Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Natural" Foods and Diets, Vegan?

I'm writing this, because a friend just sent me this article by someone who stopped being vegan, because of serious health issues.

Over my long enough life to get senior discounts on Israeli buses, I've tried various "health diets."  I was vegetarian (ovo-lacto) for twenty-five years, which included a couple of periods vegan and even raw food only.  Besides becoming obese, I had no health problems, probably because by eating eggs I got all the protein, ameno acids etc.

Then I had a stressful time subbing in a junior high, besides my then high school job.  Suddenly I was very hungry and felt an uncontrollable craving for meat, poultry and fish.  Something told me that I ought to stop trying to get energy from "white chocloate," one of the worst candies ever invented and give up my vegetarianism. 

Unlike many vegetarians, I didn't preach that it was morally superior or more natural.  I started being a vegetarian after a few years of not really being attracted to meat, and then a doctor recommended a period of veganism after I had a bad reaction to a bee sting.

For those twenty-five years I felt fine as a vegetarian and had perfectly healthy pregnancies of my two sons.  I didn't take vitamin supplements most of the time.  For quite a few years, I've rejected the idea of vitamins, because they're admissions of bad eating habits.  Correct your diets and you don't need vitamins, unless there is a very specific health issue.

Now I eat very ordinary food, lots of vegetables, three proper servings of protein, plus snacks, fruit, salad etc.  During the week I get my carbohydrates from cooked vegetables, like carrots and onions.  Fruit has sugar.  I don't need any other carb.  I don't suffer food cravings either.  If I suddenly feel the need for "something" more satifying than fruit, I'll have a bit of goats yogurt, a couple of raw nuts or a spoon of sesame paste.  Those little snacks are generally much smaller than I used to take.  I also make a point of getting out of the kitchen as soon as possible and give my body the 20-30 minutes needed to let the food "register."

Some friends have gotten into veganism,  raw food and juicing.  They try to tell me that it's natural.  I insist that it isn't and remember how much food I used to have to eat to feel satisfied.  They eat enormous quantities, too.  A salad just makes me hungry.  Juice is just the "sugar" of the vegetable or fruit.  It's not "natural;" it's processing.  I like to chew.  Chewing is considered by the experts as stage one of digestion.

Jewish Law allows the eating of meat, poultry and fish with certain conditions, Kashrut.  When I was a vegetarian, I was taught that according to Jewish Law, you can only be a vegetarian if you have a specific health requirement or if meat/fish/poultry makes you feel ill.  You may not insist that it's morally superior.


Hadassa said...

That was a powerful story. What a patient and caring doctor! I've never heard of ovo-lacto vegetarianism causing the problems that veganism does for SOME people. I have a few macrobiotic (mainly vegan, although macrobiotics does allow eggs and sometimes even small amounts of fish and organic meat - the key is balance!) cookbooks. It's definitely a religion. I have refrained from buying many cookbooks because of sections considered foreign worship by Jewish law.

Energy from white chocolate? All you'll get is a sugar high - and then low.

Batya said...

white chocolate= fat +sugar
I needed B12 after the JHS, and if I hadn't started meat, I would have gotten injections rather than the pills.
Food restrictions are a religion, manic compulsive for some. I know people who really aren't doing well, but they insist on their vegetarianism/veganism etc.

Anonymous said...

you know, saying you are healthy but obese strikes me as a contradiction.

Batya said...

Obesity can increase chances of health problems, like diabetes, blood pressure etc. Thin people can also have serious health problems.

Just wondering said...

Wow, considering vegetarianism to be more moral than killing animal is ossur, or even the whole thing is avoda zara, as commentator Hadassa suggests?

So when Adam and Eve were not eating meat in paradise, how come HKBH didn't mind?

Maybe he even made a mistake in creating Adam first, instead of some poskim? And maybe, mankind would still be in the garden then. After all, if they can be oser vegetarianim, they also would have found some kind of loophole to be matir eating the fruit...

Batya said...

jw, for Adam and Eve, they ate what they had. Only some modern vegetarians make their diet into a cult.

Just wondering said...

Well, at least no other people is harmed in making a vegetarian diet into a cult, as opposed to making eretz hakodesh into a cult.

Batya said...

What is that supposed to mean? The Land of Israel is central to the Jewish Religion. Whoever denies it goes against the written Law, the Torah.