Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Things I Didn't Know About Being a Vegetarian Until I Became a Vegetarian

I just stopped.  That was it.  I had a mouthful of clam chowder in my mouth and I had to spit it out.  I had no desire to chew it, smell it, let alone swallow it.  So I didn't.  From that point on - no more flesh.  It was that easy and I have never turned back.  No thinking about it - I just did it.  I became a vegetarian.

When you just drop flesh cold-tofurkey like that, there are things that you learn after the fact.  I am here to share some of those things with you.:

1. Restaurants are really nice about accommodating their menus for vegetarians. I used to miss fish tacos at one of our old favorites, and I expressed that to the server.  He said, no problem, they would substitute zucchini for the fish and now I get my tacos - only way more delicious and less stinky!

2. If you need a quick, prepared meal, there's some great choices at your corner supermarket.  I am so hooked on Amy's Samosas (potato and peas) that I should start a 12-step program for them.  You don't have to go to a specialty grocer to get some great, quick, vegetarian fare.

3. I can do most of my shopping at the farmer's market.  I gather my recyclable bag, and walk around the market until I have so much stuff my shoulder is burning.  It's fun!  (Really)  And so very healthy to eat seasonally and locally.

4. I can grow so many of our favorite veggies and herbs myself.  I have become all about fresh herbs - the legal kind, of course. Artichokes, tomatoes, lettuce, basil, rosemary, chives and anything I can keep away from our Newfie, Cousteau, who also love veggies. (Chive thief!)

5. That I would never, ever crave flesh.  Ever... 

6. That I would not be bothered with other people's choices around me.  I don't ever try to impose my choices on my family - and they don't try to impose theirs on me.  My husband and kids are all omnivores.  However, they do know that if this herbivore cooks, that we are having a vegetarian meal.  They have yet to complain.

7. That I would have more energy than ever.  I get up every morning around 5am, do yoga and don't quit until 5pm. It's awesome to have so much energy.

8. Apparently my life insurance premiums will be cheaper.  I have read this in a number of places, but have yet to confirm it.  Sounds like something I need to address.

9. "Fake Meat" as my kids call it, tastes great in chili or spaghetti red sauce.  Fake cheese is still nasty to me.  I have tried them all and will keep on trying until this desire is fulfilled.  If you have found any fake cheese winners, please pass them on.

10. B-12 and iron need to be supplemented.  I have read several studies on this (some agree and some disagree)  and know what works best for me.  B-12 supplements I take daily, iron - only during a heavy menstrual cycle.

11.A dairy cow's life is nearly as miserable as a beef cows.  So very sad news, but I rarely now touch dairy as a result.

12. I am not only living, I am thriving on a plant-based diet.  This has made me think, this is how I was always meant to be.

Please check out this very valuable resource book titled, "Yoga and Vegetarianism", by Sharon Gannon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Push - a book review

Push, by Sapphire
Made into the movie, Precious

"I big, I talk, I eats, I cooks, I laugh, watch TV, do what my muver say. But I can see when the picture comes back I don't exist."  This is the voice of Precious, a 16 year old girl from Harlem, who's illiterate, sexually and physically abused by both of her parents and a mother of two.  Both children were fathered by her own father.

Her statement goes on to say she feels invisible to society - just like when you take a photo of a vampire.  They are there, but when the picture is developed, the truth is, they don't actually exist.

Precious longs to learn.  To be heard. "I wanna say I am somebody.  I wanna say it on the subway, TV, movie, LOUD."   And through her pen and paper - she does.

During Precious' second pregnancy, at 16 (first one at 12 years old), She is sent to an alternative school where it is discovered she is illiterate.  She finds comfort and strength through her teacher, Ms. Rain, and through the small class of only girls - all with horrific life stories and all illiterate.

They start from scratch - learning their ABC's, and doing their best to write in their journals.  The pen gives Precious the strength to remove herself from her mother's home and get herself and her infant to a half-way house.

Some may say that Precious' story is depressing, but I found it inspiring.  If you can remove the layers of pain and unjust from her and see HER, I think that you will also see Somebody special.

Here's a piece of Precious to take with you today:

everi mornin
by Precious j.

everi mornin
i write
a poem
before i go to
marY Had a little lamb
but I got a kid
an HIV
that folow me
to school
one day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Small Step, Big Benefits

Last Year, I learned about an organization via Twitter called, Meatfree Monday.  Paul McCartney started it and his family and friends have done a wonderful job promoting it.  As a follower of both Stella McCartney and Yoko Ono, the message was received regularly and gladly.

I then researched the movement and found the Amercian version, Meatless Monday.  Same message, but started by John Hopkins University.  (follow at @meatlessmonday)

The message from both organizations is simple: Give up meat one day every week. Improve your personal health, reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet.

Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

Health Benefits

  • REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE. Beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds contain little to no saturated fats. Reducing your intake of saturated fats can help keep your cholesterol low and reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT. A plant-based diet is a great source of fiber, which is absent in animal products. Foods rich in fiber make you feel full with fewer calories, resulting in lower calorie intake and less overeating. On average, Americans get less than half the recommended daily quantity of fiber.
  • IMPROVE OVERALL QUALITY OF DIET. Consuming dry beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

Environmental Benefits

  • REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
  • HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S.Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
It's a small step with big benefits.  Do it for yourself in 2010.

One set of books that have helped me make these changes, is the Skinny Bitch series.  You'll have a great time, while addressing some big changes in your health and diet.