Day 1 – the Vegan Decision

My husband, Mark, came home a few weeks ago and announced that he would like to cut animal products, dairy, and oil out of his diet.  That hit like a lead brick; I had just returned from the grocery store and purchased about a month’s worth of meat.

Mark recently read a book touting the benefits of eating only vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes. He said he wanted to get healthier and live longer so he could spend more quality time with me.  Now who can argue with that reasoning?

Being the good wife that I am I through the meat in the freezer and jumped on the band wagon.  Being the intelligent omnivore I knew that I could get my “meat fix” when Mark was out of town on business.  I’m not a fan of any diet that cuts out complete food groups but I want to make my husband happy and was looking forward to starting better eating habits.  And so our journey from meat eaters to vegans began.

I spent hours combing through recipes on the internet; I went to the store and shopped some more – this time in the produce department – and started vegan meal planning.  The problem I ran into is that eating vegan is dull as dirt.  Cut half of the food out of your diet and everything starts tasting the same.

 

Food for thought

My husband and I eat primarily vegetarian.  I say “primarily” because we do eat the occasional meat dish.  We started on a vegetarian diet to save calories and increase our vitamin intake.  We have nothing against meat; we have just elected to eliminate most meat from our diet.  I say this to support my commentary on vegetarians; my questions about eating meat.

Should we get our protein from plants like our common ancestor, the apes?  Apes eat plants as well as insects.  Is that their version of meat?  Do apes have the same dietary, specifically protein, requirements as humans?  And why do apes have fat little bellies?  I’m just not so sure I want to structure my diet after an ape’s diet.

How do we explain our canine teeth as the strongest teeth in our bodies?  They are made for eating meat.

Do we have a physiological need for meat?  Why do we feel the necessity to form our vegetables to look like meat?  I constantly find recipes that include “soy meat crumbles,” or explain how to form a vegetarian mixture to look like a hamburger.  Even spice mixtures that mimic the taste of meat are omnipresent in vegetarian recipes.  So if we, as humans, should eat a natural plant based diet, why do we need to fool our eyes, taste buds, and bodies into thinking we’re eating meat?

Yes, most Americans eat too much meat and lack the essential nutrients found in fresh vegetables. We also eat too much fat, sugar, and processed foods.  We eat a host of empty calories, and are way too sedentary.  Does this support a vegetarian diet or simply a need to adjust our diet to be better-rounded and include more fresh food varieties?

I’m glad that my husband suggested that we cut down on meat.  I know enough about nutrition to get protein from plants, beans, and other non-meat foods.  But these questions still plague my mind.

Are humans natural meat eaters?

 

 

 

 

Politics

I’m not extremely political.  I don’t follow politics with intensity but I get the basics and try to vote using sound intelligent facts.  I don’t blindly believe political ads or campaign speeches, nor do I believe everything that is posted online; online postings may follow inaccurate trends and rumors.  So what’s a person to do?  Who do you believe?

To the best of my ability, calculating in my own time constraints, I take in as much information as possible, deciding on issues that are the most important to the country and me personally.  Then I research all sides of an issues (there may be more than 2 sides) to determine how I feel, where I feel the delegates stand., and why.

One thing always rings clear with me, a candidate that appears to be grossly misrepresenting him or herself is a red flag that may be serious flaws the way they represent issues.

One of these red flags, for me, is Barack Obama.  He’s nice looking, charismatic and says what people want to hear which gets him far.  This, in itself, is not a red flag.  But I don’t trust him.  I want to trust my President.  After all he is, arguably, the most powerful man in the world; at least the free world.

My red flag began to wave when I first paid attention to Obama 5+ years ago.  He claimed to be African-American.  Documentation of his actual ethnic background demonstrates Mr. Obama is not an “African-American” as defined in United States law. This research was initiated by a request from a daily news publication of international reputation in New York City.  I am NOT calling him a lair based on technical legalities.  My problem is that he stood beside his obviously-white grandmother, claiming to be African-American.  It just didn’t add up.  So I did my research.

Documenting his father’s genealogy, the study from the news publication referred to above, indicates Sen. Obama is actually Arab-American. The significance of this is that “the soul and substance of Mr. Obama’s claim to fame” rest entirely on his being “the first” African-American to reach certain achievements. If Mr. Obama is not legally an African-American, then his claims collapse. While there may still be historic firsts, for example, being the first Arab-American to be the president of the Harvard Law Review, those claims are not the star-appeal of his entire political life, and the basis of his current celebrity star status.

Every ancestor on his father’s side has an Arabic name, because his father was officially classified as “Arab African” by the Kenyan government.  100% African tribal members of western Kenya where his father was born have Christian names, not Arabic. His father’s decision to name him with an Arabic name is a matter of his father establishing his ethnic identity in Africa – it is done deliberately to ethnically separate from the African tribes. Researching his roots reveal that on his father’s side, he is descended from Arab slave traders. They operated under an extended grant from Queen Victoria, who gave them the right to continue the slave trade in exchange for helping the British defeat the Madhi Army in southern Sudan and the Upper Nile region. Funny how circular is history; now the British again face the Madhi Army, albeit this time Shiite, not Sunni, as in nineteenth century Sudan.

This does not make him an Arab.  Barack Obama may or may not be of Arabic decent, it made sense to review a few generations of family members.  Caucasian mother and maternal grandmother; Black Father.  The government can legally classify him any way they want to but Barack Obama is of mixed race – period.

Frankly I really don’t care if he’s African-American, or Arab-American, or a little green man.  It just irritates me that he’s claiming something he’s not.  I wish he would embrace his mixture.  I feel it’s much more significant that the United States, the melting pot of the world, can look past the stereotypes of mixed-race couples and embrace this man as a leader of our great country.  To me this says far more positive things about the American people than having a ‘black’ president.

I would not vote for or against anyone based on race, looks, gender, or even charisma.  I happen to disagree with Obama’s political views and vision for our country.  But I could be proud of our country for seeing past someone’s looks and electing the first mixed-race President IF he would embrace it.

I wonder sometimes if mixed-race couples, or their children feel that Barack Obama has denied them recognition of their identity.  Perhaps they should.

Hiking Hawaii

Hiking Waimea Canyon, Kawai, Hawai

Waimea Canyon

Hiking Waimea Canyon

Our first hike was Waimea Canyon, one of the world’s most scenic canyons, and part of Wiamea Canyon State Park. At 3,000 feet (914 m) deep, Waimea Canyon is often referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” This canyon is certainly greener than the Grand Canyon and not as big but the reference is obvious.  I never expected to find a canyon like this in Hawaii.  We hiked up and down the trail until we crossed a pass along the edge of the canyon where we could look out over it’s vast beauty.  Then continued on to a lush waterfall flowing into a small pond.  Almost completely surrounded by trees and greenery, we crawled and snaked our way forward until we had a close up view.  It was well worth the effort.

Hanakapi'ai Falls, Kawai, HI

Hanakapi'ai Falls, Kawai, HI

Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail

The next day we tackled an  8 mile trail; 4 mile in and 4 miles out.  The first 2 miles were difficult, the last two were strenuous.  The first 2 miles followed the typical up and down pattern of many trails.  It was steep and rocky but groomed.  Somewhat wet and muddy in spots from the serious rains that plagued Kawai the week before we arrived.  At the end of the this section was a beautiful beach. The surf made swimming in the ocean too dangerous, but crossing the wide mouth of a waterfall we slipped on the rocks dipping our shoes into the cold water.  It was unintentional but felt good all the same.

The next two miles were increasingly uphill and rocky.  Crawling over rocks, crossing several riverbeds, and loosing the trail several times made the hike slow and hot.  But the final destination was well worth the trip culminating at a 300 Ft Waterfall.