VVC Live Blogging: Nutrition Panel

Featuring: Wendy Gabbe Day, Bryanna Clark Grogan, Gena Hamshaw, Ginny Messina. The moderator is Grant Butler, a food writer and vegan here in Portland.

[Time stamp: 11:20 am PST, my comments in brackets]

Gena: Vegan in early 20s, health decision instead of animal rights. Evolved to all reasons, now into raw food and eats mostly raw now (did an entire year of almost 100% raw). Blog (http://www.choosingraw.com/) is focused on helping people eat more raw vegan food and be more compassionate [yeah!]

Wendy: Vegetarian since birth (!), vegan from early age. Grew up in Portland but school tough as PDX not as vegan-friendly then. College basketball as a vegan. Sharing veganism with people is great, works for Northwest Veg (organizing Portland VegFest!). Loves eating and physically active, eating raw, macrobiotic, etc. Blogs at http://vegfoodandfit.com/.

Ginny: First dietician at PCRM, went vegan after becoming interested in diet. Makes sure vegans have good diet and health advice, not always popular advice on her blog (http://www.theveganrd.com/). Works to fight against the alleged “dangers of a vegan diet.” This kind of thinking is “old-fashioned.” Vegan for Life book now out, great read [Scott just recommended it to me before I left!]

Bryanna: Vegan for 23 years, suffered through low periods of 80s when vegan foods were harder to come by. Blogs at http://www.bryannaclarkgrogan.com


Grant: Best talking points for veganism?

Bryanna: Most Americans get too much protein, soy not necessary. “I’m still standing!”

Gena: Talk to people on their own terms, own standards. Tell them how many grams of protein are in that cup of beans. “Talk to people in their own language.”

Grant: Common mistakes about going vegan:

Wendy: Just because it’s at Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Literal “whole foods,” however, are the healthiest.

Ginny: Too restrictive with vegan diets that may actually be vegan. Controversial topic: don’t eliminate all fats! Olive oil is good for you. Gluten is not an evil food if you are not allergic. Sweets are not evil either. “When we get too pure, we run into nutritional problems” Don’t make the vegan lifestyle look too difficult by making it a purist thing.

Gena: “As a vegan, there’s a lot you’re not eating – you don’t need to eat even less.”

Grant: Promoting veganism without being a zealot?


Wendy: You can’t change anybody, but offer them good food.

Grant: Blog as activism:

Ginny: “My activism lies in helping vegans be as healthy as possible.” Let’s teach the world that veganism is healthy. That the food tastes good, and then they will think about how much animals suffer (and they are therefore obligated to do something about it). Advocate in different ways.

Gena: Talks about the stuff she is scared to talk about. Opens dialogue with readers regarding her own personal transformation. Writes about eating disorders to make connections with people and set a positive example. “Activism often lies in tackling the things that are hardest to talk about.”

Grant: Raw vs. cooked food. What are the benefits and downsides of eating raw?

Gena: Most raw foodists eat it obsessively. Always talking about “percentages.” Benefits to eating cooked food too. Raw foodism is not a “magic pill.” Usually two extremes for raw foodists vs. those who eat all cooked stuffs.

Wendy: Whole foods is the most important, eating out of your backyard, not necessarily literally “raw.”

Ginny: Doesn’t want to offend any raw foodists. Raw foods have compounds that are lost when cooked, but some that increase through heating too! Raw foods as a diet, however…no research that supports 100% raw diet is superior. It is sort of a fad diet, which is bad within the vegan community. Goal is not to use animal products, not fixate on not cooking things.

Grant: How to incorporate raw food when dehydrating, etc. takes so long:

Gena: Don’t dehydrate! Just make salads, eat fruit raw, don’t worry about changing it. Cook the beans and eat bread if you want. “Eat raw what is easy to eat raw; cook the rest if convenient for you.” Don’t dehydrate for 2 days just to eat dinner.


Grant: Sugar. Is it evil? HFCS, etc. Are the natural alternatives better?

Wendy: In moderation is fine, but sweetening with dried fruit, etc. is better.

Bryanna: Some sugar used in Dr. Neal Barnard’s “Reverse Diabetes” recipe which she helped develop. Lots of whole grains, etc. Moderation is key, again. Not a lot of nutrients in sweetners.

Grant: Question on health and disease prevention:

Ginny: Not enough evidence that 95% vegan is less healthly than 100% vegan diet, but we do know that a whole foods vegan diet is healthy. Obviously ethical perspective trumps that and 100% vegan is crucial [Ginny advocates this]

Grant: Organic vs. standard/conventional foods:

Gena: Use “dirty dozen” list, do the best you can.

Ginny: Vegan does not equal organic, but organic is usually cleaner. Organic animal products are pretty much bullshit [my term, not hers]. Don’t sweat it, you’re vegan!

Grant: Looking at nutritional labels, etc.:

Wendy: Find an alternative in bulk or whole foods. Products without a label are better, whole grains and produce, etc. Shop local. Come up with the recipes at home! Take a picture of the ingredient listing.

Ginny: Brings magnifying glass with her to grocery [!]. Buy a lot of the same foods over and over. Check allergen list first, then ingredients. Read calcium, fiber, etc. Understand what you’re eating.


Grant: Supplements. What should we really be taking?

Ginny: Essential supplement is B-12, or eat lots of fortified foods. Dirty produce, seaweed, rainwater [?!] won’t cut it. All people over 50 should taken B-12 anyway. Vitamin D if you don’t get enough sunshine. Milk gives omnivores iodine due to contamination [!]. We may get it from iodine-rich soil, or iodized salt, but probably take a supp. [or multi]. DHA can be helpful with memory or depression. Iron or calcium if you feel like you aren’t getting enough.

Grant: What food are you obsessed with right now?

Gena: Hemp! Protein form is great, seeds are good. Good in savory and sweet recipes. Complete protein, really awesome food.

Wendy: Quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet. Super grains with lots of nutrients. Enjoys simplicity.

Bryanna: Quinoa again, sometimes with bulgur. Try farro, an Italian wheat.

Ginny: Scrambled tofu. Eats it for breakfast every single morning, 7 days a week. [Starting the day with tofu! Love it!]


Question from Isa (PPK) on oils:

Ginny: Keep cooking with oil (applause). Anti-oil stuff is from studies in 1980s. Mono-unsaturated fats are heart-protective, and good for you. Certain segment that is “stuck” on anti-oil stuff, needs to get over it. Cooking with oils enhances food, brings more people into the cooking (non-vegans), etc. People are threatened by hearing the advocating for oil, not sure why this is. New study coming out with heart disease reversal using fat. Depends on type of fat not quantity.

Question from totally awesome girl about diet for depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder:

Gena: A balanced diet is the best thing you can do.

Ginny: For diet, not sure. No one may know right now. Make sure you get enough B-12, D, and DHA. Get blood work done.

Thanks all for reading and commenting!

[Ends at 12:18]