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Green Minds

In the Philippines, vegetarianism is a relatively new concept. But its prominence has been growing fast.



When Jason Baker, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia-Pacific, was only 18 years old, sometimes in 1990, he saw truckloads of chickens from poultry farms passing in front of their house in Detroit on their way to slaughterhouses.  “Once, a chicken fell out (of the truck) – she was so fat, she couldn’t even stand up.  Her beak was half gone and she didn’t have feathers in some places. We took her to a veterinarian, but it was too late; she had to be euthanized,” he recalls.  “There was no way I would eat meat again after that.” 

But while Baker’s decision to become, at first, a vegetarian (exclusion of meat from diet), and, eventually, a vegan (pure plant-based diet, with poultry products and milk also excluded) was triggered by his involvement in the animal rights movement, there are, as PETA itself states, as many reasons to be a vegan as there are vegans.


Humans, says Baker, started out as “naturally herbivorous,” with prehistoric men eating herbs first before eating flesh. But it was only in the 20th century that vegetarianism started to popularly become a way of living, with the likes of Mahatma Gandhi popularly known as vegetarians. Although many of the world’s religions and philosophies, such as Buddhism and Jainism, have long promoted vegetarianism, more recently, in a Hollywood-dominated era, supported by celebrities including Beatles’ Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson, Alicia Silverstone, and Natalie Portman, among others.

In the Philippines, vegetarianism is a relatively new concept. In fact, PETA, dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of animals, including those that end up on dining tables, only opened office locally in 2004. Amazingly, says Baker, PETA gets more requests for Vegetarian Starter Kits from the Philippines than from just anywhere else in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Baker thinks this is largely because “around 90% of Asians, including Filipinos, are lactose-intolerant.” Thus, soy products have always been popular in the region, though, he adds, Filipinos are luckier because they have an array of vegetables to choose from, and, already, most food courts in malls have a vegetarian food stall, making vegetarian food as affordable and convenient as any fast food.


“Going vegetarian is the best thing anyone can do to improve their health, alleviate animal suffering, and save the environment,” Baker says.

According to, “going vegetarian is the single best thing that we can do for ourselves and our family.” This is because a meat-free diet that is rich in, among others, complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, omeg-3 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins “provides optimal nutrition for both children and adults, forming the foundation for dietary habits that support a lifetime of good health.”

Various studies continue to support this claim. The American Dietetic Association, for example, states that “vegetarians have lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.” Vegetarians tend to be slimmer than meat-eaters, too, making it a popular technique to lose weight among the weight-conscious.

Researchers from the University of Toronto have also found that a plant-based diet rich in soy and soluble fiber can reduce cholesterol levels by as much as one-third. And even more studies have shown that, on average, vegetarians and vegans are at least 10% leaner, and live six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters,” Baker says.

Admittedly, vegetarianism is not perfect. For example, since “vitamin B-12 is primarily found in animal sources, vegans need to take a multivitamin or B-12 supplement to get ample B-12,” Baker says. “But it is still possible to get most vital nutrients from a vegan diet – (after all) vitamin B-12 is also found in nutritional yeast, and many fortified cereals and soy milks.”

Beyond choosing to be healthy, however, turning vegetarian is, according to PETA, also “compassionate to the animals and the environment.”

“It is estimated that each vegetarian saves at least 83 animals every year,” Baker says, adding that “the world’s livestock account for 15% to 25% of overall global methane emissions — and methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. In the US, nearly half of the water, more than a third of raw materials and fossil fuels, 80% of agricultural land, and 70% of grain are used to raise animals for food. The animals, in turn, produce a whopping 87,000 pounds of manure every single second – (a quantity) 130 times the excrement of the entire human population, leaking into streams and rivers, and contaminating water sources.”

A vegetarian diet is, therefore, “not only healthy but also humane,” Baker says.


“Going vegetarian seemed difficult at first — I had loved bacon double cheeseburgers,” Baker recalls. “But I made the switch overnight. It’s just a matter of learning new food.”

Turning vegetarian is “easier than ever before these days since there are many more options. In the Philippines, soy products are everywhere; you don’t go to the taho (tofu), the taho goes to you.” There are also the “mock meats” long promoted by Seventh-Day Adventists as “mock meats” that is cholesterol free and generally lower in fat; the pervasiveness of the vegetarian products, such as those carried by shopping chain Rustans in its supermarkets (called Taste), from sliced soy meat, tofu cream cheese, soy cheese, mock tuna, and dairy-free chocolate; and the availability of more dining venues either exclusively catering to vegetarians, or re-configuring their menus to offer vegetarian menus (e.g. in Quezon City alone, there are about five all-vegetarian restaurants, even as pizza companies, such as Yellow Cab and Greenwich, make vegetable pizzas without cheese, and Wendy’s and KFC now have vegetable salads for the health-conscious), Baker says.

“Compassion will never go out of style. We show people that vegetarianism isn’t just about losing a few pounds; it’s about being humane and healthy,” Baker ends.

For more information on the benefits of turning vegetarian, visit,,, and

"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." This one writes about... anything and everything.


Self-care for sick days

To help navigate this cough, cold and flu season, consider these tips.



Cooler weather inevitably means cough, cold and flu season isn’t far behind. Now is the time to take precautions and set yourself up with healthy habits.

“As much as we try, avoiding viruses, bacteria and germs to prevent getting sick can be a challenge,” Dr. Tim Tiutan, MD, said. “However, being prepared with the right remedies, listening to your body and its symptoms and remaining diligent with a healthy routine is just as important as treating symptoms head on.”

To help navigate this cough, cold and flu season, consider these tips from Tiutan and the experts at Mucinex.

Prepare and Prevent
You won’t find a foolproof way to keep germs away, but you can lessen your chances of getting sick and make sure you’re equipped to weather an illness.

  • Practice healthy habits. Keeping your body in prime condition can help ensure you’re in the best condition possible to fight back when germs attack. That means keeping up with exercise and ensuring you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients through a well-balanced diet.
  • Get a flu shot. The flu shot gives your body a head start in fighting back against flu bugs. If you’re exposed to the flu after receiving the shot, your body can immediately go on the offensive against those germs. You may not stay completely symptom-free, but you’re more likely to experience a mild case and be back on your feet quicker.
  • Restock the medicine cabinet. The start of cough, cold and flu season is an ideal time to dig through your medicine cabinet. Start by discarding any medications that are out of date and make a list of anything you need to replenish. Be sure to include pain relievers, fever reducers, decongestants, antihistamines and cough syrups to fight symptoms. It’s also a good time to restock items like tissues, cough drops, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap.

Treat Symptoms
Although the flu can hit fast, it’s often hard to tell at first whether your symptoms are due to a simple cough, cold or a case of the flu. Either way, managing symptoms like a cough can bring relief and help you keep comfortable and get plenty of rest.

  • Give your body time to heal. Sleep plays an important role in your overall health, especially when you’re under the weather. On average, you need 7-9 hours each night to give your body enough time to fully recharge. When you’re sick, you likely need even more, and it’s a good idea to dial back your activity level, too. Pushing your physical limits often only delays your recovery time.
  • Take medications as directed. Nagging symptoms can often keep you from getting the sleep you need. One way to give your body the break it needs is to effectively manage symptoms. A hacking cough is a common symptom that can be painful and disrupt your sleep. Consider an option like Mucinex DM 12-Hour, a cough suppresent which relieves chest congestion and thins and loosens mucus, giving you an extended reprieve. It’s clinically proven to last up to 12 hours, provides relief for chest congestion and makes coughs more productive.

Prevent Spread
Getting sick may be beyond your complete control, but you can take steps to protect others from germs when you’re feeling ill.

  • Keep germs to yourself. Washing your hands often, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and sneezing into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue are simple ways you can limit the spread of germs, especially within your home or workspace. Frequently wiping down high-touch surfaces can also help reduce the spread of germs.
  • Skip socializing. If you’re feeling under the weather, stay home. Even a mild cold can easily spread, and an illness that affects you mildly could cause significant distress for someone else. Avoid unnecessary errands and take advantage of services like curbside pickup if you must get out. Also check with your employer about working remotely if you’re up to it.

Cold vs. Flu
There’s a lot of overlap between cold and flu symptoms, so it can be tricky to figure out whether the bug you’re fighting is a cold or influenza and how to tackle it.

While both the common cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses, they are not caused by the same viruses. Although colds are inconvenient, they are far less likely to develop into anything more serious, as the flu can.

What is a Cold?
Generally, colds are milder than the flu, and more likely to cause runny or stuffy noses (while the flu can cause stuffy or runny noses, it’s less likely to do so). You won’t feel good, but you’ll probably be able to do some or all of your daily tasks. The flu typically hits harder, making it difficult to go to work or follow your usual routine.

What is the Flu?
The flu often feels worse than a cold; you might experience the same symptoms but amplified. The flu comes with more pain and fever than a cold. Common flu symptoms include sore throat, chills, fever, runny or stuffy nose, muscle fatigue or aches and headaches. The flu can also develop into more serious conditions and complications, making it more dangerous than the average cold. While the common cold is rarely serious, the flu can be dangerous for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

Treating a Cold vs. Flu
You can be vaccinated against the flu. There is no such vaccine for common colds. If your provider recommends it, getting the flu vaccine each year can go a long way toward preventing sickness.

Whether you have a cold or the flu, symptom relief is largely the same. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms. Stay home to avoid spreading sickness. Wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Watch for shortness of breath, chest or abdomen pain, confusion, sudden dizziness, severe or persistent vomiting and flu symptoms that improve then return with fever and worse cough. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a doctor.

Find more ways to stay healthy and limit symptoms by visiting

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5 Tips For Proper Oral Care

It’s crucial that you practice proper oral care, by following these habits.



They’re incredibly important, yet so many people take them for granted—our teeth. A healthy smile is an important part of your overall health since your teeth are such an important and useful part of your body.

It’s crucial that you practice proper oral care, by following these habits.

Always Brush Before Bed

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth three times a day to ensure you remove harmful buildup. However, not everyone manages to make it to three, which isn’t the end of the world. Yet, if there’s one of these three brushing times that you absolutely can’t get away with skipping, it’s nighttime.

At night, your teeth have all of the food that you ate throughout the day, and also germs that cause bad breath. When you go to bed without brushing you’re allowing all of that to sit on your teeth for the duration of however long you sleep, which is usually about 8 hours. Yuck!

Visit Your Dentist

Brushing your teeth daily is already a great step towards overall tooth health. However, there are some things that a toothbrush simply can’t do. It’s important that you see a dentist regularly to get cleanings and address dental issues.

Sometimes despite our best efforts to brush, we still develop cavities. Unfortunately, this is just the way things are. A dentist can help us identify these cavities, and fill them as soon as possible so they don’t turn into something more serious like a root canal.


Despite having the best toothbrush on the market, there are crevices and cracks in your mouth that even the best toothbrush can’t touch. In addition to brushing, you should make sure that you floss.

Flossing won’t just reduce your risk of developing cavities, but it can significantly improve your breath. There are all sorts of germs and bacteria lurking in between your teeth, and flossing can get rid of that. If you notice that your breath still isn’t entirely fresh even after brushing, then pull out the floss and you’ll notice a big difference.

Avoid Sugar

There are plenty of things that are less than ideal for your health. However, most health professionals agree that one of the worst things for you is sugar and your dentist feels the same. The less sugar you eat, the healthier your teeth will be, as sugar eats away at your tooth enamel.

If you do eat sugar, make sure that you brush your teeth after. One of the worst things you can do is eat sticky candy which leaves behind residue on your teeth and is the perfect recipe for cavities.

Avoid Acidic Foods

In addition to sugary foods, acidic foods are also your teeth’s worst enemy. From coffee to citrus fruits, limit the number of acidic beverages and foods you consume, and your tooth enamel will greatly thank you for it!

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Tips for walking 20,000 steps a day

To walk 20,000 steps a day you’ll need to cover a total of 10 miles. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds.



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To walk 20,000 steps a day you’ll need to cover a total of 10 miles. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. Here are a few tips to help you reach your goal:

Invest in a Good Pair of Shoes

The first step to walking 20,000 steps a day is to make sure you have the right equipment. Investing in a good pair of walking shoes will help to prevent blisters and injuries, and make the walk more comfortable overall.

Make Walking Part of Your Daily Routine

To reach your 10-mile goal every day, make walking a part of your daily routine. This might mean taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from where you’re going so that you have to walk more. You can also try waking up a few minutes earlier each morning to fit in a walk before you start your day.

Join a Walking Group

If you’re having trouble finding time to fit in 10 miles each day, consider joining a walking group or taking part in a local 5k race. This will help keep you motivated and provide social support along the way.

Start Small

Don’t try to walk 20,000 steps all at once. Start with a smaller goal, such as 5,000 steps per day, and gradually increase your mileage as you become more fit. This will help you avoid injury and burnout.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure to stay hydrated while walking by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will help you feel more energized and prevent dehydration-related issues, such as muscle cramps or fatigue.

The Bottom Line – BetterMe Can Help You Walk More, Every Day

If you’re looking to improve your overall health, walking 20,000 steps a day can help. This simple form of exercise offers a host of health benefits, from improved sleep and digestion to reduced stress and anxiety. To reach your goal, use the BetterMe Blog as a guide and stay committed every day. With enough dedication, you can achieve your fitness goals and transform your body for the better.

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