I, too, like J.E. have longed to be a vegetarian at certain points in my life. Gandhi speaks quite frequently about this and it certainly has re-instated that longing. He refers to the fact that red meat makes people more aggressive, which I don’t think has been proven through science but is interesting nonetheless. It has been tested empirically in dogs. Gandhi states that his rigid adherance to this lifestyle often came at quite a cost. Unfortunately, one of the larger hinderances to this choice in lifestyle is its accessibility for me. It takes more time, more planning, and more money to be a vegetarian where I live. I think it might have been easier to do this in NY but here it is quite difficult. We shop at the local Co-op occasionally, but the food is more expensive (sometimes more than I can afford on my tight budget).
This brings me to another point about choices (NPR had a program about this.)Â Fast food is really over-used by people who have little money and little time, which adds to their plight by giving them health problems in the long run. All of this may make healthy living sound like more of a luxury than a choice, but I think there are some truths here. I think giving up caffeine, as Jeff did, is an example of a very deliberate and healthy choice. I think one of the questions of morality is how the food was raised and how animals were treated before their slaughter. This is why smaller, local food stores are often better, but because they are smaller, they are more expensive.
Now to respond to the switch is on. Fall has always been my favorite season, despite the inevitable memories of 9/11. Since it is the first time you have felt the cool breeze of winter creeping up, it makes you think both forward and backward, reflecting and planning. I often think now of the trips to the Catskill Mountains, the smell of open fires, the beautiful leaves, and towns, like Terrytown where Washington Irving lived. I also recall gallery openings, a new line up of shows at museums, and Central Park. But I also look forward to the beauty of WI lakes, trees, and parks; all that the school year has to offer, and the fellowship of the holidays.
As for Lost, Watch at your own risk. I am as often annoyed or irritated as I am thoroughly entertained. I also would caution Jen that it often surprises with a scene of intense violence, about which I feel ambivalent. I haven’t decided whether or not I want to get back into it or just get out.
Lastly, I won’t count myself out yet, but I have a conference the following week after the get-together in K.C. So the chances of me leaving Sara to fend for herself with the two kids for two weekends in a row are slim. Not to mention, I have somehow been roped into teaching a high school Sunday class on “Jesus as a storyteller.” I have not been able to download any of the films or music, thoug I haven’t tried very hard. Perhaps some simple advice in this realm would be of assistance. Or do I need to bother?
Good to have this post from you. Perhaps you’ve seen my comment on J. E.’s post on Hot Topic, but I wanted to respond here a bit too.
It’s hard to be vegetarian, in certain circumstances, no question, as you say. But I think it’s a choice you could make, if you really wanted to do so. I’m not advocating for you to do anything other than what you think is best, but it seems like you really want to do this, or have wanted to do so in the past, but you’ve put cost as a major factor. There are ways, of course, of becoming a vegetarian slowly, and there are ways of being vegetarian with a lesser cost than eating meat. One doesn’t have to shop at a food co-op to be vegetarian. I’m not trying to push you one way or another, nor am I trying to be righteous, but I just want to say that being vegetarian is more accessible than you might think.
I think your point about meat making carnivores more aggressive is interesting. Or I guess this is Gandhi’s point. Fair enough. I’m not sure about this in humans, either, but it certainly does contribute directly to a more aggressive society in terms of environmental degradation, water consumption, and increased pollution. Again, I’m not trying to be righteous, but simply saying that eating meat is a choice, just like vegetarianism is a choice, and it’s all about being aware of the consequences of our choices, whatever they may be, and being at peace with them, as J. E. says.
There’s a very interesting new book out titled OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA, which was reviewed recently in the New York Times Book Review. It traces where four different meals came from, from the farm or slaughterhouse, to the grocery store, to the plate of food at the dinner table. I haven’t read the book, but it does sound like a really intriguing one. I thought it worth mentioning.
Thanks for the comment on LOST. Point well taken.
And whle I do seriously hope you might be able to come to Kansas City that last weekend in October, it’s certainly understandable that you can’t. You’ve got a lot going. Keep us posted.
Let’s say (not that this will happen anytime soon) that I was to give up red meat. What dietary concerns should I have?
It may be hard to cook for the kids if I require a separate diet. I feel uncomfortable making things inconvenient for hosts cooking for me.
If anything, I may wait until after the holidays when we are visiting a lot of family and then start in the new year.
Jeff, I know you’ve done without red meat. Suggestions? Recently, I am reading The Ninemile Wolves which discusses how the over abundance of ranching and insistance on driving out other wildlife for cattle grazing ground has damaged the eco-system in this country. One more reason. Of course, I’ve never been much of a beef eater, so perhaps my choices won’t effect that issue, but there are other reason.
I don’t think you would have any major dietary concerns if you cut out red meat. I haven’t had red meat or pork for over a year and a half. You will get protein from poultry and seafood, if you keep up with that. I do recommend adding a bit more in terms of beans and tofu and soy protein, if you’re worried about getting enough protein. I don’t think you would need an iron supplement, but I do take a multivitamin more or less daily–Centrum Performance, which does include a dose of iron.
I imagine Sara would be far more interested in cuttiing out red meat than you think, but certainly that’s just my guess. It can be difficult if one of you has a different diet than the other. I’m fortunate in that Jen’s family is half vegetarian, so there’s no read discussion about it. My family, when we see them, is fine with it, and have appreciated the need to serve more vegetables and healthier foods. My dad is definitely a little perplexed by it, but even he admits to liking veggie sausage patties, for example, for breakfast.
And of course, we don’t have children, so that’s not a concern. Jen’s sister Heidi, however, is raising both of her children vegetarian, and they’ve been fine with it, even when they see. And Heidi’s husband, Jake, still eats an occasional bratwurst, etc., but it doesn’t seem to be a problem or issue.
You get attuned to more tastes–I think that’s a beneficial side effect to being vegetarian. I’ve heard people who have cut out sugars say the same thing: food tastes so differently after cutting out such an “assumed” ingredient.
I know what you mean about not wanting to “inconvenience” people who host you for dinner. But a good host will make certain concessions, especially if they’re told about certain dietary needs ahead of time. You have to be prepared to eat a lot of what before we’ve thought of as “side dishes.”
I think New Year’s is a good time to turn over a new leaf and try something new. I mean, if it’s not working for you, then you can always go back.
My two weeks are nearly over of going entirely vegetarian. To be truthful, it hasn’t felt like much of a change from what I’ve already been doing. I’m taking that as a good sign, and am now planning to continue vegetarian. But I will likely have at least some amount of turkey at Thanksgiving, and may even have some traditional Swedish potato sausage at Christmas. But otherwise, I think I’m going to generally keep vegetarian practice. Maybe a piece of fish once in a while. Maybe I’ll now cut poultry, in addition to red meat and pork, and just have seafood once in a while–sushi and the occasional grilled fillet or fish n’ chips with a Guinness.
I would certainly encourage anyone seriously thinking about it to try it. The slow fading out of meat the way I’ve been doing the last couple of years, seems to work well. You begin not even to miss it. Ned, maybe starting by reducing red meat only is a good way, and then perhaps cutting it out altogether, if that feels right. Then maybe consider your options from there. Going cold turkey only makes you all the more desire…well, cold turkey.
The culture with the longest average lifespan in the world are the Okanawans. Their diet is almost all seafood, rice, and seaweed, i think. would be wrth looking at if longevity is a desire. I think they win in that category by a long ways