Monday, September 5, 2011

Vegetarian assumptions (You know what assuming does!)

Here is an article about one of the most common questions vegetarians get:  How do you get enough protein?

I can't even count the number of times I had to explain that i'm not trying to "convert" people to become vegetarian this week!  I began this blog to convince people to educate themselves on healthy eating and make healthier choices.  I can also assure you that i'm not preaching that eating meat is bad, or that vegetarians are superior, because they aren't by any means.  However, vegetarians are educated on nutrition and where their food comes from.  And that's what I hope to accomplish; to encourage people to educate themselves on nutrition and make more conscious choices.  :-)

Whether you eat meat or not, the fact is that you get the majority (and the most vital) of your nutrients from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  Sure, you get protein and iron from meat.  However, from beans, whole grains like quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), and rich vegetables like spinach, you get protein, iron, calcium, vitamins D and K, and countless micronutrients that are vital in preventing diseases such as cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and diabetes.  So keep eating that meat you love, no problem!  But choose lean healthy versions, and include MANY more of these healthy veggies and grains in your diet!  Our nation is in an epidemic.  And I can promise you out of the many patients I have had contact with that were towards the end of their life, not ONE single person has said "I'm so glad I ate all the yummy crap I could!".  They ALL say "I wish I had taken better care of my health when I had the chance." 

Out of all the people that have made derogatory or negative assumptions about decision to no longer eat meat, not one of these people could say cutting meat out of your diet was the unhealthy way to go.  Why?  Because everyone knows it's not!  For some reason people get defensive and judgemental when you mention your diet choice, like it is something personal.  My favorite is "Good luck with your choice", which vegetarians interpret as "I think your a fucking idiot, even though I know absolutely nothing about nutrition, but I don't want to look like an ass so i'll just try to seem supportive".  Harsh, I know.  But so are some of the attitudes that are thrown at vegetarians and vegans.  Meat eaters and vegetarians alike can live in the same world and respect each other's choices, if they would just stop pointing fingers at the other.

So, about my week...Things got kind of turned around unexpectedly.  My BFF lost her mom in the beginning of the week.  She had been battling dementia for a long time and lost her battle this week.  We have been best friends for almost 20 years now.  Her family is like a second family to me, and vice versa, so it was heartbreaking to see her mom go and to see my friend have to go thru that.  This meant, of course, that my birthday cookout was cancelled.  So, my new meatless item of the week was changed from my planned meatless Italian sausage as planned.  For lunch Friday I tried Tofurky meatless deli slices.  I loaded it up with light mayo, colby jack cheese, and hummus.  Unfortunately I wasn't too crazy about it.  :-(  But, I didn't expect to fall in love with every meatless dish or meat substitute that I tried!  It wasn't horrible, but wasn't great either.  I also tried the Boca American style veggie burger, and I thought it was pretty darn good!  That's saying a lot since i'm quite picky when it comes to veggie burgers. :-)

Since my birthday cookout was cancelled/postponed, I headed to World Fest with my family that day.  I knew I would be able to find multiple things to eat there since most cultures aren't really meat based, and I was pretty excited to try some new things.  I had a roasted corn on the cob (always one of my favorites!), goat cheese and crabmeat spring rolls (yummy!), some grilled plantains, and gelato!  They also had a stand with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches I would have loved to have tried with ingredients you don't normally find on a traditional grilled cheese, but my stomach is only so big! :-D

So i'm going in to week 3 of no meat, and still no regrets and no meat cravings.  It is exciting to come up with new and different meals instead of the same boring things I would typically eat before.  Before I would come home, grab something usual for dinner, and down the same, boring food as the week before.  Now I can actually look forward to something new every night.  I'm still reading books and blogs on vegetarian cooking and lifestyles.  I want to learn as much as possible, and get new ideas on how to keep my diet from getting boring and eat as healthy as possible.  So, so far so good!

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