Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living La Vega(n) Loca

My before total thyroidectomy

My after is on the right

Some have questioned my desire to go vegan especially considering the "tribal war" my body has been through with the removal of my thyroid gland, 3 out of 4 of my parathyroid glands, and some lymph nodes. Now it's time for an ANATOMY/PHYSIOLOGY lesson: The thyroid is responsible for a myriad of functions including protein synthesis, energy, and metabolism. (It's shaped kind of like a butterfly hence the name of this blog.) The parathyroid are tiny rice-shaped glands which are responsible for the amount of calcium within the blood and bones. And now I am preparing for radiation therapy in the form of Radioactive Iodine (RAI) which I take in a pill or liquid form. That is next week. For the week following, I will be RADIOACTIVE and have to remain in isolation for the first 3 days and after that limited contact with people. Freaky. I know. Sorry science fiction lovers, I will not be glowing green. There is no cause for thyroid cancer but there are definite links to genetics and radiation exposure. (Think Chernobyl, Hiroshima, the recent Japanese earthquake.)

Anyway, when I got out of the hospital after my surgery, I spent time reading about diet and foods. In particular, I read "THE KIND DIET" by Alicia Silverstone which discussed the benefits of going vegan. Then I read "ANTI-CANCER: A New Way of Life" by David Servan-Schreiber. What I was discovering was that food (among other things like lifestyle and genetics) but especially nutrition can greatly impact your health. I have always eaten healthfully but I became more mindful of the actual benefits on a molecular level of certain foods. Another book on my TO-READ list is FOODS THAT FIGHT CANCER: Preventing Cancer through Diet by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras. The long and the short of it is that food is medicine and I wanted to get the best medicine to fight off this cancer. I WANT TO KICK CANCER'S ASS AND MAKE SURE IT'S NOT COMING BACK. The amazing thing about our bodies is that we all have cancer cells but not all of us get cancers. In most people, the immune system kicks into high gear destroy those cancer cells. In other people (like me), the conditions become as such which permit the cancer cells to go. Many plants have properties which actually fight cancer by, for example, releasing anti-oxidants and creating more alkaline environments so malignant cells do not grow.

Food is something I can work with. I cook so much anyway and it feels amazing to find good things to put into my body. (That didn't come out right. Get your mind out of the gutter people.) Anyway, I decided to try out my veganism during Lent. Forty days. The first few days were tough. I was feeling weaker and "airy" and having headaches. I decided to give it a full week before thinking of quitting but not without doing some research. I went online and found THE VEGAN PYRAMID.

I follow this pyramid religiously and record my food intake daily to ensure I am getting enough. Once I began this on days 5 and 6 of my vegan journey, I felt so different. I felt more energy and I felt very full. I also felt positive and happy that I was doing something good for my body. I get lots of recipes from THE KIND DIET, CARIBBEAN VEGAN, and 1, 000 VEGAN RECIPES. (I promise to post photos of all the awesome dishes of made.)

Since reading THE KIND DIET and THE ANTI-CANCER, I have read other books about veganism such as SKINNY BITCH (loved the book but couldn't they have chosen a less misogynistic title?) and this amazing magazine called VegNews. I watched FAST FOOD NATION and now I am reading the book. As I learn more about factory farming, slaughterhouses, environmental impact, and the ethics, veganism is looking much more appealing. I have watched two documentaries: EARTHLINGS and THE FUTURE OF FOOD.

So far, I don't feel deprived but instead amazed at the plethora of wonderful foods and the combinations that I can eat. I even got to meet Woody Harrelson. Yup. Woody fuckin' Harrelson. (If you watched ZOMBIELAND, you'll understand that reference.) You'll also understand that I was totally like his character Tallahassee was when he met Bill Murray. I got his autograph, told him my life story, and had to snap a photo. Besides inspiring Alicia Silverstone to become vegan and being a Hollywood actor, Woody Harrelson is an environmental activist and so fuckin' cool. He was so not pretentious and very embracing. (Other cool people that I admire and love who are vegan include Persia White, Erykah Badu, John Salley, and Saul Williams as well as a 'hole 'eap a roots reggae artists.)

Saul Williams and Persia White

Erykah Badu (below right)

John Salley

Tarrus Riley

Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee in Zombieland

Ikeila Wright, Woody Harrelson, and me

Anyway, I'm feeling like this might be more of a permanent choice for me. The dishes can be a little time consuming and the food items a little tricky to find but for now, part of my healing therapy, is coming from the whole process of food and I'm loving it.

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