Vegan Questions

It has been another educating year in my garden and kitchen. Now I’m back at the keyboard with the questions I’ve been mulling all summer.

If you’ve read HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger, you are familiar with his Daily Dozen. If you are not familiar with his work, here is a link to an invaluable tool to help vegans make sure they get their daily nutrients.

After a year of eating a vegan diet, and eleven months of being cancer free, I’m pretty sure I’m vegan for life. The Daily Dozen has helped me stay on track, but I still have questions. And a new insight: No matter what eating lifestyle you subscribe to, you have to be flexible. The pandemic has made that perfectly clear.

No, I’m not eating animal products, except for an occasional spoonful of honey. But I’m able to get a B-12 shot twice a month. At my clinic, the nurse comes to the parking lot, checks my temperature and other vitals, and brings the shot to me. What if I didn’t have an accommodating healthcare provider? What if?

This morning, I made a decision. If I am ever in a place where I can’t get my bimonthly shot, I will choose to eat a boiled egg two or three times a week. B12 is a necessary nutrient, and meat eaters’ best defense. I won’t shame anyone’s choices. I just want to make good choices for myself.

If getting a shot is harder during a pandemic, so is stocking fresh produce. Lucky for me, I have a garden and so do my friends. We trade and share, so we’ve all had enough squash, okra, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Green beans were hard to come by, though, and no one had fresh lettuce. No cabbage, either! Cruciferous vegetables are hard to grow here. We’ve eaten well, but even if my day includes 15 servings of fruits and vegetables, I haven’t always hit every item on the Daily Dozen.

What if I sprout seeds to replace greens?  Do broccoli sprouts count as greens or are they cruciferous? Are bean sprouts beans or greens?

Berries are another issue. I have Goji berries and blackberries in the back yard, but not enough to keep me through the summer, much less the year. And because the food chain has been broken in places, there were times this year when there were no frozen berries in the grocery store freezer case.

Do tomatoes count as berries? How about raisins?

How do you classify potatoes? Sure, they’re a root vegetable, but they are starchy. Is sweet corn a vegetable or a grain?

Maybe all I need to do is eat as many colors as I can and as many fruits and vegetables as I can grow or find close to home. Maybe I need to learn how to forage for wild greens. I know they’re out there because I pull them for my chickens.

Yeah, I know! A vegan with chickens and a whole lot of questions!

When the Poles Tilt

I’ve been gone from my blog for several weeks.  Call it a health break.  I had a spindle cell sarcoma removed, and for the time being, the Grim Reaper hasn’t shown himself. It takes a lot of time to recover, though, if you’re serious about recovery.  I am. Good diet and an exercise routine are as important as friends and a good night’s sleep.  It also requires continuing education.

Because I had read The First Cell by Azra Raza, I agreed to the extensive surgery.  I won’t creep you out with the details.  Based on my son’s recommendation, I picked up a copy of How Not to Die by Michael Greger and Gene Stone.  I had recently read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.  The two diet books corroborated these facts:

*Vegans live longer than omnivores AND vegetarians.

*A whole-food, plant-based diet protects against premature death by heart disease, cancer, and most of the ills that befall we mortals.

So, what’s a chicken farmer going to do? Become a vegan, of course.

Before the surgery, I gave my laying hens to a chicken farmer friend.  I didn’t feel bad about it, because her chickens have a safe place to free range and a warm place to roost in the winter.  I knew I’d be hard pressed to care for the flock during radiation, but I kept the seven old girls, most of whom no longer lay.

When I told my sister what I’d done, she said, “Let me get this straight.  You gave away the layers and kept the old chickens?”

Yep.  The old girls are pets more than livestock.  It’s always been that way out here.  I get a few eggs a week now, but more importantly, I have to get outside every day and take care of my tiny flock, in sunshine or clouds, in wind and rain.  My girls dance around my feet when I bring a treat of millet or mealworms.  Out among the trees, I see that life goes on.

I don’t eat eggs anymore, but my dog does.  Being vegan is my choice, but it’s not one I can make for anyone else, including my dear husband. I still have beef and sausage in the freezer for the family and friends I feed.  I just pile on the grains and beans and greens, the fruit and veggies, when I feed them at the big kitchen table.

The chickens still have a role to play on the farm.  As I recover, I’m remodeling coops and rearranging garden fences so chickens can clear the weeds and keep the bugs in check between growing seasons.

When your world comes crashing down around you, you start over again.  I have. I guess being a vegan farmer isn’t such a stretch for an agnostic preacher’s daughter.  The irony tastes a little like homegrown spinach.