With a new diagnosis to inform my health concerns, I was instructed by my doctor to cut out all sugar, grains and beans this past Saturday. I emptied my cupboards, which surprisingly had some extra-sugary foods I had talked myself into buying. It's funny how even when I read labels I sometimes overlook sugar. I had been eating more of it, mostly by way of fresh fruit, when I gave up coffee again last month. Everyone needs a vice. But my new vice was making my condition worst. And now, I had full proof that sugar was one of the culprits.
After cleaning out the kitchen I set up a free grocery "store" in my house and asked friends to haul off the pineapple, oranges, the peanut butter and jelly, oatmeal, wheat pasta and other starchy foods. I saved some of my favorite non-perishables for the future, with fingers crossed.
But a few days into the diet, I realized it was going to be hard for me to get all my calories met with the now very limited options I had in front of me. Life as a vegan was do-able but restrictive enough. And now, for the sake of repairing my body, I had to cut out my vegan staples of most grains and beans. Fermented foods were out too. Deep down I felt I was going to have to do something I thought I'd never do again. Eat animals.
My doctor, a vegan herself, even asked me on my first appointment if I was opposed to meat for ethical or health reasons and if I would consider eating it under any circumstances. She asked this before any testing was done but I think she suspected I would have to eventually consider it. I said no. Some fellow vegans I told took offense to this. "How could she ask that? There are ways to get your nutrients without eating meat." But I knew what her point was. If it was a matter of improving health and restricting foods that I commonly ate, which were only making my health matters worse, would I consider eating meat for a short-term period? After going through a few days of making my meals and trying to plan a variety of dishes and thinking of all the food scenarios (raw diet, etc), I made the decision to put meat back on my plate.
Instinctively for health reasons, which is ironic given that I don't believe it's healthy food, I came to the decision fairly quickly. Emotionally, it was difficult. When you choose not to eat meat partly on account of ethics and seeing horrible footage of cruelty to animals, it makes a walk down the meat aisle that much more foreign. I started getting teary-eyed at Whole Foods as I stared at the meat for a few minutes, reluctantly picking out turkey and chicken, types that I never fancied back when I ate meat. Poor birds. I was sure to get the meats labeled "antibiotic and hormone free" because otherwise it would probably mess further with my situation. The label said they were raised humanely but who knows? I certainly hope that was the case. But can you really ever trust a sticker or a company?
Earlier in the day I considered trying the chicken at Chipotle, given their statements on "Food with Integrity." But even their website wasn't giving a guarantee that all their chickens were antibiotic-free. Oy!
I keep thinking that this meat-eating stint is only supposed to last for three months and when all is said and done I can resume my vegan diet. For now, there's a little disappointment and self-judgment. Perhaps yet another thing I need to cut out.