Living Vegan

Living Vegan

Thirteen weeks ago I made the decision to become vegetarian.  I don’t know where it came from, but I’m so glad I made the choice.  My wife has been a vegetarian for twenty years.  When we first got together, I remember saying to her, “don’t try to convert me.”  I loved to eat meat and I couldn’t imagine giving up my bacon and burgers.  Yes, I was an avid meat eater. I think she always held out hope that one day I would change my mind.  It took nine years, but I’m finally there!

And all it took was a stray thought as I was half way through a bacon cheese burger.

“I’m eating a dead cow.”

That was it.  The burger that I had been enjoying suddenly tasted like death.  The next day I made the transition.  Needless to say my wife was delighted when I told her!  I don’t really know where the thought came from.  I hadn’t read anything, seen anything online or on the television relating to animals and my wife hadn’t said anything for a while.  Maybe I was just ready.

Obviously I’ve always known where meat comes from.  But like so many people I preferred to just bury my head in the sand and not think about how that meat came to be on my plate.  Until one day I couldn’t ignore it any more.  My conscience wouldn’t let me.  I’ve always considered myself to be an animal lover, but how could I call myself that when I ate animals almost daily?  I could hardly say “well, I love some animals, but I love to eat others.”  So I finally came to my senses and gave up meat.  I’m amazed at how easy it has been.  I haven’t really had any crisis, no cravings for any meat.  And some of the meals we’ve had in the past three months or so have been delicious.

I’m sure there are people out there who imagine a vegetarian’s plate to consist of vegetables, potatoes and a gaping hole where a piece of meat used to be.  But there are so many things out there vegans can eat.  And thanks to the internet, with a little research you can easily make a pain free decision to become vegan. And it really will be pain free because no animals will have been harmed for you to enjoy your meal.  And contrary to popular opinion you can easily get enough protein from vegetables, grains and nuts.

A week after turning vegetarian, after researching the dairy industry we agreed to take it to the max and go vegan.

I decided after becoming vegan that I wouldn’t be an activist.  I decided I wouldn’t go round bashing others for doing what I, myself, was doing just a few weeks ago.  But I can’t help wishing more people would consider giving a vegan diet a go.  Even if you don’t think you could hack such a radical change forever, just cutting down on your meat consumption would make a huge difference.  Every little helps.  And if you get a lot of people doing a little, that would make a huge difference for the animals.

An ever growing population is placing ever greater demand for meat.  That means more animals are being bred to be slaughtered to keep up with that demand.  And let’s face it, corporate companies are not interested in the comfort and welfare of the animals in captivity, waiting for their turn on the chopping block.  Cold hard cash is the only concern of the meat industry.  With the demand for meat on the rise, these companies are cutting corners on the welfare of the animals held in captivity, adding to the misery of their lives before the inevitable and horrific end.

Enjoying that burger?

So we’re enjoying our vegan lifestyle, experimenting with new dishes and I for one am enjoying new flavors I never would have experienced if I’d remained a meat and potatoes guy.

Diabetes: My Personal Story

August 2008 is when my life changed forever.  My wife and I had been to a convention.  It was a chaotic three day event with barely a moment to breathe, let alone eat healthy.  At some point I must have been bitten by a bug of some sort.  Right at the top of the back of my thigh.  What started as a bite quickly blew up into a full blown absess. I had to endure a five hour flight sitting on this thing.  I was in agony!  I popped Tylenol all the way home like it was candy.  That was the longest five hours I’ve ever experienced.

I went to a doctor the day after we returned home. He told me it would need to be surgically removed as it was now too big to lance.  I was admitted to hospital the next day.  As is usual, I had a blood test after being admitted.  Purely routine.  Or so I thought.  I had the surgery.  I then woke to the news my fasting sugar was 320.

I was informed I was a diabetic.

I didn’t really understand at first exactly what that meant.  I’d heard of diabetes, obviously, but I didn’t really know that much about it.  I remembered reading an autobiography written by a soccer player called Gary Mabbutt.  He was type 1 diabetic and he had to inject himself with insulin before every game.  You’d never have guessed it if you’d seen him play.  He used to cover every blade of grass in every game and was often one of the hardest working players on the pitch.

Once I was out of hospital, the first chance I had, I bought a book, the Dummies Guide to Diabetes.  What I read frightened the life out of me.  Now I knew what I was up against.  Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, liver failure, amputation…the list goes on.  This horrifying disease can cause so many dreadful complications.

I went through the usual phases:  Denial.  Anger.  Why me?

The years since have been a constant struggle.  My A1C has been up and down.  My fasting sugar levels have been up and down.

My emotions have been up and down.

Now, I’m controlling it.  I’m exercising.  I’m eating a (reasonably) healthy diet.

Now, my A1C is up.  My fasting sugar levels are up.  I can’t be bothered to exercise. 

Now, I’m back in Control.

Etc.

The endless vicious circle.

This has been my life for the past six years.

It’s a rollercoaster ride.

It’s a whirlwind.

It’s a never ending vicious cycle, just waiting for the next time I fall off.

But at the end of the day I’m determined to win, to keep a good quality of life.  My biggest fear is going blind.  I actually fear that more than dying.

The one constant positive is the GCcontrol shakes I’ve blogged so much about.  They really do help.  But they are not a cure.  They are only a tool.  They are only at their most effective when combined with exercise and a decent diet.  I don’t eat anywhere near as healthy as I should, yet they continue to lower my sugar when it is high.

With or without the shakes, the battle goes on.  I’ll continue to post updates.  I just wanted to share my story.  To anyone out there who has been diagnosed as a diabetic, maybe it’s only just happened, I will say this.  Hang in there.  It’s going to be a bumpy rides.  You will have your ups and downs, just like I have.  But you can fight it with the right tools and with enough determination!