Quite some time ago I was inspired by the film Food Inc. as well as the book "Animal Vegetable Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver to change how I view food. I was enlightened as to what a feed lot is, how corporations exploit their employees, and how genetically modified crops and their complimentary pesticides are ruining the vitality of the earth in which we expect to grow crops in the future. Let's not forget to mention just how horrible our livestock is treated or how they die. I was embarrassed of my ignorance and it made me sick to my stomach, literally. If ya'll haven't seen the film or read the book, I highly recommend it. Let me say that the film, although made to prove a point, isn't overly grotesque.....be brave...watch it. Both of these definitely gave me the nudge I needed get to the next step.
What followed was a journey of spending more time researching, and more money buying, the foods I eat from places other than what felt comfortable. I'm not going to lie...shopping at health food stores was really intimidating at first. The selection is limited and my husband was down right appalled by how much our grocery bill had jumped. I stuck to my belief that we deserved better, our children NEEDED better than what we were providing for them. I started ordering our meat from Creswick Farms, a family owned operation located between Grand Rapids and Muskegan. They do an excellent job providing grass fed meats, and allowed me the luxury of ordering per pound portions. They deliver to my town every 6 weeks for a $5 delivery fee....amazing really! It's been great for our family. To offset the cost of paying more money per pound, I convinced Jeff to experiment with incorporating vegetarian meals a few times a week. He was brave to try some of my concoctions as he despised beans...at the time. As I began to enjoy the vegetarian meals more and more, thoughts about eating that way permanently started to come to mind more and more. I eventually started my own garden to learn how to grow tomatoes, green beans, summer squashes, radishes, carrots, beets, swiss chard, lettuces, and herbs. I have a great appreciation for the work involved in bringing such fresh food to my table. The harvest season is long and you have to contend with weeds and squash bugs and horn worms....a true adventure it's been!
Back to my point...sorry, I can talk about my garden all day long. The thought of actually permanently giving up meat was really hard. For months I used to have debates in my mind like this.....
"You know that if you give up meat, you'll have to actually tell people you're a vegetarian."
"What about chicken broth...you hate Vegetable broth...what then?"
"You're seriously going to turn down one of your famous baked chicken breasts or a steak off the grill come summer?"
All of these things just seemed impossible. DEPRIVING myself of something...or saying I CAN'T have something goes against everything I believe. It's all about moderation...taking things in stride...enjoying that handful of M&M's instead of beating myself up for it. Giving up eating meat just seemed really unachievable and restrictive.
Last summer I was tipped off to check out a concept originated by Dr. Peter D'Adamo. I haven't actually read his book "Eat Right For Your Type", but I have been to his website a few zillion times in search of additional information. Basically, Dr. D'Adamo has deduced 4 individual diet (read...ways of eating) plans based on your genetic blood type. As a geneticist, he explains through evolution how the different blood types originated to determine the best plan to focus one's eating habits around. I for one am Type A+....categorized as the vegetarians of the earth. Hmmmmm....interesting. As much as I am such a skeptic about stuff like this, considering he sells a whole slew of supplements for each blood type, I've engaged in conversations with many a vegetarian over the course of the year who also HAPPEN to be Type A's too. It has replaced my "what's your sign" introduction question.
So then...November I decide to do a test of sorts. I was feeling good coming back from an ITB injury, but I couldn't deny how incredibly horrible I felt running the days following eating meat...mainly red meat. I stopped eating meat for 5 days before both the Road to Broad 5k (24:44, a 42 second PR) and the Turkeyman Trot (23:55, another 49 seconds). Maybe...just maybe I was onto something. I started to talk openly about possibly giving up meat to friends. I stumbled upon No Meat Athlete and various other sites that talked about the benefits of having a plant based diet and still training to be a better athlete. This didn't seem so weird or difficult at all...giving up meat equals FEELING better and running FASTER....Awesome!
Approaching the end of the year with ideas swirling around about New Years resolutions and such I finally brought the idea up to my husband. Let me first say that I married a man who, if I make a pound of meat he eats a pound of meat. He would never take a portion of steak or a half rack of ribs...it's all or bust. I was somewhat surprised with just how extremely positive he was. He encourage me to do what would help me to feel my best. The only real stipulation is that he still gets meat...perfect!
Marzetti's ranch dressing of course. Countless times she would eat a plate of tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden with dash of salt for dinner. Granny explained that she eats meat because she knows others enjoy it. She doesn't like having people question NOT taking a portion....being vegetarian is a largely foreign concept in her social circle. She makes family style meals for the shear joy of spending time together....but admits that she would be ecstatic with 3 slices of ham a year. Is it a coincidence that she's a Type A blood type too? I think not!
So you know what, I took the plunge. On Jan 2nd...(I never do things on the first, not sure why), I decided that to feel my best...for my body to be at it's most efficient...it was time to give up meat on a trial basis. I haven't focused too much on the label of being vegetarian, pescatarian, semi-vegetarian and so on as to not anger the definition police. I can say that each day I try to choose foods that give me the nutrients I need to be and feel my best. I've dived in and put together a book of vegetarian recipes I enjoy. I've hosted a party that without me asking, my girlfriends all brought a vegetarian dishes. I've been able to go to restaurants and find at least one vegetarian option to try. I have been soaking up knowledge and building camaraderie from fellow bloggers, and my family doesn't seem to notice that I have a slightly different meal on my plate. Win, Win, Win.
It's been 56 days and I feel really great!!!
Peace and Blessings,
P.S. If you're a vegetarian, vegan, semi-vegetarian, or pascetarian....what nudged you to embrace your new lifestyle?