Tuesday, October 11, 2011

All-for-one and Vegetarian-for-all?

When I was a single adult, my refrigerator consisted of yogurt, nut butter, apples & beer (with red wine in the cabinet). I had no flippin' idea how to prepare a steak or chicken or fish & never ever bought meat from the supermarket let alone from a farmer. But alas, I met a carnivore who became my partner in life and inspiration to learn what the hockey stick to do with meat.

For 9 years I struggled with those slabs of animal muscles, struggling with the ability to think ahead and defrost in enough time to marinate so the meal would be somewhat palatable. I can't remember a time when I was thrilled with this routine. I hadn't considered eliminating meat products from my diet because I was too conditioned to think there was any other way but I definitely knew I didn't have a craving for the taste or passion for the preparation. Funny side story....the very first time I prepared a turkey for Thanksgiving was a fiasco. I awoke early to get the bird in the oven but completely freaked out by its resemblance to a baby when I grabbed in under the wings to rinse it off. I dropped it like fire in the sink & proceeded to wake my partner to do the dirty deed. Ew. But I digress.

I've had an underlying interest in nutrition for as long as I can remember. My family of origin wasn't overly obsessed but I remember my mom denying water during meals because she'd read it was better for digestion. I also remember being fascinated with a neighbor who made her own peanut butter. And, my best childhood friend was from Vietnam & her house was always filled with the most delicious home cooked meals!  Needless to say, I was attuned to these nutritional "oddities." My inclination towards health lead me to nursing school but my nutritional passion wasn't fed in that arena.  Shortly after graduating, I enrolled in a correspondence program towards a degree in holistic nutrition and there began my life-long journey with food. (I never finished that program, by the way. Boo me.)

Intermingled with an awareness of my body's relationship with food was a desire to live responsibly, caring for Creation with my actions. About 10 years ago we started composting & gardening & looking for ways to sustain this world we were given. My partner is more of a farmer than I so we made a good team in this regard. He tilled the soil & I learned to preserve the harvest.  I found local farmers to provide grass-fed, free-range meat, eggs & raw dairy for our growing family & was convinced that "local" was the answer!

Jump ahead a few years and I started having some minor yet chronic & annoying health issues. Is this age? Is it environmental? Perhaps nutrition based? I tried every conventional & alternative therapy I could muster before having an epiphany that animal products were the culprit! So I became a vegan overnight.....literally.

Being a proud veganista only lasted a month before I started craving dairy & mourning the fact that my chronic issues weren't resolving. Meat wasn't a temptation....cheese was. It didn't take long for me to incorporate a bit of this and a bit of that into my diet and honestly, I was ok with it. Food wasn't curing my ailments. I couldn't add meat back into the regime, though, because of two reasons. For one, I didn't crave it and #2,  I'm convinced our Earth can't sustain the amount of meat we humans consume.

Along this journey, my oldest daughter has joined me in a vegetarian lifestyle but the rest have happily continued their carnivorous ways. Is this ok with me? Heck yeah!

I suppose I'm finally getting to the initial question. Should we all be vegetarians? From my perspective, it's a two part question. Is a low animal product diet better for our Earth? Yes! The amount of resources needed to farm, process & transport meat is excessive. (Sorry, no direct stats but feel free to look that up if you doubt my claims). Is it better for our health? It depends. Years ago I read a book, The Metabolic Typing Diet, and I'm a strong proponent of this philosophy. Basically, we're all individuals and have unique genetic make-ups that require varied dominant food sources to sustain us & keep us healthy. For some, more animal products may be our need. For others, a more plant-based diet is required for optimal well-being. Sounds tricky but all it takes is some self-evaluation and observation. Unfortunately, not enough of us realize that our bodies don't require so many animal products to survive and be content.

I've been meat-free for over 6 months and physically I feel, well, no different. I haven't lost weight, my minor chronic issues haven't resolved & I'm not ready to conquer the world. Otherwise, though, I feel FREE! It's hard to explain but it's as if I'm living the life I was intended. (Corny, sorry). I still prepare locally raised meat for my family (on a much more limited basis) and I surely don't judge others for consuming a piece of meat....unless it's a 20oz steak. I'm not even sure a meat-free diet is best for my vegetarian daughter but so far she's healthy & happy so I leave the decision to her. The verdict is out regarding my other two children but only time will tell.

I'm definitely rambling now but in all this, I hope to convey the desire for all of us to at least consider what's entering out mouths....what's best for our bodies and ultimately, how are my decisions effecting my fellow earthlings & our blessed planet?

Peace ~

1 comment:

  1. It's refreshing to see people acknowledge bio-individuality like you have. Although my personal body cannot function without meat (and specifically, red meat, unground) our family has DRASTICALLY reduced the percentage of meat in our overall diet; and are very careful about the meat we do eat (where it comes from, how it's raised, etc.) I have a passion for nutrition, too. And I love helping people with exactly what you're talking about here. :)