Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Go, Dad, Go! - A Timeline of Dad's Cure from Diabetes

I am super proud of my father, who joined me on this vegan journey a few months ago and yesterday accomplished a major health goal. Here's what happened:

March 14 - Dad and I attended a screening of Forks Over Knives. Impressed by the scientific health information, Dad gets off the fence and decides to give this crazy vegan thing a try.

March 24 - Dad's first visit to Whole Foods, finding ingredients for a recipe from the Happy Herbivore cookbooks.

March 26 - I get a call at work for assistance in locating the tahini in my kitchen. Dad's first experiment with making hummus, or as I like to call it, vegan manna. Welcome to the club, Dad!

March 27 - The doctor delivers the bad news: Dad's recent bloodwork shows he's progressed from pre-diabetes into full-blown Type 2 diabetes. 

March 28 - I order Dad a copy of Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs. Dad reads it the minute it arrives, as well as visiting a doctor-recommended dietitian.

April 2 - I hack Dad's Facebook account and force him to "Like" This Dish is Veg and the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart. Positive reinforcement!

April 7 - Dad's first journey into the wild world of quinoa. He's tried all the colors!

April 16 - Dad buys swim trunksjoins a gym, and starts water walking several days a week.

May 27 - Dad talks me into attempting to feed Mom my vegan lasagna. After he allays her fears of it possibly containing tofu, she kinda likes it. I credit Dad for moxie.

June 22 - Mom, who seemed dubious at first but has been supportive nonetheless, buys Dad an industrial size package of veggie burgers at BJ's. There is no surer sign that she approves of his new healthier lifestyle.

June 23 - Dad accompanies me on my typical Saturday circuit of farmer's market, Whole Foods, & Publix. Afterwards, he still finds the energy to go to the gym! (Later, find tired Dad eating peas for dinner. Introduce him to the glorious world of quick-cooking grains with some tomato lentil couscous.)

June 25 - Dad gets his test results from the doctor -- he is no longer diabetic!


Dear readers, as to what's next for my dad, he'll shortly be launching a new blog about public health and food safety issues related to bacteria, and hopes to start a nonprofit organization to fight for better answers to this issue. Stay tuned for news about that!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Not dingoes, just birds: a tale of defending babies

Last week while I was out photographing the hatchlings, something happened that made me very sad. But in telling the story to my husband, I learned to look at it differently. I wanted to share that story with you, dear reader.

I was sitting on the boardwalk with my camera poised to snap a baby blackbird when its mother came back to the nest to feed it.

All through the mudflats behind the nest, black-necked stilts and gallinules were watching over their chicks as they wandered about, testing their little legs, pecking at bugs.

Mama stilt and her chicks
Mama gallinule and her ugly little babies

Suddenly, there was a ruckus. All the mamas were screeching - gallinule and stilt. I figured that a gallinule had wandered too close to a stilt's nest, because even though they are nesting in the same area, they battle each other back if they get too close. But when I looked up, it turned out that wasn't it at all.

This part isn't pictured because it all happened too fast, and I was just stunned. An egret was on the flats, stalking for prey. The egret zipped into a gallinule's nest and grabbed a tiny newborn in its beak, then took off in flight. The gallinules tried to pursue it, but they aren't swift birds. There was no hope they would catch the egret.

The stilts, even though they are constantly fighting over territory with the gallinules, took off in defense of the baby gallinule. Three of them left their own chicks behind to give chase. They dive-bombed the egret, trying to get it to drop the baby.

Soon they were out of sight, and I can only assume they failed to stop the egret. I was so shaken, so upset at the savagery of nature as I left the park. But later, as I relayed the story to my husband, I realized how amazing it was to see the maternal instinct cross those territorial barriers. How marvelous it was to watch those stilts - tiny, adorable birds, easily only a quarter of the egret's size - turn into bold fighters in defense of another species' chick.

Almost all animals have that in common - we love our children. Many will recognize and protect children of other species as well. In the end, all of this serves to make me glad that I am no longer an 'egret'  eating other species children, but a 'stilt' working to protect them!