In our path to live a greener and healthier life (you can read more about that here), Mr. A and I took a good long look at our eating habits.
I would argue that the most impactful method for improving your health has to be changing what you stick in your mouth. I’ve always been intrigued by the vegan and organic food movement so a few months ago I decided to delve into some research about green eating.
I started off watching some truly amazing documentaries about food and food production.
We started off with Food, Inc., which analyzes the unhealthy food production practices that most of our food undergoes (including a lot of pictures of pink slime). I pretty much banished meat from my diet after this one.
Then, we moved onto Supersize Me to look at the fast food industry and its deleterious impacts on our health.
Next, we watched King Corn, where we learned how kickbacks from Congress have made producing corn so profitable that it is now found in nearly every processed food on store shelves. High fructose corn syrup anyone?
Then, we watched Earthlings, where we learned about how animals are used by society for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research. I will never be able to get the image of an ape’s head being smashed by an accelerating wall all in the name of medical research. This was probably the most disturbing documentary I’ve ever seen (definitely not for those with a weak stomach).
Finally, we ended with Forks Over Knives, where we watched several people cure their chronic health conditions by throwing out their over-processed, animal laden diet and switching to a plant-based diet.
Every film made me analyze my food choices more critically, until I finally couldn’t ignore it anymore. We needed an overhaul.
Initially, it was pretty funny to Mr. A that we were overhauling our diet. We were eating pretty healthy to begin with anyway. I made a healthy nutritious dinner every weekday and we packed an equally nutritious breakfast and lunch everyday.
But the more I looked into our diet, the more processed meat I saw. I was having processed turkey for lunch and processed chicken for dinner. Mr. A was having processed ground beef for lunch and processed pork for dinner. While these choices appeared healthy on the surface, the meat itself was laden with chemicals and hormones that we shouldn’t have been digesting.
At first I thought we’d replace the processed meat with organic meat. And then I saw the expense of organic meat—trust me I don’t like meat that much. In fact, the more I thought about it the less interested I was in meat in general. I’ve never been a huge meat fan and I probably wouldn’t miss it if it was pretty much eliminate from my diet. But could I get Mr. A on board?
I was super apprehensive to approach my meat and potatoes husband about shifting to a reduced meat, organic diet. And I won’t lie; initially he was very much like, “Cook me a steak woman!” So we agreed to ease into it by cooking vegetarian dinners with a cut of meat on the side for Mr. A.
The more I cooked vegetarian dinners I think the more we both grew to love it. There weren’t the strict confines of having one meat, one starch, and one veggie for dinner. All of a sudden the possibilities were thrown wide open. We could have tofu or bok choy or edamame or butternut squash or quinoa or millet or black beans…
We tried out so many new recipes and expanded our culinary boundaries immeasurably while cooking vegetarian food. All of a sudden it wasn’t a burden anymore. It was actually fun. And Mr. A was actually enjoying it.
Gradually, I noticed that I wasn’t really eating meat at all. Even when given the opportunity to eat meat at restaurants, I often opted for the vegetarian options because it contained more healthy ingredients. I could feel the difference that our organic, semi-vegetarian diet was making in our health and I didn’t want to do anything to upset it.
I still won’t classify myself as a vegetarian or a vegan (even though I largely eat within those confines) because I’m not strictly bound by it. I will admit that every once in a while I get a craving for a Five Guys Burger on a Saturday night and I definitely fulfill that craving. Because if I didn’t allow myself a few unhealthy things every once in awhile, living the healthy way would start being a chore and a boundary and I want to see it as a choice and a joy.
But I think the number one reason for not becoming a vegetarian would have to be crabs. There’s no way I’m giving up my Dad’s home steamed crabs. It’s a Maryland thing.
So I would rather be classified as a balanced healthy eater. Someone who tries to incorporate organic, healthy food as much as possible, while allowing for a few unhealthy treats every once in awhile.
Because what matters at the end of the day is not how you label me but what kind of food I choose to eat.