THE GOOD KARMA DIET: 4 WAYS TO EAT FOR BETTER KARMA

In conversation with Victoria Moran, author of The Good Karma Diet (aka the book that changed my life – this week). PLUS 4 ways to eat for better karma. By Ruby Warrington. Artwork: Raw Vegan Blonde

When I saw a flyer for a book called The Good Karma Diet, being a good Buddhist (kinda) I had to check it out. It went on to mark a turning point in my personal food history.

I’ve been “pescetarian” for six years (fish aren’t mammals, it was different I used to tell myself), and stopped eating dairy after I started breaking out in these weird eczema-like rashes after my move from London to NYC.

And if going fully vegan sounded like the logical next step – ethically, environmentally, politically, and for my health – it was also going to be really inconvenient. I mean, have you looked at a restaurant menu lately?

But then I read The Good Karma Diet, and all that fell away. Besides the very well documented health benefits, I think it was reading this that finally swung it: ”

So I reached out to the author Victoria Moran, a vegan for 25 years years and 60-something-going-on-30. Below is what she said about the karma of going vegan:

In a sentence, how is veganism a spiritual practise?
Everything we know about spirituality or religion is a matter of faith or belief, except for one great certainty: kindness is divine; this is veganism.

What are 5 surprising side-effects of going vegan?
– A more open heart – to both human and non-human animals.
– An incredible community to be a part of – I chuckle to myself sometimes that I have so many “cool” friends of all ages, even though I wasn’t at all part of the “in crowd” back in school when that mattered so much.
– There are so many aspects of vegan living to discover beyond just food. It takes some getting used to – buying mascara at the same store where you buy nutritional yeast! – but once you do, you learn that cruelty-free and toxin-free often go together.
– Feeling better because you’re vegan makes you want to feel better still, so it inspires an interest in exercise and alternative healthcare and other avenues to ever greater wellbeing.
– The gift of simplicity comes with a vegan lifestyle. When you know your life is dedicated to the wellbeing of others, petty stresses aren’t as stressful as they once were and it’s easier to enjoy the little things.

But wait, I live in NYC.
Personally, I don’t go to a lot of “regular” restaurants since, for me, they’re not regular at all! If I go to a place that serves meat, it’s usually Indian or Italian or Mexican or Asian or Ethiopian, so there are plenty of vegan choices. If I have to order sides, I order sides. I don’t ever eat before I go out. I trust that when it’s time to eat, something appropriate will be there. I’ve never been disappointed.

And how can I be a good vegan guest?
Once people understand that this is a serious choice for you, either a moral imperative or an important health decision, most are happy to accommodate, especially is you offer to bring a dish to share. Another good tip is not to get involved in detailed answers about why you’re vegan when other people are eating their non-vegan foods. Something along the lines of “I just feel better eating this way” should suffice for mealtime conversation. If someone is seriously interested, they’ll seek you out privately and you can share all you know.

What kind of good karma have you experienced since going vegan?
The first thing I noticed was the lifting of a great burden that I hadn’t realized I was carrying, the burden of responsibility I bore for the suffering others had been forced to endure on my behalf. Then, on a very practical level, the extra weight I’d dealt with since early childhood, except for respites of “dieting,” came off and has stayed away. I also find I get happier as time goes by. I’m in my mid-60s and in good health, with a tremendous amount of meaning and purpose and adventure in my life.

Read on below for an excerpt from The Good Karma Diet, on 4 ways to eat for better karma.

The Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet (WFPB)
The Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet (WFPB) is the popular term coined by nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., lead researcher of the China Study, the largest population-based nutritional study ever conducted. In The Low-Carb Fraud, Dr. Campbell and Howard Jacobson, Ph.D., define the WFPB diet as: “whole foods…as close to their natural state as possible. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds make up the bulk of the diet. It includes no refined products, such as white sugar or white flour; no additives, preservatives, or other chemical concoctions…no refined fat, including olive or coconut oils; and minimal – or better yet, no – consumption of animal products, perhaps 0 to 5 percent of total calories at most.”

The Starch Solution
John McDougall, MD, the California internist who’s devoted his career to healing people from the chronic diseases of Western civilization, takes a very low-fat approach and celebrates the basic starches—rice, wheat, potatoes, barley, taro, and so forth—that have supported humanity for eons. Vegetables, fruits, and beans comprise the rest of the diet. He named a book for this: The Starch Solution.

The Esselstyn Approach
The Cleveland Clinic research study done by Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD, showed how an oil-free, whole-foods, plant-exclusive diet with plenty of greens was capable of reversing heart disease in patients whose cardiologists could no longer help them. He expounds on his long-term study and its results in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

His son, Rip, a handsome endurance athlete and former firefighter, takes the same approach and calls it “plant-strong” in his books, The Engine 2 Diet and My Beef With Meat. (The Campbell and Esselstyn plans are virtually identical, and the McDougall plan is very similar, all emphasizing whole, plant foods and no oil. This way of eating was showcased in the popular documentary and subsequent bestselling book, Forks Over Knives.)

The Nutritarian Diet
Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of the NY Times bestseller, Eat to Live, recommends a “nutritarian” diet built primarily around vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Whole grains are allowed, but not emphasized, and moderate consumption of nuts and seeds is encouraged. He suggests getting at least ninety percent of calories from whole plant foods, leaving up to ten percent for the occasional indulgence and for animal products for those who aren’t going to part with them entirely. In my practice as a holistic health counselor and vegan lifestyle coach, I found that clients did extremely well with this approach.

Plant-Based, Lower-Carb
A newer player on the vegan field is a higher-protein, higher-fat, lower-carbohydrate rendition of a way of eating that is still, by definition, high in naturally occurring carbohydrate because that is the nutritive property that predominates in most plant foods. If you’ve read a lot of diet books, this sounds bad (“The carbs are coming! Run for the hills!”) but it’s actually good. We’re designed to function on a diet that derives most of its calories from the naturally occurring carbohydrates in plant foods. Attempting to avoid all carbohydrates because refined sugar and white bread aren’t good for you would be like avoiding marriage because some men beat their wives.

Despite the profusion of laboratory and epidemiological studies supporting the efficacy of the approaches outlined earlier, some people feel that they do better with a little more protein and fat. Their predilection was given scientific backup by David J.A. Jenkins, MD, Ph.D. (he developed the concept of the glycemic index) who advocates for a plant-based diet favoring non-starchy vegetables, soy foods and mock meats, lower-carb beans (mung, great Northern, lima, fava), nuts, seeds, and avocado, and low-sugar fruits, such as berries. This diet has been called “Eco Atkins.”

Excerpted from THE GOOD KARMA DIET: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion by Victoria Moran, with the permission of Tarcher/Penguin, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2015

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MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: RAW VEGAN BLONDE

Amber Locke, a.k.a. @rawveganblonde has gained a cut following for her beautiful and unique farmers’ market art. We meet the woman behind the phenomenon, and ask her…what vegetable would you be?

The artist at work…

How long have you been a Raw Vegan Blonde, and what drew you to the lifestyle?
I’ve always been blonde, but only discovered the concept of raw food about 18 months ago! I first read about it on the blog of Ralph Lauren model Valentina Zelyaeva and decided to try it out as an experiment, but I was so blown away with how amazing it made me feel after just a few days, I carried on.

Eating raw gives me incredible energy, improved mental clarity and a general feeling of calmness, harmony and well-being. I’ve become far more in tune with my body and very aware of how what I eat can dramatically affect how I feel both emotionally and physically.

What makes you so passionate about vegetables?
For me it’s the fact that fruit and veg not only taste amazing, they’re visually fascinating and have the power to nourish and heal our bodies too. They really are super foods.

Zucchini Shadows print, £180 from Ambaliving.com

And why do you think they’re so beautiful to you?
I love the beauty of natural elements, and I’m constantly amazed and delighted by their different shapes, colours, textures, and character. So my designs aim to showcase their unique qualities and reflect the changing seasons of the year, as well as being a celebration of living a healthy lifestyle.

If you were a fruit or a vegetable, which would you be and why?
I think I’d probably be a candy beetroot. They look pretty much like a normal beetroot on the outside, but when you slice them, they reveal their amazing pink and white striped flesh and it never ceases to make me smile.

What’s the most out there plant-based experience you’ve had to date?
I’m not sure I’ve had an ‘out there’ experience…but I always get a sense of something greater at work when I’m composing my designs. I sometimes stand back and wonder how I did it.

:: M A T E R I A L  G I R L ::

My label
I love Hermes and although I only own a few pieces (mainly leather goods and scarves) they all have special memories and are so exquisitely made they will last a lifetime.

Hermes Zebra Pegasus scarf, $1175

My shoes
I’m addicted to Belstaff boots as they’re so comfy, look great and fit my narrow shins well! I have several pairs and wear them almost all year round.

My fragrance
I’ve worn ‘Un Jardin Sur Le Nil’ by Hermes for years. I think the top notes are green mango but I love it as the smell reminds me of tomato leaves which are one on my favourite fragrances along with orange blossom. I’m still pursuing my quest to find the perfect orange blossom perfume and the closest I’ve come across so far is by Jo Malone and I wear this sometimes in the Summer.

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil by Hermes, $131

My jewels
I don’t wear much jewellery apart from my boyfriend’s old Breitling watch which I love as it’s so big and chunky on my wrist, and an antique silver fob chain given to me by my Mother which I wear as a charm bracelet.

My pampering
A trip to the hairdressers! I recently took the plunge and had 10” chopped off by the brilliant team at Richard Ward Salon in London, their colourist David Viner is a legend too!

My home
I live in a quirky house in a small countryside village. Its part Tudor, part Georgian, part Victorian and part Medieval so it’s a real mix of architectural styles.

My food
I love to eat a mainly raw diet so my kitchen is always full of fresh fruit and vegetables and I eat this way at least 90% of the week. I love green smoothies, as well as my beloved high-speed ‘Blendtec’ blender makes them super smooth, rich and creamy.

Blendtec blender, $649.95

:: M Y S T I C A L  W O R L D ::

My awakening
I have a very simple morning ritual; I drink a large glass of water (warm water and lemon if I have time) then take a walk with my dog before making a big green juice for my boyfriend and I. We’re really into stronger flavoured spicy juices now the weather has turned colder so I use a lot of ginger, lemongrass, whole lemons and sometimes a bit of green chilli for an extra kick.

My sign
I’m a Capricorn

My mantra
I don’t really have a mantra as such but I love the line in the Baz Luhrmann song ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’ which goes: ‘Enjoy your body… it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own’. I think so many people live unhappily with their body but if you can learn to love it and feed, nourish and exercise it properly the rewards of such team work can be incredible.

My healer
I think a balanced diet of fresh, natural food can be a great healer – physically, medicinally and emotionally.

Hermes-esque print, £180, Ambaliving.com

My reading
I’m fascinated by food so for me it’s any book related to the subject (I have hundreds!) and I really love searching out vintage cookbooks and out of print titles.

My transformation
Trying out a raw food diet was a big transformation for me as I had no idea eating this way had the ability to make you feel so good. I think it should be renamed the ‘Happiness Diet’ as it’s almost like nature’s happy pill.

My mission
I love to share my passion for fruit and vegetables (through my designs and recipes) and if that encourages or inspires others to eat more of them then that makes me very happy!

Purchase one of Amber’s limited edition prints at Ambaliving.com, and follow her on Instagram @rawveganblonde