Thursday, April 01, 2010

#24: Go vegetarian for one month—CHECK!

Contrary to what I imagined a month ago, I did not actually end up with a burger in hand, waiting to pounce as soon as the clock hit 12 on my last "official" night as a vegetarian.

I still remember how my hands went clammy and my stomach felt hollow when I decided to add "Go vegetarian for one month" to my 30 Before 30 List. Alida came back to the apartment to see me looking shell-shocked.

Me: I did something crazy.
Ali: Oh my god. What did you do?
Me: I added "Go vegetarian for one month" to my list.
Ali: You what?!?
Me: I know ... I know ...
Ali: Delete it. Nobody's online at this time. Nobody's seen it! You can still take it back!

That's how little faith we all had in me making it through one month of being vegetarian. I mean to be honest, I could build a decent zoo with all the animals I've laid waste to, so it was nuts for me to think I could go vegetarian. But I could, I did, and I'm so glad I tried it.

I've always had a hedonistic point of view when it came to food. Food was good for the soul, nevermind what it did to my body (or the environment, but I'm not gonna go there right now). So I pushed my body to the limit. I've eaten ridiculous amounts of foie gras in one sitting, ordered bone marrow and sweetbreads as appetizers for one meal, and made MSG-fueled 3AM meals at Hop Kee a cherished tradition. I had my aunt in Manila so worried that she constantly emailed me to remind me that hypertension and diabetes run in our family. And the truth is, I did feel like utter crap after eating all those crazy meals. But that was my relationship with food, and I never knew another way of looking at it until this month came along.

They say that there are two kinds of people: Those who eat to live, and those who live to eat. Obviously, I've always been the latter, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But I've found that there's more to the "eat to live" group than it seems. When I turned vegetarian, I learned what it was like to "eat to live." This is not to say that I shoved cardboard-tasting stuff into my mouth just to survive (the lovely pictures of my vegetarian meals in this post prove otherwise). What I mean is that I learned to really listen to my body and feed it what it needs to get through whatever hurdles I've set up for it for the day.

So instead of grabbing a quick pizza or Caesar salad for lunch, I'd go out of my way to get Agedashi tofu with brown rice and a side salad so I'd have sufficient carbs and protein for a 90-minute yoga class. I consumed copious amounts of spinach and chickpeas to get enough iron and protein. And my body rewarded me for it. For the most part, I found myself always brimming with energy and feeling light as a feather. There was no sluggishness, and even when I stuffed myself silly (e.g. Ippudo and Vatan nights), it would dissipate after sometime. I wouldn't feel like I was going to literally keel over (which I have felt before, particularly on Ilili and GETE nights).

It wasn't all rainbows and sunshine though. There were times when I just wanted to throw in the towel, like when I was faced with sisig at Kystal's Cafe 81 or when I couldn't find anything meatless except edamame on the Ippudo menu. But I stuck to my guns and somehow found a way to get past temptation. 

The "challenge" is technically over now and the truth is, I'm going to celebrate tomorrow with some soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai. As much as going vegetarian felt really, really good, I love food in general way too much to give up meat completely. What I've decided to do though is to stick to vegetarian food as much as possible and only eat meat when it's really, really good meat ... meaning, if I'm just going to stuff my face with chicken nuggets or some lame excuse for beef at a deli salad bar, then I might as well have tofu instead. The difference in the way I felt while I was vegetarian was just too dramatic for me to completely go back to my old ways. But at the same time, I'm not me if I can't dig into a juicy steak or enjoy my mom's homemade sisig every now and then.

So for now ... a compromise between the two worlds I've come to know. But who knows, vegetarianism just might sneak it's way into my 35 Before 35 List! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...