Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I am a vegan and have been fully vegan for 3 years now. I've been active and busy and taking my B-12 and other supplements pretty religiously. OK, I stopped the multivitamins and calcium for a few months after reading that most supplements are unnecessary. I don't recall where I heard or read this now, but a couple of friends stumbled on it, too, and did what I did.
Now, the doctors don't think I could have suffered the effects of stopping supplements in such a brief time, and I've been assured that only 3 years as a vegan could not cause it, but I have sustained a spontaneous fracture of my femur at the knee. The femur is the long thigh bone, the longest, strongest bone in the body! The gist of it is that this fracture is a sign of osteoporosis. My grandmother had it, my mother had it, and now apparently I have it. I am just 60 years old, off hormone replacement for several years now. 60 feels too young!
I'm right in the midst of getting the right attention for this. The orthopedist said to use a cane and "walk as little as possible and stand as little as possible." I live and work in New York City, and I travel to and from the office by subway. There are stairs I must use to go into the subway and come back out again. I live in a 2-story apartment that is located on the third and fourth floor of my apartment building. We have no elevator. When I'm not working I am in a rural area in a 2-story townhouse where until now, walking and hiking in nature and using the gym were big pluses. Not right now.
I asked my primary physician for his advice and he said: 1) get another bone density test; 2) see another orthopedist for a second opinion; and 3) start Boniva. While I awaited his referrals and prescription, and it took a reminder call and nearly a month to get them from him, I told my GYN and she was great. She also urged another opinion and suggested I see a local rheumatologist who specializes in osteoporosis. I have an appointment with him in two days. I finally got the script but have decided not to fill it until I see the specialist. My GYN assured me that the vast majority of women on this type of medication experience no serious side effects and that those who do have either been taking chemotherapy simultaneously or have been on it for longer than five years, so they stop at five years and the benefit usually continues for up to 10 more years.
I tried to get the new bone density and found out that my insurance company only pays for them every 2 years, so I'm not eligible until July. They may allow it if my doctor appeals a denial, but I might be on the hook for $350. I declined to book it for now.
Morals of this story? If you're over 50 (whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore), get your bone density tests, take your calcium and Vitamin D, and if you sustain an unexplained fracture, demand to be evaluated for osteoporosis. And don't assume the medical people treating you are staying on top of everything. Nowadays many are overworked and not as responsive as we've come to expect. We have to be ready to manage our own care or demand help when we need it.
No, we aren't necessarily too young!
Here's a link to remind us how to eat for bone health: nutritionresearchcenter.org/healthne
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Looks good, doesn't it? OK, before going any further, I posted this recipe on SparkRecipe, so here's the link: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
The recipe explains it all, but here's a summary. I consulted Appetite for Reduction, the cool healthy vegan cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, vegan chef extraordinaire. I shopped for the ingredients: eggplant (I got an organic one and it weighed about one third of a pound), Liquid Smoke, and it called for soy sauce but I use Bragg's and thought it would be fine. It wasn't. I mixed up the sauce and it was vile, and I poured it down the drain. While at the supermarket I had been tempted to buy Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki, and I succumbed. It had healthy ingredients and was thick with garlic and sesame seeds. But they had me at the name.
Other vegan bacon recipes using coconut called for tamari and maple syrup. BTW, I mix up teriyaki and tamari all the time. So I knew that sweetness would enhance this sauce, so I made my own with the SVVVT sauce, liquid smoke and maple syrup. I also oven-roasted the eggplant slices much longer than the recipe called for, both before and after dipping in the sauce. I even left them in the oven after I turned it off while I entered the recipe into SparkRecipe, about 10 minutes more.
Here's how they looked when I took them out of the oven and turned the oven off.
The next photo is how they looked after I let them sit it the hot (but off oven) for about 10 more minutes:
I arranged the cute little slices atop slices of my homegrown Early Girl tomato on bread with Vegenaise spread on it thinly, and built the rest of the sandwich adding onion, avocado, Tofutti cheese, and Smart Deli vegan ham coldcuts. Here's how that bad boy looked, sliced and all ready to eat:
Making this "bacon" was labor intensive, but the recipe adds up to 10 servings, so I popped them into a plastic container and will parcel them out as needed. I expect they will get soft, and I'll have to address that as I use them. Wish I had a toaster oven! Ah, but I will manage it somehow.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I'm still reading the book, and I am learning so much! It has felt overwhelming that there are so many nutrients I need to have enough of to stay healthy, energized, clear-thinking and so forth. Authors Norris and Messina state that adults need 60g of protein daily for optimal functioning, and I want and need that, so I'm trying to up mine again. I'd heard that I could go much lower without worry, but having read the chapters on protein, I now concede I need more. Last night instead of having some blood orange sorbet, I had a glass of light chocolate soymilk. Then I read that full-fat soy milk is lower on the glycemic index and preferable. OK, I'm still learning. I've been taking calcium tablets with D3 (I know, I don't want D3, but that's what I was able to find) and having them with food, along with my multivitamin and biotin in the morning. Now I understand calcium should not be taken with meals but is okay taken with acidic foods such as orange juice. So much to learn.
One piece of wisdom I took from this next phase of reading is that we need not make ourselves crazy trying to eliminate every little morsel of animal derived material from our lives, especially in the beginning of living vegan. They suggest that the easier the process is for us the more likely we are to stick with it. So veggie "meats" are encouraged, provided we consider sodium intake. Also, we may come across as fanatical to concerned family or friends who might be turned off to the vegan life by our obsession with the details. This makes my occasional diner waffle cause me less guilt and conflict! My omni husband appreciates my willingness to share that meal with him. I opt for maple syrup (am avoiding HFCS but try not to trumpet this to any and all) and when I remember, put a little Earth Balance in a wax paper bag in my purse to spread on the waffle.
We've been invited to a pizza party by friends who know I'm vegan and asked what they could do for me. I said I'm going to experiment this week and will bring a vegan pizza I make, to share. I hope they don't mind, but I would NOT eat a dairy product just to please someone else.
I found a Rustic Crust Organic Pizza Crust in the whole foods section of my favorite supermarket. Here's a link:
I bought a jar of organic marinara sauce, a bag of Daiya Mozzarella-style shreds and some vegan pepperoni slices, plus a bag of organic frozen wild mushrooms. How can I fail? I'll report in later on.
My take on Vegan for Life today is that it spells out the vegan lifestyle and what research and experience has shown the authors, both respected vegan registered dietitians, what we need in terms of essential nutrients throughout the lifespan. There's a segment on Vegans Over 50. That's me! I read there that my calorie needs decrease unless I up my exercise (which I have) but that I still need the same amount of protein and various other essentials. This makes me feel the urgency of grasping the details well enough to be healthy.
One reason I have been dogged in my pursuit of information on how best to live my vegan life is the fact that my mother was a vegetarian for many years and became dangerously anemic with no energy and some depression, and she still ate dairy and eggs. She abandoned the vegetarian lifestyle over time. I also recall her going on a grape fast and losing a huge amount of weight so that to me as a child she looked scary thin.
Thanks to each and every one of you here who comment, suggest, warn and share this journey with me!
Friday, July 15, 2011
Good morning all! I received my copy of the new book "Vegan for Life" by registered dietitians Ginny Messina and Jack Norris on Wednesday and began reading it that night. I continued last night and have a ways to go,and I am fighting the urge to browse through the topics. I want to read it from front to back so I get it the way they wanted it to be absorbed.
1. This is a very well-written book with numbered references at the end of each chapter and sources cited. A large bibliography fills up the back of the book as well. This is professionally edited and published, not a self-published book as so many are these days.
2. The nutritional needs of vegans in terms of protein, B12, lysine and other critical nutrients are covered thoroughly and explained well. Myths about these are busted on both sides of the argument (e.g. The "vegans can't get enough protein" faction versus the "protein requirements for vegans are exaggerated; we don't need that much" faction)
3. Menus and suggested protein options are given, and unlike other vegan experts these days, vegan "meats" and other similar proteins are encouraged, in moderation, because of their high protein content, but whole foods such as beans, and tempeh and tofu are urged as well.
4. Charts abound, comparing various vegan protein and lysine sources and other nutrients.
5. One interesting position they take is that vegan living is a compassionate choice and not a biologically natural state; the early hominids (our prehistoric ancestors) were meat eaters. We are not naturally herbivores and must supplement our diet with B12 or we can become very ill very quickly. That being said, being vegan is a value-driven choice that can be honored provided we have sufficient information and respect our bodies' critical nutritional needs. They also cite the cruelty of modern animal-protein production (and yes, that includes meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs) as a major reason why many choose the vegan way of life. Our forebears lived differently and usually treated animals better than our factory farms do today.
6. They explain that the modern Western diet, high in fats, refined carbs and animal proteins, puts us at huge risk for heart disease and diabetes as never before. We know this; it's good to be reminded as we gear up to speak with others about this.
7. A raw diet is not encouraged because it unnecessarily limits healthy options. In fact, tomatoes when cooked are more nutritious than they are raw.
8. A gluten-free diet is not encouraged either unless a person has celiac disease or other clear medical reason to avoid gluten, because this limits the vegan eater unnecessarily. They caution against increasing limitations being placed on our intake. Giving up animal sources of nutrition is limit enough.
When I've finished the book, I'll post my overall reaction to it. I can say now that I like it a lot. Co-Author Ginny Messina, by the way, is on the board of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and PCRM's Dr. Neal Barnard endorses this book.
Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend!
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