Disclaimer: This is going to be a very personal post. You’re going to learn more about my husband that you ever wanted to. The goal of this post is to fill you in on why we are about to become strict vegetarians with serious vegan tendencies. Soooo…here goes!
We love animals. I’ve worked with wild animals for years and think birds are the cutest things ever…even vultures (they’re so fluffy!). But animal welfare is not the reason Drew and I have decided to give up meat and a whole heck of a lot of dairy. We are making this choice for health reasons. I believe the term is “nutritional vegetarianism” as opposed to “ethical vegetarianism.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE critters, but a really cute cow is not going to make me want to give up Five Guys. Having a loving husband who could die because of animal protein? Yeah, that’ll make me give it up in a heartbeat.
Let me explain. Drew has a disease called homocystinuria. Big word. Most doctors have no idea what it means. The simplest answer is that it’s the reason Drew has had 8 eye surgeries in 10 years…and 2 gum grafts…and 2 back surgeries for scoliosis. And it is definitely the reason why Drew’s risk of heart attack or stroke is way too high to imagine.
Ready for the not-so-simple explanation? Homocystinuria is one type of amino acid disorder. People with this condition have problems breaking down amino acids called methionine and homocystine from the foods they eat. Enzymes are little molecules that are in our bodies to break up proteins (made up of amino acids) so that the body can use them. People with homocystinuria are either missing the enzyme that breaks down methionine and homocystine, or it is not functioning properly. Essentially, those two amino acids build up in the blood stream and cause all sorts of un-fun problems. The biggest risk to untreated individuals is suffering from a heart attack or stroke at a young age (like, 30-ish).
Can you guess what foods contain the most methionine? Yeah. Meats…and eggs and cheese and milk…pretty much all animal proteins contain the amino acid methionine. Unfortunately, a lot of vegetables, beans and nuts contain it too, but they exist in small amounts and, let’s face it, Drew has to eat something, right?
The only treatments for this condition are: 1) take vitamin b supplements and 2) eat a low-methionine diet. Drew’s doing both, and I’m totally doing it with him (except for the supplements, of course). I mean, I’m completely addicted to all things creamy and cheesy, but I’m not about to eat that stuff in front of him or even keep it in the house if he can’t have it.
So, we are starting this journey together. Because that’s what we were meant to do. Because I would rather live my life with him in it than eat cheeseburgers all by myself. Because I would do absolutely anything for that man. Because I love him.