On the last day of an energetic and happy holiday, I suffered a heart attack. Although I had ignored slight twinges in my heart for a few months, it was a shock. Fortunately, I knew what was happening, having lost a partner like this 10 years ago, and, aware of the symptoms, I received timely and good care.
What attacked my heart I asked? Genetic high cholesterol, I am told, exacerbated by an often-careless lifestyle and diet. Though mostly vegetarian, fit and active, and has alleviated the stress of a hard-working life in recent years, I have not paid due attention to diet. The medics casually told me to follow a Mediterranean diet, though the first meal the hospital offered was a lump of minced meat on white bread topped by a hard-boiled egg!
In an attempt to recover as quickly and sustainably as possible, and though I have known about good food all my life, and even worked at the first raw, vegetarian, health food restaurant in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, I have again been researching current trends in healthy nutrition.
The clear message about our diet and our health
There is a lot of conflicting information to wade through, but the trend towards veganism and cutting out sugars is resounding. Since so many of our illnesses, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and various cancers, are linked to inflammation, caused by ingesting animal fat and sugar, this makes a lot of sense.
Increasing numbers are also becoming aware of the severe impacts of animal products on the planet and climate change because as meat and dairy are ingrained into our diets, they are also rooted in our environment. To produce one kilo of meat requires 25 kilos of grain and 15 000 litres of water. If all that grain was fed to humans, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. Livestock farming uses 30% of the earth’s surface, in a world where water, land and food are becoming scarcer, massively inefficient and inequitable!
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and when livestock byproducts are added this accounts for 51% of emissions! This industry is further a major cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, including rainforests.
70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide and 6 million are killed for food every hour. Most of these animals, sentient beings, are reared in terrible conditions causing them to suffer.
This morning I sip my tea with almond milk, grateful to be alive as I contemplate the good news that food marketers have realised the potential and now offer a wide range of delicious plant-based foods and alternatives to every kind of animal protein that helps me to feel better about my body and the planet.
Resources for healthy eating from Jeunesse (online, deliveries and some Cape Town restaurants and caterers):
Spar offers over 100 options for plant-based meals, and there are more on Woolworths shelves daily. Unilever has just bought the Dutch based Vegetarian Butcher.
Here are some plant-based food deliveries and restaurants:
http://www.puregood.co.za/ a corporate catering business that dishes up super affordable, deliciously wholesome and ethically produced meals to working professionals in Cape Town
https://www.wellnesswarehouse.com/shop/foodmarket/ order healthy ingredients online, including dairy alternatives and snacks
http://www.vegansa.com/foodstuffs-ready-made-meals.php a directory of food for vegans in South Africa: what’s available and where to buy it
https://www.faithful-to-nature.co.za/food/food-types/vegan a great variety of organic vegan foods to help you enjoy a balanced and wholesome plant-based diet
http://justvegan.co.za/ deliveries of vegan meals in the Johannesburg area
http://www.plantcafe.co.za/ Cape Town restaurant where vegans and people with food allergies can find amazing food without sacrificing taste
https://orders.fitchef.co.za/ online food without preservatives, no man-made chemicals and no added or artificial sugars – delivered to you
https://www.facebook.com/TheYummyVegan/ Vegan comfort food filled with all the necessary nutritional value, from frozen meals to cater for small functions to large Conferences, Weddings and Parties
https://www.facebook.com/rawandroxy/ Cape Town raw vegan gourmet restaurant. Winner of the Condé Nast Gourmet award, best Wellness and Vitality restaurant in South Africa.