By Jeffrey the Barak.
Where’s the steak?
I am currently able to announce that I am a “wheat-free vegan”. Does this mean that I am being trendy, or latching onto the latest health fad? Well yes, but that is not why I am a wheat-free vegan.
I have selfish reasons for eating this way, and also a semi-pretentious altruistic reason.
Through trial and error, discomfort and pain, I have found that some foods contain things that have unwelcome effects upon me.
Wheat, which is what white flour, brown flour, and most processed foods are made of, is something that for myself in particular, causes bloating, gas, stomach acid, and other unmentionable horrors. Wheat feeds the world in most places, maybe not in China or the Amazon basin, and that is fine, for the world, but not for me. I would rather be comfortable.
Dairy. After a decade or so of cutting out wheat, I discovered that milk, and milk products were the remaining assassin on my well being. I was a cappuccino addict, and a breakfast cereal afficianado. Cutting out dairy made an instant difference.
Without wheat or dairy, I feel great, almost all of the time.
So that leaves meat. Cattle meat, chicken meat, salmon meat. All meat. I cannot say that meat was making me sick. It honestly was not. But it is making the planet sick, and I live here. The environmental impact of the animal-food industry is immense. But there are also two other things to consider, firstly, the link between meat consumption and disease, such as cancer. And secondly, although this would be first of you were a chicken, we are killing these mammals, birds and fishes in order to feed ourselves. So there is a moral side to it also.
So as a wheat-free vegan I can hold my head high and walk through Whole Foods Market feeling superior to the other aging hippies who still buy bread and meat and milk. But I don’t. It is not my business to tell people what to do. They have to think for themselves.
Some, like me, will suffer for decades until they get wise enough to try cutting out wheat or dairy, as a control experiment, for a week or so, and they will never learn about the mess that the meat business makes in the world. Not my job to preach.
How strict am I? I cannot change the world, but I can make choices. If I am in a Thai restaurant and everything is cooked with fish sauce, I overlook it for that meal. If I am in a vegan Indian place and there is yogurt in the curries, I overlook that for that meal. It won’t kill me, and those little fishes are already dead and the cow is already milked. But I eat most meals at home, and I stick to it.
Yesterday I had a pizza. The crust was wheat-free, the cheese was fake, and it was delicious. Not very healthy, but it was just one meal. Normally I load up on veggies, which seem to fix a lot of issues.
Update, August 2019
I was strictly vegan for two years but I began to have health issues, probably as a result of the foods I was eating in large quantities to stay full and obtain protein.
First I will talk about fatigue. It was becoming extreme, and while I knew it might have been a thyroid imbalance, I also knew I was perhaps a little protein deficient. So I had a filet of salmon and I genuinely felt energized.
Since then I have had a piece of fish once every two to four weeks and it has made a difference. Apologies to the salmon of the world, but I am again contributing to your misery and servitude.
And then there was that week in Paris. While there I ate in restaurants that certainly used animal fats in the cooking process, and I also ate a ramekin of scrambled eggs at one breakfast because I just had to get some food energy. Sorry hens.
Back home in Hawai’i I am back to the vegan menu, but occasionally I get that salmon protein. I think that I just need to.
But part of my illness that was for a while making me dread taking that trip to Europe, was something else. Too much garlic, too many onions, too much cruciferous vegetables, and too many beans. I addressed this with the low FODMAP diet. Very restrictive for a wheat-free vegan, but what a pleasure it was to spend the time on my long flights in my seat and not in the tiny bathroom. Really, it was, and is, life-changing relief. But that’s for another article.