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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

Editors' Note:
December 25, 2009 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

When we heard about the Smart Choices Program, we thought it was a dumb idea. We knew that some of the large food conglomerates would embrace the program because it provided an opportunity to promote some of their questionable products as healthy options.

Reading about this program, we thought it would be fun to mock it by creating a Smart Choices Diet using the products that would receive these Smart Choices check marks. We created a diet with as many questionable products we could find on the list of Smart Choices that did not include fresh fruits or vegetables. We believed our readers, knowing our vegan agenda, would know we were kidding.

We even concluded the story with the following statement:

"We, therefore, wish to inform our readers that the Smart Choices Program is still the best that money can buy."

Alas, a few of our readers took the piece seriously. To those of you who believed we had betrayed our vegan principles and were recommending these products, we extend our sincere apology.

To all of our readers, we repeat a basic rule we have heard from many nutritionists:

Don't believe any statement you read on the front of a package. Instead, check the list of ingredients and the Nutrition Facts label.

November 1, 2009 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Smart Choices Program Diet,
A Simple Way to Shed Extra Pounds

Vegetarians in Paradise editors have decided to share our wonderful new diet with our readers. We know there are a gazillion diets out there, and so many of them work for only a short time or become so bothersome that people give up, especially if they're counting calories or keeping food journals.

None of those headaches with this one. The genius of this diet--there's no need to read food labels or anything else. You just look at the front label of a food package. If it displays that big green check, you know it's not only acceptable, but also a good healthy choice.

The green check is a simple way to "provide 'at-a-glance' assurance that a product has met strict science-based nutrition criteria derived from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reports from the Institute of Medicine and other sources of authoritative nutrition guidance."

Smart Choices Program When we looked at the list of the directors of Smart Choices Program, we were quite impressed. Of the nine members, six are doctors. Some of the board participants are members of the American Dietetic Association, American Diabetes Association, and Tufts University School of Nutrition. The leader of the group is Professor Eileen T. Kennedy, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy of Tufts University. To maintain a balance on the board, four participants are representatives of the food industry. They are employees of food industry giants Kellogg's, General Mills, Kraft, and Unilever.

"The coalition worked very hard to develop nutrition criteria that met the highest standards and a symbol consumers would appreciate and recognize when making choices at the point of purchase," said Dr. Kennedy. "By providing a single, simple communication on the front of the package, the Smart Choices Program can help alleviate confusion in the supermarket and help today's busy shoppers make smarter choices for their families in store and at home."

The Smart Choices Program establishes criteria for 19 food categories. Those categories include cheeses, snack foods, breakfast cereals, meals and entrées, fats, oils, spreads, and sweets. Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables automatically qualify for the green check unless they contain additives.

To assist our readers in launching themselves into the Smart Choices Program Diet, we have developed the following one-week sample diet. All of the foods listed below are in the Smart Choices Program and are, therefore, eligible for this wholesome diet.

Day 1

    2 Cups Froot Loops
    8 ounces of whole milk
    1 Bagel-Fuls Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Bagel with Apple Filling & Cream Cheese
    Teddy Grahams Graham Snacks Chocolately Chip
    Kraft Lunchables Chicken and Mozarella
    1 slice of Healthy Choice 7-Grain Bread
    1 Tablespoon Skippy Peanut Butter Spread Extra Crunchy Natural Super Chunk
    Healthy Choice Sweet and Sour Chicken
    1 slice Healthy Choice Whole Wheat Bread
    1 Tablespoon Blue Bonnet Soft Spread
    1 cup Breyers's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Smooth & Dreamy Fat Free Ice Cream
Day 2
    Slim Fast Ready to Drink Rich Chocolate Royale
    Kraft Cheese Nips Thin Crisps Crackers
    Oscar Mayer Shaved Smoked Turkey Breast
    1 slice Healthy Choice 100% Whole Grain Bread
    1 Tablespoon I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
    Healthy Choice Four Cheese Manicotti
    1 cup Van Kamp's Pork and Beans
    1 cup Diet Lipton Green Tea with Mixed Berry
    1 Low-Fat Fudgsickle
Day 3
    2 cups Cookie Crisp Cereal
    8 ounces whole milk
    2 Bagel-Fuls Filled with Strawberry Cream Cheese
    Fiber 1 Oats and Apple Streusel Chewy Bar
    Healthy Choice Minestrone Microwavable Bowl
    Oscar Mayer Canadian Style Bacon Sandwich
    2 slices Healthy Choice Whole Wheat Bread
    1Tablespoon Gulden's Zesty Honey Mustard
    Slim Fast Ready to Drink Cappuccinno Delight
    Blue Raspberry Popsicle
Day 4
    2 Cups Cocoa Puffs
    8 ounces whole milk
    Sun-Maid Raisins
    Lunchables Fun Pack Chicken Dunks
    Healthy Choice Shrimp Diablo
    1 slice Healthy Choice 7-Grain Bread
    1Tablespoon Promise Buttery Spread
    Breyer's Smooth and Dreamy Fat-Free Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Day 5
    2 cups Lucky Charms
    8 ounces whole milk
    Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop Butter Microwave Popcorn
    Oscar Mayer 98% Fat-Free Bologna
    2 slices Healthy Choice 100% Whole Wheat Bread
    1 Tablespoon Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard
    1 Cup Van Camp's Smoked Chipotle Pork and Beans
    Tombstone Light Vegetable Pizza
    Sugar Free Cherry Popsicle
Day 6
    2 cups Kellogg's Frosted Miniwheats
    8 ounces whole milk
    1 cup Eggbeaters Garden Vegetable without Yolks
    1 slice Healthy Choice 100% Whole Wheat Bread
    1 Tablespoon Country Crock Omega Plus Spread
    Act II 94% Fat Free Butter Microwave Popcorn
    Kid Cuisine Twist and Twirl Spaghetti and Meatballs
    Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Sweet Peas
    Healthy Choice Café Steamers Grilled Whiskey Steak
    1 cup Luck's Pinto Beans with Pork
    1 slice Healthy Choice 7-Grain Bread
    1 Tablespoon Parkay Whipped Soft Spread
    Slim Fast Shake Mix Strawberry Supreme
Day 7
    Quaker Life Instant Oatmeal Maple and Brown Sugar
    1 cup Eggbeaters Southwestern without Yolk
    1 slice Healthy Choice 7-Grain Bread
    1 Tablespoon Fleischmann's Whipped Soft Spread with Olive Oil
    Barnum's Animal Crackers
    1 cup Rosarita Refried Beans
    1 Kid Cuisine Cowboy KC's Ham and Cheese Ropers
    1 Bagel-Fuls Bagel with Cherry Filling & Cream Cheese
    Healthy Choice Chicken Tortilla Soup (Microwave Bowl)
    Healthy Choice Complete Meals Chicken Parmigiana
    1 slice Healthy Choice 7-Grain Bread
    1 cup Breyer's Smooth and Dreamy Fat Free Ice Cream Chocolate Cookies and Cream

Editors' Note: The Food and Drug Administration has contacted the food industry to inform the participating companies that programs such as the "Smart Choices" labeling campaign may end up misleading consumers. Smart Choices, which includes participating companies Kellogg, Kraft Foods. Conagra, Unilever, Wesson, Quaker, and General Mills, came under scrutiny for promoting processed foods such as sugary breakfast cereals as being nutritious on the front of the label. The participating companies have agreed to voluntarily suspend the program based on the FDA's announcement that it will investigate front of package labeling.

In spite of this announcement, many foods carrying the Smart Choices green check will still be available for purchase. We, therefore, wish to inform our readers that the Smart Choices Program is still the best that money can buy.

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