Saturday, December 17, 2011

How My Veganism Has Helped My Brain Injury

I know that there are people in my life that don't understand how I could possibly be getting enough nutrients to help my brain.
I am getting far more nutrients than most! But I'll leave that for another post.

What I'd like to write about is the act of becoming vegan. Or of transitioning away from consuming animals and their secretions, to consuming plants, and about my brain's rehabilitation.
For those that don't know, I never cooked prior to becoming vegan. Troy likes to say that I could burn water. He did all of the cooking.
After the car collision, and the coma, and tubes and such, I started my various therapies: physiotherapy, speech language therapy, exercise therapy, occupational therapy, and eventually recreational therapy. My occupational therapy, once I mastered the basics of sitting up and walking, consisted of following simple directions to accomplish a task. The tasks would gradually get more complicated and distractions were also added to see how I would do.
Some of the activities we did was: board games and card games, puzzles and tests, baking and cooking, following a recipe, and other things that I'm sure I'm forgetting.
I have to say that the baking and cooking didn't go great the first few times. Troy had to jump in to save me(or the dish I was making) more than once!
This was prior to becoming vegan. I still saw double, and I wasn't loving reading the way I had adored it before. I hadn't started reading the vegan books yet.

It didn't take long to realize that I had to learn to cook if I wanted to be vegan. I thought Troy would never learn to cook plants. And certainly not just plants.
He adores the taste and texture of any animal's flesh!
Please don't misunderstand. I didn't stop eating animals because I didn't care for the taste of them anymore. I stopped eating them because it's wrong!
I decided that I needed to learn to cook. Namely, to not burn water! (joke)

                                           I did just that.
I bought The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Simply because I appreciate her writing style. I was familiar with her stuff from using The Joy of Vegan Baking.
In her baking book, she even gets down to how to read a recipe! Her recipes are simple to understand. Crucial to me! On account of never cooking before, and this pesky brain injury. I love how the ingredients are somewhat familiar. Lots of plants that I've never eaten before, but are commonly-found in major grocery stores! The truly beautiful thing is that, currently, we can get all of the ingredients between 2 different grocery stores: Dad's Organic Market, and the Real Canadian Superstore!  Especially now that veganism is moving more into the mainstream. Very exciting!!

Because I seem to get distracted,<ahem> and forget ingredients and steps, I take steps to prevent this from happening. Or really, just set myself up for success.

1)No music.
2) Put all of the corresponding measuring tools and ingredients on the counter. I like to place the ingredients in order on the counter, as they're added to the dish, and putting the measuring device next to the ingredient. Or just pre-measure it.
3)Put the ingredients away as I use them. This way, if vanilla extract is still on the counter, I know that I didn't use it.

I'm so happy that I learned to nurture myself, my family and friends! Learning to cook has been fantastic cognitive therapy!
Following instructions, measuring ingredients, calculating cooking times, learning the cooking terminology and techniques, meal planning, trouble-shooting, and veganizing loved dishes!
All wonderful brain exercises! All of these tasks are either exactly the same, or very similar to the exercises I did, or tried at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.
Yes, it could be argued that I didn't have to become a vegan to do any of this. Fair enough.
But before, I didn't care enough to even try to learn! 

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