Going Vegan, Ep. 7: Coming Home
Alan greeted me with a stockpile of vegan groceries at home. Quinoa, fortified soy milk, mixed greens, and a delicious toasted sandwich of spelt bread with avocado, mustard, vegannaise, and rock salt. And to top it all off, a vegan brownie. Delicious. He’d decided to be a supportive trooper after all. At least for awhile.
“I’ve decided to see what it does to you,” he said.
“Look,” I said, “the only thing I’m giving up that’s really good for me is fish. Eggs make me feel sick and I don’t eat them much. Dairy isn’t that great for me either, right? So let’s just see how it goes.”
“Everyone I know who has gone vegan has converted back because they’ve gotten ill. I knew a girl who was hospitalized for being vegan.” He paused. “Why don’t you do it for six weeks instead. Six weeks instead of six months.”
I sighed. I could tell that he was worried about me. “Okay,” I conceded, “we’ll check in six weeks. If things are going poorly, then I’ll adjust, okay? We know a lot more about nutrition than we used to.”
He looked down. Nodded slowly.
“Hey,” I said brightly ,”Let’s go get supplements! Supplements are fun! I’ll get lots of supplements. You can watch and make sure I’m getting all the right stuff, okay?”
The awesomeness of flax
We made a round of errands. Mine included picking up some flax seed oil at the Whole Wallet down the street. Now, flax is hands down the best vegetarian source for Omega 3’s around. Omega 3’s are the “good fats” – the fats you need to keep your cells and brain happy. They are also more fragile than Omega 6’s and have a far shorter shelf life. Our North American diet has slanted way to far in the direction of Omega 6’s. Ideally you want a 2:1 or 4:1 ration of Omega 6 to Omega 3’s in your diet, so we need to make a concerted effort to get more Omega 3’s and less 6’s in our food. For the record, cold water fish are excellent sources of Omega 3’s. But after salmon, flax is king. You don’t need much flax oil to get your required fats – maybe a couple tablespoons a day. And it’s got a nutty, yummy flavor that is delicious in a wide variety of foods.
Flax Safety Tips: Always buy your flax refrigerated and store it in the fridge when you get it home. It’s better to have it stored in a dark container. Use it up fairly rapidly as it will spoil over time. Also, never heat it up. Flax keeps its precious and fragile Omega 3’s intact when it’s cool. Use it on salads, in dressings, sauces…just not in baking or in the frying pan. Or grind the seeds (they have to be ground or you’ll just pass them through) and sprinkle the flour on anything.
We hit the supplement superstore, Finlandia. The shop girl seemed to smell my non-veganness and wanted to know why I made the switch. I felt a little stupid telling her it was an experiment.
“For six months. To see how it goes. Seems like it makes sense to give it a try.” I shrugged apologetically.
She took it all in stride. “You should be good with this.” She gave me Dr. Udo’s 3-6-9 Essential Fatty Acid mix and a B12, Folic Acid, and Iron supplement.
“What about Vitamin D?” I asked.
She nodded, “Everyone in Vancouver is Vitamin D deficient. But not all Vitamin D supplements are vegan. If it says D3, it comes from animal sources. D2 comes from vegetarian sources. However, if you’re taking a multivitamin, you should already be covered.” she says. “But watch your protein. Each plenty of legumes, beans…”
“Quinoa is great. Eat nutritionally dense food like black rice and less wheat. Stay away from pasta, white rice, white flour. “
I nodded, this all sounded familiar. Most of it was pretty common sense. I was thinking that being a vegan might just feel more like cleaning up my act than like any real departure from how I’d already been eating.
Steph and my Antioxidant book had prepared me well.