As my 100 item challenge wrapped up yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t really put much thought into what my next 30-day challenge would be about. I have plenty of ideas but I hadn’t made any definite plans. However, over Thanksgiving I picked up a book that Sarah was reading, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. I read the first 30 pages and was hooked, the intro of the book really seemed to jive with what I’ve been struggling with as an adult in 2011 who’s trying to feed themselves. The author talked of the confusions and frustrations present in modern eating which totally hit home with me. Do you eat organic or free range meat? Farmed or wild? Local or pesticide free? etc etc. Who knows? It is all confusing so I’ve generally ignored it. However, it has caused me to think twice about the industrial food that I’ve been eating. I’m a hyper-critical consumer with almost everything except food. I think it’s time to start being critical.
This is not going to be a month-long blog about the food industry and what it has become over the past 50 years, there are many books and blogs that do it far better than I ever could. Rather, I am going to experiment with becoming vegetarian for a month and write about my experience as a 25 year old meat eater who made the switch.
Here’s some context: I come from a background where meat was the main staple of my diet. I got plenty of greens growing up at home but after I left for college it became a pretty sparse diet consisting of chicken breasts, steaks, and pork (hmm pulled pork sandwiches, I can already hear them calling my name from Red Bones, gotta wait until at least January). After spending some time at Tufts I became exposed to a TON of vegetarians and a decent amount of vegans. I discounted that idea for the most part because I felt like many of them were doing it for a statement (political, social status “oh I can’t eat that I’m a veeeegan”, or otherwise). Whether they had good reasons or not I just didn’t jive with the concept, I exercised a lot and felt like I needed the protein so I didn’t even consider it for myself. Plus it was how I grew up. My family is healthy, strong, and fit so what’s the issue? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Then I began to learn that a few of my climber friends and marathon friends were vegetarians. Some of them had been vegetarians for a long time and some had just started. It at least got me thinking that maybe being a vegetarian isn’t so bad for your fitness (perhaps it will even help).
Then I read a nutrition book geared toward athletes written by Nancy Clark where she talks about how people generally abuse protein and totally neglect complex carbs that come from veggies. She gave some really good tips about how to train (even at a professional level) while being vegetarian/vegan. Since then, I’ve gotten into many conversations with friends (and my girlfriend) about why they’ve gone vegetarian and for the most part I agree with their decisions. In many cases their decisions were a result of educating themselves about the modern day meat industry (from what I’ve read over the years it can be frightening, misleading, and overall very confusing).
For the purposes of my 30-Day challenge, I’m not so much anti-meat as I am pro-veggies. I’ve largely neglected nutrition in my adult life because it is so easy to make poor choices (food on the go, lackluster cooking skills/interest/time, always choosing meat if it’s an option even if it’s for no reason). I think this challenge will help me to recalibrate my diet to have meat be the accessory to a well-balanced diet as opposed to the main event. Here’s what I had for my meals on the first day.
Breakfast – Honey Bunches of Oats with Milk
Lunch – Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal with Raisins and Walnuts
Dinner – Black Bean Enchiladas (and a margarita, is tequila a vegetable?)
Snacks – Apple, Orange, and Triscuits with Hummus.
So far so good and honestly really nothing out of the ordinary as far as food goes. Perhaps after I go to the grocery store for the first time I’ll be more adventurous.
If you have any comments or suggestions about going vegetarian, especially recipes because I’m terribly disinterested in cooking and need the help, please post comments on the blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @youngandurban
Wish me luck.