Friday, May 13, 2011

Being a Vegetarian…again?

I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years; I was what is considered a lacto-ovo vegetarian* which meant I ate dairy and the occasional egg and to some that may not be a “true” vegetarian. Shortly after college I started to re-introduce fish and seafood back into my diet and then chicken and then eventually red meat. Why did I start eating animals again? Well actually the main reason was for my health; which was also one of the reasons I became a vegetarian to begin with. While in college I wanted something quick and cheap so pasta was usually the answer, we didn't have a cafeteria. Not to mention all the pizzas, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, alcohol and late nights. I just wasn't getting the nutrients I needed. We occasionally had group dinners and a lot of wine.

So why am I even talking about this? Well I have been sharing vegetarian recipes with a co-worker whose daughter is a vegetarian and I have also been trying to eat a lot better and take better care of myself. I have actually been craving vegetarian meals, including tofu, tempeh and various other plant based foods. I have always been good about eating my veggies but I am in need of a change and I think this is what I need. I have already gotten my husband to agree on eating a couple meatless meals a week (I will just need to figure out ones he will at least try.) Just because I am ready to make some changes, doesn’t mean that I am ready to cut animal product out of my diet all together yet. I am not expecting my husband to change, but I would ask that he be open minded and willing to try it. He has been supportive so far and has even bought me new vegetarian cookbooks. Because he makes dinner during the week I don't want him to feel like he has to do anything special for me. He has and still is supporting me through my weight loss even though it cuts into our time, and I feel guilty sometimes for it.

Now once again I am making this change mostly for health, I am older and more aware of what my body needs. Not to mention I have lost about 20 pounds and I refuse to gain it back. I need variety in my diet and currently I feel like as much as I try I just don’t feel like I am getting what I what or need. My plan is to reduce my meat intake, especially red meat, this time also weaning off dairy. I can see myself someday going to complete plant based diet again but for right now, my reason or excuse is that I don’t think it is fair to my family. I know that I can not expect anyone else to change because of me, especially when the other people are used to a meat based diet and feels the need to have meat at every meal. Little by little I am going to make some changes, and introduce new foods to my family. Since it is farmer’s market season I have decided that every week or two I am going to pick up a vegetable or fruit that I have never had, made or just want to try. I got a timid okay when I suggested this but I think it will be good to taste new things. There are at least three different markets that I will be frequenting this season so I am sure I will be able to find new things.

Here is where I may upset some people; my first reason for not eating animals would be for health. Animal rights are a secondary and bonus. When it comes to factory farms I do agree that the way animals are treated is wrong. But I really try not to think about it, I know that is awful and I shouldn’t think that way, but it just is what it is. I do think that as a whole there are other more important things to be concerned with. I have been listening to a podcast called Vegetarian Food for Thought, by Compassionate Cook and it makes you really think about the animals and the rights they don’t have. I find it very educational and inspiring; the link for Compassionate Cook below.

Ok, I could keep on rambling on but I will leave you now with a few definitions and links…

*A vegetarian diet focuses on plants for food. These include fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds and nuts. There is no single type of vegetarian diet. Instead, vegetarian eating patterns usually fall into the following groups:

The vegan diet, which excludes all meat and animal products


The lacto vegetarian diet, which includes plant foods plus dairy products


The lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes both dairy products and eggs


Links I find useful and educational:


The Savvy Vegetarian
Vegetarian Times
PETA
Compassionate Cook