The first time I tried to take up the vegetarian life was due to a panic over the state of my health. There was stress, there was imbalance, there were scary medical tests looming on the horizon, and concerned looks on the faces of medical doctors. You may have heard stories about people diagnosed with horrible health problems – given a few months to live or even a few weeks – the death sentence.
I didn’t even want to put my body through the process of testing. I realized that my decision to forgo testing was viewed as risky by the medical profession, and I don’t hold that my experiences of healing are suitable for others. Yet, these days we are hearing more and more about how changing the way we eat, detox and cleanse the body and mind can help heal.
I knew my diet was bad. I was raised by a mother who loved meat – and I developed quite an addiction to chicken wings later in life. I was an aficionado on ways to cook most any cut of meat from fowl to beef and even to the horror of some of my friends – pork. I had seen enough of the meat industry’s way of raising live stock in such info docs like the Meatrix I would agonize over my meat purchases, trying to find and afford only the best meat – grass fed, happy animals that had lived and died in a good environment – humanely slaughtered using the techniques and designs of Dr. Temple Grandin.
But with a serious health problem to face, I was willing to give up meat because I knew I had to change my body chemistry. So I stopped eating all meat. At first it was very hard, and I would have dreams – one was especially vivid — flying over fields and fields of organically grown chicken wings. There they were all tidy – growing in rows and just ready for picking. It was the ultimate wish fulfillment dream – I wouldn’t have to even kill a chicken to satisfy my craving.
I also gave up caffeine – no more tea or coffee. Caffeine can be used another way, however, and I wish I had known then about the benefits of colon cleaning with organic coffee and juice fasting for a few days, especially when starting a radical change in diet or when the body is severely toxic.
When I started my new meatless life style, I followed many nutritional and herbal remedies for balancing my hormones and relieving physical stress. I adopted several physical and spiritual practices that helped relieve emotional overload. In three months, the symptoms that had led me to the doctor, were gone. I felt so great, and was very much sure I would never touch meat again.
Then I got a new job. I was fortunate to meet a great lady – a brilliant writer and actress – Elaine Partnow — who wanted me to direct her play Hear Us Roar – based on her groundbreaking book The Quotable Woman. One night after a late night rehearsal session, she and her talented photographer husband Turner Brown invited me to supper. The only problem was the main course—filet minion. At first I resisted, and just snacked on crackers and resolve: I would stick with the salad and veggies.
Turner explained how the meat was the “good kind.” Back in those days, paleo diets (caution) , humanely grown and slaughtered animals were rare, and sustainable and organic were not popular terms, but some people tried to find a butcher that knew where good meat came from.
My resolve wavered.
Then Turner explained his special cooking technique which produced tender and juicy meat inside of a thick crust, developed slowly as he roasted the medallions in a heavy iron skillet by adding butter, herbs and hints of brown sugar.
I gave in.
That night I had another meat dream. I was again airborne and hungrily looking for food. I found a butcher shop —the kind you sometimes still see in old parts of Paris. An eerie light revealed the butcher carving a large slab of meat. I felt ravenous and started to swoop toward the meat but just as I flew by the astonished butcher, a thought came to mind: “Why not eat him too?” I woke up in horror. What had I done?
I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I painted the scene that introduces this blog post. Eventually, I would be able to overcome my addition to meat, but that is another story and I’ll save that for another post. (Hint:it has something to do with growing your own and how to cook delicious Shiitake Mushrooms.)
A caution for those who wish to adopt a long term vegetarian life style: strict vegetarian or vegan diets can cause nutritional deficiencies and supplements such as omega 3s, B vitamins, and certain amino acids may be necessary. Occasional safe seafood and organic, happy chicken eggs may help sustain a mostly animal free diet unless you have allergies to these foods.
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