Vegetarian no more

Cover of "Good Calories, Bad Calories"

Cover of Good Calories, Bad Calories

A few months ago I wrote about my food journey, and how my eating habits have been shaped by knowledge and assumptions that I have acquired through the years.

For over 17 years I held to the belief that being vegetarian (and in the past 7 years or so, a pescatarian) was the optimal way of eating. When you believe something it is very easy to find supporting ‘evidence’ for that belief, so that your beliefs are reinforced again and again. I had built myself a deep trench of belief about nutrition and used it to launch grenades against anyone who questioned those beliefs.

And then I started to download podcasts… and reading completely eye opening books… and I have been on an incredible journey ever since. My views on so much of my life, food, health and the universe have changed dramatically.

The journey went something like this….

I am drawn to information on health (and specifically women’s health) and first came across a podcast called What Women Must Know hosted by Dr Sherrill Sellman. Dr Sellman is a Naturopathic Doctor (Board Certified in Integrative Medicine), women’s natural health expert, psychotherapist and an expert on hormones. Her weekly podcast incorporates interviews with experts who come to share information about health that you will not hear about in the mainstream media.

One of those experts Dr Sellman interviewed was Gary Taubes, a scientific journalist who had investigated the role of grains and refined carbohydrates in the worldwide obesity epidemic. Immediately after hearing the interview I went to a bookstore and bought his book “Why we get fat.” I read it in an afternoon and then ordered “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” (For those of you who want a short taste of his work, check out this article in the New York Times).

Reading Gary’s work was the first significant chink in my veggie/pescatarian armour. Part of me wanted to believe he was wrong, yet a kind of deep knowing was rumbling inside.

As the days and weeks went on I started to download and listen other podcasts where Gary had either been interviewed or mentioned. Much to my husband’s amusement I started to listen to Abel James’s Fat Burning Man podcast and thoroughly enjoyed it. (Abel has a great voice and a soothing, friendly demeanour that draws in his high quality guests: he is a natural and it is no wonder that his podcast is in the top 10 in i-tunes for health in a number of countries). The focus of Abel’s podcast is on primal health and the paleo diet.

Intrigued, I started to read more about paleo, and discovered a whole mini-world of people obsessed with grassfed beef, butter and coconuts. Soon I was listening to Robb Wolf‘s “the Paleo Solution” podcast, reading Mark Sisson’s  Mark’s Daily Apple site and his book The Primal Blueprint. I uncovered more and more fascinating stories and renegade doctors and scientists, and ordinary people like me who were rediscovering the origins of our relationship with food and this planet.

At the same time I was listening to podcasts and reading books about integrative nutrition, including Dr Mark Hyman’s Blood Sugar Solution which reconfirmed and reinforced the concepts investigated by Taubes. I started to read about the dangers of soy which had been a huge source of protein. I learned about micotoxins and MCT oil through the Bulletproof Executive blog and podcast. I heard about omega 3s and 6s, and that grassfed beef provides omega 3s (but that grainfed beef does not necessarily).

I learned that people ‘hack’ themselves and their lives as if they were a computer to achieve optimal health. I heard about intermittent fasting and questions about whether or not women should do it. I also revisited books I had read several years ago  (mainly by Michael Pollan) about industrial animal production, the terrifying role of corn in our food chain, and the role of nutrition in stabilising mental health.

So you could say it has been a busy few months… Especially as I have also been on about 24 international trips since the beginning of June!

The decision to eat meat again was by no means easy. Throughout the journey I have briefly summarised above, I felt torn. I was genuinely disturbed that I had been so dogged in my beliefs about food and nutrition for over 19 years. Quietly I reflected and came to terms with the possibility that I could have been wrong.

At the same time, I decided that if I was going to change the way I eat, it would be focused on only the highest quality grassfed, free-range meats raised in open air and slaughtered humanely, and wherever I could I would eat organic vegetables. (For those of you familiar with Singapore, you will know that this is actually a difficult and expensive choice to make).

So, one Sunday evening about 5 weeks ago I sourced grassfed sirloin steak and brought it home and asked my husband to prepare and cook it for us. As I ate it I never once doubted that it was not good for my body.  And I thanked the animal that had died to feed us.

I am not ‘paleo’ … I am awakening to a new world where food is sacred and optimal health is possible.

Thank you for reading,

C x

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