Thursday, October 29, 2009

Defining Myself

On my sparkpage, in my “about me” section (which I updated just a few days after the broken engagement), the last line reads; “I am choosing to take this time to define who I am and who I want to be.”

And it would seem that this week I’ve put a bit of a label on. I’m not really sure how it happened- it wasn’t something I strived for, like “Runner.” And it’s not something that I’ve always felt, like “Writer”. It just suddenly appeared.

Last week when I was sick, I made a list of all the meals I had eaten during the week to see if perhaps there was a common thread to my symptoms. Maybe I’ve been watching too many Criminal Minds reruns on cable, because I was determined to see if something in my diet was causing me to be “ill” even though I felt “fine,” much like the FBI searching for similiarities in victims to be able to profile the unsub. Seriously, I need to lay off the Criminal Minds/Law & Orders/CSIs. I watch crime shows DAILY now. I digress- I am NOT defining myself with Crime-Show-Enthusiast [not yet, anyway.]

Upon looking at my list, I noted that something was missing.
The meat.

And so I started thinking back to what I had prepared and purchased in the last month or so. I realized that in the last several weeks, there were only 4 times I remember eating meat. One dinner including a tilpia fillet and three meals away from home. It seems I’ve gotten in the habit of loving mushroom burgers over beef, and sweet and sour chickpeas (thank you Ange!) rather than chicken. It wasn’t really a conscious choice, it just sort of happened.

I haven’t had ground meat in the house, but I did have a massive bought-in-bulk-at-BJ’s box of Boca Pattys that I’ve been substituting in any meals I make that would normally call for ground turkey [like my favorite mini-meat-loaves. Now my favorite mini-loaves-period.] And I’ve been loading up on the veggies in my diet, using winter squashes as often as possible and adding black beans and chickpeas to just about everything as well. Sunday when I was craving chili, I loaded up my recipe with dark, light, and white kidney beans and left the meat out of the equation.

When I really thought about the food I’ve been eating lately, I took my normal action and started questioning. Does this mean I should jump onto the vegetarian bandwagon? I just recently read Matt from NoMeatAthlete’s guest post on Rachel’s Blog, SheditandGetit, where he recounts how giving up on the meat helped him qualify for the Boston Marathon. Would I give up meat to become a better runner? Should I? Why would I? Why would I not? What other benefits are there to vegetarianism? What benefits are there to eating meat every day? What am I missing and what am I gaining? [I am a bit question-neurotic]

During my self-debating, I remembered reading a while back about a word I came across on Caitlin’s blog when she was in Tennessee.
Kelly and Meghann
have both discussed their own views of Flexitarian this year as well.

So what does "Flexitarian " mean?
According to my favorite not-the-perfect-place-for-reliability-yet-that-never-stops-me-because-i-love-this-website internet source, Wikipedia: Flexitarianism is

"is a semi-vegetarian diet focusing on vegetarian food with occasional meat consumption. A self-described flexitarian seeks to decrease meat consumption without eliminating it entirely from his or her diet. There are no guidelines for how much or how little meat one must eat before being classified a flexitarian. Flexitarian is distinguished from polpescetarian, i.e., one who eats only chicken and fish, but does so exclusively.
In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year's most useful word and defined it as "a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat."

I am not afraid of labels. I proudly label myself by relationships (daughter, sister, friend, etc.), activities (blogger, crafter, writer, runner, etc.) and passions (believer/Christian, badger-fan, encourager, etc.)- why wouldn't I want to define myself with that label?

Then Heather Said, "I eat a Flexitarian diet."

What this means:
I love veggies and whole grains and other protein sources and usually try to load my meals up with those goodies.
I have been more adventurous in the kitchen trying new produce and veggie-products I've never used before.
I'd much rather eat a black bean burrito than a chicken burrito, and especially over a beef burrito.

What this doesn't mean:
I think that Flexitarian is the best way to eat for everyone.
I think that you should eat a flexitarian diet, too.
I won't eat my mothers breakfast caserole every single chance i get.
Or anything else she cooks which I don't think I could ever pass on.
I will never eat another Brat while watching a sporting event. (oh, PUL-EASE.)
I'm never going to decide to try/begin/experiment with a "vegetarian" or "vegan" diet.

Also, I have realized that I need to keep an eye on my protein because of this. Therefore, I've started tracking my food at sparkpeople again. I don't know how long I will be keeping track of what I eat, but I do know that since I've made the determination to identify my eating less meat, I need to be responsible and make sure I am letting my body have what it needs; especially with my running a few times a week. [also- a lack of protein + change in milage COULD have something to do with me being sick last week- but i'm not sure about that.] So far, it seems like I have been doing a fine job naturally substiting protein filled foods in meals where I haven't had meat, but I want to keep a close look on my choices in the next few weeks.

What are your favorite meat-free protein rich foods? I'm interested in getting some sort of protein powder to add to my fruit smoothies but don't know what to start with; do you have any suggestions?


  1. I think I'm a "flexitarian" too! Definitely try Greek yogurt, if you haven't already. It has soooo much more protein than "regular" yogurt!

  2. sometimes i wish i had not labeled myself as a vegetarian because there have been 5 or 6 times in the last 6 months where I have REAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLy wanted fish. like, bad. however, maybe its a good thing that i labeled myself because this has helped me stick with my goals. ? dunno.

  3. OMG. I love that term. Just tonight, I had a black bean burger over a regular one. And the Morningstar veggie cakes are SO good.

    And I love that "flexitarian" was coined by a writer for...the Austin American-Statesman!

  4. I love vegetables; I really do. But I love meat just as much. Pan seared ham? Grilled steak? Chicken and sausage gumbo? My mouth waters! BUT to answer your question, I love nuts. And peanut butter (the organic kind with honey...thank you Jim Dossey).

  5. I've been a vegetarian for seven years now and it's great to hear that you're concentrating on a more veggie-centric diet!

    My favorite meat substitutes are the Quorn line of products - especially the chik'n tenders. Not great to live on as it's high in sodium, but lots of protein and low in calories. Plus when I get a "meat" craving (didn't give up meat cause I disliked the taste, duh!), it really hits the spot. We once doused a bag of the tenders in BBQ sauce, put it in a slow cooker, and took it to a potluck. No one knew it wasn't chicken. Not a single person. Quorn also makes yummy meatballs, among other things.

    I know a lot of people are tofu-averse, but I've come to love it more and more over the years. Takes a little experimenting until you get the hang of it, but It's all about how you season it and what you serve it with. It can be oh-my-wow good and is now a staple in my fridge.

    Good luck!


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