Invisible Disabilities Week – My Story

IMG_4186I just learned today that it is Invisible Disabilities Week. As someone who has spent her whole adult life with an invisible disability, I thought I would share this ‘short’  anecdote on what it is like to look strong and healthy but struggle with a pain and disability that is not obvious to the casual observer. I know I promised short, but this wasn’t planned and you know me, this could go on a bit, for which I apologise in advance – but there are some nice photos too (and yes, that is a packet of crisps in front of me!)

Many moons ago, in a county far, far away, I had a prolapsed disc that refused to heal. I was in my early twenties with a toddler son, had spent a couple of months in bed on the advice of my doctor but could not get moving. I did, however, read the complete Thomas Hardy oeuvre and while doing so, discovered my son was teaching himself to read when he looked at a paragraph containing lots of t’s, p’s and s’s and announced, ‘Look, Mummy, that’s like Top of the Pops!’ (A popular BBC chart programme).

 I had three weeks in hospital on traction where even hospital staff would leave my meals by the side of my bed while I lay flat on my back unable to reach, because I was young and they were preoccupied with the older patients. Eventually, I was sent home with a steel reinforced surgical corset and instructions not to spend a lot of time sitting. A few weeks later, I had my check-up appointment at the hospital. There had been no improvement. Despite the ‘no sitting’ command, I was kept waiting – and sitting – for two hours for a five minute chat that ended with ‘come back in a few weeks’.

Afterwards, I had to wait in reception for a sitting ambulance to take me home. Unfortunately, it was almost lunchtime but there was one ambulance leaving before the lunch-break and I inwardly heaved a sigh of relief. I was in excruciating pain, all the while knowing that things were going to get worse not better for my trip to the doctor (a constant theme in my life) and all this sitting was doing me more harm than good.

A driver came over. He had one seat left. He looked at the elderly lady next to me with a stick. She had told me she had been to the audio clinic to have her hearing checked. He looked at me. Young, smiling, long shiny hair. He chose the elderly lady.

I wanted to cry. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the next hour, possibly longer, before another ambulance left. Not only was I in pain, but despite the corset, I didn’t have enough strength to sit upright, I kept tilting.

I eventually made it home about 3 p.m., having left home at 8.30 a.m. Up until that point, I hadn’t sat for more than half an hour at a time in several months. The pain was so severe I almost passed out before I could get upstairs to bed. My poor excited son had to make do with the briefest of hugs before the painkillers took hold and knocked me out.

That was a long time ago. During the interim decades, things have improved and got worse and improved in a monotonous recycled pattern including surgery, torturous treatments and therapies, car accidents and so on. My overall health is much improved since I changed my diet and lifestyle, gave up prescription drugs that never helped and always made things worse, and took my health into my own hands. However, despite seasonal improvements during warm weather, I have never regained my strength and full mobility.

IMG_4182And yet… just yesterday, my elderly mum was lauding my efforts to look after her during her stay at the weekend, saying ‘It’s lovely to have my daughter back, back to normal!’ A smile and a talent for acting work wonders in reassuring others, but they also help make a disability invisible and raise expectations.

29935072_UnknownOn Saturday, we took Mum out to see the barges on the canal. She had a lovely time, sitting in the sun eating ice-cream – where unexpectedly, an owl and a hawk where among the patrons! – happy that the three of us were able to have a rare outing together. I usually stay at home.

2B08A8EE-11B0-47AE-9699-75586BE4C7BC

29935168_UnknownShe went home next morning and I spent the rest of the day sorting out all her files (with the help of a green smoothie of course).

This morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. My whole body felt like I had been kicked by a mule, my back was on fire, I had no strength, I was exhausted despite twelve hours in bed. I couldn’t get dressed. When I did get up, about 11.30 a.m., I sat with a heated pad on my back while my husband brought me herbal anti-inflammatory drops and an anti-inflammatory ginger and turmeric juice.

Two hours later, I am dressed and writing this post. I will soon be making phonecalls on my mother’s behalf. I will call her to see if she is ok after the journey home. I won’t of course tell her how I’m feeling.

As someone recently said to me, we have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives. If someone is rude, irritable, in a bad mood, unwilling to contribute help to some event you’re organising or collect your kids from school etc. please bear in mind they may be suffering a devastating migraine attack or a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis; they may have an undiagnosed brain tumour, they may have insufferable chronic pain, MS, ME, or any number of invisible conditions. If they are behaving ‘inappropriately’, they may have Asperger’s, anxiety, dementia, having a panic attack, depression or on the verge of going into a diabetic coma.

And most of all, just because someone with a disability or chronic illness can do something one day, doesn’t mean at all that they can do it repeatedly, or even ever again. My mum thinks that everything I do when she is here is what I do every day. She has no appreciation of the superhuman effort I make when she – or anyone else – is here, to make her stay comfortable, to give her something to tell her friends about, some nice memories. But once she has left, I am back in bed, desperate for rest and relief.

Please note: This was written on the spur of the moment as a plea on behalf of others, not for sympathy. I am used to the ups and downs of my life and make the most of it. I am a positive person who laughs a lot and I enjoy seeing Mum doing things she wouldn’t otherwise get to do and I know it means a lot to her that I join in. 

Ps It did get a bit long, didn’t it? Oops…

Feeling Overwhelmed: World Mental Health Day

Monday Meditation: Osteopathy, Rest & Recuperation in Nature

Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine – Paint a Rock & Give a Smile to Someone Who Needs It!

The Mood Booster: Raw Chocolate Mulberry, Banana & Walnut Smoothie

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Advertisements

Vegan Birthday Burgers at O’Joy Wellness Bistro, Shrewsbury – Review

It was my birthday recently (no singing, please, no really, it’s fine) and usually it’s the biggest non-event of the year! It’s right smack bang in the middle of a host of family birthdays. Moreover, most family members are often on holiday and we’ve usually already had Mum here for her July birthday, which generally means I don’t see anyone. And to be honest – I’m not telling any family secrets here – my husband is not the most imaginative or proactive when it comes to birthdays or presents or surprises of any kind. It’s just not in his DNA.

Flowers from Mum

29134992_Unknown

Consequently, when he asked a few days beforehand what I’d like for my birthday, I thought I would prevent the inevitable purchase of some kind of gadget I would never use in a million years and ask for the kitchen to be painted! It is long long overdue, and this is what I opened on birthday morning:

IMG_3779

I had told him what shade I’d like – Apple White – but he thought he’d give me a choice!

I had been cooped up for so long with the floor restoration going on and the decorators before that, so I had hoped we could go out somewhere, but when I got up the weather was cold, wet and grisly and I resigned myself to staying indoors. With my dodgy back, I rarely go anywhere, seating is always a problem. I am used to this, but sometimes I can go out in the warmer summer weather, when we take a picnic and drive around the countryside to see where we end up. (Last year it was Wroxeter – A Roman City on A Beautiful Summer’s Day. )

I mentioned as much to my husband, who suggested we go to a lakeside café he and his cycling pals sometimes stop at, but it wasn’t somewhere I could confidently get food or drink to suit my vegan, gluten- and nightshade-free habits – see last summer’s post Chillin’ on a Chilly Afternoon with Chilli and you’ll see what I mean – so I decided to Google vegan cafés in the area in the hope we could go out for lunch, something I have done only once in 30 years.

We came across O’Joy Wellness Centre & Bistro in Shrewsbury. As I read about it, I remembered that the BBC’s ‘DIY SOS’ and ‘The Big Build’ presenter, Nick Knowles, became co-owner of a vegan restaurant after staying at a retreat in Thailand and subsequently adopting a vegan lifestyle. The centre also offers counselling and psychotherapy. I hadn’t realised it was in Shrewsbury. The photos looked promising, the seating looked manageable, with my back cushion. We phoned them up to get directions and they told us where we could park.

Needless to say, we got lost! Again. No, we still don’t have a Sat Nav, but I aim to rectify that in a few weeks when it’s His Nibs’ birthday! So many new roundabouts with rubbish signage! My husband reckons the highways people expect everyone to have sat navs these days and so anything beyond a basic N, S, E or W is redundant!

IMG_3812We found the bistro eventually, having turned left when we should have turned right! A dark blue frontage and ceiling, rustic oak tables, cheerful yellow chairs and welcoming young and friendly staff greeted us on what had degenerated into a typical chilly blustery Shrewsbury day. We were shown to our table at the back, for which I was grateful as the door was kept open and I was cold. Our bubbly, smiley waitress waited patiently as we sorted out which chair was best and put my cushion in place. She asked if I would prefer to sit over the other side where there was a bench with lots of plump cushions, but I was fine and didn’t want to cause any further fuss.

We later noticed a large sign asking patrons to order at the counter during the day, but the place was quiet when we arrived and the staff seemed happy to wait on us.

Here’s what I ordered:

7C353C4C-552A-49B9-B2A4-8E33A685471A

Everything is vegan and there are gluten-free options, like the bun with this burger. The Green Goddess salad originally came with croutons, but they were happy to replace them with toasted sunflower and sesame seeds. The raw carrot cake was gluten-free. I also had the Green Monster Burger with sweet potato fries, my husband had tomato and roasted red pepper soup, Cajun burger, and gluten-free raw brownie. There was a selection of herbal, fruit and green teas as well as smoothies and soft drinks.

We must have been there two and a half hours! People came and went, some with young children, ordering falafels or dips and pitta bread; others meeting friends and ordering tacos; all ate at leisure and no-one was rushed out the door. The place has a cosy feel to it and the staff were lovely. When I returned from the washroom, my husband had paid the bill and we said goodbye to our waitress who wished me a happy birthday and laughed at the look of surprise on my face. She had asked my husband what our plans were for the rest of the day and he said it was my birthday, so anything was possible. She replied we should have told her and they would have put a candle on my cake! There was no sign of Nick, he mustn’t have got the memo;-)

I had a lovely day and I was so full, I actually didn’t eat again until lunchtime next day, other than a small juice for breakfast. My husband came home and had to sleep it off for three hours!

Birthday girl:

IMG_3797

Oh, and the kitchen is being painted as I type:

CE1EA468-4DCE-463A-9224-86A07154B338

Copyright: Chris McGowan

The Tour de France & A Parquet Tour de Force!

It’s that time of year again when the sun shines (theoretically), the men don their lycra for a cycling saunter around France and Chris gets house makeover ideas beyond her station! After a few years of not really tackling any major work on the house – I think the last big upheaval was for my mum’s 80th birthday celebration 7 years ago – last year, *we* (I ;-)) decided it was time to do over the front room, which had been neglected for many years. It was dark and dated, needed new curtains and carpets and I was dying to get rid of the 90s sofa, which to my embarrassment actually featured in an episode of Eastenders when Sharon and Phil ran the Queen Vic!  Despite its age, it was hardly used until recently when we had a woodburner installed in that room. I found the room depressing and wanted to lighten it up. Bit by bit, I eventually won over hb and that’s when we struggled over the decision to give away our old piano (see post links below).

At first, we were going to replace the carpet with good quality laminate flooring, but when we lifted it we found this: image

So we took the bit between our teeth, got some quotes and found it would cost no more to refurbish the old parquet than to buy good quality laminate or carpet. We had no idea what it would look like: Wayne of Acorn Floor Sanding aka wood floor doctor warned us it would be a lot lighter but other than that it was in the lap of the gods. We were lucky in that only a few blocks needed relaying, although there were many gaps needing to be filled and many of the blocks had warped as well as shrunk. There was also the hearth to take care of. We needed to replace and extend it as there was a strip of concrete where the old fireplace had been removed and there were no blocks to replace it. So we had that done first. The whole job took 4 days and we ended up with this:

29130320_Unknown

The fire recess is actually dark teal. We were so delighted with the result that we decided there and then we would save up and do the back room this year and then the hallway next year.

The back room is variously referred to as the kids’ room or Mum’s room, depending on who is occupying it at the time: it is the original dining room but we have always used it as an extra bedroom/playroom for the younger family members. More recently, my elderly mum has been using it as she can no longer use the stairs. And therein lies the problem: trying to arrange a room that is suitable for toddlers, teenagers and my elderly mum! The teenagers complain it’s too babyish, it’s also a bit boyish as it was predominantly used by the older three, but now we have girls and Mum too.

It was going to be a thankless task. Mum doesn’t like wood floors, she likes the comfort of carpet under her feet, is convinced wood floors make a room colder – they don’t – and worried about slipping, but it is not slippy at all.

Six weeks ago, we grasped this particularly prickly nettle, emptied the room, pulled up the carpet and found a much more difficult project awaiting:

28867040_Unknown

The blocks were badly stained with bitumen that had gradually worked its way through the many large gaps, the blocks were warped but also badly cut – few were squared off properly. There was a large concrete slab where the old fireplace was, plus cement-covered bricks supporting the sliding doors to the playroom. Worst of all, the entire room other than three sides of the border had to be relaid, a time-comsuming and expensive task.

A 4 day job turned into 9 days, Summer chose that week to pay a visit making it hot and sticky work. At one stage it looked like a humungous game of jenga was being played in there!

IMG_3729

A large tin of filler for the gaps would normally cover 5 rooms the size of ours but it only filled two thirds of the gaps here! Every day there was a problem that delayed procedings. The concrete slab was more difficult to remove than first assumed and the floor wasn’t level, spare blocks were needed and dowelling to fill the gap that still remained under the skirting board.

We had tried to source reclaimed blocks on eBay, the internet and a reclamation site in our local Bermuda triangle where even Silly Sally SatNav got us lost 3 times! All to no avail. We needed maple and we could only find pine and oak and not the right depth. Our carpenter neighbour came up trumps with a random box of various-sized blocks that someone had given him and he’d never used, and which turned out to be maple. They weren’t the right depth, but Wayne removed some originals from under a built-in cupboard where the space wouldn’t be seen, used those in the middle of the room and our neighbour’s were used to make a slight ramp up to the sliding doors over the brick supports.

This is after the first sanding:

IMG_3735

What a transformation already! It had 9 sandings in all, done corner to corner in 4 directions to go with the grain as much as possible. Then it was sealed with one coat of Bonakemi Traffic and 2 coats of Bonatraffic HD. This is a high quality low maintenance Italian satin finish recommended on a website about wood floors I discovered when researching the first room we did. It is hard wearing, not too shiny and requires no ongoing upkeep, unlike an oiled finish.

It was such hot, hard work and honestly there were times when I thought Wayne was losing the will to live! We kept him supplied with copious amounts of strong coffee and amusing (haha) anecdotes to keep his spirits up, and finally it was done.

Prepare to be stunned:

We are delighted with the result. The room is so much lighter and looks more spacious. I can’t praise Wayne’s work highly enough. A lot of improvisation and imagination was required as well as hard physical work in difficult weather conditions.

Mum came this last weekend. She loves the floor, said it’s beautiful, then ‘what kind of carpet are you going to put over it?!’

I need a rest, I’m off to watch skinny men in lycra riding bikes and swapping jerseys to see who fits what the best!

To read about our traumatic decision to give away our piano see:

Ode To Our Piano, a Faithful and Long-Suffering Friend

Ode to Our Piano – What Happened Next…

Ode to Our Piano: Guess What?

Ode to Our Piano – Flowers & Phew!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Veganuary – results

img_6798

For anyone who read my post, Veganuary , or who participated by trying to go vegan for a month, I thought you might be interested in seeing this results graphic. This was their most successful sign-up yet since its inception in 2014 when a mere 3,300 signed up.

The statistics make interesting reading: the vast majority of participants were in the 18-44 age group which is encouraging, but probably not surprising. Veganism is the fastest growing social movement among young people at this time. They are also tech-savvy and more likely to have seen the campaign on social media.  However, I was most struck by the percentage of women who took part: 88%! I was expecting them to be in the majority, but not by quite such a margin.

Women have the greatest influence on the family diet and consequently their health, and in the education of their children, especially in their early, formative years, so this is also an encouraging statistic.

Another surprising but encouraging statistic is the large number of omnivores willing to try out a vegan lifestyle, I expected that the vast majority of participants would be vegetarians.

If you took part, well done! How did you get on? 

Don’t forget, all the recipes on this site are vegan (and gluten-free). If you need more information on Becoming Vegan, look under that category in the Menu. Here are some links:

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where to Get Nutritional Advice for Young Vegans and Newbies

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Zesty Orange Squash Soup – Yes, Really!

img_3106We had 2 butternut squash, several oranges and a lot of dried lemonbalm from our garden queuing up, begging to be used, so I decided to try some of them together. I’ve had squash with nutmeg, squash with cumin and squash with ginger, I wondered what squash with orange would be like.

Lemonbalm is traditionally a calming herb, used to reduce anxiety and stress, promote sleep and good digestion.

Squash, like carrots, have a large amount of Vitamin A and C, and it is a good source of B Vitamins, Vitamin K for bone health,  various minerals and dietary fibre.

So here goes:

 Vegan, Gluten-free and Organic where posssible.

All measurements approximate and substitute what you don’t have.

img_3099

Ingredients

1 Tsp Raw Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped

1 Large Carrot, if organic wash and leave peel on, chop

1 Stick of Celery + leaves, chopped

Handful of Sugar Snap Peas, washed, topped and tailed, chopped

1/2 Courgette, washed and chopped

Dried Lemonbalm

Black Pepper

1 Low Salt Vegetable Stock Cube

dissolved in

Approx. 600 mls hot water, enough to amply cover the veg

with a good squeeze of

Tomato Puree

Splash of Tamari

1/4 Small Orange, juice and zest

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan until the vegetables sizzle when added, but not smoking.

img_3100Add a handful at a time, starting with the squash and carrots, then celery, stir-frying as you go until all are added.

Place the lid on and sweat the veggies on a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I omitted ‘the veggies’ the first time around and it read a bit funny! I could hear the sniggering at the back of the gallery).

Add a good amount of lemonbalm, about 2 tbsps of crunched up leaves, and a few twists of black pepper.

Pour in the stock, tamari and tomato pureeimg_3102

Place the lid on and lightly simmer (not boil) on a low heat for about 45 minutes until the veggies are cooked enough to blend.

img_3103

Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning. Cool a little, then partially blend with a stick blender, leaving something of a bite to the soup.

Add a good squeeze of orange juice and a little zest. Stir in and serve.

I had it with lentil sprouts and a toasted slice of Vegan Gluten-Free Tiger Nut Loaf/Bread Mk III spread with tahini, my husband had his with crispy white rolls.

img_3110

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Health Revolution Giveaway Winner!

Just a short post to thank all who entered the giveaway and to announce that Lydia is the winner. Congratulations! Have a wander over to her blog and say ‘hi’.

image

Just a reminder that Dale’s book is available on Amazon for £7.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited or £2.99 download.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

500 Up: It’s Giveaway Time!

Yesterday, I received a lovely surprise in the form of a notification from WordPress that I now have 500 followers! I only began blogging just over a year ago, not having much of a clue technically, but having completed the Blogging 101 course I had gained a little more know-how and a few blogging friends, many of whom are still with me and have provided much-needed support.

My (at the time) newly-retired husband is very grateful to you all for keeping me occupied and out of mischief!

To say thank you, we are having a small giveaway. 

imageMy friend, Dale Preece-Kelly, aka Organic Guinea Pig, published his first book ‘Health Revolution’ almost 2 years ago. I have a spare paperback copy to give away. You can read a fuller review of the book here but briefly, Dale lost everything, his marriage, his home, his job and almost his life following a motorbike accident. His lifestyle didn’t help: he smoked, drank was overweight and had a heart attack.

He managed to turn his life around through healthy eating, juicing, exercise and a positive attitude.

Dale tells his story in a chatty, light-hearted style, providing amusing anecdotes, recipes and advice in a non-dogmatic manner.

We had a visit from our smallest grandchildren at the weekend and we made Dale’s Sweet Potato Chocolate Orange Brownies, the recipe is in the review above and in the book.

0edb3010-994f-48c6-b6f2-b1457f114537

If you would like a chance to win this book, simply leave a comment on this post saying you would like your name to go into the hat. You don’t need to do anything else.

  1. The competition is open to all my Blog Followers. My husband will pick a name at random.

2. The competition runs from publication of this post until midnight GMT Saturday, 28th January, 2017.

Dale is a successful author, nutritional therapist, Life Coach and also runs a renowned and well-respected animal assisted therapy business, focusing on mental health issues.

Health Revolution’ and Dale’s new book ‘Unleashing The Healing Power of Animals ‘ are available on Amazon.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

img_6532

Vegans are often held to a higher standard when it comes to dietary ethics, be it the environmental impacts of their food choices, animal welfare or health benefits. We all have our own line in the sand, we do what we can given our circumstances and our resources.

Here are some of the ways a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle can be beneficial not just to our own health as individuals or in terms of animal husbandry but for our environment and the world’s populations too.

First, water.

img_6549(Graphic from Vegan Community)

This is quite a startling graphic given the water shortages in some parts of the world. And it doesn’t end there.

Chemical run-offs from farming and processing livestock also contaminate water supplies.

Climate:

Intensive livestock farming and its support infrastructure are a major contributor in the production of greenhouse gases, both from the production of methane but also from transportation, and at current rates this could rise by 50% by 2050. According to a Guardian Environment article which quotes a study from Oxford Martin School, ‘adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63% by 2050.’*

I have seen many articles like this from various sources advocating the reduction of meat and dairy consumption for environmental reasons and the knock-on beneficial effects on human health.

Deforestation:

According to the film Cowspiracy, beef production accounts for 90% the destruction of Amazon rainforest. Many activists have lost their lives or been injured in land disputes with meat producers and indigenous peoples removed from their land.

Growing Food to Feed Animals to Feed Us!

img_6540

One of the reasons I first became vegetarian many moons ago was because it didn’t seem right to me that so much land was given over to growing crops to feed animals to feed us when we could just cut out the middle ‘man’ and just eat the crops! When there are so many starving people, it seemed so inefficient and such a waste of resources.

Here’s another graphic to illustrate the point:

img_6533

Developing Countries Having to Grow Cash Crops for Animal Feed in Developed World:

Another reason I became vegetarian was that so many poor countries in the developing world have been forced to grow cash crops to sell cheaply to Western countries for animal feed in order to pay off unpayable loans when they should be using them to feed their own populations and earning appropriate prices.

img_6542

Overuse of Antibiotics and Bacterial Resistance:

A major concern for human health and that of livestock is the overuse of antibiotics. 

img_6543

This is a shocking statistic! This is bad for the animals, bad for the environment, bad for our health. There is widespread concern about resistance to antibiotics and this is the main reason, the antibiotics given to animals end up in our food and the bugs are getting wise to them.

Last but not least is the issue of genetically modified feed and hormones used in the meat and dairy industries. Wherever you stand on the use of GMOs in food, the widespread production of single crops and consequent depletion of the soil, there is great concern among the scientific community as well as environmentalists about how adding and removing genes to alter the behaviour of plants and crops will affect the behaviour of our own genes and dna, as well as that of the animals, birds and insects that feed on them and the consequent ecological ramifications.

Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone is banned in most industrialised countries but is widely used in the US dairy industry. Milk from such cows contains higher levels of a hormone linked to breast, prostrate, colon, lung and other cancers. *

Many other GMOs are banned in most other developed countries, being linked with various cancers and other inflammatory conditions, as well as environmental pollution and crop contamination, but deemed safe in the US. There is little to no regulation of their use and unlike European consumers who have food labelling, for the most part US consumers are not privy to the information. (For example, a US company is about to begin selling packaged GMO sliced apples that don’t go brown in some mid-Western stores but consumers will not be told which stores nor will they be labelled as such).

A series of programmes made about these issues were forced to be postponed and the makers threatened.

There is an informative post on this here by The Organic Consumers Association and another on Unregulated gene editing by Natural Health 365.

img_6595

Just after I published this post, I came across this quote on Instagram which starkly but neatly sums up all the issues:

img_6596

Finally, on a lighter note:

img_6589

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegetarianism-dangerous-global-warming

https://ourgreennation.org/2017/01/02/gmos-in-dairy-institute-for-responsible-technology/

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Here:

  • img_1891

And here:

img_6550

here too:

img_6552

I would also inlcude Watercress, Parsley, Swede, Rocket, Tiger Nuts, Plant Milks, and Hard Water.

It is a longheld myth that humans need cow’s milk in order to build strong bones. 

In fact, cow’s milk is made for the calves they produce which need to grow large bones and grow into large animals, they have the required digestive system to break it down and absorb the calcium content.

Calves grow to approximately eight times their birthweight by the time they are weaned and never drink milk again.

Humans make less and less of the enzyme needed to break down dairy milk as they get older – only young children have enough of the enzyme – which can lead to lactose intolerance and several health issues.

The type of calcium in dairy milk is barely absorbed by humans and is different from the type of calcium in plant foods.

Plant-based calcium is more bioavailable to humans.

img_6369

  • Many people, including babies and children, are allergic to dairy milk, they develop normally on non-dairy sources of calcium.
  • Many populations around the world don’t drink dairy milk, yet display no overall deficiency in calcium.
  • American women are among the biggest consumers of dairy milk, yet they have one of the highest percentages of osteoporosis.
  • Chinese people don’t eat or drink dairy milk and consume half the amount of calcium of most Americans, yet there is hardly any osteoporosis.
  • Dairy milk washes the calcium we already have from our bones and this can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Dairy milk is allowed by law to contain a certain amount of chemicals, growth hormones, antibiotics and pus (yes, pus!)
  • Most dairy herds are fed on GMO feed, so even if you avoid these in weekly shopping and home cooking, if you drink milk or eat meat, you are almost certainly consuming GMOs.
  • Many large mammals have plantbased diets: Elephants, Rhinos, Zebras, Moose, most Gorillas, Hippos, Yak, Bison – no-one asks where they get their protein/calcium from (they wouldn’t dare!).
  • Consuming large amounts of dairy milk can cause iron deficient anaemia in young children because they drink so much milk they have no room for other better sources of iron.
  • One family member has a condition which requires him to have a very low-protein diet. He has never had dairy products or meat. He is a strapping, healthy, active young man who is an outdoor activities leader specialising in canoeing, climbing and snowboarding, and a keen cyclist.
  • Exercise, especially the weight-bearing kind, is a good way to increase your bone density.

Who would think even fruits are good sources of calcium?

img_6551

My youngest toddler grandson is very strongwilled when it comes to food and unless it is fruit or pasta, forget it! Yet he is tall and strong and has so much energy he literally has to be fed on the go as he whizzes past on his next mission to create chaos and mayhem! His parents are very sneaky, though: he loves his dad’s freshly-made fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies which are full of all sorts of plants, nuts and seeds that he would vociferously object to if put on his plate!

Surprisingly, too, many herbs are high in calcium.

Mind Body Green have a great infographic explaining why calcium is essential, how much you need at various ages and according to gender, plus a list of plant-based sources.

Many Americans are deficient in calcium, especially teenage girls and women over 50, but it is easy to include enough of this mineral with a little self-education and thought. Some foods may be unfamiliar, but these days are easily accessible via online stores and there are many sites and books showing you how to use them. Three years ago, I had never heard used chia seeds, goji berries, lucuma fruit powder, goldenberries and so on, but now they are staples along with nut butters and tahini (sesame paste).

You can find recipes for homemade Nut, Seed and Tiger Nut Recipes in the Menu – Tiger Nuts are actually tubers and so are suitable for those with a nut allergy. They make lovely naturally sweet and creamy milk, full of vitamins, minerals and probiotics. It is very popular in Spain where it is known as Horchata.

It is important to note that Spinach contains oxalate which prevents the absorption of its calcium content.

Salt and Caffeine also inhibit calcium uptake.

It is also important to note that calcium supplementation can be dangerous: it can cause an imbalance in essential minerals in the body, overwork the kidneys, cause kidney stones to develop, create cardiovascular problems from calcium deposits and lead to many other health issues.

Sources: The Vegan Society and Vegan Community on Instagram

The Guardian

The Global Healing Centre

as well as courses and articles, too many to mention, and my own experience.

Hope this helps!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Here:

img_4582

And here:

(I would add Nutritional Yeast, Kale, Sunflower seeds, Romaine Lettuce, Sprouted Seeds & Beans, Mushrooms and Corn to that last)

img_6548

The truth is, it is extremely difficult in Western society to be deficient in protein.

You don’t even need thick steaks if you’re a bodybuilder or any other kind of meat or dairy product if you’re a top-notch athlete: there are many top bodybuilders, ironmen, ultra-marathon runners and other sports people who are vegans.

IMG_7912

Several members of the US Rio Olympic team are on a plantbased diet. Champion tennis players Serena and Venus Williams are on plantbased diets and Novak Djokovic recently opened his own vegan restaurant. Arnold Schwarzanegger is advocating transitioning to a plantbased diet! Former President Bill Clinton changed to a vegan diet when he had bypass surgery. Carl Lewis, champion athlete, also competed on a vegan diet.

img_6370

Almost all wholefoods contain some protein to varying amounts, so all you need to do is eat a wide variety of *real* foods, as opposed to processed, chemical-laden sugary ‘foods’ that call themselves vegan and you will get all the quality protein and nutrients you need.

Excessive protein intake can overload the kidneys, make them work harder and cause dehydration.

Research from Australia and the US shows that a varied vegan diet is healthy for both children and adults. Even the the latest US eating guidelines advise more plantbased foods.

I had a meat-eating pregnancy and a vegetarian pregnancy, guess which was healthiest and easiest? The vegetarian one by far. My children were brought up vegetarian, one has always been a keen sports enthusiast and an on-again-off-again vegan, athlete, orienteer, climber and cyclist, while the other has done gymnastics, horse-riding, running, become a lifeguard and gym enthusiast, but nowadays mostly enjoys yoga, swimming and cycling.

One family member has to have a low protein diet for medical reasons and has been plantbased all his life, he’s an outdoor activities leader and specialises in canoeing and climbing.

The babies and toddlers in our family are initially brought up vegan, until they want to choose foods for themselves. Even the ones who choose to occasionally include meat still have a mostly vegetable and fruit content to their diet and all are active, with the older ones being keen cyclists, swimmers, basketball players and Kung fu exponents!

Vegan food is not all brown and boring!* (see below for links to recipes).

It’s mostly about educating yourself and cooking from scratch as much as possible, but you can still find quality vegan convenience food and snacks. And you don’t have to spend hours creating special meals. That certainly wouldn’t work in our household! There are recipes in the blog menu for both savoury, sweet and raw vegan meals as well as some healthy snacks. Instagram is also a great place to find vegan accounts and websites for advice and recipes.

Resources: Vegan Family TV a YouTube channel run by a couple with two young children, it’s fun and informative about their everday lives as vegans. They regulalry try out new products and the girls do their own broadcasts.

The Vegan Society has an article which includes protein requirements and protein sources.

PS Here is a link to a short, informative article about the current trend for protein shakes, protein-added products, the possible overdosing on protein and its feared health repercussions in 10-15 years’ time, especially on teenage boys and men:

Are You Overdosing On Protein?

*See 3 Vegan Meals with Chilli, Quinoa, Tacos & Steamed Veg (but no Quorn!)

Rocket (Arugula) Salad with Sweetcorn, Walnut Slaw, Crisp Red Apple & Lemon Tahini Dressing

Berry Chia Breakfast Jar

Warm Apricot & Ginger Rice Salad with Tamari-Splashed Garlic Mushrooms

Copyright: Chris McGowan