Monday, May 23, 2011

ONE STEP CLOSER


For many years I have toyed with the idea of becoming an ovo-lacto vegetarian(one who includes dairy and eggs in their diet but no animal flesh). I know it would be healthier. I adore all animals and wish them long happy lives but they taste so darn good.

For too many years of my adult life I was a true carnivore and  ate meat almost exclusively. The few vegetables I did eat were purely accidental and almost always fried.

Kind of make one wonder how I made it to 71. Luckily I had a seizure about 25 years ago. Thankfully it sacred the pee out of me and it is probably why I am typing this today. The diagnosis was iffy but was thought to be due to my carotid arteries being partially blocked.

The treatment suggested was for invasive surgery. I had a good friend who had a stroke during that very procedure just the year before. Sadly, he had to be spoon fed his last days which came way too soon. He was dead at 51. I sneaked out of the hospital before they could rotor-rooter my veins and I vowed to correct the problem myself.

Being pre-computer, I did it the hard way and studied nutrition via the library.  It would have been so much easier today.  I taught myself to eat properly and discovered that wonder food, the veggie, actually tasted pretty good.

After a month of radical changes, my feelings of not being “all there” vanished. My thoughts were clearer and I no longer had strange, partial black outs. I never again had a seizure after that first one. My love of animal flesh stayed, I just balanced it with fruits,whole wheat and veggies.

Later when I raised calves, I became way too attached to my herd. I hated auction day. It was so hard to imagine these cute animals with super long eyelashes that I had bottle fed, being laid out on a barbecue grill.

I tried to convince myself that I had saved them from the veal factories, but all I did was add a few more months to their lives. I did not spare them, I just postponed the end.  Fortunately for all, the price of beef tanked and I got out of the business.

Since then, I have tried to completely give up red meat. I lean heavily on turkey and chicken now being careful how I cooked it. Fried is my method of choice but I learned to reserve that for special treat occasions.  My absolute favorite treat food is fried chicken.

Then the other day as I was returning from my dentist appointment, I got behind a chicken truck. Arkansas is a big chicken producing and processing state but oddly in my 6 years here, I had not had the misfortune to get behind one of the trucks.

Not my picture.
Those poor chickens were packed in cages so tiny that they could barely stand up. Most had resigned looks and lay quietly as they raced toward a hatchet and the long sleep. One did not.

He kept trying to stand up and move. He would step on his room mates and pitch to his side. Determined, he would try again and again. He wanted out. It was like he alone knew what lie ahead and wanted no part of it. Part of his inability to stand comes from breeding breast heavy chickens, but this fellow also had panic in his attempts. He knew.

I desperately wanted to stop the truck and make the driver sell me that one chicken. Shortly, the truck turned in to the processing plant and I knew those hundreds of chickens, but especially the one who was fighting it, would soon be cold,naked, lying on Styrofoam trays and wrapped in plastic. They were heading for someones table but due to that sight, no longer my table.

As that truck pulled out of sight, I just knew I could never eat chicken again. I tried to imagine the wonderful taste of fried chicken and my stomach started rolling up my throat as the image of that desperate chicken filled my mind.

Sorry Popeye's and KFC but I may be finished forever with chicken as a food source. I could recover, but right now, that chance looks dim. So I am one step closer to vegetarianism.  Just need to be somehow become sickened by that other white meat and old buddy turkey.

Those of you all ready in veggie land, I envy you. Those of you who could care less and love flesh on your dinner plate, I REALLY envy you, for you have happy taste buds and suffer no angst. 

Know any good recipes for tofu??

40 comments :

  1. Great story...and good for you in taking charge of the situation and turning your health around.

    Personally, I can't imagine eating no meat. On the other hand, if I had a stroke and survived it, I could imagine eating much differently.

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  2. I have been a vegetarian (actually, since I eat fish, it's called a "pescatarian") for more than 40 years, and it all started from a documentary I saw way back when about how cattle were slaughtered. It was made in Canada since they never showed anything like that in the US. And the inhumane treatment of chicken has kept me away from eating it as well. I eat tofu almost daily and have learned to love it.

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  3. I am a sometimes vegetarian and I think just that small effort makes a big difference in the way I feel. I pick beans and grains over tofu, but there are all kinds of recipes--I go to Vegetarian Times and Eating Well online.

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  4. Majority of my life I've been a veggie, with very occasional oily fish perhaps, and I prefer Quorn over Tofu, and all the soya substitutes. I'm also lactose intolerant but I eat well. Personal preference and bodily needs determine I think plus good healthy eating, however, for me it's always been simple ~ a woman asked me at a party why I was vegetarian, and in reply said 'Oh I couldn't do that, I love my meat' and I just said 'Well, I've never been able to eat dead animals'. Simple, yes. Perhaps some peoples' digestion needs dead animal in their diet, in which case they ought to ensure they are eating humanely farmed animal. I have a stack of soap boxes underneath my feet...

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  5. Your story is as always good and convinced me that its better to become a vegetarian like my daughter in Australia. Now I have decided to eat eggs on Mondays and may be fish on Fridays. Tofu ís great if you fry it with herbes until it's crisp and light brown. Cheese is also great on mashed potatoes or some kinds of vegetables, like cauliflower and Belgian endive. It's also great in pastas like macaroni after you have fried some vegetables for a short time. Cheese must be added at the last moment after the food is ready.I also cooked mushrooms for my daughter when she was still at home and when I am staying with her in Australia.

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  6. Patti,
    I am one who has not had red meat in over 30 years. I do eat occassional chicken but most of my meals are salads and seafood and yes, even like tofu! veggie burgers are good and well you just learn to live differently! I feel good, I feel healthy and good. I applaud you in your stand! I really do!

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  7. I wish I could eliminate at least some red meat from our diet because I feel it would be much healthier. But hubby is strictly a meat and potatoes man and would balk at such an outrageous idea. :D I do love my veggies and fruits, too. I'd like to use more fish and chicken, but daughter who lives with us doesn't like fish and hubby gets tired of chicken. Gee, I can't win for losing. Maybe I should just tell them to fend for themselves? Ha.

    Hope you miss the storms down your way. I'm so sorry to hear the news in Joplin, its just so devastating. Take care.

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  8. My life is Cheryl's, but it is me who does not like fish or mushrooms (eating fungus??? Ewwww!). I have had a seizure, too, but no one said anything about a partially blocked artery. I thought seizures were from electrical currents in the brain. I also have that feeling of being stupid since then. I may have to reexamine things.

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  9. I have not eaten red meat in over 40 years. I do eat chicken once a week, but lately I've been feeling like giving that up as well. I stopped eating fish over the years because of the mercury levels. So, we have a lot of tofu dishes, and lots of rice pasta with veggies. We do eat eggs and cheese, which also help supply us with protein. There are lots of resources for vegetarian cooking. Some of it is really tasty! Good luck with it, Patti.

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  10. I can't even look at that picture of the chickens. I loved chickens on my grandma's farm and I had a pet rooster that lived for 21 years. Yes, she butchered them but they ran free and pecked bugs.
    I haven't eaten meat, chicken, or dairy for going on 35 years. About once a year I get a craving for eggs, have them and finish craving.
    I had a good inner snicker lately. Someone who didn't know my age said I'd be sorry for the way I eat when I get old. LOL Proof and pudding time again. :)
    Good luck..... you won't be sorry. Tofu is so yucky bland. Marinate cubes first in shoyu. Nama shoyu is the best in my book.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  11. That is such a sad story about the chickens on the way to the slaughter house, especially the one trying to stand up. Poor guy. My daughter has been a vegetarian for many years, but every time I've tried to do it, I've eventually gone back to eating meat because it's easier.

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  12. This is a great post. You are to be commended for turning your health around and for being a consumer who thinks about what is being packaged and sold to those who just buy without thinking.

    My son and his wife have been vegetarians for years. Their 9 yr old has never eaten meat ever. He is the healthiest grandchild I have. There is something to be said for that way of eating. I'm not there yet.

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  13. I love my red meat and veggies. I know where the majority of my food comes from, which is a plus. Health as a horse and plan on staying that way. All foods in moderation works for me.

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  14. I know what you mean about the chicken trucks. I've seen the occasional chicken blow out of the trucks. Ugh.

    Riding past a hog farm will turn you off pork, too. And I still remember Oprah's show when she and Gayle rode past the cattle slaughter pens.

    The thing about not eating meat is that it's hard on the cook! A steak and a salad are too easy.

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  15. Oh I have been cooking those vegetable crock pot or slow cooker recipes and they really seem to hit the spot both summer and winter and the vegetables don't turn to mush either. I highly recommend them. The book diet of a small planet, talks about rice and beans being a complete protein, I am not sure that tofu is all that it is cracked up to be, I have heard some negative affects of it too and after all it is nwo one of those products grown in a large scale with huge amounts of pesticides so not sure how good that is in the long run either.

    Not to burst your bubble but there was a study I read recently about a mother who consumed meat all her life and her son who was a vegetarian and they tested her health and his and hers was much better than his and she was mortified at that prospect, I can't recall the particulars now, but they were mind boggling just the same and made me think variety and moderation were the nutritional keys nowadays.

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  16. There ARE no good recipes for tofu. I could give up chicken in a red hot minute, but not beef. I make myself eat chicken a couple of times a week, along with pork once and beef once or twice and fish or shrimp once. We eat lots of veggies, pasta, too, and I tell myself we're eating a well-balanced diet. Not much fruit (too expensive). Still, I could do nicely without the chicken, if I wouldn't feel guilty about it.

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  17. I don't eat much red meat any more, but I could never give up chicken. More power to you!

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  18. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat meat daily. Tofu...well, I tried it in the '80's, and unless they've revamped that 2000 year old recipe, I'm just not a fan!! I'd say go for half of the ham and egg breakfast (the donation portion, not the total sacrifice portion!)

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  19. Clint,
    Thanks. I felt the same as you till I got scared enough.

    Djan,
    Congrats big time. I really want to make the move less for health and more for my love of animals.
    Chickens are really abused.

    Olga,
    Thank you for reminding me about Vegetarian Times. I used to subscribe and just got off the Net where I reupped with them. That is a good magazine.

    liZZie,
    Oh boy another veggie hog. I hadn't heard of Quorn so I researched it. It does look good. We have a store in Arkansas that sells it but it is 150 miles away. Shoot.

    Reader Wil,
    I am so amazed at how many readers are either vegetarians or have family members who are. I'll try tofu that way and I do love mushrooms. Thanks.

    Tracy,
    Thanks a bunch for the encouragement. I do love soy burgers. I don't miss hamburgers at all.

    Cheryl,
    Red meat really is a man thing. It is hard to switch over when one partner refuses.
    So far we have missed the big storms but the less violent variety are daily.

    alwaysinthebackrow,
    Most seizures are. They thought mine were because I wasn't getting enough blood to the brain. I can't believe how much sharper I became when I changed my diet.

    robin,
    I knew I could count on your support. I was going to keep eating eggs also for the protein. It takes a bit more thought to get balance but I am looking forward to it.

    Manzanita,
    Still laughing at that foolish person judging your eating habits. One look at you shows it is the right way. Well a little dancing also helps.

    Ellen,
    Congrats to your daughter. I am so pleased with how many people are accepting that way of life. I too had tried before but this time I have that sad chicken to remember. Perhaps that will help.

    Retired English Teacher,
    Now that is just wonderful. Your grandson doesn't have to change, he is all ready on the right path. Kudos to your children.

    Brighid,
    Moderation is the key to just about all aspects of life. I knew that since you raised cattle, you would probably have beef on your plate. Lucky you to know where it comes from.

    marylee,
    It really does take an all new approach doesn't it? We tend to build all meals around the meat dish.
    Wish my chicken would have blown out and I could have saved him.

    Linda Starr,
    Well they tested that guy that ate 2 Big Macs a day for 39 years and he is perfectly healthy. I know I am not one of those lucky ones.

    Betty,
    I was afraid of that. I tried it years ago and it was awful. Maybe they have improved??

    kenju,
    Just don't follow a chicken truck Judy:)) It is disgusting.
    Thanks.

    Deb,
    That was about when I tried tofu. Hope it is better. I do really like soy burgers though. Guess I will just have the egg part.

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  20. There is a Tyson chicken farm about a mile away from my house. I can't stand to watch when they ship out the chickens. It looks like a lot of them are already dead by the time they get here.
    Hubby insists on meat every day. I eat less than I used to, but don't think I could give it up completely.

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  21. Great post, Patti! I'm so glad you were able to regain your health with moderate measures and are now thinking of being a vegetarian. I'm like you in my leanings in that direction. Part of it is my love for animals and the horror of the meat packing industry. My husband used to sell industrial pumping equipment and went to slaughterhouses a few times in his career. Each time, he emerged horrified and saying "Let's be vegetarians." But making the transition is hard. We rarely eat meat of any kind, concentrating on vegetables, nuts, salads with occasional fish or chicken. The goal is to become vegatarians. We're getting there little by little: curried tofu is delicious!

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  22. My husband is a partial vegetarian, eats cheese, eggs and some fish. MorningStar has great soy products. We haven't eaten red meat in 20 years, but I do eat turkey and chicken breast sparingly, now you have me rethinking that! :) I do bake a ham on holidays too, but we always lean heavily on veggies, whole grains, nuts and fruit.

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  23. We are still eating animals here, but in smaller portions. Adding more vegetables and legumes to our meals too.

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  24. I admire people who can do this--but I will never be a vegetarian. I love meat too much... I just try not to think about the poor chickens or cows, etc....

    Keep us posted as to what you will do.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  25. I rarely eat red meat but poultry - yes. Lots of veggies and fruit, too - nothing fried. Chocolate, however, is my food of choice.

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  26. Great post. I do eat meat occasionally, but I really could be vegetarian with not much effort.

    I am at a stage in my life where I know I need to eat more healthy food though. I'm too keen on junk food and know that eventually my bad eating habits will catch up with me.

    I would have hated to be behind that lorry.

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  27. It amazes me that a lot of people have a disconnect between a live animal and the lump of meat that's wrapped up in plastic on the grocery store shelf. When I tell them about "processing" turkeys last year with my neighbors and other stories, I usually get a look of horror when I talk about the process.

    I too have toyed with the idea of eliminating most meat from my diet, but I'm not quite certain how. I always fall back on what's easy and available. And I have a lot of stuff in the freezer that I hate to waste. Perhaps someday I'll get there. I do want to make some changes. Perhaps this is where to start.

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  28. My diet doesn't contain much meat - red, white or fishy - but I do eat it occasionally without too many qualms. When I lived on the farm, we raised chickens, hogs, and cattle, and slaughtered them as needed to feed ourselves, but it was as humane a dispatch as my father could make happen. My quarrel with commercial meat growers/producers is that all they have in their eyes is dollar signs without any consideration of the humane treatment of animals.

    Legumes and cereal grains (i.e., pinto beans and cornbread) consumed together make a great source of protein.

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  29. I could do without meat easily on my own. I do love fish, however. The cruelty toward the animals we end up eating is unbelievable. I have not yet made a meatless commitment because my husband cooks here and feels differently. We eat little red meat, but that still leaves those chickens. Thanks for this, I know it must have been hard to watch, as it was to read. But very good of you to write it.--Inger

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  30. Whether to become ovo-lacto is a real dilemma, and terribly diffficult. The problem is that you need certain foods like meat in your diet, only in smaller portions.

    David and I try to buy free range chicken. FR chickens have had happy lives pecking around the barn yard. I grew up with chickens and have seen many of them killed and enjoyed eating them.

    The inhumane practices of chicken processors today are the result of overpopulation and too few of us living on a farm anymore, and we would all do well to avoid their products for a number of reasons.

    My dauthter and her husband raise a yearling or two every year for the beef and keep chickens. Their animals are well treated before they are killed. What we all need to do is investigate the sources of the meat we devour and eat more selectively. Dianne

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  31. Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    Then you see what I saw. Awful isn't it. I know it will be hard but my love for animals has pushed me over the edge.

    Dr. Kathy McCoy,
    Perhaps we should all be exposed to what your husband saw. So glad you are making the effort. Slowly is probably the best way.

    Wanda,
    I love MorningStar products. I all ready eat the soy burgers and fake bacon. Walmart recently moved the display and I panicked. I would have bet you all were on the right track. I have drooled over enough of your meal pictures.

    rosaria,
    Moderation is the key for health. My main reason is I hate eating anything with eyes. Potatoes don't count.

    Betsy,
    All the walking you two do certainly compensates. Seeing meat in nice sterile packages helps with the images. I just now have a stronger image to deal with.

    Barb,
    Nothing fried is a big plus. That is what I have to give up. Chocolate is a food group isn't it?

    LLCool Joe,
    Youth will carry you a long way Joey. Enjoy it and you may never get a wake up call. Many lucky ones don't.

    Barry,
    I just ordered Food Inc from Netflix on your recommendation. Hope it helps. You, like Joe have youth on your side plus you really live a healthy lifestyle with exercise and growing your own. You know where your eggs and chicken come from.

    Pat,
    Farming is one thing, mass production is another. The poor creatures are brutally treated.
    I agree, there are many ways to get protein besides flesh.

    Canyon Girl,
    I am hearing that meat eating is really a male thing. Can only say, if you have found a male to cook, hang on. As long as you don't have to see it how they are treated, you should be all right.

    Dianne,
    There are so many other ways to get sufficient protein with out eating flesh so that I am not worried about that. My main reason is my love for animals. I tried raising my own but just got attached.
    Your daughter is doing it right. No abuse.

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  32. I got behind one of those chicken trucks one time and it was heartbreaking. All I could think of was that being killed would be better than the life those poor chickens had.

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  33. Hi Patti,

    I wish that you would have been able to "adopt" that frantic little chicken in the back of that truck. I've been thinking about that all night long (I read this yesterday, but was frazzled and decided to comment on it today.)

    I eat meat. I just always have and do. I don't always eat red meat. I don't always cook dinner either. I do really like eggs and cheese, and use them in meals when I can. I like veggie's a lot, but don't eat as many of those as I should. I should probably take your hint and take a good long look about how we do eat around here, but I don't think we will ever go strictly vegetarian.

    I'm glad that you made changes that worked for you and that you are doing well.

    Oh, they found that Dr. Geoff and he is fine. Yay!

    Kathy M.

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  34. marciamayo,
    I know, that is one of the most depressing things I have seen regarding food source animals. If everyone had to do a few miles behind one, maybe things would change.

    Kathy,
    I guess if we saw how animals were treated on the big farms, we might all crave veggies.
    So glad they found Dr. Geoff. That had to be a long awful wait.

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  35. Oh my, I don't think I could give up my meat...

    I do love animals of all kinds and sometimes I really want to try and eat less meat, but I just love it so much!!!

    Glad you were able to turn your health around.

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  36. Hi there ...I have been off line for 2 weeks and I have missed my friends so much ...what a great post. I manage to shut the terrible visions out ... I am afraid but I probably have atleast 2 -3 meat free main meals a week. I love soups with barley and lentils ...and I love fish but I have to say I am not a fan of tofu ...but some quorn products are not too bad. Quorn sausages with mustard or cheesy mash and onion gravey is yummy.xx

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  37. Never will I be a vegetarian in the puriest sense of the word. However, the new WW diet veggies (except starches) and all fruits are free (NO POINTS).
    But meat,starches and sugars are assigned values which must be counted. I can eat fruits all day.

    Recently all greens have reappeared on my menu since I was switched from Warfarin to a brand new blood thinner that has no prohibited foods


    No, meats are not GONE, but husband and I eat smaller amounts than we ever have before. I usually braise them in a healthy oil, only occasionally to please him. We halve pork chops, cube steaks, turkey thighs. If we don't halve, we save and use for another meal or I freeze and shrink-wrap.

    My biggest downfall is hamburgers with or w/o fries. However these are often cooked at home since I now have an indoor counter grill by Cuisinart I love

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  38. My daughter is vegan, and although we occasionally have meat, we eat a plant based diet, too. Eggs have never appealed to either me or my husband and I cannot eat dairy. Neither of us takes any medication and our doctor says we are in great health. Even our eyesight has improved as we've gotten older. I think the meat in this country, with all the hormones and such, are killing people.

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  39. Rocky Mountain Woman,
    I agree, they are adorable but sadly they are really tasty. I wish I could eat them with out feeling guilty.

    Angie,
    liZZie also mentioned quorn. It is in the states but the nearest store that sells it is 150 mile round trip from here. Probably won't try it anytime soon.

    Nitwit,
    I loved those free foods with WW. I guess it is the vitamin K in the green veggies that messes up you meds. Sounds like you are making good choices anyway.

    dkzody,
    Wow, improved eyesight? Sure hope that happens for me. I also believe the hormones and antibiotics they pump into animals are really hurting us.

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  40. I wish I had the courage to become a vegetarian as well...........

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