That's right, this blog is no longer called Veggies Unlimited.
That's because I'm no longer a vegetarian, although vegetables, grains, and beans will always be a major part of my diet.
Why the change? The reasons are not as simple as "I craved meat." I had avoided meat in large part because of the way most meat in the US is raised and processed. CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, are inhumane and environmentally disastrous. In addition, conditions in a CAFO are such that the use of antibiotics is routine. Growth hormones are also routinely administered in the quest for efficiency, as if animals were nothing more than machines meant to function to the greatest advantage of the "factory" owner.
I was also influenced by Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet, in which she shows that many more human beings could be fed if they ate a plant-based diet rather than basing their diet on meat. It takes several pounds of plant protein to produce a pound of animal protein; if that protein went directly into human beings instead of feeding cattle, fewer people would have to go hungry.
In addition, I believed that animal fats--saturated fats--were detrimental for human nutrition. There's been a lot of hype over the past few decades about the evils of saturated fat. But I've changed my mind about animal fats thanks to information like this. I now believe that our bodies evolved to benefit from animal fats. (Of course, I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian, so I had never completely cut animal fats from my diet.)
Now meat from humanely raised animals is more widely available. I'm also investigating where to buy grass-fed beef and free-range chickens locally. These traditional practices result in healthier animals and more nutritious food, as well as being more humane.
My emphasis now has switched to one of eating, where possible, the most natural and minimally processed foods available, grown locally if that's an option.
You are what you eat: not only physically, but in less tangible ways as well. It is worthwhile to consider what we eat, where it comes from, and how it came to us. For too many of us, eating is an unthinking activity, a matter of just filling up on something, anything.
I once wrote a poem called "because, fortunately, we are not disembodied spirits" that sums up my feelings on the topic.
you are what you eat
and how you eat
so i never have lunch
with people who pick daintily
at green salads and drink only
black coffee or sparkling water
i like to see someone finish off
the half-pound burger, basket of fries
and a coupld of german beers
then eye my leftovers
people who never need doggie bags
or at least never refuse them
people who sigh "one of these days
i have to go on a diet"
while forking up fettucine al fredo
and drinking half a bottle of cheap
people who go back to the salad bar
who moreover recognize
butter lettuce, couscous,
when they see it
who devour roasted garlic on hard bread
and know enough
to put a dollop of sour cream
on black bean soup spike with cumin
i think i know how such people make love,
hear music, raise children, laugh
how they breathe in the spice
of lilacs and see
the orange horizon
they eat not simply
to fill an emptiness
(or why not eat wonder bread,
canned mushroom soup, hamburger helper)
but as if more than life
depended on it