Mary "Tyrtle" Rooker
About the Author
Whether talking food or other aspects of shamanism, I enjoy supporting others in their journey to see through popular societal illusions so they can step more fully into their power and take control of their health.
- I hold a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University's Center for Nutrition Studies.
- I am a food activist who has made it a part-time, sometimes full-time, job to study nutrition and food since 2010.
- My formal study is interpreting the scientific research on the links between health and diet; I am not a doctor or dietitian.
You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, or supplementation program. Information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice of a doctor or other medical professional.
Health Profession Limitations
That said, also bear in mind that most doctors have little education or knowledge of food and health. Dietitians and nutritionists may have the education but be unconsciously swayed by their own biases and the pro-meat culture we live in. Many also do not know how to properly question what nutrition they were taught or how to interpret research or assess the weight of scientific evidence. As with everything, it's good to check it out yourself, armed with the ways to tell the good science from the bad, and have a say in your own health decisions.
Contact Info, Personal Dietary Evolution
I can be reached by e-mail at greentyrtle(at)gmail.com.
2015 marked my recovery from sugar addiction! After 3 years of struggling, I went on a supervised water-only fast at True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, California in December 2015. Read all about my experience here; this is for your information only, please do not broadcast it without my permission.
2013 marked my 20th year as a vegan! I recently made it healthier by ditching oils, following former President Bill Clinton's example. I alsofinallyquit all sugars except fruit, yes, even agave.
I finally learned to cook for real in 2012, when I was already a senior citizen. And look at the pictures of the lovely, healthful, and delicious meals I've made! Trying to convert animal-based recipes was a lot of work; it's easy now that I just eat whatever is on hand that I'm in the mood for, eat it raw or steam it, and toss it on the plate with a dressing and straight-from-the-fridge toppings like nutritional yeast. None of the dishes here used a recipe except for the dressings and the desserts. I was raised in a frozen fish sticks and boiled potatoes home, so there's hope for anyone to learn to cook healthful foods and to change their diet.
Changes In Diet I've Made as a Result of My Research
I had already been vegan for 17 years; these are just the additional changes.
- I eat much more raw foods, much less cooked.
- I eat more veggies.
- I eat more fruit, and it's my only sweetener.
- I eat no refined sugarsno maple syrup, agave, stevia, artificial sweeteners, etc.(honey is not vegan, so I had quit that long ago).
- I eat fewer beans; my 2+ cup a day bean habit is now about 1 cup a day.
- I eat fewer grains, even whole oats and brown rice; breads and crackers are exceptions, not the rule; grains and beans were the bulk of my vegan diet before.
- I have eliminated oils, now consumed only when I'm dining out.
- I've learned to be suspicious of any food that I crave; the neuroscience suggests that this is usually a sign of perverted tastebuds for foods that would not occur or be rare and limited by Nature.
- I've eliminated salt except for naturally occuring salt in celery, small amounts of seaweed, etc.
Unexpected Benefits of My Recent Dietary Changes
- Whole plant food tastes better than ever; flours, processed foods, etc. taste "wrong" somehow, like they're artificial food, not real. Processed foods may excite my tastebuds, but they never satisfy. The smell of animal foods and dairy disgusts me; I suspect I would hate the taste and texture if I had to eat them. When I had grilled cheese 6 months after quitting dairy in 1993, it tasted like melted dirty sock.
- From quitting sugar in 2012: Mild but ever-present pain magically disappeared from my left shoulder and knees from injuries in 2010 and 2011.
- I'm less fooled by marketing tricks and can better tell the difference between "health food hype" and real health food.
- I feel more confident about my dietary choices and generally more at peace, knowing that my diet is aligned with my values.
- I just feel better in ways that are hard to describe.
- I'm enjoying cooking for a change.
- From quitting oils in 2013: I lost about a pound every 3 weeks without trying and even though I ate all I wanted and was full all the time. I had no intention of losing weight; it just happened. This is still true; if I eat oils or sugars, even just one or two meals, I gain a little weight overnight; I lose it if I go back to my normal, whole plant food only eating. My weight has always been fairly stable, and I've never dieted. By 2012, I had slowly gained about 10 pounds between the ages of 21 and 41, before I went vegan. I gained about another 5 pounds between 42 and 60.
Changes in Reasons for Being Vegan I've Made as a Result of My Research
Environment and health were my original reasons for being vegan. These are new reasons, in no particular order. My studies have been a real eye-opener! These are just the highlights; the rest are throughout this website.
- Social Justice, Human Rights: animal-based diets contribute to human starvation
- Racism: increased awareness of the illnesses inflicted on people of color from USDA dietary recommendations and white culture assumptions about dairy consumption
- Feminism: Reproductive abuse and forced hyper-reproductivity of chickens, cows, and pigs (wild birds only produce two clutches a year, cows have been bred to produce hyper levels of milk, etc.)
- Locavore Myth: Realizing that "local" cows, chickens, and so on have very little environmental benefit
- Feminism: Realizing the horrific emotional trauma of constantly taking (calf) babies from their moms
- Animal Justice/Animal Rights: new understanding that the other animal nations have a "right to life" and the inherent right to be free of human domination and exploitation (trust me, you have NOT heard this side of the story; I hadn't!)
- Evolutionary as well as Cultural (Ideological): realizing that we've adapted culturally to eat meat, grains, refined foods, etc. BUT NOT biologically; that is, we haven't EVOLVED to eat the way we do, we've merely ADAPTED to it; the horrific costs of these changes don't outweigh the benefits, and evolution now requires that we stop eating that way
- Spiritual: my Nature-based spirituality answers to Nature; anatomy, evolution, and health science all indicate that Nature designed us as non-meat-eaters in the food chain and Web of Life
Changes in Attitudes I've Made as a Result of My Research
- Understanding scientific research is much easier and more enjoyable now that I know the basics of how to tell real science from pseudo-science.
- It's much easier to feel compassion for people who think they "can't change" their diet now that I understand the neuroscience of food cravings.
- It's much easier for me to make dietary and other changes now that I understand the neuroscience and have also learned the internal and external tools needed to change.
- I've generally found it helpful to see how all the different aspects come together, which is sooooo different that studying only one area like health.