vegan

Hippiescience - what is it and where does it come from?

I think anyone who's been working out long enough has come across the term 'broscience' and their fair share of broscientists. These are people who make wild claims about the effectiveness of certain workouts or nutrition programmes without any evidence whatsoever other than their own anecdotes.

Unfortunately, anyone who has been involved in the vegan health and fitness scene will also have to contend with broscience's raw fruitarian sidekick. For lack of a better term, let's call this 'hippiescience'.

What is hippiescience?

Hippiescience is a form of pseudoscience that is particularly prevalent within health and fitness, and is mostly commonly encountered in vegan communities, but is also espoused in other niche fitness movements.

Hippiescience is a pervasive force that's, at best, embarrassing for the vegan health and fitness movement, and, at worst, downright damaging to people's abilities to live a healthy lifestyle.

Like broscience, there’s little to no real science to back most hippiescience up. Instead, it consists of extremist health claims about the body’s nutritional needs (such as claims that protein is pretty much unimportant, or that any supplement other than spirulina is evil) and what constitutes healthy eating.

Wander the forums of vegan fitness communities, and whilst the vast majority of people are trying to have intelligent discussions about nutritional needs and exercise, there'll be at least a handful of people spouting unfounded statements about yoga, detoxing, fruit, superfoods, RDAs of protein being 20 grams, or even worse (read: crystals and antivaccine).

hippiescience

How does pseudoscience begin?

Fitness communities and ‘expertise’

Fitness communities aren't made up of nutritionists, trainers, athletes, doctors and experts. In an ideal world there would be an abundance of them in any community, ready to educate and advise. But actually, fitness communities only have a sprinkling of those folk in them, and the vast majority of people tend to be your everyday person who doesn't work in the industry of health, fitness, and wellbeing. These are people who range from being extremely unhealthy and are looking for advice on how to get on track to a healthier lifestyle, to those for whom fitness is like a second job to them and meticulously track their workout and nutrition routines. Most people are somewhere in the middle. And there's a wildly varying degree of knowledge from person to person.

Thus, besides the minority of qualified professionals, the newbies will look for people they can aspire to: the unhealthy, overweight, and struggling, will look to the fit, healthy, and seemingly knowledgeable. The former are people who may be at a particularly vulnerable point in their lives, and are lost when it comes to their health, and will take others' word as gospel when it comes to advice.

Distilling research

To add to this problem is the issue of research going into many fitness topics being limited or even non-existent, and that which does exist may be mired with bias and problems, as highlighted in our recent article on HMB. All too often though this research, problematic as it may be, will be snapped up, stripped of 99% of its content, and stuck on someone’s blog with the claim that this is the ultimate exercise to lose weight, and that that is all you need to eat to grow chunky biceps.

Whilst peer-reviewed research papers allude to the myriad of errors that might plague the research, or point to what could be done better, Joe Bloggs’… well, blog, doesn’t point to any of that and just dives straight in with ‘this research shows that adding this weird chemical supplement to your diet is the BEST way to gain muscle’ without any consideration for the errors at hand for the unwitting fitness public to read up on.

How does pseudoscience, and particularly hippiescience prevail?

There are a series of social and psychological problems that lead to the spread of pseudoscience, some unique to veganism, some not. We'll look at five key reasons here. Most aren't malevolent or greedy but are still harmful. Some are motivated by greed, however, so let's look at that first...

1. You can get away with it on the internet

Mycotoxins... Mycotoxins tho.

Mycotoxins... Mycotoxins tho.

The internet is a haven for liars. It protects anonymity, and thus allows anyone to say anything without being at any real risk. At most they’ll get challenged on their claims, and they’ll disappear to a new comment thread or forum article to spread their smatterings elsewhere. Anyone can claim anything, and everyone has an equal voice. It’s both the great opportunity and the great danger of the internet. Disingenuous comments will be shared, and sooner or later the truth is entirely concealed. This is furthered by the use of Photoshop to edit together images.

This can happen for a multitude of reasons, including downright maliciousness. Most commonly though there’s commercial gain to be had. Whaddya know, the person making these wild claims is also peddling some overpriced product, and furthering bogus claims to support it is just part of their marketing activities.

A recent case in point (although actually targeted at the paleo crowd rather than vegans) is Bulletproof Coffee – a company which made wild and unsubstantiated claims about harmful mycotoxins in coffee. Good marketing to the paleo community, and the coffee was getting snapped up for about four times the price of a normal bag of high quality coffee. Only a few years later have the claims about mycotoxins been debunked, but I have little doubt that people are still buying this stuff by the kilo.

2. Community confusion and groupthink

Linked to this is the problem of group dynamics. Much of our society is built on the idea that the majority are correct. Democracy, you may wanna cover your ears for a mo…

Unfortunately, due to the psychological phenomenon of ‘groupthink’ we are far more likely to allow erroneous claims to go unchallenged, especially when such a claim is being spouted by numerous members of a community. It’s natural for most of us to actually avoid conflict, and allow those claims to go on.

Thus, in our natural desire to move towards cohesiveness, more and more people will get swallowed up into the erroneous points of view, and before long, factually incorrect information is being spread as the truth and going totally unchallenged.

As the group dynamic grows, so too does the difficulty of nipping it in the bud. With regards to hippiescience, perhaps this is most prevalent with the antivaccine movement: a vast but entirely irrational body, which completely ignores the decades of research disproving its beliefs. Because the group is so large it has become difficult to break it, despite scientific refutation of pretty much every single claim.

3. Protection of views

Despite our inherent desire to avoid conflict, we are also incredibly defensive of our views. Even when we are disproved by rational science, we cling to our original remarks, occasionally altering them to fit the elements that were disproven. When’s the last time you enjoyed being wrong? Exactly. This is a result of cognitive dissonance – we find it difficult to reconcile the fact that we’d hold irrational beliefs, but rather than altering ourselves, we try to alter others.

Discussing fruit with a hippiescientist is like discussing evolution with a creationist.

Discussing fruit with a hippiescientist is like discussing evolution with a creationist.

I recently walked smackbang into some hippiescience in action on the Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness Facebook page. A girl on there asked if it was ok to use frozen fruit and veg for her smoothies, as she couldn’t afford fresh. One respondent claimed fresh ‘is always best,’ but I pointed to some studies showing that frozen is actually more nutritious, based on nutrients being ‘locked in’ (rather than being leeched from the produce over the days it gets shipped to the supermarket), and due to it being allowed to properly ripen (most ‘fresh’ produce, is actually picked before its ripe to allow for shipping time).

To this one comment, I received a wall text with several different wild claims including one about frozen fruits inhibiting the absorption of vitamins and minerals, one saying that we require water in the fruit to enhance absorption, and told that I could ‘believe’ what I wanted to ‘believe.’

Others jumped in to back up my point and link to further rational, scientific evidence. To which came the response that we cannot trust scientists, as they all have an agenda.

The common backup argument of the hippiescientist is that scientists are all funded by big corporations, and when this argument is dug out of its box it’s time to walk away. It's the hippiescientist equivalent of Godwin's Law. There’s very little reasoning to be done here. The hippiescientist here went on to claim that all food should be eaten raw, and despite people stating that they could not digest some raw food, she told them to just keep going until the ‘digestive system heals itself from the lifetime of eating meat, dairy, and grains’. Again, this could actively hurt people, and thus it’s fair to judge this behaviour as morally reprehensible.

4. Desperate to promote veganism

Admitting we need B12 isn't admitting the defeat of veganism. 

Admitting we need B12 isn't admitting the defeat of veganism. 

This commonly occurs in vegan fitness communities when people deny all nutritional facts that have come before and approach healthy eating with a clean slate. Shrugging off protein and B12 as either not necessary or simple to attain by just eating fruits and veggies seems tempting at first – after all, if we can easily get our nutritional needs from those sources alone then veganism is a no brainer, right?

Well, sadly that’s not the way the body works. Yes, you can survive on a fairly low level of protein. But studies on protein for athletes have been done to death, and consistently show that, at an absolute bare minimum, we need 1g per kg per day. As for B12, there are two decent sources: animal products, and a pill. To deny all this isn’t going to turn more people towards veganism; it’s actually going to hurt the movement. It makes vegans look like idiots who’ve got very little nutritional knowledge.

Instead we should be promoting a varied and nutritious diet with good levels of protein, and supporting vegan protein companies and those working towards providing good alternatives to animal protein, such as Beyond Meat and Muufri. I met Patrik Baboumian a couple of years ago, who is arguably the world’s strongest vegan. He gets approximately 200-300g of protein per day.

This image is regularly shared on social media. Broccoli vs beef for protein. Firstly, that's a fairly inaccurate estimation of the protein content - beef typically contains about 15g per 100 calories. Secondly, basing this on calories presents an misleading picture. You'd need to be eating a ridiculous amount of broccoli to hit your RDA of protein from that alone.

This image is regularly shared on social media. Broccoli vs beef for protein. Firstly, that's a fairly inaccurate estimation of the protein content - beef typically contains about 15g per 100 calories. Secondly, basing this on calories presents an misleading picture. You'd need to be eating a ridiculous amount of broccoli to hit your RDA of protein from that alone.

Hell, even if a head of broccoli did have your RDA of protein in it, we have to face facts – people don’t eat meat for health reasons, but because it tastes good. The hippiescientist can talk until the (free-roaming companion animal) cows come home about how you can get your RDA of everything from cucumber skin, but in all honesty it wouldn’t make a difference even if you could. If you want to further veganism, both from a nutritional standpoint and as an ideological movement, then support the companies making strides into the animal protein alternatives out there.

5. Most people just want to help

Perhaps the biggest reason for the spread of hippiescience is an entirely innocent one – people genuinely just want to help. They may have read some hippiescience elsewhere, or tried something that worked for them, and will then pass it on to others looking for guidance. As mentioned above, most people aren’t experts, and they only know what they’ve read elsewhere in vegan health and fitness communities.

The problem is that giving the wrong advice is only going to exacerbate people’s health issues, and cause them problems later on. Offering some advice is fine, but it’s best if it comes from someone in the know. Wherever possible, recommend people see a vegan-friendly nutritionist for the best advice. Speaking of which, I guess this is an apt time for me to say I am not a nutritional expert myself, so take everything I’ve said with a pinch of (low-sodium, iodine enriched) salt. Yes, even the thing about not being able to get all your vitamins from cucumber skins… you never know.

How to change it?

Stay educated – keep reading up on nutrition if you’re going to advise people. I don’t mean blogs, and I certainly don’t mean exclusively vegan groups where there’s a clear agenda. I mean scientific and evidence-based approaches. Examine is a good place to start.

Educate others – when you know, share the knowledge. Link to sources wherever possible. Invite people to read the studies, or at least the abstracts. And don’t spread hippiescience.

Support vegan nutrition companies – there are a ton of brilliant companies out there producing vegan nutritional supplements, protein powders, animal-protein replacements and more. They need our money if they’re going to thrive though.

Challenge hippiescience – if you see blatent hippiescience, don’t be afraid to challenge it. Especially if it’s being recommended to someone who seems to be new to veganism and is looking for advice.

Yoga, spirulina, and raw foods all have their place - I've equally seen people jump too far the other way and rubbish anything commonly espoused by hippiescientists. Actually, yoga, 'superfoods' and raw eating are all awesome, and there's scientific evidence to prove it, but aren't the be all and end all to balanced healthy lifestyles.

Live by example – at the end of the day, even common nutritional pillars aren’t applicable to everyone. Yes, there may be people out there for whom certain hippiescience mainstays have worked. But the best thing to do is find what works for you, and build on it. Tell people it worked for you, but just remember to include the caveat that you’re not an expert. That said, I’ll never wear a crystal. Sorry.

EthicalStores - a new ethical product marketplace

EthicalStores launched just last month and is aiming to become a new one stop shop for ethical goods, clothing, food and more.

Somewhat similar to renowned crafts site Etsy in its design, anyone can sign up to EthicalStores and list their product(s) on the website. The twist is, however, that all items are vegan, cruelty-free, and ethically superior to that which you'd find elsewhere. It takes a matter of minutes to get a product listed, where users can leave images and descriptions of the products they want to sell.

EthicalStores is a new online marketplace for ethical products

EthicalStores is a new online marketplace for ethical products

Customers can then find the products via search functions, or a featured products section on the front page of the site, as well as featured businesses that appear in the sidebar. 

In addition, EthicalStores is a non-profit organisation. Volunteers from all around the world have collaborated in making EthicalStores a reality. With a mission of promoting ethical products and lifestyles on a global scale, EthicalStores is aiming to grow and stock a wide variety of products for every area of one's life. At this point in time, the store is stocking anything from beauty products, to jams and preserves, and homeware items that would make great gifts for others... or a fitting addition to your own kitchen.

To find out more about EthicalStores, head to www.ethicalstores.com.

Ben and Jerry's vegan ice cream is coming

Kings of the ice cream world, and of doing business differently, Ben and Jerry's have announced they are working on vegan ice cream flavours.

FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) - a charity organisation that works to end the use of animals in farming - has been badgering Ben and Jerry's in the wake of their annual free cone day which occurred on 14th April 2015. A slew of campaigners have been shown holding placards outside Ben and Jerry's establishments saying why they want vegan ice cream on the menu, and FARM has also been pushing the agenda on Twitter and via a petition.

Ben and Jerry's have responded though. And it's good news.

Yup, vegan Ben and Jerry's ice cream is on its way

Yup, vegan Ben and Jerry's ice cream is on its way

At this point there's no confirmation on what flavours will be veganised, or how long it'll be until we see vegan Ben and Jerry's on the shelves, but we hope to see some old favourites like Cookie Dough and Phish Food soon.

To support FARM's ongoing campaign to push for vegan options, check out http://demanddairyfree.com/ and sign their petition to Ben and Jerry's, which currently sits at over 21,000 signatures.

Why going vegan helps people

The moral and ethical reasoning behind veganism so often focuses on animals. Yet no matter how solid the reasoning, for some people this just isn't enough. No arguments about animals will sway them because animals just don't have enough worth.

Meat tastes good. I get it. But what about going vegan for the sake of other people? In an attempt to build on the understanding of veganism, here are five key reasons to go vegan for the good of humanity – how can humans benefit from a worldwide shift to a vegan diet?

Antibiotics overuse

We are approaching D-day in the medical sector. Antibiotics are being squandered, and it’s no longer realistic to expect them to be available forever. Without antibiotics, simple surgery will kill thousands of people through infection. Childbirth will be a hugely risky endeavour. And a minor chest infection could kill a healthy adult.

We are breeding an army of superbugs through our overuse of antibiotics. Scary, no?

And how are we squandering our antibiotics? Well, the animal agriculture industry unfortunately. In the US, the industry has been routinely pumping about 70% of antibiotics produced into healthy animals. This prevents the animal from getting sick, and causes a minor and unexplained increase in growth. Great for the industry, terrible for the future of medicine.

A growing body of research is linking the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture to antibiotic resistant superbugs. However, until the industry is changed, no single farm is going to want to risk changing its own practices for fear of losing profits in a highly competitive environment. One way to expedite the industry changes is to boycott it yourself.

For more information, we recommend the film Resistance.

Resistance is a documentary focusing on the massive overuse of antibiotics. One of its focal points is animal agriculture.

Resistance is a documentary focusing on the massive overuse of antibiotics. One of its focal points is animal agriculture.

Eradicating food poverty

Meat consumption hampers efforts to feed poverty-stricken countries. Not to oversimplify matters, but the answer to the challenges of charities such as Oxfam is actually blatant, and that is to leave meat off your plate.

Animal protein is horrendously inefficient to produce, requiring vast amounts of grains, soy, and other crops to feed the 50+ billion animals used in agriculture per year. There are only 7 billion humans on the planet at the moment, yet we are struggling to feed them.

A UK government report on the future of farming published back in 2011 highlighted how this problem will only worsen as the population grows to 9 billion over the next few decades, demonstrating how there needs to be a massive shift in the distribution of food as it stands. A plant-based diet is the best way to commit to this shift on a personal level.

Protecting oil supplies

Whilst veganism is often intertwined with the renewable energy movement, it would also protect what limited non-renewable energy resources we have left, and ensure they can be used more efficiently. With current estimates pointing to oil running somewhere around the middle of this century, this is a pressing issue.

There are numerous stages within the animal agriculture industry where these resources are used in abundance. Manchester-based artist Mishka Henner highlights this eloquently.

His series of aerial shots of feedlots and oilfields hint at the interrelationships between these two massive industries. Feedlots are the final feeding stations for cattle before slaughter – in the last few weeks of their lives the aim is to fatten them up, adding about 4 pounds of weight per day. Masses of corn and grain are provided to the animals.

Mishka Henner's work includes aerial photographic images of Texan feedlots and oilfields, subtly hinting at the interrelationship between them driven by animal agriculture.

Mishka Henner's work includes aerial photographic images of Texan feedlots and oilfields, subtly hinting at the interrelationship between them driven by animal agriculture.

These crops are grown elsewhere, and shipped to the feedlot. By food activist Michael Pollan’s estimations, each bushel of corn (about 8 gallons) requires a whopping 1.2 gallons of oil which is used primarily in chemical fertilisers.

We’ve already mentioned the inefficiency of turning plants into animals for consumption, but this affects the future of the world’s non-renewable energy supply, at a time when inefficiency cannot be afforded.

Personal health

Despite ongoing debate on nutrition and long-term health, a shift towards a plant-based, vegan diet filled with fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, healthy fats, and lean vegan protein is consistently shown to be optimal for long-term health.

Only a month ago, an independent US government advice committee (The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) published a report highlighting the necessity of a shift towards plant-based eating for the long-term health of citizens.

There are plenty of proponents for other diets, but consistently a plant-based one comes out on top for long-term health. This particular committee is entirely independent and aren’t swayed by bias.

You can either read the full 571 page report, packed with evidence… or just take our word for it. A vegan diet is optimal for personal health.

The slippery slope

Leo Tolstoy had some awesome ideas, and an even more awesome beard

Leo Tolstoy had some awesome ideas, and an even more awesome beard

This is a slightly less palpable point, as it’s more conceptual than practical, but bear with me.

When discussing vegetarianism, Tolstoy stated that for ‘as long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.’

Tolstoy’s point was that violence begets violence. When we see it as possible to subjugate what we would call ‘lesser beings’ where will we stop? The slippery slope leads us from subjugating animals, to cultures and peoples we see as inferior. Our compassion makes way for violent traits within us, and those violent traits dominate.

Tolstoy illustrates that we can never be sure where those violent traits will end, and to whom we will extend them to. Thus, by exercising compassion over animals, we are more likely to exercise compassion over man.

The Almond Tree Review

The Almond Tree is a small café based in Brighton serving exclusively vegetarian and vegan food. Its modest, unassuming exterior hides some of the best quality and lovingly created food in the south-east of England. The aim is not to impress with long lists of fancy ingredients and decorative displays of food, but neither is it to offer simple and easy dishes to the masses. It's a labour of love, where every single dish feels like it has been made especially for you. Many restaurants aim for that home-cooked meal feeling but fall short, whilst The Almond Tree has you enjoying good food, whilst evoking a hint of nostalgia for familial cooking.

I've been to The Almond Tree several times before, but this review is going to be slightly different. Firstly, the café closed for several months towards the end of 2014, and has recently been refurbished. Secondly, this is taken from their Valentine's Day special menu - the first of their planned event evenings. Normally, they shut in the evenings, so food is a breakfast/lunch affair. But this three-course meal provides an apt opportunity to review the café anyway.

Review

Before headed for the Almond Tree, my partner and I picked up some drinks. This was a BYOB event, which I think is always a plus. You get to choose exactly what you'd like, without paying obscene amounts for a bottle of wine or a few beers. If BYOB isn't to your taste, there were still drinks on offer at the café, so really it's a matter of preference, but you can't deny having the option is a bonus.

When we turned up, the lovely staff greeted, introduced themselves, shook our hands and took our coats. It's that initial personal touch that makes The Almond Tree an experience, and not just about the cuisine.

But it didn't stop there. Just a couple of minutes after we'd be shown to our table, we were offered a (free) glass of Prosecco to start the evening. We sat sipping our Prosecco, and were able to see the chef cooking our meals in the open plan kitchen just metres away. This filled the room with rich aromas of roasting vegetables and gentle spices.

The first course was a parsnip and ginger soup, topped with sliced fried tofu and kale crisps. A warm, thick, wintery soup that was smooth and packed with flavour. The tofu was fried to perfection - chewy yet tender, and marinating before my eyes in the delicious soup, whilst the kale crisps provided a nice contrast to the texture. Initially I thought they may be a bit out of place in this soup, but as soon as I tasted the combination it all felt right, with the kale slowly turning soft as it sat in the soup. A brilliant start.

Ginger and parsnip soup with kale and chewy tofu

Ginger and parsnip soup with kale and chewy tofu

Tofu and spinach bake

Tofu and spinach bake

Our main was being prepared as we ate, ensuring wait times between dishes was minimal. I was unsure what to expect from the main. The menu read 'tofu and spinach bake on a celeriac and nutmeg puree, served with cherry tomatoes confit and crispy vegetables.' I saw the chef finishing the meal, and the other staff armed with cameras taking photos of the creation, again showing the real sense of pride about the dishes that were coming out of the kitchen.

Rest-assured, the food was delicious. The tofu and spinach bake was reminiscent of an omelette. Again, beautifully cooked tofu presented a meaty texture which began to crumble in the mouth. The cherry tomatoes were divine, and the puree added a sweet flavour to the other components of the dish. The vegetables acted as a nice side, but the main event was definitely the bake itself. My tofu misadventures (particularly baking and grilling efforts) have demonstrated how difficult it is to cook with that good ol' block of soya, so this was really quite an impressive dish.

The final dish on the menu was fresh fruit, soya and coconut whipped cream, and chocolate drops. That description does not do this justice. I was fully expecting (and would have been happy with) a plate of fruit and chocolate chips, and a side pot of cream. What came out was more like a sundae; a martini glass with the components layered. Whilst the initial soup was like a farewell to the cold winter months that had just passed, the dessert was like a greeting to summer. Sumptuous fresh berries marinating in juice combined with a thick, sweet cream and shavings of dark chocolate. So simple, yet the superlative point of the meal. Delightful.

Coconut cream sundae

Coconut cream sundae

Enjoying the lovely Almond Tree!

Enjoying the lovely Almond Tree!

And before we could leave, we were brought a plate of homemade truffles - thick, sticky dark chocolate to end a brilliant meal.

As mentioned, The Almond Tree is a labour of love. Every ingredient to the experience, both literal and otherwise, is provided with the sole aim of creating dishes that can be deemed as perfect. It'll never win awards for innovative cooking, or gastronomic brilliance. But instead it offers something much more important: a sense of passion in everything they do.

David Haye's vegan protein review

David Haye and Love Health Supplements kindly set us a batch of his new vegan protein to trial, so here's the True Icon take on it. 

Choices, choices

Choices, choices

As we've already covered previously, David recently made the shift to a vegan diet on an ethical basis. In his transition he began marketing some vegan, plant-based protein powders. These are available from his Hayemaker Store.

The details

The shakes come in two different flavours - mint chocolate chip and rich chocolate. They are a blend of yellow pea protein, brown rice protein, and quinoa protein. In addition, the blend includes BCAAs, green tea extract, digestive enzymes, and Himalayan rock salt (which helps to combat muscular cramp). The sweetness comes from stevia too, as opposed to the ubiquitous unnatural sweeteners I've seen included in other powders.

From this alone, I think you can see the level of effort that has gone into preparing this product. This is a far cry from the vegan standard of murky, unmixable, and unsavoury pea protein powders which are available elsewhere. Everything that has gone into the Hayemaker's protein powder is designed to maximise your athletic performance.

Perhaps most interesting is the protein blend itself though. Pea and rice? Yep, had it before. But the quinoa protein is a very welcome addition. Quinoa is a complete protein source, but is shamefully underused in plant-based powders. Also, you won't find any soy here either. Whilst the jury's out on soy (and I for one eat a lot of the stuff), this blend avoids it and thus avoids any controversy.

The taste

I call this one the 'serious and sweaty' pose

I call this one the 'serious and sweaty' pose

We got the opportunity to try both the mint choc chip and rich chocolate flavours of the shakes, and rest assured they're both awesome.

I tried mint choc chip first. For this, I mixed it straight with almond milk. Mint choc chip is always a less versatile flavour in my opinion, and I tend to prefer it without anything else mixed into the shake. The mint flavour can sometimes clash a bit with any fruit I throw in, but in hindsight a few fruits such as apples may have worked well.

Nevertheless, the mint choc chip flavour was great on its own. It was very rich and relatively creamy for a non-dairy shake. It had some earthy undertones, which were most likely a result of the quinoa. The Himalayan rock salt gave it a slightly salty taste which added to the overall flavour. It was a great shake though, and whilst I don't tend to go in for mint choc chip flavours myself I could see myself making a protein hot chocolate with this powder.

With the rich chocolate flavour I tasted a little on its own and mixed the rest with a few bananas and quinoa flakes in a smoothie. On its own the rich chocolate was very palatable, and I could have been convinced it wasn't even a protein powder but a dessert drink. It was even better in the smoothie though. The sweetness of the bananas and the touch of saltiness from the Himalayan rock salt were an incredible combo. The result was a thick, smooth, caramel-like taste.

Effectiveness

Honestly, from just two shakes, it's impossible to tell really. What I can say is that neither shake left me feeling bloated, and both actually felt energising which is a quality that's quite rare in a shake. As such, these would make great pre-workout supplements as well as post-workout. Based on the ingredients I'd trust that this would be a very effective shake to use in the long run in conjunction with a solid workout routine though.

Verdict

All in all, this is a fantastic product. At £39.99 for an 800g tub it's on the pricey side. But you are paying a premium price for a premium protein powder. This product isn't about fancy flavours (although it is delicious), nor is it about just a protein supplement. It's been formulated from the ground-up by David Haye and the team at Love Health to be the gold standard in plant-based nutritional supplements for vegan athletes, and to this end it succeeds.

You can buy David Haye's vegan protein from the Hayemaker online store.

Tasty tasty brotein

Tasty tasty brotein

 

David Haye is vegan

UK boxing heavyweight legend, David Haye, has announced that he went vegan at the start of 2014. 

David Haye claims he will 'never go back' to eating animal products for ethical reasons.

David Haye claims he will 'never go back' to eating animal products for ethical reasons.

In an interview with The Independent, The Hayemaker mentioned that he 'watched a TV documentary about how animals are farmed, killed and prepared for us to eat'. 

It's great to see him coming to veganism from an ethical approach, but he is also ensuring he maintains a diet that allows him to continue to fight. He states 'I saw all those cows and pigs and realised I couldn't be a part of it any more. It was horrible. I did some research to make sure I could still obtain enough protein to fight and, once satisfied that I could, I stopped. I'll never go back.'

Having been vegan for 6 months now, David has also released a range of vegan proteins - an industry that needs all the support it can get. It's great to see a big player enter the market, and the products look fantastic. Mint Chocolate Chip and Rich Chocolate are the two products available. The nutritional profile is unique and consists of a blend of yellow pea protein, raw brown rice protein, and quinoa protein. This provides a large amino acid profile, and beneficial micronutrients. It has numerous other benefits, including BCAAs, green tea extract, and digestive enzymes to ensure your body gets the most out of the product. Whilst £34.99 is a little on the pricey side for a 800g tub, it is a very high quality product. We'll be trying it out soon.

For those that are as geeky as us about nutritional profiles, this is probably pretty exciting.

For those that are as geeky as us about nutritional profiles, this is probably pretty exciting.

With an impressive professional boxing career spanning over 10 years, with only 2 losses, David Haye is one of the most successful boxers to ever live. Packing one of the world's strongest punches earned him the nickname 'The Hayemaker', David collected title after title during his career including the WBA heavyweight title.

To add to his already impressive career, David was one of 2010's Sports Personalities of the Year alongside the likes of Jessica Ennis and Mark Cavendish. He also has a Doctor of Science degree from Anglia Ruskin University.

It's great to hear that another big sporting name has gone vegan. What's most exciting though is that David Haye is back in training with one main goal - 'I want to become world heavyweight champion again'. Could we see the first vegan WBA heavyweight champion in the coming years? Only David Haye can give us the answer to that question.

UPDATE: we now have a review for David Haye's vegan protein.

 

Just What Is 'True Icon' Anyway?

 

Welcome to my long overdue explanation of what True Icon means to me. When Rob and I started the site we agreed we’d each write what the site was about and what it meant to us as our first posts.

Well, Rob stuck to our promise while I wrote my post months ago and subsequently scrapped it. I’m a perfectionist who eventually, grudgingly, settles for less than perfect; this time in the form of a stream of conscious blast of blogging.

So what does True Icon mean to me? When Rob first came up with the name and the tag “Become the Icon” it grew on me over the space of the next 5 minutes to encompass a lot of what I wanted the site to be. I’m not sure if it came endowed with meaning that took me 5 minutes to understand (It’s a strong possibility) or if I subscribed my own meaning to it. At this point it probably doesn’t matter.

So what is it? In short, we want True Icon sell ethical and stylish clothes. Both Rob and I have been vegan for a number of years and we’ve found ethical ‘fashion’ to be at best highly suspect. We’re hoping to provide organic, fair trade and fashionable clothing for both men and women as soon as possible. As you can probably tell from the state of the site at the moment, neither of us our web designers; we’re working on the shop functionality and going over every aspect of our products to make sure they’re as ethical as they can possibly be.

In the meantime, we’re throwing out material on anything and everything that we care about. Loosely broken into categories:

Culture: be that books, games, music, films or what have you. It’s a broad title but if it’s good enough for the Guardian, it’s good enough for me.

Fitness: We’re both fitness obsessed and we think everyone should be. Expect posts on workouts, diets, Martial Arts and how to generally make yourself into a superhero.

Essays: In which we cover topics in depth that we have been thinking about recently. This is a bit of a “File as Misc.” section.

Food: Always vegan. Nearly always healthy, fitness focused, quick and convenient. Apart from the odd indulgence including Oreo Ice Cream and Raw Food Vegan Snickers (both coming soon!). Check out the True Icon Rule of 7 for an explanation of the types of food we cook.

Technology: It has a larger and larger part in all our lives and almost everyone is fascinated by some part of it – we fall under the category of ‘almost everyone’, so here it is.

Fashion: Last but by no means least. We’ll cover brands and products we back as well as debates around just what exactly ethical fashion is anyway.

The link in all this is that we will cover things from an ethical standpoint. So if you’re an ethical dude or dudette, or you’d like to be, you’re in the right place

Finally getting onto the subject of the name, it’s easier to approach from our tagline “Become the Icon”.

I’ve heard a lot of vegan jokes over the years. But my favourite?

How do you know if someone is vegan?

Don’t worry. They’ll tell you.

It’s genius.

We’ve all met the preachy vegan types. They’re so stoked with themselves and their attitude to life.

“Would you like a crisp Mark?”

“Umm... no thanks. I take my crisps cruelty free.”

This is a slight exaggeration and in reality things are a little more nuanced. But no matter what way you look at it, no matter what type of vegan you are - it’s so very, very true.

It’s true about any ethical or moral choice. I wouldn’t be vegan if I didn’t think it was the right thing to do. And if I think it’s the right thing to do it would follow that I want others to be vegan as well.  And what better way to get people to be vegan than telling them about it, right?

But there are different ways to let people know.


1)   You can bombard them with facts.

Facts about why meat is bad, why diary is bad, why animal testing is bad. Facts about how these things damage the environment, global society and perhaps even your health.

Facts about how bee’s numbers are critically low, how we’re over fishing to the brink of disaster, how inefficient beef production is. Ad infinitum, ad infinitum, ad infinitum.

The reaction is unlikely to be a favourable one. It’s a bit like telling someone their hair is crap and that you don’t like their music taste and then asking them to buy your latest record. It’s not going to work.


Option two then.


2)   You can set an example.

Live your life to its fullest and live it ethically. Be an informed, healthy, attractive individual.

People might comment on your food, your clothes, your energy levels or physique. At this point, if you like, you can mention you’re vegan or vegetarian or that your clothes are fair-trade, ethical and just downright awesome in every way.

They’ve asked, so let them know. Let them know that being vegan is one of the best things you’ve ever done for you.

Over time they’ll see how you live your life and they’ll start to see that maybe they could make some changes. Maybe how you live will work for them too.

I’ve seen this with so many of my friends, family memebers and collegues. They come to making ethical choices in their own time and in their own way. They might not go vegan but they might shop more locally, eat less meat or avoid animal tested products.

Anyone with an ethical conscience wants immediate change. And it can happen. We will fight for it with pen and with fire, with protest and with boycott.

But first we need to set an example of how life can be.

That’s what True Icon means to me. I hope to set an example of just how easy and enjoyable it is to live a compassionate and considerate lifestyle. Most importantly, I hope you’ll join me.


________________________________________________________________________________


If you’ve read this far – major props. Please get in touch with us and let us know how we can make the site better and what you’d like us to cover. We’d love to hear from you.


Cheers, Kai

Kai@trueicon.co.uk & Rob@Trueicon.co.uk

The Rule of 7: Cooking at True Icon

tattoo___7___by_idfungus-d334sjf

Recipes at True Icon follow a bit of a philosophy. Below are the 7 commandments of True Icon Food. 1: Our recipes are always vegan.

2: They won’t be overcomplicated or make use of ingredients you couldn’t find at your local farmers market or supermarket. This keeps things cheap and convenient.

3: Our cooking is fitness based. Which means a high protein content, healthy fats and wholesome unrefined carbs.

4: We won’t use processed sugar in anything. Sweetness comes from fruit.

5: We will try to only use whole foods. In our weaker moments we might use some fake meats– like in our ‘Chicken’ Sate recipe.

6: We will try to give a breakdown of macro-nutrients and or calories (we may get lazy on this one at times).

7: Lastly, meals should take up the minimum amount of time to prepare and most importantly be downright irresistible.

 

If you have a recipe that you'd like featured that follows these rules, get in touch and we'll hook you up with a guest spot!

 

kai@trueicon.co.uk rob@trueicon.co.uk

Kappel Leroy Clarke sets new world record

kappel

Plant-based athlete Kappel Leroy Clarke has brought new meaning to the widely used weightlifting expression 'lift things up and put them down'. On a sunny Sunday in LA, Kappel travelled the distance between Venice Pier and Santa Monica Pier (2.7 miles) with his 48kg kettlebell. Picking the kettlebell up before throwing it out in front of him, and picking it up once again, Kappel covered the distance in 5 hours, 37 minutes and 58 seconds.

This resulted in exactly 1,801 throws of the kettlebell - a cumulative weight of 95.29 tonnes.

Kappel's approach to fitness has always been an interesting one. Much of his personal training and work with clients focuses less on the physical elements of fitness, and the thought processes that one undertakes in situations of extreme stress on the body (entitled Fre Flo Do). This approach was undoubtedly utilised in this extreme feat of endurance and strength.

A short film, entitled A Marathon of Power has been released showing Kappel's journey towards defeating this challenge.

 

Cucumber and Mint Salad

 

Cucumber Mint Salad

Cucumber is underrated. On holiday's in Cyprus I've had it served as an appetiser with a pinch of salt. It's eaten with toothpicks while you wait for the main course to arrive. This recipe takes that as a starting point and adds mint, basil cider vinegar and chili to the mix.

 

Preparation time: Under 5 minutes

 

Ingredients:

400g cucumber sea salt pepper one small chili a tablespoon of cider vinegar Fresh mint leaves

 

Recipe:

Finely dice the cucumber, chili and mint and toss together. Add the cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and serve. Easy!

 

 

Chili Lime Butter Bean Salad

A refreshing, spicey summer salad  

Chili Lime Butter Bean Salad - made in less than 5 minutes and fantastic for sharing, the chicory leaves act as edible spoons.

Preparation time: 5 minutes    

 

Ingredients:

200g butter beans Two Tomatoes One head of Chicory The juice of half a lime One small Chili One tablespoon of olive oil Salt & pepper to taste

 

Preparation:

The Salad: Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add to the butter beans in a large mixing bowl.

The Dressing: Finely dice the Chili and mix with lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

1: Add the dressing to the salad and toss together.

2: Peel the chicory leaves from the head and place in a flower shape around the outside of the serving bowl.

3: Lastly, pour the beans, tomatoes and dressing into the centre of the serving bowl and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

How to Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet

How do I lose weight on a vegan diet?

Losing weight on a vegan diet is the same as losing weight on any other. You must ensure that your body is using more calories than you are consuming. There are two ways to do this:

1) Eat fewer calories

2) Exercise

Ideally, you’ll be using a combination of these.

How much weight should I lose a week?

Try to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week. Any more than this can be unhealthy and unsustainable.

Remember that losing weight isn’t a race.

You’re looking to make life long lifestyle changes. If you lose 20 pounds in three weeks you will find it difficult to return to a healthy eating routine once you reach your target weight.

Slow and steady weight loss also encroaches less on your daily routine and quality of life. It will mean you can afford the odd treat and it abates the temptation to binge.

How many calories do I need to cut?

As a rough guide you need to cut 3,500 calories a week from your calorie intake to lose a pound of body fat.

Remember that this can be done by eating less, exercising or both.

If you were to diet alone, you need to cut 500 calories a day.

If you are exercising as a part of your weight loss plan you can afford to eat a little more on work out days.

On rest days, eat less.

What are some good vegan food options?

Within reason you can eat anything you like.

You could eat 1,500 calories of peanut butter and call it a day – but it’s not recommended.

Instead, look to eat a healthy range of foods including carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein.

Many people believe that carbohydrates will fill you up. But it’s better to fill up on protein sources like lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh and seitan. Your body takes longer to digest these – so you stay fuller for longer.

Carbs: Try to avoid ‘simple carbs’ like white rice and white pasta. Brown rice and quinoa are your best friends.

Proteins: The whole range of vegan protein sources are open to you. Lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan – you name it.

Fats: Fat is an important part of our diet so don’t cut it out completely. If you’re using nuts and seeds for protein you’ll be getting some healthy fats in the mix anyway. Other great sources include avocados, coconut oil and coconut milk.

Is cardio important?

It really depends on your goals.

You’ll hear a lot of body builders slate cardio in the belief that it burns calories that could be used to gain muscle.

Ignore them.

Cardio has many benefits including a lower resting heart rate, calorie burning and improved day -to-day fitness.

Cardio will help you cut calories from your diet and improve your ability to run for that bus, climb those stairs or whatever other obstacles get in your way from day to day.

Pick an exercise you like or that fits with your goals. Running, cycling, jump-rope, swimming are all great options.

If you decide to gain muscle, you can continue your cardio routine alongside weights and simply eat more to create a calorie surplus or you can cut the cardio. The choice it yours – it’s your life and your goal you’re aiming for.

If you really, really hate cardio and you’re prepared to make up the calorie burning potential with weights and calorie control then feel free to avoid it.

 

Steady State or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

Both.

Steady state cardio is great for endurance and like any form of exercise will help burn calories. It does however take a while with runs upwards of 1.5 hours not unheard of for those who enjoy it.

As a starting goal, try to aim for half an hour of steady state cardio as a minimum.

Walk, run, swim, it doesn’t matter - just keep your heart rate above resting.

HIIT on the other hand has been linked to increased calorie burning throughout the day. It also takes half the time of steady state cardio.

Try to incorporate one or two HIIT sessions a week into your routine. For a great home HIIT routine, try burpees for 30/60/90 seconds with 30 seconds rest in-between each set.

By using both you’ll be working towards great overall practical fitness.

Should I use a weights routine?

Unquestionably, yes.

If you have to choose between cardio and weights – pick weights. It’s been proven to help with weight loss more than cardio alone.

Whether you are male or female a weights routine will help you lose weight and unless your diet is geared towards it – won’t make you a beefcake.

Weight lifting increases your overall strength, balance and fitness and raises the heart rate, burning calories in the process.

Muscle is a calorie-burning machine. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn resting or working out.

Weight lifting will also decrease the chance of excess skin after weight loss, the muscle will help pad out where the fat used to be.

What’s the best exercise to help me lose weight?

The one you enjoy the most.

If you’re a runner, run. If you’re a boxer/martial artist, train and jump-rope. If you’re a swimmer, swim. If you’re a cyclist, ride.

Enjoy it, keep doing it, lose weight.

What about low carb/low fat diets?

Try to avoid fad diets.

Low fat or low carb diets are very popular. There are anecdotes across the web telling how they help you lose weight fast.

This might be true but remember you are looking to make a change for life.

Are you prepared to avoid high fat foods and carbs for the rest of your life? Your diet shouldn’t cause you any undue effort or hassle. Low fat and low carb diets can mean skipping meals you like and lead to feelings of guilt on occasions when you cave. Quite often it’s not worth it.

Our body is designed to make use of carbs, fats and proteins in different ways. Each plays an important part in our health and wellbeing so make sure you incorporate them in your diet.

Some studies have shown that low fat versions of food make us feel less full, meaning we eat more of them. Great for companies marketing low fat foods but bad news for you.

Will leangains/keto/paleo help me reach my goals?

These diets have proven results and many avid followers but they aren’t for everyone.

If your diet doesn’t fit around your lifestyle, if it leaves you craving things you can’t have, causes guilt when/if you cave or makes you constantly worry about what you’re eating then it’s not worth it.

The reason these diets work is because they all incorporate calorie deficits to their weight loss programs.

The most important thing in weight loss is using more calories than you consume. All else is tributary. Including whatever diet your friend or that blogger swears by.

Is the Body Mass Index (BMI) useful?

No.

The BMI chart is made redundant the moment you start using a weight routine because muscle weighs more than fat. Some of the healthiest people you know will be considered ‘overweight’ by the BMI chart.

Don’t beat yourself up over chart results, take photos, keep and eye on your reflection and if you want to be fastidious measure your waist, hips, arm and leg circumference regularly.

I’m in a calorie deficit but I’m not losing weight, what's going on?

First and foremost, check you are in a deficit.

Start counting calories. It’s tedious but if you aren’t losing weight by guesswork alone it might be needed. Some people are surprised by just how much they’re eating.

If you are in a calorie deficit – don’t cut it further immediately.

Stick with your deficit for a month or two. It can be frustrating to weigh yourself weekly only to find you’ve stayed the same weight or even gained some but there are good reasons why this could happen.

You may be gaining muscle while losing weight. This is known as ‘recomping’ and it’s quite common when you start a new routine.

You may notice noticeable changes in your appearance but no weight loss – this is why photos and keeping a keen eye on the mirror can be useful.

You may also be experiencing water retention. If you’re regularly feeling bloated, noticing indents on your ankles when you take your socks off or gaining weight rapidly over night you’re probably experiencing this.

Don't worry, water weight will drop off and often comes with a huge drop in weight and measurement.