Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy VeganMoFo!

My poor, neglected cooking blog!

Actually, I haven't neglected you. I've had a rather rough month, despite my birthday (I turned 32, which really isn't exciting but birthdays are always good!). I was going to spare you the gory details, but I think I might subject you to a few in honor of this not-about-cooking post.

This month is, apparently, the third annual VeganMoFo (Vegan Month o' Food). I remember hearing about the first two, but I've never really felt like part of any vegan communities, even online. I love to cook, and i love to eat, and i love to share cooking and eating with loved ones (and anyone who'll listen!), but I've never been very good at fitting in. So I did my own thing. This time around, I'm using it as encouragement to really pick up the pace with blogging, for a few reasons.

First, though, in case you'd like some more mofo info, you should check out this nice VegNews interview with Isa Chandra Moskowitz, as well as this *very* comprehensive list of other vegan bloggers who are participating in VeganMoFo.

So let me tell you a little about me: I have fibromyalgia and chronic back pain (due to spina bifida occulta, spondylolisthesis, two bulging discs, and osteoarthrits), all of which interfere with my life to varying degrees, even changing from day to day. It makes me annoyingly unpredictable when it comes to making plans, including simple tasks like making dinner. (Hint: you may be seeing more Rachel Ray style "30 minute meals" here in the future.) Luckily, moving to California has been really great for me, in that I've found an amazing doctor who is sending me to specialists to answer questions that have been unanswered for many years. While there are no cures for the low back pain or fibromyalgia, they can be managed, and other previously ignored issues can be addressed.

At the beginning of the month, I had to go through the unfortunate hell of a bone marrow biopsy to try and determine the cause of my elevated platelets and white blood cells. The biopsy pain triggered a fibromyalgia flareup, so I spent a good deal of time in bed. Then I got the flu (which may or may not have been H1N1). Then I got bronchitis. Then I got the results of the bone marrow biopsy: I have low iron stores in my marrow, and will need at least 6 weekly IV infusions of ferrous gluconate (iron), and then we'll re-assess the situation. As of today, I've had two iron infusions, and developed phlebitis at the IV site. Luckily, it's improving, or I wouldn't be typing so damn much right now!

Note: One of the biggest myths about veganism is that a vegan diet is low in iron and that anemia is very common among vegans. Just to be clear, my serum iron levels are normal (which is an indicator that I actually get adequate iron in my diet), and it's the iron stores in my bone marrow that are low. This is likely a genetic problem. I've had problems with anemia since I was a child, just like my mother. A genetic problem will not be cured by eating the flesh or organs from cows or other animals. This problem has been going on for so long (at least 5 years) that in order to compensate, my bone marrow started producing whatever it could to take the place of the missing iron in there, which resulted in elevated white blood cells and platelets. Good nutrition is extremely important for everyone (no exceptions!), but it's no cure for bad genes. Once these infusions get my iron stores back up, eating a healthy vegan diet with plenty of iron-rich foods and taking a vegan iron supplement should keep me away from those evil large-bore-needle-wielding hematologists.

I've decided that September 2009 was just a craptastic month all around, and now that it's October, things MUST improve!

So I'm going to improve things by writing more here. I originally set out for this to be strictly a cooking and recipe blog, but VeganMoFo (and my determination to forgive this past month) are inspiring me to write a little bit more than usual and about more than just what goes on in my kitchen. I hope you keep checking in. I promise I have some recipes in store for this month, too!

Bay area locals, you might want to check out the World Veg Festival Weekend in San Francisco!

And here's more info about today, World Vegetarian Day, kicking off World Vegetarian Month.


Lindsey said...

Yay, that is good news! I really enjoy reading your blog!
I hope the iron supplements work out for you.

Jeni Treehugger said...

Jeez - you have been through the mill lately. Here's to an awesome October and an awesome Mofo.

Vegan Epicurean said...

You didn't have a good September so that must mean October is going to be much better to make up for it. Yes, I do tend to be a little on the perky side. We have some health issues at our house too so I understand that life can stink. But it can be great if you know where to look.

The schnitzel does look tasty. I think even my German grandmother would have approved.

Happy Mofo'ing,

Lazy Smurf said...

October will be better! Happy veganmofo!

Anonymous said...

I hope October does improve for you. :)

~ Kelly

Jennifer said...

Thank you for your comments! It's so nice to connect with other vegan folks. I'm totally psyched for this awesome month of food :)