I got an interesting link to an article from my friend, Ping.
There is good information there, and it's scary that our country has all of these "foods" that aren't really food. It doesn't help that we have so much that is convenient, but, that it's also unhealthy.
Even if we start with butter vs. margarine. Sure, margarine has much fewer calories. But, it's base is oil. Oil, in natural form, is a liquid. Think olive oil, canola oil, etc... So, how does it stay solid? It's a bunch of chemicals. Yes. Chemicals. Not natural food, that turns it into a solid. If you really don't want the calories of butter, which is natural, because it's from cows' milk fats, try using your own bottles and use olive oil, which has a rich buttery flavor if you mix half and half with butter, but, olive oil can also be infused with various herbs and spices, such as crushed garlic, or rosemary... Use that as a spread instead, and you have a flavorful yet healthy alternative to use.
This brings me to the use of aspartame or saccharine. Neither are natural, and I've heard warnings about sucralose (calorie free sweetener called Splenda). But, the worst is aspartame and saccharine. They, too, are not fit for consumption while pregnant, nursing or to be fed to your baby... Try nectar, honey or some other healthier sweeteners.
Back to the article... It's scary that some of our foods are in danger of making us sick, at the height where our children are becoming more and more obese at younger ages and in greater numbers. There's hormones in milk. Farmed fish, certain farms that have livestock having antibiotics and other steroid type things that are injected. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables. It's hard to keep track of what we ought to be eating.
Yet, a lot of us, suffering in this recession, can't afford $5.00 for organic milk, or $10.00/lb for wild salmon, or what ever it may be, that costs twice or more what the 'regular' things are going for... But, are your 'regular foods' really regular? Not compared to what our grandparents bought at the store. But, in cases of childhood hunger, what do we do? Kids can become sick, as well as unable to perform in school if they don't have enough to eat, which a lack of education can lead to poverty, which leads to lack of health care access, which of course, ultimately leads to death. But yet, what if these hormone induced foods that are genetically modified have long term effects that are causing other problems such as higher cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, asthma, and other hormone problems that are causing early diseases that also lead to death? It's a no win situation when you can't afford what you need.
I found out that my mother and step-father are going on this primarily vegetarian/vegan diet during the week, and splurging only on weekends... I agree that especially as Americans, we NEED to take in more veggies, fiber and a lot less saturated fat, refined starch/sugars, and what not... And I commend them for trying, since it's not fun struggling with extra weight, and even if it's not a weight issue, it's still healthier in the long run.
But, here is what the difference is between a vegetarian and a vegan... As a vegetarian, you don't eat animal flesh of any kind. That includes not eating fish, because it's still the flesh of a type of animal. But, will still partake in animal products such as milk, eggs, and what not, because a living being didn't have to sacrifice their lives for it. Plus these are healthier choices to eating a high fat content protein, such as 73% lean ground beef (yuck, it's gross). Plus, you're not cooking away 1/3 of your food out in draining out the fat, so, there's a bit of extra money saved there... But, just to be careful, you need to eat a variety so you get enough of a broad spectrum of amino acids to fuel your muscles properly.
Vegans, on the other hand, don't take advantage of animals at all, and do not eat ANY animal products, not even eggs, cheese or honey, because they don't want to steal from the animals at all.
It's still difficult to pull off, because, especially during the winter, have you seen the prices of fresh produce? And how do you buy local food when it's February in Wisconsin, and it's almost like a frozen tundra out there? It's not an easy task to eat healthy AND save money.
Sure, we can use canned, but, it's not like we need extra salt in our diets either, because we already consume more than what we need, and canned foods have a lot of salt, MSG, and other preservatives that just are NOT good to consume in large amounts, and many people have a sensitivity to these preservatives. They end up ailing one way or another, and think it was bad food - as in spoiled. It may be because you can't handle the high amounts of preservatives. That reeks havoc in my son, who could be laughing and full of energy one moment, and a can of soup later, be vomiting like crazy. Natural foods are important, and we eat as much as we can afford.
Food for thought, and it's crazy how it all works out, doesn't it?