Perhaps my regular readers will remember that since Thanksgiving of 2011, I haven’t eaten anything that once had eyes, having been profoundly moved by Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” and the movie “Forks over Knives.” Things are going very well, despite the fact that I fear I’m becoming a burden to my carnivorous friends. “Tell me again what you don’t eat?” asked the hostess of a recent gathering.
I gave her the short answer (see above), but I’ll share the long answer with you, gentle reader, a compendium of what I do eat.
For breakfast, 10-grain cereal or oatmeal. Or a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread (made from sprouted whole grains rather than flour and yeast) with peanut butter. A piece of fruit. A handful of raw nuts. I eat eggs, butter and cheese on occasion, so I enjoy a good omelet.
Lunch and dinner offer lavish possibilities. I’ve always eaten kasha as either a breakfast cereal or a savory main dish, but I’ve discovered many more delicious grains such as bulgur, farro and wheatberries, all of which make delicious pilafs when cooked with my favorite veggies. Then there’s pasta: with leeks and walnuts, with broccoli rabe, with almost any sautéed vegetable, or with good old tomato sauce.
There’s eggplant stuffed with rice or one of the above-mentioned grains; grilled portabella mushrooms with pesto; lentil stew; vegetable stir fry with tofu; risotto with mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini or artichokes. An endless variety of soups and chili. Sides of roasted kale, potatoes or tossed salad. Fresh fruit.
Choosing to eat an almost vegan, mostly organic and home-cooked diet is, for me, an act of resistance. I am resisting a corporate empire that has usurped the individual farmer in favor of factory farms that poison our bodies and our ecosystem. I am withdrawing my support from systematic deforestation that creates grazing land for cattle to meet the world’s growing demand for beef. I am saying “No” to growth hormones, food additives, genetically modified organisms. I am saying “Yes” to local organic farmers.
But, it’s ironic and, I must protest, unfair, that because I eat a vegetarian diet of non-processed foods, I’m the one who’s seen as weirdo, while our culture considers meat-eating to be normal despite periodic outbreaks of e coli and salmonella poisoning, alarming headlines of mad-cow disease, and the Harvard School of Public Health study which followed more than 120,000 American men and women for 28 years and linked daily consumption of red meat with a 13 percent increased risk of mortality. And don’t forget the pink slime.
I recently came across a New York Times blog titled, “The Challenge of Going Vegan,” which really set me off. What about the challenge of obesity, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and early death caused by the typical American diet high in flesh foods?
What I eat becomes me by becoming my body. I refuse to eat foods that cause serious health problems and destroy the environment, savoring instead the many healthful options that now grace my table.