Musings from Mama Bird
Last weekend, I watched three documentaries that have turned my eating world upside-down: Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., and Vegucated. Before I go any further, let me preface this by saying that I have been trying to find something to inspire me to drop some pounds, eat healthfully, and lower my cholesterol and blood pressure. (I succeeded on a similar journey more than a year ago but, for various reasons–mostly laziness–I returned to poor eating and wellness, and it shows.) I wasn’t, however, looking to be truly frightened into doing so.
What I learned:
That beef, pork and poultry we’re consuming regularly? Why, it’s literally killing us! I’m not talking because we eat it in excess. I’m talking about the hormones and grain being shoved into these animals in filthy slaughterhouses poorly regulated by our government. Heart disease, obesity, E-Coli, CANCER. Wait, what? You mean that the meat we eat can give us frigging CANCER? WowWowWow! WTF?
This was a big shocker to me. No, really. I’d recently been wondering why so many people I know have cancer, why the cancer rate has seemingly sky-rocketed, at least in my circle of friends and family. I’d always assumed it was because of the pollutants we breathe, and the plastic we use to store food and drink water from, and the pesticides we grew up with. But I was dead wrong.
(Plus, did you know that the calcium our bodies need doesn’t necessarily have to come from dairy products? That the food pyramid is altered every so often to promote those industries that financially back politicians and government officials? I didn’t.)
So this week, 95% of my diet has been plant- and whole food-based. (I fell off the wagon Wednesday with a Chipotles vegetarian burrito and last night with a half-slice of American cheese, then melted butter poured over a bowl of air-popped popcorn. Oh, and then there was that glass of Guinness I drank at the jazz club performance featuring my son’s group. So let’s make that 80%.) I’ve also been reading up on this type of diet that has saved lives and probably reversed or prevented disease in many, many people. In fact, I’ve been reading a lot, trying to find out where to find the vitamins and minerals and protein I need to sustain my overall good health while practicing a plant-based/whole food diet. Frankly, I feel like I need a medical degree (or at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition) to understand much of what I have read so far, let alone incorporate it into a healthful diet. I haven’t succeeded yet. Mostly this week, I’ve been tired and hungry in a way I’ve never been, not to mention culinary challenged. Even my pocketbook has taken a bit of a hit, especially considering I’m starving more than not. (Did you know that one bell pepper costs $1.50 at Kroger’s? How can that be? It’s summer, for heaven’s sake.)
I recognize that documentaries are usually one-sided, and while the hard medical evidence and video footage of slaughterhouses and poultry farms are undeniably true, it’s clear there are probably also agendas to be figured out.
All I know is I’m now scared to eat, especially since our government is clearly not concerned about systematically killing off us meat/poultry/pork/dairy eaters.
I never intended to become a vegan or vegetarian, so I will incorporate meat, dairy, etc. into my diet, just not as often and in smaller portions. I’ve already found a farmer’s co-op in my county that sells beef from cows that live freely eating grass, and there’s a poultry farmer nearby where we’ve bought our poultry in the past. Sure, it will cost twice as much as what we pay for in our grocery store, but I’ll feel satisfied knowing these animals aren’t cooped up in overcrowded, disgusting and cruel living conditions, and I’ll feel less afraid. (I also discovered in my internet research that I am a “flexitarian.”)
I recommend you watch these documentaries, especially Food Inc., for the skinny on what you may be consuming, or at the very least, visit their partner website, takepart.com. An informed consumer is a healthy consumer, and in the end, I know that’s what all of us want.
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