Vaccines are an exception I can live with. Please hear me out.

Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

A friend recently asked me to speak with his vegan daughter about her vaccine hesitancy. He knew I was a COVID vaccine advocate, and hoped that she would relate to me as a fellow vegan and respect my opinion as a scientist (PhD genetics).

Over the next few days, my exchange with this vaccine-hesitant young woman helped me clarify my personal vegan philosophy, and articulate the facts behind my decision.

While I can’t tell you what to do, I hope to shed light on why vaccines are an exception I can live with. Pun intended.

COVID-19 vaccines are not vegan…

How the risks of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine stack up against the waiting game.

If you were offered a shot of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, would you take it? If you’d hesitate, you’re not alone. Many Canadians would rather hold out for Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines, than take AstraZeneca.

The Great COVID-19 Vaccine Dilemma is a problem we’re lucky to have, but is weighty nonetheless. To resolve my own dilemma, I dug into the latest science to estimate my risk of blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine, my risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes while playing the waiting game, and the real-world performance of COVID-19 vaccines.

For me, the answer was clear — get…

Say no to hype and yes to moderation.

Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash

It’s time to face the truth about coconut oil.

Yes, it’s delicious and versatile. No, it’s NOT a miracle food.

It will not melt your fat, rev your metabolism, cure your diabetes, or rid you of inflammation. In fact, excess consumption of coconut oil may be a heart health liability.

Let’s take a look at what the latest research says about both sides of the coin — benefits and risks.

Does consuming coconut oil offer health benefits?

Setting yourself up for success is critical

My kind of feast — photo by Vladislav Noseek (Shutterstock)

When embarking on a plant-based journey, setting yourself up for success is critical. A well-planned plant-based diet, with clear goals, can be delicious, healthy, and deeply rewarding. A less thoughtful approach, with unrealistic expectations, can lead you to become a frustrated “ex-vegan”.

Before we dive in, let’s get our definitions straight.

A plant-based diet excludes all foods derived in whole or in part from animal sources. This means no meat (red, white, game, fish), dairy, eggs, or other animal-derived products (like honey, and gelatin / collagen).

Veganism is not a diet per se. It’s a philosophy and a way of…

Why a “rushed” COVID-19 vaccine does not mean a riskier one

Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, have arrived!

The prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of 2020 seemed preposterous just a few months ago. Yet, here we are, getting ready to roll up our sleeves.

What are we to make of this “rushed” vaccine? Could it really be as safe as those that take years to develop?

The short answer is yes.

COVID-19 vaccines are required to clear all the same hurdles as past vaccines in order to gain regulatory approval. Their compressed timelines do not reflect less rigorous testing; they reflect the fact that COVID-19 vaccine development was an “all hands on deck” global priority.

Is eating out off the table? Are all gyms and hotels a no-go?

Cafe Lokal in Vancouver features new dividers and lower occupancy

A new study of COVID-19 dynamics generated a flurry of scary headlines regarding the risks associated with restaurants, gyms, and hotels.

“Covid Superspreader Risk Is Linked to Restaurants, Gyms, Hotels” Bloomberg News

Should you never eat out, go to the gym, or stay in hotel, until we are all vaccinated?

It pays to dig a little more deeply and see how this study applies to your context.

The study, published in Nature in November 2020, was called: Mobility network models of COVID-19 explain inequities and inform reopening. It describes a model of how COVID-19 spreads that incorporates data on where…

How do the leading plant-based burgers stack up on taste, environment, and health?

With the launch of Impossible Burger in Canada, Beyond burger has tough competition. Photo: White Spot

Next-generation veggie burgers are taking off in a big way, with Impossible burger and Beyond burger leading the pack. Both plant-based patties mimic the taste and texture of meat, and promise fewer downsides than the real deal.

Which burger is best?

Let’s see how the plant-based leaders compare to each other, and to beef, across taste, environment, and health.


Should you pack your bags? What does the evidence say?

Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

On the surface, air travel seems like a recipe for COVID-19 disaster — a bunch of strangers packed like sardines into a small space, sharing the same smelly air. Yet, recent news headlines and government policies, suggest that in-flight risks may be smaller than feared.

“Flying can be safer than grocery shopping, Harvard study asserts”. CNN

Is COVID-19 truly not spreading on board airplanes? Or, are industry and government agencies downplaying the risks associated with travel, for economic reasons? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

An update on COVID-19 exposure and transmission risks

Back to school in the new normal.

When elementary schools opened this fall, my family opted in. We felt that the small risk of COVID-19 was worth the huge benefits.

Yet, as we kissed our three monkeys goodbye, and returned home to a quiet house, our jubilation was tinged with trepidation.

We knew that our best efforts to estimate the back-to-school risks were crude at best. A month later, we have a much clearer picture of the risks we are all assuming — kids, families, and communities.

As a parent, my big concern is that my kids will get infected, and possibly spread it to others. This…

Navigating COVID-19 testing in the midst of cold season.

Last Friday, one of my three kids, a newly minted Kindergartener, developed a runny nose. Was it just a cold, or could it be COVID-19? This all-too-common occurrence kicked off our family’s first journey into COVID-19 testing.

To Test or Not to Test?

According to our provincial COVID-19 assessment guidelines, a runny nose alone isn’t enough to trigger testing or stay home from school.

To quote our BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry: “It’s a balancing act to make sure children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose,”. …

Chana Davis, PhD

Scientist (PhD Genetics @Stanford) * Mother * Passionate about science-based healthy choices * Lifelong learner * Founder: Fueled by Science

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store