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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.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.