I became a vegetarian when I was 13 years old. My friend, Roberta, told me about factory farming and the cruel conditions in which animals were being raised and slaughtered. I knew instantly that she was telling the truth and stopped eating meat that very day.
My parents were mostly o.k. with it, although we were a meat and potatoes family. My dad called me up, the first and only time I ever recall entering my parent’s bedroom as a child. “What about scurvy?” he asked me. Although his mother was a nurse and his father a pharmacist, he knew nothing about nutrition. “That’s vitamin C deficiency,” I answered. He had no further questions.
My parents didn’t do anything different. Vegetarian protein options did not appear at the dinner table. I simply just didn’t eat meat. I never missed it. And I never thought that I would eat it again.
Sixteen years later, I was a young mother. And in-between my pregnancies, I started to crave shrimp. I listened to my body, and began to eat seafood again. What I know now is that I was probably deficient in essential fatty acids. This I learned when I began doing research on ADHD and the brain.
Of course it is possible to get needed essential fatty acids in a vegetarian diet, primarily through seeds and nuts. We just need to pay attention. Years of not paying attention can take their toll, and our bodies may become depleted. This is particularly true when additional nutritional demands are placed on our bodies, such as during pregnancy and breast-feeding. This is why I generally recommend for pregnant and nursing women to supplement.
Different diets work for different people. I am not a proponent of any particular diet. I say do what works for you and listen to your body. I do believe that the best thing we can all do for our health, and the health of our planet, is to eat organically grown foods.
Dr. Joe Pizzorno ND agrees with me, “increase nutrient intake and decrease toxin exposure.” If there are added hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics in your food then there will be added hormones, pesticides and antibiotics in your body. Likewise, if there are preservatives, additives and artificial dyes and sweeteners in your food...they will be in your body too. Avoid this toxic burden and eat whole and organically grown foods.
I am a vegetarian at heart. I love vegetarian food, but these days I include wild caught fish and free range birds in my diet. There are well-evidenced health benefits from a vegetarian diet, however, what is most important to me is that animals are raised humanely.
Our bodies are wise. Our bodies may be our unconscious knowing. Sometimes we hear them speaking directly to us, other times they knock harder with symptoms. Either way, our bodies will communicate to us what we need. Listen to your body. What makes it feel well and what makes it feel terrible?