Walking the Walk

by Jessica

Any of you who have known me for a while know me as a vegetarian.  I went veg at the age of 20 and I've spent the ensuing 20 years happily eating vegetables, whole grains, legumes, eggs and some cheese.  I've never felt deprived.  I married a man who was already vegetarian, and we've been raising two happy, healthy girls as vegetarians.  We never made meat-eating out to be a bad thing, it just wasn't something we do.  

Or did.

This winter, I found myself feeling very tired and sluggish, more likely to get sick, and less quick to recover after illness than I like to be. When I'm honest with myself, I've felt that way for a while, but have been chalking it up to being a working mother with two young children.  Of course that has something to do with it, but recently I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and decided to do something about it.

Chinese medicine and dietary recommendations do not encourage vegetarianism.  During acupuncture school, my diet was challenged by teachers and colleagues on a daily basis.  I tried meat for a few months at that time, but didn't commit fully to it and was a sporadic meat-eater at best, and so I shrugged my shoulders and declared the experiment a failure.  

Now, with the support of a friend and colleague (my meat guru, I guess you could say), I'm changing my diet.  4 ounces of red meat every other day, and animal protein at least 2 (but preferably 3) meals a day. I'm tentative to say the least, but I'm told I need to give it 6 months before assessing whether it is helping.  My husband is on board with me but the girls are not, although they accepted our decision when we explained that we are experimenting with our diet to improve our health.  

This is a steep learning curve.  I've been an avid cook all these years, but have no idea how to cook meat properly.  Finding organic grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens and sustainably-caught seafood is do-able but not easy.  And I haven't graduated to touching meat comfortably - I would love if someone could put a properly-cooked meat-based meal in front of me 2-3 times a day! 

But now I have to walk the walk.  Every day, I ask all of you to change your diet, your lifestyle, your exercise, your perspective.  I ask you to stretch and take epsom salt baths and breathe and move. I ask you to quit long-standing habits (physical an emotional) because they endanger your health.  And I tell you that things you thought were healthy for you (raw foods, fresh juice, yogurt) might not be the best things for you.  

So now it is time for me take my own medicine and make tough choices and give it a concerted effort before reverting to more comfortable patterns.  It is uncomfortable, believe me, but I'm committed to trying.  When I doubt, I think of all of you working assiduously to be healthier and stronger, and it inspires me to keep it up.  So for now, if any of you have a great recipe for non-threatening meat dishes, I'm all ears....

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