06 April 2009

another reason for l.o.v.e.

[Image via Top Veg]

Yesterday, I mentioned some of the reasons why I'm doing this raw, vegan fast, but I left out a pretty big one. It has to do with dietary awareness and the effects our choices have on the world. As I've mentioned a bunch of times before, yes, I do still eat meat. I eat it sparingly, and choose the best quality (read: humanely raised) meat, mainly from local producers at the farmer's market. Every once in a while, a piece of questionable chicken ends up in the mix. But for the most part, if I don't know where it's from, I skip the meat and go veg.

Precious resources - like the air we breathe, the water we drink - are adversely affected by agricultural production. This goes for meat, dairy, and produce alike. But anything that has to do with animals eats up like 10-fold the amount of resources. Animals have needs. They need to be fed, to be cared for, to relieve themselves. Where does their feed come from? In big ag, it's mostly genetically modified or chemically treated corn or soy. How is their waste managed? Most likely in waste lagoons (see image left) that pollute waterways and contribute to dead zones like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. (Read more fun facts about animal waste. Even the CDC weighs in on the issue).

And then there are those pesky greenhouse gas emissions. In an article from New Scientist,

Climate-change experts have warned of the high carbon cost of meat for several years.

Beef is particularly damaging. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is released from flatulent cows and by manure as it decays. Furthermore, to produce a kilogram of beef (2.2 pounds), farmers also have to feed a cow 15 kg of grain and 30 kg of forage. Grain requires fertiliser, which is energy intensive to produce.

Read more

Appealing, isn't it? Makes you want to grab a burger, right? BTW, I'm not sure most American cows are getting any forage (This was a Dutch study, original journal article here).

Aside from the environmental issues, there are the ethical concerns. How are these animals really being raised? Grass fed isn't the same as pasture raised. They might still be in a CAFO (confined or concentrated animal feeding operation), even if they are eating what nature intended them to.

Oh, and there's also the world hunger issue. Read more about that here.

If you haven't read enough, a few more compelling arguments and resources for going veg (or at the very least cutting back on meat):

Side note: I apologize if this post is a little fragmented. I'm going to attribute it to the delirium caused by last night's lack of sleep, the slight pang of hunger gnawing at my belly, and I'll throw in some PMS for good measure.

Stay tuned for more exciting details on how my fast is progressing tomorrow, starting with my l.o.v.e. - day 2 morning...

my l.o.v.e. day 1 evening

If you've been reading at all today, you know this post is about. (If not, check out the previous posts here, here, and here.)

Sri Swami Satchidananda, founder of IYI

6:00 pm - My friend Amy talks me into going to Integral Yoga with her for some gentle Hatha. I think she thinks Bikram will kick my butt. I haven't been to IYI in a while, so I acquiesce. I get to the studio feeling really hungry. The easeful class is just what I needed. The pacing is slow, but I'm patient.

7:30 pm - Class is over and the hunger strikes again. It's amazing how I didn't feel hungry at all during class. Yoga is magic!

8:15 pm - The first thing I do when I get home is dig into #6, Vanilla Chia (Chia seeds, brazil nuts, agave, vanilla, sea salt). According to Organic Avenue, vanillin, the major constituent of vanilla beans, is one of the most important aromatic flavor compounds used in foods. Vanillin has antioxidant and anti-tumor activity.

Chewing on the Chia is like chomping on tomato seeds. They squish a bit and get stuck in my teeth. The vanilla is comforting.

8:49 pm - I'm still hungry and have one course left. I'm a bit off schedule, I might just half of it and then make myself a cup of chamomile tea. Looking forward to an early bedtime.

I make the mistake of opening a link to a recipe for Irish soda bread. The thought of baked goods and butter make me salivate. I can feel the bread crumbling in my mouth.

I get an encouraging email from the nutrition consultant. She alerts me to some symptoms I might experience (headaches, stiff joints, dizziness, nausea, low energy, runny nose or cough [mucus being released], mood swings, and low-grade fever). Dizziness, check. Low energy, check. Mood swings, check. There's one other symptom that's not on the list - hypersensitivity to the cold. The temp has dropped and I can feel it. My face is tingly and my nose, icy.

She also gives some tips on how to help speed the toxins out of my body. I don't think I'll be taking up the colonic offer - yoga and a facial and/or massage will do.

9:05 pm - It's a little late, but I crack open #7, Coconut Mylk (coconut water and coconut meat). According to Organic Avenue, Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Coconut oil is also used by thyroid sufferers to increase body metabolism, and to lose weight. Good for me since I fit into the thyroid sufferer category.
The "mylk" is so creamy and soothing. It's fulfilling and rich, and leaves a silky residual coating on my tongue.

A search for "coconut" online brings up a video for Harry Nilsson's "Coconut." My dad used to play that record for us over and over again. We'd dance around like little lunatics.

9:33 pm - As I finish the mylk, I feel a little sleepy. The ambrosial drink has satisfied me. Time to put on the tea.

11:14 pm - Getting ever sleepier. Off to bed to rest my weary head.

empire state building retrofit

One of the most iconic structures in NYC is about to get a makeover. When it was built, it was a model for engineering ingenuity. Now, it's going to serve as a model for energy efficiency. A retrofit is in order. It's estimated that the building's energy consumption will be reduced by 40%.

Video and blurb from Rocky Mountain Institute, one of the partners in the project, below.

In February 2008, project partners Rocky Mountain Institute, the Clinton Climate Initiative, Johnson Controls, Inc., and Jones Lang LaSalle began working with existing and newly created modeling, measurement, and projection tools to fully analyze the Empire State Building's energy use. RMI's Built Environment Team then provided realistic recommendations that would help increase the building's energy efficiency without harming bottom-line performance.

According to RMI's Chief Scientist Amory Lovins, "In order to make cities cleaner and more energy efficient, there is a real need for a replicable model for retrofitting existing buildings. This visionary example will help to significantly reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy in buildings all over the world through these initiatives."

The Empire State Building team will undertake improvements, including window retrofits, daylighting, a radiator insulation retrofit, and a whole-building control system upgrade that will achieve a projected $4.4 million in annual energy savings while reducing energy consumption by close to 40 percent and cutting the building's overall carbon output.

Beyond the numbers, the process that the partners used made this project unique and the improvements possible. The program currently underway at the Empire State Building is the first to provide a comprehensive modeling approach to help capture energy savings on existing buildings. Over time, these breakthrough methods will make the Empire State one of the most efficient pre-war buildings in the world.

Learn more about the retrofit

my l.o.v.e. - day 1 afternoon

It's the afternoon of my lovefast. (The what-it's-all-about here.)

pm - Stiiillll sippin' the beet juice. I want to milk it as long as I can!

12:25 pm - Just realized that my bladder has been requiring more relief than usual. This will be my third time to get up to pee since I got here (at ~9 am).

Someone in the office is eating what smells like brisket and it's kind of making me sick.

12:54 pm - I'm going into a meeting and I'm not sure if I should take my next meal with me. If I wait I might turn into superhungrymonster. If I bring it, I need to be aware and eat it mindfully.

I've gone through a liter of water. Time for a refill.

2:03 pm - Back from the meeting. I brought course #4 with me - Chipotle Nappa Wrap (pecan, apricot, orange, tomato, date, chipotle, garlic, cilantro, ginger, sea salt, nama shoyu, red and green cabbage, red pepper, parsley, and nappa cabbage). It was the first thing I actually chewed on today (although the instructions say to chew your juices!). Spicy, sweet, nutty, earthy, crunchy. Ate it very slowly and it filled me very quickly. Took a break between rolls.

Feeling a little bit bubbly inside.

Craving something sweet. Trying not to be tempted by the dried apricots and dates sitting on my desk. I think I'm going to put them in someone else's office.

2:27 pm - Getting a little cranky, especially when provoked.

Looking forward to #5, which I'll eat in an hour.

Going to Bikram yoga tonight, a little nervous about feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

3:03 pm - All I can think about is eating the next course. I get a cup of hot water (not supposed to drink tea) thinking it might help.

I think there's a thunderstorm abrewin' in my gut.

3:39 pm - Sweet crunchy relief. Hello #5 beet salad! (beets, cucumber, tahini, dill, lemon juice) I find myself chewing a lot more than I normally would. Savoring the sensation, feeling the mandibular muscles at work. I have two more courses left and I'm saving them 'til after Bikram (class is at 6 pm, and I'm following the 2-hour rule). Looking forward to cozying up to #6 and #7 in the comfort of my home.

3:59 pm - Still crunching away. The food is very satisfying in the short term, but then a serious hunger sets in. Water is supposed to help curb that feeling.

I have a meeting in a bit and then I'm dashing out to yoga. Stay tuned for the evening installment around 8:30 pm...

my l.o.v.e. - day 1 morning

Today is the first day of my raw, vegan fast. I've never done anything like this before, so I thought it'd be a good idea to document the experience. Read more about why I'm doing this here.

8 am - I'm supposed to drink water with fresh lemon juice, but I don't have any lemons so I substitute with apple cider vinegar. I drink up the detoxifying elixir. Nausea ensues.

I didn't sleep well last night, I hope that doesn't affect my level of hunger throughout the day.

8:50 am - I pick up my goodie bag from Organic Avenue. It's heavier than I expect. When I get to the office, I'm actually surprised by the quantity of "food." There are 7 meals, 4 of them liquid. I'm supposed to consume them in the order they are numbered and at the time dictated in an email I received last night. I hope I have enough self control not to eat them all at once.

Today's sustenance

9:09 am - Item #1 is an energy elixir (contents unknown). It's muddy dark green and tastes a bit like matcha green tea. Here are some of the potential benefits: May promote growth of strong nails, smooth skin, and healthy hair, help maintain normal blood-sugar levels, help promote regular intestinal health, digestion, and healthy intestinal flora, stabilize mood swings, support physical health while you heal, and clarify and sharpen your eyesight.

9:30 am - I open item #2, a big bottle of pear juice before the suggested time of 10 am. Was feeling kinda shaky and couldn't take it. The juice is really delicious.

10:14 am - I'm still slowly sipping the pear juice, trying to enjoy every sweet bit of it. I'm hungry and feel a headache coming on. Not sure if this is due to lack of sleep last night or lack of food. I actually feel hungrier than usual. Maybe it's because I'm focusing on the sensations. My next course is 46 minutes away (but who's counting?)

10:59 - By some minor miracle, my hunger is subsiding. I feel less lightheaded and the headache never arrived. I'm drinking lots of water in between courses. Even though it's technically time for course #3, I think I'm going to wait it out a little longer.

11:23 - Oh yeah, I'm hungry! Time for #3. It's a beet red veggie juice, pretty darn tasty (read about the power of the beet here). My belly is feeling kind of full, but I know I'm hungry. I just need to take it slowly.

11:53 - Still sipping on the veggie juice. I feel a bit tingly and hyperalert. So far, the pacing of this is working out okay. I get hungry at just about the time when the next course is up, as long as I drink plenty of water in between.