- Food and Cooking
What are the Levels of Vegetarianism?
Meatless in New Jersey
So I flipped a coin today.
Heads: I write an endearing essay on why the elderly are our greatest resource. Tails: I write a rant bitching on my latest decision to diet using nothing but plant proteins.
Tails it is.
This is the hub you’ve been waiting for. I promised readers who hate dieting, working out, and the plain nonsense that this world gives you on a daily basis that they were in the right place. Well, as my responsibility as a web ranter, I’m giving you a bit of dietary nonsense.
I've had some stress and rigors from a recent job. I started to have chest pains. They came without warning. They came without ribbons. They came without tags. They came without packages, boxes or bags. And I remember as I lay in my bed, massaging my chest, that I knew things had to change.
Step one, was the easiest, yet it was the most precarious. The new job was too much for me. If I’d been a younger man without any kind of responsibility, I might have considered a different option. However, I was not. My body, after a decade of going through the work commute from hell, just couldn’t do it. I had to quit my new occupation. So, after a long discussion with my wife, I did.
This created a different kind of stress. This created more worry from a financial end. But, once again, chest pains have a way of helping you prioritize. Money wouldn’t do me any good if I were dead. Of course, my life insurance policy would solve certain problems at home, but in the long run, being alive is the better pay off.
Plus, the "not being dead" state, has some definite benefits for a good lifestyle.
Step two was a full assessment of where I was physically. I would need to see a doctor soon. I’ve been putting off seeing a doctor until I have health insurance. As there is no income coming in right now, that would have to come with a job. The alternative is to go to a doctor, get an exam, find out I have a heart problem (which I may not), have it permanently listed in my medical records and not be eligible for insurance due to a known pre-existing condition.
Or I could take more drastic action.
Both my wife and a close friend have been preaching the virtues of an all plant based diet. For lack of a better term, this is veganism. It’s not being a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian means you simply don’t eat meat. I’ve discovered that there are levels to vegetarianism that I was only vaguely aware of. There are some people who think that being a vegetarian mean you only eat fish. That's not the case. There are so many permutations of vegetarianism, but I’ll build from least restrictive to most restrictive.
Here’s how they run:
Level 0: Carnivore
Eat steak, chicken, fish, deer, insects, small animals, chips, candy, cake, ice cream, and EVERYTHING THAT TASTES GOOD AND IS BAD FOR YOU. Seriously, live fast, die young, and leave a good looking bloated corpse.
Why can't some vegetables taste like bacon?
An all meat diet, I'm sad to say, is bad for you. High cholesterol, high fat, and there's all the creatures in the animated films, Bambi, Babe and Charlotte's Web to consider. That's one extreme.
Level 1: No Red Meat
This is the easiest level and yet it’s the hardest to accept. Who doesn’t like a good steak? I know I do. There is nothing better than grilling a good marinated steak and just letting it melt in your mouth - especially when it’s grilled. *Sigh*
However, I digress.
People abstain from eating red meat because it’s not really good for you. Red meat can stay in your bowels for years. The cholesterol problems you can get from eating red meat are just plain bad. Let’s also remember that when you get a good piece of meat from a large bull, that large bull may be large because they’ve jacked it up with hormones. The hormones go into the bull. The bull is the steak. You eat the steak with the hormones. The hormones go into you.
THE HORMONES GO INTO YOU!!!
Do you want me to say that again? Do you think it’s a coincidence that this country has an obesity problem that did not exist sixty or seventy years ago? Perhaps it’s not the quantity of what we’re eating. Maybe it’s the quality of it. The hormones that make big fat cows are making big fat humans.
I won’t even go into the theory that it’s causing kids to reach puberty earlier.
So, Level 1 is not eating red meat.
How much of your diet are fruits and vegetables?
Level 2: Only Chicken and Fish
Not for nothing, I love a good ham sandwich or a good BLT. A breakfast staple of my diet for the last ten years was a taylor ham, egg, and cheese on a roll. Those of you who don’t know this don’t live in New Jersey where you can get one at any diner.
These people would have me killed.
In addition to not eating beef, those people don’t eat pork or any other kind of animal. That includes venison, lamb, turkey, or anything that has hooves. People think that they can live without pork chops, but try living without bacon – sweet, sweet, bacon. Let’s also remember that ham is part of that, too.
They put hormones in chicken, too. And let me tell you, KFC does not produce health food.
These people eat eggs and dairy as well.
Level 3: Only Game
They eat birds. Turkey, chicken, ostrich (No, I’m not kidding), anything that has wings. Plus the eggs of those creatures. At least they get to have turkey bacon... whatever creature makes that.
Level 4: Only Eggs and Fish
We’ve left the area of eating land based animals for the most part.
They still eat eggs. And when you think about the hormones given to hens, they go into the eggs as well. Also, eggs aren’t the best thing for you. And for the most part they still eat and drink dairy – cheese omelets for everyone!
Fish is a good source of protein, if you have to have animal protein. I love sushi. One of the things you want to avoid, though, is mercury. Mercury is high in fish like tuna. Now, I can hear all of you saying, “So what.”
Well, I really hate to tell you this. Any amount of mercury is bad. I’ve heard that the only thing worse to put in your body is plutonium. Yes, plutonium and radiation is good if you’re say, Spider-man, but if you’re anyone else, it’s not. Mercury has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD. So, you might want to avoid that.
Level 5: Lacto-Ova Vegetarian
Congrats, they are officially a vegetarian. However, now they’ve given themselves a title: Lacto-ova Vegetarian.
That’s just fancy talk to say that they still eat eggs and dairy. For the most part, they are what you’d think of as a vegetarian. They don’t eat animals – nor do they eat things made with animal soup stock. This is important for vegetarians that eat Italian food. When you go to a restaurant, you need to find out if the cook made the sauce with meat.
But if the food was made with something that had a face, swam, or breathed, they don’t eat it.
I can see you asking yourselves, “What’s so bad about that?”
Not a lot. I can tell you that they are less of a pain in the ass to feed. You can still give them cake, ice cream, things made with butter, croissants, things with eggs in their base (trust me, it’s everywhere), things made with cheese (like pizza).
Once again, there are hormones in the milk and eggs. There’s animal fat in the dairy. There’s also the way that dairy affects people. I’m not saying lactose intolerance, but dairy products do create sinus congestion and help produce mucus.
Level 6: Eggs
They eat eggs, but not dairy.
Level 7: Dairy
They eat dairy, but not eggs.
Level 8: Vegan
My wife is a vegan.
She went from Level 5 to Level 8 in one jump. In one year, she lost 45 lbs. She looks like she’s in her twenties.
Last year, when she started this, she had to have her gall bladder taken out. Years of eating cheese and oily food gave her gallstones. Until lately, I ate whatever I wanted and have the constitution of a cockroach.
When the doctor took her vitals and her blood, they found that her levels were not just normal, but exceptional. She has the biochemistry of a twenty-something. She is not on any medications. With the exception of alcohol, she doesn’t really get any toxins into her body.
People like this are beaten and killed for smugness.
And yet, there are more levels of veganism that can be had. This is what I need to shoot for.
Level 9: No Refined Sugars
Bastards! How do these people live? Why do these people live?
Not only do they not eat animal proteins, they don’t eat bread products made with white flour OR ANYTHING with refined sugars.
What does that mean? Fans of the South Beach Diet know that the key to weight loss is the elimination and purging of sugar from your diet. The vegetables that you eat are ones with a low glycemic index. That means no carrots, no potatoes, no beets, nothing that is a root vegetable. Fruits and vegetables are eventually let back into your diet because of their vitamin properties – although some fruits are just verboten. These are fruits like watermelon, bananas, pineapples, and oranges.
You know? The good ones.
This also includes white breads. The majority of the things that are baked in the store like cake or crackers. The bread you eat is whole grain or pumpernickel.
How many times a week do you eat a meat course for dinner?
Level 10: No Oils (Limited Oils)
Lah-di-dah. Really, you want to smack these people. Their goal is to outlive you so they can piss on your grave. And they will. Not only do they not eat any kind of animal protein, they don’t cook with any kind of oil that could produce arterial plaque.
This is the diet of “Forks Over Knives”. Plant life proteins without cholesterol clogging oils are on your menu.
You do need some amount of healthy fat to actually perform as a kind of "lubricant" during the "digestive process" during "excretion". Otherwise things can be a bit "rough".
Here’s the good news: It’s good for your heart. You'll lose weight. It may reverse arterial plaque. And could possibly REVERSE DIABETES. You’ll certainly be more focused. These good whole foods will raise your energy levels and make you healthy.
Here’s the bad news: If you’re contemplating this, the transition from say Level 0 to Level 10 is not easy. You will need several placebos that are tofu based – which aren’t that bad. You will most likely detox and feel some flu-like symptoms as you do. However, after that, you should be gold. The other problem is that you’ll be nearly impossible to dine with any of your friends or family unless you bring your own food.
I know. I have to feed one. Or as I call her, “She Who Can Not Be Fed” OR "Big Pain In The Ass".
Vegetarianism on Amazon
Two words: Chest Pains.
Now, I could go to the doctor now. I could get a prescription for Lipitor, have some very expensive tests done, get other meds, find out how BAD my health really is… and still look and feel terrible. I may even need to inject myself in the stomach if my health is bad enough.
I could eat right, take steps to reverse the damage, lose weight, exercise, and enjoy living a little. I certainly would want to be more focused. Instead of drinking super caffeinated drinks like Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy Drink, I could have some green tea and eat right.
Here’s the other thing… and I really can’t understand this. When I tell other people that I am going to go meatless, the insane and aggressive animosity I’ve gotten about this is almost pathological. The evidence is strong that eating right and eliminating animal proteins is good for you. Yet, when I’ve announced my intention of going vegan, you’d think I’d screamed, “I’M GOING TO EAT EVERY BABY IN THIS ROOM… RAW!!!”
I’ve made the conscious decision to improve my health by a somewhat common sense, if not drastic, action. The reaction I’ve received is not one of congratulations but that of almost ridicule.
I’ll confess, this is not going to be easy. But here’s what I’d really like to know: Has the meat lobby worked so effectively to seduce the American public that any mention of ONE PERSON going without meat is met with derision?
I’ve decided that nothing has to die before I put it into my body. I’ve also decided that the products of those creatures will not need to go in there either. I’ve decided that instead of eating food that will make me sick, I’ll eat foods that will make me feel good.
Will I be strictly good? Probably not. Will I like it? Definitely not.
I’ll still enjoy a good Guinness. Maybe I’ll even have a coke from now and then. However, one thing is for certain. This is something that I’ll be able to control and it is something that is truly going to be empowering.