After filling my head with more information than I could stand, I decided it was time to do something. Before I go any further, here’s a tip; although we shared the titles of food documentaries in the About Real Food post, don’t do like I did and watch all of them over a period of 2 to 3 days. You’ll end up suffering from information overload and analysis paralysis.
With food and health information bursting at my seams, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. Do I become a vegetarian, vegan or do I forego the foods I’ve become accustomed to and seek whole foods only? Before making a decision, I had to do further research about the pros/cons on each and compare them to my lifestyle and beliefs.
When I did more research on vegetarianism, I felt it was the catch-all phrase for anyone who didn’t eat meat. There were varying degrees of vegetarianism from folks who dropped meat from their diets to people who not only dropped meat, but don’t eat fish, meat by-products, animal products and dairy. Terms like Lacto and Ovo were bandied about which only confused me.
I know folks who use the drive-thru at Mickie D’s and they call themselves vegetarians. That’s not the kind of vegetarian I’d like to be.
From what I can glean, a vegan is a person that says no to all animal products. No meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy or products that contain such ingredients. Some vegans go as far as not consuming products that used animal products somewhere along the production process.
That sounded exhausting to me. It took too much thinking to determine whether the food product I held in my hand at the grocery store used animals in anyway to get it to the store shelf.
This sounded like a hand in glove fit for my way of thinking. Adapting a whole/organic foods way of eating means that I can eat just about everything I want to eat as long as it wasn’t processed or genetically modified. That sounds easy, but it’s not; at least not in today’s grocery stores.
You see, product manufacturers in the US are not currently required to disclose whether or not genetically modified ingredients were used in the production process. Additionally, the tomatoes, corn and other produce that was either shipped from somewhere around the world or mass produced in agricultural mega-farms may or may not be genetically modified.
You can bet that if the produce came from an agricultural mega-farm there is a good chance that it has the Monsanto stamp on it. If Monsanto was involved in the produce then the produce has a high probability of being genetically altered.
Let Me Digress a Moment
What’s wrong with genetically altered produce? Well, I think you should view the free documentary The Future of Food for the answer. The process of genetically altering the seed involves injecting the seed with a virus, bacteria and an antibiotic marker. I don’t know about you, but on a high level, I’d prefer not to knowingly eat food that has been injected with a virus, bacteria and antibiotic. I’m not equipped to get into the low-level Pandora’s box that genetically modified foods opened.
Back to Whole Food Choices
I quickly realized that I stood a better chance of finding whole non-genetically modified produce if I purchased foods from my local farm or farmers markets. If I get a hankering for chicken or beef, I’ll go to a dairy farm that sells meat from free-range grass-fed livestock. The trick, it seems, is to stay away from mass production. When food is mass produced, quality and taste suffer.
Think about it. Go to a chain restaurant, let’s say, Olive Garden. I’ve got nothing against Olive Garden because I’ve had many a great meal there. However, a meal at the Olive Garden cannot compare to one from my local Italian restaurant that uses fresh ingredients picked from the backyard garden just moments before meal preparation. A fresh homegrown tomato beats the pants off of one shipped, packaged and found in a grocery store.
Basic Choice Made
So now that I’ve made my basic choice and have decided to transition from my current way of eating to a whole food way of eating, it’s time to get about the business of transitioning.