The Tyranny of Protein – or – Vegan No More

This decision has been weighing on my mind for months.

I’ve struggled with my vegan dietary habits mightily, and after about 8+ months of eating mostly vegan, I have decided that I can no longer sustain this level of dietary restriction.

However, I have particular reasons and I have a set of ideas about what I will do next, moving forward.

For those of you that have been following along with me on this journey, please keep reading.

1) I originally thought going vegan was going to help me lower my cholesterol to the point where I could get off my cholesterol medications. This was a patently false assumption on my part, and was unfortunately validated through blood tests with my doctor. After eating vegan with a rare exceptional egg in the diet, my bad cholesterol and triglycerides were higher than my previous readings … because I’d slacked off on my cholesterol medication. According to my doctor my form of cholesterol is (probably) genetic. There will be no miracle dietary intake to get me off my meds.

2) Now that I am entering week five of my daily gym routine, and I am one week into eating eggs again, and because I have not successfully kicked my daily hopping on the scale habit, I have noticed something radical.

I AM LOSING WEIGHT.

And I’m losing weight now at a more steady pace, since I have re-introduced animal protein into my diet.

Other than the dietary change, I am not exercising more, so I ascribe the weight loss to the dietary change.

I have to say, this is not a shock to me. As someone who has been eating vegan for 8+ months, I know that in order to consume my vegan protein it comes with a LOT of carbs. Black beans, lentils, and quinoa are all terrific sources of vegetable protein.

However, please consider:

  • 15 oz can of black beans = 315 calories / 24.5 grams protein / 66.5 grams carbs
  • 1 cup of lentils, cooked = 622 calories / 48.4 grams protein / 108 grams carbs
  • I cup quinoa, cooked =    635 calories / 22.3 grams protein / 117 grams carbs

VERSUS

  • 3 fried eggs                   = 260 calories / 18.6 grams protein / ZERO CARBS

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I’m not making complex carbohydrates my enemy, however in my struggles to lose weight at a steady pace, the levels of carbohydrate intake in a vegan diet are not working with me, they’re working against me. I have to work much harder to lose weight with the levels of carbs I’m taking in.

In the subject line of this post, I’ve put it out there – I am vegan no more because I am eating eggs again.

Theoretically, I’m now a vegetarian… except, I’m still not eating dairy. I see no need to reintroduce dairy into my diet at this time and I’m comfortable sticking to that.

But given where I am in my journey, I am going to reconsider the possibility of consuming two other foods, in addition to eggs, that are animal based: chicken and tuna fish.

Both chicken and tuna fish are lean sources of protein, and are generally healthier than most other forms of animal protein (like red meat, pork, bacon, etc.)

Also, like eggs, they are extremely high in protein, relatively low in calories and cholesterol and have zero carbs. These factors make these particular food sources attractive options if I decide I’m okay to go back to eating animal protein again.

Since I have proven to myself that I can live with many different kinds of dietary restrictions and stick with them, I’m comfortable with the idea of eating chicken or tuna every once in a while. I suspect my body will “tell me” if it wants animal protein.

In fact, higher levels of protein … between my brown rice protein shakes, which I still use daily for a decent boost of 24 grams of protein, along with other sources, has made my workout recoveries more bearable. I can tell I need higher levels of protein than the “normal” 46 grams of daily protein recommended for an adult woman to see the results I want.

And speaking of results, it’s been a while since I posted a progress photo of how I am doing.

Here’s how I look now… and the journey continues………

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Progress photo - 7-25-14

Progress photo – 7-25-14

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Full Scale Addiction

As I progress on my wellness journey, from pretty darn healthy to hopefully much more healthy, I am in pursuit of a normal Body Mass Index, BMI.

If you want to calculate your BMI, the (US) National Institutes of Health provides a handy calculator that provides both US Standard and Metric calculators.

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm

Right now my BMI is 26.6, while a normal BMI is 25 or under. In other words, I know now what I knew then… I am STILL about 10 pounds overweight.

And how do I know that I’m about 10 pounds over my goal weight? Well, that’s what my scale tells me.

Every morning.

Every darn morning, my scale laughs at me.

It tells me, oh you’ve been going to the gym everyday for a month and guess what? You have lost about 2 pounds. HAHAHAHA.

Yep, that’s what the scale says. It’s killing me every time I hop on it.

I’ve talked about this a lot before, so pardon me as I continue to obsess over it. However.

So, the trainers at the gym have been telling me NOT to look at the scale. Don’t get on the scale, they say. See how your clothes fit. See if you are losing inches (I think I am.) See if you are getting results (I am, I see more muscle definition too.)

But, that damn scale. It’s an addiction, getting on it everyday and somehow hoping it’s going to say something other than what it always says. The same number.

I mean, it can’t keep doing that… right? (For goodness sake, someone please tell me it WILL eventually go down!)

I’m being so good in what I eat, and watch my calories and do my best to eat super duper healthy (think cucumbers!) And I work out, weights, cardio, the whole enchilada (without the actual enchilada!)

But in all my self-discipline, I can’t seem to kick my scale addiction. It’s very hard not to want to SEE the scale saying something other than that number it shows me every morning.

Maybe it would be better to just stay in a state of scale ignorance, and keep going with the plan.

Sigh.

Well, today is literally one month since I began going to the gym, and it has made a big difference in my stamina and strength. I notice it when I take flights of stairs more easily, have more oxygen and can take deeper breaths, not to mention my muscles are looking more defined now. These are all positive signs of progress.

So what if the scale isn’t corroborating it?

Yeah, that’s what I’ll tell myself.

Tomorrow.

My (mostly) vegan experiment gone horribly wrong

A little over 6 months ago, I began to transition from my vegetarian eating habits to a new regimen of eating (mostly) vegan.

I was already restricting my diet, but I decided that to further my health goals of lowering my cholesterol, I was going to give up all dairy and egg yolks, but – I decided – that I’d continue to consume egg whites for protein.

And I can tell you that for the past 6 months, I have … for 99% of the time … not consumed any dairy. No cheese, no pizza, no milk, no ice cream, no sour cream… nope. Every once in a while, I would get a craving for toast with a little butter on it, and I’d estimate I ate a slice of buttered toast less than once a month during that time. That would have constituted ALL dairy ingested, which is – to say the least – such a miniscule amount as to be nearly nothing.

As for eggs, the vast majority of the time I was consuming egg whites, although every once in a while … again, very rarely and mostly while on the road, I would eat whole eggs.

While all this was going on, of course I consumed absolutely no meat, chicken, seafood… nada. Zero. Zip.

I ALSO added a daily, high-dose Omega 3 supplement too…which has been shown to help reduce cholesterol. I have been taking Omega 3’s every day, without fail.

I was SO excited about the fact that I’d given up 99% of any and all sources of cholesterol in my diet, that I admit I began slacking off on taking my cholesterol medication. I was fully prepared to go in to see my doctor after 6 months and for her to tell me, wow your cholesterol has dropped tremendously, of course you can go off your meds!

Since I have already written the title of this post, you know this isn’t a good news story.

BAD RESULTS

After 6 months of a lot of sacrifice, my triglycerides are HIGHER than what they were 6 months ago. My LDL (bad cholesterol) is HIGHER than it was 6 months ago. And my HDL, while still in a good range, is still lower overall than it was 6 months ago.

This is TERRIBLE news. It is a horrific result based on the many, many changes I have made.

Moreover, it’s very clear to me that I need to be taking my cholesterol meds religiously, NO exceptions.

Eating (mostly) vegan has literally done nothing at all to lower my cholesterol levels. (And if you’re going to tell me that eating the equivalent of less than a teaspoon of butter in 6 months was the thing preventing me from lowering my cholesterol, I will knock your block off. The changes I made were serious, and difficult.)

Now, some people would take that news and use it as an excuse to fall off the bandwagon and start chowing down on pizza and ice cream and whatever else happens to come across their path.

Not me.

I’m WAY too stubborn for that.

In fact, I’m going to up the ante on myself. Not only am I going to start taking my cholesterol meds every night, I have already started removing white carbs from my diet. That means: no white bread or pasta, no white rice, and sadly … no white potatoes.

Why remove white carbs? Because eating white carbs can drive up the amount of sugar your body produces, and when the body has an excess amount of sugar, it stores it as fat on the body. When the body stores fat, it can elevate your triglyceride levels (particularly fat stored in the abdomen.)

I’ve been clinging to eating eggs for the past 6 months, and maybe it’s time for me to bite the bullet and try to go the next 6 months without eating them, to see if I can do it.

Also, I want to say, for the record, eating like this SUCKS. It’s HIGHLY restrictive, and it makes for some difficult conversations with friends about “where to go for dinner” when I eat out. Yes, I cook for myself a lot at home, but with the new restrictions, it’s going to further limit what I can eat and will require me to change up my habits yet again.

You know, you’d think with all these restrictions, plus the amount of exercise I’m doing every week that I would have been losing weight too, right? But no, I’m not. I have been working on increasing the amount of exercise I’m doing, and I with the additional restrictions I’m imposing on myself, I hope to break through the plateau I’ve been at, weight wise, for many months.

I am not happy to be writing this post, but I AM being honest. The changes I undertook have not really seemed to make a difference in contributing to my health, and that is extraordinarily disappointing.

Once I go back to taking my cholesterol meds every day, religiously, there will be no way for me to tell if any further changes to my diet have helped reduce my cholesterol … and at this point, I no longer have cholesterol reduction through dietary changes as a goal because it seems completely unrealistic.

However, I do want to see my overall health improve. I want to lose weight and achieve a healthier Body Mass Index (BMI).

I’ve been dabbling with the idea of seeing a holistic nutritionist to help craft a strategy with me. I’m very knowledgeable about nutrition, supplements, the glycemic index and eating habits in general, but I’m not a professional … and maybe it’s time to “up my game” and go the extra step.

In the meantime, I’m going to have to figure out how to readjust my eating habits yet again…

The Incredible Edible Egg (White)

After scrupulously journaling every bite of food going into my mouth for the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a trend: I’m falling short on my daily protein requirement.

And how do I know my daily protein requirement? WebMD is a source I trust, so I got it there.

WebMD says:

Protein requirements are complicated because the amount we need changes with age.

  • Infants require about 10 grams a day.
  • Teenage boys need up to 52 grams a day.
  • Teenage girls need 46 grams a day.
  • Adult men need about 56 grams a day.
  • Adult women need about 46 grams a day.

Okay, so on Fitday.com I set my daily custom nutrient goal to between 45-50 grams a protein a day. On many days I haven’t come close.

Why?

My analysis shows me that I’m eating lots of vegetables everyday, along with fruits, nuts and seeds along with some whole grains like quinoa. But unless I’m eating beans on a given day, my protein requirements don’t stack up.

But I don’t wanna eat beans every day.

Why else?

The Jury is Out on Soy

I have decided that for me, soy is not the right go-to food to supplement my protein intake. And just because the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides huge subsidies for the soy crop in this country, just as they do for corn, doesn’t mean I want soy in every product. (Does anyone remember what high fructose corn syrup has done for us?)

Here are some things to consider:

Beginning in 1996, bacteria, virus and other genes have been artificially inserted to the DNA of soy, corn, cottonseed and canola plants. These unlabeled genetically modified (GM) foods carry a risk of triggering life-threatening allergic reactions, and evidence collected over the past decade now suggests that they are contributing to higher allergy rates.

So after about three weeks of eating vegan, I’m at a fork in the road (yes, pun intended.)

What I’ve decided, for now, is that I will go back to eating egg whites. Egg whites are a protein super-food with zero fat content, and low carbs too. (Bodybuilders have known this for a long time.) Also, I can eliminate cholesterol and saturated fat from the egg by not using the egg yolk.

Last night, after a few days in a row of falling short on protein, I made a “hash” of 1/2 cup of egg whites, mushrooms, 1/4 cup of black beans, and 1/4 cup of diced tomatoes with various spices, salt and pepper. It was delicious, nutritious and filled with protein.

I finally put my protein consumption into the green again.

Ironically, the jar of mayonnaise I’ve been discussing on the blog with religious fervor still remains in the refrigerator unopened with its saturated fat content intact. 🙂

Let me also say, for now, I am still committed to staying off dairy products. Dairy does have saturated fat and cholesterol, so for now I see no reason to go back to it … because there is something pretty satisfying about having a food log that reads: Daily Cholesterol = 0 mg!

It’s just one more step in the journey…

My Well Stocked Veg* Pantry

From left to right: Black Truffle Oil, Chia Seeds, Powdered Peanut Butter, Avocado Oil, Red Quinoa, and organic carrots

From left to right: Black Truffle Oil, Chia Seeds, Powdered Peanut Butter, Avocado Oil, Red Quinoa, and organic carrots

One of the new and unexpected benefits of my recent change in eating habits is the introduction of really interesting foods I have not cooked with at home, and in some cases, had never eaten before.

I find this kind of cooking experimentation a lot of fun! It’s a way for me to create flavor profiles I may not have tasted before and combining ingredients in ways I’d never considered.

Then again, my hunger is propelling me to do these things because one of the issues I’ve faced is lower levels of satiety. It depends what I eat, of course, but I use minimal amounts of oil in cooking and vegetables are filling, but only temporarily. The good news is they are also quite low in calories so it’s okay to have multiple smaller meals during the day.

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The Veg* Pantry

So, here’s some fun items you can acquire for your veg* pantry that will add lots of options to your flavor profiles:

Powdered Peanut Butter – because of how it is processed, powdered peanut butter has 85% less fat than “normal” peanut butter and can be reconstituted using water instead of oil. (I bought this product because I want to make a home version of “Sesame Noodles” which uses peanut butter and soy sauce, along with chinese noodles and toasted sesame seeds. I have yet to try out the recipe in the “lab,” haha.)

Black Truffle Oil – this is actually sunflower oil infused with black truffle mushroom “essence” so the caloric content is really the sunflower oil first and foremost (120 calories per tablespoon), but it can give dishes a rich, meaty and savory quality.

Avocado Oil – I love avocados so the idea of having avocado oil to add to some dishes was too tempting to pass up. Like olive oil, it’s a great source of poly-unsaturated fat, just like the whole avocado.

An important note about avocado oil – it is highly beneficial to dry skin as well and can be applied directly to the face or body. It is ph balanced at the same level of the oils our skin naturally produces.

Chia Seeds – Yes, I keep mentioning chia seeds. They are a super-food and are high in Omega 3’s, have 5x the calcium of milk, high in fiber, on and on! Chia seeds add a wonderful crunch to any dish, but nutritionally these little seeds are a powerhouse.

Quinoa – What food can you think of where, when you eat 1/4 of a cup of it cooked, provides you with 6 grams of protein? Yeah, I thought so. Quinoa – another super-food. It’s got such a wonderful nutty flavor and fantastic texture, it’s very easy to substitute this whole grain instead of rice or pasta.

Dried organic mushrooms – getting fresh organic mushrooms isn’t always possible, and more to the point, mushrooms go bad rapidly if you don’t eat them. If you keep dried mushrooms in your veg* pantry, you’ll always have a wonderful source of flavor on hand to enrich any dish. Also – mushrooms have been scientifically shown to boost the immune system!

Since mushrooms can also absorb bad stuff from the ground, pollutants and heavy metals and other bad stuff – you should try to use organically grown mushrooms.

(I have used North West Foods in Oregon as a source of organic dried mushrooms.)

Tahini – it’s a sesame paste typically used in yummy Mediterranean dishes. Yep, it’s packed with Omega 3’s, calcium, copper and maganese too, and was first made over 4000 years ago!

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So there you have it. This is NOT a complete list of all the stuff you can stock in your wonderful veg* pantry … because that could have been a much longer list!

What “Must Have” Items do you have in your veg* pantry that are a little unusual?

Please share!

Is it possible to be an unhealthy Vegan or Vegetarian?

As my regular readers know, I’ve begun the process of transitioning my ‘eating preferences’ from vegetarian to something that I would have called vegan a few days ago but I’m now realizing is not vegan.

It’s something else.

There is no convenient label for what I’m trying to do, but I’ve also realized something kind of terrible in the last few days also… it’s possible to be an unhealthy vegetarian or vegan.

That’s blasphemy to many, I’m sure!

But please, before I start getting annoyed comments from the folks that have adopted vegetarian and vegan eating habits, let me explain what I mean. You may even agree with me.

First, let’s start with the basics. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you’re not eating meat and that helps dramatically reduce unhealthy saturated fats from your diet. That’s for sure. It’s an excellent start on a road to better health.

Next, if you are vegan, you are further reducing saturated fats by eliminating both eggs and dairy products. Kudos to vegans who are off both eggs and dairy and consuming much less saturated fat. Yay!

HOWEVER.

What I’ve noticed in many of the vegetarian and vegan recipes online is that there is a new boogie man hanging out and readily made available to veg-peoples: processed “veg” alternative foods.

Would you like some fake veg-meat? Or how about some fake veg-cheese? Sure, you can have that… and along with it, tons of oil, sugar and chemicals to preserve it on the shelf.

Want some fake sour cream? Non-dairy ice cream made out of tofu? Oh yeah, that’s our best seller.

See, the thing is… I don’t want to eat that fake chemically laden, oil enriched, sugar coated stuff.

I don’t want to eat food that will stay on a shelf for a month and not go bad. The food we eat should be alive, and if you don’t eat it, it dies and can’t be eaten if you want to stay healthy.

The food industry is SO damn sneaky. They want to make consumers feel really good about their food choices (while charging them a whole lot more than the “regular” products because it’s “healthier”) and so they provide them with plenty of opportunities to buy stuff that, frankly, I don’t see how it’s better for you over not eating it.

THAT is the key.

If you compare eating MEAT, vs. eating fake processed veg. food on the supermarket shelf, I’m sure the argument would be … HEY, this is HEALTHIER than MEAT!

Okay. So what?

Is it healthier than NOT eating the fake veg thing you have in your hand and eating… I don’t know, a carrot? An apple? A carrot and an apple?

And the answer to that is NO, eating fake veg thing is NOT healthier than eating an apple. (Okay, okay, an organic apple.)

Also, and I’m sorry people, I have to point this out… eating baked goods with dark chocolate, raw sugar, wheat flour and oil is not “health food” either.

Imagine… a vegan nightmare…

Breakfast: eat a bowl of sugar coated shredded wheat, with some sugar laden rice milk for a “healthy” vegan breakfast.

Lunch: I can have a baked potato with fake veg cheese, fake sour cream, and fake bacon bits. (I cannot make this stuff up, I’ve seen the recipes and it looks gross.) As my desert, I’ll have chocolate chip cookies with soy milk.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Now, if I’m not doing that and not eating the way some veg peoples do, what am I doing?

WHAT I AM DOING:

WHAT I AM NOT DOING:

  • I’m avoiding as much processed food as I can, which is freaking HARD TO DO.
  • I’m avoiding using processed oils in my food (yep, even olive oil), although again, this is freaking HARD TO DO.
  • I’m avoiding high fructose corn syrup, and avoiding as much sugar as I can (yes, including things like raw/organic honey. It’s still sugar.)

In case you are wondering what the hell am I eating… here is today’s sample:

Breakfast: oatmeal with slivered almonds and two tablespoons of chia seeds (omega 3’s)

Lunch: Half of the following:

Can of Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup (minimal oil) with this other stuff I added:

half can of whole kernel corn (no oil, salt or sugar); half can of diced tomato (no oil, salt or sugar); and half of one sweet potato cut into cubes, and one half cup of cooked Reinzi “i bambini” Fusillini with spinach and zucchini (ingredients: duram wheat semolina and 25% vegetable puree.)

Dinner: Finish soup from lunch. Handful of fresh raspberries. One fresh persimmon.

(Cheat item: Pomegranate Blueberry Mash sparkling water drink with fruit juice concentrates and crystalline fructose… sigh. 40 calories per serving, but that’s just my justification.)

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I don’t mind telling you…this transition is very freaking hard… so far.

But the fresh raspberries tasted AMAZING tonight, and I think I can expect to start tasting food differently now … if I’m serious about getting off the other stuff I’d been putting in my body.

How about you?

It’s Sick, How Healthy I Am

Yes, after over a year of being a vegetarian, I am disgustingly healthy. Even my doctor says so.

And while it took me several months, initially, to get over not being able to eat bacon and fried chicken, I’m now fully adjusted to not eating meat. However, as a vegetarian, I’ve continued eating eggs and dairy (cheese, butter, milk, yogurt, ice cream.)

That’s not all. I’ve also given up drinking caffeine.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I had a mean diet cola beverage habit and addiction. After giving that up, I realized all my morning fog and grogginess was due to caffeine. The very product that helps you “wake up” and gives you “energy” is the SAME product that makes you tired later in the afternoon when it wears off. If you don’t ingest caffeine, this cycle of up and down stops. When you feel tired, you’re actually tired.

What do I drink now, you may ask? Answer: Water. Lots of it. (If you do too, your digestive system will behave itself very nicely as it processes your meals.)

I also take vitamins. Everyday. A multi-vitamin, a B complex, and extra Vitamin C (500 – 1000 mg.) Sometimes, for an extra boost, I take an Omega 3 supplement. For people who aren’t taking vitamins but who want to start, I suggest beginning with a complete multi-vitamin of your choice.

I do not take the “best” vitamins on the market, and that’s because I’ve decided to take gummy vitamins. Why gummy? Because they’re extremely easy to take; I don’t have to swallow a pill… which means I will actually take them everyday. If you don’t like swallowing pills, you may also want to consider gummy vitamins or chewable vitamin C, for example.

And yes, now I exercise regularly too. Nothing crazy, I’m not out doing Ironman competitions…but I am walking 4-6 miles several times a week. Walking is good for you, easy to do (do you sense my theme?) and the only “equipment” needed is a pair of sneakers. Walking is easier on your joints than running, although it is also less aerobically intensive and therefore doesn’t burn as many calories.

Coincidentally, other “stuff I don’t do” includes drinking alcohol. I was never a drinker (maybe with the exception of one sip of champagne at a wedding) so I don’t miss it; nor do I miss the calories that get added to your diet when you drink.

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But now I am thinking about going some extra steps. And these steps will be more difficult and challenging.

I’m strongly considering giving up eggs and dairy. Just as it took me several months to give up meat, I’m not planning to go “cold turkey” (haha) on eggs and dairy.

My first step on this journey is giving up butter and liquid milk. Giving up milk is really easy for me because I don’t drink it. If I want a milk substitute, almond milk tastes great. Butter is also relatively easy because in cooking I use olive oil, but I do like the occasional piece of toast with butter that I’m now planning to “sacrifice.”

Eggs, on the other hand, are a HUGE DEAL. Giving up eggs is like… I don’t know. It’s big. Eggs are the last vestiges of “giving up meat” in my diet.

No more fried eggs!

No more omelettes!

Just like with chicken, I’d guess that when it comes to eggs I might slip up for a while. Maybe I’ll go to an egg white system before I wean myself off eggs, I’m not sure. I don’t mind admitting, it seems a bit scary, but I think I can do it.

ALL of these things are taking me down a path towards… ve… veg……… oh man, veganism. I’ll be one of those totally wierd, vegan hippies.

How did this happen?

Well, for starters, I FEEL BETTER.

I HAVE MORE ENERGY.

I am HEALTHIER now than I’ve been in years.

And yes, I’d like to lose even more weight than what I’ve lost to date.

Hell, I’d like to LIVE LONGER.

And while I’ve been investigating all this stuff, I recently came across a documentary that sums up some of the scientific literature behind why this works. It’s called “Forks Over Knives.” It’s interesting to watch, if this area is something you want to know more about, so I’d recommend it.

In the meantime, even I can’t believe that it’s possible to be even healthier than I am right now, which is pretty downright disgustingly healthy.

But I’m gonna try.

And Another Thing!

Like the good, on-my-way-to-healthier-living doobie that I am I got up this morning and worked out at the hotel fitness center referred to in my post yesterday. I skipped the donut-or-bagel hotel breakfast, and although it is not ideal to work out on an empty stomach, I went right to my workout with the intention of treating myself to a “green” lunch.

Now, I haven’t said this on the blog before, but in the last few months I have been migrating towards vegetarianism, like an animal migrating to its winter den to hibernate there, sleepy and undernourished for a while until it comes out, and attacks the nearest moose it can get its big, sharp claws on.  But I digress.

I coyly alluded to my intentions by posting something about tofu awhile ago, and I’ve posted about cucumber salads, but this is a whole other level of commitment.

The thing is, eating healthy shouldn’t be hard. Greens, veggies and fruits should be readily available in restaurants and take-out shops and generally speaking it shouldn’t be too much to ask for these foods to be tasty.

I’m sorry to report the obvious but as a nation we would much rather eat meat. Meat on our salads, meat with our potatoes, meat with our meat and if possible, more meat please. But I wasn’t born somewhere else so I too have this meat fixation. I confess my love of fried chicken. Okay, and bacon. And BBQ. Maybe a nice char-broiled steak. (My mouth is salivating as I write this.) But these days, those foods are not sullying my body, although I do sometimes wish to be sullied, I hunker down instead and spoon an extra helping of sunflower seeds onto my rabbit food.

So I did a work out this morning and I was pretty hungry afterwards so I headed over to the Whole Foods with the intention of enjoying their salad bar. In Manhattan there is a Whole Foods in Tribeca with a phenomenal salad bar. You can get soups, salads, pizza, hot Indian food, hot Chinese food, cold Greek food, regular salads, roasted vegetables… basically a vegetarian’s dream come true. I was surprised to find the Whole Foods I went to here in California had one paltry “organic” salad greens area and that’s it.

Okay, when in Rome, I thought.

I piled my take-out box full of all-organic goodness: greens, cucumbers, cute cherry tomatoes, seeds and nuts, radishes, celery… you get the idea. When I took my salad outside and settled in at one of the tables I was prepared to enjoy my fresh food. I took the first bite and I swear the salad tasted like feet. It tasted like organically grown hippy feet, to be more precise. I’ve never had salad taste quite like that, and I’ll be very pleased if I never eat something like that again.

I picked around the salad and ate the parts I knew were okay: green peas, the cute tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and cucumbers. The rest of it was highly suspect, especially the organic celery and radishes which I believe were the foot source.

Afterward I went to the vitamin shop because I had run out of Vitamin C, but more importantly I read online that people who do not eat meat, eggs, cheese, milk for long-ish periods of time can suffer from Vitamin B12 deficiency. It turns out that our bodies don’t produce B12, and it’s not found in plant foods unless it is fortified (through some industrial process.) Normally we can get the B12 we need from meat, dairy, or eggs.

I haven’t given up eating eggs, cheese, butter, or ice cream. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I’ve drawn the line between being a vegan (someone who avoids all animal products – something I am not prepared to do) and being a “mostly” vegetarian, someone who eats eggs, cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, and when I’m having a particularly insane craving, possibly fried chicken. I said “mostly” vegetarian so please don’t write in the comments that I’m not a “real vegetarian” or a “true vegetarian” because I’ll just agree with you. But I’ve cut out meat 99.99% of the time.

I bought the Vitamin C and a B-complex vitamin which includes B12 along with the other B vitamins and their absorption support systems (folic acid, for example) and I took that today. As I reported, I also ate the big salad for lunch, worked out, and have thusfar spent the day being a health nut.

How am I feeling, you might ask? Eh. Okay, but virtuous.

It’s unclear to me if I’ll be able to sustain this level of commitment to a vegetarian “lifestyle” (did I just say that? Oy.) but I’m willing to continue to see if it helps me maintain energy, be healthier, potentially lose weight and stave off the impending crush of old age for another day or two.

I’ll let you know how it goes.