May, 2012
Posted on May 14th, 2012 by in Nutrition

Should Your Kids Be Vegan?

Vegan Is Love: A new children’s book incites debate

A new children’s book heralding the widespread benefits of veganism is stirring more pots than PETA. Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action, now in stores, has nutritionists, psychologists, and even gossip columnists, asking whether veganism is appropriate for kids—and, more poignantly, how we should be talking to little ones about the ethics and politics of food. On Today, Matt Lauer wondered if the title itself suggested that “if you’re not a vegan, is it about hate?” while a widely read Hollywood gossip columnist asked, “Would you read this book to your child?” On FOX News, child psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein called the book “the most disturbing children’s book I’ve ever seen.”

Author-illustrator Ruby Roth’s intent in writing Vegan Is Love was to judge—at least a little bit. Through clear, simple dialogue and colorful illustrations of smog-covered land and sad animals in cages and zoos, the book calls on children to start protecting animals, the environment, and starving kids in Africa through a plant-based diet. It explores complex themes like animal cruelty, big agriculture, and world hunger, and while the message is not overly heavy-handed, Roth doesn’t dance around the idea that she believes eating meat will destroy the Earth and everyone we love, and soon—a heady concept for a kid, for sure.

John Bagnulo, PhD, MPH, who teaches nutrition in Kripalu Healthy Living programs, says that kids can be very healthy as vegans, but it’s important to remember that it’s not as simple as “just eat plants.” For example, a vegan diet for children that is mostly grain, flour, and fruit juice is much more unhealthy than one that’s mostly fruits and vegetables with, say, small amounts of fish, he says. “So many vegetarian and vegan parents embark on this journey with the misconception that kids have the same nutritional needs as adults,” says John. “Nothing could be further from reality. Kids’ brains are developing so fast and there is clear evidence that high-quality essential fatty acids, like those found in oily fish, are a factor in brain development. You can also get these nutrients in raw walnuts, raw pumpkin seeds, freshly ground flax seeds, and power-packed specific greens such as purslane.” But getting them is essential. B12 and zinc are also critical.

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Posted on May 13th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Quiet with Fresh Dandelions

Every Sunday we provide a space for quiet, calm, and peaceful introspection. Enjoy this week’s Moment of Quiet. Happy Mother’s Day!

The dandelions are in full bloom here in the Berkshires. Did you know that dandelion greens are a nutritious way to get a hearty dose of vitamins and minerals?

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Posted on May 12th, 2012 by in Yoga

What is Ujjayi Breath?

Senior Kripalu Yoga teacher Jovinna Chan, E-RYT 500, teaches us how to practice ujjayi breath.

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Posted on May 11th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Foodie Friday: When Smiling Panda Bears Lie

Lately, I’ve been playing around with a gluten-free diet. I often find that wheat feels heavy in my body, so a gluten fast this time of year often helps me lighten up. Because I don’t have a severe reaction to eating gluten, when I go gluten-free I don’t feel overly concerned about consuming any “incidental” amounts of gluten—mainly I just stop eating bread, pastries, and pasta for a few weeks. That said, during my gluten-free windows, I become more aware of how pervasive gluten is in the American diet and I’m always happy when I see companies making an effort to identify it or make versions of their products sans gluten.

Unfortunately, I also become aware of how the marketing potential of what has become, to some, a fad diet can turn this dietary choice into a sneaky way to pawn off cheap food to the unsuspecting!

Case in point: I bought some pre-made maki rolls from a local all natural grocer. In the Berkshires, we’re lucky to have several great locally owned stores that sell whole foods and organic produce. I went to Guidos, which is a wonderful combination of a main store (with all the basics) accompanied by several privately owned sub markets, much like the old indoor year round farmers markets I remember from my childhood in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

So back to my purchase, and, more specifically, the little packets of soy sauce that came with it. As I often take my makis home, I rarely use the soy sauce provided. If they’re all-natural I might save them for a picnic or travel. If they aren‘t, I simply discard them and wish the store would commit to using the all-natural kind.

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Posted on May 10th, 2012 by in Relationships

Bonding Over Backbends

The self-reflective environment at Kripalu is conducive to teaching you valuable lessons about yourself. But it’s also an amazing experience to share with someone else. The first time I came to Kripalu, I brought my boyfriend, Mike. He’d only done yoga once, but he had gotten a glimpse of its potential to improve his well-being and was eager to learn more. He embraced learning more about his body and his breath as we spent a rejuvenating weekend together eating well, practicing yoga, and enjoying the peace. We were happy to find that Kripalu emphasizes a balanced approach to wellness, not just yoga. I remember the two of us being out on the lake, kayaking, and participating in what we called a floating meditation. It was just beautiful, with the quiet mental space that we cultivated together out on the water.

That weekend inspired us to begin a regular yoga practice together. We found a studio near our house in Boston and made an effort to take weekly classes, making room in our lives for a healthful and rewarding routine. Going to yoga as a couple gave us the extra motivation we needed to keep up a regular practice. We also decided we would like to continue going to Kripalu for R&R retreats when we could fit it into our schedules.

A few days into our 2009 stay, we were relaxed and centered, and decided to hike a nearby mountain. Once we got to the peak, Mike dropped down on one knee and proposed. Even though I secretly suspected that he might pop the question—he kept patting his pants pocket as we climbed—it was still overwhelming and so emotional to hear him ask me.

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