Friday, April 1, 2011

Veggie Adventures

I don't know if it's a springtime phenomenon or something deeper, but every so often I have this intense desire to become a vegetarian. I've tried it several times in the past with varying levels of success. But then something will happen (like a bbq with AMAZING ribs) and I fall off the veggie wagon and back to flesh eating debauchery. It's not that I don't like the taste of meat, I really do! But anytime I really consider where my food comes from, the process it goes through from pasture to table, I get queasy. I have been doing a lot of work around mindfulness lately and part of that is being mindful of what I eat and where it comes from and what kind of impact it has (beyond that of my waistline). The goal is to bring my diet in line with my convictions. Actually, the ultimate goal is to align my LIFE with my convictions... as soon as I figure out what they are exactly. But for now we'll focus on diet.

I am an animal lover, I always have been. In fact, it's been said (by more than one person) that I love animals more than people, and there is probably a grain of truth to that. My process for being more mindful of my food choices starts with understanding where my food comes from and how it gets from farm to table. I could never hunt anything, or slaughter a chicken, I don't even like the idea of catching a fish. And if I were able to do any of those things, it'd certainly be done more humanely than the methods used in commercial farms and processing plants. If I can't stomach the process in which my food is produced, I can't stomach the food. So with this in mind I watched a few (thankfully short) videos about poultry and beef production in the US and it literally made my stomach turn. I won't go into the gory details (and they are VERY GORY) but you can do a google search for yourself if you are interested. I would never kill an animal, so why would it be OK to eat the flesh of an animal someone else killed?

The last few times I attempted to go veg I went cold turkey (no pun intended). I even did a raw food vegan experiment which lasted about 5 months and ended with me having a cheese binge that lasted 2 weeks (I went to The Cheese Iron in Scarborough and bought amazing cheese and had wine and cheese and crackers for dinner every night for 2 weeks). So learning from my past mistakes I've decided to ween myself off meat gradually. I've cut out red meat and pork already which was pretty easy since I didn't eat it very often to begin with. Next it's poultry. This should be pretty easy after watching that video; honestly, chickens probably have it the worst in terms of how they are raised and slaughtered, truly disturbing. Then I'll cut out fish/seafood. I will still eat organic dairy products and local or humanely raised eggs. Lucky for me, I love vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and even tofu! Tofu is a funny thing, I love it when I get it in a restaurant or when someone else makes it, but every time I've tried to make tofu it's awful! I'll need to learn how to cook tofu properly.

Dinner time will be interesting at our house. My fiance is a carnivore to the extreme. He basically eats just meat and potatoes (there are 3-4 veggies he'll eat depending on how they are prepared). As it is now, I make one version of dinner for him and one for me, so I'm basically making 2 dinners every night that I cook (which is most nights). So far it's been fine.

I think going vegetarian will be a very good thing for me. I can feel good about the food I'm eating (not only because it's nutritious, but also an ethical choice for me) and all the latest research shows that a vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest diets to follow.

What are your thoughts on vegetarianism?

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