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India Has 70%+ Non-Vegetarian Population But Is Considered Vegetarian; Why?

Home Food  India Has 70%+ Non-Vegetarian Population But Is Considered Vegetarian; Why?

By Roshni Ramesan -February 3, 2021
Source: Ed Times

Source: Ed Times
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India has the highest number of vegetarians in the world, with more than 400 million people identifying as vegetarian. However, various surveys over the years show that the estimated percentage of the vegetarian population is anywhere between 23% and 37%. That leaves a huge percentage of the population with non-vegetarian food habits. 

So why is it that a country, where the majority consumes poultry and meat, is considered as the vegetarian capital of the world? 

Historical evidence of meat consumption

India’s abundant forests, animals, birds and fishes ensured that meat-eating was a widespread practice. Archaeological evidence from the Harappan civilization also points to the consumption of animals. Even animal sacrifices were prevalent.

However, due to the spread of Jainism and the teachings of Buddha, vegetarianism became more common, with Hindu communities too turning to vegetarianism. Yet, other than upper castes, a large population continued eating meat.

Yet now, with a huge population that is verifiably non-vegetarian, for the West, India continues to be a place of strict vegetarianism.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that government data shows that vegetarian households are more affluent and have a higher income, which is how the ‘vegetarian stereotype’ is more likely to take over people’s minds. 

State-wise percentage of vegetarians and non-vegetarians
Source: Ed Times
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This power to represent communities, regions, or even the entire country is what makes the stereotypes. The term non-vegetarian is a good case in point. It signals the social power of vegetarian classes, including their power to classify foods, to create a ‘food hierarchy’ wherein vegetarian food is the default and is having a higher status than meat. Thus it is akin to the term ‘non-whites’ coined by ‘whites’ to capture an incredibly diverse population who they colonised,” said anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan and economist Suraj Jacob. 

More Indian men consume meat than women

According to the National Family Health Survey, 2015-16, 42.8% Indian women and 48.9% of men consumed poultry and meat weekly. 

The survey also noted that meat and egg consumption increases with increasing household income, however, the richest 20% of Indians consume slightly less meat and eggs, bucking the trend. 

The young state of Telangana has the highest percentage of non-vegetarians with 98.7% of the population consuming meat. West Bengal (98.55%) and Andhra Pradesh (98.25%) follow closely. 

State-wise percentage of vegetarianism
Source: Ed Times
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Meanwhile, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab are states with the lowest percentage of non-vegetarians. 

People from Southern states like Kerala and Goa and Eastern states like Assam and Tripura also had large non-vegetarian populations.

Food consumption of Southern states
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Weekly consumption

While surveys have identified that India has a small vegetarian population, the weekly and daily eating habits of most Indians stray away from non-vegetarianism. 

Weekly consumption of poultry and meat (men)
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

According to the National Family Health Survey, barely 6% of the population eats meat on a daily basis, and nearly 40% on a weekly basis, thus showing that regular meat-eating Indians are relatively less. 

Daily food consumption of Indian women, 2015-16
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Underreported meat consumption due to cultural factors

India has a violent history of mob lynching and social ostracization of people who consume beef because a cow is considered to be sacred in Hinduism. India’s ruling party, BJP, does not hide its inclination towards vegetarianism. Food choices have become very much political.

In such a nation, the consumption of beef is not as high as in western countries.

A reported 7% of the population eats beef. However, this figure is disputed by many researchers, who claim that the actual statistic is closer to 15% with people unwilling to admit to eating meat due to cultural and religious factors. A 2015 study of urban middle-class Indians found that young people felt “you eat [meat] in secret, away from your family”.

India, with its smorgasbord of cuisines, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, should not be restricted to an outdated stereotype that is being propelled into people’s consciousness by sheer ignorance.

Numbers don’t lie, so although daily consumption of meat is not an entirely common phenomenon, it is also wrong to assume that vegetables and pulses are all that an average Indian consumes.

Image Sources: Google Images
Sources: BBCIndia SpendBusiness Today
Find the blogger: @RoshniKahaHain

This post is tagged under: are most Indians vegetarians, Is vegetarianism increasing in India, Indian vegetarian nation myth, what percentage of Indians are vegetarian, non-vegetarian population in India by state, reasons for vegetarianism in India, percentage of non-vegetarian in India, Are most people in South India non-vegetarian, beef consumption in India, why is india veg, veg habits, reasons for being a veg country, majority vegetarians, non veg eaters in india

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Africa’s Been At This Vegetarian Thing Longer Than Most of the World

  1. Africa’s Been At This Vegetarian Thing Longer Than Most of the World
Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s
Source: Live Kindly
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Prior to the rise of meat consumption, many African cuisines were vegetarian-friendly, relying on grains, root vegetables, and produce.
Source: Live Kindly

As vegan meat, dairy, and other alternatives gain an increased presence in Western supermarkets, one might get the idea that plant-based diets are something new. But in many regions across the globe, eating little to no meat has been a cornerstone of national cuisine. Africa is one example. For centuries prior to European colonization, food was often vegetarian.

The Rising Influence of Meat

Goat meat and fish made up small portions of many regional African diets. But today, meat consumption is on the rise.

“What Ghana and many countries with growing economies are seeing are nutritional transitions,” Afia Amoako, the author of the blog The Canadian African, tells LIVEKINDLY in an email.

“As more people enter the middle class, there is more appetite for things that might have been difficult to have much of as children,” she continues. “This includes more cars and for many having more supply of meat.  It doesn’t help that fast food companies are seeing our largely unregulated food system as a market for potential growth.”

Amoako adds that there’s a name for this: nutrition transition. This explains a shift in dietary consumption that coincides with economic development. It’s most often used to talk about a shift away from more grain and fiber-rich diets toward processed meat-heavy Western dietary patterns.Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s

Red red, a Ghanaian stew made with black-eyed peas and plantains. | The Canadian African
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Showcasing Traditional Foods

Today, many chefs are showcasing plant-forward traditional African dishes. Ethiopian restaurants, such as New York City’s Bunna Cafe and Azla Vegan in Los Angeles, show the diversity of the country’s plant-based dishes.

Amoako, who went plant-based for the environment, dedicates her blog to sharing affordable recipes that pay homage to her Ghanaian roots and other cuisines from around Africa. She also explores broader topics, from healthy lifestyle tips to identity. The goal is to make African cuisine more accessible to all. She adds that her favorite dish is “red red”, a bean and plantain-based stew made with tomato, onion, peppers, garlic, and ginger.

Tendai Chipara, the Zimbabwean blogger behind Plant-Based African, adopted a whole foods, plant-based diet after being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in 2018. Prior to that, she struggled with other health issues such as anemia, fatigue, joint pain, and depression.

“I realized that I was going down a slippery slope that would end up with me without limbs, blind or worse dead,” she says. “Looking at evidence-based research the most successful way to deal with insulin resistance is to adopt a whole food plant-based diet.”

Chipara explains that growing up, the dishes she ate emphasized plant-based ingredients more than meat. Like other West African cuisines, meat is typically added for flavor. Chipara prefers to leave meat out altogether, but she has also begun incorporating mushrooms or soy chunks.

Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

‘Our Ancestors Followed a Plant-Based Diet’

Fermented food and drinks are common in Zimbabwean food. Common produce includes muboora (pumpkin), magaka ane minzwa (horned melon), and mbambaira (sweet potatoes). Oils, tomatoes, and onion are the “bedrock of most Zimbabwean dishes,” Chipara adds. “The ‘supu’ or sauce is important it can make or break a dish.”

Chipara adds that the plant-based movement is not new to Zimbabwe: “Our ancestors followed a plant-based diet and they thrived and most died of old age. The food they ate was organic and meat and meat products were consumed minimally.”

Many foods marketed as “superfoods,” she adds, are foods that she grew up eating, such as avocados, moringa, and baobab. While Zimbabwean cuisine is easy to make plant-based, meat is a common ingredient. But, it wasn’t always this way. The increase in meat consumption is linked to European colonialism.

“The unfortunate thing that happened to us a people was colonization which led to a massive change to our food production, access to land, and the emergence of processed foods,” Chipara explains. “We now have a high number of the population being affected by lifestyle-related issues such as type-2 diabetes. So I am very passionate about Zimbabwean plant-based cuisine because it is medicine.”

Chipara adds that a few traditional plant-based Zimbabwean dishes include muriwo une dovi (leafy greens with peanut butter), mupunga unedovi (short grain red rice with peanut butter), and sadza reZviyo (porridge made from sorghum or teff).Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s

Plantains and legumes are staple ingredients in many West African cuisines. | The Vegan Nigerian
Source: Live Kindly
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Be Generous With Spices

Tomi Makanjuola, founder of The Vegan Nigerian blog and author of the “Plantain Cookbook,” is a Lagos, Nigeria-born entrepreneur living in London. She explains that “a couple of traditionally plant-based Nigerian dishes include yam pottage and stewed beans with plantain.”

She adds that both dishes are “absolutely delicious.

Other common ingredients in Nigerian cuisine include yam (also referred to as African yam, which has rough brown skin and off-white flesh), cassava, okra, egusi (melon) seeds, and cocoyam (taro).

Makanjuola enjoys making vegan versions of meals that traditionally include meat, such as pepper soup. Yam and scotch bonnet peppers are the key ingredients in this spicy dish. Egusi soup, which features leafy greens, ground egusi seeds, tomato, pepper, and onions, is another favorite recipe.

For these, Makanjuola prefers whole food, plant-based substitutes like mushrooms, eggplant, beans, and lentils. “As long as the meals are spiced well, it won’t seem as though you’re missing out on anything,” she says.

“Nigerian cuisine is wonderfully diverse and big on flavour,” she adds. “It lends itself well to a vegan diet because it is so rich in plant foods that can be cooked and enjoyed in ways that do not require meat or any other animal products.”Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s

Nigerian-born blogger Fatimat Adelabu uses mushrooms instead of meat in dishes like jollof rice. | Je Gbese
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Replace Meat With Mushrooms

Fatimat Adelabu, the author of the blog Je Gbese, which means “eat credit/debt” or “trouble” in Yoruba, an official language of Nigeria, says that she grew up eating many meat-heavy dishes. Goat, cow tripe, oxtail, and fish were common additions to stewed dishes. She transitioned to plant-based in 2017 after watching the documentary “What the Health” on Netflix.

“I started off watching it with a bowl of chicken and rice, by mid-way I had placed the half-eaten bowl next to me, and at the end,” says Adelabu. “I was in the kitchen bagging meats from my fridge and freezer and tossing them into my garbage can.”

She moved to New York City from Nigeria at age four and has always lived near supermarkets that carry West African produce. This is due to Nigerian, Ghanaian, Senegalese, Guinean, Beninese, and Malian immigrant communities.

“One of my favorite dishes is efo riro, stirred spinach in Yoruba,” she says. “Efo riro is largely spinach and blended stew, with seasonings like locust beans, thyme, and bouillon cubes to bring out the flavors of the stew. The addition of meat is usually to get more of the flavors of the meat to infuse with the stew.”

Adelabu is a fan of replacing meat with mushrooms as well. She also uses them to replace meat-based stock. “For stock, I boil mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic and onion with a dash of soy sauce or mushroom bouillon,” she says. This works well for jollof rice, a one-pot dish made with tomato and onion.

“Nigerian cuisine is very versatile,” she adds. “I encourage everyone to attempt to make jollof rice or efo riro to try out the different flavors of the country. If you see a dish with meat, leave it out or replace it with mushrooms.”The Best Vegan Meat for BBQ Grilling In the UK

Demand for vegan burgers is on the rise.
Source: Live Kindly
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The Future of African Cuisine

But it’s not just Africa’s past that’s plant-based. It’s future is looking that way, too.

Like the rest of the world, meat consumption has increased across Africa. But so has a rise in vegan and vegetarian options. South African vegan meat brand Fry’s is a staple in supermarkets, offering plant-based versions of many classic dishes.

Leading Nigerian agribusiness Chi Farms is the first Nigerian company to bring vegan burgers to the country.

Veganism in Nigeria is popular among the Indian-born minority and among Nigerians returning to Nigeria from abroad,” Johannes Flosbach, Head of Performance Management Group at TGI Group of Companies (Chi Farms’ parent company), told Vegconomist.

Older Nigerians are also shifting away from meat for health reasons, as meat-heavy Western diets can increase the rates of diseases including heart disease and stroke.

Rwanda is now on the brink of creating a “Silicon Valley” that’s aimed at “transforming the continent.”

The innovation destination will be located in the capital city of Kigali. It will work with domestic and foreign universities, technology companies, biotech firms, agriculture, healthcare, and financial services. Like other tech-heavy regions across the globe, this could bring more plant-based food (think Impossible Burgers or JUST vegan egg) to Africa. It could also bring another hot food tech category to the continent: lab-grown cell-based meat.

This is already happening nearby in Israel, where Future Meat Technologies is working on the world’s first pilot production facility for growing cultured meat.

Veganism is also making a name for itself in Africa’s wild, as anti-poaching rangers, including an all-female troupe called Akashinga, are vegan. The troupe is part of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation run by former Navy sniper Damien Mander.

“We need an armed component,” he told the BBC in 2018, “but we need to start moving more and more of our resources into communities, and the best people for that are women.”

Kat Smith, Live Kindly
Kat Smith, Live Kindly

Managing Editor | New York City, NY Kat writes about susainable food, fashion, and food technology. They have a BA in Cinema and Culture Studies from Stony Brook University.

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Salinas Valley continues to grapple with contamination problem

Canada’s crackdown on romaine lettuce a stark reminder of frustrating battle to keep leafy greens safe

Source: Silicone Valley

Romaine lettuce in particular has had contamination problems. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

PUBLISHED: December 26, 2020 at 3:52 p.m.
UPDATED: December 31, 2020 at 1:11 p.m.

The Salinas Valley has long billed itself as the Salad Bowl of the World. Last year alone, Monterey County grew $1.4 billion worth of lettuce.

But for years the valley, which grows the majority of the nation’s lettuce, has also increasingly been known for something else: dangerous contamination in its leafy greens — particularly romaine lettuce — and an apparent inability to solve the problem.

The recurring contamination has sparked distrust in international markets, leading to a bombshell announcement in October that Canada was imposing harsh restrictions on the importation of Salinas Valley-grown romaine lettuce through the end of the year. The new import rules applied to romaine planted in four counties: Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Santa Clara.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had announced a sweeping plan in March aimed at reducing outbreaks related to leafy greens, Canada wasn’t willing to take the risk, the country’s food inspection agency said.

The move was a stark reminder to local growers who have been working vigorously for more than a decade to safeguard leafy greens from contamination — a journey that in many ways has been an exercise in frustration.

“We absolutely recognize that there are millions of servings of these products consumed every single day. And the food is safe — except when it isn’t,” said Trevor Suslow, a food safety expert at UC Davis who recently stepped down as the vice president of produce safety at the Produce Marketing Association.

Any level of illness caused by leafy greens, Suslow said, is not acceptable.

Despite the addition of numerous testing and safety procedures, contamination still occurs in leafy greens. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Salinas Valley’s contamination problem drew international attention in 2006 when three people died and more than 200 people across the U.S. and in Canada were sickened from eating raw spinach contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a virulent strain of bacteria that can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhea and kidney failure.

Even though the source of the outbreak was eventually traced to a remote valley in San Benito County, where a cattle ranch owner had leased land to a spinach grower, the eyes of the world were suddenly on the Salinas Valley.

Federal investigators could not say definitively how the spinach became contaminated. But they did find the outbreak strain in nearby cattle and wild pigs, theorizing the pigs had traipsed through the spinach field or bacteria from the animals’ feces had made its way into wells used to irrigate spinach.

And the outbreaks didn’t stop there. According to a recent study by several U.S. and Canadian government agencies, there were 32 E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada linked to leafy greens from 2009 to 2018.

In the fall of 2019 alone, three major outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 were traced back to romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley. All told, 188 people across the U.S. and Canada got sick from those outbreaks, leading to 92 hospitalizations and 16 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal condition caused by bacterial toxins damaging blood vessels in the kidneys.

Romaine lettuce and other leafy greens are particularly susceptible to contamination. The crops are grown directly in the ground, sometimes putting it into direct contact with animal feces containing E. coli. And romaine’s large, open leaves can catch potential contaminants spread by air and water. Most importantly: Because romaine lettuce is eaten raw, there is no “kill step”— an opportunity to destroy pathogens through cooking.

Recurring contamination of leafy green products such as lettuce harvested in the Salinas Valley has sparked distrust in some international markets. (Monterey Herald file)
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Canada’s announcement took many in the industry by surprise, in part because there have been no outbreaks traced to the valley this year, said Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau.

To some scientists, however, the Canadians’ decision seemed like a no-brainer.

“What took them such a long time?” said microbiologist Mansour Samadpour, president of IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group in Seattle.

Years ago, Samadpour was hired by San Juan Bautista-based Natural Selection Foods — which had packaged the tainted spinach that triggered the 2006 crisis — to overhaul microbial testing procedures.

Despite numerous investigations, no one has been able to find the exact source of contamination in last year’s outbreaks.

As was the case in the 2006 outbreak, fecal contamination from nearby pastures is suspected, according to an investigative report by the FDA on the 2019 outbreaks released last May. Investigators found a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that matched one of the outbreak strains at a cattle grate less than two miles upslope from a lettuce farm tied to the contamination.

Federal investigators said irrigation water was another suspect, as were environmental factors such as heat, humidity, wind and wildlife, making the source of the outbreaks a moving target.

The FDA recently launched a multi-year study aimed at determining how human pathogens persist in the environment and contaminate produce.

But growers need answers now.

“How do we move forward with practices and implement something that works when we don’t have that full understanding?” Groot asked.

UC Davis’ Suslow said the food-safety system doesn’t need to be overhauled. “I think there are ways to more effectively and strategically apply what we do know, while we’re waiting to work out some of the things we don’t,” he said.

One organization committed to improving the safety of leafy greens is California’s Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. The LGMA was created by farmers in response to the 2006 E. coli outbreaks.

Membership in the LGMA is voluntary and allows growers to agree to a layer of food-safety regulations that exceed government requirements.

To reduce the risk of contamination from neighboring livestock farms, the LGMA last spring stepped up its efforts to scrutinize adjacent land use and has extended the required distance of buffer zones — land where no grazing is allowed and no leafy greens can be grown.

But Samadpour said that while the larger buffer zones might curb direct produce contamination from livestock, they won’t stop birds and other wildlife that routinely travel long distances from spreading contamination between pastures and row crops.

To combat pathogens in irrigation water, the LGMA in 2019 approved more stringent standards for testing and treating water used to irrigate leafy greens. The new standards include treating within 21 days before harvesting all water from open sources like canals and rivers that will be used in overhead irrigation.

“This is a pretty staunch new metric – something that’s never been done in fresh produce before,”  Greg Komar, LGMA’s technical director, said at a Sept. 1 webinar outlining the new standards.

Samadpour, however, said that just testing for generic E. coli won’t do much to catch O157:H7. He said that many common tests detect E. coli by observing a chemical reaction caused by a bacterial enzyme. But many strains of O157:H7, he said, don’t cause this chemical reaction, allowing dangerous strains of E. coli to slip by undetected.

“The problem is that nobody’s found the needle in the haystack,” said Steve Church, CEO of Church Brothers Farms in Salinas.

But Samadpour thinks there is a way to find the needle.

“We make the haystack smaller,” he said. “And we make our needle larger.”

Growers, he said, can shrink the “haystack” by testing smaller plots of land – say a quarter of an acre rather than 10 acres. And the “needle” can be enlarged by taking dozens of sample leaves instead of just one and testing them together, increasing the likelihood that the test will pick up evidence of contamination, Samadpour said.

Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who has represented thousands of food poisoning victims, said Salinas Valley growers need more government regulation to “save them from themselves.”

“They may not like regulation,” but neither did the beef industry in the early 1990s, Marler said.

In 1993, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Jack in the Box hamburgers sickened more than 700 people and killed four children. The tragedy led to immediate changes in how beef was regulated, including a federal mandate that burgers must be cooked to an internal temperature of 155°F.

In addition, E. coli O157:H7 was classified as an “adulterant” in ground beef. That meant that any beef containing the bacterial strain could not be sold.

“They got their act together and, in fact, they put me out of business,” Marler quipped.

Groot, however, argued that the LGMA has actually been outpacing the FDA when it comes to raising standards for safely growing and processing leafy greens. The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act of 2012, he noted, incorporated food safety standards originally established by the LGMA.

“The industry is a lot more nimble and can adapt itself a whole lot quicker,” Groot said.

Suslow points to a growing body of research on leafy greens contamination by various research groups. But, he said, there needs to be a system for sharing data on a large scale so that growers, scientists and government officials can learn from each other.

“No single grower or single commodity or industry,” he said, “is going to be able to fix this alone.”

Where does your lettuce come from? What could be contaminating the lettuce in Silicon Valley? What else could it be contaminating?

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Is Pink Himalayan Salt Better Than Regular Salt?

Source: Health Line

Pink Himalayan salt is a type of salt that’s naturally pink in color and mined near the Himalayas in Pakistan.

Many people claim that it’s loaded with minerals and provides incredible health benefits.

For these reasons, pink Himalayan salt is often thought to be much healthier than regular table salt.

However, little research on pink Himalayan salt exists, and other people insist that these extravagant health claims are nothing more than speculation.

This article looks at the key differences between pink Himalayan salt and regular salt and evaluates the evidence to decide which type of salt is healthier.

What Is Salt?

Salt is a mineral largely consisting of the compound sodium chloride.

Salt contains so much sodium chloride — around 98% by weight — that most people use the words “salt” and “sodium” interchangeably.

Salt can be produced by evaporating salt water or extracting solid salt from underground salt mines.

Before it reaches your grocery store, table salt also goes through a refining process to remove impurities and any other minerals besides sodium chloride.

Anticaking agents are sometimes added to help absorb moisture, and iodine is often included to help consumers prevent iodine deficiency.

Humans have used salt to flavor and preserve foods for thousands of years.

Interestingly, sodium also plays an important role in several biological functions, including fluid balance, nerve conduction and muscle contraction (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

For this reason, it’s absolutely necessary to have salt, or sodium, in your diet.

However, many health professionals claim that too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, although recent research has called this long-held belief into question (4Trusted Source).

Because of the potential dangers of consuming too much table salt, many people have turned to using pink Himalayan salt, believing it to be a healthier alternative.


Salt consists mostly of sodium chloride and helps regulate important processes in the body. The potentially harmful effects of too much salt have caused many people to start using pink Himalayan salt instead.

What Is Pink Himalayan Salt?

Pink Himalayan salt is a pink-colored salt extracted from the Khewra Salt Mine, which is located near the Himalayas in Pakistan.

The Khewra Salt Mine is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in the world.

The pink Himalayan salt harvested from this mine is believed to have been formed millions of years ago from the evaporation of ancient bodies of water.

The salt is hand-extracted and minimally processed to yield an unrefined product that’s free of additives and thought to be much more natural than table salt.

Like table salt, pink Himalayan salt is mostly comprised of sodium chloride.

However, the natural harvesting process allows pink Himalayan salt to possess many other minerals and trace elements that are not found in regular table salt.

Some people estimate it may contain up to 84 different minerals and trace elements. In fact, it’s these very minerals, especially iron, that give it its characteristic pink color.


Pink Himalayan salt is harvested by hand from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. It’s minimally processed to provide a natural alternative to regular table salt.

How Is Pink Himalayan Salt Used?

Pink Himalayan salt has several dietary and non-dietary uses.

You Can Eat It or Cook With It

In general, you can cook with pink Himalayan salt just like you would with regular table salt. Put it in sauces and marinades or add it to your food at the dinner table.

Some people even use pink Himalayan salt as a cooking surface. Large blocks of the salt can be purchased and used to grill, sear and impart a salty flavor to meats and other foods.

Pink Himalayan salt can be purchased finely ground just like regular table salt, but it is not uncommon to also find coarse varieties sold in larger crystal sizes.

Considerations for Cooking

Whenever you’re measuring any kind of salt by volume, it’s important to consider how finely it’s ground.

You may need to use larger quantities of coarse salt to match the saltiness of finely ground salt. This is because finely ground salt is packed closer together than coarse salt, so there’s more of it in a particular volume.

For example, 1 teaspoon of any type of finely ground salt may contain around 2,300 mg of sodium, while 1 teaspoon of coarse salt will vary based on crystal size but could contain less than 2,000 mg of sodium.

Furthermore, pink Himalayan salt contains slightly less sodium chloride than regular table salt, which you may need to account for when cooking.

Current dietary guidelines in the US recommend that most adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This is equal to around 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of finely ground salt (5Trusted Source).

However, when you’re using pink Himalayan salt, it’s best to check the nutrition label, as sodium content can vary widely, depending on the brand.

Non-Dietary Uses

While pink Himalayan salt has several dietary uses, there are also a number of popular non-dietary uses.

Pink Himalayan salt is used in some bath salts, which claim to improve skin conditions and soothe sore muscles.

Salt lamps are also often made out of pink Himalayan salt and claimed to remove air pollutants. These lamps consist of large blocks of salt with an inner light source that heats the salt.

Additionally, spending time in man-made salt caves formed out of pink Himalayan salt is popular among people seeking to improve skin and respiratory problems.

But the research supporting these three non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt is relatively weak. More studies are needed to confirm these claims.


You can use pink Himalayan salt just like regular salt when you’re cooking. Bath salts, salt lamps and salt caves are popular non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt.

Pink Himalayan Salt Contains More Minerals

Both table salt and pink Himalayan salt consist mostly of sodium chloride, but pink Himalayan salt has up to 84 other minerals and trace elements.

These include common minerals like potassium and calcium, as well as lesser-known minerals like strontium and molybdenum.

One study analyzed the mineral contents of various types of salts, including pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt (6).

Below is a comparison of well-known minerals found in a gram of the two salts:

Pink Himalayan SaltTable Salt
Calcium (mg)1.60.4
Potassium (mg)2.80.9
Magnesium (mg)1.060.0139
Iron (mg)0.03690.0101
Sodium (mg)368381

As you can see, table salt may have more sodium, but pink Himalayan salt contains more calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron (6).

Nevertheless, the amounts of these minerals in pink Himalayan salt are very, very small.

They are found in such small quantities that it would take 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) of pink Himalayan salt to obtain the recommended daily amount of potassium, for instance. Needless to say, that’s an unrealistic amount of salt to consume.

For the most part, the extra minerals in pink Himalayan salt are found in such small quantities that they are unlikely to provide you with any health benefits whatsoever.


Pink Himalayan salt contains several minerals not found in regular salt. However, these minerals are found in very small quantities and unlikely to provide any health benefits.

Are the Health Claims True?

Despite the fact that pink Himalayan salt only contains tiny amounts of additional minerals, many people still claim that it can provide a number of health benefits.

The truth is, most of these claims do not have any research to support them.

Some of pink Himalayan salt’s commonly promoted health claims include that it can:

  • Improve respiratory diseases
  • Balance your body’s pH
  • Reduce signs of aging
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Increase libido

Some of the claims related to the non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt may be loosely based on research.

The use of salt caves as a treatment for various lung diseases has been evaluated in a few studies. The results suggest that there could be some benefit, but overall, more rigorous research is needed to investigate their effectiveness (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

On the other hand, some of these health claims are actually just normal functions of sodium chloride in the body, so you’ll get these benefits from any kind of salt.

For example, researchers have found that very low-salt diets may contribute to sleeping problems (10Trusted Source).

This suggests that an adequate amount of salt may be necessary for quality sleep. However, the study did not examine pink Himalayan salt and it is likely a function of the sodium chloride in any salt.

Also, the minerals in pink Himalayan salt are not present in large enough quantities to have any effect on balancing the body’s pH. Your lungs and kidneys tightly regulate your body’s pH without the help of pink Himalayan salt.

Furthermore, blood sugar levels, aging and libido are all primarily controlled by factors other than the salt in your diet, and there are simply no scientific studies to suggest eating pink Himalayan salt can benefit any of these aspects of your health.

Similarly, there is no research comparing the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If research did exist, it is unlikely that it would find any differences in their health effects.


Many health claims are often attached to pink Himalayan salt. However, most of these claims do not have research to support them.

The Bottom Line

Given all of the misguided health claims, it’s easy to see why some people are confused about which type of salt to use.

But no studies have compared the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If they were to, it’s unlikely that they’d report any differences.

Nonetheless, if you’d like to avoid the additives in regular table salt, pink Himalayan salt is a great natural alternative. But don’t expect to see the major health benefits that you might read about online.

And remember that table salt is a major dietary source of iodine, so if you’re using pink Himalayan salt, you will need to get iodine from other foods like seaweed, dairy products and fish to help avoid iodine deficiency (11).

Finally, pink Himalayan salt is often much more expensive than regular salt. So if you don’t mind the additives, using regular table salt should be just fine.

Which do you prefer pink Himalayan salt or table salt? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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DECEMBER 11, 2015
Source: Saffron Trail

Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a lot of health benefits. Here are some ways to use it in a way that keeps its nutritive benefits intact.

How to choose extra virgin olive oil, benefits of extra virgin olive oil and how to use extra virgin olive oil

Given how our supermarket shelves are flooded with olive oil brands, there is this eternal confusion between Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil, Light Olive Oil and so many other variants. To simplify this matter, it is good to know that extra virgin olive oil is the first round of oil pressed out of olives and this has the best flavour and most health benefits, as compared to the subsequent extractions of oil. That’s the reason it is also the most expensive variant of olive oil.

A good extra virgin olive oil brand will be dark golden in colour, have a lovely grassy aroma to it and will be sold in a tinted glass bottle. This oil is unrefined, retains the flavour of olives and has the least free oleic acid content (<1%). The next in line is virgin olive oil, similar to extra virgin but has an oleic acid content of >1%, a less intense colour and flavour. Virgin olive oils are rarely sold in the supermarkets.

What is sold as PURE Olive Oil or just ‘Olive Oil’ is usually a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, thereby available at a lesser cost (oleic acid content is 3-4%). This blend is also suited to cooking at low temperatures, generally an all-purpose oil. The other commonly sold variant is a ‘Light Olive Oil’ that is pale yellow like any other refined vegetable oil. This retains very few health properties or antioxidants. The LIGHT word in this term can be misleading. It stands for the light colour and not for a reduced calorie oil. The calories in Light Olive Oil are same as that of any other oil.

Benefits Of Using Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

  • Flavour Plus! –  There’s something about the rich colour and flavour of EVOO, that none of the other olive oils come close, especially when you eat it raw in salads. Just by itself it adds a boost of freshness and flavour, only to be enhanced by the other ingredients you add to it.
  • A certain component in EVOO called hydroxytyrosol prevents oxidation in the lining of the blood vessels, thereby protecting cardiovascular health.
  • The larger proportion of monounsaturated fats in olive oil helps lower bad cholesterol and it is also said to reduce blood pressure.
  • EVOO is said to possess a higher dose of antioxidants (phytonutrients) than non-virgin olive oils, thereby having more potent anti-inflammatory properties.
  • EVOO is a good source of vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant by itself.
Source: Saffron Trail
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

As EVOO is heat sensitive, in order to get the full range of nutrients, it is best had in raw form. Here are some of the best ways to include more EVOO in your diet such that you get the maximum health benefits.


Check my video on how to make an easy Italian Salad Dressing. Add Balsamic Vinegar instead of lemon juice and you get a Balsamic Vinaigrette.


Pestos are a great way to consume raw EVOO. Try the classic Italian basil pesto with basil, EVOO, garlic and pine nuts or try this uniquely Sicilian version below.

While basil pesto is the most well known pesto, every region in Italy makes pesto with freshly available local produce. According to Lidia Bastianich, the Italian cuisine expert, the word pesto comes from the verb ‘pestare’, which means ‘to mash’. This means you can pretty much mash up any fresh ingredients to make a pesto, and toss it along with pasta, vegetables or chicken and you have a dish ready right there


A drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil over any hummus adds lots of flavour to the hummus.

Is there anyone who does not like hummus? Seriously, it’s one of the very few things in the food universe that is delicious, addictive and yet wont kill you. Protein-rich from the beans and good fats from extra virgin olive oil and tahini, it’s the best snack to dig into with a few crackers or crudites. Adding veggies like carrot, beet or spinach to the hummus ups it’s nutrition quotient further

4. Topped on sauteed vegetables – Since it is best not to heat EVOO, toss the  vegetables in regular cooking oil with garlic and herbs and just before serving, toss them in some raw EVOO for flavour and health benefits.

5. Potato salad tossed in EVOO – Typically potato salads are tossed in mayo and mustard. Make a healthier version by tossed in garlic and herb infused EVOO. Finely chopped dill or parsley make this a delicious tasting salad.

6. Herbed Rice – Cooked and fluffed up rice tossed with lots of finely chopped herbs and EVOO, make a simple and quick rice dish to go with sauteed vegetables or any other main course dish.

7. Flavoured EVOO – Make your own flavoured EVOO to use in salad dressings for a flavour boost – such as chili / lemon zest / garlic flavoured EVOO. These also make lovely gourmet gifts for food loving friends.

Tips To Store Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • EVOO is both light and heat sensitive. That’s the reason good quality EVOO is sold in tinted glass bottles.
  • With time, the level of healthy antioxidants start deteriorating, so buy smaller bottles and use them within 3-4 months.
  • EVOO has a tendency to go rancid, so it needs to be stored in a cool dry place away from light to preserve the flavour. Don’t place a big bottle of EVOO near the hob as the heat from the flame may deteriorate the quality of oil.
  • Pouring a small quantity in a bottle for daily use and storing the rest in the fridge prolongs its life as the bigger bottle is not opened repeatedly and exposed to air.
  • EVOO turns a bit cloudy in the fridge but will get back to normal on reaching room temperature.

What are the medicinal benefits of using olive oil? How can you properly use olive oil? What did you learn from this article?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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The Truth about Desserts

cinnamon oat cookie shidonna raven garden and cook

The truth about desserts is that you may love them. We definitely love them. Any informed organic consumer will be the first to tell you that just because it is organic does not mean it is good and nutritious for you. In other words, an organic apple is probably better for you than a bowl of organic chessy mac. Nonetheless, they are both organic. So, let us break that down for you. The process of growing foods organically is healthier for you than growing food in non organic means. The organic growing process is true or truer to nature and the natural process of growing foods. Food that is not grown organically involves chemicals and several other food production process frowned upon by even the USDA, even with its recent criticisms from true organic growers. Once one has an organic array of foods, then from there it is best to choose those foods best for you.

When considering what to eat and diet, one should have a clear understanding of their over all and holistic health. What is beneficial to one will not be beneficial to another. A person with anemia and a person with diabetes will have totally different diet needs. There are many ways to gain an understanding of one’s overall health and one’s dietary needs. Here are a couple of ways:

  • holistic doctor
  • dietitian
  • nutritionist
  • medical professional / doctor
  • Once one has a clearer picture of their dietary needs, one can make informed and educated decisions on how to best feed their bodies what it needs to perform at its best. Diet is only part of the picture. We believe that overall health and well being involves 3 pillars:
  • Health (many health professionals also include spiritual and emotional well being in this)
  • Physical Fitness – Exercise
  • Diet

Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “I thought this article was about desserts.” You are so right! It is. So, let us get back to the good part. Our desserts are made with organic ingredients whenever possible. If not organic then natural. We select ingredients that are good for you but not necessarily “healthy” similar to organic foods (like the apple and the chessy mac). If one has to have a dessert, our desserts are an excellent choice. Of course desserts like all other things should be eaten in moderation. If given a choice, an organic salad is probably healthier for you than an organic cookie. Love them as we do, we indulge in a dessert or two. Nonetheless, when we do we make sure that they are as good for us as they can be. Refined and processed foods such as granulated sugar and flour never make it at the top of health lists. Nonetheless, we choose organic sugars and flours. So, we invite you to indulge responsibly by shopping our desserts (cookies, bars and squares).

What foods, or more specifically vitamins and minerals, are an important part of your diet? Why? What are your health needs? Do you have a chronic illness? The bible speaks clearly to us about healing. Chronic illnesses can cause other illnesses because your body is in a state of constant disease. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Beginning the Journey to Healing – 2

cooked vegetables shidonna raven garden and cook

This is the continued article from the previous day about what we hope is the beginning of our journey to healing. When we began this journey we knew that diet would be an important part of the journey. We thank you for taking the Journey with us and hope that it helps to feed and enrich your lives and indeed your overall health. The turning point of our journey began a long time ago and encompasses many people as each individual contributed their own knowledge and wisdom from chefs to dietitians and medical professionals. Western medicine presents many barriers to a true and total healing. Western medicine focuses highly on managing symptoms and the medicines that the pharmaceutical industry profits profoundly from. We do not consider hormones a medicines and thus our journey to healing has begun with zero medicines. Our journey took a significant turn when we walked into a holistic pharmacy (namely, Peoples Pharmacy of Norfolk, VA who are able to help you wherever you are located) or some vitamins. We believe that these holistic doctors were able to put us on the path to health in under a month and to diagnose the issue immediately. Some of us struggled with similar issues for years and others even longer.

All of my symptoms have begun to mitigate after we address what we believe is the root of the problem. It is only about a month in on this leg of our journey but we have already begun to see the difference. In another 2 months we are told the results will be better. Stay tuned and we will keep you updated on our journey. We take vitamins, minerals, spices, foods and oils combined with a strategic diet with foods that have medicinal benefits. We pray that these articles are transformative for you. Thank you for taking this journey with us. How do you wish you could improve your health? How has your health hindered you? How has your health changed your life? How have these articles helped you? How can they help your friends and family? Post your comments below. Share the wealth of health with your family and friends by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Beginning the Journey to Healing

Diet & Health Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Most people will tell you that at the center of good health is diet and exercise. And we would agree. Our journey however has lead us to look at health as the third pillar of over good health. While one may exercise and have an excellent diet, these do have a profound on your over all health. But health in itself can be a little more complicated than just exercise and diet. In fact many people in excellent health have reported contracting COVID 19. While COVID 19 did hit communities with preexisting conditions hardest, this does not mean that people without under lying conditions were not also hit. Indeed they want you to know that COVID 19 has impacted us all: old, young, sick and healthy.

Perhaps this was what was so confusing to us. While we were all in pretty good health, we still struggled with health conditions that impacted our health. Chef Ponder really challenged me not to accept diagnoses. One of the most impressive things about Chef Ponder is that he is not only a great cook but an excellent student of food and human begins. He talked alot about how things in our environment can impact our health. Things like temperature and available foods can impact our health. For instance, if one’s relatives are from a warm climate and they then move to a cold climate, they will eat different foods because they eat what is available. This difference in diet can impact one’s health. While one maybe eating “healthy”, the food may not be proper given the history of your family. In other words it can have an impact on your body and thus health.

Chef Ponder along with many others along this Journey have helped us to begin what we hope is a path to our healing. Read the next article to learn more. What health concerns do you have? Have you found your path to healing? How long did it take you? Who helped you?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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COVID 19 causes more to start Gardens

covid 19 shidonna raven garden and cook

During my recent visit to a local nursery here in Norfolk, VA USA I stuck up a conversation with a staff member. This is not difficult to do when you obviously share common interest. She is a highly knowledgeable gardener with a keen sense of observation. While we started our garden in February, just prior to COVID 19, she stated that people who you would have never seen gardening have begun gardening because of the uncertainty that COVID 19 has struck across the nation and indeed across the world. People have serveral reasons for starting thier own gardens:

  • Promotes social distancing by cutting back on grocery store trips
  • Saves money on ones grocery bill
  • Protects people with underlining conditions from having to go into public
  • Allows people to give food to others
  • Allows people to earn money by selling food to others

If COVID 19 has taught us nothing it has taught us how to be resilient and resourceful and indeed these are all good reasons to start a garden. They were good reasons before COVID 19 and they are better reasons since the pandemic has hit the world. How has the pandemic effected you and your family? How have you coped with the prevailing pandemic? Share your comments with the community by positing here. What have you learned since COVID 19?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Growing & Harvesting Carrots in Containers

Harvesting Carrots from Containers

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Growing & Harvesting Carrots in Containers
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Its amazing what you can grow in containers. No more limits for the urban and container gardener. Are you ready to grow your own carrots or vegetable? Which one(s) would you like to grow? What questions do you have? Leave us a post. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.