Thursday, September 29, 2011

The way to my heart...

...is through my stomach. Seriously. Whereas the majority of my family eats to live, I live to eat. If I could eat 24/7, I would - especially restaurant food and takeout. It wasn't always that way. When I was younger, there were very few foods I liked, or at least thought I liked (I was practically double digits before I would even try a slice of pizza... weird, I know). It wasn't until I started eating at friends' houses that I began to try foods I didn't think I'd like because I didn't want to be rude to my friends' parents. Much to my surprise, I found that in reality, there are very few foods I don't like. But at the age of 13, after spending time petting a calf at the zoo and then coming home to lasagna, I stopped eating red meat and pork (though I hadn't pet any pigs, I thought they were just as cute). This coming year would mark my 20th year without these meats. Five years ago, I added gelatin and poultry to the list. Once I found an edible substitute for chicken, it really wasn't hard to maintain a pescetarian lifestyle. Except for that pesky - but delicious - chicken broth. It's amazing how many dishes are cooked with that liquid! Cooking at home, it's easy enough to substitute vegetable stock, but eating out (which we do a lot of around here), I constantly had to ask if the rice, soup, and even refried beans were cooked with it. There were many foods I could not enjoy outside of my own kitchen because of this dietary restriction I had put on myself, but I remained strong in my decision to abstain from consumption of this animal product.

Fast forward to last week. For five years, I had deprived myself of so many favorite foods - Mallomars, gummy bears (the vegan ones don't quite cut it), and my beloved cheddar broccoli soup from Panera - only to discover that a pill I have been taking for the past two years has traces of gelatin in it. I felt like I had been caught accidentally looking on someone else's paper: I didn't mean to cheat, but I did. That night, when we were at a banquet, the waitress informed us that the rice had been made with chicken stock. Guys, the rice looked SO good. It was really the only thing on the plate that I wanted. Could I just pretend I didn't hear that? I thought to myself, pushing the rice around the plate with my fork. And then I remembered the gelatin-laced pills. I haven't been 100% pescetarain this entire time anyway. How important is it that I start now? Do I still hold the same beliefs about consumption that I did five years ago? As I warred with myself, all the time drooling over the rice, I finally came to the decision that a flexitarian, or semi-vegetarian, lifestyle might be a better fit for me these days - and then promptly snarfed my rice as though I were a Survivor contestant.

While I have yet to devour a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit or an Arby's French dip (the only meat I've craved in the past five years), I did finally have a bowl of cheddar broccoli soup at Panera today. I felt no guilt, only the sweet satisfaction of my tummy being full with one of my favorite comfort foods.

3 comments:

Cheri said...

Sounds like a nice compromise that will make eating out easier! :)

Kelly said...

I don't have any dietary restrictions (self imposed or otherwise), but my sister is gluten intolerant and can't have any high-phosphorous or high-potassium foods -- which means I know the sheer determination it takes to face down deliciousness.

Flexatarian might be the best solution for all of us these days!

April said...

Oh wow! That is a lot of restrictions. I feel the same way about food (I live to eat), and here I have been whining about having to give up most dairy because it doesn't agree with me.

I salute you for following your convictions & also for having the flexibility to re-evaluate what you are doing and why. I find so many things have changed as I get older. A lot of them deserve another look. Sometimes I decide the same & other times I come to a new conclusion. I think it's part of maturing. I'm going with that rather than getting old because I don't want to admit how old I'm getting. lol