Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 29th, 2019

Bad vegan diets, continued

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I have have often mentioned that a vegan (or vegetarian) diet is not automatically a good diet. A diet of soda pop, white-bread sandwiches with brown-sugar-and-jam filling, potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, and beer is totally a vegan/vegetarian diet and is also totally a bad diet. I blogged earlier about another bad vegan diet. Plus I’m not a fanatic: I’m going next week to visit my son and his family, and I fully expect to eat an omnivorous diet while there. Why not?

What I am following is a good whole-food plant-based diet. Like the vegan diet, the whole-food plant-based diet excludes meat, dairy, and eggs, but unlike the vegan diet, the WFPB diet also excludes refined foods (refined sugar and foods that contain it, fruit juice (though whole fruit is fine and definitely included: I eat three pieces of fruit a day plus a bowl of berries), foods made from flour). Moreover, the WFPB diet excludes product foods manufactured by industrial processes from refined ingredients with a variety of additives and sold packaged under a brand name: imitation “bacon,” imitation “sausage,” imitation “burger,” imitation “cheese,” bottled salad dressings, and so on. Both those exclusions are because those are not whole foods.

But a raw diet? Given me a break. Have you tried to eat raw dried beans? You’ll break your teeth. Raw intact whole grain? None for me, thanks. Many foods—tomatoes, for example—have much more nutritional value when cooked (the lycopene in tomatoes is not bioavailable unless the tomato’s cooked, although the lycopene in watermelon doesn’t require cooking to be used by the body). So for good nutritional value as well as simple edibility, a diet of raw foods strikes me as silly.

And variety is important: I eat a wide variety of vegetables, grains, beans, fruit, nuts, and spices, and I also monitor my nutrient intake with Cronometer.com. It’s free, and it will track your nutrient intake. If you hover the mouse over the progress bar for a nutrient, a popup displays a sorted list of your sources of that nutrient. Under “Trends > Nutrition Report” you can see the daily averages for the nutrients for any date range you specify. If some nutrient is deficient, search “foods high in” that nutrient and add one or two of those to your diet. This is better than using a supplement, since nutrients are usually better absorbed from food than from a supplement, and indeed some supplements don’t work at all. For example, I found I was short of selenium, so I added 1 brazil nut a day to my diet, and that provides 125% of the RDA for selenium.

And I can see that I am in fact getting all the nutrients I need. Over the past 4 weeks my daily average iron intake, for example, has been 228% of the RDA for iron (a fair amount from lentils, which I have favored recently—I don’t think anyone eats raw lentils).

With that as preface, Vice has an interesting article on vegans (several of whom seem not to know much about nutrition and some who seem to border on having an eating disorder) who have given up their vegan ways. Some were vegans who ate only raw food, and how that could even seem to be a good idea is beyond me. The article includes some videos of “confessions,” which are not inappropriate in that these people were not simply talking about their diet and relating their discoveries—my approach—but were selling merchandise, selling coaching services, and in general trying to make money from it.

Cassiday Dawn Graves writes:

Last March, vegan YouTuber Yovana Mendoza posted a video on her channel, Rawvana, that rocked her followers to their cores.

“I definitely did not feel ready to talk about this,” Mendoza told the camera, her expression solemn.

She had garnered nearly two million subscribers for her raw vegan diet content, but had recently been spotted with a plate of fish and called out for her ostensible hypocrisy. In the video, which has since been made private, she explained that while six years of raw veganism “elevated [her] consciousness,” recently, her health had begun to suffer. She lost her period, she was “basically anemic,” and she was riddled with digestive issues. Eventually, she said, she couldn’t take it anymore, and started eating fish and eggs to alleviate her ailments.

“I decided to put my health first. For a while, I hadn’t put it first,” she said.

Her followers were unsympathetic. “You must change your name. LIEvana,” one commented. “You are asking others to follow a diet that almost killed you… Wow just wow!!” said another. Others plastered the comments section of her Instagram posts with an unending torrent of fish emoji.

Mendoza was just one case in a bona fide trend of vegan influencers giving up the faith. In November 2018, vegan athlete Tim Shieff admitted in a video that he’d eaten eggs and salmon, stepping down from his vegan clothing brand in the process. In January 2019, Bonny Rebecca and Stella Rae both released videos announcing their departure from eating entirely plant-based. Around the same time as Rawvana’s announcement, Raw Alignment’s Alyse Parker broke similar news. “The vegan YouTube community is crumbling,” The Daily Beast declared in March.

It didn’t stop there. In April, longtime-vegan food blogger Minimalist Baker told her 1.6 million Instagram followers that the site would start including some recipes using animal products, as its founder Dana Schultz had adopted an omnivorous diet for health reasons. That same month, actress Anne Hathaway revealed she’d broken her veganism with Icelandic salmon, and that “[her] brain felt like a computer rebooting.” In May, Finnish vegan blogger Virpi Mikkonen told The Daily Mail that she now eats butter, meat, and goat cheese after finding out that her gluten-free, grain-free, plant-based diet was giving her menopausal hormone levels.

And Mendoza wasn’t the only one to receive hateful remarks and cries of hypocrisy after being exposed for daring to eat meat. Commenters, as well as fellow vegan YouTubers, raced to condemn all of these bloggers for straying from their beliefs.

“How pathetic you are. How about a video where you explain precisely what is in chicken periods and dead fish that is going to make your health problems disappear??? Would love to see you attempt that!! You could have gone on a low oxalate diet and stayed vegan, idiot!” one Instagram commenter told Bonny Rebecca.

“I am extremely disappointed in this and the contradiction of saying you are going to include rotting flesh recipes and then talk about honoring our bodies. You can’t honor your body by poisoning it. It sounds like money was involved in this decision and for that I question morals,” said another, in response to Minimalist Baker’s non-vegan revamp.

“I am completely an [sic] utterly heart broken [sic] to hear this. And also, absolutely disgusted,” another YouTube commenter replied to Tim Shieff’s explanation video.

In her “coming out” video (which has over one million views), Bonny Rebecca said she felt “a lot of shame, a lot of guilt,” and “completely lost [her] identity” after breaking from rigid veganism. Some of these vloggers known for their staunch dietary principles were ostensibly eating animal products in secret for weeks or months before telling their followers. But many of them explain in their videos that they felt they had no other choice.

Of course, many vegans are perfectly healthy. “Most healthy people should be able to adapt to an all-plant diet,” says Marion Nestle, nutritionist, professor, and James Beard Award-winning author. She emphasizes eating a “variety of plant food sources, taking in enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, and finding a good source of vitamin B12.”

But Samantha Elkrief, a therapist and holistic health coach, says it’s also important for vegans to monitor their protein and iron levels, and consume an adequate amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. According to the NHS, a lack of B12 and iron can cause memory problems, dizziness, and fatigue. When defecting from their plant-based diets, these bloggers and influencers claimed a variety of onset health problems such as losing their periods; skin issues, like rashes and acne; brain fog and memory loss; and digestive issues.

Nestle notes these problems are more associated with “starvation” than a standard plant-based diet, which “should not cause people to lose weight or have any of those issues.” However, Nestle adds that a diet high in fibrous plants can take time to adapt to, and people who have been advised to eat a low-fiber diet “will have problems eating a wide enough variety of plant foods to meet nutrient needs.” In other words, many of these influencers may be masking disordered eating habits that are unsustainable.

“I have definitely seen a growing trend of influencers shifting away from veganism for health reasons,” says Carina Wolff, a writer who runs the food blog and Instagram Kale Me Maybe. “I think influencers specifically are dropping labels because they’ve found they’ve gotten too caught up in the rigidity of eating a certain way and it ends up being unhealthy for them.”

Anyone can find themselves in too deep with a diet plan, but influencers tend to be under a more specific type of pressure because their large followings (and sponsors) expect a consistent brand when it comes to their personality and posts. A Guardian feature on influencers found many “felt tied to a static, inauthentic identity,” which took a psychological toll. Some influencers have even hired life coaches to help them cope with the pressure they feel to please and grow their online followings. When what you consume in your day-to-day life is the basis of this identity, the consequences can be more than just psychological.

Though the Guardian called veganism “a national phenomenon” last year, a 2018 Gallup poll shows the amount of vegetarians and vegans in America has more or less stayed the same over the past 20 years. However, data has shown sales of plant-based groceries have increased, which points to a growing interest in healthful eating and environmentalism, plus greater access to plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy products as seen in the success of start-ups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. In fact, recent data indicates omnivores are buying those companies’ meatless burgers more than vegetarians and vegans are.

“Vegan[ism] means you don’t eat animal products. It’s not by default healthier, and that’s something we often forget about,” adds Elkrief. She became vegetarian at age 5 and was vegan “most of [her] life,” but in 2008, health issues led her to cut out more categories, like legumes and grains.

To diversify her diet, she started eating fish and eggs, and more recently, a bit of meat. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2019 at 3:04 pm

Making my own tempeh

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I decided to make my own tempeh because (a) tempeh is very nutritious, and (b) I enjoy making my own foods (examples: mayonnaise, ketchup (for both, see this post), Worcestershire sauce, and pepper sauce/hot sauce. You can find my posts on those by searching the blog. Also, my current diet is the whole-food plant-based diet set out in Part 2 of How Not to Die, and among other foods, it has three servings of beans (or lentils) a day, and tempeh is a good way to satisfy that requirement. (More — much more — at that link.)

For tempeh, I like the idea of using my own choice of beans/lentils and adding enhancements as I want (for example, my first batch: pinto beans with flax seeds and cumin seeds and minced jalapeño).

This video shows one approach, and the video content is also in a blog post at Veganlovlie. I follow her advice and don’t bother dehulling beans (and that seems to apply mainly to soybeans, which I’ve not yet tried but will in time).

Here’s a brief summary of the first four batches:

Batch 1
Pinto bean, flax seed, cumin seed, and jalapeño: 4 sandwich size zip-lock bags plus beans in 2 open dishes. Successful except that jalapeño should have been added after cooking since the flavor was attenuated in the end product. But good, solid tempeh. 

Lesson learned: Add minced jalapeño after beans are cooked.

Batch 2
Peanuts and kamut with curry powder. A semi-success. Curry powder contains ground coriander, an antifungal, and that undermined the mold.

Lesson learned: Check ingredients to verify no antifungal properties.

Batch 3
Black bean and green lentils with chia seed. A failure. Chia seed, which I added right at the end of cooking the lentils, forms a glutinous, pulpy coating that holds water. The mold never had a chance.

Lesson earned: Follow the instructions. The instructions in the starter packet state:

Dry the [cooked] beans by patting with a clean towel or using a hair dryer on low heat. Beans must be dry to the touch before continuing.

Batch 4
Black bean and green lentils, with no fancy stuff. I cooked 2 cups black beans and 1 cup green lentils, so 1/3 larger than the 2-cup batch of the instructions. I decided to go with all bags this time, bags well perforated with my small-hole punch, each bag ~11 ounces. I used no weight on the bags of tempeh: I just put them on a rack in a baking sheet (to ensure good elevation). They firmed up fine as the mold grew.

Batch was a success, though the mold was not so dense and binding as in the open dishes of batch 1. I think, in retrospect, that this was because I insufficiently dried the beans and lentils.

Lessons learned: The open-dish method seems to work better than the punctured-baggie method. Also: heat the beans after they have been drained to make sure they are dry. Residual moisture counteracts the mold noticeably (comparing this batch 4 to the next batch 5).

Batch 5
I used red kidney beans (because I have a lot on hand), and I cooked 3 cups dried beans instead of 2 cups. In the video above, she adds 4 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar toward the end of cooking (for 2 cups dried beans). I therefore used 6 tablespoons (for 3 cups dried beans), adding the vinegar to the water toward the end of cooking. I had also added vinegar toward the end of cooking in batch 1 (the best of the first four batches) but not batches 2 and 4 (batch 3 being an utter failure and discarded).

After the beans were cooked, I did heat them in the pot to ensure that they were well dried. Then I added 3 tablespoons brown-rice vinegar as suggested in the starter instructions. (They suggest 2 tablespoons but that’s for 2 cups dried beans, so again I increased the amount by 50%.) I used the “open” method, spreading the beans on the bottom of a 9″x13″ Pyrex baking dish—they made a thick enough layer using the entire dish. I used the open-dish method because that was a good success in the first batch. This post shows the progressive development of batch 5. When the tempeh was done, it had structural integrity from internal cohesion and required a knife to cut it.

Lessons Learned: The beans on top and edges dried out a bit, though they will still work fine (particularly, I think, in a chili), but next time I will use a loose tented-foil cover, with some slits to admit air. The big Pyrex dish worked much better than ziplock baggies, probably because more of the mold has access to air. Another lesson learned: I must stir in the starter more thoroughly (see the 24-hour photo in the post linked above.)

Batch 6
For Batch 6, I used 2 cups dried red kidney beans and 1 cup whole kamut. I cooked them separately and then combined. I took care to insure that they were dry to the touch before I added the vinegar and culture. This time I used white vinegar, which did fine. Because I add vinegar at the end, I decided to skip adding vinegar during the last stage of cooking. Interestingly, the mold initially favored the beans over the wheat: photos at 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours.

I also noted that the tempeh starter instructions say that after 12-24 hours, the tempeh can be moved to room temperature because at that point it’s generating its own heat. So after 48 hours I took it from the oven and left it on the countertop, loosely tented with aluminum foil in which I had cut ventilation slots. At 72 hours I called it done. In the photo linked above, you see black and grey areas, but those are fine, just the sign that the mold has begun to sporulate. The slab felt thicker—probably because the extra 24 hours gave time for more growth of the mold.

Lessons learned: Remove the tempeh from the oven-incubator after 24 hours. Continue with the large-dish method, but tent loosely with foil. There’s a fair amount of humidity once the mold gets going, so make sure the foil has plenty of ventilation slots. By using the foil, there was no “dried-out” parts.

Batch 7
Green lentils for batch 7, nothing fancy. I used 3 cups of uncooked lentils, simmered them until they were just tender (they will continue to cook for a while after they are drained since you don’t rinse them with cold water, which would stop the cooking), made sure they were dry (let hot water evaporate as they sat in a colander and also poured them onto paper towels), cooled them to 95ºF, poured them into the Pyrex 9×13 baking dish, and mixed them with 3 tablespoons brown-rice vinegar and a packet of starter. Photos: start, after 24 hours, after 48 hours, and I decided it was done at 48 hours.

I then loosely covered the dish with a pierced aluminum-foil tent. After 24 hours in the oven with the light on, I moved it to the countertop, where it did indeed generate plenty of heat (bottom of dish was quite warm to the touch and when I checked the internal temperature using a digital probe thermometer I found it was 106ºF after sitting out overnight). After 24 hours, it throws off a lot of moisture, so I periodically turned over the tent to let the condensed moisture evaporate and ultimately I cut an exhaust hole about the size of a quarter in the center of the tent, something I will include as part of the process from now on.

Lessons learned: Remove tempeh to countertop after 24 hours in oven incubator. Cut a large hole in the center of the foil tent in addition to the slotted perforations made with a paring knife. Indeed, the tent may not be needed at all. The beans ended up wet in the center with less of the tempeh mold there, so the venting seems inadequate. Next time I do lentils, I won’t use the cover after the first 24 hours.

Batch 8
Soybeans at last, the traditional tempeh bean — and no fancy stuff this time. I cooked 3 cups dried organic soybeans, didn’t bother with any de-hulling, and made sure they were reasonably dry. I did not add vinegar during cooking; after the cooked beans had be drained and dried, I mixed in 4 tablespoons white vinegar and one packet of the starter (which seemed puny compared to the amount of beans, but the mold will grow).  Photo: at start; and after 24 hours and after 48 hours and after 56 hours Note the use of a dishtowel as a cover after the batch’s been moved from oven to countertop.

It is very tasty — better, I think, than the other tempehs, which perhaps is why soybeans are generally the bean used. Certainly the next batch will be soybeans.

Lessons learned: Use a clean dishtowel to cover the tempeh. Leave it in the oven incubator (i.e., oven light turned on) for 36 hours and then try the countertop (with dishtowel cover in place). Use soybeans again — they’re really good.

Batch 9
Another soybean batch, and this might be the last batch I log because it is so uneventful. I feel at this point that I know what I’m doing. I took 4 cups of soybeans this time, and soaked, cooked, drained, dried, and cooled them to 95ºF. Although the packet of starter says it’s for 2 cups of beans, I figure that the mold would grow in any case. I poured 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of white vinegar over the beans, mixed well, and mixed in the starter. I did not add any vinegar during cooking; from now on, I’ll add vinegar only after beans are cooked, drained, dried, and cooled. The beans in the 9″x13″ dish seemed to deep, so I brought out an ancillary 9″x9″ pan and transferred some beans to that so that the layer was only about an inch deep in both. I used the dishtowel cover, and put them in the oven-with-light-on incubator. You can see the baby pictures (after 24 hours) in this post.

The first batch

I used this tempeh starter. It works fine if you follow the instructions and avoid antifungal ingredients. I am going to try starting a new batch by mixing in some of the mold from the old batch.

I’ll describe the first batch in detail; subsequent batches followed the same patter. I put two cups of pinto beans and 1/4 cup brown flax seed into a pot, covered them with water and let them soak overnight. I would have included also 3 tablespoons cumin seed but I used the last of my jar last night in making roasted carrots, so I had to buy more. I added the cumin seed before I cooked the beans, but soaking them with the beans would be better, I think.

I added the minced jalapeño when I started to cook the beans and simmered the pepper with the beans. That was a mistake: the jalapeño s not noticeable in the finished tempeh. I should have added the minced jalapeños after the beans were cooked and drained.

The Eldest offered some intriguing suggestions:

• French green lentils and white beans with bouquet garni and mustard seeds (see below);
• Indian kidney beans and black lentils with garam masala;
• Moroccan chickpeas with ras al hanout;
• Ethiopian red lentils with berbere.

I made a batch using raw peanuts (without the shell) as the legume (batch 2). That was tasty and fit with Thai food (which uses peanut sauces). I use raw peanuts and simmered them for a couple of hours and then combined them with cooked whole-grain kamut.  I used the  2 tablespoons brown-rice vinegar (called for by the starter instructions) and also 2 tablespoons curry powder [the bad idea: curry powder includes ground coriander, an antifungal that stymied the mold .

Having learned from that experience, I dropped the idea of using mustard seed: mustard oil is an antifungal, and mustard seed contains mustard oil. (At for the third batch I checked in advance.) I used chia seed along with the green lentils (1 cup dry lentils and 1 cup dry beans, cooked separately) and the fatal two tablespoons chia seed, which ruined the batch by making the mix wet.

Resuming the summary of my first-batch effort. Once the beans, flaxseed, cumin seed, and jalapeños had simmered until the beans were almost done, I added  4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar  (as called for in the Veganlovelie method) and continued simmering until beans were tender. I no longer do that. I follow the starter instructions and just add 2 tablespoons brown-rice vinegar (not sweetened) to the beans after they’ve cooked and dried.

Once the beans had cooled to 95ºF, I followed the instructions included with the packet of tempeh starter (which contained 3 foil envelopes of starter, enough for 3 batches), adding 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar to the dried beans.Then I stirred in 1 packet of starter.

I used a bamboo cocktail pick to poke holes in two ziplock bags for that method, and I also used two glass storage containers for that method (see video above). I subsequently ordered a small-hole (1/16″) punch to make ventilating the plastic bags easier. That works quite well. Indeed, I think you could use a regular (1/8″) hole punch. Here is the “before” photo of the beans in the glass containers:

I put the beans in the oven with the oven light on,  the two bags pressed between two cutting boards and the two glass containers on top under a large dome.

Update after 19 hours

Tempeh after 19 hours

A friend indicated that this looked unappealing, but I know that she likes Roquefort and gorgonzola and other mold-ripened cheeses, and she also likes bread, made with yeast which (like mold) is a fungus. And I personally like mushrooms a lot, so I am comfortable with culinary fungus, and tempeh mold is just another example—and a rather interesting and tasty one.

Update at 29 hours

I am going to let it go tonight and take it out tomorrow morning. The tempeh in the ziplock bags has at this point not done so well for, I think, two reasons:

  1. The holes were too small. I used a bamboo cocktail pick, thus the purchase of the small-hole punch mentioned above.
  2. Mashing the bags between cutting boards more or less seals the holes so the mold does not get enough air.

I decided ultimately to forego the weighting and simply place the bagged tempeh on a  tight-grid wire rack resting on a baking sheet..

The tempeh in the glass storage container, though, did quite well and formed a solid brick.

38 hours & done

I’m calling this done. Here’s the tempeh in the containers:

And here it is removed from the container and turned over. It is indeed a solid block:

I tasted a slice. Quite good, and the cumin is noticeable though not (in that taste) the jalapeño. Perhaps crushed red pepper would be a better bet (provided it’s not a antifungal). Or add the minced jalapeño after the beans are cooked. Maybe I’ll also add a dash of Wright’s liquid smoke next time.

The tempeh in the bags I’m leaving in a little longer since those got a late start. for the last 24 hours  I took off the top cutting board and let them breathe.

I call it a success.

Tempeh in bags, 42 hours and done

These were quite solid because, I presumed, they were pressed during fermentation. Now I think it was not so much the pressing as the beans being well dried before adding the brown-rice vinegar and the tempeh starter. I repeated the bag method again, but with bigger holes.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2019 at 8:22 am

Yaqi travel razor, with Otoko Organics and Speick

with 2 comments

I always forget just how excellent the lather from Otoko Organics is. This morning the Kent Infiinity made a wonderful lather, a pleasure to use.

This Yaqi razor very neatly fits into the little leather case shown. The handle is in two sections that are screwed together for use, and the razor has a very nice heft and feel in the hand. The grooves in the handle are well-defined with crisp edges and provide a secure grip. It’s quite efficient, has good blade feel, and I would rate it as comfortable (vs. the Yaqi double-open-comb razor, which I would say is very comfortable). I did get two small nicks, child’s play for My Nik Is Sealed to fix.

Three passes to a very smooth face—it’s efficiency is excellent—and then a splash of Speick to finish the job. A very nice start to the morning.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2019 at 8:06 am

Posted in Shaving

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