Animals and Difficult Choices

9C842167-2D3B-4475-B401-1DE46D5D3EB0

Wow! The circus animals depicted on the Animal Crackers box have been freed into their African habitat. How wonderful! I may have resumed eating some beef and chicken for reasons I will explain, but my love and concern for all beings remain very strong.

For about 10 years I have been a fervent, even strident, vegetarian, a large part of that time as a vegan. I eschewed silk, leather and honey. And then my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and it turned our world up side down. And the Universe brought a number of people and articles into our awareness about a radical new treatment for AD. It’s called the ReCODE Protocol devised by UCLA neurologist Dale Bredesen, MD. We scoffed at first, but I did some research and also asked a clinician who treats AD if it was snake oil or just plain bullshit. She assured me it was legit, adding that a member of the medical staff had presented on it and said it was the real deal. The initial study included only 10 subjects but nine showed significant reversal of their cognitive decline after following the protocol. Dr. Bredesen has proposed a larger study and is awaiting approval by the UCLA institutional review board.

The ReCODE Protocol consists, in a nutshell, of a gluten-free diet that induces mild ketosis, fasting, and individually tailored supplements following extensive blood work and genetic testing, and medication. So I began preparing three meals a day for him following the protocol, and we had to find sources of grass fed beef and pastured chicken and eggs, and wild caught fish (except large fish such as tuna, shark, swordfish because of the mercury in their tissues). This ketogenic way of eating is important to reducing the environment in the body conducive to AD symptoms.

We found grass-fed ground beef at our local supermarket and I made a meatloaf. Pinterest has great ketogenic recipes and I found a winner. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed beef until this meatloaf was cooking. It was delicious. Then we went to a farm here in northeast Pennsylvania that sells grass-fed and grass-finished beef (some grassfed cattle are sent to standard feedlots to be fattened before slaughter) and bought a chuck roast and a brisket. When the chuck roast was cooking, the aroma was amazing, and it was fork tender and very tasty. I asked the farmer how they were raised and slaughtered, and he assured me both were humane. “They’re my babies,” he said. “I take them there myself. It’s done humanely. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A local heath food store sells organic pastured chicken and organic, unpastured and uncured chicken sausages. I began making jerk chicken in the crockpot, another winner. I still eat vegetarian sausages because I like them. I serve his and mine with sauerkraut. Fermented foods are strongly encouraged, and I make mashed cauliflower with pastured butter and organic miso which make it creamy and tasty, and miso is fermented. We also make zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice. I steam a head of organic cauliflower at least once a week, and I also make cauliflower home fries to serve him with his morning eggs. It’s a high fat diet, and we use avocados and olive oil dressings, and I cook with lots of avocado oil, coconut oil, and pastured ghee and butter. I prepare salmon patties using wild caught canned salmon mixed with Old Bay seasoning, chopped onion and green pepper, plus one egg, which makes four patties that he loves. One with veggies is usually enough, but sometimes he has two.

We found a doctor who was trained by Dr. Bredesen to treat my guy and she is helping us refine his plan according to the testing. He has lost a lot of weight, so she added brown rice, millet and quinoa to his diet. He is to eat a whole avocado daily. I was eventually too busy and stressed to keep preparing for two very divergent food plans, so I began eating meat again and maybe I was weak, but I’m at peace with it. I also have lost about 12 pounds after adding beef and chicken. Doing so has sped up my weight loss and moved me to within about 10 pounds of my goal.

So I’m so happy Nabisco changed the Animal Crackers box to reflect the reality that the circus has closed and the animals have been released to humane sanctuaries. I have gratitude for the animals who end up on our plates. I hope those who remain vegetarian and vegan will understand my decision to leave the fold. If not, be glad you don’t have to make the kinds of changes we have made in our lives to accommodate and hopefully reverse the cognitive decline of AD. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. The future is uncertain for all of us. But for us it is scary.

Namasté

Signature

Sad News About Missing Man

Missing liam

Some time ago, I reposted my friend Xenia Tran’s blog post about a man from Scotland who went missing after a bachelors party in Hamburg, Germany. Here’s a link to today’s post, and it contains a link to her original post.

Haibun: Missing in Hamburg

Life brings us all heartaches and bad news. We’ve had both in our lives of late. We got a devastating diagnosis with no hope for a cure, and my dear uncle’s wife has died. We can’t go to the funeral because of our own health drama currently unfolding, but we sent cards and expressed our love and condolences. Despite this sadness and concern we feel for ourselves and our immediate and extended family, we are able to feel deeply for others, and doing so is very important and even healing for us.

Our hearts go out to Liam’s family and his friends.

With much love,

and gratitude for our many blessings,

Signature

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 32

IMG_0475

Another week has passed since I began this weekly blog, 32 weeks in all so far. What do we know? Plenty, and you can learn all about it on your Apple News feed, Flipboard, Twitter, Facebook, television news, local or national newspaper (paper or digital) or whatever reliable source you prefer. Even late night talk shows often give important information. Please support real journalism, the kind that is well-researched, fact-based, honest, and a crucial pillar of our Democracy. Too many are getting all their news from non-journalistic sources such as extremist websites and blogs. We all deserve to exercise our rights to knowledge and truth.

IMG_0477

“Anger” from Pixar’s “Inside Out”

What do we do when we are forcefully misunderstood, misheard, misattributed, falsely accused, or otherwise blasted with anger by another? A knee-jerk reflex is to hit back in like anger. Oh, yeah? Did not! You’re wrong! What’s the matter with you? So how do we avoid the knee-jerk response? First, consider the context of the comment. Despite our first defensive reaction, we may find a grain or more of truth in what is being hurled at us so angrily. Have we offended the other person? If so, do we need to make amends? It may help to re-explain our position, decision, or perhaps even reshape our plans. Even if the accusations are totally baseless, blasting back angrily solves nothing and only pours more fuel on the bonfire.

IMG_0476

Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who is believed to have predated both Confucius and the Buddha, offers us four simple rules of personal conduct that can soften the hardest heart if the willingness exists:

  • Reverence for all Life
  • Gentleness
  • Natural Sincerity
  • Supportiveness

Try them, they really work!

The beautiful glass sculptures above are the creations of Artful Ashes, a company taking a tablespoon or so of a loved one’s ashes (human or animal) and incorporating them into small works of art. I stumbled on this on Pinterest and was surprised at how lovely they are. The white swirl is created by the ashes, and on the website they explain how carefully they track your sample to make sure the one you get contains the ashes you sent in.

I’ve been waiting for just the right week to end my post with this poignant tune by Paul McCartney. I bought the album “Memory Almost Full” years ago but had forgotten this song until I heard it recently when the Phillies honored the members of the team who have passed since their last Alumni Day. It really touched me.

Namasté

img_0154