The Vegetarian Question.

When I got home from work today, Casey was on a work phone call, which meant the dogs needed to be out of the house.  One of the challenges of him working at home, is presenting the image that he is not actually working from home – barking dogs are not professional!  So typically I will take the dogs out for a run so that he has some piece and quiet.

However, when I got home I was greeted by a laundry room filled with disgusting runny dog poo (I will spare you a photo), so I knew someone had an upset tummy.  I figured running with them was probably a bad idea, so we played in the backyard instead.  Indy found the most gigantic stick in the whole yard to try to play with…

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While Huey did the usual – stared at me like a maniac and begged for me to throw his stick…

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Around 5:30, Casey was finally off the phone, and we were ready to run.  Training had us scheduled for six miles today, and we decided to run together and catch up on on our days.  It was another beaaaautiful day in Charlotte, and even as the sun went down, I was totally comfortable running outside in shorts and a t-shirt – still feels so weird!  I had a really good run, keeping a good, fast pace, and I was proud to have done a longer distance on a busy weeknight.  I felt so good afterwards! 

And now, for another long overdue blog topic…

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Why I Became a Vegetarian.

It all started with the grocery budget.  In March of 2009, Casey and I were saving to pay for our wedding, and we looked for areas where we thought we could save some extra pennies.  As food lovers and runners with big appetites, we knew we spent a lot of our disposable income on groceries.  We decided to cut out some of our more expensive items, and planned to eat meat and fish only one or two days a week. 

A few weeks went by and we both noticed that we didn’t really miss eating meat as much.  Not only did we not miss the meat, we really enjoyed the creativity and food diversity that the vegetarian dishes provided.  So after a month of semi-vegetarian eating, we decided to cut out meat once and for all, and see if it was a change we liked.  At the time, we were still eating fish, but not very often – mostly just in restaurants.

As the months went by, I discovered a true love for vegetarian cooking.  When you eat meat, it is so easy to get caught up in the standard plate components – meat, starch, and maybe a vegetable.  But in vegetarian cooking, you have to think outside of the box in order to get a good nutritional balance.  We started cooking more beans, lentils, tofu, quinoa – and our dinners became a lot more exciting! 

Our eating got better, and I also noticed how much better I felt.  Not only did I drop some pounds, I felt lighter, younger, and healthier.  My body just felt different – much more natural.  As I experienced the changes in myself, I started doing more research on the health consequences of a vegetarian diet.  What started with a budget became a nutritional priority.

As the months went on, I read more and more about vegetarian and sustainable food, and was sickened by most of what I learned about factory farming and the meat industry.  I’m not going to go into details on the blog, because I am not one to push my own beliefs on others, but if I wasn’t a vegetarian already going into culinary school, I can almost guarantee I would have become one after my Skills of Meatcutting class…

Just recently, Casey and I both cut fish out of our diets.  This was a hard transition for me, as I am a former self-proclaimed sushi addict.  Also, having fish as an option made it much easier to eat out in restaurants – it is very hard to find true, vegetarian fare.  But a little voice in my head kept telling me that I was being a hypocrite by continuing to eat fish, so I finally gave that the ax too. 

For me, a vegetarian diet is the healthiest way to live.  I don’t want to make any grand statement or proclamations, because I am still figuring all this out for myself.  Naturally I don’t eat much dairy or eggs anyways (I’m an Almond Breeze girl myself) but I have not cut those out completely – I am still not ready to let go of greek yogurt!

Just as I hate to be judged and questioned as a vegetarian, I feel that everyone has the freedom to make their own choices when it comes to food.  I would never push my food choices on others.  That said, if you’re toying with the idea, I encourage you to put both feet in the water and go for a swim.  You just might find that you don’t miss the safety of the shore…

(And to answer the many comments, YES – I am planning to write a post about why I decided to quit drinking.  Stay tuned..)