Thursday, August 30, 2012

[Girl♥Health]: How "Food, Inc." Changed My Life

Last summer, Nate and I went on a road trip from Lexington, Kentucky up to Boston, Massachusetts.  While there were many amazing, beautiful stops along the way (Whitesburg, KY; The Blue Ridge Parkway; Shenandoah Valley; The Inn Boonsboro; Philly; NYC; the North End; etc.), the one that comes to mind today is the two days we spent in Cape Cod.  While there, we stayed at the Bluefish Bed & Breakfast (which I can't recommend enough) where, upon entering our room, we saw that the Innkeepers had kindly left a copy of Food, Inc. for us to watch if we were so inclined.

That was one of the things that made me fall in love with this place to begin with.  I mean, that's a pretty strong statement, right?  Having Food, Inc. be the only DVD in your room?  I adore this place.

Anyway, I was not so inclined at first.  I'd somehow managed to avoid watching this movie since it first came out in an all-out effort to maintain my comfortable, enabling dietary habits.  I thought (correctly) that if I really knew what was going on behind my food, I'd have to make some serious and difficult changes.  Because animal rights is a sticking point for me.  Animal welfare is pretty non-negotiable.  So, if I didn't know, than I didn't need to change, right?

But then Nate wanted to read a book on our first night in Cape Cod.  And I had just finished my book.  And Food, Inc. was the only DVD in our room.  So I thought, what the hell?  I popped it in.

And spent the next hour and a half crying.

Since then, I've been in a continual state of turmoil.  We've changed our buying practices so that we now buy all pasture-raised, grass-fed/finished and organic beef or pork, free-range and organic chicken and eggs, and we buy less meat altogether (because the ethical stuff ain't cheap).  When we do buy, we try to stay local and make sure the animals were as humanely and naturally raised as we can get.

But that hasn't eased much of my guilt.  I still picture cows in CAFO's getting plowed over, or pigs getting squished before slaughter, or baby chicks...okay, I'm not even gonna talk about the baby chicks.  This is the shit I think about before biting into that burger, people.  It's sick.

However, I also know my current limitations.  I know what my willpower can and cannot do in a fell swoop.  I know my history and my cravings and the excuses I'll give myself.  I know I'm weak.  Food, in so many, many areas of my life, has always been my weakness.

So I'm starting small.

In addition to the more descent buying practices highlighted above, I've also decided to go lacto-ovo pescatarian (eats fish, dairy and eggs, but not meat) three days a week.

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays = no meat.  

And this is me, one week in, saying it's going well.  Actually, it's really not as hard as I thought it was going to be.  In my head, I thought cutting meat out was going to signal the end of the world.  WHERE'S MY BEEF?!, I would scream as I starved, withered and eventually died.  Stupid.  It's so much easier.  We eat a lot of roasted veggies and pastas and egg salad sandwiches (because I can never stop eating egg salad sandwiches...though this has now got me thinking about the egg industry...).  Because our garden has been producing like it's preparing for the next famine, we have boatloads of tomatoes and basil that I can mix with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, throw on some toast, and call it a day.  And the zucchini, oh, the zucchini.  We've started leaving some on our doorstep hoping passersby will abscond with them.

In terms of how this non-meat diet three days a week thing has been making me feel, I can't say I've noticed a huge difference.  I have noticed that I now crave meat at times when I don't think I used to actively crave it.  I'm hoping this is just my body adjusting.  And maybe I've noticed feeling a little...lighter.  Whether that's physically or morally is anyone's guess at this point.

But it looks like vegetarianism hasn't killed me.  Success!

Another big dietary change lately has been that I've begun keeping a food and exercise diary.  And while the exercise diary is sadly, sadly empty at this juncture (because my back is out YET AGAIN), it's been great seeing not only what I've been eating, but the emotions behind it.  If you'd like to begin keeping your own food journal (highly suggested), I'd suggest using this template from Nicole Antoinette.  She's fantastic.  It's fantastic.  Go forth and eat well.

So that's the update on the food front.  Less meat.  Better meat when it's on the menu.  Food and exercise journal.  Back is out.  Food, Inc. changed my life.

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