Monday, May 5, 2008

It's a Lonely (Meat-Free) World

My friend Dione - ever ready with a new book and a new diet plan - recently lent me the book Skinny Bitch.

The premise is pretty simple: Want to lose weight, feel great, and be healthy?

Simple: Cut out the crap.

The trick, of course, is learning to recognize the crap. Turns out, it comes in forms you may not realize - specifically, anything that has been processed (duh) or comes from an animal.


It's actually a very compelling argument, and I have to admit - the part of me that has half a brain can't dispute the argument that animal products are, as a general rule, not good for us.

I've already talked about this in my post about dairy... so it really isn't a big step for me to move to meat either.

Basically, the authors argue that if we were able to chase down, kill with our bare hands, and then eat (raw) our kill - maybe then biologically it should be considered a good choice. But since we can't do those things (or want to, as a general rule..) AND we can't actually *digest* the meat we do eat (kind of an important part of the whole "fuel your body with nutritious foods" process) then we really shouldn't be eating it. Period. And by the way, you'll feel better (and poop better) and lose weight if you stop.

They back up their argument with some stories about animal treatment in slaughterhouses that kind of seals the deal. Just in case you could still stomach the thought of eating that pork chop... remembering some of the scenes they describe is enough to ruin any appetite.

BUT WAIT - you say. The GOVERNMENT says I need all that stuff! Remember a little thing called the FOOD PYRAMID? That's how you eat healthy!

Not so, according to the authors. In fact, they present some very compelling food for thought regarding just *who* is authoring those government recommendations and what special interests they may be looking out for. (Here's a hint: it's NOT you. Well, your pocketbook - yes, your health - not so much.)

The protein thing? Pretty much a myth, they say. Meaning, you can get all the protein you need with very little effort from other food sources. I think it's kind of like the calcium argument I always hear about milk. What most people don't realize is that milk DOES have a lot of calcium. It just doesn't happen to be in a form that is easily absorbed by our bodies. Funny how they leave that second part out all.the.time. Doesn't make for good marketing, I guess. In fact, studies show that countries where cow's milk is not a staple food have considerably *lower* rates of osteoperosis than we do.

So what does all this mean? Well, I haven't gone vegan if that's what you're thinking. But I do think it makes sense that if you eat more fruits and veggies (organic when possible) and try to stick to simpler, unprocessed foods, you're going to feel better. I can't make the jump fully, (can't go "cold turkey" - how many more food puns can I get in?) but I am down to eating meat once or twice a week. And my cheese intake is way down too, although that's hard to do when you're trying to adjust to a vegetarian diet from the typical, American just-shoot-it-directly-to-my-thighs cuisine we're used to.

I do feel better. I do. And I am finding all kinds of new foods to eat and better appreciating the tastes of wholesome, natural fruits and vegetables.

But the response I get when I say I'm not eating meat is always interesting. Some have asked me why - are my reasons political, ethical, or health-based? Some, like my husband, assume it's a passing thing. (Admittedly, there is good precedent for him to think that...) Others, like my mom, just kind of roll their eyes and ask if we can try the all-meat buffet for lunch today.

But I'm going to keep trudging along. It's summer, it's the perfect time to try new fruits and veggies and combinations of them. I'm not denying myself - if I truly can't find an alternative (you can only eat so many fruit 'n yogurt (still animal-derived, yikes!) parfaits while your kids hit the Playland after all) I'll just try to find something with meat that's on the healthier side and move on.

The problem is, I haven't actually lost any weight yet. And I do miss certain foods. So I'm still waiting for the "skinny" part but I think I've got the other part down.

2 comments: said...

I do not like processed food, but with the kids I find it hard not to eat it. We have a lot of fruit in the house, but it only lasts for so long. And my son is the snack king! I don't think he would eat anything if I got rid of ALL the processed food!

corscorp said...

I'm reading Skinny Bitch now. Also requested their Skinny Bitch in the Kitch cookbook. Thanks for the recommendation! Like you said, though, nothing I didn't already know or suspect.

I think you're on the right track and "skinny" isn't so far in the future for you.

p.s. I love the images you find for each blog entry.