Monday, June 2, 2014

On Remaining a Vegetarian

Around October 1, 2012, I made the choice to abstain from eating meat. As a child, I had been diagnosed with IBS and lactose intolerance, and have dealt with the symptoms of both ever since.  In late summer and early fall of 2012, I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives on PBS and read the book The Veganist by Kathy Freston, as well as other books on eating a more natural, whole foods way.* One thing I gradually concluded was that my body has a difficult time digesting proteins. After reading Veganist, I decided to completely eliminate meats from my diet.
Fresh Salad Greens From Our Garden This Spring!

The results were astounding! Within three days, my gut no longer had that constant tight, wound up feeling. I slept so soundly at night that I nearly didn't wake up to go use the bathroom! The pain in my hips and legs went away, and I lost an inch from my waist (although the scale showed the same weight as always). All this convinced me that eating a vegetarian diet was definitely the way for me to go! (I still eat eggs and a little bit of dairy, like yogurt and hard cheeses, and use real butter for baking.)

Over the past year and a half, however, many of my symptoms have returned. And I really, really missed eating things like chicken & noodles, hamburgers, fried chicken and bacon. I began to wonder if it was really making any difference anymore and thought perhaps I'd go back to eating the traditional mid-western way. Honestly, going to the neighbors' annual hog roast and enjoying the tender barbecued pork is something we look forward to every year! I thought I didn't want to stay vegetarian the rest of my life.

And so, a couple of weeks ago, Some Postman and I had a date with our daughter. We ate lunch at the new Pizza Ranch that just opened in Town and went to see a movie afterward. Pizza Ranch specializes in pizza (of course) and fried chicken. Ohhh....that fried chicken looked and smelled SO good! I decided to give it a try, and put a tiny little drumstick on my plate.
Photo credit: Pizza Ranch

(Looking back, I wonder why did I think this would be OK? I've gotten a tummy ache just from eating vegetable soup made with chicken broth!)

That little piece of fried chicken tasted good...but not as delicious as  my taste memory recalled. During the movie, my tummy began to complain a bit, feeling tight and wound up. Nothing too terrible, though. When we got home, I took some Bromelain (a digestive enzyme derived from pineapple) and some Probiotics. My tummy felt a little better, and I was able to sleep that night, but by morning, things were beginning to rumble. Shortly after noon that day after, my intestines revolted completely. Oh, the PAIN! the CRAMPING! It was like birthing labor, except no reward of a baby after the suffering. The only way for me to get through this kind of attack is to allow the toxic material to leave the body, then take Immodium (stops the colon spasms) and drink a ton of water to flush out the system.

OK. I hear you, body of mine.


I will remain a vegetarian, for the rest of my life if need be. No fried chicken is worth that kind of attack. A veggie burger is just fine. As for the hog roast, I'll still attend, but will take a pot of bacon-less baked beans with me. Quite simply, meat is a bad idea for my body. Why some of my symptoms have returned (aside from the Fried Chicken Experiment), I have yet to figure out. I'm working on it.

Oh, and by the way...I do plan to eat with my family at Pizza Ranch again. There are plenty of non-meat options for me to choose, and the food really is quite good. The Tuscan pizza with tomato and basil I also had that day was delicious! Just as someone with Celiac disease must watch for hidden gluten, I must watch for meat. Simple as that.

*Note:  While I found these to be very informative on a general level, I did not agree with all of the information presented. The documentary and books did give me a lot to think about, and I picked out the material that seemed most helpful to my own situation.

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