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Slowly going vegetarian

June 20, 2008

About every other meal I eat nowadays is a meat-free meal which I guess makes me half vegetarian. I don’t mind if my meat free meal contained milk or cheese or eggs but there’ll be no meat.

Okay I’m not religious and I’m not an obsessive animal lover although I do like dogs and find polar bears rather cute. Meat retreated from my menu because I was growing naseous over the smell of cooked meat. What started out as a slightly off-color smell about 3 years ago has steadily grown into a stench. If I totally lay off meat one day, I’ll blame the smell.

That said, I actually do want to become 100% vegetarian. Since a kid, part of me was never at ease about chowing down on something that once had eyes. My biggest worry is, what if my meat-induced nausea stopped as suddenly as it started and I start craving for steak and burgers again? If you don’t know what tripped your switch, how do you prevent it from tripping again?

So what’s my excuse for not going 100% vegetarian yet? Let me count them. I hang around ravenous meat eaters. Its too time consuming to find a vegetarian eating place and besides, nobody would go with me if I went. Vegan food tastes like cardboard. People make fun of me. And I confess, a piece of fried chicken does occasionally look irresistable.

These are great excuses and they will never stop conspiring to put a piece of fried or roasted or boiled whatever in front of me. At the end of the day, do I have the willpower to say no? If they say its all a state of mind, then all I have right now is a state of nose which I don’t know how to control.

So anyway, after all this began, the first phase I went through saw me develop a mealtime ritual. I would dutifully fish out any meat that had the slightest smell from the dish in front of me, leaving only carbo and veggies. Damn I miss sushi. The second phase started last year. I declared Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays meat free days on top of fishing out any meat that my nose finds offensive. If I miss any of those days because a friend insists I must try this new bak kut teh place or I’ll die unhappy, it gets replaced by another day. Or not. I’ve more or less settled into this routine now. Later this year I may go third phase which is to totally drop meat from dinner and in the future, stop eating meat altogether. Hopefully.

But I fear this will only keep up as long as my nose complains about the meaty smell. Frankly, if I had to do something I would rather do it because I’m moving towards something rather than running away from it. But I am stuck with it so I guess I better learn to enjoy meatless meals before my nose changes its mind.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. LC Teh permalink
    June 20, 2008 9:42 pm

    I’d say most vegetarians or non-meat people who can keep their ‘vows’ have an anchor on them. It may be religion or strong believe in a cause, like saving the animals, etc. Otherwise, you’d be back in your normal care-free diet in no time. I’m ok because what my wife cooks, I eat. We go vege 1st and 15th day of the lunar month religiously, except when I’m at work, because the subsidized cafeteria doesn’t serve vegetarian. Besides, I think wasting food is a bigger sin.

  2. June 21, 2008 8:00 am

    Have been a ovo-lacto vegetarian since I was a kid. I am the only one in the family who’s a vegetarian and it wasn’t religion or anything to do with ethics. My wife loves meat but I don’t feel like I am missing anything.

  3. June 21, 2008 10:33 am

    Good Luck being 100% vegetarian!!!

  4. tinytapir permalink
    June 21, 2008 10:58 am

    Moderation is the key.

    If everyone reduced the meat in their meals from 7 days a week to 2 (or heck, even the other way around and cut 2 days of meat out), that would already make a huge difference in health and the environment (producing cheap meat is a big energy / resource suck and has a huge huge negative impact on the world).

    I’m trying to cut back on the meat too and hope to be 100% vegetarian, but I’ve found for me to do that I need to be able to do at least 80% of my food prep myself, which is just impossible…

    If you DO go 100% vegan your taste buds will actually ‘wake up’ and you’ll start tasting flavors a lot more. Tongues living on the Standard Diet have been deadened and desensitized.

  5. June 21, 2008 11:40 am

    Agree with tinytapir – the meat production is very inefficient. But like you I keep thinking it would be a good idea, but I am not a vegetarian – though we have been eating a lot less meat. It’s cheaper also.

  6. Damien permalink*
    June 22, 2008 1:47 am

    @LC, yes, I think the reason why one is a vegetarian will determine the fate of the journey. If one’s in it simply because his friends are, then the outcome is quite predictable.

    @adam, so you don’t do meat at all? Wow, lucky you.

    @safehave, thanks man!

    @tinytapir, my tastebuds are still unsure if they like mock duck. There are days when they actually go on strike.

    @julian, some vegetarian food can actually be more expensive than non vegetarian food. Moderation is best, I agree.

  7. June 24, 2008 10:39 pm

    For some reason your question just came up in google news alerts. In case you are still interested:

    Forty years ago I gave up a likely successful legal career to advocate for complete food labeling, whole, organic and vegetarian cuisine, environmental issues and the like. This was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    People soemtimes say “can you eat that?” I reply, “I can eat anything I like – I choose to not eat flesh.”

    If you want good reasons to go veg check out “21 Reasons to Eat Like A Vegetarian” on HealthyHighways.com and our popular veg cookbook, (the “joy of Cooking for vegs”) – American Wholefoods Cuisine. Good luck.

  8. June 24, 2008 10:53 pm

    Hey I ran into your blog while perusing another vegetarian blog and I am proud of you. I am a pescatarian but I have only been one for 5 months. Being pescatarian is like being vegetarian except I eat fish. A lot of vegetarians freak out when they hear I eat fish. If you do go vegetarian then you can’t take all multi vitamins(they contain gelatin) but there is a good multi for men that I take and when I get home later I will send you another comment telling you what it is. Uhhh what else? Vegetables have more nutrients if they are frozen immediately

  9. Damien permalink*
    June 25, 2008 7:47 am

    @DG, i went on google news alert? Holy carrots. Anyway thanks for the tip. I’ll watch out for the book you mentioned.

    @DA, thanks too for the tip. For some reason I don’t have as much objection about eating fish as I do eating meat but I suppose that view will correct itself some day. What I do notice is that I seem to be spending less and less time at the meal table. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

  10. June 27, 2008 5:51 pm

    dear damien

    i found your blog via my brother’s (savingsharksasia) and just wanted to give you some encouragement on your vegetarian journey! i have been vegetarian since i was about 15, went vegan 3 years ago and have been mostly raw vegan for 18 months. yours is an unusual reason for going vegetarian but it probably is the universe trying to tell you something!

    for me, the reasons are simple:
    1) ethical treatment of animals
    2) spiritual reasons
    3) environmental reasons
    4) health reasons

    so .. tips.. i suggest you try making your own food as much as possible, get excited about creating food. vegan food is the most interesting and tasty stuff i have ever eaten and i’ve never felt better. you need to be careful with your diet now obviously, make sure you are covering all your food groups. do some research- after all, health is the most important thing!! i suggest you try reading “the china study” by t. colin campbell.

    good luck, mate, wish you all the best. we should all get together and have a lovely veggie meal someday!
    peace and lollipops

  11. Damien permalink*
    June 27, 2008 10:05 pm

    Hi miin, I appreciate the encouragement and the book recommend, thanks 🙂 Yeah my internal wiring must have messed up to make me go this way but I’m not complaining.

    If I’m not working 14-hour days as I do now, I would be thrilled to make my own food but at this point I am at the mercy of whatever I can find at outside eating spots where taste comes first and health probably last. It usually involves joining some meat-eater friends and I’ll end up with the ritual of picking out meat from my food and stealing veggies from theirs. Not ideal but some day, I will be able to live healthy.

  12. tinytapir permalink
    June 28, 2008 10:06 am

    Damien, I can’t imagine it’s easy for you to be vegetarian, so keep at it! It’s unfortunate that in Asia, people work so much that they can’t look after their health properly. It really does take its toll eventually.

    No, I don’t think your internal wiring messed up! Your body knows what you need and what you don’t need, it is simply sending you a message that things need to change for you in order to be healthy. I think those who eat a lot of meat have messed up wiring, but I won’t go into that here!

    You should look up Veggie restaurants in Singapore, I’m sure there are a few, and look into getting deliveries or at least taking your friends there once in a while. Might be a nice change for them too.

    Keep it up!

  13. Damien permalink*
    June 29, 2008 9:04 pm

    Hi, yup I actually do have a list of veggie restaurants in the cities I spend time in. Some aren’t cheap because city folk tend to see vegetarian food as a novelty rather than a necessity hence you find mock duck costing twice as expensive as real duck. Why anyone wants to eat something that smells like meat when they can just go get the real thing I have no idea. Mum says we’re supposed to appreciate life not understand it. 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement, I really appreciate it.

  14. jauipop permalink
    July 13, 2008 3:23 pm

    uh oh… sorry for not coming here earlier! I’ve been writing about other stuff and just getting into the whole blogging thing.

    Yeah, as tiny tapir says, it’s hard, but it’s just best to keep going at it! I know things like the mock meats add variety to a vegetarian’s meal, but it is true, there’s no point to them. Although, they are usually made out of processed soy, which means that there’s lots of protein in them (just like meat!).

    So far, I’ve been surviving and it hasn’t been too bad. Maybe that’s also because I’m eating from my house and choosing the places I eat to outside properly so I don’t run into the problem of a meat-laden menu.

    Good on you though!

  15. Damien permalink*
    July 14, 2008 10:48 am

    Hey, no probs mate. I’m also barely 6 months into blogging. Now… about soy. There seems to be research saying that soy can develop breasts (male boobs?) and make people gay. Aaargh… now that’s got me a tad worried. 🙂

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