Posts by:

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Meatless Monday Then and Now

Meatless Tuesday World War II Nedick's restaurant, New York

This post was co-authored by Victoria Brown and Becky Ramsing. Meatless Monday as most people know it today began in 2003 with the work of former ad man turned health advocate Sid Lerner and the founder of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Bob Lawrence. But the idea of a meatless day was not totally new, harkening back to the United States’s entry into the first World War 100 years ago. National meatless (and wheatless) days were introduced in 1917 to conserve rations for troops fighting overseas, both in World War I and later World War II. With the focus on reducing at-home consumption of meat during the wars, the practice of Meatless Tuesdays (later Meatless Mondays) was founded Read More >

Climate Is Changing – So Should Food and Agriculture

world-food-day-beansOn October 16, 1945, the United Nations created the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the goal of freeing humanity from hunger and malnutrition and effectively managing the global food system. World Food Day celebrates that event, and last September at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 193 countries together pledged to end hunger in the next 15 years.

The global goal for achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 is an ambitious goal that cannot be reached without addressing climate change. Climate change affects the poor disproportionately Read More >

So You Want to Raise a Vegan Child

school lunchWhen you have an infant, you are in complete control of what you give your child. The ball is in your court to make sure they have a balanced diet. Between the ages of 6 to 12 months, adequate protein intake is critical because of rapid growth and the use of supplementary foods.

As they become toddlers, your child may become more “choosey.” It is common for a toddler to want to eat only a few types of food. Even at a young age you can involve him/her in choosing and preparing the food you eat. Making food fun by dipping Read More >

Can Kids Go Vegan?

2015-petition-schoollunchLast month in Italy a policymaker proposed a bill that would jail parents who impose a vegan diet on their children. The bill came on the heels of high-profile cases in which children were hospitalized for malnutrition as a result of vegan diets.

Is this extreme, or do children need meat in order to get enough protein, calcium and vitamin B-12? The popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets among young adults is growing. Read More >

Protein: Year of the Pulse

This post is the second in a series, Protein—Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Were Too Afraid to Ask. Stay tuned for Part 3!

Year of the Pig, Year of the Goat, Year of the Pulse??? Every year, the United Nations initiates special observances to promote international awareness and action on important issues. This year is the Year of the Pulses.

Pulses for sale at a market

Pulses are a subgroup of legumes used mainly as protein sources in the diet. Common pulses include beans, dried peas, chickpeas and lentils. They’re high in protein, fiber and many vitamins. Known as being hearty crops and for their ability to grow easily in a variety of conditions, they’re an excellent part of healthy diets all across the world. (Legumes that are used as vegetables—peas, green beans or soybeans and groundnuts for oils—are not considered pulses.[i])

Pulses deserve a lot more attention than they get. Here are five great reasons to love a pulse:

  1. Nutrition and health
  2. Global and local food security
  3. The environment and climate
  4. Cost and simplicity
  5. Taste and variety

Read More >

China’s Changing Diet: How to Turn the Tide

Part 1 and Part 2 of the China’s Changing Diet blog series portrayed how individual and systematic dietary changes impact health and the global environment. Reversing trends takes time, but throughout history, the collective actions of committed individuals have had far-reaching impacts. In this section, we will discuss some changes already happening in China.

Chinese-language Meatless Monday poster

Chinese-language Meatless Monday poster

Moving the dial, motivation and Meatless Monday

Whether Dietary Guidelines can effectively spur diet changes is a difficult thing to assess. In China as in most countries, the rapid shift toward sugars, oils, meat and processed foods is counter to their past and present Dietary Guidelines. However, Dietary Guidelines can support the conversation and guide promotions toward diet changes. Much of the impact of the DG relies upon publicity, tools and education that follow their release. Read More >

China’s Changing Diet: Environment and Health Impacts

In Part 1 of the China’s Changing Diet blog series, we provided an overview of the recent shifts in how Chinese citizens eat and live as a result of economic growth, urbanization and food availability. In the following section, we will discuss the local and global impacts of these shifts and how Chinese health experts have addressed these through the newly-revised Chinese Dietary Guidelines.

Diet changes have lasting impacts on health and the environment locally and globally

In China, the incidence of obesity and its related complications have increased rapidly alongside dietary changes. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity among Chinese people was increased by 38.6% and 80.6% respectively during the period of 1992-2002.[i] In 2012, 30.1% of adults were overweight and 11.9% were obese. 9.6% of youth were overweight and 6.4% were obese.[ii] Taking into account the sheer size of China’s population, over one fifth of all one billion obese people in the world now come from China.[iii]

Read More >

China’s Changing Diet: Meat and Dairy on the Rise

chinameat1 copyReflections on China’s Changing Diet: Local impacts, global implications, and promising solutions. 

China is eating differently, and it matters—a lot! China’s sheer size and growth mean that even small changes in diet and lifestyle patterns have large impacts in terms of public health, food safety and the environment. In this first blogpost, we summarize how and to what degree China’s diet has actually changed. Our second post will discuss the local and global implications of the shifts in China—and how China’s health experts are encouraging citizens to adjust their food and lifestyle choices. Finally, we will suggest simple and effective actions such as Meatless Monday that can be leveraged individually and collectively to move the dial toward a healthier China and thriving world. Read More >

Protein: Do We Really Need It?

This post is the first in a series, Protein—Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Were Too Afraid to Ask. Check out the second post on pulses!

proteins-1Does giving up meat mean giving up valuable protein and vitamins?

Not necessarily. First, let’s first break down what, exactly, protein is and why it’s important for our health.

Protein’s Role

Protein is an important energy-yielding macronutrient – meaning it provides us calories, or energy. Proteins build muscle and make up hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to our muscles. Proteins also have functional and structural roles building and repairing tissues. They are key players in signaling and chemical reactions as well–including enzymes and hormones.

Through a microscope, proteins look a bit like necklaces with beads that come in different shapes and sizes. To further the analogy, think of each bead as a different type of amino acid: each protein in our body has a specific amino acid sequence Read More >

Eating Less Meat May Help Your Gut

2016-meat-gut-microbiomeIn recent years, terms such as gut health and microbiome seem to have just dropped into our vocabulary. Today, poor gut health is often blamed for being overweight, chronic diseases, illnesses, and even our intelligence. Our microbiome—that is, all the microorganisms, including the commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the human body—plays a complicated and important role in many aspects of our health. And the microbiome in the gut is particularly important.

How does my burger affect my gut?

Choosing the best foods to eat can be confusing. We hear a lot about taking probiotics, prebiotics, kefir and kimchi for better gut health, but food choices Read More >