Some say meat is murder. Linn learns that while an all-veggie diet won’t kill, finding satisfying alternatives to meat just might be the death of you.
When I was at university, I lived with a housemate who was vegetarian. That was the first time I’d had long-term, first-hand experience with someone who didn’t eat meat.
In England, most restaurants include a variety of vegetarian choices, indicating that perhaps more and more people are adopting a vegetarian diet. Although most Buddhists put aside a few days to gin jay (eat vegetables only), taking on a long-term vegetarian diet isn’t really imbued in either Thai or Chinese culture yet.
For us, having a meal together or sharing food is an important social activity, because we regard it as a time to bond. When one shows too much aversion towards certain foods, we find it weird and inconvenient (at first) largely because we lose a common ground.
Thus for my British friends, checking whether there are any vegetarians within a group before choosing an appropriate restaurant was almost automatic, while for me it took conscious effort.
Although I found being vegetarian long-term an inconvenience not only to the one who decides to be a vegetarian but also to those around her, I nevertheless resolved I would try it out in the future, for religious and health reasons.
Well, the future came sooner than I thought it would. I always supposed that because of my love for meat, I wouldn’t make such a choice until in my thirties, knowing that even by then it wouldn’t be a permanent diet.
But about a week ago, I decided to go vegetarian. I have to admit, however, my decision to abstain from meat for whatever duration came less from a PETA-like sympathy for animals but more for vanity and health reasons.
I realised there are different kinds of vegetarians. Some do it for religion, some for health reasons and some out of concern for animals. My friend decided to stop eating meat because she thought it was a form of animal cruelty, her diet consisted mostly of carbohydrates rather than vegetables. It wasn’t very healthy, per se.
As for mine my own decision to include more vegetables, it arose from the recently acquired knowledge that sugar speeds up the ageing process and, therefore, I could satisfy my sweet tooth by alternative means only through natural sweeteners that came in the form of vegetables and fruits. Also, I became more aware of the harm that hormones injected in meat can do to one’s body.
Yes, the benefits of vegetables have been extolled through the ages, for instance by our mothers’ constant nagging to finish up our greens, but it took a week of bad skin and a newspaper article about the beauty downsides of sugar to steel my determination to adopt a healthy diet.
I noticed that after a few days your taste buds change, and I didn’t crave meat at all. However, apart from Italian restaurants, there didn’t seem to be many places to find tasty and filling vegetarian meals. I often found myself becoming almost weak trying to find something not only vegetarian but also healthy. One thing is for sure — being vegetarian really takes a lot of effort and discipline. Now five days into my vegetarian diet, I can safely say that it is an extremely healthy choice if you include a variety of vegetables and fruits (of the colours green, red and yellow) in your meals.
Nevertheless, I would say that the practice of pescetarianism is a much healthier choice because everyone needs some sort of protein in their diet.
21/07/2011 - 12:54