The Vegan Post

Fitness/Health, Food

Let me start by stating that I am not vegan. I feel compelled to write this post because of a documentary my family watched which caused my parents to go cold-turkey on all animal-based foods.

Before we watched the film, my parents loved fish, chicken, cheese, milk, ice cream… you get the idea. Now? They are doing their best to eat a “whole foods, plant-based diet” and trying to convince everyone they know to do the same. (As for me, I’m choosing vegan and vegetarian options more often, but I can’t bring myself to give up cheese or milk in my coffee quite yet.)

The movie is called Forks Over Knives and it’s currently available on Netflix. “Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.” (read more here)

Basically, these two doctors spent their careers experimenting (independently… they didn’t meet each other until later in life) and each came to the conclusion that people who eat a plant-based diet with no animal-based products have a significantly lower chance of getting cancer. The film even features some patients who were able to survive their cancer death sentences by changing their diet. And it’s not only about cancer. The film also interviews patients who got rid of diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health problems by switching to a vegan diet.

You’d think this would be all over the news, because we are always searching for a magical cure to cancer, right? Well, here’s the thing about this possibly magical cure. It’s easy, and it’s cheap. No one is getting rich off this breakthrough. There’s no fancy pharmaceutical drug that a company can charge millions for. It’s just a lifestyle change that anyone can make, with or without the help of a doctor. Frankly, it’s cheaper to eat a plant-based diet than an animal-based one.

“It is time to let food be our medicine.”

What do you think? Are you familiar with this film or with the claims it makes about a plant-based diet? Have you made the switch to veganism?

-L

If you like Downton Abbey…

Quick Read, TV

I don’t know about you, but I loved this season of Downton Abbey. Somehow it was even better than last season. But after watching Sunday’s finale, I am already feeling a sense of loss. What am I supposed to watch now?

So I figured, with the end of this season of Downton, other people might have the same question. Lucky for you, I have some suggestions.

Mr. Selfridge

Another PBS Masterpiece series, Mr. Selfridge has 2 seasons out, with season 3 scheduled to start March 29th. This show takes place in London in 1919, the same period as Downton. It begins with American Harry Selfridge opening his first department store in London. The story follows the drama of Harry’s wealthy social circle as well as the lives of his shop employees. (Available on Amazon Prime.)

Call the Midwife

Also on PBS, Call the Midwife is quite possibly my favorite show of the last couple years. It’s had three seasons so far, with season 4 beginning March 29th. The show follows Nurse Jenny Lee, a young woman from a well-to-do family who moves to London’s impoverished East End to become a midwife in 1950. If you like heartwarming (and heartbreaking) stories about women, try this one. (Available on Netflix.)

Bomb Girls

I had never heard of this show when I stumbled upon it on Netflix. Once I got into it I was heartbroken that it only has 3 short seasons because it is so good. It takes place in Canada during WWII and tells the story of the women, from all walks of life, who work in a bomb factory. (Available on Netflix.)

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Sadly, this list doesn’t help me because I have already watched (and loved) these shows. Now what suggestions do you have for me?

-L

Diversity in Hollywood

Essay, Feminism, Gender

I am someone who gets invested in stories. I get sucked into books, especially series, and I recently realized I prefer this new age of television (ability to watch full seasons via Netflix, Hulu, etc) to movies. This new age of television has also brought a much needed touch of diversity with more and more lead characters, writers, and show runners who are not only Caucasian, middle-aged, men. Even though I am drawn to these new shows, cable television has definitely missed a few steps along the way.

Going through the current major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC), diversity is starting to take hold, but usually as an addition and very safe. The Mindy Project was lauded for featuring an female who is Indian as the lead, but most of the rest of the featured cast is a Caucasian boys club. Modern Family features a gay couple, but most of the cast, including the couple, are middle-class Caucasian. The Big Bang Theory shows off the stereotypical Caucasian (and Indian) “nerds” and the dumb-blonde Caucasian woman. It finally (sort-of, almost) got its act together when adding the smart, nerdy Caucasian women. I will give it props for showcasing a character who is (most likely) on the autism spectrum.

Some outliers include Fox’s Glee (in its last season) who tries to “champion the underdog” by showcasing characters who are transgender, bi-sexual, gay, disabled, etc. ABC’s Black-ish features a middle-class African-American family.  We also have a saving grace in Shonda Rhimes, whose series include Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Grey’s Anatomy. They all have strong, female leads. They also feature ethnic and sexual orientation diversity. They definitely aren’t perfect, but I feel they are some of the only series where diversity is effortless.

Cable television isn’t perfect, nor does every show have to be a perfect depiction of diversity. But, I am now looking towards new television outlets to set the bar.The change from traditional cable networks to other content creators and providers has allowed for a more thoughtful and daring look at diversity. Maybe there is less red tape. Maybe they don’t have to rely on ad revenue. It is clear that they have more freedom to explore. Here are some quick examples of these shows:

– Transparent on Amazon: Transgender father, tackles gender identity. Female creator and producer who enacted a “transfirmative action program” that favors hiring transgender candidates over cisgender applicants. All the bathrooms on set are gender neutral.

– Girls on HBO: Created, produced, directed, written, and starred by Lena Dunham. All four leads are female, not just sex focused a la Sex and the City.

-Orange is the New Black on Netflix: Mostly female cast in a woman’s prison. Tackles ethnic diversity, gender identity, sexuality, and represents people of different socio-economic backgrounds.

– Looking on HBO: Unfiltered view of 3 men’s lives who are gay in San Francisco.

This has got me thinking: maybe I am staying away from movies because it hasn’t transitioned as quickly as television. I have no interest in the fifth Transformers movie especially after watching the opening scene with Megan Fox in the sequel. I am clearly bored of the Spider Man reboots, every Iron Man, X-Men, Avengers, Wolverine, Thor, Hulk… wait there are still more Marvel movie franchises I haven’t listed? They must be making so much money… anyways, I digress. Where is the diversity? Reese Witherspoon started her own production company because Hollywood was lacking in movies with “clear, female voices”. Interestingly enough, most of my to-see movie list for the last year wouldn’t exist that company: Gone Girl and Wild.

It is your call Hollywood, how quickly are you going to catch up? I guess I am just going to continue sitting here, binge watching Netflix until you do.