My Journey to vegetarian

First, this is NOT about cyber warfare and contrary to popular belief the Selil website has never been about just what we do at work. This website is our endeavor to share with others our life.

I am currently transitioning from being a meat eating American, although on the healthier, lower fat side, to being a vegetarian. This is the story of that journey.

My whole life I have been a meat eater. As a child a shunned vegetables as I am sure my parents would attest. In my defense, my mother started with frozen vegetables and cooked them to mush. At least that is my memory. I also have an odd food allergy to raw fruits and vegetables – they make my mouth and throat itch. Once cooked, even a tiny bit I am fine.  But, that is not really the point. As I grew up and was on my own I discovered that vegetables are very tasty when you begin with fresh vegetables and prepare them properly. But I was still mostly a meat eater.

In college I minored in nutrition. I learned all about the things that make up the food we eat and what we actually need to be healthy. I learned that vegetarian is a perfectly viable way to eat but it requires greater effort because of the lack of complete proteins in vegetables and the requirement to do food pairing in order to create the complete proteins found naturally in meat. I also learned about serving sizes – something that has been almost completely lost in American society as we now have massive portions on our plates.

Like most people as they age I found myself thinking about my health and the health of my family. Is what we are eating ok? I cooked fresh veggies, changed from heavy beef to mostly chicken and when I prepared anything with beef it was low fat, trimmed of visible fat and drained.

My husband and I watched as our waistlines continued to expand. Nothing new in America, right? We started running. We made more effort to eat even healthier. But we still liked to eat out.

Then, because the weight loss from exercise and healthy eating slowed down, my husband wanted to try something more radical – go vegetarian.

I remembered the known difficulties of a vegetarian diet. I heard friends and family say things like “I just cook veggies like I always did” or mac and cheese is vegetarian. But I knew there was more to it. I knew that I have two young boys who need serious nutrition – they are naturally thin and very athletic. I knew we would all give up if we “missed the meat”. I found (with some help from my husband) lots of wonderful resources. There are smart phone apps with vegetarian recipes, blogs, cookbooks and more.

I tried recipes and I am still trying new recipes. The goal is always to have something flavorful, low in the mush factor but high in texture, balanced and filling.

This is an ongoing effort. For the record my husband has lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks. We are mostly not missing the meat. We have not been strict in our vegetarianism. We still have pepperoni pizza from time to time. And we are all still learning. This is not a political statement. No one in my family is concerned about eating something with a face. This is for health.

We have watched a number of documentaries on food (Fat Sick & Nearly Dead; The future of Food; Food matters). I have come to the conclusion based on these and my own observations that at least in America our food is making us sick. I am not a fan of sick.

A word of warning. If you take up an experiment in vegetarianism, be prepared. Your body adjusts to it very quickly. This is a good thing, but it has side effects. If you decide to treat yourself to a burger one night, you may find that your body rejects this food entirely. My family and I went out for burgers. They were delicious and we enjoyed them very much. Within 4 hours I had 2 boys expelling the burgers from both ends. My husband’s response was similar although not as dramatic. I have mostly been suffering excessive gas. I know – too much information. Our bodies like the clean food we have been eating and they reject the greasy, fatty foods most of us spend our whole lives eating.

I think this is a journey worth taking. It is certainly an experiment for myself. I encourage everyone to watch these documentaries and think about the problem of how we feed ourselves. I think our food is making us sick and I think we have the ability to choose to eat healthy and clean. And I honestly believe that if we all made these choices, the corporations who supply the bulk of our food would listen and offer more and healthier choices.

It is not a simple problem with a single simple solution. But it is something we can all address for ourselves.

I can’t promise, but I may post more about this, including some of the recipes I have tried – what works and what doesn’t.

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