filed under: food, lent, vegetarian
24 March 2008
(Continued from Vegetarian updates)
Well, yesterday was decision time. It came on me somewhat suddenly, when I heard on Saturday that Lent actually ended Friday. After some careful reading I decided that it really ended at sundown on Saturday, or maybe sunup on Sunday, so I just waited until Sunday as I had originally planned. Even then, I wasn’t really ready to decide – I had become comfortable as a vegetarian.
That’s not to say that there aren’t a bunch of downsides to vegetarianism! It’s just that there are also some upsides, so it becomes more of a balanced choice, rather than a restriction. I had acclimated to the vegetarian lifestyle, and I just didn’t feel like I really needed to change.
Without discussing the final decision, the preceding paragraph helps explain why I give up something for Lent each year – it’s an opportunity for me to jump a hurdle and see what is on the other side. Often it isn’t what I expect.
But back to the issue at hand. I did have one last vegetarian insight on Saturday, when I realized that my mother-in-law was going out of her way to make special food for me. It was the first time someone really had to make a special consideration for me, and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant feeling. I know that I don’t worry about it when I am making adjustments for my wife, and that other people don’t really mind, but it’s always been a mild concern with her, and I suddenly had a dose of it. It was rough. (Thank you, Agnes!)
I’ve also now completely un-lost the weight that I lost. My wife theorizes that it’s because I’ve been eating so much dairy, and I agree with her. Once I proved to myself that I could safely eat dairy, I started bingeing on ice cream and milk, and I think it accounts for the weight gain. Again, what a choice!
So… Sunday I made a hasty decision (or so it seemed to me) to eat a shrimp, based on my general feeling that I would probably go back to eating seafood. That ended my 46 days of meatless living (although there was that one incident with the caesar salad). It felt a little sad. I ate a few more shrimp that day, given that the ship had already sailed, but I avoided other meats until I had more time to weigh the options.
That time is now, so I’ve assembled the following pro/con list:
As a vegetarian, I:
- can’t really eat at fast food restaurants
- can’t eat most candy bars
- have a harder time finding tasty food at restaurants
- have fewer options with delivery (pizza) and takeout (Chinese) food
- eat generally crappy food for lunch at work
- can’t eat many cheeses
- can’t eat in Lisbon
- can’t eat steak!
- sometimes feel guilty that people have to plan meals around me
- generally have less interest in fancy food
As a vegetarian, I:
- don’t eat fast food ;)
- don’t eat candy bars ;)
- eat less delivery / takeout ;)
- can share all my meals with Kristina
- am no longer lactose intolerant (confirmed!)
- can eat ice cream!
- have the same restaurant preferences as Kristina
- eliminate the guilt that Kristina feels when I plan meals around her diet
- lose weight (maybe – depends on whether the dairy theory is right)
- eat smaller portions (I just generally don’t eat as much)
- eat better airplane food (in coach, the vegetarian options are usually much better)
- have better overall health
- am doing a bunch of other good things for the planet
So, based on all that, I’ve decided on a compromise. I’m going to be a pescetarian (seafood as my only meat), plus I’m going to allow myself to eat all cheeses (even ones with animal rennet), but I’m also going to try to minimize my overall dairy intake. With that compromise, I hope to keep the best parts of both worlds:
- I can generally eat with Kristina
- I will hopefully remain lactose-tolerant
- I can eat in Lisbon
- I’ll have more choices at lunch in the office
- I will hopefully lose weight
- I’ll be healthier
I’ll miss steak and bacon, and many of the fancy flavors that come from meat, but I’m quite comfortable with the tradeoff. The healthier life, the small comforts with my wife, and the ability to eat dairy make it very much worthwhile.
So, yesterday began my new life as a pescetarian. I expect to have a hard time explaining it to people, and explaining why I’m doing it, but that doesn’t bother me much. I’m not sure how long it will last, although I expect it to last as long as the benefits keep lasting. Maybe for the rest of my life.