Going Vegan for my “Beatles’ Birthday”

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I will be 64 in a couple of weeks, and as everyone knows, 64 is your Beatles’ Birthday (will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?) I hadn’t really given any thought to how to mark the event, but something happened this morning that changed my mind.

Today was a snow day, which was a good thing because I woke up at 5:30 with a sinus headache that would definitely have made me late for work. I went back to sleep and when I finally made it downstairs at 6:30, Will gave me a hug and said, “You have had your last half and half latte.” That was when I noticed that he had several pages of small-type text in his right hand. I said, “That’s OK, I’ll drink it black,” and took a step toward the French Press. Too late, he had already started reading it aloud.

Five minutes later he had described every symptom in my four inch thick medical file from mysteriously loose teeth to rapid bone density loss to peripheral neuropathy. But it wasn’t just lactose intolerance. The doctor who had written the article claimed that eating animal protein, including dairy, creates an imbalance in the blood that actually leaches calcium from your bones. The only solution, he said, was to go vegan and exercise every day.
When I finally did get my coffee, it was served with soy milk. I successfully resisted the impulse to comment that it would have tasted better black. But I did agree to do some research on my own, so I set to work trying to find some reliable study that debunked the theory that animal protein leaches calcium. After all, I am an enthusiastically life-long hunter-gatherer omnivore. No such luck.

Of course I didn’t find massive research saying that it did leach calcium either. Instead, what I did find was that a vegan diet was linked with all sorts of healthy outcomes. Still not trusting the reports I was reading I did a search for Mayo Clinic and Vegan Diet. That was when the screen lit up. It seems that not only they, but the Cleveland Clinic, a bunch of endocrinologists and oncologists and even a very healthy percentage of nutritionists supported the idea that going vegan was a good and healthy choice.

By then the pain in my arthritic neck and shoulders was at a fever pitch from sitting at the keyboard too long, the post nasal drip and the sinus headache had formed an alliance aimed at rendering me blind, and the circulation to my hands and feet had slowed to glacial speed.

I still wasn’t convinced that this was anything that couldn’t be cured by a breve latte and a cheese omelet, but I do respect the Mayo Clinic, having been in one of their wellness programs a few years back, so I went back to their site and took a good long look at what I would need to do to make the switch – at least for a month or two. Something in the back of my mind kept whispering “this would make a really good Lenten discipline…and that way if it doesn’t work, you can stop at Easter.”

In fairness I have to admit that Will has been talking about making this change for some time, and that he is wonderfully supportive of any healthy choice I might make. So today was day 1. Since it was lunchtime by then, and it was snowing so hard that no one could go to the market, I went to my stash of frozen tomato concoctions from last summer and prepared a rice and sweet and sour okra dish for lunch. It was good.

I spent the afternoon working from home (more typing) and at dinner time made a gluten-free pasta, chick pea and tomato sauce main course with a side of sautéed spinach and a few pine nuts. Again, it was good. In fact, it was better than good. But then, I am a very good cook! (affirmations help!)

Of course, it helps that we both love vegetables and often have meatless meals. But I adore dairy and have never met a cheese that I wouldn’t take home to meet my parents. I am also a great fan of berries and fresh fruit, but there was no fresh fruit in the house, so meals today were not balanced.

I am not under the illusion that this will be easy. But I have lived on a gluten-free, very low sugar diet for years and that’s not always been easy either. I also know that I will need to learn more about vitamins and nutrition and that I will have to be very faithful in using my B-12 nasal spray. But since I don’t metabolize B-12 unless it goes straight into the blood stream, that’s no big change.

So, dear friends and readers, please wish us well. We welcome your comments and suggestions and ask for your prayers and supportive thoughts. I am not going to stop cooking and I intend to keep posting vegan modified recipes several times a week, and to write frequent progress reports. ~ Glyn

This entry was posted by Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk.

13 thoughts on “Going Vegan for my “Beatles’ Birthday”

  1. Helen and I went vegan last year. Actually I went vegan and she generally eats what I cook 😉
    After a lifetime of meaty eating, black pudding, haggis, juicy hunks of cow, we made the change for much the same reasons as you. Heath first. Perhaps also a sneaking feeling that we prefer our animals alive rather than on our plates. I confess to still putting real milk in my tea and on my doctor’s advice and because of my personal beliefs on the subject, I continue to eat oily fish. So smoked salmon and kippers “yes”, venison “no”.
    I find cooking takes longer and is more ethnic than we are used to. I shared a flat with a vegetarian Sikh for a few years, so my Indian cooking is quite imaginative. As for other ways of making pulses a delight I am on a journey and every day is a school day. I shall be reading your blog with an added attentiveness, looking for cookery ideas. Eating out is a challenge and Christmas lunch in Spean Bridge was nut roast for the first and probably the last time.

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    • Hi Peter ~ Going vegan is certainly a food adventure. “Oh, wow, that’s great!” or “Yuch – never again for that recipe!” It’s a lot like discovering food for the first time. We both love highly seasoned food, especially Indian – Glyn a bit more than Will though. And of course the best Food Group – Single Malt – is still on the list. We’ll search out a good nut loaf recipe for you. Good to be on this journey together!

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  2. We went vegan together for a while back in the ’90s (remember them?) Felt great, and twenty years of chronic back pain disappeared. We’re excited about embarking upon this journey again – and the challenge of making vegan meals look as artistic and inviting as has been our custom on this blog. The thing to remember is – any food is a feast if you’re eating it with the person you love. ~ Will

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  3. Personally I think that it is all about quantities. I also remember that the vast majority of doctors in the 70’s were praising the health benefits of margarine, low-fat foods and sugar substitutes…
    But maybe it will work out for you. Good luck and hopefully you’ll get all the health benefits you wish for.
    Happy birthday! 🙂

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    • Thanks, you’re right about the quantities, and I need to keep that in mind whatever I do. Maybe this will be the equivalent of an elimination diet for me and if there is something allergic going on I can finally locate it. Thanks for the encouragement, and keep on with your great posting.

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  4. Inspiring! I immediately went on web and looked up vegan cheese because I really, really enjoy cheese and can’t imagine going without it for any length of time.. I found that it is available and I think I’ll give it a try. I also wanted to mention that Almond Milk is very tasty The spinach in the photo looks especially delicious.

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