Nutritiony Things I Have Learned #1

Join me today, won’t you, for the glorious first installment of…

NUTRITIONY THINGS I HAVE LEARNED!

Today’s topic? Protein.

So, protein deficiency is the thing most people worry about when it comes to vegans and vegetarians, and yet most of us probably can’t think of anyone we know (or have even heard of) who has actually been medically diagnosed as “protein deficient.” And that’s because as it turns out, the only time we really see protein deficiency is when someone isn’t eating enough – when they’re literally not getting enough calories.

When that happens, the body burns the amino acids of protein for energy instead of using them to rebuild body tissue like it’s supposed to. In the past, people looked at this and thought, “Ah, that person needs more protein!” or “Ah, that person needs a better source of protein!” but it was actually just a case of the person not getting enough calories. If you’re eating enough calories, you’re almost definitely getting enough protein.

In fact, it’s actually more likely that you’re getting too much protein – which, despite what your aggressive Paleo friend might tell you, is a real thing. When the body gets more protein than it needs, those extra amino acids are just kinda floating around in the bloodstream with nothing to do. The body sends them to the liver, where they’re split into two bits – a bit with nitrogen and a bit without. <–(Very scientific terminology)

The bit without can be used as a potential source of calories, since it’s usually made up of sugar or fat, and the bit with nitrogen…well, it becomes ammonia. Ammonia, as you might imagine, is not the optimal thing to have in your liver, so the liver tries to dilute it by flooding itself with liquid – blood, as it happens.

The liver becomes engorged while doing this (and I realize as I type this that “engorge” is one of the grossest words ever, eclipsing even “moist”), and the ammonia is slowly converted into something that can be sent down to the kidneys to be disposed of in the urine. The kidneys are likewise enlarged by this, and so you have both the liver and kidneys working overtime and getting generally stressed out. Short-term, this isn’t too big of a big deal, but when you’re consistently eating too much protein? It increases the likelihood of kidney or liver failure in later life by, like, a lot. <–(More science.)

ADDITIONALLY! Having extra amino acids in the blood tends to acidify it, and the body deals with this by dissolving some bone to alkalize the whole too-much-acid situation. So not only does eating too much protein stress out your liver and kidneys, it actually depletes your bones – which is probably why the places in the world with the highest protein consumption also have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

SO, YES. The next time someone asks you, “Where do you get your protein?” take them by the hand, give them the most concerned and patronizing look possible, and say, “I get more than enough protein simply by eating the daily recommended amount of calories for a person of my age and general body type. Is it possible that YOU, my dear comrade and companion, are getting too much protein and this could lead to me having to use the word ‘engorge’ in a sentence? Because nobody wants that.”

This entry brought to you by the fact that I was interested in taking a plant-based nutrition e-course but it was too damn expensive so I am now just reading the textbooks. :P

In which my heart is soft and squishy

So, yeah, if you want to break down crying over a story about a friendly beaver named Chopper, have I got a book for you!

I’ve heard so many people say that this book is the reason they went vegetarian or vegan, and now that I’m reading it, I can see why. It puts into words things I’ve felt but never been able to express, and it also does this awesome thing where it grabs my poor little heart and pries it open and pours All the Feelings inside. I’m not sure how it would affect someone who isn’t already soft and squishy in the emotions department, but it’s a very good book if you’re ready to look some very uncomfortable stuff straight in the face and decide how you honestly feel about it.

It’s weird: There are so many stories we tell ourselves to justify how we treat animals, and I can remember telling them to myself, too, for so many years. And then when I finally decided to stop doing that and live in accordance with my actual beliefs, I felt such an immense sense of relief, like I was finally doing what I should’ve been doing all along. It was like coming out, to a certain degree, in that I was finally allowing myself to live in a way that felt natural and right to me.

Anyway. Ramble, ramble, heartfelt confessions, ramble, ramble. This is a good book, animals are awesome, and I hate that we hurt them for stupid reasons. The end. <3

In which sleep deprivation causes rambling and random discussions on sexuality

Greetings and salutations, internet!

I opened this tab with the fervent intention of writing a brilliant blog entry that would live forever as an example of my scintillating wit and talent, but my body has reminded me that I’ve been up since 2 AM and attempting to create anything “brilliant” is just not likely to happen.

So! Here is a decidedly un-brilliant blog entry, for your possible (?) enjoyment.

 

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On Chosen and queer lady vegans

Greetings, friends. Today I found myself faced with a truly monumental decision: Should I watch The Jeffersons marathon or the Supermarket Sweep marathon?

Sometimes life is hard.

In other news, I’ve been doing some work on Chosen (also knows as the LGBTQ fantasy epic I’ve been chipping away at since approximately the age of the dinosaurs), attempting to inject some more action and awesomeness into the book. It’s going pretty well so far, and I’ve also done another experimental gender-switch and transformed the main love interest, Nicholas, into a female character who is primarily attracted to women. This wasn’t something I planned, but it makes her romance with Kaine (biologically female but male by every other definition) all the more interesting and complex, and also ups the number of main female characters.

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Vegan Learning Curve

There are lots of things I’m learning as a relatively new vegan. One of them, sadly, is that you can’t show people what they don’t want to see.

In my innocent youth, I always thought of the dairy and egg industries as being pretty benign, just a bunch of happy cows and chickens roaming around on the picturesque farms shown on the milk cartons. When I found out the truth – which I won’t go into here, but feel free to Google “egg industry” or “dairy industry” if you never want to sleep again – I was pretty horrified. “Appalled” would be a good word to describe it, in fact. And I thought, “Do people know about this? People can’t possibly know about this or they’d be as horrified and appalled as I am!”

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Actual recipe! Chocolate-Date Pie.

Greetings! I’ve been half-awake for most of the morning, but I’ve still managed to teach some lessons, correct some homework, and do some cooking. As the cooking was actually successful, I thought I would include a recipe here, more so because the creation I speak of actually did not come from someone else’s recipe, and instead came from the depths of my fevered, chocolate-craving mind:

CHOCOLATE DATE PIE OF AWESOMENESS

Ingredients:
-Medjool dates (4 or 5 = good)
-Cocoa powder (I just dumped some in, but uh, a tablespoon or so?)
-Vanilla extract, a few drops (optional but delicious)
-Store-bought mini (vegan) pie crust, because ain’t nobody got time for that
-1 can of unsweetened “classic” coconut milk
-Sweetener of some kind (agave, maple syrup, whatevs)

1. Put dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract in a food processor. Turn it on! Process! Hooray. (You can also add a little almond milk for a creamier texture.)
2. Refrigerate can of coconut milk (preferably overnight – should this be the first step? :P), then strain and scoop out the creamy chunk at the bottom. Blend with sweetener until it tastes…ya know. Sweet.
3. Smush the date chocolate stuff into the pie crust, top with coconut whipped cream (and a sprinkle of almonds or pecans, if you like that sort of thing), and then dig in.

Delicious stuff, totally vegan, and somewhat less guilt-inducing than a traditional chocolate pie.