Somewhere I read this long ago, and I forget the author’s name, but I find it absolutely true: a colorful piece of fruit, a yellow pineapple for example, or an apple hanging on a tree, sets your mouth to watering. Just reading about it can trigger the Pavlov response. Does an animal elicit such a reaction? Do you see a furry rabbit and want to chomp into it? Your instinct is to eat the fruit and pet the rabbit.
I admit that cooked meat can be mouth-watering, but in its natural form, alive and breathing, I see nothing about an animal that makes me want to eat it. Last week, for example, my cat caught a chipmunk and launched into it behind the garage, and I had no compulsion to join him, and the more I learn about nutrition, the more I believe that instinct is correct. That belief is leading me to a vegetarian diet.
I managed two days of Memorial Day weekend family gatherings with a minimum of meat, no cheese, no dairy and no eggs. I ate one piece of chicken at the first gathering, on Saturday, my only animal food that day, and on Sunday I completely avoided the meat, creamy potato salad and cake, and instead I ate peanut butter, fresh vegetables and fresh fruit.
The vegetarian diet poses a challenge for me. I rejected a vegetarian diet in the past because I visualized eating nothing but boring salads, fruit and plain vegetables, and that misconception was obstacle number one. Number two was my dislike of many vegetables, with beans, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus topping that list, and trying to give up meat without substituting beans simply seemed impossible. Now I’m forcing myself to eat foods that I strongly avoided for decades.
Four books have been encouraging me: “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, “A Short Guide to a Long Life” by Dr. David B. Agus, “The Mediterranean Prescription” by Dr. Angelo Acquista and “Spontaneous Healing” by Dr. Andrew Weil. All four authors have one thing in common — they promote eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts and whole grains in varied combinations and eating limited animal products, none in the case of the Campbells.
I embarked on the move toward a vegetarian diet in March, but about a month ago my determination had faded a bit, until I attended a birthday party for my great-nephew. The party featured pizza and followed two days of eating delicious Victorio’s pizza, the latter a good reason why it’s hard to go totally vegetarian. That Sunday was thus my third consecutive day of eating pizza, but I found new resolve when I saw my adult nephew Brian eating only corn chips. I knew he had recently switched to a vegetarian diet, the most apparent result being he seemingly overnight shed weight, so I sat down with him in the picnic pavilion and asked about his diet.
Brian reminded me that he had been making the switch when he and I visited Gettysburg in September, and he said, grasping for the right word, that when he ate meat once after having gone vegetarian he felt “heavier.” Finding the right word, he said he felt lethargic. So at the party he ate only corn chips, knowing he could find a vegetarian meal on his return to Columbus. That short Sunday conversation three weeks ago renewed my vegetarian fire, and Drs. Acquila, Weil, Agus, Campbell and Campbell continue to provide motivation.
Using that inspiration, I am learning to like beans, and I recently discovered that asparagus tastes delicious raw and fresh. I’m incorporating more fruits and vegetables in my diet every day, and most days include no animal food. But next will be my greatest challenge: broccoli. I know I can do it.
- American Indians
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