It wasn’t planned.

Last October my doctor told me my cholesterol was twice as high as it should be, well into the danger zone. He said he was going to put me on medication that I would have to take for the rest of my life.  “I want you to start right away but I’ll give you eight weeks to change your diet. Eat less red meat, eat chicken breasts—the white meat only, and fish … ” I had already been eating this way for quite some time (as the rest of my life was falling apart, I’d thought this was the one thing I was doing right) but I said nothing as I panicked and my morale sank even lower into something beneath depression; I went underneath that and entered the realm of sub-depression.

His clear blue eyes looked straight into mine as he continued, “That might lower it a bit but it won’t be enough, so we’ll do another blood test in eight weeks and then I’ll put you on the medication.” I think the good doc might have been doing some sort of psychological aikido motivational thing here, because without saying a word to him I decided right there at that instant that I was going to be—no, I was now from that moment on, a vegetarian.

Back home, I sent a message to my friend Nana: “Can you recommend one book or resource to start off with? … I’m concerned about getting enough protein and about finding out what can actually help reduce cholesterol and oh, yeah, on top of that, I have to lose 25 pounds. So a few lifestyle changes are obviously in order. And I hate tofu! So I’m sort of up the creek, here. I’m off to a vegetarian restaurant … Never thought I’d see the day …”

Half an hour later I sent her another message: “So I nixed the restaurant idea … and am enjoying (?) my own bizarre creation: a spinach, cantaloupe, almond and sesame seed salad (without dressing). Can’t say I’m a fan, and I’m feeling slightly bogus, like an imposter or something …

Nana got back to me a half hour later. She mentioned something called The China Study, and provided a link to a video of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who she told me “is famous for treating Bill Clinton.”

She suggested following the video with a look at a vegetarian/vegan food guide pyramid, and mentioned a Dr. Greger and a Dr. Barnard. I didn’t get far enough to actually read anything. I Googled the China Study and saw way more reading material than I had the energy to confront. I got halfway through the video and stopped it. I had no mental energy left to figure out whether or not I was going to use olive oil or something else. I’d made the decision. I was going to make this as simple as possible: vegetarianism was now already behind me – I was now a vegan. Done.

I had no idea how to proceed or what groceries to buy and I felt overwhelmed and terrified but I knew that one thing: I was now a vegan. Done.

So that happened.

It’s almost a year later I’m still on the vegan path.

Thank you, Nana. More to follow.




(Very Important Note: Women can be Vegan Yoga Dudes, too. This is written in stone but as always, I’m open to discussion or debate.)

The first version of this “How To …” elicited a comment which made me reflect and reconsider. As a result, I’ve changed it up a bit. The new thing allows for temporary states of Vegan Yoga Dudeness. It’s an inclusive program: there’s room for all in this tent.

1. Say “I am a vegan yoga dude” before or after eating something that is not meat, fish, eggs or dairy. You can also say it between mouthfuls, but only after swallowing. Don’t talk with your mouth full.

2. Say “Namaste.” Ideally to another human being, if anyone’s around. If not, say it to your dog, your cat or the fridge.

3. Do any form of yoga whatsoever. You can even just mimic and make fun of whatever you think yoga looks like, and hey! make jokes while you do it, too! Strike a pose. “Hey, look! Sideways cow!* Ha ha ha!” Go wild; it’s all good. If you say you’re doing yoga, then you’re doing yoga, according to the Vegan Yoga Dude guidelines.

4. Right up until your next intake of meat, fish, eggs or dairy you will be a temporary Vegan Yoga Dude. Rock that Dudeness. (That’s the action step right there, okay? Rock your Vegan Yoga Dudenesss.)

That’s it. Congratulations.


*Thanks, Franklin, for the “sideways cow” thing. I like that.


(Note: Women can be Vegan Yoga Dudes, too.)

1. Say “I am a vegan yoga dude.”

2. Integrate the word “dude” into as many conversations as possible.

3. Skip the meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. (If you’re a Canadian, you can start this part tomorrow, so by all means, go ahead and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. You’re welcome.)

4. Do yoga. (There are many videos available on YouTube.)

Congratulations: You are a full-fledged Vegan Yoga Dude. Carry on.



In the thirteen days since I began this blog, it has been read by people in 12 countries on five continents. Trinidad is merely 11 kilometers off the coast of Venezuela, so if I wanted to stretch the truth I might include South America and say six continents. It has triggered a few stimulating conversations both online and offline.

And so what, you might ask. And I’d agree. So what?

I don’t have an answer to that.

Here’s the list of countries:


United States

Trinidad and Tobago





United Kingdom





So that happened.

I don’t think this is earth-shattering (I’ve seen other ventures—not mine—expand much further and more quickly), and it actually makes me a bit nervous (so what do I do now?) but I’d like to put the following spin on it:

I procrastinated forever before starting this. If you’ve been thinking of starting something, there’s no time like now. Start. You’ll never know what’s going to happen unless you start. Summon up all your mojo and make your move. Step up to the edge and jump and see what happens. At the very least you’ll learn something. Good luck.

And that right there is probably about as explicitly inspirational as it’s ever going to get with me here, folks. If you can find any other inspiration in this ongoing reporting venture as I explore Vegan Yoga Dudeness, then that’s great. I’ll be attempting to stick to “Just the facts. M’am.” (We’ll see how long that lasts.)



Until recently, I had no interest in yoga. When I was physically active, I’d always done something aerobic with lots of impact and bouncing, like running, or, well, aerobics. Yoga was for those other people: people who … did yoga. The word itself made me think of incense and exotic music and hippies and Indian words like chakra.

Last year I met Christa, a fellow editor, for only the second time in person. We’d met years earlier at a conference, at which she led a workshop on Yoga for Editors. I didn’t understand why editors, or for that matter anybody in their right mind, would bother with all that twisting and bending. I didn’t participate in the workshop, but I remember seeing Christa doing one of those impossible-looking bending-backwards-till-your-hands-touch-the-floor moves. I thought the whole thing was a bit unusual, if not a little loopy. Why would any sane person do that? It just looked so … painful.

Last year when we met again, it was still months before I’d started this new hot yoga thing, and I had never done a yoga class or even tried a yoga pose at this point. I had mentioned on the phone that I’d recently gone vegan to lower my cholesterol levels. When we met for coffee at a busy restaurant, Christa insisted on showing me a few yoga poses and moves that were supposed to help reduce cholesterol. Right there, right away, in the restaurant. Her son Yarrow and her friend Stan calmly ignored us and kept chatting while we walked around and around looking for some space to do whatever it was we were going to do.

I don’t remember much other than being down on the floor beside Christa, both of us in the push-up or plank position, and listening intently to her instructions and following along with whatever moves she was doing, and watching the waitress’s feet going back and forth a few inches from our faces. That’s a pleasant and funny memory for me, that visual of those feet going back and forth almost under my nose. It might not have been that much fun for the poor waitress, however.

Christa, you planted a few seeds that day, there, down on the floor in the coffee shop. Thank you again. That was my first-ever experience of doing yoga. I’m sure few in my yoga class, or anywhere, can say their introduction to yoga was on the floor of a busy coffee shop. And, not that she’ll ever read this, but apologies again to the waitress, who was very sweet about it. I’m not entirely sure about that last bit, but at least nobody kicked us. I’m sure about that.

More to follow. Namaste


Empty Dojo

Newsflash! Oh, snap! The mojo has left the dojo! Zounds!

Flash forward to four months after my first Hot Yoga class. So far, no trips to the Emergency Ward, and I’m enjoying a new, deeper level of serenity as I go about my daily business. There’s this curious … thing, however, involving some pretty far-reaching serenity of a kind I did not expect … extending far beyond the areas where I thought I’d experience such … peace. Let’s call it … full-body serenity.

For the record, I’d noticed a significant uptick on the zesty frisky scale when I began practising Hot Yoga, and I’ve read that this is pretty much the norm. I’m a wee bit surprised, therefore, at how amazingly calm the seas have become, recently. I’m not panicking over it, just … observing and pondering.

Now this might not sound like a ringing endorsement of Hot Yoga or a plant-based diet (and I’m not trying to promote either, here), but let’s all stay calm, and please try to avoid jumping to conclusions. Bear with me, and read on: I’m convinced it has nothing to do with the Hot Yoga or veganism, which I believe are great for us, even in that department. Please read that sentence again.

I’m sure that much of this might be due to the fact that I still smoke. Yes, a vegan yoga dude who smokes! I know, I know … I’m heading out shortly to a Quit Smoking Group meeting …

Age is also most certainly a factor, and I know the testosterone level began its gradual descent towards the runway ages ago.

A curious thing is that this new development really feels like a blessing, rather than a problem, and here’s why. I’m frankly delighted that I’m not 18 any more, when it seemed that every passing breeze would get me all revved up and … driven to distraction. I enjoyed that time of my life, but I’m grateful that those days of semi-permanent excitation are over for me. To every thing there is a season, and so forth.

So! Now that All Is Quiet On The Western Front, what to do?

Well, I and my reproductive system have already done our part for the survival of the species. At this stage of my journey, the only purpose of this area of human activity is simply recreation, right? I’m just as happy with the absence of the usual reactions to all the in-my-face sexual stimuli in the environment, the incessant demands on my attention and the ensuing automatic wild sparks of lusty zestiness, as I go about my life. That spell seems to have been broken.

So, again, what am I going to do about this state of affairs?

I’ll post as soon as I’ve answered that for myself. For now it’s just full speed ahead with the Hot Yoga and the plant-based diet. Namaste, everybody.

More to follow (I promise). Thank you and Good Night. Out.