“We are what we eat” is a popular statement that indicates how our diet affects our health. Recent studies, for instance, show that long-term consumption of red meat, particularly processed meat, increases risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes. But with evidence of the food industry’s massive impact on the environment, it seems that our planet is also a reflection of what we choose to put on our plate.

According to Greenpeace, global meat and dairy production has become so intensive that it’s now a major cause of deforestation, and the degradation of oceans and freshwater sources. Since 1970, the planet’s wildlife has been cut down to half, while its livestock has tripled. If this issue is not addressed, the meat and dairy industry is projected to make up 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.

Crowded pig stall in Germany (photo by Greenpeace)


In an article, Pete Smith, Former Convening Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stresses the need to reduce demand for livestock products. “Only a significant decrease in meat and milk consumption will allow us to deliver a food system fit for the future – for the benefit of humans and the planet as a whole. Producing the same mix of foods as we consume now, even if we were to do so more sustainably, cannot deliver the reduction in environmental impacts we need to protect the planet for our children and their children.”

Antibiotic resistance, which the World Health Organization declared as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today”, is also linked to the livestock industry. Greenpeace reports that animals are subjected to overcrowded and unsanitary living quarters, overfeeding and over-administering of antibiotics to maximize profits. This inhumane treatment contributes, not only to antimicrobial resistance among meat consumers, but also food-borne illnesses.

To prevent environmental destruction, Greenpeace urges governments to gear toward more sustainable practices in agriculture. This includes lessening meat and dairy production, and focusing on growing cops to make plant-based foods more available.


Veganism = Environmentalism

Mabi advocates a green lifestyle in the kitchen and beyond.


Veganism is generally perceived as referring to people who don’t eat animal products. But according to Mabi David, who describes herself as a plant-based cook, veganism is a way of life. “Veganism is an ethic, and diet is just one part of it. Veganism is a justice movement, and the issue of animal rights intersects with issues of human rights. Animal cruelty intersects with other prejudices  like racism and sexism, in that they are different manifestations of an oppressive worldview where one group designates itself superior and entitled over another group that the former has defined as different, weaker.”

As a nutritionist and dietician, Gelo practices what he preaches.

Nutritionist and dietician Gelo Cruz was also inspired to turn vegan when he learned how cruel the meat and dairy industry was. “Animal cruelty extends to using animals for food, fashion and entertainment like in circuses and zoos. For me, these are all unnecessary forms of oppression to our fellow sentient beings.”

A vegan for two years, Gelo studied the negative health impacts of increasing meat consumption when he took up nutrition and dietetics in college. “But I was not aware that it was possible to live on a completely plant-based diet until I did further research as a professional,” he says. 

Health was also a powerful motivation for Mabi to embrace veganism.  “I’ve dabbled on and off in vegetarianism since I was in my early 20s, but thought I could not give up dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt which I was fond of despite my lactose intolerance,” she shares. In 2016, Mabi became vegan after reading an article that linked animal products to chronic diseases. “This was mind blowing for me. I realized I could actually live without cheese. I became vegan practically overnight.”


Health Benefits

As a nutritionist, Gelo believes in being preventive rather than curative, a mindset that prioritizes a healthy immune system over disease treatment. As to the argument that a vegan diet is nutritionally inadequate, Gelo says, “All the nutrients we need throughout human life stages can be acquired through a plant-based diet. There are a lot of plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Another great advantage of getting protein from plant-based sources is that it is packed with vitamins and minerals, which builds up the immune system, while protein sourced from animal-based food is packed with carcinogens and cholesterol.”

Mabi shows off her fresh organic veggies


For Mabi, veganism pushed her to cook her own food—a great way to manage one’s health. “I like the fact that whenever I feel like I am coming down with something, my immune system actually has a fighting chance against disease. Recovery time is quicker. In this time of global pandemic, we’re realizing how important health is.” 

To ensure that her diet has minimal environmental impact, Mabi sources her organic vegetables from small-scale farmers, who typically grow food in their backyards. “Growing food so close to their homes, food that they will feed their families, these farmers make sure that their produce is not grown with chemical fertilizers and bombarded with toxic pesticides,” she says. “These small backyard farmers also grow a diverse set of produce to be able to feed their families with some variety, and diversity supports the health of multiple ecosystems that help protect our environment, from worms to bees to wildlife. Monocropping leads to the extinction of food crops that may be less popular but are vital to a culture, a community.”


Veganism as a Way of Life

Gelo represented Vegan Strong Philippines, a support group for vegans, transitioning vegans and the vegan-curious, at the Spartan Race last October 2019. (Photo by Spartan Race Phils.)


Aside from promoting the plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle, Gelo also volunteers in an animal shelter in San Pedro, Laguna. “We rescue stray cats and dogs, and animals scheduled for slaughter. We also conduct TNRs (trap, neuter, release/return) among stray cats to manage their population, and prevent their mistreatment and abuse.”

Mabi, who’s also a pet owner, likes the fact that no animal suffers with her lifestyle. “I am horrified that cows are kept impregnated all year round just so they can keep producing milk for humans, and that their babies are taken away from them right after birth so that they milk they lactate will be given to humans instead. I cannot imagine killing an animal that does not want to suffer and die simply because I like how meat tastes.”

Mabi’s children’s book encourages children to be adventurous eaters.

Complementing Mabi’s advocacy is her children’s book on eating the rainbow, a technique parents can use to make sure their children are getting enough nutrients from fruits and vegetables by making their plates as colorful as possible. “The book came about when I reached out to Greenpeace to propose a collaboration to help mainstream plant-based eating. The children’s book was Greenpeace’s idea, and we worked with Adarna House.” 


Tips for Turning Vegan

Mabi believes that the local vegan scene is thriving, making it easier for meat eaters to make the transition. She and Gelo also offer these tips:

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom Teriyaki cooked by Misaki, Gelo’s girlfriend


Consider vegan versions of your favorite food. 

“I believe that there is an emotional attachment to food (e.g your mother cooking your favorite chicken noodle soup whenever you get sick), that’s why I recommend transition food like mock meat or veggie meat to satisfy cravings. These foods are not necessarily healthy, but they are healthier than animal meat.” At first, Gelo found it difficult to give up his favorite food—fried chicken. But he learned to trick his palate while staying vegan. “Whenever I crave fried chicken, I make it using cauliflower. It helped my palate adjust.”


Know why you want to make the change.

Are you switching to a plant-based diet because of health? is it because you refuse to be part of animal cruelty? Is it because of the environment? Gelo advises holding on to this purpose when meat cravings strike. “Whenever you feel tempted to go back to your old ways, remember why you’ve decided to go vegan.”


Do a pantry and kitchen reset. 

“Start stocking up on healthier, plant-based ingredients,” says Mabi. “Out of sight, out of mouth.”

Mabi’s probiotic-packed ensalada with lacto-fermented tomatoes and native corn


Cut out processed foods. 

Mabi believes these are designed to keep you craving for them, and desensitize your taste buds. “You’ll need to train your taste buds to detect delicate flavors and nuances,” she advises.


Make the journey enjoyable. 

“If you feel deprived, it will be difficult,” says Mabi. Because she loves Indian food, Mabi loaded up on Indian spices and purchased an Indian cookbook to jumpstart her transition. 


In the light of the pandemic, veganism, a practice on self-sufficiency, becomes even more relevant. “How do we feed everyone? How do we access healthy food to build our resistance? Whenever we eat, we are participating in the creation of a food system,” Mabi explains. “The farmer and the eater are interdependent, and we are not just consumers at the end of a long food chain. Rather, we are co-producers of the food system and we can shape it into one that is nourishing, just and sustainable.”


Know more about Gelo Cruz’s vegan advocacies on Facebook.  

For Mabi’s vegan journey and recipes, check out Me and My Veg Mouth.

pet care

The Hot and Dry Season is the perfect time to spend sunny days outdoors with friends and family, which, sometimes, include a furry companion or two. With beloved pets in tow, swimming and playing under the sun becomes more enjoyable. Still, it’s important to remember that like humans, animals are also susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

The expected rise in temperature in the following days may pose challenges to your pet’s well-being. At this time, watch out for potential dangers due to hot weather.

Swimming with Pets
This season, what better way to cool down than swimming? Although it is no secret that our canine friends enjoy swimming, not all dogs have mastered the doggie paddle. Here are some tips to keep your canine friends safe and healthy when taking a dip.

• It is best not to leave pets unsupervised around a pool or on the beach. Small dog breeds may have trouble swimming, so for Lassie’s sake, buy a flotation device to keep your pet safe.

• Prevent your dog from drinking pool water as chlorine and other chemicals may cause him an upset stomach.

• After swimming, rinse your dog with fresh water to remove chlorine or salt to avoid skin irritation.

• Just like people, dogs can have sunburn too with thin-coated and light-colored canines at higher risk. To prevent this, waterproof sunscreen formulated for pets are also available.

Know the Warning Signs: Dehydration and Heat Stroke
Dogs enjoy sitting in the sun as much as cats enjoy lounging in its warmth. However, too much exposure to extreme heat may cause dehydration and heat stroke.

Your furry friend is at risk for heat stroke if he has any of the following characteristics:
• very young
• very old
• has a heart or respiratory disease
• overweight
• short-nosed
• dark-colored,
• thick-coated
• not conditioned to prolonged exercise

Leaving your pet in the car during hot weather is a big no-no, not even with the windows slightly rolled down. This instance results to a rising body temperature of your pet, in which case heat stroke may occur.

Signs include:
• Excessive panting
• Rapid heartbeat
• Difficulty breathing
• Decreased urination
• Drooling
• Mild weakness
• Dry gums
• Excess lethargy
• Lack of coordination
• Refusal to eat
• Glazed eyes
• Seizures
• Bloody diarrhea
• Vomiting
• Unconsciousness

If any of the last four incidents happen, bring your pet to the vet immediately.

To avoid any of the above from happening, be sure to keep plenty of water available for your cat and dog at all times, both indoors and outside. Position them in a shady spot. Help them cool down with a few ice cubes in their water bowl, or even freeze some treats they can enjoy.

It’s all about the timing and street smarts
When the temperature is very high, sidewalks can very hot, capable of harming your pets’ paws and footpads. If you don’t like walking on that pavement with bare feet, limit your dog’s time on it, too.

Stay away from asphalt or rough pavement and only walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when outdoor surfaces are cool. Adjust the exercise routine you have with your canine in accordance with the temperature.

Time to have a trim
Just like any season of the year, grooming is important during warm weather. Feel free to have pet’s mane trimmed but never shave it. The layers of their coats protect them from sunburn and overheating. Your dogs and cats will also thank you for brushing their fur to get rid of matted or excess fur, which can contribute to overheating.

Visit the vet
Having your pets regularly checked is a must especially when parasites such as ticks, fleas and other insects are at their peak during the hot months. Your veterinarian will be able to give recommendations for safe flea and tick solutions.

Just like anyone in your family, your cats and dogs are susceptible to the dangers of hot weather. Protect them from too much sun and heat and you can still continue to have fun in the sun—together.

Earth Hour 2015

Earth Hour 2015 will be celebrated worldwide on March 28, 2015 from 8:30 to 9:30 PM on our local time zone. This annual global movement aims to get everyone involved to turn off their lights for 60 minutes as a symbol of their commitment to saving the planet.

But this voluntary action is only the first step in addressing the myriad environmental issues across the world. On the 9th edition of the campaign, the theme focuses on the power of people uniting to make a difference against the effects of climate change.

However, why not go beyond the 60 minutes? Just turning off the lights and enjoying a few activities during Earth Hour is a good start, but they’re simply not enough. As experts claimed, a single no-power hour does “pretty much nothing” in terms of having an actual impact on the environment.

So here are some things you can do, to not only reduce the costs on your electricity bill, but also help conserve the environment. You can follow these simple tips at home, your school or your workplace.

Keep it cool and clean. Use electric fans to keep you cool during the Hot and Dry Season but turn them off when not in use. If you choose to use an air conditioner, keep the doors and windows closed to keep warm air from coming in. Maintain your air conditioner by cleaning and replacing its air filters. A well-maintained appliance uses less energy and lasts longer.

Unplug it. Switch appliances such as televisions, computers and cellphones off when not in use. Unplug electronics once they are charged. Adapters plugged into outlets still use energy even if they are not charging.

Lights out. Switch to LED bulbs or CFLs. Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms. During daylight, let the natural sunlight illuminate your home. Opt for LED bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) that last longer than incandescent bulbs. These can also save you as much as P200 on your monthly electricity bill. Soft tones and gloss paint on your walls can also help reflect more light so you can use lower wattage bulbs.

Keep the fridge full but not too full. An empty fridge generates a lot of energy. Packing it with organized allotment in the shelves means less surface area to cool. Every time a refrigerator is opened, up to 30% of cool air can escape. At the same time, warm air enters, requiring the fridge to use more energy in restoring cool air.

Get rid of inefficient appliances. Even if they’re still working, an aging appliance could cost you much more than you think. Getting rid of spare items can also cut down your energy bills yearly and give you a bit more space.
Save the trees. Reduce paper use by printing on both sides of the sheet. Save energy and conserve other resources by using e-mail instead of sending memos or faxing documents.

Set a designated laundry and iron day. During laundry day, wash and dry full loads using cold water. Separate lightweight clothes from dry towels and heavier cottons. Ironing clothes in bulk once a week also saves energy.

Use a power strip. Aside from supplying power to several appliances, a power strip gives you the convenience of turning them all at the same time using just one switch. This way, you don’t leave any appliances plugged in.

Invest in energy-efficient items. In some cases, the purchase price of energy-saving appliances might be higher, but in just a few years, it can save you heaps from energy cost and save you money in the long run.

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Wealth can be yours even if you are an ordinary employee with a minimum salary wage. Colayco says that all you have to do is to “Pay Yourself First,” the first commandment in his book, Wealth within Reach.

Branded clothes, high-end gadgets and other premium items are forever tempting us to loosen our purse strings. We see them everywhere—on television, the internet, and on people we look up to. But the truth is, having these items are not the true measure of wealth.

Aside from being a well-known financial expert, Francisco J. Colayco is Chairman of the Colayco Foundation for Education and has published numerous books on investment and financial planning. He advocates that the accumulation of wealth is a daily commitment that can be taken on by Filipinos from all walks of life.

His financial recommendations can be succinctly stated into three main points:

Tip #1: Start small, save big.

To build your wealth, follow the 80/20 formula. This means living within 80% of your income while 20% will go directly to savings. That’s Income – Savings = Expenses.

To grow your savings, it pays to research on the various investment schemes so your money can grow at a higher rate than the inflation. Colayco adds that Mutual Funds are a good option to jumpstart your investments.

Tip #2: Learn to differentiate needs from wants.
So you won’t overspend your monthly budget, there are ways to minimize expenses and maximize savings.

Once you have set aside your savings, live within the amount of the money left for spending. Understand the difference between your needs and wants. Remember that your spending budget should only be for needs. The amount saved after covering your needs may be used for occasional wants or better yet, added to your savings.

Don’t fall into the trap of having to keep up with your peers with the latest gadgets and wardrobe. It is only you who has the greatest ability to grow your money.

Ponder this: If you saved P33 a day in your 20s and invested it wisely, by the time you’re 40, you would have billions!

Tip # 3: You’re never too young to be financially stable.

Being financially stable may not be an immediate goal for a twenty-something employee. But wealth can be enjoyed earlier if accumulated earlier.

First off, make your Personal Financial Plan by drafting your Statement of Assets and Liabilities and your Projected Income-Savings-Expenses.

Know your financial goals at the different stages of life. Set a specific amount to be accumulated for a specific time frame for a particular purpose. Are you saving for a car? When do you plan to buy it? How much will you need?

Earn both active and passive incomes. Active incomes are those that you earn from your work while passive incomes come from your investments. Colayco suggests using passive incomes for your wants.

Following all these tips may be a challenge, but so is everything worth doing. Wealth may not come easy, but with discipline, you will find that Colayco’s nuggets of financial wisdom are literally worth more than a million.

Here’s something you don’t hear about everyday: a TV host claiming that her wedding reservation at a private island resort in Quezon was bumped off in favor of another high-profile couple’s wedding date.

While these two concerned parties and the resort owner sort things out, most of us wonder why beach weddings are all the rage, not only among celebrities, but also among us common folk.

To this, we ask this question: why not? With our country’s numerous beautiful and pristine beaches, it only seems natural to hold one of life’s most momentous occasions in such gorgeous landscapes. Just think of it—the sun, sea and sand all working together to make your special moment memorable for you and your guests.

Convinced? If you’re planning your own wedding, then it’s time to check out our list of top beach wedding destinations.

Misibis Bay (Cagraray Island in Bacacay, Albay)

Photo from Facebook Page of Misibis Bay
Photo from Facebook Page of Misibis Bay

If private luxury is your thing, head on to this 5-hectare island getaway that offers loads of amenities. Its stretch of white sand is picture-perfect, along with its well-manicured gardens and tastefully designed villas. Aside from being only less than an hour’s flight away from Manila, this resort is equipped with an evacuation plan in case of a tsunami. The resort also offers an aerial view of the famous Mayon Volcano, our country’s most popular active volcano.

Celebrity Couple that Got Married Here: Real Estate Scion Victor Consunji and Beauty Queen/Actress Maggie Wilson

Nasugbu, Batangas

Photo from Facebook page of Club Punta Fuego, Nasugbu, Batangas
Photo from Facebook page of Club Punta Fuego, Nasugbu, Batangas


Via land, Batangas is only a few hours away from Manila, making it an ideal wedding spot, especially if the couple and guests are coming from the metro. In 2007, it was declared by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a special tourism zone, in an effort to boost the promotion and development of its white-sand beaches.

Celebrity Couples that Got Married Here: Pastor Joseph Bonifacio and Actress Rica Peralejo; Singers Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez

La Union, Ilocos

Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/flaircandy/3737780998
Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/flaircandy/3737780998

Dubbed as the surfing capital of the Northern Luzon, La Union is easily accessible via land and air from Manila. Its beaches are famous sites for water sports, particularly snorkeling and surfing.

Celebrity Couple that Got Married Here: Actor John Estrada and Brazilian Beauty Queen Priscilla Meirelles

Boracay Island, Aklan


Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/chewychua/543465383
Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/chewychua/543465383

When it’s beach wedding season, all roads seem to lead to the most popular destination of all, especially among celebrities—Boracay! Aside from its picturesque waters and shoreline, this island is chock-full of gimik spots that assure guests of unlimited party time after the ceremony.

Celebrity Couples that Got Married Here: Actor Jericho Rosales and Model/Host Kim Jones, Actor Oyo Boy Sotto and Actress Kristine Hermosa


Planning to get married on the beach? Here are some tips to make sure that it doesn’t rain on your wedding day:

Choose your wedding month well. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Chris Perez, it’s best to schedule your wedding between the months of November and February, which are usually characterized by cold and dry weather conditions associated with the “amihan” or Northeast Monsoon. He adds that at this time, “There will be a slim chance of afternoon or evening rain showers or thunderstorms, except for the month of November, where tropical cyclones are at a minimum—at least one or sometimes none at all under normal climate conditions.”

Opt for late afternoon weddings. This way, you and your guests don’t have to endure the harsh heat of the sun. If you want, you can even schedule the ceremony just so it ends while the sun sets, providing a picturesque background for those romantic photos.

Constantly monitor weather updates. Even if you scheduled your wedding during the summer months, it’s best to check on the weather. Anya Santos-Uy scheduled her beach wedding in March because of its  “better chance of weather. Yet it drizzled about an hour before the ceremony!” Monitoring updates allows you to prepare back-up plans just in case a weather disturbance comes unexpectedly.