Welcome to Nature Maven's Healthy Eating Healthy Planet Blog

Welcome! If you're a vegan, you'll find support and suggestions you may be able to use here. If you're a vegetarian as I was when I started this blog in June 2008, reading my archived posts may be of interest to you. If you haven't gotten here already, I hope you'll consider trying the vegan way of life, too.

As I try new recipes, learn to eat in restaurants, entertain non-veg friends and make the changes necessary to bring my life into greater harmony with the planet, I share what I learn. And little joys and other thoughts get thrown into the mix here, too.

In March 2009 after starting to read The Engine 2 Diet by vegan firefighter Rip Esselstyn, I became fully vegan, to the best of my knowledge and ability, and I post entries here as I live and learn in this lifestyle. It's definitely a process of experience and discovery.

Please check out the Vegan News Headlines supplied by Google News Reader down on the right, and see my Blogroll for just a few of the choice blogs and websites I've found useful.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bee Pollen: Navigating the Shoals of Treachery as a Vegan

I've been trying vegan meal replacement powders to keep lunch quick, easy, nutritious and low-calorie. I started with four different one-serving packs of Vega. It seems to be a great product but is expensive, hence the trial packets. Sadly, I found that the stevia gave it an unpleasant aftertaste, and the green color was a little off-putting, so I kept searching. On a trip to my local GNC, the clerk who helped me knew of no vegan products in their store. A passing customer suggested Gary Null's powder, so I thanked him and went to the Vitamin Shoppe. The very helpful guy took me to a section that was "all vegan" according to him, and the Gary Null powder was about $25, so I asked if they carried single-serving packets. No, they didn't but they did have Spiru-tein in a 7-packet assortment with a mixing shaker. I looked over the package quickly and saw that there was no dairy, so I took it.

Later I sat back and took a closer look and read this on the label:

SPIRU-TEIN®, an incredibly delicious, all-natural energy formula, is power-packed with 14 grams on high quality protein from soy, fermented soy, rice, pea and spirulina- nature's premier sources of vegetarian protein.

In addition to 100% of the daily value for all vitamins, and a broad profile of essential minerals, each nutritious and satisfying sip supplies bee pollen, bromelain papaya, lecithin, bio-flavonoids, oat bran, cellulose, apple pectin and chlorophyll.

Other Ingredients: Nature's plus SPIRU-TEIN POWDER features a unique blend of ingredients, including 100% daily value of all vitamins, Broad profile of essential minerals, Energy nutrients: high quality complete protein and bee pollen, Diet aids: lecithin, spirulina, choline and inositol, Enzymes: bromelain and papaya, Cleansing: chlorophyll, FIBER: Bran, cellulose and apple pectin.
Directions: Add contents of packet to 8 fl. oz. of skim milk, whole milk, or juice, and mix (or shake) until smooth. For best results, milk or juice should be very cold.
Warnings: Not to be used as the sole source of dietary calories.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Oh no! Could vegans eat bee pollen? I started a search. Alas, no.

I learned that bee pollen is collected from the legs of bees as they enter the hive and come in contact with a scraper called a pollen trap, and sometimes a bee loses a leg in the process. The University of Florida IFAS Extension posts some interesting information online. In addition to containing flower pollens the bees have collected, bee pollen contains some other substances such as:

The kinds of debris and foreign matter that can be found in pollen is remarkable. A partial listing includes: (1) lost bee parts; (2) bits of plants like leaves and straw; (3) pollinia or stamens from certain plants that stick to bees and pollen; (4) hair-like threads; (5) various insects, some invisible to the human eye and (6) mummies and scales from bee diseases.

The Vegan Society has a detailed treatise on why vegans must avoid all bee products.

So I am clear now that I will be returning the Spiru-Tein to the store and exchanging it for something truly vegan. What I choose remains to be seen. By the way, as I did my search of information, I came across something on a Gary Null site touting the praises of bee pollen as a "perfect food". Apparently a number of years ago Null did an infomercial for bee pollen and was excoriated for lending credibility to claims the FDA later debunked. You can learn more about that here. So, I plan to get my money back, go to Whole Foods, and read everything over carefully before choosing my next meal replacement. The moral of the story may be that eating a healthy meal is better than trying to replace it.

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