pescatarianism: what the hell am i doing??

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So, I’ve been following a pescatarian diet since my Frankenfoods post back in February, and I have to say, while my conscience is nice and clear, it sucks!

It doesn’t suck all the time, but sometimes it is reallyfrustrating! I was just looking around on Yelp for a decent Chinese food restaurant with a hibachi pu pu platter when I realized: I can’t eat anything in one except the shrimp rings. :/

I really do miss eating meat, and right now, all I can think about is pan-fried dumplings, orange chicken, and even those teriyaki beef skewers, and I quit eating beef way before I dropped everything else!

It’s frustrating! My mother is cooking for our rehearsal dinner next summer, and since my fiancé is from Texas, she was going to do a bunch of barbecue stuff, but I’d only be able to eat the sides, like cole slaw and potato salad :/ not a ton of fun for me… Granted, this whole thing is supposed to be about him, not me; she originally offered to host it – i.e. pay – because we’re paying for our own wedding, but since the rehearsal dinner is typically hosted by the groom’s family, she wanted to make it all about him. After we stayed at my parents’ house for Christmas last year though, he fell in love with her cooking, so she offered to cook for him. I had the suggestion to do like a food showdown: Texas vs. Maine, and have things like baby back ribs, barbecue baked beans, and potato salad representing Texas, and lobster rolls, clams casino, and shrimp cocktail on the Maine side, but I worry that it might be too much work for my mother, and that it will take away from the party being about Dave. Maybe I should just suck it up and eat the damn sides, I’m going to be too excited for the wedding to really care anyways… Oh yeah, and add in the fact that there will be 16 people in our little house, meaning that we have to do everything tapas/finger food style… This is going to be a nightmare, but we wanted to host it at our house because a) we would be sure the food would be delicious, and b) we wouldn’t have to worry about coming home early to take care of the dogs, because we would already be there!

Anyways, back to the issue of being a vegetarian that eats seafood: that’s essentially what a pescatarian is, and while it’s a hell of a lot easier than being a vegetarian, it’s still really hard. I had to go to the ER last week for hives, and I had two hours to sit around until the pharmacy opened, so I left and hit up McDonald’s for some yummy breakfast. An egg McMuffin without sausage is a sin against nature, and I wanted to cry as I ate it. 😦

It hasn’t been completely bad though. I like to think that maybe I’m eating a little healthier, (yeah right, I’m pretty sure I’ve replaced all of the animal protein with goddamn carbs…) I discovered a vegan burger that I really like, (grill them with some steak seasoning and they’re the bomb!) we go out for sushi a lot, (the main reason I decided I couldn’t go full vegetarian) and I do feel better knowing that I’m taking a little bit of responsibility for my diet, and it’s ethics. I also made chili this week with TVP (textured vegetable protein) grounds, and the boy didn’t even realize it wasn’t meat! He asked to try some from my bowl, and when I looked confused and asked him why, he looked at his bowl and said “wait, this… is this not turkey??” Too funny!

But I’m still trying to figure this all out, and it isn’t easy, mainly because I still feel bad for eating fish, the dairy industry supports the veal industry, and as I can no longer afford to spend over $5 a carton on organic, free-range, local eggs, I’m supporting the industrial food chain even more. I realize the “simple” solution is to go full vegan, but I’m not ready for that. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for that. Yes, I’m a hypocrite, yes, I feel guilty, but being a vegan means no cheese, and no bread, and fuck you, that’s not happening. I realize this makes me an asshole, you don’t have to tell me, k?

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Oh well, at least I’m trying, and at least I can have wine. It’s part of our food pyramid, is wine a part of your food pyramid? I didn’t think so…

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what to eat when you don’t eat meat

Some of you have probably heard by now that I am having some trouble with what I’m eating. I mean, there’s a ton of information and opinions out there about what’s good and bad for you and at this point, my head is spinning.

I recently finished reading the 100 Days of Real Food blog, and while the woman who wrote it is by no means an expert, just a mom who wanted her family to get healthy after reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense Of Food, she still appeared to have done some research before forming her opinions.

So now I have my own dilemma: I know processed food is bad is bad for you, but I’m also having difficulty eating meat. I never really ate beef before, but I made some chicken the other night and couldn’t eat it. Last night I made taco meat out of ground turkey and couldn’t eat it. In fact, the smell of it is just awful to me! When my fiancé and I went to Bali Hai in Point Loma for a nice post-Valentine’s Day dinner, I couldn’t bring myself to order anything off of the “land” menu, but I had the Mahi Mahi and didn’t have an issue eating it. So now I’m faced with not only trying to find local, organic, non-processed foods, I can’t even eat the local, organic, non-processed animals! At this point, there are definitely certain things I don’t want to eat anymore (French’s fried onions being one of them, I am supremely confident that there isn’t a single bit of real food in those things), but I don’t think I’m going to be able to go 100% “real” in my diet until I get used to not having meat, I don’t want to go all cold turkey.

I did order a microwavable rice cooker and a sushi press today, and I had already bought some sushi rice (at the Commissary, no less!), so all that’s left is to take a ride over to Point Loma Seafoods and see what kind of yummy crab, salmon, and tuna they have. Hey, at least we’ll finally be able to use that big bottle of Sriracha in the fridge! I don’t think I could cut out fish, I only just started really liking sushi a little over a year ago, and I think the boy would kill me if I told him I wasn’t going to eat it anymore. I also could eat Philly rolls until my stomach literally exploded.

I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about food, and I really need to research where I can find fresh, local, organic food in San Diego. I was going to just go to Whole Foods and call it good, but from what I’ve heard, they’re little better than a regular supermarket, and because of that, the extra expense just isn’t worth it. I did find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) here in San Diego, but that involves so many vegetables, most of which I’ve never even heard of before, and while I know eating veggies is healthy, I think I need to branch out and learn how to cook them before I spend $60 a week on just fruits and veggies (though they do have a fruit only bag, and even a juicing bag, which I thought would be amazing for people that want to really do a good juicing cleanse).

The real problem is going to be making sure my food choices don’t affect my fiancé too much, as he has told me he can’t afford to make those kinds of diet changes (he’s in the Navy, and while he’s on shore duty now, when he goes back to sea, he won’t be getting unprocessed anything, let alone organic and local!). So I’ve told him that I’m going to teach him how to cook his own meat, since I can’t stand the smell, but he doesn’t seem very happy about it (honestly, I say “tough noogies,” he needs to learn how to make something besides sandwiches, it’s sad). For example, we have that taco meat ready to go in the fridge, and I was going to use it for enchiladas tonight (which he has seen and helped me make a million times) with a few cheese enchiladas for me, but I was exhausted and fell asleep. When I woke up, it was 6:30p and I came downstairs and asked if he had made the enchiladas or anything, and he looked at me like a helpless two year old! Like I had just asked him to please grow an extra head! I’m sorry, but enchiladas are not complicated! Granted, I had not asked him in advance if he would make dinner, but I’m seriously considering going on a dinner strike so that he can appreciate what I do every night, and what I now have to do so that we can eat healthy food, I get enough to eat, and he can have his meat.

A word of advice guys: learn how to make at least one or two meals, please. You have no idea how far that will go when we can’t make dinner and you take care of it by making us more than a freaking sandwich or macaroni and cheese from a box…

The Cost of American Food

The following is actually a presentation I plan to make in my Advanced Composition class in a week or so, so it may not make a ton of sense to you since I wrote it for them, but I still wanted to share.

I knew after reading the first couple of sections of The Omnivore’s Dilemma that I would likely be making some changes in the way I viewed food; I was less sure that these changes in mindset would actually amount to anything, however.  Add to the reading assignments the in-class Movie Nights featuring “King Corn” and “Food, Inc.” and it was pretty much sealed in stone.

While writing my paper, I had a huge subject initially: “The subsidizing of cheap corn has far-reaching, varied consequences and must end” including such “sub-headings” as “The method of food production in the U.S. is unsustainable,” “The methods of producing meat in CAFO’s are unethical,” and “It is necessary to change the way Americans view food.”  WHOA!  The only thing all of these “sub-headings” have in common is that they could all be their own papers!  I wasn’t focused enough, so I decided the concentration of my paper should be on the one aspect that made me realize this:

“If we were eating the right things, we wouldn’t have to scrutinize an ingredient list or nutrition facts table.”

Most of what I’ve been reading over the course of this class has pointed in this direction: that consuming whole foods, which are locally sourced and sustainably produced, is the key to saving not only one’s health, but also one’s environment.  It’s alarmingly simple, but when you dig a little deeper, there are aspects of our culture that make this nearly impossible.

I thought about what I was eating, which was certainly better than what I could have been eating, but still wasn’t all that great.  I watched every single food documentary on Netflix.  Seriously.  I read and read and read and read.  I spent so much time reading that I started getting serious headaches, was fatigued most of the time, and my back was constantly hurting from sitting at my desk reading article after article, food blogs, editorials, news sites, book reviews…  It was exhausting, the sheer amount of information about something I’d never really thought about.

And then I realized that’s what the problem was: no one thinks about this stuff.  People say “we’ve got the USDA and the FDA, they’ll make sure I don’t eat anything that’ll hurt me.”  But that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.  The USDA and the FDA make sure we don’t eat anything that will hurt them.  The overall health of Americans – for lack of a better word – sucks, and yet we profess not to know why.  “No way, it’s got nothing to do with the processed ‘Frankenfoods’ we eat, that can’t be it!”

I’m sorry to say, but from everything I’ve been reading, that’s exactly what’s going on.

Over the course of the last month and a half, I’ve considered various changes to my diet, at the very least, I was checking out labels of the foods I had already to determine if there was corn in them (don’t lie, you all did it too!).  I had already eliminated beef from my diet, because I simply don’t like it, but even before I completely eliminated beef, I eliminated veal.  I couldn’t imagine eating a poor little baby cow that’s starved for nutrients and kept still so the meat would be tender.  Nope.  But then I learned how much the dairy industry supports the veal industry.  I love cheese.  I love yogurt.  Butter.  Milk.  How could I eat this stuff and not be a hypocrite?  Why is a baby cow’s life more important than an adult cow’s, or a chicken’s, or a pig’s?  I started doing some serious soul-searching, the likes of which I’d never encountered, even with years of studying Hinduism.

I don’t have it all figured out yet, but there is one more quote that I think is relevant: “let thy food be thy medicine.”  Hippocrates said it, around 431 B.C.E., and I think there’s a certain level of truth to that.  If we’re getting so sick by eating the processed nightmare of a diet we’ve come to have, maybe we can get better by eating better.  Maybe we really would be able to take fewer prescriptions, need fewer surgeries, and have fewer health complaints.  I don’t want to get all hokey with this, but I did find a website: www.100daysofrealfood.com, and it has some pretty “doable” guidelines for a healthier diet, and recipes to match.  I think I might at least visit a farmers’ market or Whole Foods now.  For the longest time, I was more concerned with price of the food I was buying, but now I’m actually worried about the cost.