Sign the Petition to Tom Vilsack, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture

OCA-circle-logo-b90From Organic Consumers Association

 

Link to sign the petition

Well placed people in the government, neverending pockets of money, the ability to maneuver the news media and keep information from consumers about what is in their food. People have a RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THEIR FOOD, and yet, the food sources that agri-business wants us to consumer are causing the cancers, diabetes, obesity. Our sick children tell us that something is wrong with the food supply. These things don’t just happen and being educated about food is one of the most important things we can do to save our lives and the planet. Sign this petition, share it, do what you can to buy non-GMO food (purchase organic when you can), let your representatives know how you feel (big business banks on people just complying and saying nothing). The change is in your hands and wallets. Read the petition below, click on the link above.

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We write in response to your request for information on the topic of “enhancing agricultural coexistence.”

This inquiry is a shameless charade designed to mask the truth that as long as genetically engineered crops remain untested, unregulated and unlabeled, we face “the potential elimination of a farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer’s choice to eat non-genetically engineered food.”

You’ll recognize the quote from a case that bears your name, Center for Food Safety v. Vilsack, where Judge Jeffrey S. White ruled that your approval of genetically engineered sugar beets was illegal.

Even before becoming USDA Secretary, you were familiar with the contamination problem inherent in genetically engineered crops. And you were hostile to any suggestion that the government take meaningful action to prevent it.

In 2002, a corn crop engineered by ProdiGene to produce a vaccine for pigs contaminated 500,000 bushels of soybeans, grown the following season in the same field. This after a previous incident in Iowa, where the USDA ordered ProdiGene to pay for the burning of 155 acres of conventional corn presumed contaminated by ProdiGene plants. ProdiGene eventually went out of business. But not before it received a $6 million investment from the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, which you chaired.

In reaction to suggestions that pharma crops should be kept away from food crops, you countered that “we should not overreact and hamstring this industry.”

One of the best ways for farmers to protect themselves from genetic contamination is to pass local laws that establish zones safeguarding the region’s economic interests. Many farmers, not just organic and non-GMO farmers, have an interest in protecting themselves from unwanted genetic contamination. Farmers that grow GMO crops for food don’t want to be contaminated with GMO crops grown for feed, fuel or pharma. Farmers growing approved GMO varieties don’t want to be contaminated with unapproved varieties. Farmers growing for the export market don’t want to be contaminated with GMOs that aren’t accepted by our trading partners.

Unfortunately, we already know that you oppose local action to prevent genetic contamination. In 2005, as governor you initiated and then signed into law House File 642, which took away local communities’ rights to act on this issue.

It clearly doesn’t bother you if farmers’ right to choose to grow non-genetically engineered crops is taken away.

You also aren’t interested in in protecting consumers’ right to choose to eat non-genetically engineered food. This is demonstrated by the fact that you have approved several new genetically engineered foods. And you have required labels on none.

We disagree with your disingenuous insistence that genetically engineered crops can coexist with the crops that they will contaminate and destroy.

Please take a fresh look at the only two options that can truly protect farmers’ and consumers’ right to choose: local control over genetically engineered crops and labels on genetically engineered foods.

Signed,
Organic Consumers Association

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5 New Reasons Monsanto’s ‘Science’ Doesn’t Add Up

OCA-circle-logo-b90Link: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_29419.cfm

Five New Reasons Monsanto’s ‘Science’ Doesn’t Add Up

  • By Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins
    Organic Consumers Association, February 27, 2014

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA’s Genetic Engineering Page, and our Millions Against Monsanto Page.

To hear the pesticide and junk food marketers of the world tell it, anyone who questions the value, legitimacy or safety of GMO crops is naïve, anti-science and irrational to the point of hysteria.

But how long can Monsanto ignore the mounting actual scientific evidence that their technology is not only failing to live up to its promises, it’s putting public health at risk?

Jim Goodman, farmer, activist and member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board, recently wrote about Monsanto’s deceptive use of the expression “sound science.”

But, ‘sound science’ has no scientific definition. It does not mean peer reviewed, or well documented research. ‘Sound science’ is only a term, an ideological term, used to support a particular point of view, policy statement or a technology. ‘Sound science’ is little more than the opinions of so-called “experts” representing corporate interests.

Simply put, ‘sound science’ always supports the position of industry over people, corporate profit over food safety, the environment and public health.

Here are five new reports and studies, published in the last two months, that blow huge holes in Monsanto’s “sound science” story. Reports of everything from Monsanto’s Roundup causing fatal, chronic kidney disease to how, contrary to industry claims, Roundup persists for years, contaminating soil, air and water. And oh-by-the-way, no, GMO crops will not feed the world, nor have they reduced the use of herbicides and pesticides.

1.   Monsanto’s Roundup linked to fatal, chronic kidney disease. Article in Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, February 2014

What happens when you mix glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, with “hard” water? That is, water that contains metals, such as calcium, magnesium, strontium and iron, either found naturally in the soil, or resulting from the use of chemical fertilizers?

The glyphosate becomes “extremely toxic” to the kidneys.

That’s the theory put forth by researchers trying to uncover the mystery of thousands of deaths from chronic kidney disease among people in farming areas of Sri Lanka, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

2.   Monsanto’s Roundup persists in soil and water. U.S. Geological Survey report in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, February 2014

Monsanto has always insisted (despite evidence to the contrary) that its Roundup herbicide is benign, that its toxicity doesn’t persist.

But that’s only half the story, according to a study published this month in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Researchers now say that if you study only the key active ingredient, glyphosate, you might, as Monsanto claims, determine that Roundup is benign.

But there are other ingredients in Roundup, including one called Aminomethylphosphonic acid, or AMPA. The study, called “Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007,” found that glyphosate and its still-toxic byproduct, AMPA, were found in over 75 percent of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007.

What does that mean for you? According to one analysis, “if you were breathing in the sampled air you would be inhaling approximately 2.5 nanograms of glyphosate per cubic meter of air. It has been estimated the average adult inhales approximately 388 cubic feet or 11 cubic meters of air per day, which would equal to 27.5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of glyphosate a day.” Gasp.

3.   GMO crops have led to an increase in use of pesticides and herbicides. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, February 2014.

The USDA, which gauging from its track record has never met a GMO crop it didn’t like, published a report substantiating what responsible, independent scientists have been saying along. Genetic engineering does not result in increased yields (as industry would have us believe)—but it has led to the increased (not decreased, as industry claims) use of pesticides and herbicides.

To be fair, the report gives overall favorable reviews to GMO crops. Not surprising, given the agency’s cozy relationship with Monsanto. But that makes it all the more telling that the once staunch-defender of GMO crops is now raising questions about industry’s long-term, decidedly unproven and unscientific, claims that biotechnology is the best thing since sliced (GMO wheat) bread.

Sustainable Pulse does a good job of sifting through the USDA’s report to reveal the agency’s criticisms of GMO crops.

4.   Pesticides are more dangerous than we thought.  Article in BioMed Research International, February 2014

More bad news on pesticides. A study published in BioMed Research International this month says that it’s not just the toxic chemicals we need to worry about in pesticides. It’s the inert ingredients, and how they interact with the active, toxic ingredients.

Typically, studies conducted to determine the safety of pesticides focus exclusively on the active ingredients. But scientists at the University of Caen tested eight commercial products, including Roundup, and found that nine of them were hundreds of times more toxic than their active ingredient alone.

Which product won the “Most Toxic” award? Monsanto’s Roundup, which was found to be “by far the most toxic of the herbicides and insecticides tested,” according to the study.

5. Small-Scale, organic farming needed to feed the world. U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Wake Up Before It Is Too Late, December 2013

In December 2013, the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released the results of a lengthy, in-depth study that blows a huge hole in one of Monsanto’s favorite claims, that we need GMOs to feed the world. The study, entitled Wake Up Before it is Too Late, concluded with this warning: Small-scale organic farming is the only way to feed the world.

According to an analysis by one of the report’s contributors, the report contains in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

More than 60 experts from around the world contributed to the report.

Clearly the evidence—real, scientific evidence—against GMO crops is mounting, when five new anti-GMO studies and reports surface in a matter of a couple of months.

How much more will it take before the USDA, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stop supporting an industry under attack from the scientific community? And start putting public health before corporate profits?

In December, more than 200 scientists, physicians, and experts from relevant fields, signed a statement declaring that the biotech industry is deceiving the public when it claims that GMOs are safe. There is, the group said, no “scientific consensus” to support industry’s claims that GMOs are safe.

But as new studies surface every day, it’s become increasingly clear that among credible physicians and scientists, the consensus is that we’d better wake up, soon, to the risks and threats posed by a reckless technology that has been allowed to dominate our food and farming systems, unchecked, for far too long.

Katherine Paul is Associate Director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Ronnie Cummins is National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Contact Congress to Stop the Illegal Trafficking of Elephant Ivory and Rhinos!

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is one of my favorite animal protection non-profits because they spend time educating people locally about why they need to stop killing animals and help them create other ways to make a living, they are a great organization.

Now you can send a message to congress to let them know that you want to stop illegal trafficking of animals, the slaughter and selling of the illegal animals and their by-products has reached the heights of drug and human trafficking and because they are seen as ONLY animals, it has been difficult to get the international policing community to work together to stop and apprehend those who are profitting from this trade.

The fact is the United States is the world’s second-largest market for wildlife products, including elephant ivory. Once ivory has been brought into the US, it is difficult for law enforcement to determine whether it is legal or illegal. Smugglers take advantage of this system to sell poached ivory as carvings, jewelry and other trinkets.

The other day on NPR a man was discussing the lack of international policing and intelligence and said that within 10 years where he had been studying elephants in Africa that same area now has less than 1/2 of the elephant population left due to poachers. Do we really want this to continue?

The way to stop this is to make it so unpopular that people stop purchasing these animals and their products and the international policing community takes seriously finding and stopping the people doing it. In the meantime contact your congress through this petition to help strengthen the laws against trafficking. PLEASE SIGN AND FORWARD TO OTHERS:

Visit WWF's Website Take Action Now!
Take Action
Dear Tana,Urgent! As a wildlife crime activist, you know how important it is to protect wildlife. Forward this email to five people, and ask them to stand with you against wildlife crime by taking action today.

This week, the Obama Administration showed an unprecedented commitment to tackle wildlife crime by releasing the first-ever National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

We are privileged to have played an important role in shaping the national strategy through the participation of WWF senior leadership on the President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking.

The plan includes an ambitious set of actions to stop the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade and elevates the seriousness of wildlife crime in U.S. law and foreign policy. It also includes bold steps by the Administration to greatly restrict commercial trade in elephant ivory in the U.S.

You and nearly 70,000 activists have already come forward to tell Congress to take its own bold steps to crack down on wildlife trafficking. In the wake of this new strategy release, help us grow that number to 100,000 and show the U.S. government just how important stopping wildlife crime is to us.

Take Action!

Share this update with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, or forward this email to five people, and ask them to take a stand with you against wildlife crime by taking action today.

With my thanks for your continued activism,

Ginette Hemley

Ginette Hemley

World Wildlife Fund

African elephant calf © Martin Harvey/WWF-Canon

Copyright © 2014
World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20037-1193

World Peace Diet – Daily Veginspiration

I’ve been receiving these for about a week and find them a daily inspiration and a way that everyday I can be reminded of those beings who cannot speak for themselves, the animals, they need our Love and compassion, our courage and support.

You can signup to receive these everyday at: http://www.worldpeacediet.com/

Begin at the source to create change

Posted: 09 Feb 2014 02:07 AM PST

turtles by visionary artist Madeleine Tuttle

VegInspiration
From this new consciousness we can accomplish virtually anything; it represents the fundamental positive personal and cultural transformation that we yearn for, and it requires that we change something basic: our eating habits.

Prayer Circle for Today
Prayers for animals enslaved in entertainment and work, such as, zoos, circuses, rodeos, aquariums, theme parks, canned hunts, carriage rides, carrying of heavy burdens, and pulling of plows.

May compassion and love reign over all the earth for all the beings used in the human entertainment industry.

Dear animals forced to carry heavy loads, dolphins, whales, horses, bulls, elephants, bears, lambs, pigs, sea otters, fish, elks, deer, rhinos, hippos, alligators, snakes, polar bears, lions, tigers, gorillas, chimpanzees, and all of you who are incarcerated and/or forced to work under heavy loads when you want your freedom so much; who remember your parents being killed so that you could be captured; who are forced often with whips, chains, and electric prods to perform unnatural tricks; who are treated without respecting the dignity of your true nature.

Together, we bear witness to your suffering, take action to bring it to a permanent end, and send out our energy field of love and compassion to comfort you and to transform the hearts and souls of those who support the violent oppression of all of you.

Our love is all around you. Compassion encircles the earth for each of you and for all beings.

( 7 daily prayers by Judy Carman www.peacetoallbeings.com)

www.worldpeacediet.com – our daily VegInspiration For The Day
www.circleofcompassion.org – our Prayer Circle For Animals Weekly Update
www.facebook.com/groups/prayercircleforanimals – our Prayer Circle For Animals Facebook Group
www.worldpeacemastery.com – our online self-paced WPD Facilitator Training
www.facebook.com/groups/worldpeacediet – our WPD Facebook Group

Original watercolor painting by Madeleine Tuttle

5 Tips to Be a Better Vegan Food Activist from vegan chef Jason Wyreck

We all can get so excited when we find something new and important to us, sometimes we can overdo our enthusiasm and it takes awhile to find the right level of passion. It can be that way with vegans and I always get a chuckle about the jokes around vegans and how serious they are…and yes, it can be true. This blog from vegan chef Jason Wyreck has some great ideas on how to be approacheable and share with others the many benefits and reasons why being vegan is a good thing and…. that the food is GREAT! When I’m developing recipes my goal is always to make it tastes great first and be satisfying to anyone, otherwise people think all we eat are salads.   🙂

Link to his blog the vegan taste

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5 Tips to Be a Better Vegan Food Activist

January 30, 2014 By

I became a vegan food activist the moment I became vegan. Every time I served vegan fare to friends in my home or I went out to eat, people watched what I was doing. They couldn’t help it. Food is so emblematic of who we are both individually and as a culture, any deviation from the norm is bound to garner attention. My story is not unique. It happens to us all when we go vegan. Our non-vegan friends can’t help but watch and be influenced by what we do. How that influence plays out and whether it ends up being a positive or a negative influence is shaped by our food and by how we present ourselves. We are all vegan food ambassadors. This is even more true when you jump into the public eye, whether you are tabling, doing a cooking demo, teaching a class, or are on TV. I’ve been vegan for 13 years and a vegan chef and instructor for nearly as long and I’ve done well over 3,000 hours of classes, food demos, and tabling. This is what I’ve learned.

Tacos make a great dish to show the public. They are familiar, tasty, hearty, and bold.

Tacos make a great dish to show the public. They are familiar, tasty, hearty, and bold.

1. Bold Flavors and Substantial Food Will Win the Day

I liken eating meat and dairy dishes to looking at a strobe light. It’s hard to notice anything else. That means when you need to get a non-vegan’s attention, you need bold flavors to cut through that strobe light effect. Save the subtler flavors for later. It’s one of the primary reasons I focus on foods like chillis, tacos, grilled foods, caramelized onions, salt, sundried tomatoes, and other strong components when I am featuring vegan food to non-vegans for the first time. It doesn’t just make for flavorful food, it cues the eater into the fact that they won’t be missing the level of flavor they are accustomed to having when they eat vegan. You also need to cue the eater so that they understand that vegan food is substantial and they won’t be hungry two hours later. That means don’t serve dainty food! I see this happen way to often, even by those vegans who are prominently in the public eye. The food may be spectacular, but to the average non-vegan, it looks like food that will make them want to run to Burger King after they have eaten said dainty food. Chances are, people that like light fare are already vegan or vegetarian or eat a diet loaded with veggies. It’s preaching to the choir. You want food that will make everyone in the family, from the burger eater to the salad lover, feel like they are happy and satisfied.

2. Serve Familiar Food

I am a food explorer. I like some crazy stuff and I’ll try anything if it’s vegan. I also don’t use a lot of meat or dairy substitutes when I am making food for myself. When I am out in public presenting vegan food, though, I set my food snobbery to the side. It’s not about me. It’s about showing people that they can go vegan and be happy doing it. I choose my dishes based on what I think people will be willing to make at home and I try very hard to present food that doesn’t stretch their comfort zone too much (although being who I am, I can’t resist stretching it a little). If I am serving food at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, they expect some crazy stuff, but even then, the majority of people that come through the festival will get more excited about a mesquite smoked Tofurky veggie dog with caramelized onions, grilled peppers, stone ground mustard, and a vegan garlic mayo than they will about my fancy chipotle smoked almond torte with a roasted garlic chip that I spent hours making. You’ll notice my Tofurky dog is a little upscale, but that’s ok. It’s still readily identifiable and it has the advantage of being better than all the meat-based dogs being served around me. It’s familiar and awesome.

3. It’s Not Vegan Food, It’s Just Good Food

This one is more about attitude than the food itself. To me, it is eminently important that it is vegan food. However, when I first present my food, I first present it as simply good food. People still know it’s vegan, but I don’t make that the focus of the experience. I let them enjoy the food first based simply on the fact that it is great food, and then I talk about it being vegan. Once people understand that they can have still have good food, they become much more amenable to becoming vegan. If make your focus the other way around, you will lose people you could have won over before they even try your food.

A confident smile will do just as much good as your  food. Have fun!

A confident smile will do just as much good as your food. Have fun!

4. Wear Your Confidence with a Smile

Let’s face it. Humans are hierarchical animals and we are constantly subconsciously processing social cues. We favor strength over weakness and we gravitate towards those who project that strength. That means you need to be confident in your food and in being vegan. It means, whether we like it or not, people will pay more attention to what you have to say when you project confidence in what you have to say. If you act wishy washy or shy, or even act like you don’t want to be there, you will turn people off immediately, regardless of how good your food is. Love your food and love what you do. Be nice, but don’t compromise about your convictions. When people tell me it’s all personal choice, I may nod and smile, but I never agree with them. If I do, not only am I agreeing with something I don’t believe (how can it be personal when you include another creature in your decisions?), it instantly tells them I don’t really mean what I say. That comes off as weakness and we know how that plays out. Being confident, however, doesn’t mean being an argumentative jerk. I smile when I talk to people. I joke with them. I make them feel comfortable and I never get antagonistic or combative (unless they are trying very hard to provoke me, and then I bring the smackdown; that happens very rarely). I don’t put on my chef’s coat when I teach classes because I want people to feel relaxed. It’s a quiet confidence to which people respond, not a loud aggressive one. You aren’t cool if you have to say you are and you don’t look confident if you have to be obnoxious about it.

5. Understand You Are Part of a Continuum

I used to get very upset when I couldn’t convince someone to go vegan. We often experience this with our families. Then I realized that it was not my job and my job alone. We are part of a continuum of positive vegan messages. You may not be the one to convince this person to go vegan, but if you left them with a positive message, you made it that much easier for the next person to do it, and so on. Consequently, if you leave them with a negative message, you made it that much harder. Leave them with a good message and you have done your job. When I figured that out, it took away a huge amount of stress I was suffering about it, and that made me feel lighter when I taught classes and did demos. That translated directly into my presentations, which ironically made it easier for me to convince people to go vegan. Don’t get me wrong, I still get a headache when a student comes up to me and tells me they added chicken to one of my recipes. Internally, I sigh, but outwardly, I tell them they did a great job cooking for themselves and maybe they can try using mushrooms or beans or something else appropriate to what they are making. It’s positive reinforcement that becomes part of a continuum of positive messages that will make it that much easier for that student to eventually choose vegan. In short, don’t take that huge burden of convincing someone to go vegan upon yourself. Realize that you are one of many messages that will eventually take root.

I could probably write pages and pages and even more pages on how to be an effective vegan food activist, but that’s it for today. Next week, how to be a vegan HEALTHY food activist!

Dr. Will Tuttle – World Peace Diet in Taiwan and Australia

Good Tidings from Taiwan and Australia!

Greetings from Queensland, Australia!

As you may have heard, our recent World Peace Diet lecture tour to Taiwan has been highly successful. I have just posted a href=”http://ct.ebizac.com/t.php/529984/0/B/H/1498214/1945/”>blog entry about it called “Taiwan: Emerging Beacon of Veganism” that gives some of the encouraging details.

There were two main lectures that I gave. The first, at the university in Taichung, drew 1,800 attendees, and the second at Taipei Tech in Taipei, attracted 2,200 people. The response to the vegan message of compassion and justice for animals was received with great enthusiasm by both the general public, who gave standing ovations at the end of the presentations, and also by the university officials, who are keen to promote veganism in Taiwan.

I also gave a lecture to 300 people at one of Taiwan’s many vegetarian hospitals! And held a well-received press conference with respected government officials where we discussed the importance of promoting vegan living through education and government policies.

I recorded two television shows for Taiwanese national TV on both veganism and the healing power of music, and all the events were covered by all four national daily newspapers with dozens of stories, so that besides reaching thousands of people directly, we were able to reach millions of people indirectly with the World Peace Diet message.

Needless to say, I’m deeply grateful for the tireless work of the Taiwanese volunteers of several organizations who made this all possible.

A few days ago, I gave a lecture in Perth here in Australia that was also sold-out with over 300 attendees, and another lecture the following evening that drew another 200 people. We have another 20 or so lectures lined up here in eastern Australia and New Zealand over the rest of this month.

Some of the cities we’re visiting are Brisbane, Byron Bay, Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, and Hamilton. Here are the details: http://www.willtuttletour.org.au/

Please spread the word among Aussies and Kiwis – thanks! We’re creating some controversy here also…

Other good news is that The World Peace Diet will soon be published in mainland China, and we are already discussing possibilities of a lecture tour there as well.

The World Peace Diet will be coming out soon in both German and Italian as well, and so we are also planning to visit these countries to help spread the word and continue building momentum for a vegan world.

The Italian version is the result of my recently being awarded “The Empty Cages Award” by a major Italian book publisher. Previous recipients include Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Tom Regan.

We are also planning a href=”http://ct.ebizac.com/t.php/529984/3/B/H/1498214/1945/”> http://willtuttle.com/schedule.htm

Heartfelt thanks to so many dedicated activists and vegan educators and advocates for helping to make all these events so successful on every level. Together, we can transform our world, and, it seems, we must do so very soon, and stop the vicious attack on our Earth, and on animals and each other that animal agriculture causes. Health, peace, and abundance are completely possible and available to us as we awaken from the injurious official stories of our culture and live with kindness for all.

Thanks for your efforts! That’s it for now,

With love and appreciation,

Will & Madeleine
Dr. Will Tuttle

For more in-depth instruction in the World Peace Diet;
For VegInspiration For The Day

1083 Vine Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Beat the Wintertime Blues with a Mood-Boosting Plant-Based Diet!

From PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine):

Food for Life: The Power of Food for Health

Link for this article.

Beat the Wintertime Blues with a Mood-Boosting Plant-Based Diet!

During winter’s dark days, many people find their mood shifting, and they begin to fall into a cold-weather slump. The lower temperatures cause people to stay indoors. This inadequate exposure to natural sunlight disrupts melatonin production, which can affect sleep cycles. A disrupted sleep cycle can hinder productivity, making you feel sluggish and tired. Another side effect of poor melatonin production is lower levels of serotonin, a hormone responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness. Fortunately, evidence shows that following a plant-based diet can restore normal melatonin production, significantly increase serotonin, and help you beat the cold-weather blues.

Dr. Michael Greger, from NutritionFacts.org, discusses in his lecture series how plants have high levels of dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin, which can help boost levels in the human bloodstream. While serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain, the precursor for it, an amino acid called tryptophan, can. When most people hear about tryptophan, they think about Thanksgiving turkey and the post-dinner food coma that comes with it. However, researchers at MIT proved that myth wrong about a decade ago. Plant-derived tryptophan is much easier for our brains to absorb and utilize.

In an observational study looking at vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists versus omnivore Adventists, the vegetarian group reported better moods and lower levels of depression and anxiety. In a second study conducted by the same research team, subjects were assigned to different diets for two weeks. After the two weeks were over, the subjects in the vegetarian group increased their mood scores, but those on the omnivore diet did not. As we know, plants are high in antioxidants, and while most people only correlate antioxidants with cancer and illness protection, they also protect the brain from oxidative stress. Higher levels of oxidative stress are associated with higher instances of depression, and the antioxidants found in plants can help fight this stress and its side effects.

Another study from October 2012 collected data on the dietary choices of 80,000 individuals and then asked these participants to take a life satisfaction questionnaire. Scores were based on how many fruits and vegetables they consumed every day. Even after adjusting for many other constraints such as employment status, marital status, income, illness, education, and other dietary variables, greater fruit and vegetable consumption was strongly associated with greater life satisfaction scores.

So this winter, if you’re struggling to adjust to the cold days with less sunlight, reach for mood-boosting plant foods to help feel happy and healthful!

For recipe and meal ideas, click here.