Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I am being mocked unmercifully, and I suppose rightly so...

for today I fell off the vegetarian bandwagon. Since I did it at lunch, I shocked most of the co-workers I've carefully trained to think in vegetarian terms.

Mind you, I spent 12 1/2 years as a pesce-lacto-ovo-vegetarian (fish/milk/eggs allowed), which isn't in itself a true vegetarian, but is from a mediaeval/Catholic sense (because fish didn't 'reproduce' sexually, or so it was thought). I adhered to the ethic that I would not eat what I would not be willing to kill, and reasoned I had indeed fished in the past, so that was okay. Over the last year or so I've re-evaluated that, and I realised that if I were hungry enough (say, in the woods trying to survive) I would probably be willing to kill most things to survive, or if I were told it was medically necessary to eat meat.

I've also come to realise that in the beginning, the real reason I gave up meat was to mimic someone I admired--it was his brand of vegetarianism, although frankly, I never saw much difference between the inherent worth of a fish and a chicken, and in a sense, to be special. That's not so unusual, really--I've seen a lot of vegetarians come and go for just those reasons. I really did believe I was choosing to live ethically, and that was to some extent true, but under it all, those were the basic reasons. I don't feel like being hypocritical anymore.

For 12 1/2 years the only time I ate meat was by accident (say, someone spiked the rice with chicken stock) or, one small piece of turkey a couple of years ago at Thanksgiving. That's it. Pretty good for what most thought would be a passing 'phase', although in the end, I guess they were right. Today, I ate a fried chicken breast.

I didn't go poof. I'm not suddenly a bad person. I rather enjoyed it, although I would prefer a free-range chicken to whatever they were serving in our cafeteria. I don't plan on going out and eating mega-quantities of meat. In fact, I'm rather over the craving. And I do intend to offer prayers for any life taken for nourishment.

But I'm not special anymore. I'm just me, even if that means I'm a 'chicken-eater'. And that's okay. And I still believe in the higher ethics of vegetarianism. Maybe someday I'll go back to it. But I also realise that for me, right now, it may be a little healthier to eat fish and poultry occasionally, so long as they're not my whole diet. I still believe in moderation, and making as little impact as possible on the web of life of which we are a part, without repudiating it as some would.

I've lived as a vegetarian on next to nothing for years, but sometimes it can be a problem keeping the diabetes in line on such a tight budget. Despite eating a fairly varied diet most of the time, I've gained something like 75 lbs as a vegetarian and gone into full-blown diabetes, which has led to pressure to eat more fish and perhaps add poultry from various health providers...not that you can't be diabetic and vegetarian, but it's fairly tricky, and it helps if you have a lot of prep time and money to lay in a diverse pantry I spend a lot more on salads and protein-rich foods such as cottage cheese than my co-workers, for example. It's easy to fill up on bread and cheese and cheap canned veggies, but it's not ideal, and I'm tired of basically living off peanut butter. My system has never handled legumes well, although I love them. I'm not sure they're staying in my system long enough to get the nutrients needed. And my blood sugar, my memory, etc. did much better after eating lunch today than normal. I am allergic to wheat, eggs, and milk, and borderline sensitive to peanuts, soy, and corn...but not at all to meat. So I may occasionally eat some poultry and see if I do better. I'm not quite up to beef, though, and I've never really cared for pork. I'll just see how it goes. For now, I think my diet will be mostly vegetarian (I love the variety), but with fish or poultry every couple of days--a diet more in keeping with what our ancestors ate, rather than the factory farm produce of today.

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