Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vegetarianism and I

Years ago, I read about a cow in a Hong Kong abattoir that refused to budge when it saw the other cows ahead of it being killed.  It simply knelt down and cried.  Yes, that was the word used in the report.  The cow cried.  The workers in the abattoir could not move it forward and it held back the other cows.  Finally, they got it out of the abattoir and donated it to a Buddhist monastery where the monks left it to graze grass on the huge expanse of land surrounding the monastery for the remainder of its natural life.  Buddhist monks are of course vegetarians and if the slaughterhouse workers (yes, let's call a spade a spade - "abattoir" somehow takes away the harshness of what it really is) had donated it to a church or a mosque, it would have been a different story for the poor cow.

That story broke my heart in three places and I vowed to be a vegetarian.  No meat would pass my lips and that was that.  I succeeded in being a total vegetarian.  In Singapore, there are always vegetarian restaurants you could go to and in every hawker centre (as it used to be called before some idiot changed its name to the insipid "food centre"), there is at least a stall selling vegetarian food.  Buddhism is the religion of the majority of Singaporeans and there is an increasing number of Buddhists who have very admirably turned vegetarian.  And when one is bored with Chinese vegetarian food, one can always turn to Indian cuisine which is readily available all over Singapore.  Indian vegetarian dishes (like all Indian food) are so delicious, it's not hard to imagine eating them for the rest of one's life.

And that's how I became a life-long vegetarian and this blog entry should end here but alas, life is more complex than that.  I did become a strict vegetarian after reading about the crying cow and I felt ever so self-righteous when I looked at the unwashed masses which consisted of callous meat-eaters.  Heaven knows how many cows, chickens, pigs and fish had shed tears before they were murdered just so they could appear on the plates of these wild carnivores.

Just look at this pic and tell me if any one of you can find it in your heart to snatch the calf from its mother and dash its head against a rock or drag its mother to a slaughterhouse with prods and kill it while the calf struggles after its mother with pleading moos.

But I succeeded in being a strict vegetarian for only two days.  On the third day, I ate meat and lots of it.  But that's not the end of the story.  I tried again.  Many times.

My most successful stint of vegetarianism is a form of vegetarianism called pisci-lacto-ovo vegetarianism.  That's a vegetarian who can eat eggs, milk products and seafood.  I became a pisci-ovo-lacto vegetarian for six months in a stretch.  It's easy because you can eat many different types of food and you really don't feel like you have missed anything.  That notwithstanding, by the end of the six months I was on this diet, I felt I was too weak to go on.  I felt like I had muscular dystrophy and after all, we are omnivores and we've got to allow our bodies to be nourished on food that our biological makeup requires us to have.  That was when I went back to eating normal human food.

There is a notice in a vegetarian restaurant that says this (click on it for a larger view of it):

 Of course that is all rubbish.  We aren't carnivores like the tiger but neither are we herbivores.  Why is a comparison made to the monkey?  Our closest cousins are the chimpanzees and these are most certainly omnivorous.

I decided it was much more beneficial to my health if I went back to my usual diet which is basically anything and everything and that pushed up my cholesterol level and on 5 March 2012, I embarked on a new diet.

I became a Pescatarian.

That's just a shorter word for a pisci-lacto-ovo vegetarian.  Since the last time I adopted that particular diet, a new word has been coined which of course makes it easier for us pescatarians to describe our diet.  But mine had to have a twist to it.  I had to decrease my triglycerides which (from what I read on the internet) means decreasing my carbohydrate intake.  I've been very strictly compliant with my new diet but I need energy for all the biking that I do and a decrease in carbohydrates won't help.  So I have been piling up my plate with fish, fish roe (which I'm really partial to) and eggs until someone who was observing me just remarked that I might be poisoning my system.  Today's oceans are not like what they used to be.  Fish these days carry in their bodies large amounts of pollutants that include harmful particles such as mercury, lead and even arsenic.  The guideline is that we should limit our fish intake to twice a week.

It looks like I will need to tweak my diet once again.  As of today, I'm no longer a pescatarian.  And it's all for the sake of my health.

1 comment:

  1. Deciding what to eat is such a tricky thing. What works for person A may not work as well for person B. I used to be an omnivore but after reading a website run that touted the plant-based diet (nutritionfacts.org), I decided to go vegan for the fun of it. I have been doing this for a month and it hasn't affected my energy level for someone like me who exercises a few times a week.

    Regarding triglycerides, there's research that shows that vegetarians tend to have lower triglycerides than non-vegetarians: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/metabolic-syndrome-and-plant-based-diets/

    Besides the vegetarian diet, the other diets that have been trending these days are the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting.