Dec 2, 2008

re-committment to vegetarianism.

Those of you who know me and my family, know that we have issues with food. Not as in, we don't eat it or we eat too much of it. I think we eat an average amount for an American family. I don't really worry much about calories, or about fat grams or any of that sort of obsessive stuff. I just try to cook as healthy as possible, and at the back of my mind is always that little ticker that makes sure we get enough fat, protien, and oils. Because "we're" vegetarians.

That's in quotes becuase I have had struggles with vegetarianism. My retreat from animal products started about five years ago when I began getting recurring ear infections... yada yada yada several months later found out it was because I'd been eating too much dairy. And then I met DH, who had been a vegetarian, nearly vegan, for seven years before he met me. We talked a lot, and what he believed resonated with me because I have always felt that the standard american diet containes way, way too much meat.

As a Mormon, I think I have always felt the cognitive dissonance associated with Mormon Culture and meat eating. On the one hand, the D&C 89 clearly states that meat should be a sparing part of our meals. ON the other hand, meat-eating is a very ingrained, deeply-rooted part of diet and meals. Likely this is because of where a lot of us come from; Europe. England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark. I don't know if any of you have visited Europe, but if you do you'll notice that meals are very meat-oriented, and scarce of vegetables. It is because Europe has traditionally been a nation in power, and so, culturually, they could afford to eat a lot of meat. It was a sign of affluence to serve meats at a meal.

I think we feel that way in our culture, too... a meal is not "complete" without meat as the main helping.

Now, here comes the diverging of doctrines. Some Mormons feel strongly that eating meat "sparingly, during winter and times of cold or famine," means meat is only one course of the meal... you need to include lots of other items, too, and that diversity of nutrients is what was meant. Others say that the verse, which reads, "And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine," literally means what it reads: that God wants us to use it as more than a suppliment in those stated times.

However, if you read the previous several verses, I think the message is pretty clear.

So as a society, do LDS people follow that facet of the Word of Wisdom? What does "sparing" mean to you? What does "cold or famine" mean to you?

For me, it has been a difficult call. I have not been able to entirely divorce myself from regular meat eating during certain events in my life; eg, pregnancy. I'm an iron-deficient type. Meat is the way I've learned to cope, instead of turning to other, perhaps even more efficient sources such as prune juice, green drinks, or unrefined grains. My body has learned an association: a certain irritable, weak feeling means I need meat. Therefore, I have eaten it.

But the more I learn, the more I read, and the more I take in what effect our cumulative diet has had on my husband (the introduction of more dairy, and more oils, for instance, has caused him to gain a lot of weight where, before, he was very fit) I realize that I might need to keep reindoctrinating myself.

Meat, only in times of winter, cold, or famine. Sparingly. I need to recommit to this. To me it means, you only eat meat every once in a while. Every once in a while, to me, means it is a treat. A special occasion. Something to be grateful for and not wasted, or thought of as the usual fare.

So now I'm reccommitting. My goal: now that the extended family's Thanksgiving turkey is all gone, I am going to abstain from meat (except for the occasional meal of fish) until at least March of this year, when traditionally I make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. (The only meat I ever cook in our house.) Because I"m still nursing my baby boy a lot, I'm going to make a conscious effort to seek out sources of iron and protien outside of animal products, so that I don't feel drained and tired and grumpy all the time, and try to make it a good experience. I'm going to try to re-convert myself to total meat-abstention.

I know that some of you don't feel as I do, and have other ideas of what the WOW means. That's OK. We don't have to agree. The reason why I'm posting this is because it's much more likely that I will achieve my goal if there are others around who know that I am working on it, and who might check in on me.

And if you want, this can turn into a WOW discussion... let's just keep it openminded and non-accusatory. :) I'm always interested in a discussion of this, because it seems like one of those things that most people aren't really sure about. Discussion could do a lot of good here, I think.

11 comments:

Putz said...

i am going to recommit to burger king...i have neglected those people down there too long living with my wife and daughter becky...i swear if i eat any more tufu...i hereby commit to give my heart to burger king, arbys, and the lady who said "where's the beef?"

merrilykaroly said...

I actually agree with the interpretation of the WOW being to eat very little meat. We are definitely not in a time of famine right now. But I don't really follow that interpretation in my daily life...

Although, left to myself (like back in my single days), I would probably never eat meat, except for the occasional pepperonis or chicken when dining out. But having a hubby in the house, we have a lot more home-cooked meals with meat (mostly chicken) as an important part. My hubs gets shaky when he doesn't get enough protein.

I know that if I were to cut down on the animal products (eggs, cheese, etc.) I would probably lose a lot of weight. *sigh* It's just so hard to be creative and think of new meal ideas that are nutritionally balanced as well as quick and easy to make! I really don't like cooking.

I think that's an awesome goal you have! Good luck!!!

Nathan and Rebecca Scott said...

Good luck with your goal. This is an interesting topic to me...one that I don't really have a very set opinion on. However, I do think that most Americans probably eat too much meat.

I definitely don't include meat in all our homemade meals. In fact, I am trying to make more meatless meals overall, but I am sure we still eat plenty of meat. Either way, I have never considered all animal products to be considered "meat." When not used in an overabundance (and when no medical reasons exist for not using them), I always have always believed things like milk, eggs, and cheese to be very healthy parts of my diet when used in proper proportions.

Another interesting thought though: some cultures and geographical locations survive almost solely off meat because that is their only real option. For example, many people living in Alaska don't have many options for vegetables in their climate; they get almost all their food through hunting and fishing (up to about 98 to 99%).

Heather said...

I liked your post. I agree with a lot that you said. I try to use meat as a "treat" as you said and look towards grains and legumes as substitutes or extenders for meat. I'm not strictly vegetarian by any means, but I try to limit the meat we eat for a lot of different reasons. One good reason that you brought up is the Word of Wisdom. Another is the cost - meat is expensive! Another reason that I limit meat is because it is difficult to store. Whole grains and legumes store FOREVER (or at least 30 years). We've tried to adapt our diet to foods that we are able to store. I'm finding that there is so much that you can do with grains and legumes - you can do a lot more than just the boring food that you think of when you think "food storage".

Fern said...

I agree wholeheartedly that we should eat meat sparingly. To me that means as often as your body needs it... JUST as much as it needs. Heavenly Father made it so our bodies need meat. In reality, we only need a few ounces of it a day. It is good for our bodies to stay within the recommended dietary amounts. Everything He does has a purpose. We are to eat meat sparingly, also, because life is sacred. In order for us to eat meat... something must die. It's just how the world works. Having this priviledge means we should take it seriously, and not waste innocent life.
I don't, however, feel any guilt for eating animal by-products. Eggs, cheese, milk, all these things have been provided for our use. The key is to use it sparingly... excess of ANYTHING is never a good thing. I think the big problem with people is that they are not practicing mediation when it comes to eating.

Fred said...

We have red meat once a week. I don't associate it with any gains in my weight however, it's all the other stuff I eat and drink.

Best of luck on your journey. It sounds like you have a good plan.

NoSurfGirl said...

Yes... you guys have hit some nails on the head with me. I have struggles with the "other animal products" thing. I personally think that they are good and for our use, but then there's all that stuff pumped into the chickens to lay more eggs and into the cows to produce more milk, all those hormones. And the conditions the animals live in sometimes, too... breeds disease etc.
But I also think that dairy and eggs are a really important part of a diet, especially for children when fats are essential.

The hard thing is, It seems like it's not very good for Skywalker. He gets sick more, carries more weight, and lately has even started to have back problems now and again... he has less energy. He never had those problems when he was almost vegan.

Sigh.

I sometimes feel like what I should be doing is cooking two separate meals in our house, or maybe even three... one for the kids, one for me, and one for skywalker. It's probably the most frustrating thing about our marriage and in our life right now.

I'm getting better and figuring out things the whole family can enjoy, and making meals that will work for all of us (we just all take different portions of each thing.) But it has been three long years of some very frustrating times! I have even cried a couple times over it, honestly. I want everyone in my family to be healthy, and sometimes it seems like everyone's needs cancel each other out in this way.

Sigh.

Moses said...

Hey, if you ever need some motivation to not eat meat just watch this video: http://meat.org

Putz said...

WELL BECAUSE OF NOSURFGIRLSARHA i went down to my local burger hut for a fix, yes a fix, i want to thank nosurf for giving me the courage to face my wife and duaghter and say"i want more beef"

NoSurfGirl said...

Moses,

oy. Thank you for that link... I think. Makes you thinkg. (lol look, I'm writing a poem).

Warning to anyone watching it... it is not a fun video to watch.

And there's the other aspect of non-meat eating that I like to talk about less, because it resonates less with people around me.

I don't have a problem with the idea that meat will sometimes mean the life of an animal. The problem I do have is... a lot of animals are horribly abused up until they become meat. And I have to think... would Heavenly Father call that stewardship?

Anyway, this is why I've been looking into things like free-range eggs. And if I ever make turkey on thanksgiving, it'll definitely be free range.

And as far as milk is concerned... there is a local dairy that produces wonderful, healthy raw cow and goats milk. You can go visit them and see how their animals are treated. They have a good life.

That's where we get our milk, when we use milk. Mostly. (sometimes I do use evaporated milk... sigh.)

It's hard when it's so much more expensive to buy humanely, though. And it's also hard because few people who eat meat or animal products realize how a lot of animals are treated.

Lucy Stern said...

You are right that we should eat less meat, but I have a hard time not doing it..... I was not a member of the church until I was 28 years old, so it has been hard for me to figure out how to cut more meat out of our diet.....What kind of meals do you cook? Do you use your wheat? Do you eat a lot of beans? I know that I eat too much meat, but I don't know how to cut back.

You are right about the free range eggs and meat....They are loaded with the good omega 3's that our bodies need.