The Ethics of Eating Meat

Diabetes Diet

Diabetes DietHow do you love animals, hate waste and environmental damage, and yet eat meat, fish, dairy and eggs at the same time?

I ask myself this a lot. I was a vegetarian for years because I called myself an animal lover and meat-consumption didn’t seem to fit. As a long-term lover of vegetables and pulses, I found the food delicious—certainly the stuff I made for myself in the house. I suffered my way through plenty of bad pasta dishes in restaurants staffed by unimaginative chefs.

In 2010, I embraced low-carb living. At first, I only added fish to my diet. You can do a low-carb version of vegetarianism, but it’s limited. Fish added variety and health benefits even if my ethical self shuddered at the thought of being one of ‘those’ vegetarians.

Bacon temptation

I started eating meat in 2013. The stance didn’t feel as big as a jump as going from vegetarian to eating fish, so it wasn’t such a dramatic shake-up of my internal moral compass. And blimey, bacon… it’s a cliché that many a former vegetarian stumbled at the bacon hurdle and it’s well founded.

Diabetes Diet's picture of the cover of Louise Gray's bookThe reason for all this pondering is a book I’ve just bought—The Ethical Carnivore: My Year of Killing to Eat by Louise Gray. The premise is that the Daily Telegraph’s onetime environmental journalist decided she would only eat meat she’d killed herself, and the book begins with her first experience of shooting a rabbit.

I’m 75 percent certain I couldn’t kill an animal deliberately. I’m of the generation that’s become completely detached from the animals we put in our mouths. My father shot rabbits and gutted and skinned them, and he could do the same with birds. I have a razor-sharp memory of him standing at the back door, one back foot of a dead rabbit in each hand, and ripping it apart to allow the cats to dig in

Chickens coming to life

Meat’s almost always appeared in front of me packaged, its origins neatly obscured. Handling chickens makes me flinch as I visualise a head sprouting from that gaping cavity or feathers poking through the skin.

Veganism’s argument for greater health benefits doesn’t convince me. An omnivorous diet of unprocessed foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables will provide the same health gains. But I’m still left with the conundrum—how to eat meat that minimises animal suffering and doesn’t cost the planet dearly?

The ethics thing trips me up all the time. Buy free-range eggs—yes, but they clip the birds’ breaks and kill the male chicks at birth in a horrible way, anyway. Buy Red Tractor meat—not according to this article about what it means for animal welfare standards. Eat meat from the Farmers Market—but it’s so expensive. Eat organic dairy—what about the forced separation of cows from calves and what the industry does to male calves?

I’ve only started the book and I’m hoping it will end with a neat set of guidelines. Follow these and you too can be an ethical carnivore kind of thing. I doubt reading The Ethical Carnivore will turn me into a hunter, but if I emerge with a better understanding of what I can do, I’ll be delighted.

How do you deal with the ethics of eating meat? Any tips or advice gratefully received…

Ethics picture – Madhamathi SV and licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Licence. 

 

Thrity-One-Year-Old Claims Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

A PICTURE OF BLOOD TESTING EQUIPMENT AND NEEDLES

A PICTURE OF BLOOD TESTING EQUIPMENT AND NEEDLESGoogle alerts frequently pairs ‘diabetes’ and ‘cure’ together, but most of the time the words don’t capture my attention. Even when ‘type 1 diabetes’ and ‘cure’ make the same sub-heading, I’m not jumping up and down.

Yeah, yeah, heard it, bought the tee shirt, and no impact on my life so far…

But The Sun newspaper carried a story this week about a 31-year-old who claims to have cured his type 1 diabetes with diet and exercise alone. Again, that approach can achieve results with type 2 diabetes but it’s the first time I’ve seen it accredited to a cure for type 1.

Exercise and diet

Daniel Darkes’ regime isn’t for the faint-hearted. He eats a diet high in zinc (nuts, oily fish and veg) and runs more than sixty miles a week.

But before you dig out your trainers and start stock-piling the Brazil nuts, Daniel’s type 1 diabetes has some qualifications. He has a rare, abnormal gene, which doctors believe might have restarted his pancreas.

The 31-year-old from Daventry in Northants developed diabetes eight years ago and stopped giving himself insulin last January (2017)*. He started cutting down on insulin after experiencing hypos in 2016. He travelled to the US in March 2017 to find out more. Doctors ran further tests to find out what we happening to his body.

Brain sending messages to pancreas

He was put on a fasting diet and exercised at the same time. The medical staff noted his brain had begun sending new signals to his pancreas, and he hasn’t injected himself with insulin ever since.

Daniel told The Sun that doctors believed his abnormal gene combined with exercise is the reason he’s been able to cure himself—it’s as if the gene acts as a back-up immune system and has recharged his pancreas.

He is still being monitored at Northamptonshire General Hospital.

Abnormal genes

I’m fascinated by this story—as I suspect most type 1s will be. I’m no medical expert so my opinions are qualified, but I suspect that Daniel’s abnormal gene plays a huge part in his ‘cure’ (and this won’t be regarded as such until he reaches the two-years-without-insulin mark). It’s also interesting that the description of his diet (scant as it is) sounds like a low-carb diet.

The article said that Daniel’s case “could provide a revolutionary new approach to treating type 1 diabetes”, while Diabetes UK said it couldn’t speculate on whether Daniel had ‘cured’ his diabetes or not, and that there was “no clear cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes”.

 

*DISCLAIMER – please, for the love of all things injectable, do not skip your insulin injections if you have type 1 diabetes…

 

Half-Marathon Training – an Update

 

a picture of a blood testing machine on The Diabetes Diet
Post-run blood sugar today. Ten out of ten for me (for smugness too).

“Stone the crows, Emma! Wouldn’t have thought excessive temperatures would be the weather issue throwing a spanner in the half-marathon training, hmm?”

Good people, the woman who signed up for the Glasgow half-marathon in January uttered various predictions about running in Scotland. Most of them involved rain. As it turns out, my lightweight shower-proof coat has needed minimal use. Instead, I’m reaching for the sun cream and hugging the walls in a bid to stay in the shadows as I pound the pavements.

Smell that sizzling tarmac! Scotland has just reported its hottest June ever. Let’s give a shout-out to the poor polar bears in Aviemore.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered I can run in the heat. Again, not something I’ve had the chance to test out much over the years. When I trained for a half-marathon ten years ago, there were two hot days in May. I ran during them and hated it.

Blood sugar levels

But now? I’m okay. Running’s so bloomin’ difficult for me, the heat isn’t the thing that’s bothersome. It’s still the breathing, the adjusting of blood sugar levels to minimise low or high blood sugars and my reluctance to build up my miles

My half-marathon is three months away. I’ve yet to go farther than six miles. Most training plans are for 12 weeks, so there’s still plenty of time to add them up. I’ve found my ‘pace’, a super-slow snail-like jog. I’m hoping my general fitness will stand me in good stead, so that if the pre-race miles don’t stack up, those walking miles will cover ‘em.

I ought to join a running group too. Nothing like surrounding yourself with like-minded idiots people to spur one on. And they might know some different routes. I run the same roads all the time, favouring the reassurance of knowing at what point I draw on my reserves of energy and where I get excited because the end’s in sight.

Jessica Smith TV

Last week, when it was very hot (32 degrees), I exchanged outdoor for indoor exercise. I found an indoor jogging work-out on YouTube. “T’uh!” smug self said, “This’ll be easier than running out there in that heat.”

Not so! Ten minutes in and I decided I’d have been better off running outside in the blazing sunshine.

The heatwave here is set to continue. I’ll be training in high temperatures for a little while yet. Again, I’m hoping this magically builds up my fitness so that when I do talk myself into running more than six miles, it’ll be easy.

 

 

 

Pills Instead of Injections?

a picture of a syringe and insulin at The Diabetes DietWhat are your thoughts on taking pills instead of injections? We type 1s and our colleagues in insulin-taking at the type 2 camp have believed for years an insulin tablet isn’t a go-er because of what stomach acids would do to it.

Recent research says an insulin pill might now be in the offing. My husband got excited about it, emailing me a link to the published article. I was more “meh”. The injections I take seem to be the least bothersome bit of diabetes. Working out how to get your blood sugars in line, constant blood sugar tests (restrictive, dependent on how many sticks you’re prescribed a month), tiredness when you don’t get the dosage right—they’re the things that make diabetes tricky to deal with.

Daily injections

As a child, pre-diabetes, a boy on a neighbouring farm was diagnosed some months ahead of me. “Ooh,” the young me said, “I wouldn’t like to inject myself all the time.” Nine-year-olds tend to think that way, condensing diabetes down to the one thing that seems horrific—more than daily injections.

The nine-year-old obviously tempted fate in that some months later I too was in hospital practising shots on an orange. (What did that poor orange ever do to me?) If someone had promised me a pill at the time, young Emma would have leapt on it.

Back to the research. Professor Samir Mitragotri, who co-authored the study from Harvard University, says his team they took a new approach by dispersing insulin in a liquid made of two components. They were a nutrient called choline, and a substance called geranic acid that is found naturally in cardamom.

Hormone stays intact

They experimented on rats and found the pill lowered the animals’ blood sugar levels rapidly. The team say further experiments suggested the liquid in which the insulin was dispersed inside the capsule stops the hormone from being broken down by enzymes in the digestive system after the capsule dissolves. This helps the insulin pass through the mucus layer of the intestines and opens the seal between adjacent cells lining the intestines, so insulin can pass into the blood vessels.

The article says it will be several years before clinical trials can begin as so far, the method has only been tried in a few small animal studies. It isn’t clear either whether someone could use the pill for background (basal) insulin.

I’m still meh. There is a lot of trials currently being conducted, researching multiple ways to help we folks with diabetes. While there are people who do have genuine needle phobias and find injections unpleasant and painful, I’m lucky enough not to be one.

Pill or injection? Not bothered. Closed loop pump system or (whisper it), the hallowed cure. Okay then…

 

Coping with T1D in the Heat

Inforgrpahic about the heat by The Diabetes Diet

A screenshot of the weather in Scotland on The Diabetes DietHeavens above—this isn’t a post I’ve needed to write before but the last few weeks of incredible sunshine and heat in Scotland (Scotland! I’ll say it again, Scotland!) necessitates it.

If you’re a type 1, what special precautions do you need to take when the mercury rises? I prepared this handy infographic to help…

Please note—if you have neuropathy (nerve damage) this can affect your ability to sweat and therefore cool down. Go out early in the morning or later in the afternoon if you can, drink water to stay hydrated and exercise in air-conditioned gyms. Cut down on drinks with caffeine and alcohol, and take care of yourself as best you can.

Inforgrpahic about the heat by The Diabetes Diet

#TalkAboutDiabetes – Diabetes Awarness Week June 2018

What do you struggle with when you’re talking about diabetes? It’s Diabetes Week 2018 (June 11-18) and the theme of this year’s awareness-raising seven days is the stuff we find awkward, embarrassing, difficult or even funny to mention.

Here are mine:

  • I don’t like telling people in general. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed; I just don’t like drawing attention to myself.
  • Jelly baby etiquette. When you eat sweeties in front of someone, politeness dictates you offer them around. But they’re the medicine that corrects low blood sugars*, so stinginess is understandable.
  • Explaining a hypo when you’re in the middle of one. Most of my low blood sugar episodes are manageable. But I can be in the middle of a conversation and my mind goes blank. “Bear with me! My mind’s distracted. It’s screaming ‘SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR’ at me. My word power will return in a few minutes,” is what I should say.
  • Or don’t talk to me. When I’m high, conversation is too much effort. Please don’t take it personally.
  • I don’t talk much either when I’m high because I’m conscious of the nasty taste in my mouth and am reluctant to impose halitosis on anyone.
  • And don’t take the grumpiness low blood sugars produce personally either. First aiders once told me about diabetics who punched people when they were low, so grumpiness seems moderate in comparison.
  • Please know that managing diabetes is like having a part-time job that you do on top of everything else.
  • If you manage to work out I’m hypo long before I do, be aware I’ll deny it in an exasperated fashion. “Flip’s sakes, no I’m not. Look I’ll even do the blood test to show you and here it…oh. Alright then.”
  • Sometimes when I say I can’t do something because of the diabetes, I might be using it as a fab, ready-made excuse. It’s not me, it’s you. OH NO! I’ve just given away diabetes’ best-kept secret!

*I told a little girl my jelly babies were medicine once. She gave me one of those, ‘why do adults lie to me?’ looks.

Baba Ghanoush – Low Carb Recipes

a picture of aubergines on the Diabetes DietAubergines are fan-flippin-tastic done in a pizza oven. Cut the tops off, half them, score the skin and rub with olive or rapeseed oil, sprinkle with sea salt, wrap in foil and place in the heated oven for fifteen minutes.

Done! The best accompaniment to…well, anything if you love aubergines as much as I do. Traditional matches might be lamb steaks. Or you could wrap up some peppers too and make yourself a big bowl of garlic dip to go with them. Ooh, veggie heaven…

Alternatively, why not try some Baba Ghanoush? Ever heard this aubergine dip referred to as poor man’s caviar? If you’ve tasted the real thing, you’re within your rights to argue the supposed paupers’ option is the much better deal. What would you rather eat—a super silky, lemony-garlicky scented paste you can dip things in? (Fingers if you really must; we won’t judge.) Or fish eggs?

Here’s my version, with an alternative method if you don’t have a pizza oven.

Baba Ghanoush

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 medium-sized aubergines
  • 2tbsp tahini paste
  • 4tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
  • 4tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Slice the tops off the aubergines, half them lengthways, score the skin and rub with some of the oil. Wrap in foil.

Slice the onion in half too and wrap in foil.

Either cook in a pizza oven (about 250 degrees C) or place in an oven (180 degrees C). The vegetables will take about 15 minutes in the pizza oven. Unwrap from the foil and place in for a few more minutes to char them.

In the oven, allow about 30-40 minutes. You want the aubergines collapsing. Take the foil off for the last five minutes of cooking.

Scrape most of the aubergines from the skin, although you can keep a bit of it for extra smokiness. Place the aubergines, onions and garlic in a food processor with the rest of the oil, the lemon juice and the tahini. Whizz till smooth.

Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

The whole dish has about 45g carbs and 18g fibre.