Pescatarianism Is Still Cheating

 

Today I ate sushi. I ate sushi last Friday as well. Cheap, refrigerated, slightly mushy sushi you get at a grocery store, but sushi nonetheless. Sushi is one of the most delectable edible creations on the face of the planet. Have you ever had good, fresh sushi? Or how about a delicious, still steaming, tempura roll? I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it.

The last few weeks since deciding to try the vegetarian path have not been as successful as I’d hoped. It started with trying to finish the meat that I’d already bought, then after that I went a good week without any meat. But also without much of anything else. Those days, which included the first full week of classes, I ate some fruit for breakfast (which is a healthy first step), usually no lunch, and maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. If I lifted weights one day, I’d come home from the gym and eat a big ‘ole spoon of peanut butter to get some protein.

Yeah, I’m not exactly the healthiest eater to begin with. Which was supposedly the whole point of becoming vegetarian: To have more control over what I was ingesting. Yeah, that’s not exactly working yet.

Cutting out meat is so hard when you don’t have much experience with cooking beans, lentils, healthy vegetables, and the other staples of a vegetarian diet. Quinoa is really wayyy more expensive than it needs to be, as are other meat replacements (veggie burgers and the like – I’d love to make quesadillas with soy chorizo, but can I afford it? Nope). Whole grains are not cheap, no matter what baked good they’re going into, and don’t even get me started with fruits and vegetables! Which brings me to my next point, which is one of the oft purported reasons behind the obesity epidemic in America. Those of lower socioeconomic status are not in the financial position to buy raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and instead are forced to buy over-processed foods with very little nutritional benefit. Many people (such as the 47% that Romney keeps talking about as “victims” looking for handouts) aren’t able to purchase healthy food, because it’s just too expensive. Also, don’t get me started on Romney. Just don’t. I might just cut a bitch.

I think I’m getting off track here. The point is, I’m not being very good at being a vegetarian, and I bring up sushi because even though I’m having trouble being a vegetarian, I feel that I’d be doing myself a disservice by reducing my meat intake to only fish (so I could eat said delicious sushi without guilt).

This isn’t meant to be any kind of comment against individual pescatarians! I just personally don’t think it makes much sense. If you don’t eat meat because of moral reasons, why would you eat fish? Because they’re stupider? Or they don’t have as many feelings, or pain receptors? I don’t know guys, have you ever seen a fish flop around and suffocate in open air? Not fun.

If you don’t eat meat for health reasons, again, why would you eat fish? The mercury levels found in fish, especially ones like tuna, are particularly high, and even if they don’t go over the “safe” levels determined by the FDA, I’m not so sure I want ANY mercury in my system if I can prevent it. Not to mention the top floors of the FDA is full of corrupt businessmen who would kill their mothers to make another dime.

I guess my real point is, I’ve been a total fail whale (pun totally intended) when it comes to really consciously restricting my meat intake, but at the same time, I’m not tempted to take the cop-out and cut out everything but fish, no matter how much I love my sushi.

I’m not a very patient person, so when it comes to my vegetarianism, I get really disappointed in myself when I decide to going against my decision and eat meat. It’s very disheartening, to say the least.

 

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Step By Step Vegetarian

So, I read Skinny Bitch, finally. Damn those ladies know how to make you feel like a fatass. Long story short, this former model (with a Masters in holistic nutrition) and former model agent are promoting a vegan diet, largely on the grounds of improved health and vitality. Yes they talk about the ethical treatment of animals. But more importantly, they talk about why eating meat and dairy are just plain bad for you.

It’s not as much about the ethical issues, it’s more about all the shitty chemicals that the U.S. government allows us to ingest on a daily basis (fuck the USDA, just sayin’). When I was in high school I had to read Silent Spring, and the only thing that I gathered (or at least distinctly remembered) was the concept of biomagnification, whereby chemical pesticides increase in concentration as they travel through the food chain. Now, I don’t know another single thing about biology, but the concept totally makes sense to me. If a cow eats contaminated corn and then we eat the cow’s meat, the pesticide stays in the meat, traveling through our bodies and damaging our cells, organs, and neurons.

I’m not going to keep going on about all of that, but let’s just say that I’m gonna try this whole eating healthier thing. And by healthier I mean no meat. I’m not ready for the no dairy yet. Besides, that big of a jump from omnivore to vegan would be a bit of a shock to my system. And by “a bit” I mean “completely disastrous.” As soon as I clear out all the meat I’ve already bought (1lb ground beef, 3 cans of tuna, 1/2 pack of deli turkey), I will do my best to dedicate myself to being a vegetarian.

So why post about this? I don’t know… I haven’t had anything better to write about lately? I’m going to chronicle this whole (likely) slightly painful and stressful transition. So step one? I plan on writing about all the stupid meaty cravings I have. You ready? ‘Cause this might get boring. It might get silly. It might get a little self-serving and ridiculous. Wanna hear my plan? Make the whole thing as honest as possible, just for you, my lovely readers. Real talk. Because let’s be frank, trying to become a vegetarian and convincing people you’re not a pretentious jerk is going to be a feat of hilarity, if nothing else.

The Starbucks Woman and Extremes of Beauty

I work in a strip mall right next to a fairly successful Starbucks. Naturally there is a wide variety of customers that stop in there, as it’s the only real Starbucks within reasonable distance of our tourist-town. Ever since I’ve been working next door there has been one woman who is at Starbucks at least once a week and stays for several hours at one of the outside tables.

I can tell that she’s drinking a diet Tazo green tea because of the watery, almost sickly color it has. My manager has seen her put just two Splenda no-calorie sweeteners in it, and has also heard from her hairdresser that this woman only eats three Peach Rings a day. The Starbucks Woman is always smoking, or at least has a pack of Marlboro Reds ready to go beside her, and she’s often writing in a lined notebook. None of this is particularly remarkable, but the thing that draws the eye is the woman herself.

She’s an anorexic.

I’m not saying that she’s skinny, and I’m not saying that she just looks sick. No, this woman is no more than skin and bones, and she is clearly on a down-hill road to death. I’m not exaggerating when I say she looks like this:

Isabelle Caro

Isabelle Caro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Above is a well-known picture of French model, Isabelle Caro, who died in 2010 from complications as a result of her anorexia nervosa. Frankly it terrifies me.

It scares me that this woman has become so pathologically obsessed with her weight that it’s killing her.

It scares me that there are countless other men and women in this world who reach this point and are unable to return.

It scares me that I could one day have a daughter that I won’t be able to save because society tells her that she is only beautiful if she is thin.

For Christmas I received Portia de Rossi‘s memoir, Unbearable Lightness, and I found it both poignant and frank. I’m a big fan of her anyway as a result of Arrested Development, and it was truly inspiring to see how she had been able to reshape her life as she stopped reshaping her body. Unfortunately, it also reminded me of how women can take pride in not eating. I’ve been guilty of it, just as millions of women across the world have been guilty of it.

I hope beyond hope that the Starbucks Woman doesn’t die, but I’m scared that one day she’ll just cease to appear outside with her tea and cigarettes. What is she writing? A memoir? A letter to friends and family? Or is she calculating her caloric intake for the day?

Eating disorders (especially anorexia) are often considered among the most difficult psychological disorders to treat, as success requires the motivation of the patient to gain weight, something they have spent a great deal of time and effort getting rid of. The mind of an anorexic patient has been twisted by the disorder so that they truly see losing weight as a necessary part of living. There have been patients committed to hospitals that must be restrained to their beds so that they don’t do sit-ups in the middle of the night.

Society doesn’t help, as it uses women’s bodies as a canvas on which to mold the ideals of beauty. With idealization comes extremes, and those extremes are what scare me the most. But society can’t be completely to blame. Eating disorders are just that: disorders. Disorders that need more research, more dedicated scientists trying to cure them, and more understanding of those suffering from them.

If you’re interested in learning more about eating disorders and anorexia nervosa, watch this documentary, Thin by Lauren Greenfield. Though the treatment practice may be somewhat controversial (in my opinion) the perspectives of the patients are invaluable in understanding some of the mechanisms underlying the condition.

If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, look here for help: National Eating Disorders Association

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