Saturday, 23 May 2009

A New Path

Yesterday our very helpful neighbor and friend, 'Farmer Joe', came by with his tractor-sized rototiller and enlarged my veggie garden plot. He also kindly tilled the pathway to the garden, so I could properly lay down the flat rocks that I was given last year, care of one of my parents' neighbors. I've had a picture in my head of how cute a rock pathway would be, with herbs growing on the side and maybe some hardy thyme or other ground cover plants in between the rocks. I actually had the energy to lay all these rocks out and dig them in, just the way I've been wanting to. They still need some adjustment, but I was able to get enough accomplished yesterday to be able to visualize my new path.

Which brings me to a story about another fairly new 'path' of mine: being a vegetarian. I've been vegetarian for about 3 years or so. While I have eaten meat about four or five times in that time frame (it was served to me and I hadn't made other arrangements in advance), my intention was and still is not to eat anything that can move about on its own. Making this choice necessitates paying attention to a few things, to ensure my nutrition is complete. Well, it turns out I've been a 'bad vegetarian' and haven't been paying attention to everything I needed to, specifically getting enough iron. This was made very clear to me when my doctor (also new) called earlier this week and said I needed an "urgent" blood transfusion, because my hemoglobin level was so low. I was mildly reprimanded by the doctor, and when at the hospital itself two days ago, I was told by the nurse I was "lucky" to be getting the transfusion. I certainly did feel somewhat guilty for taking two units of blood that should have been left available for car accident victims, or the like. It was a strange, strange day. I have since begun taking an iron supplement liquid, and I will be more diligent in taking my other vitamins as well.

I do feel better after having the transfusion - I can go up the stairs without running out of breath with a pounding heart, and yesterday I could do a morning's worth of dirt-shifting and rock-lifting without feeling drained. (It's amazing what having enough cells to carry oxygen to your heart can do!) In fact there are a lot of symptoms of iron deficiency I'm looking forward to not having any more. And there was no way I tied all these things together as being related to something like anemia - I just figured I was wimpy and had to suck it up. So, if there are any other new-ish vegetarians out there, you may want to have your iron levels checked at your next doctor's appointment!

New path, or not-so-new path, there is always, always something to learn.


Eco Yogini said...

your path looks fantastic! congrats :)

vegetarianism scares me for that very reason- my diet is so restricted as it is, I know i'd have to take a whole bunch of vitamins just to get my nutrients. It's great that you were able to figure things out before it got really serious, I'm happy that you are feeling better and able to start enjoying the summer months!

PeterC said...

G'day there,

I've been a vegetarian for several year, currently I am not, but it is surprising that your are iron deficient due to it.

Anyhow, my suggestion is to start using cast iron pots and pans to cook with. This will easily add iron to your diet. Plus you'll get hooked on how well food cooks in them, I scoffed a little when the wife bought them... I'm really hooked now and love cooking with them.

Good luck and good eating!

Theresa said...

Thanks EcoY - I can't wait to see how it looks with some greenery in the spaces in and around the rocks. :)

I am sure glad to have figured this out now, definitely. I can't believe how much better I feel. I was really concerned that there was something wrong with my heart, but within a day of the blood transfusion, all those symptoms are gone!

Hi PeterC - thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment :) Apparently from the reading I am doing, vegetarians are at risk for iron deficiency, especially women vegetarians. Thanks for the suggestion about using cast iron pans - I do have one that I use regularly and I certainly do love it! The fresh leafy greens that will soon be coming into season, like kale and chard, will certainly help boost my iron levels, especially when I cook them down in my cast iron frying pan. :)

SoapBoxTech said...

mmm nice path Lady T. I love hearing stories about neighbours helping out.

I'm glad you were able to get that transfusion!! I don't mean to criticize but I've never really understood the vegetarian thing. I have always seen as much life in that which cannot move around as in that which can. Also, to me, an omnivore eating no meat at all seems out of balance. Having said that though, so many are meat gluttons (I have been a meat glutton I must shamefully admit, although not as bad as many I know) that those who eat none may bring the overall back into balance some.

Theresa said...

Hi SBT - you make some good points. My main reason for becoming vegetarian was because I didn't want to support factory farm practices - there's a story at the very beginning of this blog that explains how that realization came around, and how profoundly it affected me, if you are curious.

Also, gastrointestinal problems run in my family and vegetarians have a lower risk of colon cancer. I know for a fact that my G.I. tract is much happier without meat in it!

My other main reason is that it seems silly and wasteful to feed plants to animals, and then feed animals to humans (at least the humans that can afford it). It is more practical, uses less energy and creates less waste to just eat the plants directly.

I like what you say about non-moving things having just as much vitality as moving things do - I can certainly agree. It's the sentient quality of the moving things that makes the difference for me. I haven't ruled out eating meat again one day, if circumstances warrant. But so far, that day hasn't arrived. :)

Heather @ SGF said...

Yeah for the new garden and I'm so glad you are finding answers to your health problems. It's frustrating to not feel well day after day and not know why. Sounds like things are starting to look up :)

Theresa said...

Thanks Heather. :) The funny thing is I knew I felt tired and poorly, but I figured it was all because I was lazy and out of shape and that's why my heart was pounding so much at the smallest effort. But I didn't feel like exercising or anything to get in better shape, because I felt so tired all the time. I'd almost stopped meditating because I was just so tired I would almost fall asleep sitting there. And then I would feel guilty for feeling that way, tell myself I had no right to be so tired, etc., etc. Guilt is a funny thing.

Heather @ SGF said...

We are pretty quick to condemn ourselves aren't we? We almost need more compassion for ourselves than others...

Theresa said...

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. :)

Theresa said...

And look what Twitter just told me was posted at Tricycle just now!

SoapBoxTech said...

It seems to me that often those who have the least reason to feel guilt actually feel the most of it, and those who have the most reason, feel the least. One of those weird universal injustices I guess. Here's hoping you keep feeling a little too much guilt and not too little! hehe

On the vegetarian conversation, I have read that post and I DO understand and respect your decision to make such a change in your existence. I probably used the wrong wording when I said I don't understand vegetarianism. I just have this little tendency to want to throw my two cents in when I don't totally agree with someone's reasoning, no matter how close their ideologies might be to my own. For the record however, I do support a person's right to eat whatever the heck they want so long as they don't eat it into extinction if there are alternatives.

I come from a very very very long line of farmers so this is an area in which I am admittedly defensive. Having said that, I always have been and always will be against the profit-only large-scale corporate mono-culture agricultural state of affairs. But I think that there have come to be a lot of misconceptions in trying to fight this system. In some parts of the world, a vegetarian diet does make more sense. The climate allows for the growth of a significant amount of vegetation year-round. But in places like we live, if we want to really reduce the energy expenditure on food, we need to eat locally. But it is very capital intensive to farm year round in our climate. So feeding a population like ours locally means eating vegetation we can store or that which is stored in the form of meat. I just don't see how the entire population of Alberta (for example) could eat locally, year-round, without consuming flesh. So I just don't see how I could agree that vegetarianism is altogether more practical.

Yes, industrial animal farming is all of those things you mentioned, but I cannot agree that small scale, local animal farming is.

By the way, I want to say that I know that you aren't attacking meat-eaters! This is probably not the right forum for a long winded and carefully researched dissertation in support of the consumption of flesh, but like I said...sometimes I just can't help but shoot my mouth off. It's only out of respect and caring tho! I promise.

Theresa said...

Thanks SBT as always for your thoughtful an considered 'two cents' :)

I hadn't really thought of animals as being vegetable 'storage' before - hm. I probably have a tendency to romanticize animals more than most - the fact that they have no capacity for evil (i.e., intentionally causing suffering for their own gain and/or enjoyment)like humans do really elevates them in my eyes (perhaps irrationally). I'm not convinced humans are the 'highest' life form on the planet, so eating animals has become more and more an anathema to me over time.

It does make sense to eat in the way that's the most practical and sustainable for one's local area. Small scale animal farming may well be a good idea for Alberta, for the reasons you cite. I welcome the day when that would be the dominant mode of agriculture in this province/country. I may still not eat any of the meat produced that way, but it would surely be a vast improvement over the way things are done now!

Ok, time to get out there and finish seeding my garden :)

EJ said...

I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years (a bit of fish maybe once a month or less). Never had any problems with anemia until I had fibroids. Fibroids gone now and so is anemia.

Theresa said...

What are fibroids? Wait a minute...googling...ah, small benign uterine tumors. The new doctor has me scheduled for a complete physical in the next couple weeks, so I will ask about this - thank you very much EJ.