Sunday, February 10, 2008

Not Even Chicken?

I'm a vegetarian.

I don't eat meat. No, not even chicken. No, not even fish. In fact, most of my food choices are vegan, which means I don't even eat milk, dairy or eggs. So think about it. I don't eat cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, Cheetos, quesadillas, omlettes, milkshakes, most cookies or cakes including my beloved cheesecake unless they're vegan (God BLESS you Amanda at Black Sheep Bakery

So what DO you eat?

Right, that's always the next question and it always has an easy answer. EVERYTHING ELSE. Pasta, potatoes, bread, rice, everything green (kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini asparagus, beans, peas, lentils, pears, grapes, apples), everything red or orange (carrots, peppers, squash, yams, cabbage, oranges, apples, pears, grapes), plus nuts and seeds (peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds). I love Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Mexican, African and Indian foods. Yum. Everything I eat has tons of flavor, color and variety. I only get bored with my food as often as anybody else would. Then I know it's time to crack open the cookbook and try something new.

Why are you a vegetarian?

My reasons are many and have been accumulated over several years of personal experience and study. Some people watch a PETA video on how animals are slaughtered and become a vegetarian on the spot vowing to never eat meat again. Maybe they keep that vow, maybe they don't. Who am I to judge? Everyone has their own journey.

For me it has been a sloooowwww process that started with a weight loss effort. I was counting calories like mad and meat was too calorically expensive. So I just ate chicken, which somehow seemed less like meat to me and was also within my meager caloric budget. My husband, who was dieting with me was not a fish or pork fan, kept those items off our plates, so chicken it was. I lost a bunch of weight that summer along with any desire to ever eat chicken again because I'd eaten it everyday twice a day for 12 weeks.

After that I read Marilu Henner's book Total Health Makeover
which included information about food combining and I realized how much easier it would be to food combine and to have a centered diet, so to speak, if meat were not part of the equation.

That Can’t Be Healthy

Scientists around the world who study the relationship between diet and cancer and heart disease agree that a plant-based diet that eschews animal products has a significantly lower risk of causing most cancers than a diet rich in animal products including meat and dairy. In fact, a plant-based diet has been found to prevent cancers and other common diseases that plague those in industrialized nations.

Then I read Food Revolution by John Robbins and that was pretty much it for me. All meat was right out. I had been abstaining from cooking and eating meat at home, but would eat it at my mom's house or with friends or if we went out for dinner if I wanted it. But at this point, my choice was clear. Meat--not for me. It was pretty easy. If I could keep eating without harming any animals, then I would. I had learned how to cook veggie meals I liked by then, so I knew it wouldn't be hard to keep doing that all the time. The hard part came when I was with my family and they pressured me to eat meat. They insisted it wasn't healthy to avoid meat. Any information from Food Revolution I gave them to the contrary was not exactly welcomed, shall we say. We don’t talk about it anymore.

Years passed merrily, as Portland is a verrrrrry veg-friendly town.

Then I recently started reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
, which points out that animal products, specifically the protein they studied in dairy products, casein, is directly linked to cancer, despite the fact that Campbell began his research to disprove such findings. Yet another confrontation to my eating habits, as cheese was still making its way into my diet from time to time. Parmesan on my pasta, mainly. Other than that, I could do without cheese, but parmesan? Damn. In fact, I'm about to go pick up a tofu scramble with sun dried tomatoes, spinach and veggie sausage with a little bit of cheese. It's a tough one for me to give up. I'm especially impressed with Mr. Kick in the Butt Karin, who was a Cheese-a-holic, but who is now completely vegan and reports clear sinuses for the first time in his life.

Another reason for being a veghead. Karma. What goes around comes around, baby. I can eat delicious beautiful healthy non-cholesterol-laden, non-carcinogenic foods everyday and no body has to die. I didn't used to think about things like that, but I do now and that seems to work for me.

Plus, some studies show that eating a plant-based diet all or most of the time is equivalent to driving an insanely fuel-efficient car in terms of environmental friendliness. The amount of industrial waste produced by factory farming, it has been claimed, is the leading cause of global warming, not the usurpation and burning of fossil fuels, though that certainly doesn’t help. (See The Way We Eat, Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.)

So, to recap. My Top Reasons for Being a Vegetarian/Almost Vegan:

1. It's healthy and good for my body. But let's be clear, not all of us vegetarians are pale and tragic waifs. I'm just enough overweight that strangers regularly ask me if I'm pregnant. Damn them. (note to self: lose those last 40 lbs.)
2. It's good for the animals.
3. Karma.
4. It's good for the environment.

So, what are you, and why?
-I'm an omnivore: I eat everything.
-I'm a vegetarian + fish/chicken/cheese/eggs.
-I'm a vegetarian + cheese/eggs.
-I'm a vegetarian + cheese.
-I'm vegan.
Or some other terrific combination?
Everybody has a story or relationship with food. Why do you eat what you eat?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

No One Should Be Up at This Hour

No one should be up at this hour. It's before noon on a weekend day. It's before nine on a weekend day. Despite the fact that I went to bed at 3:46am for reasons I will not discuss here (okay, I'm just a night owl, you dragged it outta me), I am awake a mere five hours later. This was not my plan. As you can imagine, my plan was to sleep until I was NOT TIRED ANYMORE, because that never happens during the week. It's such a fabulous weekend luxury. Go to bed when I want, get up when I want and alarm clocks have nothing to do with it. I know, crazy idea, but I put in my Church and Puritan Work Ethic years. I've already done that time--staying up late on Saturdays (because I'm a night owl), and then waking up at o'dark thirty to Bless the Lord, O My Soul with All That is Within Me. Been there, done that. I believed it made me a better person and now I don't, so now I stay up late on Saturday nights (because I'm a night owl) and then sleep until I'm NOT TIRED ANYMORE. I get plenty done in my life, just not before noon on the weekends. But "damn my shit" if I ain't up when I'm still tired. Let me tell you why.

Because MOTHBALL STROGANOFF MAN is concocting toxic fumes in his laundry room just below our bedroom. He may think he's just doing laundry, but in reality he's slowly killing us. There is no insulation between us to keep out his noxious doings. At 8:25am I woke up on a Sunday morning not because I WASN'T TIRED ANYMORE, but because my eyes, nose and throat burned. Happy F&%Kin' Sunday mornin' to you, too. WTF? I have a giant headache now in addition to the low grade headache I always have. Thanks a LOT buddy. I'm Forever Grateful To You. (You Jesus Freaks, current or former will know what I mean.)

Last night I walked into the house to discover that he was making Mothball Stroganoff, his favorite meal, while smoking. Charming. There is an explicit no smoking policy in this historic building which everyone else seems to be able to adhere to. What makes him so special? Our entire apartment smelled like smoke. If I wanted to smoke, I'd set myself on fire.

Perhaps I need to embrace diversity. Perhaps I haven't fully explored the finer qualities of Smoked Mothball Stroganoff. Perhaps I should ask for the recipe!