OK, here is yet another in a series of thankful Thanksgiving posts about all the things I am grateful for. I truly believe that gratitude should be a part of my daily life, and I try every day to remember to be in the spirit of thankfulness for all of the many blessings that I have in my life.
I am not a religious person, but I strongly believe in a greater power, so I tend to direct my gratitude toward this entity, whether it be god, the universe, source energy, or even the force. I can’t pretend to know what is behind this crazy thing called life, but I know it is there, and I know that it likes gratitude.
Everyday I am thankful for my loving, wonderfully supportive (and easy on the eyes) wife. She is always a comfort to me during tough times, and she raises me up and encourages me in my creative pursuits. I am always and forever grateful that we live in a time of medical technological marvel that we have things like dialysis to help keep me healthy while I wait for a kidney transplant (another medical marvel). I am grateful that I was hired permanent at my job, and that I have great benefits. There are many other things of which I am thankful/grateful for, but right now I want to talk a little about veganism (mostly).
I suppose I shouldn’t go throwing around the word vegan, as I do have some leather shoes, and I don’t go out of my way to ensure that every product that I use doesn’t harm animals. A more accurate term would be (mostly) plant-based. The reason I use the modifier “mostly,” is because I have gone back to eating fish once or twice a week., and I don’t mind fish products in my medications or other foods.
So why did I go back to eating fish? I don’t know that I have a very good answer for that. Fish is delicious (it was the last animal product that I gave up), but that alone wasn’t enough to get me to put it back on my plate. My lovely wife was pressuring me to get it back into my diet because of all the healthy fats, but that alone wasn’t enough either. Probably the main reason was that fish oil is prevalent in different foods, and it became difficult to always avoid it. But really it was a combination of all these things.
I’m not trying to justify eating fish, as I know a lot of hardcore vegans that would probably frown on it, but it works for me, so there. I’m not purposely trying to be antagonistic, but it is coming off that way (sorry/not sorry). I still don’t eat eggs, dairy, or any other meat.
I first decided to move towards a plant based diet because of my stroke in April 2016. At the time, my carotid artery had a 70% blockage of plaque (from cholesterol). After that, I immediately cut out all eggs and dairy from my diet, and I started to limit my consumption of meat, and when I did eat meat, it was only chicken breast or fish. I continued to cut more and more meat out of my diet, working with my dialysis dietician to ensure my nutritional requirements were met, until finally I went out for my last (meat) supper of sushi.
In January of 2018, I had an ultrasound of my carotid artery, and they found there was only a 50% blockage. Plant based foods contain zero cholesterol, so limiting and eventually eliminating animal foods from my diet, significantly decreased my blocked arteries, and I assume my risk for another stroke. I would urge every meat eater to at least try one day off meat a week. Plant foods have plenty of protein. The blood test that shows my protein level remained high, even while I was on a strict plant-based diet. I think it has something to do with the way that different proteins are absorbed by the body, but I recommend talking to an expert (which I am far from being).
For those interested in what is on my Thanksgiving plate, we made the following all plant-based items:
- Trader Joe’s Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast
- Double Garlic Mashed Potatoes (my signature recipe)
- Mushroom Gravy
- Dressing (my wife’s signature recipe)
- Cranberry Sauce (from scratch)
- Green Beans with Candied Pecans and Maple Bacon
- Olive Ciabatta Bread
It was delicious!