Nutrition & Fitness

Donít Eat the PyramidThe relatively new USDA food pyrimaid is at once a joke and a tragedy. The very reason that the food pyramid is a pyramid was, originally, to indicate the foods you should eat more of (at the wide base) and the foods you should eat sparingly because they’re, basically, poison. But the Big Poison Foods companies complained that Big Governement was using our hard-earned tax dollars to persuade people to eat less poison and cutting into their profits. So the USDA spent millions of our hard-earned tax dollars designing and promoting a new stripedy food pyramid that is less preachy. In fact, the new one doesn't say much at all; some folks say it's more like a sphinx. It isn’t nearly as clear about what we should and shouldn’t eat. So what good is it? Well, the clever graphic artist (that’s what I used to be, before I changed my ways) did add one usefull thing: a stick figure running up the pyramid stairs. Now, that was worth 2.5 million of our hard-earned tax dollars, wasn’t it? So why is Big Poison so eager for us to get fit? Well, they say we can eat simply loads of sugar and fat, if we’ll just run it off. But even the devil speaks trufh sometimes. Ya gotta exercise.


The Healthiest Fruit  Sure, our veggie diet is healthier than that of our meat-eating friends. But we mustn’t allow ourselves to become smug. A healthy diet is not enough. Turns out the healthiest fruit is the fruit of our labors. Regular exercise is essential to good health and a longer life with fewer disabilities, the result of what researcher Emeritus Professor James Fries calls The Compression of Morbidity. His study of 1000 people, begun in 1984, found that those who exercised regularly were much slower to develop difficulties commonly associated with aging and lived longer. Professor of Medicine Eliza Chakravarty said, “At the end of the study, the difference between the disability levels was very dramatic.”


There is a wide-spread myth among flesh-eaters that vegetarians are frail and puny. Most of the ones I know are certainly not frail, but, for whatever reason, athletic vegetarians tend more toward endurance than strength pursuits hereabouts. Certainly there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan strength athletes nationally; I will be adding some of these to the Manly Vegetarian page as time permits. Why build strength? Many reasons; muscle mass increases your resting metabolism which actually helps to burn fat while you sleep, strength exercises also strengthen bone (and, thereby, calcium reserves), muscle is only half as bulky as fat, so you’ll look slimmer at the same weight. And muscle comes in handy lugging groceries or kids or getting your car out of a ditch.

Machines or Free Weights? Go old school. A recent study shows that free weights are far more efficient at increasing strength: 115% vs 57%! Free weights call upon stabilizing muscles in addition to the target muscles. Free weights also increased the participants’ balance. As a side benefit, overall pre-existing pain for the weight-lifters went down, while the machine users pain actually went up. Ergo: free weights good; machines not quite so good (but better than nothing).

In a way, that’s rather ironic, since the dumbbell was created to take the place of machines of a sort: the ropes and pulleys of churches and cathedrals. Folks had noticed how muscular bellringes became (think Quasismodo, but better looking). Hence the word dumb (silent) bell.

Joe the VeganJoe Walsh’s Weight Routine  Joe Walsh is a champion vegan powerlifter (apologies for mistakenly referring to Joe earlier as a bodybuilder) who has demonstrated conclusively that you don’t need animal protein to be strong, having benched 350 while weighing ≤ 148 pounds. Joe has kindly shared his current routine with us:

Day 1: Chest, Triceps
         3 Sets of Bench with increasing weight (10,8,6 reps)
         1 Set of Dips (learning forward for chest)  to failure 
         2 Sets  Dumbbell Flyes x 8 reps
         2 Sets of machine tricep- pushdowns
         1 Set of Dips (body straight up for Triceps)
         I will employ muscle confusion by varying the weight and exercises (example: machine 
              flyes some days versus dumbbells; weighted dips; machine dips, et cetera).
         Decline presses from time-to-time.. most likely every third workout
         ditto inclines. 

Day 2: Back, Biceps
         1 set close grip pull-ups for 18 reps
         2 set wide grip machine pulldowns
         1 set seated rows
         Again, I will alternate using machines and using confusion (one arm dumdbell rows, barbell rows et cetera)
         2 sets standing barbell curls (90 x 12; 110x5) with very strict competition form (makes a big difference as you no doubt know). 
         2 sets dumbbell curls (35x8; 50x 8)
         also mix it up with machines, preacher curls et cetera
         Focus is to train for strict curl 

Day 3: Leg and Shoulders
         Since I don't intend to compete in all three power-lifting events , I don't do squats or dead-lifts anymore
         2 sets leg-press machine (weights vary)
         2 sets leg curls
         2 sets leg extensions
         2 sets calve raises
         Again I mix it up with machines and various exercises
         2 sets lateral raises (sometimes standing, sometimes seated while leaning forward)
         2 sets seated military press (machine or free weight)
         2 sets dumbbell shrugs
         Additionally, I do various ab exercises as well as some aerobics (mostly walking and stairs).
Joe adds these details about his approach: Depending on my mood and energy level, I sometimes combine some of the 3 workout modules below.
                  Also, I only train each body-part once a week.  My goal is to go to failure but don't always get there.
                  I employ much of Mike Menzer's "Heavy Duty" approach but I do more sets and reps than he recommends as I don't want to blow out any joints or tear muscles! Muscle confusion is a great strategy too as I'm sure you know.
                  Finally, I don't get hung-up on specific days of the week so it varies. I go with what my body tells me and what my schedule allows.       

Vegetarian Starter Kit packed with info, tips, and recipes to help you make the transition to vegetarianism and establish eating habits that you’ll feel great about.

The Mayo Clinic has this article on eating a healty vegetarian diet.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is urging that all Americans at least cut down on meat purely for the sake of our own health and that of our children. They suggest that those not ready to commit to a vegetarian diet begin with a Meatless Monday.

Articles by Winston Miller, past ETVS president and lifetime member

Iron and a Vegetarian Diet  Vegetarians can get the iron they need
Vegetarian Nutrition Information  building block info
FAQ   answers to frequently asked questions

Q&A  with former ETVS president Scott Schimmel

Q.  Does a vegetarian diet necessarily mean a healthy diet?
A.  Absolutely not. A vegetarian diet is characterized by removing certain foods. Many of the foods that are absent from a vegetarian diet may have significant nutritional value. It is important to incorporate alternate nutritional sources when removing animal foods from a diet. Protein, calcium, iron, and B12 requirements are concerns for vegetarians. Legumes and grains are good sources for protein and contain significantly less amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium than animal sources. Spinach, turnip greens, and kale are good sources for calcium. Prunes, baked beans, and molasses are good sources for iron. Another excellent source for iron is fortified cereal, such as raisin bran. Most fortified cereals also contain significant amounts of B12.

Q.  What are complete and incomplete proteins?
A.  Proteins, the 'building blocks of the body,' are made up of 22 amino acids. 14 of the amino acids are made by the body. The other eight must be acquired through food. These are known as the essential amino acids (EAAs) and all eight must be present in order for the proper building to occur. Animal protein contains all of the EAAs and is termed a complete protein. Different vegetable proteins contain varied amounts of the EAAs and are thus referred to as incomplete. Therefore vegetarians must eat a variety of protein sources in order to get adequate amounts of each EAA.