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The Conscious Crusader Issue #7 -- Your newsletter for healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living
October 14, 2011

Welcome to the 7th edition of the
Conscious Crusader!

Pura Vida Fabulous Fest Flyer

This month we have these great tips, stories, and recipes for you:

Welcome to the Conscious Crusader's October Edition!

Belsandia Hosts Events in Las Vegas!

I have recently started a series of events across Las Vegas to spread the word on healthy plant-based eating and to share the knowledge about healing and preventing diseases with the right food choices.

We can do so much to heal ourselves, as most diseases stem from the way we eat - and that includes our top killers in the US: heart disease and cancer!

I think it's a very motivating and inspiring thought that you can be the master of your own health and healing by adapting a better way to eat and by adding healthy exercise options to your daily routine. You have this very powerful tool at your fingertips to steer you away from our society diseases and hefty health care bills! You can start by reading about our healthy eating guidelines here.

Now more about the upcoming events that I am hosting in Las Vegas. Please join us if you are in the area:

October 21 – Belsandia presents: Pura Vida Dinner & More

This is our first monthly dinner at Pura Vida Bystro, the new all-vegan café where my good friend Chef Mayra is doing magic with her creations of vegan latin-inspired hearty and flavorful soul food.

We will have a scrumptious dinner special and a speech by Lt. Col. Robert Lucius – the inspiring US Marine officer who is on a mission to eradicate the dog meat trade in Vietnam. Join us if you are in Las Vegas! Here are the event details.

The Conscious Crusader

November 05 – Pura Vida Fabulous Fest: fun and healthy food for a good cause!

We have a spectacular festival planned on November 05 to celebrate World Vegan Day and to donate money to Mercy for Animals!

We will have a great vegan lunch special, music, live entertainment, and a marketplace where local health-related and ethical vendors introduce their goods and services. This all-day event will be one of its kind and admission is FREE!

So please stop by at Pura Vida Bystro between 11am and 5pm if you are in Las Vegas. Here are the details.

Watch out for further updates to these and other events I am hosting in Las Vegas on the Belsandia website

Latest Green Living Trends - Green Food: plant-based eating is key to stop the ongoing harmful effects on our environment

green food

Worldwatch Institute has just released another alarming study on how the continuous rise in global meat production and consumption is destroying our environment to the point of almost no return.

It comes as no surprise that global meat consumption is further growing, with more and more developing countries joining the long list of nations that focus on animal foods as their main source of sustenance. Worldwide meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20% in just the last 10 years.

This trend towards more industrial factory farming is extremely worrisome, given the fact that animal foods are the most inefficient and environmentally taxing foods that exist. Here are just a few examples for this:

  • It takes between 2,500 - 4,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, compared to growing 1 pound of soy, which only needs 250 gallons, and a pound of wheat, which requires only 25 gallons of water.
  • One-third of all the raw materials and fossil fuels used in the US go to raising food animals.
  • Factory farming is responsible for 37% of pesticide contamination, 50% of antibiotic contamination, and one-third of the nitrogen and phosphorus loads found in freshwater.
  • Farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human US population and the run-off from their waste is contaminating the waterways.

Apart from having disastrous short- and long-term effects on our planet, animal foods are entirely inadequate to feed our growing world population. Our greed-driven, continued focus on these foods essentially means that ever less food will be available for ever fewer people:

  • The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people - that is more than the current human population on earth!
  • 20% of the world's population - 1.4 billion people - could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to US cattle alone.
  • Animal feed requires almost 10 times the crops that it would take to feed the crops directly to people. If we ate the plants directly, the world population could be fed comfortably for many years to come.

Read more interesting facts about food sustainability and why grass-fed and pasture-raised are not the answer either.

But there is hope: Going green with food is not only an option to stop this harmful trend, it becomes a must: for our own survival and that of the very planet that gives us all life.

Find out what you can do – everyone of us can make a huge difference, with every single meal we choose!

Read another very informative article on why our love for animal foods is the main cause for global resource depletion and global warming: My interview with Dr. Richard Oppenlander, author of "Comfortably Unaware"

Green Events & Vegan Events Calendar – October and November 2011

We compiled the most complete list of Green Events and Vegan Events in the US, so check here and find the best event in your city or near you in October and November 2011

Featured recommended product of the month: "Movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead"

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

Watch the journey of two very different men whose lives are changing completely once they embark on a raw vegan juice fast to reboot their lives.

During this epic 60-day juice fasting tour that takes him 3000 miles through the US, Australian Joe Cross has these goals: to lose at least 100 pounds of weight, to get rid of a debilitating autoimmune disease, and to take control of his own health again.

On the other side we have Phil Staples, a morbidly overweight American at 429 pounds who is only one cheeseburger away from a heart attack.

When Joe's and Phil's paths collide, an epic and inspirational tale begins that tells their story of healing and building human connections.

This highly inspiring and acclaimed movie has won many documentary film prices and has motivated hundreds of people to start juicing and to reclaim their health!

Click here for more details and purchase options: Movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

Health News of the Month: Eating eggs has been linked to increased prostate cancer risk in men

Eating Eggs is risky

For decades we've been told that eggs provide us with important high quality protein and many vitamins. Eggs do have these nutrients, but they are also very high in saturated fat and cholesterol - more than half of the fat found in eggs comes from the fat in the yolk.

A new study by the University of California has now found that eating 2 1/2 or more eggs a week can lead to an 81% higher risk in men to develop a lethal form of prostate cancer. This was published recently in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (1).

Now that is a very high risk increase from the consumption of just one food! Add to that the increased cancer risk from meat and dairy products and the likeliness for developing prostate cancer appears almost unstoppable.

Fact is that eggs contain particularly high amounts of cholesterol and choline, which are indicated in playing a role in this increased cancer risk.

Former research has already shown that consumption of eggs increases cardiovascular risk in diabetics, and that the intake of 6 or more eggs per week is associated with a modest increased risk of total mortality in men (2).

Eating eggs daily has also been linked to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes in men and women (2).

An additional problem with egg consumption is the high risk of contamination by pathogens like salmonella, due to the filthy living conditions that egg-laying hens endure in factory farms.

And last but not least, eggs are repeatedly topping the list of the 10 most frequently occurring food-allergies in infants.

If you do eat eggs, please consider the health impacts for yourself and the immense cruelty that is part of industrial egg production.


Hot New Recipe on

Oriental Lentil Salad

Oriental Lentil Salad

This Middle Eastern-style salad is a hit for your next party or as nutritious appetizer at anytime!

It is fast and easy to make and boosts a lot of protein and fiber. You can serve it warm or chilled and in almost endless combinations, like as substitute for rice with stews.

Serves 6


3 cups dried lentils
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons organic garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 scallions, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup parsley, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, trimmed and chopped
5 1/2 cups water


In a medium skillet, combine the lentils with 5 1/2 cups of water. Add the cumin and 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, and then bring to boil. Cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes, or until the lentils have only a minimal bite left.

Remove from the heat and open the pot cover to let the lentils cool down a bit. When they are lukewarm, add the remaining salt, lemon juice, black pepper, oil, parsley, mint, and scallions. Stir and let cool down more. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled if you like.

Check out the original recipe here.

Global Veg Food Specialty: China: Ancient Wisdom and Traditional Plant-based Foods

China has a rich ancient tradition for healthy vegetarian foods with its cultural roots in Buddhism and Taoism - both philosophies that promote a healthful vegetarian diet and a low impact on the natural world.

This has markedly changed in modern China and with the rise of a more affluent middle class, which still remembers former generations for whom meat was a luxury that they could rarely afford. Nowadays, many Chinese literally consume everything that walks, crawls, flies, swims, or slithers.

That's why selecting China as this month's food country for great plant-based dishes may seem odd to some of you, but it is my pleasure to introduce you to two delightful dishes that are natural and vegan in nature, and that simply taste wonderful!

Stir-fried Garlic Spinach And Tofu

Chinese Garlic Spinach

Serves 4 / Ready in 20 minutes


2 bunches baby spinach or Chinese water spinach, rinsed and drained
1/2 pack firm organic tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 1/4 tablespoons sesame or chili oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon chili paste, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon granulated brown sugar
Sea salt and ground fresh black pepper to taste


Heat the wok or large skillet on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons sesame oil. When it is hot, add the garlic, chili paste, and salt to taste. Saute for a few minutes until the garlic browns slightly.

Then add the tofu cubes and stir-fry for another minute. Next add the spinach and stir until the leaves are almost wilted.

Mix 1/4 tablespoon of oil with the brown sugar and stir it into the spinach tofu dish. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste and serve right away.

Vegan Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Vegan Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Serves 4 / Ready in 1 hour


1 cup dried black mushrooms, soaked, cut into small strips
1 cup dried cloud ear mushrooms, soaked, cut into small strips
1 small can thinly sliced bamboo shoots
1 small can water chestnuts, sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thin stripes
1/2 pack organic soft tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 green onion, cut into thin stripes
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon chili oil
3 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon light organic soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili bean sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
corn starch paste for thickening (make corn starch with 1 teaspoon water and 2 teaspoons starch)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped


Heat 1 tablespoon of chili oil in a wok or medium sauce pan. Saute the ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add all mushrooms, carrots, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts. Saute for 2 minutes and add the vegetable broth.

Bring it to a boil and season with vinegar, soy sauce, chili bean paste, and white pepper. Thicken with the prepared corn starch paste and try to avoid clumps. Reduce to low heat.

Gently fold in the tofu, green onion, sesame oil, and fresh cilantro. Serve hot.

Amazing Animal Story of the Month: Part 2 of Robert Lucius's story and the mission of his Kairos Coalition

Part 2: A man on a mission: U.S. Marines officer promotes humane education in Vietnam

Robert Lucius and volunteers

I spent the last two years of my assignment in Vietnam trying to make a difference. I helped the U.S. Department of Defense build health clinics and schools in poor communities, worked diligently to make Vietnam's equivalent of the Coast Guard become more effective at saving lives on the high seas and responding to natural disasters, managed U.S. State Department programs to help the Vietnamese clean up unexploded ordinance (UXO) left over from the Vietnam War, and coordinated some of the largest sea-based humanitarian medical assistance missions to visit Vietnam since the end of the war in 1975. In my free time I ran an outreach program to improve the quality of life for elderly leprosy patients living in remote areas.

I became a vegetarian, too, and yet something was missing. I had not truly begun to make amends for my cowardice on the road to Lai Chau.

In August 2008, my wife and I returned to US. We bought a house in Pacific Grove, I became vegan, we adopted a second cat, had our first child, and I made the decision that I would end my Marine Corps career here on the Peninsula.

It was also a time when I began to lay the groundwork for my return to Vietnam, in an effort to right a wrong that I had been part of.

Last year we established the Kairos Coalition, a tax-exempt, non-profit charity based in Pacific Grove, US with the mission of employing innovative and culturally-normative approaches to deliver humane education in developing countries.

We strive to use traditional creative arts to promote reverence for all life and respect for the dignity of each person, while also fostering a deeper understanding of the power of empathy and mercy in the compassionate exercise of personal responsibility for achieving a cruelty-free and sustainable world.

Humane Edutainment

The Kairos Coalition's approach to humane education is called "Humane Edutainment", a pedagogy that draws primarily from "Forum Theatre", a type of participatory theater rooted in Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.

Forum Theater performances are comprised of a number of short dramatic vignettes that portray ethical dilemmas in which a protagonist is put into a position of being oppressed or of being an accessory of oppression.

Thorough interactions within the context of ethical vignettes, members of the audience are forced to free themselves from the limitations of merely being spectators of an unfolding drama; instead, they are forced to confront these dilemmas by joining in the action in order to satisfactorily resolve the crises themselves.

The Humane Edutainment approach facilitates the experiential learning process and creates cognitive conflict, an important vehicle for stimulating behavioral modification. Humane Edutainment also employs an approach distilled from centuries of Vietnamese cultural tradition. Traditional art forms, such as water puppetry, dance, poetry, painting and improvisational theatre are called upon to convey important Humane Education messages.

This "culturally-normed" approach has historically been very effective in reaching audiences of broad composition, ranging from those with little formal education to those who are highly educated.

The tradition of roaming teams of performers and minstrels such as these dates back centuries in Vietnam and China. For example, during the 1940s and 1950s, the Vietnam Communist Party led by Ho Chi Minh relied extensively on traveling "Culture and Drama Teams" to propagandize Marxist-Leninist ideology throughout rural communities.

Read the remainder of this inspiring story

Read part 1 of the story here: Marine Officer Lt. Col. Robert Lucius discovers his life's mission: to fight the dog meat trade in Vietnam

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Check out the latest Belsandia Blog posts from this week.

Thanks so much for reading the Conscious Crusader and join me again next month for a new edition with green living tips, hot new recipes, global veg specialties, animal stories, health tip of the month, and more!

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