A (lengthy) note of explanation.

Two weeks ago, I published a post written by my father.  After 70 years of eating with abandon, my dad has gone vegan.  In honor of his decision, I devoted the rest of that week to a few vegan dishes, including 2 new recipes I’d created just for him.  Last week I didn’t post at all.  Anyone with Meniere’s disease knows that regardless of diet, some days are bad.  But yesterday I was feeling well again and shared an update on our chickens.  Which left at least one person wondering… what about those eggs?  Hadn’t I gone vegan, too?

Good question!  The short answer is no.  The long answer is quite a bit more complicated.  So I decided to write a post about it.

When my dad, a man who previously lived for BBQ and ice cream, decided to go VEGAN, it rocked my world.  Not only because of the extreme change, but because I’d been thinking about veganism for weeks.  After picking up The China Study this summer, my husband and I had had many talks about veganism.  Could we do it?  Should we do it?  How HONKING HARD WOULD IT BE??!!  And so on.  We’d had many conversations, all of them inconclusive. We felt were doing the very best we could.  Shopping at the farmer’s market, supporting a local farm through a CSA, buying organic whenever possible, limiting our consumption of meat, and (of course) sticking to the low sodium diet without fail.

When my dad called me several weeks ago and announced he’d gone vegan, my jaw truly hit the floor.  This was HUGE!  This is a man who picked up KFC after his last angiogram.  Okay, technically it was my mom who drove-thru, but you know what I’m saying!

In the ensuing weeks, I’ve spoken with my dad many times.  Not only has he remained on the vegan diet, but he says that he’s thriving.  He’s not hungry, he has more energy than he’s had in years and he’s even lost weight, though he’s eating as much food, maybe more, than before.  The difference in his diet isn’t quantity, it’s quality.  He’s always loved veggies and fruit, eating them abundantly, but as he explained to me several days ago, his meals always revolved around meat.  Meat was center stage and main course.  Now my dad is seeing each meal in a completely different way.  I cannot tell you how inspiring this is – and exciting!  If my dad can go vegan, truly anybody can.

But much like politics and religion, one’s diet is a deeply personal choice.  Before I was diagnosed with Meniere’s, I was someone who respected vegetarianism and at times, followed it.  That said, once I was forced to eliminate salt from my diet, the meat vs. no-meat debate flew out the window.  There were simply too many meals to fill to consider giving up anything else I didn’t absolutely have to.  And there’s the rub.  For people on already restrictive diets, veganism is an even harder choice.  Eliminating anything from one’s diet takes conscious and consistent effort.  Adding an extra layer of burden – having to check and double-check not just sodium, but every single ingredient to make sure a product contains nothing animal-derived?  For many – including me, that’s simply too much.

For now I am resigned to eating the way I have for the past 7 years.  Wisely.  I make choices on a daily basis, like many others.  Weighing the healthfulness of options and deciding what I can or cannot afford to consume.  I will continue to support the local economy as directly as possible.  I will continue getting to know the people who grow my food as much as possible.  And I will be as compassionate a human being as I can be.  If that means eating less meat and more vegetables, I will consider myself fortunate.

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16 Responses to A (lengthy) note of explanation.

  1. Donna Seger says:

    Very thoughtful–as we all should be about our food choices.

  2. with all your restrictions, going vegan would leave you with about 2 options–fruits and veggies. i don’t like i could live like that but kudos to your dad and everyone else who does it–for whatever reason.

  3. Sandi says:

    Yah…for you and your dad! Quality over quantity, that’s the key. Your dad is also the reason why we should always believe people can make healthier choices…better late than never 😉

  4. Gosh, I mean, I can actually imagine going vegan in NYC. I can name ten awesome vegan restaurants and bakeries off the top of my head. But anywhere else, it seems soooooo intimidating. I really admire your dad. And although I don’t think I could ever continue to low-carb as a vegan, it’s important for me to read things like this and to think about how I can become even more of a fruit-and-veggie-eater.

  5. Desi says:

    I’m sorry to hear you had an attack of Meneire’s; I do understand how bad that can be. I’m with you on following your current diet and sticking with what is right for you.
    Praying for you.
    Desi

  6. HF says:

    Love this post. Obvs 🙂

  7. Christy says:

    Thank you all so much! Desi – thanks esp. for your prayers, I’m happy to have them!

  8. Angela @ The Chicken Scoop says:

    Way to go for your dad. Like you said, that is a truly hard personal choice! I can’t even fathom going vegan (and I’m sure my hubby would protest a whole lot). You are right, trying to change too many things at once would be entirely overwhelming!
    ~Ang

  9. shambo says:

    Everyone has to decide which battles are worth fighting. Battling sodium is challenging, to say the least. You explained your situation and your reasoning very well.

    As an aside, our local paper, The Sacramento Bee, reported last week about the “Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.”

  10. Christy says:

    Ang, thanks so much for your support. My dad seems to be loving the new vegan diet. I’m not saying NEVER but not now, anyway.

    Shambo, thanks so much for that link. Great article! I love how many got on board – even those who aren’t vegan themselves. It’s so encouraging, esp. for people like my dad. And, me, too! 🙂

  11. Judi says:

    Hi Christy,

    I also have Meniere’s and follow the “I won’t eat it unless I cook it so I can read all of the labels” low sodium diet. I haven’t had a real attack in over 10 years, which to me is amazing. However, it certainly helps me to take a diuretic every night before bed, that may be the secret of my avoiding attacks. When it was bad I was having an attack a week for months on end and an attack meant a whole day in bed sleeping through the world spinning. I will do anything to avoid that again!

    I give you lots of credit, it must be hard to live like this with children who expect normal food, eating out, vacations, mommy not spending the day in bed, etc.

    Judi

  12. Tammy says:

    Sorry I’m late commenting, but I love this post. I read The China Study, too, and it changed my thinking about food and lead me on a journey to educate myself about food, nutrition and how our food is produced. You are right in finding a balance that works for you. I had to do that with my family. It’s hard to serve vegetarian meals when my son has an allergy to legumes.

    Good luck to your dad. I know it is hard to change your diet. My husband was inspired by Joe Cross and has been doing the Reboot program. He is on day 10 of a 15 day program, and I am surprised that he finally decided to do something about his eating. I’m really proud of him.

    I admire you, too, and for putting all your efforts into your low-sodium blog. I can’t wait for the egg recipes!

  13. Christy says:

    Judi, how AMAZING to hear about your success! 10 whole yrs without an attack. Fantastic! It can be hard living a “normal” life with Meniere’s, esp. with kids, but thankfully my family love me and are very willing to make accommodations. I am extremely fortunate.

    Tammy, it’s so great to hear how much you & your family are doing for your health too. My dad’s keeping it up and it’s so inspiring. Here’s to us all! PS: no eggs yet, though we’ve put in some “fake” (wooden) ones — keep you posted!

  14. cherylK says:

    This post is just excellent! It inspires me to try harder to be healthier.

    I’ve developed an intolerance for lactose and it’s dealing me fits although that’s not nearly as bad as Meniere’s. I’ll quit grumbling and look for the silver lining…am pretty sure there’s a silver lining.

    Good for you and good for your dad!

  15. Christy says:

    Cheryl, we all have our crosses to bear – so sorry to hear yours is lactose. Thank goodness for lactaid, right? And I think they also make pills you can take before/after you eat dairy.

    Thanks so much for your well wishes! Right back ‘atcha!

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