It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Ocean Robbins was born in a log cabin built by his parents, and grew up eating food they grew on the land together. At age 16, he co-founded an organization called YES! (Youth for Environmental Sanity) that he directed for the next 20 years. Ocean has spoken in person to more than 200,000 people in schools, conferences and events, and he has...
Ocean Robbins was born in a log cabin built by his parents, and grew up eating food they grew on the land together. At age 16, he co-founded an organization called YES! (Youth for Environmental Sanity) that he directed for the next 20 years. Ocean has spoken in person to more than 200,000 people in schools, conferences and events, and he has organized 100+ seminars and gatherings for leaders from 65+ nations. Ocean’s work has taken him all over the world, where he has seen first-hand the powerful impact of the food we eat – not just on our health, but on people and economies everywhere. He is author of The Power of Partnership, and co-author, with his dad and colleague John Robbins, of Voices of the Food Revolution. He serves as an adjunct professor for Chapman University, and has received numerous awards including the national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service. He serves as co-host and CEO of the Food Revolution Network.
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What Is CoQ10 & Can You Get it From Food?

What Is CoQ10 & Can You Get it From Food?

One of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe is the droid R2-D2 (affectionately called R2 or Artoo by friends). Star Wars creator George Lucas came up with the name while shooting his first feature film, American Graffiti. He was dozing while working on the Star Wars script when he was awakened by the sound editor loudly calling for R-2-D-2, an abbreviation for “Reel 2, Dialog 2.” Lucas thought it was a “great name,” and went back to the script with R2-D2 fresh in his head. And the rest, they say, is movie history — Artoo and droid companion C-3PO are the only characters to appear in every single Star Wars film so far.

CoQ10 also sounds like it could be the name of a Star Wars droid. But, in fact, it’s a critical nutrient for your health. While it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like R2-D2 or C-3PO, CoQ10 does serve many crucial functions in its universe — in this case, your body — with many more likely to be discovered by future research. ​Many health influencers swear by CoQ10 to combat fatigue, and test-tube science suggests that it can play a role in preventing cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

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How Mushrooms Can Help with Depression, Anxiety, and Your Overall Mental Health

How Mushrooms Can Help with Depression, Anxiety, and Your Overall Mental Health

Imagine a cooperative, kind, and generous society, where no one suffers deprivation, and all members are happily and freely engaged in useful labor that contributes to the community, according to their abilities and interests. Sound too good to be true?

While I don’t know of any actual societies that operate on those principles, I can point to at least one fictional community that embodies them pretty well — the Smurfs. First appearing in a Belgian comic book in 1958, the “3-apples-high” Smurfs have enchanted fans for decades. English-speaking audiences were introduced to the blue-skinned characters via a popular television cartoon that began broadcasting in 1981.

The Smurfs may have something to teach us about the creation and maintenance of a peaceable and sustainable civilization that supports the mental health of its members. One of the hallmarks of that civilization is the architecture of Smurf Village — the houses are built into hollowed-out mushrooms.

Is that a mere coincidence? Or could it be a clue?

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Natural Insecticides: How to Make Safe & Homemade Bug Sprays for Vegetables

Natural Insecticides: How to Make Safe & Homemade Bug Sprays for Vegetables

In an episode of the TV show Silicon Valley, Gilfoyle, an overwhelmed software coder, rushes to debug some mission-critical software against a looming deadline. Running out of time, Gilfoyle hits upon a brilliant solution — write an artificial intelligence (AI) script to find and remove the bugs as efficiently as possible.

It works, and the script gets rid of all the software bugs in mere seconds. There’s just one “minor” issue — in its quest for efficiency, it deletes the bugs by deleting all the software. No more code, so no more bugs.

Oops.

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Plant-Based Hiking Food Ideas: What to Eat Before, During, & After a Hike

Plant-Based Hiking Food Ideas: What to Eat Before, During, & After a Hike

You can’t stop an idea whose time has come. In the 17th century, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz invented calculus roughly simultaneously, even though neither was aware of the other’s work. Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Joseph Priestley (not to be confused with Jason Priestley), Antoine Lavoisier, and others independently discovered oxygen in the 18th century. And in the 1800s, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both came up with the theory of evolution and didn’t know of each other until both had published.

But in the last third of the 20th century, the big question was, who invented trail mix?

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Is Pineapple Good for You — and the Planet?

Is Pineapple Good for You — and the Planet? - Ocean Robbins

You’re an 18th-century British aristocrat. How do you show your fellow nobles just how rich and powerful you are? John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, did it with a pineapple.

Europeans had been fascinated by the fruit since Columbus first encountered it in the tropical lands he despoiled for crown and country, but couldn’t figure out how to grow one until the Dutch invented greenhouses in the 1680s. After that, the ability to produce a pineapple became a clear indication of tremendous wealth.


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5 Common Mistakes Plant-Based Eaters Make and How to Avoid Them

5 Common Mistakes Plant-Based Eaters Make and How to Avoid Them

A well-planned whole foods, plant-based lifestyle is a health-promoting, nutritionally smart, delicious, and enjoyable way to live and eat. Plus, it contributes to fewer animals living in abject misery in factory farms, far fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and to a safer and healthier world for future generations. So any and all steps taken toward a more plant-forward way of eating are worth celebrating in my book.

Yet, in my work with thousands of Plant-Powered & Thriving course participants and members of Food Revolution Network’s Whole Life Club, I’ve noticed five common missteps people take in the early days and weeks of plant-based eating.

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What are Food Allergies — And What Can You Do About Them?

What are Food Allergies — And What Can You Do About Them? - Ocean Robbins

When I was a teenager, I spent some time backpacking in Malaysia. One night, I woke to the sound of chewing close to my ear. Instantly full of adrenaline, I leapt to my feet and, clad only in my underwear, did my best warrior impression. Brandishing a pocketknife and a flashlight, I attempted to intimidate what I thought was some sort of monster that had invaded my hut.

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11 Whole Foods Plant-Based Recipes from Around the World

11 Whole Foods Plant-Based Recipes from Around the World

Pasta, basil, and tomato sauce might make you think of Italy. Collards and cornbread, the American South. Potato and onion pierogis could conjure up images of Poland.

And for good reason. The fact is there’s a strong human connection between food, place, ethnicity, and culture.

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Food and Water: What You Eat Matters for People & the Planet

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Water is an essential part of every form of life on Earth. But by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population may be facing freshwater shortages, and ecosystems around the world may suffer even more. So what can we do to save water so future generations can drink and grow food? A lot! And it can all start with the food on our plates.

Take the 101 South out of San Francisco through Silicon Valley, past the campuses of Apple, Google, and Facebook. You’ll drive past Whole Foods Markets, Trader Joe’s, Costcos, Walmarts, medical centers, golf courses, fruit stands, and farmers markets. Continue south, hang a left at Gilroy, and hit CA-152 West. As you pass the San Luis Reservoir and Recreation Area, you’ll see signs warning prospective swimmers and boaters to avoid the water due to toxic algal blooms.

The 152 rolls into Highway 99 as you continue through Fresno and finally reach your destination, the small town of Dinuba, California. You’ll find yourself at the base of Smith Mountain, smack dab in the center of the San Joaquin Valley.

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Are Starches Good or Bad?

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You know those giant pleated collars that European nobles wore in the 15th and 16th centuries? They’re called “ruffs,” which is kind of fitting since they look a bit like the cones worn by dogs who can’t stop chewing on itchy spots. Some ruffs were so wide that their wearers had to use special extra-long utensils to get food into their mouths.

The reason ruffs were popular (in addition to the fact that they made wearers assume a neck and head posture that proclaimed their nobility) was that they were really time-consuming and expensive to maintain — and the key ingredient in keeping them from folding or drooping was starch.

These days, starch is still used to stiffen collars, though at much less extreme levels. It’s also an important ingredient in industrial production, included in products like adhesives and paper. The single biggest role for starch in the modern world, though? It’s what we eat.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “starches,” or “starchy foods”? For most people, it’s probably processed food — especially bread products like dinner rolls, crackers, and cookies. But there are also many whole, unprocessed foods that are high in starch: rice, corn, quinoa, and potatoes, for example. In fact, most traditional human diets have been centered around starches.

While it’s true that cookies and quinoa both contain starch, they don’t affect the body in the same way. If your idea of starches is only based on processed grains or fried potatoes, you may be surprised to learn that some starches are among the healthiest foods you can eat. In fact, some types of starch offer gut health benefits that can’t be achieved with any other food, making them important foods for a healthy life.

So, what are starches, exactly? Which types of starches are healthy and unhealthy, and how can you add more of the good ones to your diet?

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Holiday Meal Planning Tips and Recipes for Healthy & Happy Gatherings

iStock.com/AleksandarNakic
Ahh, the holidays — a time for fun, festivities, and… stress? The holidays can, and should, be a time to focus on what we have in common and what we want to celebrate together. But what happens when our friends and family members have different diets and food preferences, and we’re in charge of holiday meal planning?

What if you’re vegan? Or you eat a whole food, plant-based diet free of processed food, oil, and sugar, and your friend is gluten-free; your sister is Paleo; your nephew is allergic to nuts, and your in-laws love sausages and donuts?

The sources of stress can go far beyond food, of course. One of the things about family is, well, we can’t choose them. Holiday gatherings can bring together people with widely different political and social views. It can be enough to make you want to skip the holidays entirely.

But, don’t despair.

You can bring people together over a shared meal and shared values — whether you observe Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or just want to share time with friends and family.

In this article, we’ll focus on planning and preparing delicious and healthy holiday food, while also looking at how to extend those strategies to present a loving and welcoming table for all your guests.

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Plant-Based Families: How to Navigate Healthy Eating in a Household

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Do you ever worry about the health of the people you love — and wish they ate healthier food? If you’ve tried to help others move in a positive direction, has it ever felt as if you were banging your head against a brick wall?

If you know my story, you might think I can’t relate. After all, I grew up eating a whole foods, plant-powered diet in the home of one of the world’s best-known proponents of healthy, plant-based eating (my dad is Food Revolution Network co-founder and president John Robbins, author of many books on health, nutrition, and social and environmental justice, including the 1987 bestseller Diet for a New America.) How could I possibly have any idea what family conflict around food is like?

Hear me out.

When I was a kid, we had our fair share of food conflicts in our extended family. My grandpa Irv, the co-founder of Baskin-Robbins, wanted nothing to do with our “hippie” eating style. He ate the standard American diet with gusto — including, of course, lots and lots of his favorite ice cream.

When my mom, dad, and I would visit my dad’s parents, we sometimes stayed in a rented condo because sharing meals could become such a point of friction. At one point, my grandma Irma famously declared, “You will NOT cook tofu in my kitchen!” She was clear who was in charge in her domain, adding: “When you’re in my house, you will eat what I serve.”

Since my grandma wasn’t exactly a black belt in flexibility, we did not try to convince her to let us cook our simple, plant-based meals in her kitchen. Instead, we prepared most of our meals separately in our condo kitchen.

We didn’t want differences over food to keep us from being a family. But because those differences were based in very different realities and values systems, we struggled with the conflicts and separations they caused.

Blood Can Be Thicker Than Ice Cream

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What You Eat Can Impact Climate Change! See 9 Foods That Harm the Planet and 11 Foods That Can Help Save It

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If there’s one common problem that every inhabitant of the Earth is currently facing, it’s climate change.

Those two words sound innocent enough: “climate change.” And maybe that’s part of the problem; with everything that’s going on right now, thinking about the climate changing in 10 or 50 or 80 years just isn’t that much of a priority for most of us.

But that’s got to change. Because really, what’s happening isn’t just climate “change”, it’s climate chaos. And as crazy as things have gotten, unless we change course, we are barely seeing the tip of the iceberg of what’s coming.

But already, climate chaos is beginning to unfold, and it’s not looking good.

With unprecedented heat waves in unlikely places, like Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and even British Columbia; unprecedented flooding in Germany, Belgium, and China; unprecedented droughts and wildfires in the Western US and around the globe; the first rainfall on the peak of Greenland’s ice sheet for the first time in literally ever — and a truly alarming new scientific report on the now-unavoidable impact of global warming on our world, we can’t keep acting as if this isn’t an urgent matter of life or death.

So here’s the latest update on the crisis — and on one of the most important things we can do to turn it around (that almost nobody is talking about!).

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What B Vitamins Do You Need — And What Are The Best Vegan Sources of B Vitamins?

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In simpler times, a chemist discovered a substance vital to human health that the body could not produce and called it a “vitamine,” a portmanteau of “vital” and “amine” (due to a mistaken belief that this substance was an amino acid). Things got slightly more complicated when another such substance was found, but the scientists handled it with aplomb: they proclaimed the first “vitamin A” and the second — do you see where this is going? — “vitamin B.” Then came C, and D, followed by E, and then K, as several compounds in a row (F, G, H, I, and J, presumably), didn’t pass vitamin muster.

But then things started getting messy. When researchers began to realize that vitamin B was actually an entire family of substances, similar in form and function, but unique in the roles they play in human health. Instead of adding more letters (there weren’t that many left, and who knew where this proliferation of Bs was going to end), the namers turned to numbers: B1, B2, B3, B5, and so on.

A few things here. First, there’s no B-4, which you could charitably chalk up to not wanting to be responsible for the following hypothetical conversation:

Parent: “Did you take your B-4?”

Child: “Did I take my what before?”

Thank you, science.

Second, while there are eight B vitamins, there are no B batteries, which feels suspicious to me.

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Vegan Bacon: Why It’s Better for You and How to Make Your Own

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If you Google “broccoli summer camp,” “kale summer camp,” and “cauliflower summer camp,” you’ll come up empty. You’ll find summer recipes for these cruciferous stars, sure, but no weeklong vacation event dedicated to them.

When you search for “bacon summer camp,” by contrast, you’ll discover that there is such a thing. With speakers, cooking tutorials, panel discussions, butchering demos, and even a bacon film festival, Camp Bacon caters to one of the hottest foods of the past decade.

And that’s just the tip of the strip, if you will. Someone spent enough time and energy to figure out that 62% of US restaurants have bacon on the menu. The average American consumes almost 18 pounds of bacon per year – and if you don’t, then someone out there is eating 36 pounds to keep the average up. There’s a National Bacon Day in the US. And bacon has gone from breakfast meat to ubiquitous star ingredient in everything from bacon-wrapped hot dogs and steaks to desserts like cupcakes and ice cream. And if I haven’t yet convinced you that bacon makes people highly irrational, there’s a Seattle company that sells bacon-scented underwear for men and women.

These days, whenever an animal-based product becomes hugely popular, plant-based versions aren’t far behind. Thanks to a growing market, new technologies, and social media experimentation, there are now plant-based bacon alternatives that are getting closer and closer to the original. According to the online food ordering company Grubhub, users ordered vegan bacon 113% more in 2019 than the year before.

And it’s a good thing, too! Bacon comes from pigs, the vast majority of which (approximately 95%) are raised on factory farms, which carry a whole host of ethical and environmental problems. And that’s not even mentioning the health effects of bacon, which is a highly processed meat.

So in this article, we’ll take a look at vegan bacon: why it can be a much better alternative to the stuff that comes from pigs, how you can make it yourself, and recipes that use plant-based bacon.

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Are Mangoes Good for You — and the Planet?

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Although it may not be as revered as the apple, banana, or even tomato (at least in the western world), the mango is one of the most commonly eaten fruits worldwide. And production has gone up around 17% in the last few years globally, averaging over 55 million mangoes per year.

This luscious, juicy, sweet fruit that has won fans the world over originated in India, where it has a long and revered history. One of the central rituals of Hinduism, the puja ceremony, uses water infused with mango leaves to create the proper resonance for honored deities. Indian poets also use mangoes to evoke emotions like lust and love. And contemporary Indian novelists like Arundhati Roy and Anita Desai draw upon mangoes to symbolize abundance, sweetness, and possibility.

The mango is the national fruit of India, which produces more than half of all the mangoes consumed worldwide. Other top growers include Thailand, Mexico, and the tropical regions of China. In the US, mango trees can thrive in Hawaii, Florida, and parts of California.

With billions of fans and centuries of great PR, you’d think that mangoes have it made. But due to their high sugar content, mangoes are often vilified by low-carb enthusiasts. And because they’re exported around the globe, some environmentalists express concern over their carbon footprint and sustainability.

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Are Tomatoes Good for You?

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Tomatoes are popular today, but that wasn’t always the case. Until the mid-1800s, people in the United States and Europe avoided and even feared them. Tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family of plants, which many Europeans historically considered to be toxic. (To be fair, eating the leaves and berries of one of the members of this family, Belladonna, will give you hallucinations and delirium if they don’t kill you first.)

Add the strong aroma of the tomato plant itself, and the scandalously red skin and juices, and those not familiar with the tomato’s culinary upsides might be forgiven for thinking that it was not fit for human consumption.

Early tomato marketing in the US didn’t help. A gardener from Massachusetts described them as “disgusting” sometime in the 1820s. Another chronicler of public opinion estimated that no more than 2% of the population would try that “sour trash” a second time following initial exposure.

It wasn’t just that tomato was an acquired taste that the populace hadn’t acquired. There was downright terror of tomatoes through the middle of the 19th century. One myth, widely believed in Europe, was that the mere touch of the green tomato worm could result in death.

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Meet Moringa: What Is This Transformative Superfood Good For?

moringa

I want this article to start a different kind of food revolution. You see, when I write about foods you might want to include in your diet, I generally focus on those that you can easily obtain: fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, legumes, and so on.

Today, I want to convince you to pay attention to one of the most nutritious and eco-friendly plants ever studied, even though the only way you can get it in most parts of the US and Europe is as a powdered supplement. Why? Because not only is the moringa tree an incredible source of nutrition, it also has the potential to reverse global warming, provide food for the starving, create thriving agricultural economies in some of the poorest places on earth, and even remove toxins from drinking water.

So, I hope you’ll indulge me a little until there’s enough of a market to get the attention of entrepreneurs, importers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and environmental and justice-oriented nonprofits to make moringa wide-spread.

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What Helps with COVID-19 Outcomes? The Foods & Nutrients You Should Know About

iStock.com/valentinrussanov

More than a year into the global pandemic, there’s a lot we still don’t know about COVID-19. But here’s one thing we do know: People who are obese, have hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, fare far worse if they become infected. They are much more likely to be hospitalized. And they are far more likely to die. In fact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 94% of COVID-19 deaths are linked to other “comorbidities.” Only 6% list COVID-19 as the sole cause of death.

Since many of these comorbidities are largely preventable (and often reversible) with a whole foods, plant-based diet, it is not an exaggeration to say that the standard American diet has turbocharged the pandemic.

The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, but in the first year of the pandemic, had 20% of the world’s reported COVID-19 deaths. How could the world’s wealthiest country, with arguably the most advanced (and certainly the most expensive) healthcare system on the planet, have fared so poorly?

The sober reality is that the United States has experienced the most deaths by far of any country in the world from COVID-19. The mortality rate from COVID-19 in the US is about 40% higher than in Europe. Is it a coincidence that the obesity rate in the US is also about 40% higher than in Europe? Or is it a clue to something we urgently need to understand?

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How to Balance Hormones Naturally with Diet & Lifestyle

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Imagine if the different organs and systems in your body weren’t on speaking terms. If you ate a big meal, your stomach might keep that news to itself, and your intestines wouldn’t release enzymes to digest that meal. Your brain would hoard the knowledge of an oncoming car, and neglect to alert your heart to pump more blood into your extremities so you could leap out of the way safely. You might be staggering from fatigue but your pineal gland couldn’t get the other systems in your body to allow you to sleep.

All these communications, and millions more, occur so rapidly that it seems like they’re not even happening. The time from someone sneaking up behind you and popping a balloon to you going into full-on fight or flight appears not to exist — it just happens all at once. In reality, the different organs and systems in the body are in constant communication, all the time. And all that data transfers thanks to little chemical messengers known as hormones.

Hormones are involved in almost all of your bodily processes and are vital to your health. They keep your body functioning optimally. And big changes in their production can trigger or signal a physical transition from one stage of life to another. But sometimes hormone levels can be thrown out of balance. Depending on the cause, hormonal imbalances can be temporary or chronic. And while modern medicine tends to treat them with medications, it turns out there’s often a lot you can do to balance hormones naturally.

What Are Hormones?

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