I recently learned that October 1-7 is World Vegetarian Week. I believe what started off in several countries on varying dates as a celebration of all things vegetarian went global to celebrate on the same date in 2008. And now every October 1-7 is World Vegetarian Week.
Troubadour and I have been vegetarian for almost 2 years now and lean toward the vegan side. We do not eat meat and only eat fish if faced with no alternative but beef, pork or chicken or to starve. I am sure a true vegan would rather starve but I am not into self deprivation and will have clam chowder if there is no bacon in it. We do not eat eggs, or most dairy. Still haven't been able to give up cheese and yogurt although I have tried some soy alternatives and they are pretty good. I have been thinking of cutting out all dairy to see if we can do it. We also have honey every morning in our coffee.
I have never been a huge meat eater, but used to enjoy a good burger, etc. The one thing that prompted us to change was all the mad cow, e. coli scares a few years ago. The hidden video in the slaughter houses pretty much sealed it. No downer cow for me, thank you.
We made the decision and I don't think we'd ever go back. I can't say for Troubadour for sure but I know I would never go back to eating meat. That isn't to say that bacon frying doesn't smell good, because it does, but I wouldn't eat it knowing where it came from and how bad it is for my body.
What most people that read this blog don't know is that I have Crohn's Disease. It is an inflammatory bowel disease that is a cousin of Colitis. There is no cause and there is no cure. I was diagnosed in January of 1991 at the young age of 19. I had emergency surgery (good thing I lived in British Columbia or I would have been bankrupt - that is right, didn't cost me a dime except higher taxes). The doctors thought I had appendicitis and when they opened me up that was not the case. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital and when I was released I was on 21 pills a day. The doctors did not know a lot about Crohn's at the time so I didn't have much to go on as a guideline for what to eat and what to avoid.
One day I ended up in emergency after eating a half order of Caesar salad. I was told that veggies were not my friend. In May of 1993 the doctors gave me the option of removing 8 cm of bowel or going on as I had been. I voted for surgery and had an ileo-cecal resection. I'd rather be in pain getting well than just being in pain. (yes, that is right, socialized health care did not say no to surgery, I had the option to get it, my choice, not the government). Luckily with the surgery they cut the bad piece out and reattached everything so no physical changes for me. Yeah.
It has been 16 years since my surgery and my Crohn's has been in remission. That is not to say that I haven't had my share of troubles here and there. When you remove something and make it shorter things have a tendency to travel rather swiftly and more often. Too much information, I know. The reason I bring this up is how it relates to our vegetarian diet.
Since going vegetarian my system is completely normal. I mean doctors have a hard time believing I have Crohn's when I tell them. From what people have told me, typical Crohn's patients are sick looking and thin and you can tell they are in distress. Me, perfectly fine now and so I get asked my secret. I just tell them I am a vegetarian and if I had of known 15 years ago how healthy and 'normal' I would feel there is no way I would have continued to eat meat. Of course, some veggies can cause gas, but I think they do that to everyone.
The other thing we have noticed is that we do not get sick, ever. No flu, no cold. Not sick. We work with people in offices who routinely get sick. Their kids bring home colds, they get it and bring it to the office and the office just keeps passing it around. But we don't get it. It is kind of odd really, but in a good way. Even my seasonal allergies were minimal this year. I didn't take any medicine during the day and just a Benadryl at night so I could sleep. That is pretty good for the Willamette Valley. Grass seed capital of the world. The slogan is if you don't have allergies when you get here, you will.
The skeptical people seem to ask the oddest questions like "what do you people eat?' Ummmm veggies, grains, legumes. Pretty much anything we want that is not meat. It isn't like vegetarians starve. We actually eat quite well. There are a lot of vegetarian meat substitutes. Morning Star Farms makes an awesome bbq 'pork" riblet. You would never know it was meat free. Great on a bun or with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. They also make great Italian 'sausages.' Tofurky, made right here in Oregon, makes amazing deli meat substitute. My cat even likes it. He thinks it is turkey lunch meat.
For those that think you can't bake without eggs, that is not accurate. I make homemade blueberry muffins on the weekends with soy milk and no eggs. They are light and yummy. I made them for company last weekend too, and they enjoyed them. You can even use bananas as an egg substitute. I have cookie recipes that take no eggs. And even an 'egg' salad recipe that uses tofu instead of eggs. It is great on crackers.
I know the world will never be vegetarian and I am OK with that. If you want to eat meat, go for it. I just wanted to share my experience with going vegetarian and thought this was the week to do it.
Here are a few facts regarding the health benefits of a veggie lifestyle:
* Vegans are approximately one-ninth as likely to be obese as meat-eaters and have a cancer rate that is only 40 percent that of meat-eaters
* The consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products has also been strongly linked to osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, asthma, and male impotence.
* Scientists have also found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than their meat-eating friends; this means that they are less susceptible to everyday illnesses like the flu.
* Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.
* The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; … lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.
If you have ever thought of going vegetarian now is the time to try it. Try adding one day a week as veggie day. Work up from there. See if you can do a week. See if you feel any different or if you miss having meat. There are many great resources on the web for recipes.
"Truely man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: we are burial places! I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men." ~ Leonardo da Vinci
"Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal." ~ Ingrid Newkirk