My husband does bike repairs and refurbishes second-hand bikes* which he sells on if in good condition or gives them away if they are past their sell-by date in terms of age and design.
This means that there is a lot of foot traffic through our back garden as people bring their injured steeds for some TLC or to ask about a bike we might have for sale. Some like to chat and put the world to rights, especially those who are retired.
Yesterday was one such day. A regular customer came to collect his bike. The sun was making a rare appearance and I was -unusually for me – sitting outside under the umbrella. We had met some time ago, when I answered the door to him, but had never really had a conversation. He is retired and likes to amble around on his bike enjoying the fresh air and countryside. He does t’ai chi and chi qong, but had injured his knee recently and inevitably the conversation turned to health, nutirition, exercise and ailments.
Having worked selling potatoes for many years, he is quite knowledgeable about how food is produced and marketed, eats little meat except for organic chicken and pork occasionally, some oily fish, and takes flax seed oil supplements for his joints. He knew that my husband is vegetarian but raised an eyebrow when I mentioned I am vegan.
He had just been regaling us with advice about washing fruit and veg because it is sprayed to within an inch of its life and how he had witnessed such cruelty in modern farming methods, yet he was puzzled by my dietary choices.
It seemed to come down to puddings!
His face twisted and he asked ‘So, what do you eat if you can’t have anything naughty?!’
I grinned and said, ‘We’ve just had a 13 year old boy visiting for a week and we’ve had puddings every day!’ ‘Really?’ he replied, surprised and sceptical. ‘What do you do then?’
I explained that we still made ice-cream, for instance (see below for recipe links); he asked how and was impressed, he didn’t realise you didn’t need cow’s milk and refined sugar, chemicals, artificial flavourings and preservatives. I added that if we want something sweet we use fresh or dried fruit or occasionally maple syrup in the recipes (he had assumed we used honey).
I added, all you need is a blender and a food processor. ‘Well,’he responded, ‘We’ve got those.’
Now, he knows I have a long-term back injury and as I started to expand on my dietary habits, he interrupted, looked me up and down, sitting there in my shorts and t-shirt and pronounced that I looked well despite being vegan – ‘You must have been a child bride!’ (cringe) – I was slim so there was no need for me to ‘diet.’
My husband spluttered and I smiled indulgently and shook my head. Here we go, I thought.
Before I could reply, he proceded to describe how he was reasonably fit and healthy, wasn’t fat and did alright without medications before adding that he had some pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories for a previous condition that he was now taking for his knee: ‘But they don’t do any good!’
Eventually, I corrected him.
‘I look well, slim and healthy because I am vegan and because I juice, not despite my food regimen. I don’t take any medications and before I changed my lifestyle I suffered with unbearably painful sinusitis, twice-yearly chest infections that would last 6-8 weeks and often resulted in a cracked rib or strained muscles from coughing, I had painful IBS and asthma.
Since I began juicing and more recently became vegan, I no longer suffer the symptoms of these conditions.
He was sceptical. My husband laughed and backed me up. ‘It’s true, and you won’t win the argument, she’s heard it all before!’
He persisted: ‘No pain medications?’
No. They make me ill, bring me out in a rash and don’t work. They damaged my stomach lining and gave me gastritis. (I juice ginger and turmeric daily for inflammation and use Devil’s Claw herbal drops when it flares up in times of stress).
But to get back to our cycling friend. Once he was reassured there could still be puddings and I didn’t need medication, he was smiling again and kept saying how well I looked.
But he was very disappointed that he couldn’t bring me some trout or salmon from his fishing expeditions!
Later, our neighbour shouted over the hedge for my husband to come and help himself to some plums from his tree. We made a plum crumble last night for our visitors today, with no animal products or refined sugar. (Recipe link below).
Copyright: Chris McGowan