A Life In Progress

Answering the “WHY?”s April 16, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Eating — jdalsin @ 9:29 pm

I guess some people have been wondering why we chose to follow a pescatarian diet.  No one has actually asked me personally, I guess people around me are just buzzing about it instead of asking the questions.

Anyway, here are the most frequently asked questions and my answers to them.  Scroll down and find the questions in bold that you may have been wondering about.  I don’t expect anyone to read this entire post because it’s going to be looooooong.

Are you sure you are getting enough protein/iron/every other nutrient?

Yes, I am sure.  For instance, one filet of Mahi Mahi has approximately 22 g of protein.  Which is nearly half of my daily requirement.  We also are careful to eat a wide variety of other protein rich foods like whole grains, nuts, beans, oatmeal, peanut butter, brown rice, mushrooms, etc.    In fact, in recent studies, it has actually been stated that people now days are getting TOO MUCH protein which has been linked to osteoporosis.  So I think we are pretty safe.

Iron was one I was definitely concerned about since my levels are already low.  Again, we are incorporating more iron rich foods into our diet.  Tuna, salmon and shrimp are all good sources.   Broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, blackstrap molasses, eggs, dried fruit, etc.

On top of that, we all take supplements.  Jordan takes a multi vitamin and addition essential fatty acids.  Abby takes a multi vitamin specially made for vegetarian kids.  I take a list of supplements including iron, B12, Vitamin D.  Supplements are only the back up plan because nutrients are absorbed so much better from their natural sources.

Trust me, everyone’s nutritional needs are being met.  This was one of my biggest concerns when we first started our new diet plan but I am now confident that we are getting everyting we need.  Enough vitamins, minerals, fats, calories, food.

Does Jordan hate you?

This is my favorite question.  The answer is no.  We decided this together. He is on board, gung-ho, all for it.  In fact, he’s the one who said “We are never eating meat again.” Not me.  Him.  All him.  I would never force this decision on him.  There are days that I think he’s actually more into this than I am.  That being said, I wouldn’t even mind if he did eat meat when he was at a restaurant.  I’m not going to cook it but if he wants to order it, whatever.  He’s a big boy who gets to make his own choices.   He actually appreciates that I brought his attention to this matter and feels that we’ve made a wise, healthy choice for our family. 

And no Dad, he is not tempted to sneak into the basement and eat wings with you while I am asleep.  😉

What’s wrong with eating meat? 

Besides the cruelty, which is absolutely unacceptable and makes my stomach turn, there are health reasons too.  Do you know what a downed cow is?  It’s a cow that died/was injured in transport to the slaughterhouse.  They die of pneumonia, heat exhaustion, dehydration, etc.  They have broken legs and are dragged out of the trucks, on the ground, prodded.  And then they are slaughtered for you to eat.    There is SO much information on the cruelty. I encourage you to watch Meet Your Meat on www.youtube.com or check out the videos on www.goveg.com

Here is a blurb from the www.goveg.com website:

“Leading health experts agree that going vegetarian is the single-best thing we can do for ourselves and our families. Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including our country’s three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes. The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; … lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer” and that vegetarians are less likely than meat-eaters to be obese.1 Well-planned vegetarian diets provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs, and dairy products.

Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters.3,4 Plus, meat-eaters are nine times more likely to be obese than vegans are.5

The consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products has also been strongly linked to osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, and male impotence. Scientists have also found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than their meat-eating friends; this means that they are less susceptible to everyday illnesses like the flu.7 Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.8

A plant-based diet is the best diet for kids, too: Studies have shown that vegetarian kids grow taller and have higher IQs than their classmates, and they are at a reduced risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases in the long run.10,11 Studies have shown that even older people who switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet can prevent and even reverse many chronic ailments.”

Chicken isn’t that bad, is it?

Another quote from a magazine I got from www.goveg.com

“Because chickens are now bred and drugged to grow so large (so large that they become crippleld under their own weight), chicken flesh today contains three times as much fat as it did 35 years ago.  The most toxic form of the poision aresenic is used in chicken feed because it promotes faster growth.  The National Insititues of Health warns that this cancer-causing chemical is then ingested by people who eat chicken flesh.  Men’s Health magainze ranked chicken as the number one food you should never eat because of it’s high rate of bacterial contamination.”

Chickens are so poorly taken care of that nearly all of them are sick and dying before they are slaughtered.  It’s impossible to stay healthy in the conditions they are raised in.  So they are injected with antibiotics.  Which you then in turn ingest.

Why do you still eat fish? Aren’t there dangers to that then too?

There are absolutely dangers to eating fish.  Mercury and other toxins are the first thing that comes to mind.  We are still eating fish for now because I was nervous to go ‘all the way’.  I also think it’s important that the girls (and us!) get all those good fats in us. They help with brain development which is so cruicial for our growing daughters.

Another reason we kept it in our diets is to allow more flexibility when attempting to dine out.  Silly reason, perhaps, but it’s made this transition quite a bit easier.

Because of the mercury concerns, we’ve decided to limit fish to 1-2 times a week.    I have a feeling we will eventually phase it out too.  Perhaps in the next few weeks.

Do you miss meat?

Surprisingly, not at all.  There are so many great substitutes that we hardly notice it missing from our diets.  The only tough part is how it limits where we can eat- families houses, restaurants, etc.  It definitely isn’t easy to not be able to swing through the drive thru on the way home but really, that’s probably for the best anyways.

I think summer may be a challenging time because Jordan enjoys steaks and nothing says summer to me like a cheeseburger. 

But so far so good.  We’ll just have to keep finding things that we can take along with us to family meals, things we can grill and it will be all good.

Do you think you’ll end up being a vegan?

Maybe I’d think about it if soy cheese could melt.  I love nachos.  And pizza.  And quesadillas.  And I like them a lot.  😉

For real though, I don’t see this happening in the near future.  I think I’ll buy alternatives when they are available. We’ve been keeping soy milk around which I’ve used for baking and Abby & Jordan use in their cereal.  I’ll continue with that but for now I think that’s where it will stop.  Being vegan isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.  A lifestyle that I definitely do not have the energy to persue right now.   I’d also be nervous raising the girls with no cheese, milk, eggs, etc. because right now we are quite relient on them for nutrients.  I know to any vegans reading this (hi Mike & Steph!) it sounds silly since they’ve been vegan for years and raising a healthy, beautiful little vegan girl.  Just how it sounds silly to me when people say I’m depriving my girls of proper nutrition by following a pescatarian diet.  Just not true and probably easier than you’d think.

The “God Made Animals to Eat” & the “Then Why Do We Have Eye Teeth” People

I’m sure we can all agree that if there was an 8th day, God wouldn’t have used it to create factory farming.  Things definitely are not as intended.  I doubt he smiles down upon tortured animals being mass produce for consumption.  Anyone want to argue that?  I may have a different opinion on eating meat if were done in a proper way, where everyone has a little piece of land that they grow their own food on, raise a cow, a few chickens.  But that’s not the case.

And eye teeth are for eating McIntosh Toffee and opening the odd chip bag. 😉

Is it hard?

Yes and no.  It’s not as convenient and right now since I don’t have all those memorized, old-favorite recipes to fall back on, meal preparation and planning definitely is taking more time.  But give me a few more weeks and I think I’ll have a new set of standbys.

It’s actually been a lot easier than I anticipated.

Is it more expensive?

No.  I thought we’d save money since we weren’t buying meat but that isn’t the case either.  It’s actually about the same price.  Instead of spending $4 on a pack on ground beef, I’m spending that money on a package of portabello mushrooms.  The money I’m saving by not buying chicken breats is going to buying more fish, different varities of cheese and a whole lot more fruit and vegetables.  We are also buying whatever is available organic since we have a bit more room with the grocery bill now.   

Well, I think those are the most commonly asked questions.  If you have any more, ask away!


5 Responses to “Answering the “WHY?”s”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Great post Jen. You are indeed well informed. I would love to be a Vegetarian but I HAVE to have at least one Beef stew in the fall. But… Dad goes for his follow-up doctor appt tomorrow for his “holy cow high cholesterol” so we may get there yet. Not full fledged vegetarains but pescatarian like I almost am anyway. 🙂

  2. Mike C Says:

    If you want a really interesting answer to the “God created animals for us to eat” debate, tell people to look closely at what their bible says.

    In Genesis 1:29+30 it says ” Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’ and it was so”

    Very interesting that nowhere in the first few chapters of Genesis does it it mention eating meat. (I’ve heard there are a group of Christians called Gen 1:29 Christians or something like that who feel that being veggie is scriptual, and follow it.) Its very interesting the first time God tells anyone to eat meat is Noah after the flood in Gen 9:3:

    “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I *NOW* give you everything”

    For me (and Steph) being Christian and veggie are two separate things, we don’t feel that that eating veggies is a faith issue at all. However it is nice (and really interesting) to note that it appears God originally designed everyone to be veggie.

    So there is your response to the whole Christianity vs. veggie debate. (you could also bring up the issue of the people in the new testiment who were only eating veggies because all the meat had been offered to the false gods, and Paul said not to judge what people ate. I can find those verses for you later if you want)


  3. Susie Says:

    I think it is so cool that you are doing this for your family. I have always admired your skill in the kitchen as far as experimenting with ingredients, meal planning, making things from scratch. You are pretty talented in the kitchen.

  4. Amanda Brown Says:

    You have your act WAY TOO TOGETHER. 🙂 I am still turned off by meat and have been living on beans (toot, toot, toot) and cheese (I can hear my bum widening) but we haven’t come to any firm decisions.
    Thanks for being so open about your choices, Jen.

  5. Linda Says:

    I admire your new convictions Jen! I truly do. :o)

    The verse your friend Mike was speaking of is this…

    Romans 14:2-3, “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The mans who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”

    And for your friends who simply cannot give up meat, I’ve found the best alternative is Organic Kosher from a CERTIFIED farm. ;o)

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