Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 19

Something interesting I've noticed...everyone wants to know "how long" I plan on being a vegetarian. I think it is an interesting social reminder that we do "diet" after "diet" looking for short term results. I intend on being vegetarian for the forseeable future (although Thanksgiving is my one exempt day should I happen to be state-side over the holiday). I decided to tell people one year just so they have an answer and will leave me alone, but it is odd that everyone wants to put a deadline on it.

So far I have been vegetarian for 19 days and I haven't missed meat at all. Sure, finding something on the menu that is meat-free can be tricky but all in all I haven't found myself wishing I could eat the meaty things. Maybe it's because I have lost three pounds already, maybe it is because I feel better inside and out. Maybe it's because we don't really need meat like we think we do. I've been reading The China Study and it describes some interesting findings regarding the intake of full proteins in our diets (especially intriguing/terrifying is the link between protein intake and the development and advancement of cancer; worth a read for sure). Our bodies are fully capable of taking the building blocks of protein and putting them together. We don't need to eat full proteins like we think. This was the biggest myth I personally suffered from before I went meatless. I always worried about how vegetarians and vegans got enough protein to remain functional. I've been less good about going egg/cheese-less (though I've only had cheese twice since I started so that's a lot better than I thought I could do. One of those was purely out of tradition as I didn't know when I could eat Nachos with E at D'Edge again; it could be a loooong time). Our bodies are so much more complex than we think and yet beautifully simple. What goes in determines what comes out in terms of strength, endurance, energy, happiness, or on the flip side lethargy, sleepiness, weakness and fatigue. I have felt sooooo much better the last couple of weeks. And I haven't even had time to really delve into all the great new recipes I'm finding and really work on good full meals. I'm looking forward to having a few weeks off to myself so I can build a solid base for my eating habits. I'm also really excited to be able to work out every morning and start my day with that after-exercise euphoria.

On a more humble note, I have also started embracing the label of Being a Vegetarian. At first, I was reluctant to mention it to anyone. You get a lot of those, "oooohhhh, you're one of those" when you mention you don't eat meat. And even more of the "I don't know if we can still be friends" when you mention you are also borderline vegan (I am still forced to say "borderline" to not get completely cast out of my social circles; and I am part of some pretty liberal social circles, might I add). While I could never be fully vegan (due to the aforementioned cheese/dairy addiciton) I respect the decision to devote yourself to such dietary "restrictions" (I give it the air quotes because, as it turns out, there are sooooo many foods you can still eat if you cut out animal products. It is far less limiting than you imagine). I know that vegetarianism/veganism have hints of hippiness and tree-huggerness, but what exactly is so wrong with that? I know that personally I don't enjoy being defined as part of a certain group because it suddenly becomes ALL you are. I don't like to have people make assumptions about what I like to do, listen to, watch, etc based on one small fact about who I am. I prefer people to learn about me as a person and understand that I am part of soooo many different groups of people and have soooo many overlapping interests I am not definable by one lable. This is the case with every person in the world, of course, which is why I get so annoyed when people make generalizations (ignore the sweeping generalization made in that sentence...). Ok, soap box aside, I have become more ok with the Vegetarian badge being added to my ever expanding list of things I am proud of. I am willing to take the hits that come with it because I am enjoying it a lot so far :)