Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vegetarianism, Routine, Control and Semblence of Positive Direction

I decided to stop eating meat three weeks ago. It's not the first time I've drastically altered my diet in this direction. I went vegan cold turkey in the late eighties - no meat or dairy; nutritionally speaking - no animal anything. To make a long story shorter, that attempt went well except that I didn't know at the time that my coffee intake would affect me as it did. My body reacted dramatically to the amount of coffee that I was drinking on a daily basis to the point that I went to the doctor to determine why I felt the way I did. You see, I didn't know it was the coffee. In truth, I thought I had a neurological disease. The doctor couldn't determine anything but soon thereafter I had a conversation with a waitress friend regarding her boyfriend, caffeine and the splitting headache he had for three days after he quit coffee cold turkey. Apparently after the three day migraine all the other symptoms ended including shaking and nausea. Interestingly for me, those "other symptoms" were exactly what I was experiencing on a daily basis and I decided to quit coffee on the spot. I had a headache for only one day and then felt better than I had in, like, forever. Yippee; problem solved. Except that I had stopped my vegan dietary experiment just prior to ending my intake of coffee/caffeine because I thought that my nervous shaking and sour stomach was caused by lack of animal protein. Silly me; I never resumed the new diet. Between then and now I have on two separate occasions half heartedly attempted to delete meat from my diet. Both incidences were short term limited successes. During the last occasion I was working two jobs and was never really home to cook or even plan my diet correctly. So be it. My partner had a more lengthy achievement - his first time being vegetarian and he lasted several months. My lack of commitment was undoubtedly the reason he reverted to flesh eating ways.

Flash forward. My partner and I live in a new city, in a new country. I am unemployed. And my lack of a solid routine became too much to bear. I spend hours daily job hunting. That is good. On some level I believe I am making progress despite still not being employed. But one must purposely leave the house routinely or become insane. I don't know how my cat does it. I have always been a rather active, almost physically manic person. My social energy is also quite generous. To release these pent up energies I joined a gym. I go three days a week and, believe me, those days are glorious. The alternate days can be rough. Attending the gym every day would ruin it because I find my fitness club of choice lacking. I will leave those details for a future posting. Going every day would also be like continuously being in the house and I would lose motivation. I am contemplating a return to swimming laps on those alternative days I don't work out at the gym. And meditation. And perhaps, yoga if and when I find employment. And volunteer work. It is all about meaningful daily structure and mental and physical balance of which the vegetarian thing has a part.

I have no issue with killing animals for nutrition. It's how nature works. What I do have an issue with is how we treat those animals beforehand. Animals are not products and should not be treated as such. There is something very attractive to me about making a dietary statement that is both better for me nutritionally and also spares unnecessary suffering. There are also legitimate environmental reasons to reduce or eliminate meat from one's diet. Again, I will spare anyone reading this those details. They are readily available on the internet, in books and magazines. I should also state for the record that I enjoy eating meat. It's yummy. I dread the day I am "assaulted" by the smell of grilling lamb chops. But, interestingly, I also find I don't miss eating meat either.

I am not eating vegan this time 'round. Not yet anyway. I am not a milk drinker and never have been. I use a bit of half and half in my coffee when it is purchased outside my home. Home brewed coffee is always dairy free. And I continue to eat eggs, though Eric and I have been purchasing free range, "organic" eggs for a very long time. And we don't eat all that many. We recently discarded half a carton because they had been in the refrigerator long past their expiration date. Cheese is a horse of a different colour. A whole 'nother megillah. I. Love. Good. Cheese. If life is too short to drink bad wine, it is also too short to eat processed, industrial, or commercial cheese. I'm just sayin'. Obviously this is my challenge if I am to eat properly and reduce my blood cholesterol and related levels through diet. Oh, yeah, I have excessively high cholesterol. It appears to be genetic.

I began the endeavor while Eric was travelling for work three weeks ago. I had already been eating this way for a week when he returned. He jumped on board the SS Vegetarian immediately and with enthusiasm. It's going really well. Back in the day I read several well known and highly regarded books on vegetarianism. This time around I am re-educating myself using the internet. Information and recipes are only a couple of key punches away which makes it all much less of a hassle. And enjoyable.

So far, so good. We both seem quite content.


Anonymous said...

Hope you find a job soon! I totally understand what you mean by the routine thing. My first year in Canada, I barely work (going from contracts to contracts, as I was still a part time student) and I hated it after 6 months. Made me feel like I didn't belong...

I eat very little meat (please, don't look at my last post, you'd be vegetarian forever :D ). In Europe, after the mad cow disease thing in the 90s, nobody was willing to take the risk.

I don't call myself a vegetarian, but I don't feel the need to have meat... I like veggies best. I do eat eggs and cheese though!

Adam said...

Yup, no meat for a month and only three occasions where I ate fish. There is vacuum sealed meat in the fridge for the parents if they visit...I have no interest in it.

In regard to Mad Cow Disease, my partner and I actually know a man who lost his wife to it...and has also tested positive for it. Heartbreaking. I've eaten so much red meat in my life, I don't want to think about it.