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Erp. - Touched by his noodly appendage
August 2009
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 03:09 pm


The Absolute Digimatic
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
This sort of relates. You might find it interesting.

I was a vegetarian for 10 years or so. I starting eating fish a few years back and at times do feel very guilty about it. At other times I genuinely enjoy eating fish. Occasionally I consider going back to team veg. but so far have not. My main reason for switching my diet at the time was because I was getting very active, biking 60+ miles a week and wanted to increase my protein intake. I also was hoping to gain a bit of weight. Being a scrawny looking kid when you are nearing 30 was not something I was interested in. As someone with extremely low blood pressure I had been told repeatedly that being vegetarian was not a good idea. When I started biking long distances I decided to listen to that advice and go back to the dark side. That was my reason for eating fish.

That aside, my real motivation for answering your post is something that I have been debating about / kicking around in my head for some time that you might find interesting. I call it the exception theory for the sake of conversation. It goes like this. When traveling, exploring or being in a place where food is part of the culture, particularly renowned, or supposedly exceptional am I ok with making an exception and eating something I wouldn't normally eat? I am not talking about really wanting a Big Mac or feeling like having a steak. I mean going to a country where meat is a big part of the culture, having a reservation at French Laundry or another 4 star restaurant, something where it is about life experience, not eating for the sake of eating. For example, my girlfriend is Hungarian, a place where meat is a big part of their diet and culture. I've been there with her 3 times now and while I've met her family, explored her hometown and seen a lot of her culture I stop at a certain point, right around when the bacon comes out usually. In some ways I feel wrong doing this. Am I going there to really see the place or, am I going to see the parts I want to see and disregarding the rest? Anthony Bourdain makes an interesting point in his rants against vegetarians that sums this feeling up pretty well. He says that traveling as a vegetarian is like going to The Louvre and only looking at paintings with blue in them. You are limiting yourself without even knowing what else is out there. From a strictly life experience stand point I think he is right.

So, the last time I was in Hungary I tested out the exception theory, I tried three things with meat in them. They were good. Some of it was the first pig I've intentionally eaten in about 15 years. I don't really feel bad about it. I came home and resumed my regular diet. Did I do anything wrong? Or any harm? I don't think so. Now say I've tried my girlfriend's Grandfather's authentic Hungarian stuffed peppers.

I guess this whole dilemma comes down to debate between ethics and life experience. On my death bed I really don't want to feel like I missed out on anything. Of course I want to feel like I was a good person that held to some sort of principles but I also want to feel like I lived.

Well this is more about cheating or exceptions then it is about giving up on being vegan or vegetarian although, I was always totally against cheating and would have never done it, so from a black and white mindset I guess it is about giving it up.

Just out of curiosity are you going to raise your daughter as a vegan? If not ow will you handle that?

Erica L. Satifka
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: This sort of relates. You might find it interesting.

I started following a vegetarian diet in March of last year, lacto-ovo, not a label reader, so pretty lax about it. Before then I was eating meat pretty much daily. Early this year I decided to start eating fish and chicken again. The main reason is that I started having stomach problems that, while probably not directly the result of vegetarianism, were slightly alleviated by occasional meat (although not cured, as is clear from my latest journal posts). My diet was pretty healthy if a little carb-heavy, and while I could try to work around it or consult a nutritionist, I guess I didn't care enough to do that. The reason I gave up meat was to save money and learn to enjoy a wider variety of food, and I did that: before the vegetarian experiment I ate almost no vegetables, and now I eat most of them. (Fruit, though, is still tricky business.) I also eat vegetarian most of the time at home, and no red meat or pork. If it turns out I have bowel disease, I will probably have to eat even more meat and cut down on my beloved carbs, which pains me, but in the end I'm gonna be selfish and put my health first.

The second reason is a little vain, but I also gained 25 pounds over the last year and I think a lot of that had to do with the diet. And believe me I tried SO many different diets (not in the sense of weight loss diets but dietary PLANS) and the weight remained. When I started eating meat again I started to lose. For whatever reason, my body just does not seem to like a vegetarian diet, and while I'm sure there are work-arounds, in the end I have to listen to my body if it's screaming out for something. I just function better when I eat meat.

I also never really saw meat as a non-food. Just "food I don't eat." So I think that's part of why I found it easy to take it back.

ReplyThread Parent
Grim And Frostbitten Gay Bar
Sun, Jun. 7th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
Re: This sort of relates. You might find it interesting.

I can sort of relate. When I became a vegetarian at age 13, I ate no vegetables at all. I actually didn't even eat many when I became a vegan at age 17 either (pretty much only eggplant and mushrooms). It was only after becoming a vegan I learned to love virtually every vegetable, as when I went to college there was always only one vegan option, so I either ate that or went hungry. Part of the reason I stayed vegan is because I liked my diet much more, and felt like my sense of taste became far more subtle, and I saw my older brother, once he went back to being just a vegetarian, lapse into a very cheese and carb heavy diet.

I never saw any relationship between my diet and my weight though. I was fat at 13 before and after becoming a vegetarian, lost a ton of weight at age 15, but didn't lose or gain any weight to speak of when I became a vegan at age 17. I've been roughly 10-20 pounds overweight my entire adult life.

Protein-heavy diets often work to lose weight for two reasons. One, you get dehydrated and lose water weight. Two, pure protein makes you want to gag before you eat enough to get full. I used to routinely eat nothing but plates of seitan and I felt sick after a comparably small portion. I think you'd have the same general results no matter which kind of high protein diet you ate - not that I'm saying I think you should switch of course.

An aside - you don't like fruit?!?

ReplyThread Parent
Erica L. Satifka
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
Re: This sort of relates. You might find it interesting.

I've never liked it. I choke it down in juice form but something in either the seeds or the "flesh" squicks me out. Too gummy, maybe? I don't like gummy candy either, or gelatin. Which is really too bad because I love the taste of citrus, but orange/tangerine pulp sticks in my throat. It's the last major holdover from my picky eating days. But as long as I have access to juice and supplements I don't know if I care enough to try to psych myself out of it.

I definitely feel like my time as a vegetarian opened me up to new things, and also instilled a healthy disgust of fast food. Man, I used to eat fast food every day! Now I can't stand it. I also feel like my sense of taste has become more attuned now that every dish is not meatmeatmeat. So I hear you on the subtlety thing.

The way I understand it is that plant proteins have to go through another layer of breakdown before they can be fully digested by the body, whereas animal proteins are instantly digested. That is why animal proteins are recommended for people with bowel problems. The added process doesn't matter for most people though, and a vegetarian or plant-heavy diet is recommended for people with IBD when they are not going through flare-ups. I don't know if that's what was behind my weight gain or not. I know that my exercise program fell off this winter because it was so long and dreary.

ReplyThread Parent
Grim And Frostbitten Gay Bar
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
Re: This sort of relates. You might find it interesting.

Fruit is a really wide range in terms of texture though, everything from crisp (apples) to juicy (citrus, berries), to pasty (bananas). There are certain fruits which just turn my stomach though - mainly melon.

As a child I used to strain my orange juice. It was before they sold no pulp juice in the stores. Heh.

ReplyThread Parent
Erica L. Satifka
Thu, Jun. 4th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Re: This sort of relates. You might find it interesting.

Whoops, meant to reply to the main post, not this comment. Disregard! :)

ReplyThread Parent
Grim And Frostbitten Gay Bar
Sun, Jun. 7th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
A lot to think about...

First, your comments in reply to fish. I have always said that in some sense, I've been such a successful vegan in part because my body is really resilient to just about anything - I've never said that it would be as easy for anyone.

That said (and speaking here as a science geek, not as a vegan) the arbitrary line of "fish" as something a person eats versus doesn't eat always struck me as a bit odd. I've had pet fish for several years now, and they really run the gamut in terms of intelligence. Some fish like tetra don't seem to notice you except as a large, potentially dangerous object passing by, others like cichlids and pufferfish engage in play, beg for food, stare at you while you're working, etc. It's always hard to judge animal intelligence, but I've certainly had experience with fish which seemed more intelligent than most reptiles and amphibians I've dealt with. And it's been established scientifically that fish do actually feel pain. On the other end of the scale, invertebrates don't seem to feel pain. Indeed, some like clams and scallops have secondarily lost their brain. If I ever went back to eating any sort of meat, I think I would do only inverts - both for those reasons and because they're lower on the food chain, and have less of an impact through wild harvesting.

I have thought about the questions you brought up regarding travel before. I have to admit in the past I've avoided traveling to non-English speaking countries to a wider extent mainly due to concerns about finding food. I could see cases, particularly if I was traveling somewhere like India, where I knew I didn't have to worry about factory farming of dairy cattle, where I might eat some things with dairy products in them. Overall though, there's more experiences than I can have in one lifetime as it is.

As to your final question, our daughter is going to be raised vegetarian, not vegan. I don't think you can explain easily to a small child why she can eat the cookies at home or at the co-op, but not the cookies at her friends house. Since I'm the one doing all the cooking, I'm sure she'll eat almost entirely vegan at home though.

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