To eat meat or not eat meat? Vegetarian – Vegan?

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[I'm not sure why this post was hiding - but I've brought it back]

It’s going to be a long one today folks!

I have personally run the gamut of trying various eating lifestyles dating back to before the age of 20 – though at 20 is from where I remember marking a difference. I grew up in the Mid-West (mid-east) in Michigan outside Detroit. Growing up in the 70′s-80′s we ate canned vegetables and quality meats. In the summers we ate a lot of fresh produce and farm eggs especially when we went to our cottage in Canada. I remember the food always tasted better in Canada even at McDonald’s. When I was a little older my grandmother started getting all our deli meats, cheeses and breads fresh from our local bakery. I remember the quality and freshness far surpassed packaged items from the main grocery store. Many years later a produce market opened next door – that raised the bar on fresh produce year round.

high-carb-dorm-foodIn college I ate a super white diet of bagels, pizza, pasta – mashed potatoes and the salad bar. I drank diet pepsi by the gallon. I am 5’7″ and by the end of sophomore year I weighed 170 doughy pounds and I was miserable with my doughy self. I decided to do Weight Watchers that summer, a family tradition and I was darn near perfect with all my calculating, weighing, measuring all foods perfectly and walking as much as I could daily. I convinced my mom and her husband to allow me to do all the grocery shopping and cooking so I had full control. I lost 35 pounds that summer, gained a load of knowledge and decided all that weighing and counting was not my idea of living. My weight has fluctuated some since that summer but I have never been miserable or that unhealthy again.

I was so impressed with my body and its ability to drop weight based on calculated eating. This is where my interest in food and manipulating the body began. It was also the first time I was introduced to breaking food down into carbohydrates, proteins and fats. I took my first nutrition course winter term that year and by senior year I was reading A Diet for a New America. I remember being HORRIFIED reading about the inhumane treatment in commercial farming and hearing the phase You are What you Eat for the first time. In the Spring of Senior year I went to a McDonald’s with my friend (rare for me even back then when my diet was basically terrible). I mindlessly ordered a cheeseburger. We sat down, I unwrapped it and for the first time, I started to dissect it and analyze the food I was about to eat – - – it looked weird to me all of a sudden. The tiny onions seemed like they must come from molds. The whole of the cheeseburger looked fake to me and it didn’t appeal to me in the least. I clearly remember thinking – WHAT IS THIS? ? ? I don’t know??? OK then, I cannot eat this. I vowed in that moment that I would never to eat another McD’s hamburger the rest of my life. That was 19 years ago and I have not. That was the beginning of my steady road into vegetarianism.

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Over the next 2 months I stopped eating meat all together. It was something I worked myself into because it was new to me and I kept forgetting that I wanted to make this change. I then became a strict vegetarian and no longer forgot but inquired about what was in everything I ate. A year later I decided to get really healthy and “eat right”. Dr. Dean Ornish was the authority at the time and I believed his words. I started eating a very strict low-fat vegetarian diet and walking. Then I moved to Portland, Oregon. Wow, so different from where I grew up. Portland is the land of vegetarians and vegans and all kinds of radical diet lifestyles. In the early years I ate a lot of soy, beans and rice and countless garden burgers – - – like I don’t want to think how many actually. I ate a lot of processed vegan foods and a lot of bread/pasta like items – - – it was pretty much a bread-atarian diet. At one point I became vegan for 2 years and then I just felt kind of OFF. I can’t explain it but I just didn’t feel right. I was at a loss as to what to eat.

bread-high-carb-fatteningI decided to go see a nutritionist who specializes in live blood work. I did a food journal for her and had a few other tests done. The woman fell just shy of getting on her knees to beg me to eat meat and I refused. She then begged me to at the very least to eat eggs & butter and gave me a pretty good explanation as to why. I agreed to think about it. I did add these items back in eventually and I also re-added fish at some point.

I used to suffer from strange bumps all over my chin. I went to see a naturopathic doctor for this. She said it was diet related and asked me to do a 30 day elimation die. . . diet. I thought I was going to DIE – - – D.I.E. die. I felt so lost. Turns out I am allergic to soy and my body does not like garbanzo beans. I have been thinking about the time I did this diet 13 years ago a lot these last two weeks. I was in my late 20′s at the time and extremely social. I remember how hard that was for me and I basically just felt flat out deprived. It was horrible. Now, with the internet I was able to eliminate a whole bunch of foods and was left with brilliant ideas of what I could eat. I guess I was not ready for this manner of eating yet and my attitude about it back then was definitely short sided. (I did a raw vegan diet for one month in 2005 – I didn’t like it at all)!

Two summers ago I started making healing chicken broth for my dog Parker. This medicinal kind of broth you super slow-cook for 24 hours. My house would fill with an aroma that made my stomach GRUMBLE, badly. The aroma that filled my home stirred my belly and this made me question if my body might need chicken. It was an interesting moment for me. Prior to that summer meat cooking did not smell pleasant to me – but suddenly it smelled amazing and was making me extremely hungry. An old school hungry. I made him many of these broths and it happened every time. At this point I started reading up on the traditions of broths and I wondered. Hmmmm.

I started my nutrition program during this broth making time. In school for an entire year we discussed the benefits of eating meat, animal fat and fats in general pretty much constantly. We talked science and reasoning. We talked about evolution and physiology. On the intellectual level I fully get why animal fat is necessary and I could recommend it to my clients but FOR ME, this information imposed on a whole other level of my lifestyle and I was not interested in eating meat. In the last year and a half I have made soups with chicken broth a few times and I magically noticed that I felt stronger in my body – - – curious?!?!?!

Over the last year the science, the physiology of our bodies and my continuous education in the body and nutrition, have made me question my own diet. I have come to a point where I feel the desire try something different and see what effect it has on me. Wanting to be in optimal health led me to easily give up wheat, gluten and grains, no problem – - – but, I still struggled with the science that says I should be consuming high quality animal fat to make my diet complete. To make my body strong.

adorable-stuffed-food-chainI have been struggling with knowledge and proof verses my needs over another animal’s life. I’ve been struggling with this for nearly 2 years now.

Since I started this challenge I started reading Nora T. Gedgaudas’ revised addition of Primal Body – Primal Mind for both this changing time in my life and professionally. I respect Nora a great deal. She too was vegetarian at some point as well as many of my instructors from school. All believing we were doing the right thing and best things for our body. And truly, I think at the time when I stopped eating commercial meat it was absolutely the right thing to do. I am very grateful for my journey just the way it has unfolded. Today, I now live in a time and area where I have easy local access to humanely raised, free-range, organically fed livestock. This just wasn’t an option 10-20 years ago.

I know my options and I understand all the reasoning behind eating some high quality animal protein and fat and yet I still struggle with feeling I’m being selfish by taking an animal’s life for my nourishment.

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So – - – recently I asked for some outside words of wisdom. Two years ago I used an animal communicator to help me talk to Parker about some medical decisions I needed to make for him. I also needed to ask him questions in regards to how his food and medical treatment was treating him. Thanks to my amazing vet I had the great pleasure of connecting with a wonderful woman named Terri O’Hara. One of Terri’s special gifts is that she is an excellent translator between a human and their pet – - – but who Terri is goes well beyond the scope of her telepathic work. Terri has a very calming energy and she has a thoughtfulness and awareness that is especially comforting. Terri has shared parts of her personal journey in life with me and she is a courageous chick for sure. Recently I decided to contact Terri to see if she could help me get some perspective on my concerns. Terri’s reply was so eloquently written I asked her if I could share her words here. For me, in this brief reply Terri covers everything I think about.

Here’s our Q & A. (Marnee is my vet)!

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Me: Do you eat meat? Marnee and I talked about this once as well – - – have YOU ever asked animals how they feel about becoming part of the commercial food chain – - when I say commercial I just mean for profit — sold for food in some capacity.

Marnee said she got word that they were OK with it and clearly preferred humane treatment over COMMERCIAL farming. Nutrition wise – the humanely treated are also preferred – - – so here is a win win – - – BUT I STILL GRAPPLE with – - – is that cow really OK with giving his life and flesh for my best nourishment?

I’ve been vegetarian since I was 22 – - when I read Diet for a New America – - – but now there are nice farmers doing the old school thing.

The Vegetarian – Vegan thing can be an issue in nutritional counseling – - – I grapple with meat too – - – so I was wondering if you’ve every had a heart to heart chat with any livestock. Do you think some animals would hold a symposium on this issue for you?

Terri: In regards to your question, yes, I do eat meat. I only eat free-range, organic meat. And, I was a strict vegetarian for almost 20 years but found I could not do my telepathic work without crashing all the time and began to crave meat. So I eat poultry mostly and only about once a week. And, I eat it with much gratitude and love and bless the being that gave it’s life and wish it well on his/her journey as spirit.

I cannot answer how animals feel about being eaten. Each being is their own self. Each spirit has it’s own journey. Some come to serve and are proud to help humans. Others come to heal and need love and kindness. And, yet, others may come back from a past life where they didn’t learn to be kind to animals and come in as an animal with a tough life to learn from the experience.

My philosophy is that everything is about balance. If one has pure love and good intentions as they live on this planet, then that vibration not only honors the earth but also the beings upon the earth. Symbiotic relationships occur throughout all species. Honor and gratitude are best to focus on rather than fear and worry.

A wolf doesn’t worry or feel guilty when it eats a deer. A snake doesn’t regret it’s actions when eating a mouse. You get my message.

All beings know they are finite in their current physical body but most animals are also aware that their spirits are very powerful and many life experiences will continue to flow. It’s not an endpoint to be eaten in other words.

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With this – - – I made my decision to try a different way of eating for the health of my body and see how it responds. I can no longer call myself a vegetarian.

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