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My Experience as a Temporary Vegetarian

Hello, I’m Kiley, guest blogger to Kelly. Before you start skimming my post, this week I’ve written an interesting story! So don’t skim! You’re missing out! I also added a bunch of pictures to this blog post so it’s pretty long.

Anyway, for this week’s blog post, I decided to go vegetarian for six days. The challenge was pretty daunting at first, as I had never gone a day without eating meat in my entire life. It’s not that hard to believe as I come from a family of omnivores who made sure to always buy and stuff enough meat into my mouth to help me “grow,” become “strong,” and make me “smarter.” Below are a series of diary entries to assist in finding out how successful of a vegetarian I truly was and how the experience shaped me.

Note: Fruit was usually accompanied after dinner. Kiley usually eats two meals per day: brunch and dinner. 

Saturday 5/11
“Oh crap.” I had just eaten a bowl of noodles containing MEAT. More specifically chock full of pork bits, fish balls, fish tofu, and shrimp. I totally forgot to tell my parents about my temporary vegetarian venture as I camped out in Culver City over the weekend. Oh well, time to break out the hamburgers for dinner! “No big deal, I’ll probably start on Sunday,” I told myself, munching on a juicy, luscious hamburger.

Who could resist this sexy beast of a food?

Who could resist this sexy beast of a food? 

Sunday 5/12
“You’re going to die,” my mother warned me as I told her about my venture to vegetarianism. “You need certain vitamins and minerals from meat; only eating vegetables will cause you to die.” Well it was my first official day as a vegetarian. For lunch, I helped cooked a savory turned bland rice porridge as I was forced to take out all meat parts. It was meat that gave the rice porridge character, flavor, and substance. Dinner was a little better, although eating vegetables bundled with meat only stirred my desires for meat. Nevertheless, I got through the day, even as my grandmother lured me into eating meat: “It’s just a little meat, come on fill that bony body,” as she poured bits of pork, chicken, fish, beef, and oysters onto my dinner plate.

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Monday 5/13
“You’re going to run out of energy,” my fathered cautioned as I told him about my vegetarian venture. Well, I thought, at least this is better than not dying. For lunch I ventured onto the Bombshelter Bistro at the North Campus Center. Hunting for affordable vegetarian options proved difficult, but not impossible. I settled for a vegetarian patty melt sandwich at the price of $4.99. I had no idea what was in store for me, so I giddily dug into my sandwich. “Ugh, disgusting! The patty melt tastes horrible!” I told myself. More specifically, bits of carrots, and other mushy, yellowy, vegetables constituted the patty and it tasted, again, disgusting! So I took

the patty out of the sandwich and ate the sandwich with only the cheese and caramelized onions. Later I forced myself to buy fruit juice to supplement my lunch. My famished stomach ravaged my senses as I struggle to pay attention in Econ 2 lecture, choosing instead to wage a war between my brain , stomach, and that lingering aftertaste of that repulsive sandwich.

Dinner cheered me up though, as I ate some awesome vegetarian Chinese food. Brown rice, chives with dried beancurd, and water spinach/Chinese spinach. Nom nom nom Chinese/Taiwanese food. Overall a mildly successful day.

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Tuesday 5/14
“Argghhh misleading labeling!” I said, as I bit into my lunch. For lunch, I decided on the weirdly named “Green Onion Pasta Cake.” It seemed pretty vegetarian so I decided to cook it. Unfortunately for me, when I bit into the “cake”, I was met with bits of meat! Pork to be exact. And then I read the label. There’s meat written in Chinese on the label! The label is only misleading for non-Chinese speakers, I thought to myself. I settled for a cheese sandwich; no way was I going to break my vegetarian pledge. Even if it meant eating a paltry cheese sandwich.

Dinner was a battle to be fought, as Vietnamese pho was served for dinner. This Vietnamese pho not only contained beef, but also was cooked in a beef stew. The pho was an immediate trap as the aromatic smell of beef and spices flew around the kitchen, seducing my sense of smell and entrapping my mind into a mad meat fervor. Much willpower was exerted breaking free of the kitchen and into the safe confines of my room. For dinner, I ate only a salad consisting of romaine lettuce with Chinese sesame dressing.

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Wednesday 5/15
Crawling to class, our hero has just marked her fourth day as a vegetarian. Her muscles weak, eyes bloodshot, legs jello, stomach screaming out for mercy, as the hero makes way into the calculated horror known as “Math 31B”. Three days of vegetarianism and poor sleeping patterns has taken a toll on poor Kiley. Her stomach cries for meat at bedtime and during the day. (3-4 hours after lunch and dinner) No amount of vegetables, carbohydrates, fruits and other food sources can satisfy Kiley’s stomach. As she walked into the dining hall for lunch, she passes the mussels and hamburgers. She grabs the vegetable and grain sources and starts

to munch on them. Eating a piece of lettuce, Kiley contemplates on the existence of vegetarianism. Can human beings really subsist without meat? How am I surviving without meat? Kiley’s palate yearns for more.

Our young hero leaps into the kitchen during dinnertime. Her mind vacillates between another vegetarian meal and suddenly….. Dennys! More specifically, ham sandwiches and fries. Should Kiley eat this sandwich? It’s quite rare that our young hero eats out during dinnertime. Our young hero again contemplates vegetarianism and the vow. Before she could finish contemplation of vegetarianism/existentialism, Kiley rushes to the sandwiches. In a moment of compulsion, our young hero picks up a sandwich, looks it straight in the eye, and promptly devours the sandwich! She has lost sight of the goal as all sandwiches are gone in less than five minutes. Kiley loses the fight between vegetarianism and the seduction of meat. Our hero has yielded her senses and willpower to meat. The vow is broken. Kiley’s vegetarian journey ends on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

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Thursday 5/16
After that dramatic night, I reverted back to my omnivore habits. Dumplings were the choice for lunch; dinner, noodles. Overall I felt like I was back to normal.

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Conclusion: Vegetarianism is not for me. I’ve always wondered what it was like to be a vegetarian and this week has shown that I’m not fit for this lifestyle choice. These descriptions admittedly paint me as a drama queen but my body pretty much reacted dramatically. It was as if my stomach felt empty, and soulless at every meatless meal no matter how much carbs and vegetables I put in my mouth. I still feel pretty bad about eating meat therefore some meals I can probably skip meat. My parent’s predictions were wrong: I didn’t nearly die nor lose energy. (well Wednesday was sluggish but not total loss of energy) Vegetarianism has taught me to cherish every meaty meal and to balance out my needs as an omnivore. As I sit here eating a meat sandwich, I wonder how Kelly did it. Being vegetarian for a month that is.

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Nutritious and Delicious?

Veggie Health
Last week I was asked to highlight the health cons of a vegetarian diet in response to my post on the pros of veggie health. Although it is possible to get all the nutrients you need without having meat in your diet, it requires a lot of careful planning. Here are a few potential vegetarian deficiencies that may arise with an unbalanced diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids
– Fish are essential in providing omega-3 fatty acids.
– Omega-3 fatty acids slow-down the onset of atherosclerosis, reduce triglyceride levels, acts as an antiinflammatory agent and help with personality disorders.
-non-fish substitutes for omega-3 fatty acid include flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, tofu, microalgae oil.

Vitamin B-12
-Vitamin B-12 is primarily found with the protein we consume in seafood, dairy, eggs, and meat.
-Some vitamin B-12 supplements have been found to inhibit metabolism, increase deficiency, and lead to anemia and nerve damage.
-Veggie vitamin B-12 substitutes include tempeh, miso, sea vegetables, soy milk, meat analogues or “meat” made from soybeans.
-These sources do not contain significant levels of vitamin B-12. Vegans may be at high risk for this deficiency.

Calcium
-The majority of the calcium we consume comes from dairy products.
-Calcium helps reduce blood pressure, builds strong bones, reduces chances for osteoporosis.
-Calcium substitutes for dairy include some tofu, roots, legumes, and soy milk.

Iron
– Iron is important for transporting oxygen throughout your body.
– Deficiency can cause fatigue and a decreased immune system.
– Animal foods provide higher levels of Iron absorption than do plants.
– Ways to compensate for Iron absorption deficiency include consuming vitamin C while consuming plants with iron, or avoid consuming calcium, whole grains, legumes, tea or coffee while consuming plants with iron.

There are vegetarian diets available for everyone including pregnant women, children, and the elderly. Each case of deficiency depends on what the individual is missing from their diet. With dedication and very careful planning, it is possible to lead a vegetarian diet without jeopardizing your health. However, the stress from having to plan out each meal may be just enough of a health problem within itself.

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Nutritious and Delicious

I wanted to investigate the health practicality of eating vegetarian, even though I have decided not to pursue this diet. I researched a few of the specific questions I had in mind:

1. What are the nutritional pros of eating vegetarian? 
– lower count in saturated fats, little or no cholesterol
– plants are higher in fiber, vitamin B, and folic acid than animals
– veggie diets contain fewer calories
– food lower on the food chain contain less pollutants

2. Can vegetarians be healthier in the long-run?
– Yes, in the sense that people who eat plants tend to live longer and healthier lives than people who eat animals
– high fiber and antioxidants in vegetarian diets lead to reduced risk for colon, stomach, mouth, esophagus, lung, prostate, bladder, and breast cancer.
– low levels in cholesterol and saturated fat lead to reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and stroke.
– vegetarians are less likely to get diabetes and visual blindness from macular degeneration
– tend to have lower percentage of body fat

3. How do vegetarians get enough protein?
– you do not need to eat muscle to make muscle
– dairy products, eggs, grains, legumes provide plenty of protein
– you can get all the protein you need from a peanut butter sandwich, couple glasses of milk, or a cup of yogurt

4. Can vegetarian diets lead to nutritional deficiencies?
– Only strict vegans are at risk of deficiencies in some nutrients.
– with a balanced diet, Lacto-ovo vegetarians are unlikely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies
– there are no essential nutrients in meat that are not also found in eggs, dairy, and fish.
– may be at risk for Vitamin B-12 deficiency, since animal foods are the best source
– however it would takes years to become deficient in this vitamin.
– Zinc deficiency may also be at risk with an unbalanced diet.

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(not counting as infographic?)

As we all learn in elementary school, the best diet to have is a balanced diet consisting of more vegetables and fruit than meat and dairy.

Works Cited:
– Being a Vegetarian
How to Get the Best Nutrition

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Vegetarian-Inclined?

In just a few days it will be one month since I started eating Vegetarian. But what then? Reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan has nudged me to look deeper into the food choices that I make. What choices will truly make the difference or matter the most? Should we focus more on eating organic vs. non-organic, vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian, or both? What are the grey areas? Looking back at Pollan’s Points, I wonder, is it really worth the struggles to eat vegetarian?

shot-2013-04-26_21-25-32The rise of this concept of a “Vegetarian-inclined” diet has been quite controversial. How can one who is not ready to give up meat still be able to positively impact the environment? Can simply limiting one’s diet to that of a Flexitarian’s do any justice? Someone with a vegetarian-inclined diet would simply be eating his/her fair share, but not accounting for the entire meat industry as it continues to slaughter animals cruelly and excessively. Besides the common factor of reducing meat in a diet, there are no other clear similarities between a Vegetarian-Inclined and Vegan/Vegetarian diet. Is this grey area too far of a stretch or can one proudly announce themselves as having a Vegetarian-Inclined diet?

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22.8 million adult Americans claimed to practice a Vegetarian-inclined diet in a 2012 survey. Accounting for a large portion of the population, if practiced properly, I think, this diet can make a great impact on the way we produce meat. The concept provides as a great feasible goal for those who are not ready to give up meat. It allows for those who never considered Vegetarianism to at least consider a Vegetarian-Inclined diet. However, the concept could also be easily abused by those who want to create a good image for themselves without having to sacrifice too much of their own desires.

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The Movement

As Michael Pollan points out in his book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, “eating meat has become morally problematic… Vegetarianism is more popular than it has ever been, and animal rights, the fringiest of fringe movements until just a few years ago , is rapidly finding its way into the cultural mainstream.”

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larger % of people India are vegetarian due to economic and religious circumstances

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Main Reasons for the Shift According to Vegetarians:
-53% claimed “improve overall health”
-25% answered weight loss/maintenance
47 % claimed environmental concerns
-31% claimed food safety concerns.
54% answered animal welfare

Pollan addresses the animal welfare and environmental concerns, claiming,
“killing animals is probably unavoidable no matter what we choose to eat.”

Pollan’s Points
– total # of animals killed/year wouldn’t necessarily decline
– can not practice sustainable agriculture without animals to cycle nutrients
– greater dependence on fossil fuels for farther food transportation
– more dependence on chemical fertilizers from shortage of manure

So… What’s the Hope for Vegetarians?
– moral support for animals
– push to moderate, not eliminate, consumption
– contribute to revolutionizing the meat industry and it’s practices
– push to seize tail docking, sowcrates, beak clipping
– If we broke down the meat industry, “meat would get more expensive. We’d probably eat a lot less of it, too, but maybe when we did eat animals we’d eat them with the consciousness, ceremony, and respect they deserve.” – Michael Pollan

What other valid points can one argue for going Vegetarian?

Vegetarian/Vegan Celebrities: Russell Brand, Bill Clinton, Natalie Portman, Mike Tyson, Pamela Anderson, Tobey Maguire, Kristen Bell, Chris Martin, Milo Ventimiglia, Ellen DeGeneres, Olivia Wilde, Alec Baldwin, Leona Lewis, Paul McCartney, Carrie Underwood, Anne Hathaway, Brad Pitt, Kate WinsletLea Michele, more!

My Veggie Meals

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The Struggles

After one week of going vegetarian I came across several struggles:
Different Flavors. Some veggie choices were bland and flavorless. Vegan meat just doesn’t taste/feel the same!
Social Temptations. Seeing pictures of delicious meals on Instagram, and eating with friends who eat meat make it difficult to maintain a veggie diet.
Lack of Education. Not knowing what ingredients mean and where my food comes from is also a problem.
Few Options. There are as many meat options as there are veggie in the dining halls. However, at Bcafe, there are very few options aside from the not-so-filling soups and salads.

Peta‘s Reasons to Pledge Veg:
-Farmed animals are as intelligent, inquisitive, and capable of feeling fear and pain as our cats and dogs. Yet more than 16 billion animals are killed for food every year in the U.S. and have little legal protection from cruelty. They are neglected, mutilated, genetically manipulated, put on drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transported through all weather extremes, kept in filthy sheds, and killed in gruesome and violent ways.

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Howdy! ^o^

Some of my meals throughout the week! (:

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VBQ Beef at Bcafe

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Panang Potato Flatbread, Mixed Veggies, Vegan Chicken Massaman Curry, Soybean Rice,  at Feast

Salad w/ tomatoes, pineapples, tangerines,  Heirloom Bean Stew, Chocolate Ganache Cake, Thai Tofu at Hedrick

Salad w/ fruit, Heirloom Bean Stew, Chocolate Ganache Cake, Thai Tofu at Hedrick

Breakfast & Pastries! Tater Tots, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Fruit, Blueberry Muffin

Breakfast & Pastries! Tater Tots, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Fruit, Blueberry Muffin

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A New Diet

Hello! (:
I have recently decided to go vegetarian with a friend. This decision was partially influenced by my Global Environment class at UCLA and partially by my own desire to have a healthier diet. As a meat lover and a student living on-campus, the challenge will be difficult, as there are, what seems like, many delicious meat options in the dining facilities and few vegetarian. However, I’d like to invite you to join in on my journey to explore the feasibility of vegetarianism as a college student living on campus! What’s holding you back from living up to the challenge?

Environmental Reasons to Eat Green:

Wastes Resources: feeding the animals that feed us requires an inefficient amount of land, and an excessively large amount of water for transportation.

Water Depletion: More water is being used for crops to raise animals. Groundwater aquifers have been quickly depleting in the last century.

Species Extinction: Rainforests have been destroyed at a rapid rate to clear land for cattle grazing. Habitats are being destroyed, reducing species diversity.

Global Warming: The meat industry generates more greenhouse gases than all our vehicles altogether.

“The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.”

-Dr. David Brubaker, PhD at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Livable Future

Campania Panini from Cafe 1919 

Covel Dining

Covel Dining