Monday, September 9, 2013

Purrsonal Stories: Vegetarian to Pescatarian


In February 1998, I decided to stop eating mammals (beef, pork, etc.). I still ate poultry and fish. By April 2005, I was so sick of chicken I didn’t think I could ever eat another bite. I still don't even like eating vegetarian chicken. Then, in September 2005, I ate my last turkey sandwich and gave up eating meat.

I do, however, eat dairy and eggs. Thus, I’m considered an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. I didn’t do the diet for health reasons. I’m an animal lover, so my thought was I would only eat things that didn’t cause death to animals. In fact, I’m a pretty terrible vegetarian, since I prefer to eat breads and pastas. My more carbivore diet hasn’t been very good for me, I’ll admit.

Of course, I didn’t realize some cheeses are made by enzymes taken from baby cow’s stomachs—the animals have to be dead to get the enzymes. Yeah, it’s something I recently discovered. That and the lack of health in my ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet as well as my dry eye condition has me questioning what I should eat.

Should I become vegan and only eat vegetables and fruits? *sighs* Unfortunately, I don’t think I could cut it being vegan. I’m tired of giving up more and more food. I don’t want to be stuck eating salad out either. In fact, I'm quite the foodie, even though I don't cook. I just love food, love seeing how its cooked and eating it.

I could continue what I’ve been doing and just ignore the fact that I sometimes eat animal byproducts. But I have to think about health too.

So I’ve been considering being a pescatarian. I could still eat eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, and add in the occasional fish. I hate the thought of eating animals, but some fish are good in omega-3s and have other health benefits. I’ve been having dry eye problems, and I’ve been reading up on how a pescatarian diet could help them. When it comes down to it, I have to try it. I’m rather attached to my eyes, you know.

So on August 19, 2013, I ate my first piece of salmon in over eight years. It was all right, I suppose. I would've liked it cooked a bit longer. Even when I ate meat, I preferred it nearly burnt and smothered in something, or breaded. My stomach churned at the thought of eating the fish. I would've felt the same if I was eating maggots or some other disgusting creature, though. But I ate the salmon. Every bite. I wanted to cry. Fish are friends, not food! The next day, I did feel better. I had more energy, and my eyes didn't bother me quite as much.

It still churns my stomach to eat fish, but I will try being a pescatarian—at least for a while.

Have you changed your diet?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe some vitamins would help and then you wouldn't have to eat the fish?
I almost never eat red meat. And I feel much better for it.

Yolanda Renée said...

I applaud your efforts. I need to tweak my diet again, but have not given up meat. Maybe I should, but can't figure out what to eat instead. Allergic to too many food sources. I'd prefer to just take a pill - avoid food altogether! Good luck - glad your eyes are better.

M.J. Fifield said...

I went vegetarian a while back, but I don't really like most vegetables, so it's occasionally a struggle. The list of things I will eat is so tiny, I guess I'm really more a pasta-tarian. Rice and the few veggies I will eat and protein shakes. Lots of protein shakes.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

It sounds to me like you could really use a good cook. Then maybe you could get excited about food again. Recently, I bought into a meal plan with my friend Meg (who is an amazing cook and has a legitimate passion for it). It's been the best decision of my life. I and a group of other guys pay her $40 a week and she plans the meals and cooks them and I just show up for dinner. Afterward we split up the chores. I usually wash the dishes. That way she has a clean kitchen for tomorrow. I've been loving all the things she's been cooking. I had an acorn squash last week that was delicious, turnips that I thought were heavenly, etc. It's all in the preparation. Meg takes hours to think about her dishes.

Julie Flanders said...

I didn't know this about cheese. Cheese is my favorite food and I always say I could live on it, and now this has given me pause. I'm struggling a lot with this same issue. I'd never heard of pescatarian before but I may give that a shot.

D.G. Hudson said...

Our brother-in-law was a vegetarian for nearly 10 years and it sucked his health away. He was always sick, no energy, and he was a fully informed vegetarian who knew how to combine foods. I suggested he become lacto-vegetarian, and he started by eating quiches and omelets. Next, we made turkey soup and he gradually added other foods.

Don't be so strict on your diet or so hard on yourself, if you have health problems. Eyes are important to writers!

Humans need the trace elements found in diverse foods, so you're limiting your intake of these which can result in side effects. I've researched so much on food since my daughter has a gastro illness that's chronic. We don't eat red meat ourselves, and feel better because of it. We do have meals without any meat a couple of days a week.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years, though when we adopted my daughter I started eating fish because I wanted her to as well as being a vegetarian. I confess I sometimes use chicken stock because my husband is not a vegetarian. I couldn't go to a completely vegan diet. For me, it's too restrictive. I know I'm not a complete vegetarian, but I don't stress about it. I try to do my best and eat the best I can.

Jai said...

WoW. I could not eat something that was as repulsive to me as maggots not even for my health. Fish oil has omega3's. Ugh.

I'm a carnivore and I love vegetables. I can't eat bread or rice I gain 10 pounds and blow up like a sumo wrestler. I still eat them from time to time, but I know the consequences.

I think the trick is do find what works best for you. You might even want to go to a nutritionist. Tell them that this is what you'll eat and let them figure it out.

Good luck.

Jay Noel said...

People make fun of me because I call myself "semi-vegetarian," which I know is completely wrong, but oh well.

I have three days a week where I eat no meat at all. Just veggies and whole grain breads. I actually love vegetables, but then again, it's only half the week.

I'm not a huge meat eater, but I do like meat. My brother went totally vegetarian, and his health suffered for it. You need the animal fat for many parts of your body (the eyes, as you know. But also the brain). Obviously, too much is bad.

Fish are friends, and I love my koi. But the Inuit are peaceloving people who survive on fish. They're very healthy people, so eating fatty fish is good for you too.

M Pax said...

I didn't know that about cheese either. What about taking fish oil? Then you don't have to eat the fish. What about more olive oil or something like that?

I rarely eat red meat, and eat mostly vegetarian. I eat a lot of veggies and fruits. Yum. They make those vitamins for eyes now, have you tried those?

This might be odd to say, but I live in the very drying desert so will, but Whole Foods sells a saline/aloe nasal spray. Perhaps keeping your sinuses properly moisturized might help. It helps me. I have to moisturize inside and out. If you try something like that, don't use anything with steroids in it.

Christine Rains said...

I had no idea about the enzymes in cheese. I best wipe that detail from my mind lest I won't be able to eat cheese again! I was the same sort of vegetarian as you until I got pregnant. I wish I liked more fruits and veggies and spices, but my palette is that of a toddler. I also have a monster of a sweet tooth! I still don't like to eat meat with bones in them. Freaks me out.

Anonymous said...

Hubby and I went vegetarian for a while, but it was tough in the small town we lived in. The vegetarian section was tiny. We did find an awesome vegetarian cookbook that I still use. I wouldn't mind going back, but we'd have to move to some place larger that has actual vegan and vegetarian stores.

Cathy Keaton said...

I eat all types of meat, but I'm not fond of beef. I could live fine without it. But, I love chicken, turkey and fish. Salmon is one of my favorites! Fish is a very rich source of omega 3's and animo acids that get converted into serotonin, which is important in controlling mood, sleep and appetite. Really important stuff.

I think we, as humans, have to eat a vary wide variety of foods in order to have optimal health. We are very complex biological beings. Maybe if you were to think of fish as being the fruit of the sea, it might help. ;)

Unknown said...

It must take a lot of discipline to be an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. I've dieted (ad exercised) twice and lost a lot of weight (my job required it), but years of being "normal weight" left me feeling I was being punished for something I didn't do. Now I'm retired and eat anything I want. I guess you have to balance your moral convictions with your health concerns. Just don't be depressed and miserable like I was.

Unknown said...

I guess growing up on a farm has always framed my mind to believe that animals are to be respected and cared for, but also sometimes used as food. I truly respect people who abstain from eating animals, though. It's so hard to know where your food comes from these days, much less if it was raised and handled humanely.

Heather R. Holden said...

Wow, I can't ever imagine having a diet this strict. Sorry to hear you need to eat fish despite not wanting to! If it'll help your eyes, though, I can easily see why you'd attempt it. Good luck!

Misha Gerrick said...

Good luck with getting used to the change!

I'm trying to change my diet into something healthier, but I don't think I have it in me to stop eating meat.

Jack said...

Diets are hard to balance, finding what one's system needs and what it doesn't. I really hope your new one works for you, especially for your eyes.