Monday, October 10, 2011

To be or not to be...?

A vegetarian. That is the question. And it's been on my mind for a looong time. Like, a couple of years. You see, in early 2009 I decided to experiment a little. I wanted to try going meatless. Just for a while. Just to see if I could do it. I'd been raised on chicken or beef or fish every night but I'd seen my dad go meatless (although he did eat fish) a couple of times for about a year or so. He was so healthy during that time and I wanted to know if I could do it and become as healthy.

I had also just finished reading the book Eat to Live, which advocates a vegan lifestyle. It really just promotes healthy living, and has so many choices for meat eaters. But ideally promotes vegan or vegetarianism. The book was actually really fascinating. And then I'd prayerfully studied Doctrine and Covenants 89 and wanted to follow it's counsel of eating meat sparingly, in winter and times of famine.

So I did. And at first it was hard. Partly because I missed meat in certain foods. (Like spaghetti. I don't like spaghetti without meat sauce. And chili took some time to get used to without the ground beef.) And partly because I just didn't know what to eat instead. It took some time to build up a stash of recipes that I enjoyed that didn't contain meat. But eventually it got easier and I actually found that I felt amazing! I loved it! I had so much more energy and I was dropping pounds like crazy! I felt incredible! I was probably the healthiest I'd ever been in my entire life. Ever.

But after a while it wasn't super convenient and I sort of just gave up after a few months. And I found myself not enjoying meat at all.

Fast forward about two and a half years...and I'm still wondering why I'm not a vegetarian. I'm more unhealthy than I've ever been, I have little to no energy, and I am always wondering if I should just go back to being a vegetarian.

So I'm weighing out the pros and cons on my blog. And I'm going to ask for your opinions and advice. Not for whether or not YOU should become a vegetarian. But whether or not I should. Because I know most of you don't want to give up your meat. And I don't mind that at all! I wouldn't be doing this because of some moral high ground I've landed on, but because it works best for ME.

Here it goes. Pros. This is the easy list.
*I feel healthier.
*I have more energy.
*I make healthier choices.
*I lose weight quickly and consistently.
*I eat out less simply because there are fewer options.
*I don't have to pay for pricey meat.
*I never have to wait for meat to thaw!
*I feel proud of myself for being dedicated to something.
*And, (here's a TINY little soapbox moment) although I do believe that animals are here for the benefit of man, I think MOST meat eaters are completely irresponsible about it. No one cares where there meat comes from or how it was treated, so long as it comes and at the right price. So we end up inadvertently promoting cruelty to animals and ingesting meat that is pumped full of all kinds of gross chemicals. I don't think most people make educated decisions about where they get their meat or how much meat they eat or anything. I could go on and on about this one. But the basic pro here is that I do feel good morally about not eating meat. (I hope that didn't come off as completely judgmental.)

And the Cons list. Much more complicated.
*I do have several vegetarian recipes now, but not as many as I'd like.
*There are certain things I don't like or won't eat. Like TVP or tofu. Just not a fan. And fake meats. I don't like the idea of fake foods, plus they're processed and not super healthy. So I'll have a veggie burger or whatever rarely. But most vegetarian recipes contain one of these items. This makes it hard for me to get enough protein sometimes. I love beans so I eat lots. And when I go veg, I don't go vegan. I'm just not ready to give up milk and eggs and cheese yet. Although I do buy free range eggs, etc. But my main sources of protein are beans, lentils, and eggs which doesn't provide as much variety as I'd like some days.
*It is really difficult to be a vegetarian when you have to cook for family members who are not. The kids will pretty much eat whatever I give them, but it's hard for them to give up certain things that they love, like hot dogs and pepperoni. And Jason is super supportive, but he also likes meat every now and then. I do make certain meals where they get meat and I skip it. Like fajitas. I love to just pile on the beans and onions and bell peppers and then I cook up some chicken or something on the side for the fam. But it's still hard.
*Meat centered holidays. Thanksgiving. I can eat plenty of the other good stuff and just skip the turkey. But there are also meaty barbecues in the summer. And our traditional Easter meal has always been ham. You get the idea.
*And last, dinner parties. Not that we have them often. But whenever we are invited to eat somewhere else, the main dish is always meat. So either I eat just the sides (which is usually not super filling) or I have to tell someone what to cook when they've invited me over for dinner. And I'm just not comfortable with that.

Those are the main points, at least. And there are more pros than cons for me, for sure. I'm pretty sure I've made up my mind, just from writing all of this out. But I'm still interested in your advice and opinions. Or tips if you have them!!


Tiffany said...

you know me and i vote yes. you should watch the documentary "forks over knives." completely and totally amazing. i haven't been able to call myself a vegetarian or vegan because i do occasionally have those foods.... and by occasionally, i mean rarely. but i am like you. i wonder why i don't just give it up completely. i should share some recipes with you. i just made tofu for the first time about a month ago (tofu alone is disgusting. you have to know how to prepare it to make it good). we never had it before and i've never had tvp. but most of my meals that i make are meatless, eggless, and cheese-less. i totally vote you do it. i think you want to also. and keep in mind, you don't have to have the title. you don't have to cut it out forever. just do most of your stuff without it and once in a while, have some. (if you're like me, it will totally make you sick when you aren't used to having it). it's better for you to not have it, and you can get plenty of protein from plant sources. (that movie talks about how humans only need 5% protein in their diet instead of the 20% most people think, so it isn't an issue getting 5% protein in your diet).

anyway... that's my opinion. you just have to see what works best for you... but don't necessarily go cold turkey. just eat veg and when you want some meat, have some. :)

Hilary said...

I say, based on the many pros you listed, try to be mostly vegetarian, but leave wiggle room for the times you mentioned in cons like holidays and dinner parties and stuff. I'm sure you will still enjoy the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle if you cheat on those rare occasions. That seems to go along with the Word of Wisdom advice to eat meat sparingly also.

If you do go vegetarian, make sure you do your research so you are still getting all the nutrition you need. And be careful with your kids. They really need some of the nutrients in meat, so if they go vegetarian with you you will want to be very mindful of whether they are getting what they need from other sources.

Finally, I don't like TVP much either, BUT I do have some really good TVP Taco that actually tastes good. Even my hubby likes it and he's a tough sell. Let me know if you want info on it.

Hilary said...

Oh, and I would love to see any vegetarian recipes you have!

Paityn Ann said...

Mark and I have been vegetarians for 2 years now. We LOVE it! Do it!

Jason & Kelli West said...

My husband mentioned the other day that he wonders how he would feel if he went meatless. I have thought it too. I think what the others have said is good advice. just eat it sparingly. I have heard the Alicia Silverstone has a vegan cookbook and it supposedly has REALLY good recipes. Whatever you choose I wish you the best.

Scott+Kimber+Ruby=Scimby said...

I was going to write what your friend Tiffany Forks Over Knives. Its on Netflix and we just watched it and it made me want to change how I eat big time! It made me realize how much crap I put into my body and how it has such a huge affect on how I feel and the whole health of my body. Because of watching it, we've decided to make a lot more of our meals meatless. We're not cutting it out all the way, but just trying to make a 2-4 meals a week without meat. (So if you want to pass some of your meatless meals along to me, I would love it!) We're also just trying to eat less processed foods, thats the biggest thing.

SO I say go for it! Go vegetarian! If you feel better that way, more energy, healthier then do it! I think all those things outweigh the cons.

Anonymous said...

I think if this is what you want to do, go do it. It will be hard but eventually that 'cons' list will get smaller and smaller. My mom is a vegetarian, has been for 10+ years now. She always makes sure to prepare things that both satisfy my meat-loving appetite but to also make sure she is getting the nutrients she needs. At Thanksgiving, she brings her own "turkey". I also wanted to point out that you can get major amounts of protein from nuts. Major.

Good luck in whatever you decide.

Nic said...

I am posting here only bc my comment deals with this. So at work today there was a wellness fair and some people were handing out recipes. Some were Vegetarian and Vegan. I am sure you know about this website It is a Vegetarian Resource Group they have a TON of recipes!