I am officially done with vegetarianism.
As you may know, I decided not too long ago that the whole vegan thing is not for me. That led me to read about Tasha over at what used to be Voracious Vegan and is now Voracious Eats, and that led me out to a whole world of ex-vegans on the internet. I have been on the internet regularly for over 14 years now, so I shouldn't be surprised that there is an online community for practically anything you can think of, but I hadn't even thought to look for this before.
I have been looking at reducing the amount of carbs that I eat for a while now. I am not looking to be super low-carb, but it seems clear to me that grains are not the best foods for health and weight maintenance--even when they are whole grains. I can't even point to everything I have seen to lead me in this direction, it's just something I gradually seemed to see everywhere. I am not interested in policing the carb level of all my foods, but I have been trying to eat less grains, getting rid of as much refined grain food as possible, and limiting whole grains to smaller portions. This is somewhat hard to do on a vegetarian diet, even if you do eat eggs and fish, but I was trying to avoid that. I wasn't interested in eating meat.
Then I started reading through the interviews with ex-vegans over on Let Them Eat Meat. I was astonished to find how many of them referred to dental problems associated with veganism! I have all the dental problems I was seeing mentioned, from brown spots at my gums to soft, easily broken teeth. In fact, one of my front teeth has completely broken off, and now I have to go to the dentist to get an implant to replace it, something I am not looking forward to doing at all. Now, I am the first to admit I am not a particularly good flosser, but I have always had good strong teeth, so I did not understand the problem. I had read all about the evils of calcium-leaching animal proteins over at Not Milk, so I could not figure out what was going on. Reading these interviews, seeing how many of them mentioned dental problems was really all I needed.
I wasn't really excited about it, though. I had a lot of my self-image tied up in being vegetarian, which seems kind of silly when I think about it. As I kept reading, I began to be more worried about my overall health. For a couple of months now, I have been feeling more sluggish and even dizzy, which was kind of frightening. I was so careful to eat healthy, I thought. But I was becoming more and more convinced that I have been wrong about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet all along.
Even when I ate meat as an adult, I still thought it would be healthier to be a vegetarian, but I am now thinking I was a victim of extreme thinking. I thought you either ate a high meat diet or a high fruit and veggie diet. I mean, I obviously know that it is possible to combine these ways of eating, and even that many people do it successfully, but it wasn't something I did very often. Although, as I thought about it, I realized I did do that one time in my life--eat meat, but also eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables. That was back when I lost a lot of weight a few years ago--something like 40 or 50 pounds over the course of a year or so, without really trying that hard.
So, the evidence was becoming clear. I was wrong about meat eating, and my health was suffering because of it. It is time to be done with it.
My children are thrilled. Fortunately, they never completely stopped eating meat. They ate it with their father, and at my parents' house, and when we would eat out at restaurants. They are glad that they will be able to eat it here now, too.
It took a long time to make a menu today, though! I had to find some new recipes, and get back into the habit of including meat in the plan. I am a little bit nervous about my grocery store bill coming up, but surely it won't be too bad since I am doing the list and trying not to overbuy. Here is what I came up with:
Saturday: Amazing chicken stew on rice (The Healthy Family, p. 114)--this has a lot of veggies in it, and the boy says he is very excited about it, so I am sure this will be a winner
Sunday: Salmon patties, creamed corn, steamed green beans--this is the recipe I learned from my mother as a teenager, so it is comfort food for me
Monday: Pork tenderloin with artichokes and capers, mashed red potatoes, steamed broccoli--as I started thinking about eating meat again, this recipe popped to mind, because it is so delicious; I didn't even know I missed it
Tuesday: Chicken and Biscuit (Rachel Ray's Big Orange Book, p. 210)--from the cooking for one section, again with lots of veggies, and quick and easy in one pot
Wednesday: Gnocchi with fresh chicken sausage and broccoli rabe (Rachel Ray's Big Orange Book, p. 179)--the kids love gnocchi, so I am hoping this will help them to reconcile themselves to combined foods and flavor and all that (by which I really mean the girl--they boy likes flavor)
Thursday: Hurried goulash with egg noodles and peas (The Healthy Family, p. 106)--the girl is cooking this, even though it has a sauce!
Friday I have belly dancing, and I am thinking there may still be some leftovers, so I am not planning a meal. I hope this goes well!