Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Vegetarian Waivers

I've always been vegetarian.

No, that's not true. My commitment began when I was around 6. I'd just wheedled my vegetarian-leaning mom into buying me a hamburger instead of a fish sandwich at a fast food place. My brother was contentedly staring out the window, munching away. I'd just taken a bite when he asked, wide eyed and innocent, if the field outside was where they kept the cows before "bashing their brains out and chopping them up into hamburgers".

Of course I freaked out.

And when my mom managed to calm me down, and yet assure me that the hamburger I'd begged, bargained and pleaded for was, indeed, derived from a cow, I resolved to go hungry that day. (Well, I ate the fries) And never, ever eat meat again.

When my conscience finally connected chicken and turkey with the critters that run around flapping their wings and pecking the ground, they left my diet as well. And I finally fished fish out in an attempt to feel better. Literature in the 90's claimed that vegetarians had healthier lifestyles than meat eaters. I didn't know why, but I didn't feel good. And I was all to happy to blame meat.

By high school, I needed more than "meat is gross", and I explored all the real reasons for my vegetarian choices. Animal cruelty was one, but it was easily compensated for by free range, organic options that were hitting the market. Certainly my goal wasn't to save a cow, the excessive number that are raised are harming our environment as it is.

The concept that one vegetarian can survive for a lifetime on the land it requires to feed one meat eater for one year really disturbed me. Environmental and political concerns, coupled with the idea that our bodies were not originally designed to digest meat (Our teeth simply sharp enough) strengthened my resolve.

But looking back, I wasn't "well". I just hid it well.

I later dabbled with various dietary measures, noting that on days I didn't have time to eat I felt great. With the IBS diagnosis, I went vegan on a doctor's advice. I dabbled in macrobiotics. I've since read up on paleo diets, blood type diets and the Specific Carb Diet, not to mention several versions of the Candida diet.

I've come to the conclusion that there is no one diet that fits everyone. Many facets of cure-all dietary approaches are similar, but address different causes for symptoms. I don't believe that humans were originally designed to eat meat. But in the grand scheme of things, we've been doing it for much longer than we've been eating gluten grains.

I've also come to the conclusion that I can't survive on rice, eggs, applesauce and a few well cooked veggies. Especially when I flare and those well cooked veggies don't settle down and get digested. I don't know that animal foods will help, but since I'm trying to put my trust in G-d, I've turned to prayer for an answer. And it occurred to me that if I AM going to use meat, I should do it kosher, to the best of my ability.

The fact that any food that is truly kosher for passover is also corn free is a bonus.

I also can't bring myself to consume red meat. No bashed up cows for me :-) But Chicken Soup is the Jewish; I'll take solace in the thought that Mary probably cooked up something similar for her son. What was good enough for Him can't be too bad for me. Can it?

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