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DELORIS KOAN | It’s not really about the food, it’s about everything

This 230 gram pile of carefully mixed nuts will provide your unhealthy scribe with their (subs: corr) correct daily dose of protein. It was drawn up by a local highly qualified nutritionist.
VEGAN PROTEIN BOMB: This 230 gram pile of carefully mixed nuts will provide your unhealthy scribe with their (subs: corr) correct daily dose of protein. It was drawn up by a local highly qualified nutritionist.
Image: DELORIS KOAN

I am at home feeling grumpy and gorgeous.

My kitchen scale — paid for by a special someone who thinks I look good, but could be “healthier” — reveals that to get the right amount of protein from the vegan system I must eat 250g of nut mix.

Firstly, that is a hellsa pile of nuts, the scale reveals.

I am, in more ways than one, now eating nuts, and not the even bigger pile of meat and dairy I devoured prior to that fateful Christmas Day 2023.

That is the day I said farewell to my friend at Bay Liquor who makes the best biltong at the best prices in Beacon Bay, and the Gonubie Country Butcher, where I am friendly with the owner and staff (though he still has lekker plant stuff there so maybe not.)

In the wonderful lyrics penned by Eddie Vedder in that haunting elegy to profit-driven America, “Society, you’re (a) crazy breed. I hope you are not lonely without me.”

Vedder, lead vocalist for rockers Pearl Jam, scored the soundtrack to Into the Wilds, which dramatises the journey of Chris “Alexander Supertramp” McCandless, 24, who burns his car and money and hits the road on the most destitute and freeing of journeys.

Jon Krakauer, one of the greatest outdoor writers of our times, penned a book of that same title, recording with great sensitivity and insight Chris’s route finally to death, apparently by plant misidentification and starvation, trapped in a bus in Alaska.

I’d always quipped that McCandless could have been a better wild camper, but this is possibly unfair since Krakauer did an enormous scientific somersault when challenged about his toxic plant reportage, and discovered that the plant the young extreme traveller staked his diet on, which was the roots of alpine sweetvetch (Hedysarum alpinium) or Eskimo potato, did indeed possess a deadly, predator-fighting toxin, L-canavanine.

McCandless, already down to a meagre diet, ate a lot of the potatoes’ seeds, and was apparently highly susceptible to the antimetabolite amino acid, LL-canavanine, of which levels of toxicity in the seed varied depending on the season.

This toxin was very similar in structure to the infamous and vicious neurotoxin beta-N-oxalyl-L-alpha-beta, or ODAP.

ODAP, Kraukauer discovered from the papers of Jewish WW 2 concentration camp prisoner, Dr Arthur Kessler and others, was baked into a bread for the Russian Vapniarca camp inmates by a racist officer.

Dubbed “the silent fire”, the effects were devastating, and long-lasting if not impossible to reverse.

Kessler spent his life in Israel trying to reverse the incapacitating effects of lathyrism on victims of the Vapniarca mass poisoning.

Yeah, it can be dangerous being vegan! But my nutritionist has all under control and I can report, as a hearty meat-craving good old Eastern Cape boy, that ... I am suddenly floating.

My 2am asthma seems to have dissipated, but that is probably more to do with cutting out as many preservatives and additives as possible when grazing only plants.

I am most definitely a most different person. Do I crave meat? No.

What do I crave? It’s so odd, but all the sharpness of craving has been blunted. From rip, tear and lacerate, all I want to do is gently graze.

And even during a mega-epic river swim with my China Vicky Schlimper, just the two of us doing 3km up wild Gonubie river in static water, there was no glucose collapse.

Just a low-level weariness, maybe hunger, which was quite manageable and quite exciting!

Post-Covid swims used to be done with high-sugar chocolate stuffed in my swim trunks in case I spiked and fell.

My duck buds hosed themselves as I stuffed my face hundreds of metres from the Nahoon shoreline, then tucked the plastic wrapping in my lycra broeks.

Health is a moerse thing now, people. We have been forced through the wringer of something unprecedented in modern human history.

It is time for us to search, both in body and mind, for answers. Time to check on what we put into the old ecosystem, your body, and what government orders shall be jabbed into us.

We all bought into the belief that those jabs were life-saving, but now, amid reports of big pharma execs living obscenely luxurious lives and plenty of post-Covid stories of mystery illnesses, many of us, especially clevas who read newspapers like this one, which is fact-checked, are sceptical.

This is great! But there are more positive responses to our secretive, non-accountable, health and nutrition systems such as getting out there to find out where our food and sustenance comes from, making better decisions — and getting healthy!

There are many, many amazing ways to do this. I recommend national geographic explorer Ben Beuttner’s Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones on Netflix.4

He delves into longevity by visiting areas which have the highest concentration of the oldest people and comes back with a fascinating list: the centenarians reject outright the work-retirement ideology, they work at something because they love it, they are held close by family and not abandoned in nursing homes, hard-earned wisdoms are respected, they volunteer to help society, and they believe in achieving good — no great — health.

Walk, dance, play that ukulele, stretch, cycle, clean your cupboard — just be as active as you possibly can. 

And eat the right stuff. Beuttner finds meat consumption in the Okinawa blue zone to be less than 3% but there is massive consumption of the colourful purple beni imo sweet potato.

I totally enjoyed his veneration of the Confucian saying repeated every mealtime on Okinawa: “Hara hachi bu” — eat until you are 80% full.

And he didn’t mean so you can leave some space for dessert!

Of course, if you are a starving Eastern Cape child, please eat everything on offer especially at catered government events.

I was moved by the simple and earnest tone of the series — these are people genuinely trying to find the healthiest answer — and while one always keeps the bulls*** detector on, I found the mission enjoyable, gentle and persuasive.

That’s the new me trying to be less judgmental, more accepting, more open, more at peace with my moment in life.

Mainly less stressed and anxious. So don’t poke the bear OK?

Your good health is a right. Fight — non-violently — for it!

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