Do or Do Not.

Archive for the ‘vegetarianism’ tag

Different Energies (Or Lack Thereof)

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Today, I discovered an interesting side effect of eating a mostly vegetarian diet: the kind of hungry I now get in the late afternoon is totally different from the kind of hungry I’m used to.

See, in the olden days of last week, if I didn’t eat enough at lunchtime (or sometimes even if I did), then by the time the late afternoon rolled around, my stomach would be crying out for me to put more food in it. I’d feel hunger pangs down at the bottom of my stomach, and I’d have to feed it — and I could shovel pretty much anything into it to shut it up. Frequently, this late-afternoon food craving would carry with it a serious inability to concentrate, so even if I wanted to ignore the noises emanating from my stomach, I still had to eat to get my brain back online so I could get work done.

But today… OK, so I had what I thought was a pretty decent amount of food for lunch (a couple of delicious veggie fajitas), but I didn’t have anything else to eat in the afternoon, as I was avoiding the high-sugar desserts offered at the conference I was attending. Big mistake there. After the conference, I chose to walk home the two miles from Alewife, but I realized pretty quickly that I just didn’t have the energy for the walk. (Well, I thought I didn’t — I pushed through and made it, but for a while I wasn’t sure I was gonna.)

The hunger that hit me was of a different timbre than the hungers I’m used to: it wasn’t as much a stomach-oriented feeling of “must put food in belly” as much as it was a whole-self-oriented “must put energy in body.” It was… a bizarre feeling for me. I mean, I’m used to being somewhat low-energy a lot of the time, but more in a heavy-sluggish way than in a out-of-fuel way, if that makes much sense.

Got home, ate a ton of salad and felt much better.

On the plus side, however, I did not get the brain fog that I not-so-infrequently get in the afternoons, even when I’d been sitting in a giant salon in a hotel listening to people talk about building websites all day. So I’ll take that as a win.

Man, who knew learning to eat differently could be so damn difficult?

Also: while I’m on the topic of vegetarianism, I’ll share a video my friend Dwight that he thought I’d appreciate and that I likewise think you might enjoy:

Written by Allen

May 25th, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Posted in Personal

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Hold the Beef

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One week ago, I gave up eating meat.

This dietary change was one I’ve been contemplating for quite a while — I’ve been eating meat mainly out of reflex and habit for some time instead of eating it because I wanted to. Meat has, for the most part, been a vehicle to get other bits of yumminess into me. I’d almost cut meat out a couple of times before, and had managed to cut it down quite a bit, but over the last year I’d been eating more of it because while Terry was pregnant with Andrew (and even now while she’s still nursing him), she wanted meat all the flippin’ time.

But last Sunday night, we watched Food, Inc., a documentary about the industrialization of the food industry in the United States. And it totally and completely horrified me (as was, I’m reasonably sure, the director’s point — he wasn’t going for subtle).

I'm not eating these anymore.

I'm not eating these anymore. (Photo by dirkjankraan.com)

Can I tell you a secret, though? I wanted to be horrified. Not because I want to feel disgusted by the food I eat or the process by which that food gets to me, but because I knew that’s how I’d feel and I wanted that final kick in the pants to encourage me to make this change. For a long time, I avoided thinking or reading too much about the foods I eat because I knew what would happen if I did so and I didn’t want to change the way I ate. Now, however, I wanted that revulsion to push me over the edge. I realize it probably doesn’t say wonderful things about my internal motivation techniques that I had to do so, but hey, whatever works, right?

I’m taking it slowly so far. There’s not a lot I feel I’m denying myself at this point[1]. Right now I’m not eating big hunks of meat (or even little hunks of meat), but if I have, say, broccoli and cheddar soup made with chicken stock (as happened on Tuesday), I’m not going to beat myself up about it too badly. I suspect that as I get further into this change, I’ll be even more stringent about avoiding meat-related bits in what I eat. Brian assures me that the less meat I eat, the less tolerance I’ll have for those other bits I’m still not stressing about now, so we’ll see.

I’ll admit to still having some philosophical issues and contradictions to work out in my head. Given that I’m largely (though not entirely) giving up meat because I don’t like the way farm animals are treated at the massive food factories, how can I still justify eating eggs, for instance? Or drinking milk? The animals who provide most of my eggs and milk likely aren’t treated any better. We do try to buy locally-grown eggs and milk from happy cows and chickens when we can, but realistically, that’s not always possible — especially with the amount of milk we go through in our family.

It’s funny… in my younger days, I made fun of vegetarians for not eating animals by invoking the concept of the food chain — certain animals exist primarily for us to eat. I mean, c’mon — a cow’s only real functions are to create milk, more cows, and methane. But even so, that doesn’t make what the food industry does to them morally correct.

My friend Molly told me that her basic principles when it comes to choosing foods to eat essentially come down to these: 1. Be good to her body. 2. Be kind to the earth. 3. Be gentle toward other creatures. …and I think that’s more or less it. I want to feel like I’m making the best choices I can for my health (after almost forty years of, well, not), and I want to feel like I’m not doing harm with my choices. I can’t pledge perfection, but I think that at least considering what it is I’m doing and trying to make better choices counts for a lot.

I’m not on a crusade here — I’m not saying that no one should ever eat meat. If you want meat, eat it to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content. And honestly, I’m not even saying I’ll never ever put meat in my mouth again[2], though it doesn’t seem likely any time soon and if I do, it’ll have to be from happy, ethically-treated cows or chickens.

For now, though — and quite possibly forever — I’m done with it. I’m opting out. A week in, I’m still feeling good about this decision — I feel like it’s going to make me a healthier person and a better citizen of the planet.

[1] Though I did just now make the mistake of thinking about the big-ass piles of meat I so enjoy at Redbones, and I’ll admit that gave me a little twinge of loss.
[2] That’s what she said.

Written by Allen

May 23rd, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Personal

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