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10 Greatest Misconceptions About Being Vegan, Quashed

Health

I grew up in Israel and Mediterranean is part of my cooking style by default, I come from a house where food was a main subject. My father is Polish and my mother is Romanian. My mother taught me cooking within an Eastern European tradition. As a family we were fortunate to be able to travel and try flavors from around the world, a privilege I'm grateful to be able to continue today.


Estee Raviv. Photo Courtesy of Oy Vey Vegan

I wrote the cookbook Oy Vey Vegan both for those who are already using plant-based recipes and for people who want to make a positive change in their life and have a healthy diet but do not know how. I think of food as preventative medicine.

I wasn't always a vegan chef. When I lived in Israel, I had a high-end custom jewelry business, but I was always attracted to the kitchen. Now I live with my husband and three children in Portland, Oregon. They've taste-tested all of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan for me. I taught my family the value of good, healthy meals, and exposed them to as much variety as possible. Developing recipes with them is a lot of fun.

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Making the change to a plant-based diet made me feel a lot better. It completely changed my life. First of all, my energy levels increased. For the first time in my life my digestive system was working as designed. People don't like to talk about their digestive problems but it is so important to keep your body balanced. When I stopped eating dairy, my skin became so much healthier, smoother. After completing my research, I discovered for sure that dairy is what caused my acne. I want to tell the world that if you have skin problems, stop eating dairy; your skin will get better in no time.

Becoming vegan opened my eyes to a whole new, fascinating world. I learned so much about ingredients and how foods can heal.

Here are ten misconceptions people have about being vegan.

1. Eating vegan food is not satisfying or filling.

If you eat whole grains, a vegan diet is very filling. Eating enough plant-based protein such as tempeh, tofu, and legumes combined with vegetables will leave you satisfied.

2. Vegans don't get enough calcium in their diet because they don't drink cow milk.

The truth is that calcium exists in larger amounts in a lot of the green veggies—such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, collard greens, okra—and also in almonds, black beans, and many other plants, than in cow milk

3. Vegans don't eat enough protein because protein comes mainly from meat.

The truth is that there are high levels of protein in soybeans, and soy products, such as tempeh and tofu. You can also find high levels of protein in black lentils, nuts, peanut butter, and, in general, all the legumes.

4. Vegans don't get enough iron.

Vegans can eat a lot of iron in high levels, which exists in spinach, parsley, and raisins. Sometimes iron will not absorb in the body like with animal products and therefore vegans need to take supplements. However, if you combine iron with citrus it will help absorption in your body.

5. Vegan food is expensive.

I always say that vegan food is not only cheaper, but if you invest in fruits and vegetables, you may not need to spend so much money in the future on medicine. Being mindful about what you eat may prevent sicknesses in the future. Preventative medicine is definitely the future.

6. Vegans eat only lettuce and seeds.

Vegan food can be so versatile, rich and complex, much more so than just eating meat and potatoes.

7. Vegans are weak.

There are marathon runners and weightlifters that eat a plant-based diet. If you eat a healthy whole grain diet; there is no reason to be weak. You can eat vegan and eat really unhealthy. If you eat chips and salsa all day, cookies, and sugar, and vegan processed food, it might bring you down. Eating a healthy plant-based diet is key.

8. Only hippies are vegans.

Vegans can be anyone who thinks that this is the best way for them to live, for different reasons: animal rights, health benefits, allergies, etc. Do I look like a hippie?

9. A vegan lifestyle is hard to keep.

The truth is that being vegan is a state of mind, and it's not hard at all. Like any other diet, planning your meals will help you eat the right things. Plan your meals in the beginning of your week. Being prepared ahead of time is key. Making tempeh instead of chicken, takes the same amount of time and effort.

10. Vegans get sick a lot more.

When you eat vegan food and your body is balanced, your immune system gets stronger and you don't get sick as often—or definitely not more than meat eaters. Studies show that eating a plant-based diet can help prevent major cancers and disease. Don't wait to be sick to change your diet.

Oy vey can be translated to “Oh no!" Too many people shy away from vegan foods because they think of them as bland or difficult to make. Having a plant-based diet can be easy and incredibly rewarding and it can do wonders for one's health. I want people to feel good about themselves and reflect that positive outlook on the world. So I became a chef. My wish is to teach others that you shouldn't be afraid to try new things and explore in the kitchen. I want to give my students a culinary fearlessness.

Eat whole foods, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts—everything that is close to its original form. Also, try to eliminate processed food completely. When you start reading the ingredients on any package that you get in the store, you'll be surprised by the amount of preservatives, chemicals, and oils that they contain, and all kinds of things that you can't even pronounce. If you can't pronounce them, don't eat them—they are possibly not good for you. Most of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan are gluten-free, and the few that aren't can be modified easily.

It is a lot easier than you think to eat plant-based food from scratch. For new vegans, I recommend my roasted vegetable quinoa-crust pizza. It is great for dinner It includes a balanced meal—quinoa protein, good oils, colorful vegetables. It is filling, delicious, and healthy. Pizza doesn't need to have cheese. All of my patties are great additions to any salad or side dish. I have a large section of patties and they are all good choices to start with.

Being a cookbook author, food blogger, and chef is a lot of work. I do all my own food photography. I teach cooking classes, and am a public speaker. I'm a regular guest on the most popular morning show in Oregon, AMNorthwest on KATU (channel 2), doing vegan cooking segments. I believe that preventative medicine is the future, and it's never too late to make the change. It is my dream to spread the love for healthy, creative food through my own cooking show one day.

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Politics

Do 2020 Presidential Candidates Still Have Rules to Play By?

Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.


When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.

2016: What rules?

Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.

Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.

And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.

And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?

Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Digital policies for 2020 and beyond

While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.

Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy

Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:

  • If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
  • While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
  • If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
  • Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
  • Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?

Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.

Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply

The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:

  1. Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
  2. Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
  3. Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
  4. Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
  5. Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
  6. Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
  7. Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
  8. Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.

Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.