Monday, August 17, 2009

Just. Say. Yes.

About two years ago I stopped eating meat. I've written about this before. It was a choice not really motivated out of any need to protect fellow creatures on the earth; my sweetheart eats meat, and I don't shed tears for the beloved cow who gave its life. I like knowing that vegetarianism is good for the environment, although I can't prove that, I just read somewhere that the land used to feed animals and the gas used to transport them is bad, and that if more people were vegetarians the planet would thank us. That feels good inside me, so I dig on it, but I don't know for certain that it's true.

Mostly it was just about my body; my body didn't seem to like digesting meat, so I stopped doing it.

Then, this winter I found out that my body also doesn't like digesting gluten, sugar, dairy products, food dyes and cumin (of all the random and beloved spices not to tolerate, bloody hell!).

So eating--the simple act of preparing food to nourish and love my body--has suddenly become hella tricky. Eating out is a nightmare. Sometimes I get a server who knows what's in the food, who can answer questions honestly and purely, and who doesn't mind running to the kitchen twice to find out what he doesn't know. Sometimes I get a server who doesn't really care that eating the wrong food could make me incredibly sick, and sometimes I get the server who just lies to me so I'll order already and they can get the hell away from the table. This means I try to eat at home a lot, but my sweetheart likes to eat out, so where to go becomes a dance of which place has the menu that can accomodate me.

It's a different ball game when dining with friends.

I often feel like I'd rather just have them over, that way I can cook and know what I'm putting in the food. But I love breaking bread with people and when they invite us over, I want to say Yes! But it's hard to; it's a qualified yes. I feel like such a heel saying, "well, sure, but I can't eat half of what's in your cabinets, so if you're willing to be creative, read the labels of things exhaustively and prepare most of the food from scratch using fresh, or sometimes alternative, ingredients, then right on!"

More often its,
"So it's just red meat you're off, you eat chicken, right?" No.
"I was thinking of doing a teriyaki stir-fry, how does that sound?" No. (Sugar and gluten both in the sauce.)
"What about pasta primavera? A light olive oil sauce?" No. Gluten in the pasta.
"Sushi?" No. Sugar in the sushi rice, gluten in the soy sauce, no fish.
"You don't eat fish?" No.

No. No no no no no. I get tired of saying it. It's one thing if you're just gluten free, because you can eat a giant hunk of pork if you choose, provided you know how it's been prepared. But with the other dietary choices I've made, I often feel like I'm walking through the grocery store or looking at a menu and just saying No No No.

Which is why, a few weeks ago, I decided to start eating fish again. In the evening sweetheart and I were planning on eating out, and I opted for catfish tacos.

"Really?" he asked.
"What the hell. I've been talking about saying yes to fish for weeks now. The acupuncturists seem to think it's a good idea. I might as well just do it."

So I did. And it was great. Heaven did not descend, there was no glow or angelic music, and my body didn't snap to with a renewed sense of vigor and verve. It was just good catfish and I digested it just fine. It felt really nice to look at something listed under sandwiches (which for so long has just felt like enemy territory) and point at it and say yes.

So now I'm saying yes to fish. I can eat sashimi, because there's no sugar rice underneath it. I can say yes to just about any fish dish, depending on how it's prepared. I can say yes to the man across the counter who asks if I'd like to try the catch of the day. It hasn't opened up the floodgates of food I can eat, but it has made me feel just a bit freer as far as the food I choose to put inside me, how I choose to nourish and love my body.

I'm getting pretty good at saying yes. When the sweetheart asked me to be his wife, I said yes, too.


Elizabeth said...

First, of course, congratulations! This news makes me very happy!

How funny! I've been vegetarian for practically a decade, and just this weekend I started considering re-introducing fish into my diet, as well. Then, just as I was toying with the idea, NPR came out with a piece on sustainable seafood--and now, here you are assuring me that the sky will not break open should I taste the flesh of a little fish. What other signs do I need?

ABG said...

Congratulations! on the one yes. And I, too, have reintroduced fish into my vegetarian diet for many of the same reasons you describe. I've felt a bit of trepidation, like I can't call myself a real vegetarian, but I really dig the way you're naming it as a way to increase saying "yes."

Kristin said...

Oh my! Congratulations! (On the engagement, mostly, but also on saying yes in general. What a lovely idea.)

And on a side note, thank you for writing such beautiful, thought-provoking posts. I look forward to reading them whenever I can crack a break into my day.

Laura said...

hehehe!!!! What a great last line. :) It's all about choices. Shedd publishes a "smart bite" card that lists the sustainability options for fish. Might be something to check out as you fish around for good fish options.

By the way, I went to the Violet Hour last night for drinks with friends and was absolutely thrilled that they could make me a mocktail of my choice.... I ended up with fresh raspberries blended with fresh mint and sparkling water. When people get creative, there are no limits, only so many options.

Nyactorgirl said...

Congrats, Jess! I love the way you just dropped that last line in there about the sly!!

But wtf, man...we need details!! I am now on official "spill the beans, girlfriend" duty!!!

Big hugs to you out with it!!

east side bride said...

Oh man. It's hard enough being gluten-free, for sure. I used to be vegetarian, but when I gave up gluten I started eating meat again. All of it.