Several people have asked me how “the vegetarian thing” has been going, so I thought it might be nice to post an update here. As a recap, I’ve not eaten meat since Aug. 10, 2009, and I made the conscious decision to not eat it anymore on Aug. 13, 2009. (For three days I had just accidentally not eaten it. I wasn’t actually trying to avoid it.)
For the first month or so, my biggest problem was the gassiness that comes with eating vegetarian. Beans are a great source of protein and I was eating a lot, and I guess my body just wasn’t used to it. So I hit the simethicone hard, and things have pretty much worked themselves out now. I do still take simethicone after I eat a meal that mainly consists of beans, just to do everyone around me a favor.
After about six weeks, I realized I had gained about five or six pounds. Whether it’s my scale or my body, my weight always fluctuated by a pound or two, usually coming in at 124 or 125 pounds. Now I’m a constant 130. Which I suppose isn’t really that bad, seeing as how I’m 5’8″. But there are a few shirts I can’t wear anymore, and I’ve had to relegate a few pairs of pants to the “weekend” pile, if you know what I mean.
At first I was pretty upset about the weight gain, but in all honestly I feel really good. I don’t feel fat, and if I have to go out and buy a few new pairs of pants, oh well. There are bigger things in my life I could spend my time worrying about, and five pounds really just don’t seem worth it. Even at 125 I felt like I needed to tone a bit, and I still do, so I’ll probably end up using the gym membership I have until February. Maybe. I’ve had it for a few weeks and haven’t gone, though, so we’ll see.
As far as the difficulty in not eating meat, there really isn’t any unless I’m super starving. And even then it’s not that I miss meat, it’s just that I feel like I’m on the verge of a low-blood sugar crash and it would be so much easier to stop at McDonald’s and grab a cheeseburger instead of going home and fixing spinach or a veggie burger.
Some people have suggested that instead of keeping with the vegetarianism, I instead seek out locally grown beef, chicken and pork so that I don’t have to worry about the way they’re treated or the hormones that are pumped into them. And while I think that is a great way for meat eaters to get their food, I just don’t think it would work for me. I know myself, and that would be a slippery slope. It would not be a stretch for me to be out at a restaurant and order a meat dish just because I was a meat eater again. Years ago I stopped eating beef after I read My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki (a great book, by the way—one of my favorites), but it didn’t take more than a few months before I fell off the wagon after numerous dinners with friends and family members where beef was served.
Ian and I just watched Food Inc. tonight, and I will say that if I wasn’t a vegetarian already I would have made the commitment tonight after seeing that film. I know there are a lot of problems with genetically engineered vegetables, and I understand, as Ian put it, that I’m not doing the world any favors by eating them.
But I do know that I am not encouraging the inhumane treatment of chickens, pigs and cows. I am not responsible for the way they are crushed to death, made to walk on broken legs or thrown into grinders while still alive and crying, scared and helpless.
And like I’ve told a few people who have told me that my not eating meat doesn’t matter: Just because I can’t fix the entire problem with our food industry doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stop eating meat. Not being able to do everything perfectly doesn’t mean I should ignore what feels right to me.