Friday, March 12, 2010

Sorry for lack of posts. I've been super busy! So going to LPSC in Houston was a bit of a vegan flop... as soon as I got there I realized I'd pretty well be starving if I didn't make some concessions. I ended up just delaying veganism for a week. however I've been back on the bandwagon since Saturday, almost one week now, and things are going great! I'm still having some issues with impulse eating cookies and things that people might happen to offer me. I'm having to teach myself to turn down most of the delicious dishes that people bring into the office once or twice a week. Bummer!

Aside from that it's going well. I have made it past the dreaded six day difficult period, and I no longer feel like I'm craving cheese all of the time. I'm about to go to the fair grounds for a craft fair so we'll see how I do there... I do love funnel cake...


Friday, February 26, 2010

Today is the second day of my vegan-ness and I'm already hitting a bunch of hang ups! UNM called me yesterday to say that the appointment I made for a physical had been canceled because the doctor was out for the day, and they can't get me in again until next week. I will be in Houston all of next week for the meeting of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference so that simply will not work. Curses! I guess I'll just have to do this without the caveat of a physical in the beginning for comparison at the end ::grumble grumble grumble::

In food news I also hit a road bump this morning. I was merrily munching on my Morning Star breakfast sausage soy patties and blackberry apple sauce when it dawned on me that those patties tasted really good. This piqued my interest, since generally things that taste really good have some kind of animal product in them.... and sure enough they have egg whites listed in the ingredients. I thought it was the same brand I bought over the summer with the "vegan" label on it, but sadly I was mistaken. This is more unfortunate because I stocked up and bought four boxes that were on sale. Now they'll just have to sit for a month.... but at least this is more encouragement to steer clear of processed foods.

The next hurdle: Houston next week. It's going to be difficult to keep pace when everyone will be going out to eat for every meal. As a lowly grad student I'll be at the mercy of the pack in terms of restaurant selection. I am thinking I'll be sticking to a lot of veggie fajitas, bean burritos, veggie plates, and salads. That's OK though. I like that this is forcing me to eat better -- though don't be mistaken, it's pretty easy to hop the Pasta Train and not incorporate any veggies. But then you feel like crap all of the time. Definitely trying to avoid that!

And I'm going to say right here that I consider beer to be vegan, even though some people don't, I'm just not willing to get rid of beer.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tomorrow: V-Day

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life (for a month). I'll be going vegan for one month to see how it affects my nitrogen isotopic signature.

The general principle in play: Plants "prefer" to munch on molecules of higher energy. The N2 molecules buzzing around in the air have different isotopes incorporated in them (it's all nitrogen, but different amounts of neutrons, thus some molecules are heavier and some are lighter even though it's the same element).

The lighter isotopes have a higher energy (because E = Mc^2), and are thus more likely to be sucked up by plant respirator pore things - yes this is the scientific language - no I am not a biologist (though I bet I had you fooled). Anyway, as plants have this tendency to suck up more and more of the light N isotope, they have compositions that are light in respect to N.

So when a bunny comes along and eats that light plant, he will eventually need to go to the potty. As the bunny goes wee wee his pee pee preferentially expels the light N, making Mr. Bunny enriched in heavy N with respect to the original plant he munched on. This process continues on up the trophic levels, until the biggest baddest carnivore in the neighborhood is extremely heavy in N with respect to the original plant - since every successive trophic level of animal which he or she eats is heavier and heavier.

This is the basic principle: vegans, people who eat no animal products, are chock full of light nitrogen isotopes from plants who love light nitrogen, where as people who were to eat only wolves and sharks would be very isotopically heavy compared to the vegan due to the natural distillation cycle in organisms who have nitrogen rich urine. Hopefully this change will be recorded in the growth of my hair so I can create a hair profile that shows my evolution. Maybe it will even show the protein binge I've been on all week in an effort to eat up all of my meats, cheese, and milk :)

So there it is. I'm going shopping this evening to Trader Joes so I can stock up on some good vegan products, grains, beans, and produce. I'm going to need to be cooking a lot to keep up with this and keep myself healthy, so please feel free to comment with any vegan recipes!

I'm also getting a physical and full blood work up done tomorrow which I will do again at the end of the month of veganism, mostly just for shits and giggles.

Wish me luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Week negative one

I've decided that as a project for my Stable Isotope Geochemistry course I'm going to use myself as a lab rat for the semester term paper that we have to write on a research project we concoct. I've read that the nitrogen isotopic signature of a vegan human is drastically different than that of an omnivorous human. As such, I think it would be a good project to see just how long it takes for my N-isotopes to turn from heavy (meat eating) to light (exclusively plant eating). I plan to use this blog as an easy way to document my progress. I will be keeping a food diary and I'm scheduled for a physical and full blood work up next week, then I'll do one at the end of the experiment. The funny thing is, completely coincidentally the first day of this month long endeavor will begin exactly one month before my dreaded comprehensive examination. So, that means that if I do well then I can reward myself with a big steak dinner (one that will probably make me sick at that point). Something to look forward to, I suppose.

The facts:
* I currently eat all manor of meat, including pork and red meat.
* I have an aversion to milk, so I'm not sure if my current isotopic state will be a bit biased in that regard, hopefully not too much because I do eat cheese.
* I'd say that my diet probably doesn't represent the average American's, as I sort of keep nutrition as a hobby so I tend to try pretty hard to incorporate the right amount of fruits/veggies in a day and I limit myself to meat at only one meal. I guess I'm not as isotopically heavy as I could be.
* We'll be using my hair to track the changes, hoping that my hair will be a nice tape recorder (I'm too squeamish to take my own blood and I think my friends who work in the lab would be grossed out if I bring in urine samples...)

That's me!

I have been vegan before. I made it about three weeks over the summer, but I was living in a progressive California town where I had easy access to many farmer's markets and the like. I currently live in Albuquerque (the Q) and will probably have a harder time with this. I remember feeling very tired and hungry all of the time, which will also be difficult because I am a graduate student with a demanding work load. Any advice on how to stave off the low iron drowsiness is welcomed!

In addition to my nitrogen isotopes, I plan to look at the change in my cholesterol, iron levels, and overall health (via a beginning and ending physical). Also, the last time I ventured into the vegan realm I noticed that my eyes changed color. With a little research I found that this was not an isolated experience, so I am going to take pictures of my eyes in the same light with the same camera settings once a week to see if my baby blues change.

I will follow up with a post about what strictly will define my diet for the next month. I have 10 days until I begin... I'm excited!