I’ve never been one to wait for January to start making resolutions. Mine usually start in November—right around this date, in fact, after I’ve overdosed on turkey.
Last night was my third Thanksgiving dinner in four days. We weren’t expecting to have as many leftovers as we did, but one of our guests was a no-show and others didn’t want to take care packages home with them. (For once, this was no reflection on my cooking; my husband ate leftovers for the next two nights very happily, and he’s my most honest food critic.) Even after I finished making three-plus quarts of turkey soup, we had enough turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry-orange sauce, roasted vegetables, and stuffing left over for many more dinners.
The only problem is that I don’t want to eat it anymore.
It’s not the repeat performance that’s getting to me—I’m a big fan of food reruns when the meal is good. I just feel…icky. Bloated. Logy. Blah. And other monosyllabic words that signify some sort of imbalance. Specifically, I think I OD-ed on meat.
There are a couple of high-profile books out now that are promoting vegetarianism (Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals) and veganism (The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone). I’ve been both a vegetarian and a vegan in the past, and I felt great—until I didn’t. I learned that I need a wide variety of nutrients that changes as my body changes.
I read a wonderful book by Charles Eisenstein called The Yoga of Eating. Eisenstein’s theory can be summed up thusly: Listen to your body, which in its infinite wisdom will tell you what you need to eat. (For a while I didn’t listen, and my hair fell out in a mad search for iron, vitamin B12, and other scarce nutrients.) When the body says it needs meat—which isn’t the case for everyone, but it was for me—Eisenstein urged his readers to find sources of compassionately raised, non-chemically treated animals and fish. These sources are usually independent farmers, though some supermarkets carry meat that is organic, humanely raised, and hormone- and anti-biotic free.
My mother spent her childhood on a farm, where my grandfather raised dairy cows and hens on pasture. There were no injections or crowded pens, and when the time came that a chicken was needed for dinner, Grandpa—a lover of animals—made sure that death was swift and suffering was minimal.
Things have changed a lot since then. Maybe because of her simple, bucolic upbringing, my own mother didn’t know that the chicken she routinely bought from the supermarket is “produced” by a company known for its mistreatment of animals. The only way we can be sure of what we’re eating, whether we choose to eat only vegetables or animals as well, is to become food detectives and find out where our food is coming from and how it was grown or raised. This is part of my New Month’s resolution, as well as cutting back on meat. Doing that will save both the planet (meat production is the leading cause of global warming) and my stomach.
Are you a vegetarian or an omnivore? Do you research where your food comes from? I’d love to know how you feel about these subjects—leave a message to tell me what you think.