looking for something lighter? Try a single serving of any of the above offerings, enjoy a low-sodium sandwich, or try a freshly mixed salad with tahini or vinaigrette dressing. Thirsty? Perhaps you?ll be tempted by one of the unusual refreshments, such as the Kamit Moss: soymilk, Irish moss, spices and your choice of fruit.

      We asked about the option of whey protein in the Power Shakes listed on the menu, but were told that the restaurant had stopped serving it as an ingredient. Otherwise, apart from the option of honey for tea, the menu is completely plant-based and vegan — right down to the sandwich trimmings, such as soy cheese and vegan mayonnaise.2

      Furrama, the founder, is a twenty-year vegan who opened the Nile in May 2005 to ?encourage people to change their diet and experience a new, healthy way of eating.?

      ?All of our meals are prepared with your health in mind,? the menu declares. ?Our menu lets you enjoy the tastes and texture of meat without the risks associated with a high fat, cholesterol-laden diet.? To this end, the restaurant?s chefs avoid any deep-frying, and use quality olive oil.

      We sampled the Pepper Steak, a deliciously moist wheat gluten saut�ed with onions and peppers. The texture of the Barbeque Wheat Meat was similar, and was doused in the chef?s special sauce. We also tried the Spicy Fish, a breaded patty served with zesty tomato, onion and pepper sauce.

      And what meal is complete without dessert? A happy ending is a mango ice inside the fruit?s rind, or the coconut fruit shell sorbet, served inside a genuine coconut shell. Smooth and light, both are perfect endings to a hearty meal. The Nile also offers vegan ice cream and dairy-free desserts such as chocolate layer cake, strawberry short cake, and a variety of cheesecakes.

      Clearly, the Nile is committed to the physical and spiritual well-being of its patrons. The business also hosts a variety of cultural and educational events, including yoga classes, poetry readings, keyboard concerts, and workshops interpreting the I Ching. All events are open to the public and classes are conducted on a free-will donation basis.

      So the next time you are feeling hungry on the streets of Philadelphia, step inside this friendly and peaceful shop. Whether it is your body or your soul that needs nourishing, the Nile is sure to satisfy.

      The Nile Caf�
      6008 Germantown Ave(at High Street
      Philadelphia, PA 19114
      Hours: 11 a.m. ? 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1 p.m. ? 6 p.m. Sunday
      Delivery, catering, and private parties available.


      • 1. Today, most of Nubia is located in Sudan, with about, a quarter of its territory taken up by Egypt.
      • 2. Please note that the boutique might sell some non-vegan items which include honey or milk chocolate.
    • How does one convince the public to appreciate and protect sharks? I was lucky enough to have this appreciation at a young age. Growing up in south Florida, not far from Everglades National Park, I fell in love with nature in general, and sharks in particular, after my dad built a small house on a canal in the Florida Keys.

      One day we saw the biggest hammerhead shark I have ever seen, displayed on the seven-mile bridge that connects the Keys to Miami. It was a cruel sight. The shark was so beautiful, so amazing – and dead.

      A budding ichthyologist, I yearned to study the reality of sharks at the University of Miami. This dream was never realized, but I did continue to study sharks on my own. I learned that sharks have to swim to breathe. And that the shark family includes the largest of all fish on earth, the whale shark – as well as the quirky sawfish, a ray-like shark with a long, razor-like nose. Most sharks bear their young live, as mammals do.

      The oceans are a wilderness where sharks naturally serve the important function of preying on healthy animals to ensure diversity and balance in aquatic populations. They have done so over 400 million years; their ranks include some of the oldest species on the planet. Sharks lived through the extinction of the dinosaurs, but significantly, sharks of some species take more than 20 years to reach sexual maturity, and bear young only every other year. So sharks are also vulnerable. We are now their biggest threat.

      Worldwide, sharks kill about 28 people each year. In contrast, as the Shark Research Institute observes, humans kill about 100 million sharks per year. Some scientists estimate the rate of decline may be as high as 2% per year for certain species. A recent study conducted by Dalhousie University indicated that from 1986, nearly all shark species declined at least 50%, with some populations approaching collapse. Tiger shark populations plummeted 65%, white sharks fell 79%, and hammerhead sharks declined 89%. Aerial studies along the coast of South Africa from 1993 to 2001 documented an 83% decline in whale sharks.

      A major threat to sharks today is finning. Hundreds of thousands of sharks are caught each year for this purpose. They're hauled to the side of a boat, their fins are cut off, and they are dropped back into the ocean, often still alive, but drowning because they can no longer swim. This horrific practice is carried out to make shark fin soup.

      In 2002, the National Marine Fisheries Service banned shark finning in U.S. waters, but the rules only cover U.S. fishing boats, so the practice continues in U.S. waters and elsewhere.1 In 2004, 63 countries agreed to halt shark finning in all Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.2 Legislation doesn't guarantee, however, that a lucrative practice will stop.

      In addition to finning, there are the commercial gill nets. Often more than 30 miles long, they drift through the seas, trapping most creatures in their paths, including sea turtles, whales, and sharks. Longline fish-catching enterprises snag huge numbers of sharks. Most are left to rot in the sea.

      Numerous organizations are attempting to educate the public about the plight of the sharks; but most movies and fictional books – notably the Jaws series, which began with Peter Benchley's 1974 novel – portray them as savage, blood-thirsty, and ravenous monsters. On the rare occasion when someone is attacked by a shark it makes worldwide headlines. There is something about sharks that humans find innately terrifying. Marine biologists offer a different view.

      I recently read about a diver near the Farallon Islands who one day dived off his boat directly onto the back of a 14 foot long Great White. The shark, clearly annoyed, turned around and charged him. But that was all; the shark swam away.3 Most people would assume the shark would have attacked and killed the intruder. In the same position as that shark, what would we do?

      Humans rarely show mercy to the animals we slaughter every day for food. Hunters rarely show compassion for the animal lives they take – many for trophies to hang on a wall. We project our own behavior onto sharks. In reality, I think humans are far more savage than sharks. Sharks kill for a purpose – to sustain their lives. Humans kill for sport and pleasure. We kill for food, although we can sustain our lives without animal flesh.

      Please do your part to ensure the survival of sharks. Do not eat shark fin soup and don't patronize restaurants that serve it. Refuse to buy products made from sharks, including health supplements that contain shark cartilage. Educate people you know and your congressional representatives about the plight of sharks. Support prohibitions on finning and request that sharks be included as protected species whenever protection is considered for other marine life.

      eter Benchley (1940-2006) was a U.S. author best known for the novel Jaws and co-writing the screenplay for its famous film adaptation.

      In later life, Peter Benchley demonstrated a promising ability to change, to renounce the theme of fighting wars against other beings, and to live with a growing respect for the biocommunity of which we are only a part. One day, will that ability make it possible for us to look at other species with hope for their own flourishing, putting aside their usefulness to us? In “The Rapture of The Deep,” a tribute in February 2006 in Bermuda's Royal Gazette, editor Tim Hodgson quoted Peter Benchley's own words, of which we'll include an except below.

           If I were to try to write Jaws today, I couldn't do it. Or, at least, the book I would write would be vastly different and, I surmise, much less successful, [Benchley] said in a Smithsonian Institution lecture. I see the sea today from a new perspective, not as an antagonist but as an ally, rife less with menace than with mystery and wonder.

            And I know I am not alone. Scientists, swimmers, scuba divers, snorkellers, and sailors all are learning that the sea is worthy more of respect and protection than of fear and exploitation…

           Warning flags are already flying…When we flush our untreated waste into streams, rivers, and the sea, nitrogen and phosphorus disrupt nature's balance by supporting algae blooms and a consequent depletion of oxygen to the point where marine life cannot survive. Parts of many bays and sounds are already practically dead zones.

            When toxic chemicals, from those under our kitchen sinks to the by-products of industry, run off into coastal waters, they may enter the food chain and contaminate the fish we eat – sometimes with devastatingly tragic results. When we drive our cars on roads that border waterways, rain washes oil residue into the water, causing more widespread, long-term pollution than any spill from a grounded tanker, pollution that weakens marine wildlife when it doesn't kill directly.

           … The ways we are nourished by the sea, the ways our lives benefit from the sea – materially as well as spiritually – are nearly infinite. And we are well on our way to ruining it all. What madness that would be. What suicidal folly.

      Denise Boggs is the Executive Director of the Conservation Congress based in Lewistown, Montana, and can be reached at:

      • 1. National Marine Fisheries Service press release: “NMFS Announces Final Rule to Implement the Shark Finning Prohibition Act” (11 Feb. 2002).
      • 2. U.S. Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration press release: “International Commission Adopts U.S. Proposal for Shark Finning Ban” (23 Nov. 2004).
      • 3. See Susan Casey, The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Survival and Obsession Among America's Great White Sharks (2005).
    • It's been called “the greatest gathering of vegans anywhere in the world.” On the 10th of September, Kensington Town Hall, in London’s busiest shopping district, was filled for a record twelve hours with food, music, educational displays, and ethical companies. The festival is arranged each year by London's Campaign Against Leather & Fur (CALF). Also facilitating the event was Festival of Life, a project dedicated to raw food and holistic healing workshops.

      One of the best purveyors of vegan food to emerge is the Redwood Company, which will happily arrive soon in the North American market. Watch for their excellent Cheezly (mature cheddar and gouda are especially recommended), sausages (try the traditional Lincolnshire), falafel, and delicious Thai cakes.

      And we discovered a new book available on vegan organic growing. Written by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst, it's called Growing Green – Organic Techniques for a Sustainable Future. This will be a key book for the growing (pun intended) vegan movement. At last, people who work with organics without using nonhuman animals in their growing cycles will be able to show the consumer that it really is possible to find a way of holistic, peaceful agriculture. More details appear on Jenny Hall's Sow & Grow Organics website

      The success of vegan festivals gives hope to those who know the importance of what we're doing to save our planet — for ourselves and all other living beings who belong on it.

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