if we truly care about health

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If we are so full of fear about health that we can be easily compelled to wear masks of dubious efficacy and to submit to severe restrictions of our freedoms — how is it then, that we fail to take the truly meaningful steps toward health?

If we truly care about health, we would change how we eat.

We would walk away from animal agriculture. We would say no to animal foods laced with antibiotics and unhealthy fats. We would not tolerate a system of slaughterhouses staffed with suffering, at-risk workers surrounded by suffering, doomed animals. We would walk away from dairy and processed foods, and head straight for the fruits and vegetables.

But, hey, we have masks.

If we truly care about health, we would seek fresh air and sunlight.

We would be outside every day, soaking up the vitamin D and oxygen, and moving our bodies. We would connect with nature instead of staring at screens as we huddle in our homes.

If we truly care about health, we would demand a healthy environment.

We would recognize that pollutants both on our earth and in the air we breathe are factors in the conditions that predispose a person to succumb to illness. We would recognize the terrible contributions of animal agriculture and other industry to the degradation of our environment and its impacts on health. We would refuse to support the practices, corporations, and government leadership that kill the planet upon which we depend. We would demand new leadership, and find new ways. We would stop walking around our yards spraying weed killers, too. Got your mask?

If we truly care about health, we would question our medical system.

We would insist that health care be readily available to all, not just to some. We would take the profit motive out of health care. We would insist that health care for all issues not be delayed or neglected while providers are busy flattening the curve or idled or laid off. We would look at the implications of the many drugs and treatments our system prescribes in both the current crisis and beyond. We would seek multiple perspectives from a diverse group of medical professionals. We would recognize that a system that promotes extended lockdowns by fiat across society is turning a blind eye to a host of serious health problems. We would denounce blatant propaganda and censorship attempts to thwart access to full information. We would question the mad rush to a vaccine, with all the risks and unknowns that entails, being prioritized over actually working to improve health.

If we truly care about health, we would insist on supportive community and government.

We would be intelligently going about the business of life, which involves other people. We would admit that forsaking actual community for virtual ones – or often, none at all – does not support health, but, in fact, compromises it. Going without employment, social commitments and relationships impacts our very ability to live at all, cutting off both economic means and derivation of purpose and satisfaction. We would demand a responsible, independent media. We would reject any form of censorship. We would not pick sides and vilify the others, rather we would join together to solve our problems – with new leadership that actually works for the people. We would reject any form of surveillance knowing that no thinking adult human being watched and tracked thrives under such treatment. We would insist on education that supports critical thinking. We would recognize that health does not derive in extreme authoritarian overreach that subverts the very foundations of a free society.

If we truly care about our health, there are so many things we could and should actively be doing — not just for the current moment but for the future. This business of corporate control of health, food, media, and government systems; extensive authoritarian lockdowns; economic devastation and instability; censorship; surveillance; pervasive fear, distrust, division, anonymity — this is not it.

If we care so much about health, our own and our neighbors’ and our loved ones’, we need to let go of our cowering fear. We need to own our responsibility in this — and that means far more than wearing a mask.

simple changes for a healthy life and world

veru2_13_19-e1550060900590.jpgI was happy to see a recent video in which Mic. the Vegan interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish.

Mic. the Vegan always offers fun and informative presentations on all things vegan. His forte is delving into actual research to substantiate what we know about the vegan lifestyle. Be sure and check out his channel here.

I’ve appreciated Dr. Ornish since way back when he first published Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease. Everything in there made sense to me then, back in 1990, and it still does.

Ornish has a new book, Undo It, written with his wife, Anne.  The idea is that most chronic diseases can be reversed through simple lifestyle changes.

In Mic.’s interview, Ornish boiled the themes of the book down to a handful of maxims:

EAT WELL.

MOVE MORE.

STRESS LESS.

LOVE MORE.

Eating well translates to a plant-based diet. Ornish encourages vegan – the book includes recipes, too. Moving more means exercise. Stressing less involves things like meditation and yoga. Loving more means healthy, loving relationships in our lives, including connectedness with friends and community.

Sounds simple enough, eh? 

Mic. quizzed Ornish about a variety of topics. One that they spent some time on was the prevalence of depression and loneliness, and the impact on health – hence, the “Love more” part of the mix – which Ornish singled out as a high priority. In fact, in 1998 he wrote an entire book on that subject alone: Love & Survival.

Needless to say, Ornish’s latest book is on my reading list. It would be great to see us all take Ornish’s four simple maxims to heart: Eat well, move more, stress less, love more. If we did that, we would all be a lot healthier.

Not only that, adhering to those maxims as a culture has the potential to change the world and our collective future in very positive ways – from protecting our endangered planet to improving the very structure of our society.

Works for me. It’s simple steps each one of us can do to take care of ourselves and each other. Let’s “be the change we wish to see.” 

lone vegan attempts to cook again

veru11_24_18aEven though I have a lot of interest in nutrition and eating healthy, I struggle to make myself cook. I’m fine with breakfast and lunch since I long ago established go-to meals that are easy and quick to make, without actually, ahem, involving much cooking.

Dinner is another story. By the time I get to dinner, I have exactly zero interest in preparing anything for myself. I am so disinterested in cooking for myself that sometimes I just skip the whole thing altogether or eat something that’s really not ultimately good for me just because it’s there and I don’t have to cook it.

This dinner thing has been bothering me. So I decided recently to make the effort to learn a few recipes for dinner meals that could be prepared and served for two or three dinners, or for entertaining.

Little did I know exactly how rusty my cooking skills had gotten!

My attempt this week was inspired by the vegan Neatloaf I enjoyed in San Diego at the delightful Jyoti-Bihanga restaurant. That neatloaf was awesome. With mashed potatoes and gravy, it’s the perfect winter comfort food, too.

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I found a recipe on A Virtual Vegan’s website, including both the loaf and the gravy. Perfect!

The recipes aren’t too complicated, the ingredients are reasonable, and she gives detailed instructions and great photos.

It was my own lack of cooking habit that had to be confronted. I cooked for many years, and certainly had the tools and the expertise to put things together. Years of disuse, however, took their toll.

My first problem was pretty basic. I had gotten so bad about cooking that I never unpacked many of my cooking supplies when I moved into my current location. Hence, I had to root around in boxes looking for some elementary items like: a bowl and a loaf pan. I never did find either one, but I improvised. 

Then, there was the whole thing of actually, you know, preparing the dish. This is fundamental stuff. Chopping onions, garlic, mushrooms. Cooking lentils. Measuring spices, etc. (It took awhile, but I found my measuring spoons, yay!) We’re talking routine kitchen activities here; nevertheless, it was as if I was doing it all under water.

At any rate, I was not deterred. I actually did make the loaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy. The only thing I tweaked on the recipes was that, not having a blender around, I just used the chopped the onions and mushrooms for the gravy without blending – and actually, that is the way I would do it again.

Results? Awesome! It really turned out great. And it really is the perfect comfort meal for those wintry days.  The texture and moistness of the loaf are just right. And it really tastes yummy. If I tweaked anything, perhaps it would be just a little less thyme.  The recipe made enough loaf that it’s going to take me awhile to eat it up – which is exactly what I was hoping.

The gravy is the perfect addition, too. The flavor is there, along with the color and consistency that invites.

Thank you, A Virtual Vegan!

It was a worthwhile exercise, and I had fun doing it. I admit, though, I would never find myself doing this at the end of the day. So cooking ahead is the way to go.

So far, so good. Yum!

slow motion

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Wasn’t feeling the greatest this weekend, so my runs ended up being walks. Yesterday, in an effort to feel better, I tried mixing it up by walking more in the business area of town, but it kind of backfired on me.

The businesses, mostly closed, looked sort of dreary to me. Even the Christmas decorations looked depressing. I ended up just feeling cold and kind of unhappy. I dejectedly gave up and headed back home.

This was a complete surprise to me because, normally, getting myself in motion improves everything in my world. I couldn’t quite believe it.

As I got near home, I decided to give it one more shot by doing one of my routine routes – a route where I know every tree and bump in the road.

That did the trick. I was into it for just a few minutes when everything started clicking again. Yay!

I ended up feeling a lot better, both physically and mentally. My spirits perked up and I felt a little energized for the first time all weekend.

I think perhaps that the key was feeling a little more connected to nature. The more urban environment I tried at the start just didn’t speak to me like the trees on my regular route.  

I had a heck of a time making myself get outside at all in the first place. Feeling fatigued and just a little under the weather were great excuses to stay inside and lounge around. Nevertheless, experience has shown, time and time again, that getting in motion just plain makes me feel better – and it’s good for the soul, too.

on the clock

veru11_3_18It’s getting darker. It’s noticeable now. As autumn slowly morphs toward winter, the days are getting shorter.

And tomorrow, of course, we “fall back,” our clocks correcting the course of time in the biannual exercise that results from Daylight Saving Time.

There is nothing natural about changing our clocks, and, as far as I can tell, there is no real advantage to it either. I think the only reason we continue to go through this routine is, as in so many things, inertia. Let’s pick a time, once and for all, and stick with it.

If people perceive that time changes are needed, the logical answer is to change the schedule – not the clock.

There have been efforts. After Florida approved the Sunshine Protection Act in March this year to simply stay on DST year round, it languishes – unsurprisingly – at the federal level.  Why?

Studies have shown that our current implementation of DST results in negligible, if any, benefits in terms of saving energy – in fact, it may increase our energy usage. Of course, there are all the other supposed benefits to DST, like … hmmm, honestly, there really aren’t any, as far as I can tell. Some business sectors may see advantages to it. 

On the other hand, the practice of changing our clocks twice a year has negative impacts – mainly health and psychological. Messing with clocks messes with our circadian rhythm, hence, sleep problems which can affect, at the very least, mood. Studies are out there that show that clock changing also translates to increased risks of traffic accidents, workplace accidents, heart attacks, and strokes.

Personally, I’m not happy about the clock change we’re about to execute. I am a very early riser to begin with. This just messes with my head. Worse, this presents as sudden looming darkness just about the time I’m done working on Monday. I’d rather ease into that transition instead of having it happen overnight. You know, the way nature intended.

I assert that this is an exercise whose time has come. Why we all mutely go along with this annoying and ill-advised practice is sad and unsurprising commentary. 

Go ahead. Question authority.

I know this is small potatoes given the tremendous issues with which we are currently confronted. Nevertheless, this is also one of those instructive ones – doing what makes sense, in concert with nature instead of fighting with it, and good for everyone rather than just certain business sectors. And it’s a simple fix, for Pete’s sake.

Go ahead, pick one. DST all year round, whatever. Let’s just stop changing the clock. And, by all means, live in the now.

 

 

doubling down on healthy habits

veru10_29_18bWith the arrival of cold and wet weather, the indoor heat and all that, I lately found myself – yes – doing battle with a cold. I haven’t had one in a long, long time. And this is not how I plan to do winter.

So, I’ve been hydrating more than usual, and trying to eat a little better. I dosed up on Zicam for a couple of days. And I’ve been keeping up with the running and walking.

I suspect, though, that my defenses were down more from stress than anything else. So, there is work to be done on managing that.

The first part of managing stress is the simple recognition of my lack of control. Usually, when situations present themselves, I find myself anxiously seeking to do something, to find a way to fix things, or to at least help. But sometimes, that’s just out of my hands, and I have to accept that.

Emotional stressors that are basically outside of my control mean that my job is simply to take care of myself while providing whatever support I can. If I cannot help the situation itself, I can at least stay strong for myself and others by taking good care of myself.

I like one of Louise Hay’s affirmations, “I allow my mind to relax and be at peace.” Just saying those words, “I let my mind relax,” reminds me just to sort of loosen my futile grip on things and breathe.

The other things I can do are to try to rest, exercise, and nourish and hydrate well. Nourishment is an area where I frequently falter.

Single living makes it all too easy to be a slacker. As a pretty conscious although imperfect vegan, I rarely eat anything that doesn’t have good nutritional value. Where I do have trouble sometimes is eating at all or eating a good variety.

I have used Cronometer enough to have a very good idea of the nutritional value of the things I generally eat in a day. Cronometer is super helpful for showing you what you’re getting in terms of vitamins, minerals, carbs, protein, fats, etc. 

The big issue is cooking. I find it difficult to be inspired to cook for myself. Some days, especially now that it’s cold, I have a hard time even making myself put a salad together – and that’s often my main meal in the warm weather season.

I look up recipes to try, but when it comes right down to it, I just don’t care enough to spend time on it. This makes for some really lame meals. It’s a conundrum.

Grocery shopping is also always met with inner resistance. Thus, it is no surprise when I look about my kitchen and find a pretty paltry selection from which to put together a decent meal.

This is one area, though, that I can really work on in establishing a healthy front as we lurch towards winter.  I do not intend to tolerate ill health if there’s anything I can do about it.

Ah, what would Louise have to say right about now? I suspect, and I affirm, “I take excellent care of myself, and I enjoy wonderful health!” Or, perhaps, “I enjoy preparing nutritious meals to fuel my healthy body.” 🙂