Vegan Diet : Vitamin B12

vegetables

There seems to be much argument and turmoil revolving around vitamin B12 and veganism. So it would be a shame if I didn’t chime in. Plus, I had already written about protein in an earlier post, so this is a nice continuation.

According to National Institutes of Health, vitamin B12 plays a role in keeping our nerve and blood cells healthy and also in making DNA. A typical adult needs about a measly 2.4 micrograms of B12 a day. That is 2.4 millionth of a gram, or 0.1% of a single grain of rice. Well, this is the number given in many nutrition guidelines anyway. But here is the kicker: you don’t really need to take it regularly everyday. It is stored in your liver and unless you were deficient for a while, you already have a five year supply of it.

Naturally, best sources of vitamin B12 is animal livers, since, you know, it is stored there. Well, that’s where most vegan haters like to stop and argue about how unnatural it is to be vegan (Even though no vegans I know defend veganism as the absolute most natural human diet anyway). But here, I would like to raise a question: How do the animals get it and store it in their livers?

How do the cows get B12? veganhealth.org has an excellent short article on this here, with references. Quick answer is bacteria. Bacteria makes vitamin B12. In the case of cows, they have a rich supply of bacteria in their rumen (first chamber of their 4-chamber stomachs). And some of these bacteria are responsible to create the amount of B12 sufficient for them.

Other animals, like primates, eat small amounts of eggs, insects or soil. As I said, you only really need very little B12. Certainly nowhere near the amount to justify the typical modern human level of meat/egg/dairy consumption. If humans were to feed like primates (mostly vegan,with very little animal food supplementation), I don’t think veganism would exist today.

But veganism, as I see it, is more philosophical. More of a reaction to the ridiculous scale of animal abuse that just cannot be explained by any human nutritional need.

It may sound like I got defensive about veganism because of vitamin B12. Not the case at all, I just got emotional and passionate again. There are vegan sources of vitamin B12. Since it is really a bacterial product, as opposed to something that animal bodies produce, we can expect bacteria to show the same action outside of animal bodies right?

Yes. Nutritional yeast is one source (not all of them have it though, check the label and do your research as always). Vitamin B12 is also in soil. So if you have fresh organic root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets etc…), the soil stained spots on their skin is said to be a good source of B12. So skip washing and peeling every now and then. Of course I wouldn’t recommend that for packaged products but if you are getting yours fresh from an organic farm directly, or better yet growing your own, just keep the skin. If all else fails Don’t wait for all else to fail, there are many good vegan supplements available.

While doing my research on B12, I stumbled on to one source that blew my mind. It may be the most enjoyable source of B12. It is oral sex, for both men and women. Apparently, those bodily fluids are a huge source. There, problem solved. You can thank me later.

Olive Spread, Because Breakfasts Don’t Have to Be All about Sugar

olive-spread

Olives may not be the first thing people usually think of for breakfast. And I understand, it is hard to match the sugar high from the typical breakfast staples like cereal, pancakes or waffles. But give this olive paste spread a try. Think of it as a vegan alternative to bagel and cream cheese. It will also nicely supplement hummus. But first, a note about olives.

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Mung Beans

mung_beans.jpeg

24% of its weight is high quality protein!

Traditionally their skin is removed and they are made into a paste for various uses, including pancakes ;)

But to me, it is a wasted opportunity to capture a rare texture. You go for mushy food when the ingredient is otherwise hopeless. So I developed a liking to the whole mung beans, soaked overnight and oven toasted with olive oil and spices at 400F for about half an hour (mix a few times during that time). That gives the mung beans this incredible texture.

Go ahead and read its Wikipedia page though. You might be surprised about its versatility. It is sprouted, starched and even made into translucent noodles. Might just be my favorite beans.

Reflections on Becoming Vegan

cauliflower

Some things in life, we recognize and understand way too late. Like when first in college I used to think I was this witty, funny kid but it turns out I was just an asshole (as kindly pointed out by another kid). But then some of those things come as an awakening, even. Our comfort zones that were really prescribed to us when growing up, may not be the best choices for us, or for others. They weren’t for me.

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Getting Geeky About Coffee

coffee

Everything that waits gets bitter and cold
- Coffee

My day doesn’t start until that first cup of coffee.

I have always been heavily caffeinated. Not just coffee, mind you, but about half a gallon of coke a day as well. That stage of my life, of course, is over but I remain highly insensitive to caffeine (well, I am very sensitive to lack of it). It never seems to affect my sleep.

Despite all that coffee consumption, I knew little to none about coffee up until recently.

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The Hands Down Best Raw Vegan Berry Tart

best-vegan-berry-tart

Farmers’ markets’ fruits are best enjoyed fresh, before they ever make it into the fridge and start losing their flavors. And I prefer not cooking berries unless I am making a jam. So this vegan raw berry tart recipe (from This Rawsome Vegan Life, everything she does is awesome) came in to solve my age old dilemma of fresh fruit vs. fruit dessert. It tasted unbelievable. At least for my part, I didn’t believe it. I have to taste it again. And the best part is that I didn’t have to feel guilt while enjoying it with my cup of tea.

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Another Winter is Rearing Its Head

bikini

And I am thinking about the green and the blue. Before talking about cold is a chief part of our daily routine, I want to spend more time under the warm sky. I want to hear the winds rustle the leaves and I want to hear the trees gossip.

I want to hold on to these feelings over the winter and at the other end of it, I would like to say that it was short and we had missed it anyway.

September inspired this illustration.

Roasted Vegetables

cast-iron

On those days when I am working from home and I don’t feel in the mood for an extended kitchen time, oven roasted vegetables are my lunch favorite. Easy, simple, healthy and clean.

More or less whatever vegetables I happen to have at home is chopped and put into an oven pan together with a few bay leaves, fresh thyme and fresh rosemary. I then separately mix olive oil, a little lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, grated fresh ginger, salt and other spices and pour over the vegetables. I keep them in the oven for about 35 minutes at 200F.  I like adding a little more crust and texture by further roasting a few minutes in a hot iron-cast over the stove. Lastly, I add a little tomato sauce when plating.