Archive for June, 2009

The Dangers of Food

People always ask why I am a vegetarian/vegan. Their first question is often an insightful and intelligent one: “Do you eat chicken and fish?”

To me, this is the most annoying question anyone could pose, yet it is the most common one I get asked. Vegetarian means no meat; since when did chicken and fish classify as non-meat items (unless you are referring to McFish or McChik Nugs, in which case your question is probably a legitimate one)?

I did not gain the so-called Freshman Fifteen when I went to college, but after graduation I began putting on some weight, so I started dabbling with exercise. To educate myself and to maximize my gains, I began reading about fitness and nutrition, and after some research, including reading a book called Food for Life by Neal Barnard, I decided to stop eating meat, primarily for health reasons. Barnard maintains that there are four important food groups: fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains.

Since then, I have alternated between vegetarian (nothing with a face) and vegan (no animal products). I am also addicted to weight lifting and intense cardiovascular exercise, and yes, I get plenty of protein.

Over the past year or so, I have not consumed dairy or eggs, which means that my primary source of protein intake has been soy: soy yogurt, soy milk, soy protein powder shakes, organic cereal with soy, soy crisps, soybeans, and soy protein bars. I know that some of you have no doubt been frightened by the alleged dangers of soy, but since nothing is safe to eat these days (pesticides on fruit, mercury in fish, genetically modified vegetables, antibiotics and steroids in milk, and trans fat, to name a few), I figured it was the lesser of two (or rather, multiple) evils.

Because I am a perfectionist, and because I am a woman, I am dissatisfied with my body. I am on a constant quest to better myself intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. So, I am making some changes in my diet basically just to see what happens.

I have decided to resume consumption of whey protein, a dairy product, because it supposedly boosts the immune system after intense exercise, it is absorbed more quickly than soy by the muscles after working out, and I will hopefully reduce some of the negative effects of so much soy consumption, such as increased levels of estrogen and water retention. I plan to drastically reduce my soy consumption and replace some of the soy products with rice milk, whey protein bars, and black beans, for instance. I also feel that I eat too much peanut butter, so I am cutting it out of my repertoire for a while.

I enjoy experimenting with my diet and workouts and am curious what the effects will be.



Reasons why I would be a bad mom:
1. I would insist that my child call me by my first name rather than the more socially acceptable term, “mom.”
2. I would raise him to be vegan, primarily for health reasons.
3. We would not have a television in the home, as today’s television programs and especially advertising pollutes one’s mental environment.
4. No fast food allowed, see #2.
5. We would not purchase Christmas gifts, and when his kindergarten classmates ask him what he got for Christmas, he would reply that he did not get any gifts because his family protests consumerism on Jesus’ birthday. We also observe Buy Nothing Day on the day following Thanksgiving.
6. I would frequently probe him to express his feelings about the various experiences he has each day, and we would process through them together. “What I hear you saying is that you feel distressed and pensive about the A- you received on your spelling test.”
7. I would talk to him about the love and grace of Jesus Christ, yet I would encourage him to be open-minded (as some Christians are perceived as being narrow, judgmental, and too conservative), so we would learn about the values and benefits of cultures, lifestyles, and beliefs other than our own.
8. I would strive to provide an educationally rich environment, utilizing programs such as Your Baby Can Read, so that my child would learn to read and speak at an exceptionally young age.
9. We would exercise on a regular basis for our physical well-being.

As a teenager (or pre-adolescent, since he will be so emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually mature for his age), he will rebel against his oppressive childhood. He will call me mom, he will eat junk food, he will sit around all day and watch television and probably even play video games at his friends’ houses, he will buy crap he does not need at the mall, he will act surly and aloof and keep his feelings inside, and he will question his faith.