In addition to taking a little extra vitamin D, I typically try to go somewhere sunny for a week or two during our grey days of winter and early spring. In March, I had the opportunity to attend the Fifth International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition, this year in California. (Program overview at www.vegetariannutrition.org/program-overview.html).

This conference, held every five years, was the original inspiration for our nutrition classic “Becoming Vegetarian”. In 1992, co-author Brenda Davis and I attended the second congress in Washington DC and out of that came our books that are now in 12 countries and four languages. On each occasion, this Congress provides us with an opportunity to hear and meet the eminent scientists whose research is the foundation of our continually updated books on nutrition, food sensitivities, and disease prevention.

Powerful presentations illustrated the benefits of a plant-based diet in reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and various cancers. For the first time, this Congress also featured experts on the impact of dietary choices on climate change.

We learned how to navigate our way among unfounded rumours about soyfoods, many of these promoted by dairy industry-linked websites. (For help with this, see the soy summary and references at www.pcrm.org/health/prevmed/soy_health.html ) It’s wise to include less processed soyfoods (edamame, tempeh, tofu) and fortified soymilk in a diet with other legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

When you think of nuts, do salty peanuts and beer spring to mind? If so, it’s time for an update. Nuts can reduce your chance of developing heart disease. In moderation, they are the best fats to retain in weight loss diets. They provide protein, vitamins, minerals (calcium in almonds, zinc in cashews) plus omega-3 fatty acids (in walnuts).

For part of our journey, my partner Cam Doré and I were hosted by the authors and designers of the book The Nut Gourmet and the website www.vegparadise.com. This site contains extensive listings and reviews of veg-friendly restaurants in the LA area. We picked Mary’s Secret Garden in Ventura and Juliano’s Raw in Santa Monica and were delighted with our choices.

Before venturing to other parts of the world, I do some preparatory web-travel to restaurants that may be to our tastes. This is tremendously helpful for those with food allergies, and sensitivities to gluten and other food components. In the websites listed here, you might also discover a pleasant B&B or other local attractions.

Helpful websites for travel:

www.vegdining.com

www.happycow.com

www.ivu.org

www.vrg.org

Should you wish to go exploring, here is a sample of upcoming events.

On April 19th, Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association presents a free VIVA Fest as part of Earth Day celebrations. At James Bay Community School near the Legislative building in Victoria see internationally acclaimed speaker Brenda Davis, environmental speaker Brian Gordon, enjoy food demos, and meet like-minded individuals. (www.islandveg.com/viva)
From June 18 to 22, on the University of Pittsburgh campus at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Summerfest features outstanding speakers, and gourmet food provided by chef Ken Bergeron, international gold medalist at the Culinary Olympics in Germany. (See www.vegetariansummerfest.org) You can enjoy an informative, inspiring conference, and days of socializing, and healthy cuisine.
From July 27 to August 2 in Dresden, Germany, the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) will hold a hundred-year anniversary of a congress that began in the same city in 1908 and has been held each year since in a different part of the world. (www.ivu.org/congress/2008/brochure/layout_english.pdf)

On September 5, 6 and 7, Toronto hosts the major Vegetarian Food Fair at Harbourfront Centre with speakers and abundant food sampling. http://veg.ca

If your choice is to stay in our own beautiful city, each fall, Vancouver’s Earthsave Canada will present Taste of Health. (http://tasteofhealth.earthsave.ca) Earthsave also provides twice monthly dine-outs at vegetarian and nonvegetarian restaurants throughout Metro Vancouver, as well as potlucks and other opportunities to meet health-minded people. (www.earthsave.ca)

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and author of nutrition classics “Becoming Vegetarian”, Becoming Vegan”; Raising Vegetarian Children” and the “Food Allergy Survival Guide”. She does personal consultations from Langley or (during April) Vancouver. Phone: 604-882-6782. Web: www.nutrispeak.com

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  1. At last! Someone with real expertise gives us the answer. Thanks!

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