Sort of Aging Vegan – Why? - by Brian Woodruff


My wife, Jane, and I have been concerned about eating healthy foods for years.

We’ve subscribed to the Nutrition Action Newsletter for decades and have enjoyed their dry humor (the Big Mac is their gold standard by which all food porn is measured), sound research (most miracle food claims are poorly researched), and tasty recipes (always simple prep with fresh ingredients). Recently we read an article in another trade journal about how food may impact aging, suggesting an “aging cure” by drastically cutting calories. We are both serious foodies, so “not eating” held no appeal, but the idea of eating for healthy aging did appeal.

Then we watched the documentary What the Health, which spoke about eating for health and issues related to food production. The information underscored our interest in being even more intentional in our food consumption. My wife and I have no desire to live forever, but we have decided to intentionally engage in healthier food consumption.

My career was as an environmentalist, specializing in clean air, so I am aware of the large carbon/environmental footprint eating meat creates. Corporations producing and promoting food may not have our health as their bottom line. Look at the food advertised in living color on TV and you will see the food being promoted is a diet of fat, salt and sugar— a diet that can be deadly over time.

Then why sort of? We LOVE vegetables. We are discovering the joy of vegetables in all kinds of unique preparations. The flavors are rich and varied. There is a bit more prep with vegetables versus throwing meat on the grill, but we’ve discovered the joy and ease of a grilled cauliflower steak.  However, we are “sort of vegans” because we are not willing to completely give up meat, cheese and fish. We still enjoy them occasionally but in reduced quantities. We still sprinkle grated cheese on a casserole although much less than previously. Salmon and shrimp are beloved by us both and, at wild-caught prices, we relish them more but eat them less often.

We continue to indulge in fish, lamb, pork and a well-cooked hamburger though at a much-reduced rate, mostly when friends have invited us to dinner or when we are eating at a restaurant.  On the rare occasions that we shop for meat we buy from local, organic farmers and ranchers through the grocery stores that buy from them. Since we eat less of it the extra price for locally raised meat evens out. 

We haven’t lost weight; we don’t suddenly feel healthier or even different, but that was never the point. We enjoy the food we eat knowing it is good for us, good for our community (Buy Local!) and good for the planet. Like most retirees we have our med minders, but to date they are blessedly simple, and that’s the way we hope to keep them.

We are eating well and excited about the meals we create. We are not “holier than thou”; we will never guilt family for friends for eating differently, and we will never ask anyone to cook differently for us.  As ex-60s hippies, we are now free-range, organic, wild-caught, natural, local,  consumer freaks – happily and healthily so. Bon Appetit!

Brian landed in Fort Collins 36 years ago, to study atmospheric science at CSU, then wound up staying to work for the City of Fort Collins.  After working on air pollution in city and county governments for 39 years, he is now three years retired.  Brian enjoys choral singing, reading, cooking, hiking, and traveling abroad with his adventurous wife Jane.