February 15th, 2010
Yesterday at church, a man approached David and me. He had just met Dave at the men’s Bible study and came over to say hi and to meet me. He asked Dave if he had a donut (they offer them at church in between Sunday school and the Church service). Dave said no and then looked at me and jokingly said, “What is that thing you always say to me?” “Make good choices.” This guy looked at me and asked if I was a dietitian. I just smiled and said, “No, just a vegetarian runner.” Now, clearly not everyone knows how anal vegetarians and runners tend to be about food, so maybe I should have said something else, but I’m not good at thinking on my feet. Anyhow, he immediately sized me up–literally! He looked me up and down and looked at Dave and said, “Are you a member of the Facebook group ‘Vegetarianism is an Eating Disorder’?”
Excuse me? EXCUSE ME?
First of all, I know I’m thin. Do all thin people have eating disorders? Secondly, do you really know anything about my eating habits? Thirdly, since when are eating disorders appropriate small talk in the church foyer right after meeting me? What if I really did have an eating disorder? And most importantly, do you know anything about vegetarianism?!
I wanted to address this because I think this is an issue that needs a bit of attention.
Some people do use vegetarianism as a means of restrictive eating. I know some people who have done this, but let me assure you, I am not one of them. These people wouldn’t be telling their husbands to “make good choices” because they wouldn’t be making one themselves. Meat offers some essential nutrients to a human’s diet, and if some decides to stop eating meat, the “good choice” would be to replace those nutrients with other foods. A true vegetarian is concerned with replacement whereas a “vegetarian” is more preoccupied with restrictions. That is not a good choice, and that is not my goal.
I went to the Facebook group to see what they are all about. The description of the group says something like, “For all of those who think not eating meat is weird and just plain sick.”
Ok, let me tell you somethings that vegetarians generally think are sick: factory farms and hold too many animals in a small space. These overcrowded animals, living in each others’ filth, then get sick or injured, so the cheapest thing to do is pump them full of antibiotics before chopping their heads off. After all, land is a limited resource (and therefore expensive) where as chemically produced medications are limitless.
True vegetarians also find obesity, heart disease, and cancers linked to the consumption of poor quality meats sick. True vegetarians take pride in what they give their bodies.
Now don’t get me wrong. Meat-eaters can also take pride in what they eat. But if they are aware of what they eat, then they tend to also be aware of the reasons behind vegetarianism. My husband eats meat and loves it. But he respects my decision, and since we have been married he has learned to “make good choices” and is so much more aware of the food he eats.
Those are some really general reasons behind true vegetarianism, but let me explain my own reasons for a meat-less diet.
Are you sure?
I don’t like it.
::GASP:: That’s it? Yup.
I had mentioned in my Food Philosphy that I have always had a sensitive stomach and realized that greasy meat was huge irritant. When my brother got sick in 2006, his nutritionist took him off red meat, so my mom only cooked poultry for us. I felt so much better. When I moved out on my own in less than 2 years later, I discovered that I had no desire to eat meat. In fact, it kind of grossed me out. I made the decision to become a vegetarian in March of 2008. Here I am in February of 2010 letting you know that I don’t miss it, and I don’t want it. I love my diet of fresh fruits and veggies, beans and grains… and guess what? No more Irritable Bowel Syndrome. But the key is substitution (not restriction).
Now because this whole interaction occured in Church, I want to address the thought that “God created meat to be eaten and declared it to be ‘clean’ and ‘good’”. You’re right, He has. So take the knowledge that God has created them and declared them to be good and go reconcile that knowldege with the current abuse at factory farms.
Got it? Ok, moving on…
I don’t think that this diet is for everyone, but I do think that it can be a very healthy lifestyle. Take Daniel, for instance. Daniel, an Israelite student in the palace of a the Babylonian King Jechoiakim, had resolved not to eat the king’s food because it was defiled, based on the commandments given by God to the Israelites. The advisors in the palace were afraid that Daniel would get sick and weak from eating any other diet, but Daniel suggested giving them only vegetables and water for the next 10 days, and at the end of the 10 days decide if he was less healthy than those who ate the king’s diet. And sure enough, they saw the improvement in Daniel’s health over the other students’ and determined that all should be fed the diet of vegetables and water. I believe that Daniel’s health was a reward for obeying God’s laws, not necessarily that he was a vegetarian and the other young men weren’t. However, I do believe that God adminsters his blessings and rewards to people through science and nature–and in this case, a healthy diet.
It’s amazing what you can learn from Bible stories, huh?
I’m not a dietitian or a nutritionist, so I have a lot to learn. But I know that I am considerably more aware of my diet and my body than most Americans. Can vegetarianism be an eating disorder? Most definitely. Humans are experts at distorting good things to suite their warped perceptions of reality. But is TRUE vegetarianism an eating disorder? Absolutely not. It’s simply a form of good stewardship of the body that has been gifted to us. We should all be aware of the importance of good nutrition and the proper treatment of our bodies.
Oh, and a second lesson to be learned is to be aware of what you say to people. You never know when you’re giving a blogger great writing material.
What are your thoughts on vegetarianism? Do you find that it is commonly used as a disordered eating habit?
If you eat meat, why? If you don’t, why not?