Do Vegans Have Less Friends?

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Do Vegans Have Less Friends?

“I don’t like vegans, either. Bunch of whiny zealots. A cow or a pig wouldn’t give a damn if a person died… animals tear apart other animals while they’re still alive, but we aren’t so cruel, so vegans should learn to shut up. Vegans use palm oil and never think about the forests and endangered species at risk from that… and they all exploit the world in other ways, buying their computers and their sweatshop clothes and their Starbucks coffees.” Rebecca McNutt.

I returned from my last trip with a stomach bacteria. I did not get the bacteria there but have probably had it for a while. The cure is an antibiotic that will kill everything good and bad in your body and a weird strict diet that will not feed the bacteria for at least six months.  The bacteria caused several food allergies as well. The easiest way for me to eat these days is to be a Megan.- a meat-eating vegan. (albeit not in the same restaurant) 

It turns out that the  people who live a plant-based life style understand weird diets. I notice that many  people eat alone in vegan restaurants. I am not talking about the  hipster or Hollywood vegans that eat at the trendy vegan restaurants or have their vegan chefs prepare something.  I’m talking about small local restaurants. 

Most social gatherings revolve around food and the isolation of having a strict diet when your friends do not, can make it easier to eat alone. Dietary restrictions are annoying in social situations. I hate the constant deliberating and discussion  that i have to do with waiters in restaurants. I’m not normally that person. 

All vegans are not just focused on not eating dead animals. Some of them probably have eating issues or do it for health reasons. I sit alone in the restaurant and watch the other diners. I play my airport game of trying to figure out who everyone is.  Classic vegans.

 I look  at a man focused on his non dairy fettuccine alfredo and think that he is definitely a Bikram yoga instructor slash dog walker. The two woman who gush over their buffalo tofu sliders are life coach feminists with instagram accounts dedicated to their different  acai bowls. The woman  sitting over there in the corner is probably a two years sober tarot card reader who runs 12 step meetings.  The anorexic reiki healer cutting her food in many small pieces is pushing it around her plate while she talks to her friend, the mantra chanting, meditation specialist. The man next to her heads the community  vegetable garden and makes his own candles. 

Clearly these  people  have no idea how much I am missing cheese, coffee, sushi, fish,  bread and good dessert.  I make fun of vegans because I will never be cool enough to give up the occasional hot dog, hamburger and dairy products. I will never stretch regularly or be a healthy vessel of joy and peace. I make fun of them because I am not disciplined or good enough to be one of them.

Then, I look at myself in my flannel shirt and baggy jeans. I am drinking the now trendy celery juice  (yes i know you are supposed to drink it when you wake you up to cleanse your system but i just can’t)) and eating kale, brown rice and tempeh.  I see a man looking at me. He is  thinking that I just biked over here from a winter solstice ceremony and have a formally abused dog named Chakra. I am probably on my way to my alternative medicine doctor for acupuncture.

Fly safe,,

JAZ 

Thirty Six Hours In Lisbon, Portugal With the Flu

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36 Hours in Lisbon With The Flu

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain

Flying to Porto, Portugal from Spain I traveled  in a haze of recycled stale air, surrounded  by the germs of a hundred set of lungs. It did not help that the people I sat next to were both sick and coughing.

 I’m a germaphobe. I get on the plane with hand sanitizer in my purse.  I bring wipes into the bathroom in case i have to touch something. I put polysporin around my nostrils not to breathe anything in. i have a mask if necessary. This usually works along with my various good luck charms. 

The next evening I felt like I had been hit with a truck.  If I had been in Southeast Asia or Africa, I would have been sure it was malaria or dengue. Being in Portugal, I went with the flu. The rain in Porto is not helping.

A few days later when we got to Lisbon,  it was in full force. 

 We checked into Santiago del Alfama around nine pm. Driving through the steep, narrow one way cobblestone streets at night, made us glad we weren’t driving.

The hotel was a fifteenth century palace restored into a beautiful modern five-star hotel.  I loved every piece of furniture and  art that I saw in this hotel. It was  totally my taste. The room was beautiful.

The average standard illness is easy to cope with when you are home and much worse when you are traveling. If it had really been the fifteenth century, I would have thought it was God’s will – but instead i can blame the people next to me on the plane.  Luckily the hotel has a  lovely  restaurant with delicious food. and we don’t have to go anywhere.

i have breakfast at one of the most charming  breakfast places in a hotel with wonderful food and coffee. My cold pills have not kicked in yet and i am sneezing. “God bless you” says the person sitting next me. I remember that sneezing was a symptom of the bubonic plague and they used the term God Bless you to ward off  the evil. I wondered if i had the plague.  Maybe there were some fifteenth century plague germs lying around. I do get a lot of weird things. 

My plan is to go to the Tile Museum which i missed the last time I was in Lisbon. My body is fighting me on this to stay in bed but there are no sick days when you are a mom of small children and so my body has learned to rally.

The Museo de Nacional De Azuelo was definitely worth it.

The building is the former Madre de Deus convent founded in 1509 by Queen D. Leonor.

The collections  are tiles  from 15th century till present days.

It gives amazing insight into the beautiful tiles you see around the city. i could have spent all day here. 

Portugal has a long history of preserving fish which  has been traced back to the Phoenicians, Romans  and Carthaginians. It became a gourmet thing a lot more recently. The best thing to buy are the sardines which are healthy and delicious. i definitely needed healthy.  We head to Conserveira de  Lisboa the oldest and best family run business to buy tinned fish. They are in beautiful tins and packaged in boxes. 

We have met the owner of the hotel and we end up having lunch with him at Prado a place his wife likes and turns out to be delicious. Lunch in Portugal takes a few hours.

  It is amazing how shopping and a delicious meal can miraculously take away my symptoms for a bit.

We walk back to the hotel and I take a nap and pack. The flu has moved into my lungs by now.  Getting up at 4am for the long plane ride home is not going to be pretty. I have some soup at the hotel restaurant.

 

I put my body in mom mode. This will be so much  easier than having the flu and entertaining a baby and toddler at the same time. All I have to do is get to the airport wait in line, go through security, find the plane, fly to London, pick up my luggage, change airports, go through customs and security, check in  again, walk really far to the plane, wait four hours , get on the plane for ten more hours, go through customs and security, pick up luggage and go home. I have had children. I can do this. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Natural Health Products From Different Countries That I Can’t Live Without

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 Natural Health Products From Different Countries That I Can’t Live Without

“We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.” Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast Of Champions

Manuka Honey is made by bees that feed the Manuka trees  in New Zealand. It has antibacterial properties and has been used by the Maori in their tonics and remedies for many years. Manuka Honey is graded with UMF rating. A rating of 20 or above will give you the strongest medical benefits. Under that number, it is still expensive and tastes good and acts like other honey. I use it for everything.  It is particularly good for colds and wound healing. You can get it on Amazon.

 Japan is a country of specific etiquette. Correct manners are very important to the Japanese. It’s very easy to embarrass yourself in Japan as an American.  Japan is a society of cleanliness. It is a culture of bath houses and onsens. You have never seen so many people brushing their teeth and gargling  in public restrooms. Japanese are obsessed with Gargling With Salt as a cure for everything. My Japanese friends carry salt when they travel. According to my doctor, it’s a home remedy that really works.  They also carry handkerchiefs in case there is nothing to dry their hands with in a public restroom.

 I stumbled upon Twenty Per Cent Arnica (ours is five percent) in Israel when I hurt my knee in Tel Aviv. Your bruise can be  gone in two days. I found it at a homeopathic pharmacy on Ben Yehuda Street. I use it very sparingly till I get more. 

Coca Tea is used in the Andes to help with altitude sickness- which it does. I drank it every day in Peru.  It also gives you an energy boost without the caffeine spikes. I usually drink it as my second cup of coffee.  It is also good if you have an upset stomach. 

Olive Oil in Spain cures everything. If you are sick, it will make you well. If you are fat it will make you thin.  If you are short, it will make you tall. I also  use it as a make up remover.

 Be physically and mentally prepared to shop in the Spice Market in Istanbul, Turkey.  Be in a good mood. You will have many best friends and marriage proposals. Years ago, a man working there told me of the health benefits of Turmeric. Though the market is known for saffron, I had also heard turmeric was good for illnesses.  I’ve been taking it ever since and most recently bought some at the Arab Market in Jerusalem.

At Ver A Paso market in Belem, Brazil  I got some Brazilian Ginseng from the Amazon. It is used to build your immune system and give energy. They had a lot of interesting health products including many kinds of natural Viagra (seemed to be a big seller)  but that was the only one I knew. 

I came back from Argentina with Yerba Mate and a Yerba Mate cup and straw. Yerba Mate is the national drink of Argentina.  Besides being a stimulant with less caffeine the coffee, it is packed with nutrients. It can boost the immune system, burn fat, increase bone density and help with digestive problems.

Marula Oil is a highly anti-inflammatory plant oil from South Africa and is known for it’s very high antioxidant count and  light texture. It is naturally soothing, fast-absorbing and suitable for all skin types including reactive and sensitive. ( that would be me).  My daughter gave a small bottle to her wedding guests in South Africa. I loved it.  I get it on Amazon now as well. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

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Ten Countries With The Most Smokers

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Mark Twain

As everyone knows, smoking is cool. But it can also kill you and is addictive and expensive, which is much worse than looking cool for a minute.

Bucking the worldwide trend, smokers are increasing in Montenegro. Forty per cent of adults smoke making them the “coolest” country on the list. Even when laws are enacted, they are rarely enforced in a culture where coffee and cigarettes are the norm.

While smoking is declining across Europe, a growing number of young Belarusians are turning to cigarettes due to lax regulations and low prices. Cheap cigarettes from Belarus are also being smuggled into Western Europe.

It is very difficult to enforce anti smoking laws in Lebanon where smoking is somewhat of a cultural tradition.The law that banned indoor smoking irritated many Lebanese accustomed to shishas and cigarettes at restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs.

Greece is a nicotine addicts’s paradise. Smoking regulations in Greece have not been enforced in a country where rules like this are meant to be broken.

One third of the population of Russia smokes. Up to 400,000 Russians die each year from tobacco-related causes. This could be stopped through tougher regulations, but tobacco producers have blocked all efforts for years, successfully lobbying their interests with the ruling United Russia party.

Tobacco is one of the leading causes of death in Slovenia. The average age to start smoking is fifteen and a half years old.

Belgians love to smoke and stores selling cheap cigarettes have opened on the Belgian Franco border. There is a growing trade in smuggled cigarettes in Europe and an equally illegal growth of sales over the internet. Cigarettes are much cheaper in Belgium than neighboring countries. Many bars and restaurants ignore the smoking ban.

Jordan rates highly as far as smoking countries in the Middle East go. The ban on smoking in public places is not enforced.It is easier to fight drug use than cigarettes here. Cigarette smoking is highest among the poor population. Having coffee and cigarettes with friends and family is deeply rooted in Jordanian culture.

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China is home to three hundred million smokers, more than any other country. There is a lack of national legislation to ban smoking in workplaces. The national ban has been delayed because of the influence of the Chinese tobacco industry and its influence on government revenue. Some Local municipalities have banned smoking in the workplace but it is hard to enforce

Almost half the adult population smokes in Bosnia Herzegovina. Cigarettes are cheaper than Europe and Asia. Smokers fight the government against anti smoking legislation. Any bans are not enforced and teenagers smoke at least half a pack of cigarettes a day.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Ten Countries That Drink The Most Alcohol

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Ten Countries That Drink The Most Alcohol.

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” Edgar Allan Poe

“Are you over 21 yet””why?“I wanted you to buy me some beer.’

Not all countries have this problem. According to the World Health Organization (where I get a lot of my information for these lists) here are the top ten countries to get drunk in. The best way to measure alcohol consumption anywhere in the world is through the per capita consumption of pure alcohol within a given country.

10. They start drinking young in Slovakia. The average age of tasting your first drink is around ten years old. Fifteen to eighteen year olds are drinking less and men drink more than women.

9. In the Czech Republic people take pride in their drinking and their beer. They have the highest consumption of beer per person in the world, bur for some reason rate low in drunkeness.

8. Hungary is a little more voracious about their drinking than many other countries. It is one of the leading countries in liver cirrhosis mortality in the world.

7. Unlike many countries with high levels of alcohol consumption, Andorra’s economy is fairly prosperous. Andorra is located between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains and has an exceptionally strong tourism industry. Wine is the drink of choice.

6. Drinking on various festive occasions is a large part of Ukrainian culture.Heavy alcohol consumption at any occasion in the Ukraine possible. Fourteen is the average age to try alcohol.

5. There is a much higher incidence of alcohol abuse in the villages and rural areas than in the larger cities of Romania. Most of the alcohol in these areas is of the homemade variety.

4. The high number of early deaths in Russia is mainly due to people drinking too much alcohol, particularly vodka. Causes of death include liver disease and alcohol poisoning. Many also die in accidents or after getting into fights.

3. In Lithuania, people use alcohol to feel better and relax. Most beer drinking is done at home. Lithuania scores highly in countries with binge drinking and ten per cent of the population have alcohol related disorders.

2. Citizens of Moldova are some of the world’s biggest drinkers. Moldovans drink nearly three times the global average. The country is poor and a major wine producer, with many people drinking cheap homemade wine, vodka and other spirits.

1.Belarusians are the heaviest drinkers in the world. Alcohol is a major reason of crime, suicide and health problems in Belarus. The idea of a healthy lifestyle remains unpopular especially for older generations and village dwellers. Alcohol remains a profitable business for the state and it has its own influential lobbyists who are actively a work promoting their interests.

Fly and drive safe,

JAZ

Ten Countries With The Best Health Care Systems

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“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire

To better understand the health care debate it is important to note that not all the countries in the world have the same health care. The commonality is universal coverage, but wealthy nations have taken varying approaches to it, some relying heavily on the government (as with single-payer); some relying more on private insurers; others in between. Experts don’t agree on which is best; a lot depends on perspective. Nothing seems to be perfect. This rating is the top ten countries from the World Health Organization.

1. France does not have socialized medicine. They have both privatized and government insurance. Everyone has health care. When someone goes to see a doctor, the national insurance program pays 70 percent of the bill. Most of the other 30 percent gets picked up by supplemental private insurance, which almost everyone has. It’s affordable, and much of it gets paid for by a person’s employer. In France, the sicker you are, the more coverage you get. It’s expensive to provide this kind of health care. But it is not as expensive as the U.S. system, which is the world’s most costly.

2.In Italy, healthcare is considered a right and the national health plan is designed to provide for all Italian citizens.The health care is funded by a broad tax system. The money to fund the system comes from all the classes.

3.Local and foreign national residents of San Marino are entitled to free, comprehensive health care from public hospitals. All employees must register upon starting a job and are issued a health card and number, and are automatically registered with a doctor in their neighborhood. Employers pay a contribution for each employee and dependent family members, deducted from their salaries, while the self-employed must pay the full contribution. Vulnerable people, such as the unemployed, aged and seriously ill do not need to register with an employer, and are entitled to free treatment.

4.Andorra has some of the most technologically advanced hospitals in Europe, and is similar to the French healthcare system. Public health is linked to social contributions.

5.Malta has a strong public healthcare system, which provides free services to all Maltese citizens and European Union residents. Malta has both a government healthcare service and a private system.

6.Singapore shows that fusions of conservative and liberal ideas in health care really are possible. Singapore is a place where the government acts to keep costs low and then uses those low costs to make a market-driven insurance system possible. Singapore’s government controls and pays for much of the medical system itself — hospitals are overwhelmingly public, a large portion of doctors work directly for the state.

7.Spain‘s single-payer health care system is ranked seventh best in the world by the World Health Organization. The system offers universal coverage as a constitutionally guaranteed right and no out-of-pocket expenses — aside from prescription drugs.

8. All Omani citizens have free access to universal healthcare. Much of the staff is foreign-born or received training abroad, but with more young Omanis completing college, this is beginning to change. In larger cities, especially Muscat, the quality of medical care is high, but you shouldn’t expect the same standards in rural areas. It has emerged that Oman is in the process of drafting a new set of mandatory health insurance laws beginning January 2018.The new laws will pass on some of the responsibility of looking after employee health to their employers by mandating that they implement suitable health insurance provisions.

9.Austria has had a health care system that ensures high-quality medical care for all citizens, independent of their social status or income. Building such a health care system has not been easy: it is the result of a long, hard road; many people have fought for it. The can also purchase supplementary private insurance.

10.In Japan, health care has long been likened to air and water — often taken for granted. Under the Japanese system, everyone must join a public insurance program through their employer or municipal government and pay a monthly premium that is determined by income.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

“By endurance we conquer.” Edward Shackleton

In life you will meet a lot of people and most of them you will end up forgetting. I will never forget an eight year old boy who rolled into the first day of 826LA summer writing program  where I volunteer.

It wasn’t just a wheel chair. He was strapped in with a plastic plate across his chest and a large clear plastic tube attached to a hole in his throat. I have lung problems and hate to see breathing tubes.  Since I was a child, I have always had a strange fear of deformities and people who look sick. The pediatrician told my mother that it was because I had watched my grandmother who lived with us, shrivel away and die when I was three years old.  I don’t know if that is true.

“Please don’t sit at my table” I thought when he entered. I’ve often heard that when you phrase something negatively and put it out into the universe, the universe doesn’t hear the negative word.  It hears “Please sit at my table” and that is what happened. I won’t be able to help him. But I smiled and introduced myself. After all, I am grown up now. He says his name is Tony.  His eyes lit up and gave me the most beautiful smile. He participated shyly as all the kids did on the first day. I wasn’t sitting next to him and he couldn’t reach a paper in his binder. I froze for a second because I did not know if I was supposed to get up and help him or let him struggle and do it himself. Alejandra, the girl sitting next him quietly gets it for him. Neither of them say a word to each other. He is sitting next to a boy named Omar and he says that there is someone in his class named Omar. Omar smiles in delight at him and says ‘You know someone with my name?” It will be all right at this table.

I am late the next day and a volunteer is already sitting there when I arrive. The program leader tells me that  the kids at my table  were asking for me. I seem to be doing ok. Do we talk about the wheel chair and all the stuff he has with it? No one that I have asked seems to know. I watch nine-year old Alejandra who is sitting next to him this week. She does not interact much with any of the kids at the table – only adults. She is on it. If Tony can’t reach something or drops something, she gets it and hands it to him in total silence. I learn from her that helping someone is just something you do. You don’t need a big discussion about it.

At the end of the week, we do a group project and everyone has added something important to save the sea turtles. We have become a team.. Tony tells me that he hates doctors but likes the dentist. I have to go to the dentist for a filling and a crown and I tell him that I HATE dentists. He laughs hysterically as if I have just said the funniest thing. He is a warrior and clearly I am not. He looks like he has gone through so much at such a young age. Most of us cannot even imagine doing that but the smile never faded from his face. He told me he didn’t smile a lot when he was in the hospital  but he smiles all the time now.  Sick definitely does not mean weak.

The following week the kids have changed tables.  I arrive early. “Tony is sitting at the second table”, says the program leader.  He is very happy to see me there when he arrives. I am happy to see him as well.

The summer program is ending and I do not know if I will ever see Tony again. I have dealt with worsening health problems that seemed big to me but are small in relationship to his. I learned from him to be grateful  for the health I have and always make the most of my situation. While I was busy wallowing in self-pity, Tony was smiling through adversity and putting a smile on my face as well. But more importantly, he taught me that at any moment, even when you least expect it, someone or something can change your life.

Fly safe,
JAZ