Vegan Puerto Rican
As if this year wasn’t tough enough with the loss of my beautiful mother, a few weeks ago I went to the hospital and got an ultrasound of my kidneys. Turns out, I have the same disease that took my mother from me. Polycystic Kidney Disease is hereditary and there is a 50% chance of your kids developing it. So I developed it. This means that my genes have sent a signal to my tubules to develop cysts that are non-removable in BOTH kidneys. The disease does not attack just one, it always attacks both kidneys.
In the end, unless some miracle happens and the cysts shrink on their own or disappear my only hope of leading a healthy/normal life is by transplant (which doesn’t happen til the kidneys are usually below 15% functionality) or by dialysis. Dialysis is extremely hard on the body. My mother surviving on dialysis for 19 years is a god damn miracle.
All this to say, that the best thing one can do a a PKD sufferer is go vegan. High protein diets are TERRIBLE for the kidneys, especially MY kidneys. Animal products are not good at ALL. Salt is terrible as well, and one of my vices…CHEESE is the worst of all. All animal protein and salt! damn it.
Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that I was a HUGE meat eater, cheese eater and I loved me some fatty, juicy animal proteins. So this switch was a strange one for me, but it happened from one day to the next. That’s right, the day I was diagnosed was the day I went vegan. July 10th, 2009.
But you know what? Even though this choice was not an ethical one or a socio-political one, I have to say it has opened up an entire world for me. I will go so far as to say that I actually TASTE more now. I think all that delicious umami from amazing meat products was masking other stuff. I feel physically more energized, I sleep like a stone, wake up really early and have way more energy through out the whole day. My mind is way clearer and I can eat a lot of food without feeling like I am gonna pass out or be rolled to the car. I have eaten varieties of fruits and vegetables I wouldn’t have touched prior to the diagnosis. My wife has been amazing enough to join me in the diet when she doesn’t have to. It’s been an interesting thing so far, because I am guilty of not understanding the whole concept of veganism prior to this. But I am going to say this, and I may get shit for it…I feel like more of a foodie by being vegan, because there is WAYYYYYYY more out there, culturally and other food-wise than just a good smoked beef/roasted pork/juicy bacon or what have you.
It’s approaching food in a way of truly fueling your body and mind, not just enjoying a salty/fatty piece of meat for enjoyment’s sake. In Hindu they believe that being vegan brings you closer to true life, as you are eating directly from the sun…the true source of life.
Believe me, I enjoy eating as much as I ever have, but there is a weird sense of truly tasting things in a way I have never really experienced before. I am not the type to turn down food at say Mae’s grandfolks’ house, or any other get together where it may be difficult to be vegan. I don’t believe in that, I believe if someone offers you food, and the only food they have is non-vegan it is right to take it and enjoy it because it is the fruit of their labor. There is some getting used to (veganism) by folks of an older generation for sure, especially in the midwest! I was wrong all those years for thinking vegans didn’t really enjoy or appreciate food. This will teach me! I’m puerto rican, roasted pork is in my BLOOD. But this has been a test for me, and I know that when it comes to my health/well being and prolonging the already shortened life I have…well, I don’t really have much of a choice do I?