I haven't blogged about the Vegetarian Adventure (it is still going well and is so easy to maintain in this season of fresh tasty veggies and fruits) in a while and thought I would do so today on a common question or statement I hear about being vegetarian, "But how do you get protein?" or "I would be a vegetarian, but I need my protein." I once thought the same way and looked into the issue while researching the vegetarian diet. What I found was that there is more than enough protein in a vegetarian or vegan diet and is actually better for you than animal protein. There are lots of articles out there about it, but this link seems to sum up the issue well.
Yes. I'm still on the vegetarian adventure. I get questions about it all the time, but not many comments posted here. I keep sending you peeps to the blog, as your questions and comments are great for public consumption.
It has not been hard to stay vegetarian at all, other than the momentary temptations when an Outback commercial comes on TV. I have found there to be innumerable eating options within the vegetarian diet. The bigger challenge is with trying to go to a Vegan diet. The distinction between being Vegan and Vegetarian is that the former goes beyond not eating meat to not eating or drinking anything that comes from an animal. Vegans are definently in it for the ethical reasons, even though it is a much healthier version of vegatarianism. i recently read somewhere that Vegans make up about 1% of the population.
i find it harder to eat like a Vegan, especially this time of year with the natural desire to consume large quantities of Bluebell. Perhaps the folks in Brenham (TX) are toying with a soy recipe. There are soy ice cream products out there and I hope to find some here soon and give them a try.
More recent finds about this topic:
An interesting article about one of the first vegans is here.
"Locavore" is a new word floating around out there. It is a word that refers to someone who eats food only from local growers, producers, etc. The term is growing in familiarity with the craze for organic products. It is also a hit with those who are wanting to do their part to combat global warming, doing what is required to keep low all of the resources necessary to drive a load of strawberries in from across the nation.
I have read about a few people--none around here in particular--who have gone locavore. I would think it is hard to buy only locally made or grown products, but its a worthy endeavor to support local farmers, artists, suppliers with loyalty before ordering from someone else's community. This seems to be yet another way of caring for the environment, eating organic and being missional.
If you live here in Shreveport, I've started a list of places that sell local stuff. Feel free to add to the list.
Sunshine Health Foods. I'm pretty sure there produce is local, but correct me if I'm wrong. Today, Jinny and I ate their for lunch and it was our first time to visit. It is larger than I thought it would be and is a lot like a mini Whole Foods.
Marvin's Gardens I've been there several times and it has a great selection of locally grown produce.
Reason 6 is that it is good for the environment to eat less meat. I write this close to Earth Day, a day set aside to consider the need to take better care of our world. I have never really been a part of this celebration, having the same view as many other evangelicals that this day is not on the Christian calendar. It should be, though, and Christians ought to have a greater say than before on such matters. How should a missional, follower of Jesus treat the environment? As Jim Wallis states so often, there are a lot of other moral issues than abortion and gay marriage that should be discussed in the public square. Care for the environment is a moral issue, one of the biggies these days as the evidence of its demise is ever before us. Thus, I give you reason #6.
I learned in my research that the amount of resources it takes to feed our meat addiction is astounding. A Time article "Visions of the 21st Century," by Ed Ayres puts it this way:
First, consider the impact on supplies of freshwater. To produce 1 lb. of feedlot beef requires 7 lbs. of feed grain, which takes 7,000 lbs. of water to grow. Pass up one hamburger, and you'll save as much water as you save by taking 40 showers with a low-flow nozzle. Yet in the U.S., 70% of all the wheat, corn and other grain produced goes to feeding herds of livestock. Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry. India, China, North Africa and the U.S. are all running freshwater deficits, pumping more from their aquifers than rain can replenish. As populations in water-scarce regions continue to expand, governments will inevitably act to cut these deficits by shifting water to grow food, not feed.
We are a nation of consumers, especially when it comes to what we eat. Is it any wonder that the fattest city (not to name names, but its Houston) in the nation is in the best beef producing state in the nation? Even cutting back a little can make a huge difference, if not improving your health drastically.
For more on this reason, visit GoVeg.com's article on this subject for other good footnotes and thoughts.
The Shreveport Times has a good article on Earth Day today. Check it out.
Reason#5--I'm Looking into the Ethical Aspects of How Animals are Treated
A question I'm asking of myself: How does being a follower of Jesus inform how I relate to the care and right of animals, especially to those prepared for me to eat?
Before those of you who think I may have gone off the deep end give me a hard time, I must say that there are some disturbing things I've discovered about how inhumanely some animals are treated all the way from birth to death. I could list lots of reports, but there are plenty of good sites out there with either pictures or videos. I have never been a big fan of many of PETA's strategy and approach to defending animal rights (I've never liked there positioning humans on the same level as field mice or salamanders), but I have to say that they have done some good investigative reporting to expose some terribly cruel practices commonly accepted by chicken farmers, slaughterhouses, etc. They have some good things to say about the things we don't like to know or think about when biting into that juicy piece of meat and I'm glad for their drawing our attention to it.
I will be posting about animal rights and the ethical aspects of meat-eating as I continue in the days ahead, but wanted to mention it as a factor in my thinking even though I'm not sure how big a role it plays. I viewed a video once--perhaps from PETA but couldn't find it on their site anywhere recently--that played some words from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of his and then applied them to animals. It made me think about how we as humans handle the creatures God has made and led me to explore the idea of taking loving neighbor beyond that of my fellow human being. I recall that St. Francis chewed on this a while as well and the result of his labor is seen in the cement statues in gardens throughout the world. I am open to learning and to reconsidering my stance if necessary, but want to give it further study. I have always been a bird hunter and understand the need for population control and the principles among most every hunter I've hunted with to respect the "herd" and to make sure that it thrives and continues. I know that not all hunters are that way.
I ran across this in some of my research on the ethical side of being vegetarian. This guy is a professor at Wabash College and chairperson of the International Christian Vegetarian Association, a group I must say I've never encountered in Christian circles.
Richard Mouw has a helpful article on belief.net about how chickens are chickens. I like his approach to the not-so-cut and dry issue of animal rights. I think he is right that those on both sides of the issue haven't worked out all the logical conclusions and much can be learned from both. I am not sure exactly how I come down on all of this, feeling for the needless suffering of abused and confined animals but also wondering what role chickens play in the world if not for eggs and food. I don't have it all figured out at this point, but will carry on desiring to learn more. Any thoughts? Advice on how you got to your view?
I hope to lose the double-chin. How many fat vegetarians have you ever seen? To read more about the benefits to the waistline, go here.
I realize that going vegetarian could mean loading up on more bread, pasta and anything to fill the void of meat. I'll have to watch this substitution danger and make sure I'm adding better choices than a box of twinkies (not sure if any animals were killed in the making of these yummy yellow pastries). I anticipate losing some weight and getting more to the average weight for my size. I'm currently 180 and stand 5'9''. I'm not far off the average, but have a dunlap gut and flappy double-chin I would love to see disappear. This reason #3 is not the main reason and not all that high in importance, but is in the mix of things going through my head.
Tomorrow, I'll give my thoughts on the ethical aspects of not eating meat and share Reason #4.
Before I share more reasons, I want to give some background--how I had an interest in the vegetarian diet and what the specifics of it will be for the next six months (or beyond).
Several months ago I read an interview of Moby in Sojourners magazine, which points out that he is a vegan. I had heard the term before but never really understood what it meant, other than something about "not eating things that have faces." I looked up vegan on wikipedia and found this definition. I then looked at cross-references and found what Albert Einstein had to say to be intriguing, especially as it relates to humans not having the right system to live as carnivores. There is much to consider there with his quote and other in regard to evolution beyond the killing of animals for food. I've never considered this and I hope to spend some more time considering this from a Christian perspective.
You can look at wikipedia's definition of "vegetarian" and see various types mentioned there. At this point in our adventure, based on their definitions, we are following the Lacto Vegetarianism variety. As you read on to other reasons for our adventure, you will see what may lead us to shift to a Vegan variety.
Now, to continue with our reasons for such a change in eating habits:
REASON #2--and one more noble than the one previously noted--is for health reasons. It is commonly known that fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins, anti-oxidants, fiber and nutrients needed to run and protect the human body. It also reported that those people who live on a vegetarian-like diet are healthier and live longer than those who eat less fruits and vegetables.(Also, see Neal Barnard, M.D., The Power of Your Plate, Book Publishing Co.: Summertown, Tenn., 1990, p. 26, as posted on goveg.com)
I think the first time I considered the value of eating fruits and vegetables for health reasons was when I picked up a pamphlet about cancer while sitting with my mother in a blood lab at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. She had been battling cancer for several years at this point and I was certainly open to learning more about prevention. I was glad to see that eating veggies really is good for you and there is a wealth of evidence for their anti-cancer powers. The ironic thing is that my mother (who died of cancer in 2000) ate more vegetables than anyone I've seen. She grew up in the country and there developed a very green thumb. But, she did eat plenty of meat (loved it best burned to a hardened crisp!), which was plentiful and a key staple in the Texas panhandle city of Dalhart. I don't know if meat had anything to do with causing her cancer, but I do know that much has been reported about the carcinogens within animal protein and it certainly could have contributed to it. I recall becoming aware of this issue when I was on Atkins several years ago and thinking there had to be some downside to consuming such large quantities of red meat. A helpful link on this topic of the connection between meat/animal protein and cancer is here.
I am also interested in lowering my cholesterol, which has been elevated in the last year. I'm not sure if my level is high because of diet or if it is genetic, but studies show the connection between eating meat and cholesterol elevation.
This post has grown to be way too long, so I'll end it here even though there is much more that can be said about the health benefits I see in a vegetarian diet. Tomorrow's post will be reasons 3 and 4.