JULIE STAFFORD: Conscious eating makes a lot of sense

By Julie Stafford • Last Updated 11:32 am on Friday, April 27, 2012

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

I’ve been debating with myself for years about whether I want to become a vegetarian — again. And news as of late is pushing me in that direction.

There’s the whole issue of the pink slime guck that’s added to beef, recent news of mad cow’s arrival in this country and my forever struggle over what animals go through to get from field to table. Not that I have a problem with other folks enjoying meat. It’s just a personal position and preference.

On a recent road trip, I listened to a talk radio show about conscious eating. What it means is that you really think about where your food comes from and how it impacts not only your health, but also the planet and other living creatures.

I’ll spare the details but it’s got me thinking about the cow that now is my hamburger, the turkey that has become my sandwich and the pig I’m eating as pork loin.

Being a vegetarian isn’t as hard as everyone thinks, as long as you eat a wide variety of foods. I went
meatless when I was 17 for a spell. And my oldest daughter has been a vegetarian by choice for 11 years.

The first concern most people have is how you’ll get enough protein if you don’t eat meat. It’s actually easy as long as you eat things like whole grains, beans and nuts. The more pressing concern for vegetarians is how to avoid falling into the all-carb, processed food diet.

Conscious eating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go cold turkey, so to speak, and become a vegetarian overnight. What it does for people like me is to get us thinking about things like how far our food — vegetables and fruits, included — travels to get to our table, what chemicals are used to grow it, and how animals that are raised for meat are fed and how they live. When you delve into the details, it makes perfect sense. And provides a lot of good reasons to put a little more thought into what you’re putting in your mouth.

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