Archive | December, 2011

Self-Introduction to the Pescetarian Life

9 Dec

Though I originally named this blog for the sole purpose of talking about all things sugary and sweet, there are more ways to “live the sweet life” than consume obscene amounts of desserts.  I have an insane sweet tooth, so it would be nearly impossible for me to give up sweets.  However, I have somehow found a new meaning to “a sweet life” by giving up what most people, especially men, would cringe to even think about losing.  Meat has long been a staple in peoples’ diets, and for most, hardly a meal goes by without its presence.  I recently made a big personal decision to give up meat in my diet.  When I mention my change in diet, I always receive some quizzical looks and questions as to why I chose to relinquish meat in my life.  Honestly, I did it mainly for my best friend of ten years who went vegan, because she works daily with small animals and rodents in a research lab at UT Southwestern.  Some people initially don’t see the connection between her being vegan and my own choice of giving up meat, but in my mind, it is always nice to have some accompaniment through a lifestyle change.  I had already given up red meat as a health-related decision, so I thought, “Why not take it just a little bit further?”  Don’t get me wrong.  I was not about to rid my life of meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.  Thus, I opted for the less extreme version of veganism: pescetarianism.  Even still, the thought of giving up beef, pork, and chicken may come as an unbelievable feat to many.  I love chicken nuggets as much as the next person, and for awhile, I questioned my ability to push through the pain of losing my favorite childhood food.  I ultimately decided that this was the best thing for me, and currently, I feel such self-accomplishment in going this far.  Though there might be some skepticism as to whether or not being a pescetarian truly deserves to be considered an accomplishment, it has become more of self-satisfaction in keeping with a goal I set for myself.  Though I miss having the option of meat, there is something so undeniably “sweet” in pushing myself to stick to pescetarianism.  I feel healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more supportive as a friend, and that is how I am living the sweet life.

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My Long-Lost Love for Leafy Greens

9 Dec

As people grow up, get older, and become more independent, their lifestyle decisions start to evolve, and in this modern era of fast food chains and cheap eats, the easiest food-related decisions have proven to be the worst.  When I was little, I hated most vegetables as much as the next kid, but my parents always outsmarted me in hiding them in my food or masking them in some delicious soup or sauce.  Maybe they were culinary masterminds or maybe I was just easily deceived, but either way, I gobbled up my daily recommended dose of vegetables with ease.  I loved the soft carrots and cabbage that were in the chicken soup my mom enjoyed making on cold days, and broccoli covered in cheese was my dad’s dish I craved all the time.  Leafy greens were my favorite, and on occasion, my parents had to make me eat the other food that was on the table.  As I grew up, started going out more, and stayed up late nights studying, I went from healthy greens to starches and fats.  When I got to college, my eating habits had morphed into only consuming carbs and processed food, and it was a rare sight to see any green in my food.  My health seemed to get progressively worse as time went on, and my weight constantly fluctuated due to the lack of a stable diet.  Though my pescetarian eating habits are rather new, I have already gained back the love of veggies that had slowly dwindled over the years.  I eat more vegetables in one week than I used to in a whole month, and as a result, I simply feel healthier knowing I am eating healthier!   Due to the lack of meatless options in fast food chains, I am also forced to eat real, all-natural food, which I am sure my body is truly grateful for.  That saying “one good choice leads to another” is extremely applicable for a pescetarian lifestyle.  When it comes down to it, the inevitable intake of vegetables means healthier overall eating habits.  I have suddenly developed a slight aversion to fried food, meat or not, and I constantly crave sautéed vegetables, which has never happened in my life pre-pescetarianism.  I am pleased to have rekindled my lost love for leafy greens and now find bliss in eating healthy rather than seeing it as a chore.  Who needs men when you can have eternal love and happiness with your food?

How I Found My Roots

9 Dec

When the word pescetarian comes up, fish is usually the first thing to come to mind.  The ability to still consume fish and seafood is really the sole difference between being a pescetarian and being a vegetarian.  Since settling in on the pescetarian diet, I have obviously been consuming more seafood than I have in earlier times, and as I do so, I have come to the realization of how prevalent fish and seafood in general are in Asian culture.  I thought about it, and when I think of fish, the first type of food that comes to mind is Asian food.  Looking back at my childhood, I hardly ate any other meat unless it was in a school cafeteria or sandwiched between two pieces of bread.  At dinnertime, fish was usually the prime protein on our plates.  Whether it was steamed whole, broiled, or stir-fried in sweet and sour sauce, fish was one of my dad’s favorite foods to cook for me and my younger sister.  Back when I still lived at home and my family ate all together at the dining table, my mom would always encourage us to eat more fish, telling us that it would make us smarter and help us excel further in school.  She would tell us how much she loved eating fish when she was a young girl in Taiwan and how we were so fortunate to have it so often in such large quantities.  After living on my own, seafood and fish became non-existent in my college-student diet.  It was far too expensive to purchase at restaurants, so I stuck to the cheaper ground meats.  However, since becoming pescetarian, not only has the amount of vegetables I eat gone up, but also the amount of seafood.  I buy frozen seafood and fish in larger packages to save myself a buck here and there, and I cook all the dishes I remember my parents cooking for me, such as shrimp fried rice, steamed fish with scallions, and sweet and sour fish.  As I look at menus for viable dining options, I see that the majority of fish-friendly places and entrees are Asian-inspired.  I never thought much of all the fish I ate when I was younger, so making this connection was just one thing that I was able to teach myself through being pescetarian.  Fish plays a big part in Asian culture, and a whole fish has been seen as almost a symbol of prosperity and abundance.  Chinese culture states that eating fish at the beginning of a new year will help fulfill all your wishes for that entire year.  Now that I eat fish in abundance, I can only hope that the tradition will hold for my own future.  Progressing into pescetarianism has brought me closer to my Asian roots, using food and the beliefs that come with it to bring me back to the cooking that both my parents and I have cherished since we were young.

Dining Out

9 Dec

Like mentioned before, a big part of my initial start as a pescetarian was to support my best friend’s decision to become a vegan.  When we see each other, we spend almost every waking moment with each other, and at multiple points of the day, we eat together.  After being pescetarian around so many meat-lovers, I realized how much more difficult it is to have a meatless diet when just about everyone around you is happily gobbling down large portions of it on the daily.  I never thought it was going to be easy, but knowing that there is someone close to me choosing to disregard the same food makes me push myself slightly harder.  You never realize how prevalent something is until you can no longer have it, and I had to grasp the harsh reality that I could no longer eat at a lot of places.  Luckily, living in the heart of veggie-friendly Austin has given me some hope in dining out, but for the most part, it has become difficult to eat out with friends who do not share the same diet.  One thing I have taken from my semester of studying food and eating habits is that eating is one of those commonplace things that everyone enjoys, but not everyone can share.  Like in Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, eating with different people brings about different conventions and foreign foods.  The unfamiliarity of a dining situation has the ability to make people uncomfortable and displeased, and we are able to see how much food plays a factor in social settings.  When I eat out with people, I never want to be an imposition onto others, so wherever they choose to eat, I follow, regardless of the possible lack of vegetarian-friendly options.  Popular eateries like barbecue joints and sandwich shops that college students consistently eat at are now borderline useless to me unless I’m craving some creamed corn or a grilled cheese.  After reading in Stealing Buddha’s Dinner how even food can make you an outcast, I choose to suck it up and just do my best to adjust wherever I go to eat.  Luckily, when my best friend and I eat either by ourselves or in a group, we have each other to turn to in our search for meatless dishes.  You’re no longer considered an outcast when you have another outcast by your side, right?

Adjustments vs. Benefits

9 Dec

When you change something, there is always a level of adjustment that comes with becoming different.  In my case, I have had to do quite a bit of adjustment to settle into my meatless life, but I know that in the long run, the benefits will far outweigh any minor adjustments I have had and will have to make.  One of the biggest adjustments that may also just be the biggest benefit?  Paying attention to what I eat.  You would think that I would have some clue as to what I eat and how much, but no, with so many options out there, deciding what to eat has become a task.  Pre-pescetarianism, I ate at the same places and ordered the same food, but now that I am no longer able to eat most of that food, I have had to open my eyes to other foods, usually healthier, and other places to eat.  When I go to restaurants, I must actually think about what I order, and personally, it has brought about healthier and better decision-making habits.  Jonathan Foer wrote in Eating Animals, “Food choices are determined by many factors, but reason (even consciousness) is not generally high on the list.”  As primarily omnivores, people have accustomed themselves to ordering food without thinking of the ingredients, how they were made, or where they came from.  This lack of knowledge forms the basis as to why people eat as poorly as they do without a care in the world.  Having to rid my diet of meat has cut out a section of the food industry that is far too questionable to begin with.  By eliminating that food group altogether, I no longer have to worry about where my food came from and how processed it is.  I live healthier, because most of the food I eat comes straight from the ground and are rich in nutrients and vitamins.  On top of that, I am doing my part to save our earth by reducing the pollution that comes from raising animals and processing meat, and I also feel way more ethical about what I consume.  Knowing that I have saved a chicken, pig, or cow somewhere out there further solidifies my decision to remain in my vegetable-loving state of mind.

The Culmination of It All

9 Dec

Though it is plain to see I am plenty satisfied with my pescetarian diet, I still have not found it in myself to push it upon others.  Food holds the power to bring people together, characterize people, and open everyone’s minds to other cultures.  It is not something I wish to mess with when it has such a high value to the majority of the world.  However, since this is my personal blog, I am pushing that all aside to recommend that you take some liberty to attempt a vegetarian or pescetarian diet from time to time.  Meat should never be considered a main dish that takes up half your plate, but in our modern-day America, sometimes it is all people eat in a meal.  I encourage anyone to take a step back every once in awhile from meat and focus on eating more natural and healthier foods.  The earth has so generously graced us with a variety of vegetables, so we should focus on eating what was originally given to us rather than what we have to make or process to eat.  It may seem daunting at first, but if you ever take it upon yourself to at least attempt a veggie-friendly diet, you will most definitely feel better about yourself.  Sometimes, it is better to take a look at your future and your own health you are putting at risk as you consume excess amounts of meats.  You place yourself at risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and increased likelihood of cancer by consuming meat, and I find it important to always keep that in mind.  When I think about when I grow up and have kids of my own, I hope that they never succumb to the eating habits I developed as I grew older.  I hope they love vegetables as much as I did as a kid and never lose sight of what is healthy and what is not.  The decisions people make in life, and more specifically in food, is all their own, but I for one am beyond proud of my decision to be pescetarian.  In my personal opinion, the benefits of living such a lifestyle overshadow any minute adjustments that I have had to make, and I hope that as time goes on, more people can see all the benefits of pescetarianism that I have now found.

Works Cited

9 Dec