During (and since) my recent aluminium incarceration, I’ve thought a lot about food. That is partly because while I was working insane hours, I craved the kinds of foods that I didn’t have time to prepare. In fact, while I was working there, I became a microwavarian, because I didn’t eat anything that didn’t come out of a microwave oven. I kept thinking about certain kinds of foods and ways to prepare them, and I came to one seemingly inevitable conclusion:
I am slowly, inexorably, and apparently inevitably, becoming a vegetarian.
I realized this the other day when I was running some errands during a very busy morning. I was starving and, being hypoglycemic, decided to stop at a local fast food restaurant and get something off their dollar menu. It was tasty (according to Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, that’s because it’s engineered to be tasty) and it filled me up and staved off a low blood sugar incident, but for the rest of the day, I just felt kind of…off. My stomach never really settled properly and I felt lethargic, and even toxic. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s how I felt: as if I’d been poisoned.
As a microwavarian, the only sort of food I was interested was food that could be quickly and easily prepared, and quickly and easily consumed (I avoid using the word “eating” purposely). Neither flavor nor nutritional content was a factor; price was at most a minor secondary consideration. The entire time I was craving fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly picked and simply prepared.
Quite frankly, it takes time to prepare fresh food. Even if you’re not cooking a pot of beans from scratch, but preparing a simple salad, it takes time. It might take a total of five minutes to take a couple of frozen burritos out of the freezer and microwave them. It might take twice that to make a salad, which is still not a lot of time, but I’m talking about something different than just tossing ingredients together and throwing them down your gullet. It doesn’t often take time to prepare food, but it does take time to be involved with your food, to have a relationship with it, to appreciate it, and to understand the complex path it took to actually become your food.
Wow, that sounds all spiritual and deep, and totally not me.
And no, this doesn’t have a lot to do with animal rights, although you could say it has a lot to do with animal respect. I’m sure when the holidays come, I’ll sit at the table and eat what everyone else is eating, although I will probably eat a lot less of some things than everyone else. Rather, I just want to eat in a more healthful way, for my own health and the health of the planet.
Spirituality does play a role in my vegetarianism, but I don’t want to be a fanatic about it. While it’s true that some of the more spiritual people I admire (such as the Dalai Lama and Aang) are vegetarians, I’m not doing this as a spiritual exercise. (Spiritually speaking, I’m the equivalent of someone who drinks too much, smokes too much, and is about 150 pounds overweight, so I’ve got a ways to go in that department. Vegetarianism plays a very small role in that.)
I’m not going to use vegetarianism to define myself, only to describe myself. That’s one of the reasons that you will see OCD as a tag on this blog, but never as a category. Both of those things describe me, but they don’t define me.
And yes, I realize that this desire, born out of a fairly material concern, may lead me down a more spiritual path, and that’s okay. It’s the journey, not the destination.
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