philosophy ~ what is VLGL?


Simply, VLGL stands for vegan + low glycemic load. 

The word "vegan" refers to a lifestyle that abstains from animal products such as meat, fish, leather, and dairy. People who follow a vegan or plant-based diet often do so out of concerns for healthanimal welfare/rights, and the environment. I have practiced a plant-based diet for 20 years and continue to do so for all of these reasons. 

The "glycemic load" is a measure of how a food will affect the blood sugar of the person consuming it; it provides a more complete picture of a food than utilizing the glycemic index in isolation. The "glycemic index" measures the blood-glucose-raising potential of the carbohydrate content of a food compared to a reference food (generally pure glucose). The glycemic load simultaneously describes the glucose-raising potential of the carbohydrate content of food and the quantity of carbohydrate in a food. One determines the glycemic load of a food by multiplying the GI by the amount of carbohydrate in grams and dividing the total by 100. Some helpful charts delineating the glycemic load values of different foods can be located here (Harvard Medical School) and here (Foster-Powell, et al, The American Academy of Clinical Nutrition). 

Consuming a high glycemic load diet — specifically, one that over-emphasizes processed carbohydrates and sugars — has been linked to inflammationhormonal acne, and other health issues. I transitioned a low-glycemic diet in November 2016 at the recommendation of my doctor. You can read about my personal experience healing my inflammatory acne with the aid of a low-glycemic diet here

VLGL thus refers to foods and recipes that are vegan with a low glycemic load. In practical terms, VLGL is a whole-foods, plant-based way of cooking and eating that emphasizes non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds, and moderate whole grains. VLGL limits processed grains, certain starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes), high-glycemic whole grains, and high-glycemic sweeteners. While studying the glycemic load charts linked above can be useful for gaining an understanding of diet and blood sugar, VLGL does not provide exact numerical values for every recipe; this is not feasible, as glycemic load is variable and lab testing expensive. Rather, VLGL simply embraces this whole-foods, low-sugar philosophy, emphasizing ingredients with a low glycemic load and limiting those ingredients and processes that result in a high glycemic load.

The purpose of VLGL is wellness-focused satisfaction, not deprivation; for me, it is my baseline way of cooking and eating. While I try to stick with low- and low-moderate-glycemic-load ingredients in my recipes, as this is the method that has brought me tangible benefits, do be aware that the impact of a higher-glycemic-load food can be reduced by combining it with low-glycemic-load foods. For example: while I no longer eat huge bowls of high-glycemic rice for breakfast, if the one vegan meal on a restaurant’s menu is rice-based, I’ll get it and balance it with other lower-glycemic-load items like leafy vegetables and plant-based protein.

VLGL is the manifestation of my gastronomical and wellness philosophy: create food that is a joy to eat, nourishing to the body, and kind to the earth and its living beings. VLGL played a key role healing my inflammatory adult acne and has provided me with heightened energy, improved digestion, and general good health.

Whatever has brought you here, whether it be an interest in plant-based cooking, a doctor's instructions to lower your dietary blood sugar, desire to heal acne, or a simple and beautiful love of food, I hope that your visit to VLGL inspires your appetite for food and life.