The “V” Word

Two weekends ago I went for my second blood donation after waiting the required 56 days between each appointment and had a very bad experience after donating, which was entirely my own fault. I had scheduled an early morning appointment thinking that it would help get me in and out quickly, which it did, and everything would have been fine had I not missed my alarm. Sleeping in meant that I skipped breakfast and while the actual donation went off without a hitch, I felt like a bag of garbage afterwards. For the entire day I felt groggy and completely depleted but couldn’t force myself to eat much, opting to try and sleep it off instead, which wasn’t all that helpful. I’m not a doctor so don’t take my medical advice (seriously, don’t) but I suspect my lethargy was caused by low iron levels, which has been a problem I’ve had for years that shows up intermittently. Fortunately for me, we had scheduled a BBQ dinner with my mom that evening and D treated us to a few steaks and the next day, I felt much more like myself. While the steak I had post-donation provided a quick boost of iron and protein, it wouldn’t have been necessary had I been more conscious of my body’s needs and prepared accordingly.

For the most part, both D and I feel great subsisting on a largely plant based diet but every so often we do indulge. I was vegetarian for a number of years and even now, meat is only an occasional treat in our household, with fruits and vegetables accounting for 70-75% of our regular diet. Although we both eat (a limited amount of) meat, frustratingly one of the things we hear most often is that we should eat more of it because we need the iron and protein. The thing is, there are several plant-based options that offer both iron and protein in abundance and I would encourage everyone to incorporate them into their diets or at least explore the possibility of doing so.

A typical lunch made up of left-overs thrown together and called a salad
A typical lunch made up of left-overs thrown together and called a salad

Vegetarianism and veganism are interesting subjects, which illicit strong arguments from both sides of the spectrum, and it seems that most people have an opinion one way or the other. I’m not here to tell you what you should or should not eat, particularly when it comes to the incorporation/elimination of meat and animal products. However, if you’re thinking about making a change, I wanted to share some resources to help make the transition. Before you make any drastic changes, it’s important to do some research and see what works for you – we’re all different and we can’t all assume to share the same results. Even if you’re not ready to go all the way, including more fruits and vegetables into your diet is an important part of good health – plus there are a plethora of environmental and ethical benefits as well. There are movements such as Meat-Free Mondays which asks participants to go meat-free one day a week in an effort to reduce their carbon foot print as well as improve their health. As always, I think that life is full of nuance, so different things work for different people but if we try to work towards a more plant-based diet I think we all win in the long run – and who knows, you might be surprised by what you find.

Summertime obsession: tomato salad with crostini
Summertime obsession: tomato salad with crostini

Resources

Vegetarian Resource Group

Vegetarian Times

Toronto Vegetarian Association

Livestrong

Meat Free Mondays

Jamie Oliver – Meat Free Monday

Half Your Plate

“Good Greens” by Jane Kramer via The New Yorker

….and then this, which is completely inappropriate

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