Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A post to GamingDiva

Another non-WoW related post here; for those of you who don't like those, sorry about that guys. This is going to be a post about vegetarianism. I'm initially going to outline, more fully, my reasons for being interested in it, and then I'm going to ask GamingDiva if she would be willing to offer some advice about one potential health issue which I've read about online.

I also realise that the response to this, from one or two of the people who still read me is possibly going to be, "We don't care. This is a personal issue. Keep it to yourself." As I've said before though, guys; my blog, my house rules. If you don't like it, I don't mind if you don't read. If it wasn't for wanting to ask GamingDiva for some guidance, I wouldn't be writing it at all, most likely; but seeing as I am, you're going to get the whole thing.

My other motivation in writing this post is to hopefully help some other people who might, on an offchance, be in the same position, have some concerns, and be looking for advice. Gundersson told me via Gmail once that something I should do with the blog was to continue to be honest about the things that are important to me; so I'm going to.

In a comment on one of my earlier posts, GamingDiva mentioned being vegan, and having written about it. I was very happy to learn that she mentions being healthy from it, as well.

Given both the picture of Kali at the top of the page, and some of the other things I've written, people could be forgiven for thinking that I've wanted to do this for religious reasons, but it isn't actually that at all.

It's fundamentally health related, and there are three specific issues:-

  • Cancer risk.

    At least 50% of the people who I have known personally, have died of cancer; several of them prematurely. I thus feel a particular determination and interest in avoiding this disease and/or reducing my risk of the development of it.

    My grandfather, who I live with, is currently dying of what was originally prostate cancer which has now gone to his skeletal system, and he also suffers from a damaged lymphatic system, due to chemotherapy. His wife, my grandmother, died in 2000 of what was originally bowel cancer which later spread throughout her entire body. They both ate beef twice a day, every day, for 60 years.

    My aunt, also on my mother's side of the family, also died of cancer around three years after my grandmother. A lifelong friend of my mother's recently passed away from cancer, in her early 60s, after a battle with it of probably 20 years. A cousin of my father, had a son who died of leukemia at the age of around 23. These last three individuals were the most kind, altruistic, and loving people that I have ever known, and I have never entirely recovered from their loss.

    The last cancer casualty was my father's eldest brother, my uncle, who died in possibly 2002.

    I have recently read that vegetarianism, statistically speaking, can reduce cancer risk by as much as 40%.

  • A single kidney.

    I had a kidney removed at the age of 13, due to kidney stones. As a result, among other things, I have to exercise extreme caution in eating large amounts of heavy proteins. (I.e., red meat)

    As much as I love the taste of it, there have been times when, after having a large meal of kangaroo meat, I have woken up the next day to find disturbingly large amounts of dried blood staining my pillowcase, from nosebleeds due to heightened blood pressure. I have also on at least one occasion, had a debilitating attack of gouty arthritis, following a week of particularly heavy meat consumption, which is linked to kidney trouble.

  • Weight loss.

    I am not morbidly obese, but I am overweight. Although I also need to increase my level of exercise, from what I have been reading, if it is effectively conducted, vegetarianism can be a very effective way of doing this.

  • Prevention of allergies.

    I also suffer from severe allergic rhinitis, and I suspect the cause is at least partially based in diet. I am not sure, but it is my hope that careful vegetarianism could cure, or at least effectively treat this condition as well.

My question to GamingDiva is this; the single potential major health problem which I've read about online is hypothyroidism, which from what I've been reading, is primarily associated with heavy consumption of millet and tofu in particular. From what I've been able to discover, seems to be at least moderately prevalent among vegetarians. I know you said that you're completely healthy as a vegan yourself, but do you know of anyone else who is vegan who has that condition?

I haven't actually started on trying to be entirely vegetarian yet, and my answer to the above issue was actually to go and see a GP at some point this week, and ask if I could undergo blood tests for my levels of thyroid hormone once a fortnight, during a meatless trial period of one month. I think at this point I've gathered enough information to at least begin.

As an example of what I'm going to be having for dinner this evening, I came up with the idea of a tofu, sliced mushroom, lettuce, and refried bean sandwich; I figured the idea of mixing a number of different proteins would work best. I've already had millet with soy sauce, which I liked, but I think I will possibly also try some fruit with quinoa as well.

My biggest issue was finding a staple protein source which wasn't implicated as cause of hypothyroidism, as tofu and millet both are. I am going to eat both of those for the first month, and my results there will determine whether or not I continue.

I have also read about quinoa, which is essentially millet without a thyroid inhibitor, and mushrooms as primary protein sources. There are of course a lot of nuts which I can also viably use, however given that I am without teeth, they will have to be crushed.

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