Saturday, August 19, 2006

BAHBC: Day 3

Living in the Real World: Not really. I drove to different department stores with my mom. This is as close to $uburbia living as I'll probably ever get. I did appreciate dinner, though. A family friend came to visit and we went to Lawry's, which was a heck of a way to end my experiment with vegetarianism (verdict: can't be a strict one, as it worries my parents to no end - also, I appreciate good meat once in a very rare while). I finally had prime rib and Yorkshire pudding, which I've been curious about for ages. It's quite good. Now I go back to eating Very Little Meat. Mm.

By the way, how did those of you who are vegetarian manage to keep your parents from freaking out? Mine fret and frown whenever they see my plate without some meat on it. I'm sure I'm not alleviating their fears that I'll "turn into a hippie or something," but there must be some way to show them that it's not weird, socially alienating, rude, unhealthy, or otherwise bad to not eat meat.

Of course, it'd probably help if I did more research on nutrition and how to eat properly. Anyone got a good book to recommend?

Random stranger: I'm really slacking in this department. Darn it, Mel, talk to people. Today is the Illinois area Olin picnic at Kristen's, so I'll be forced to do this. Yay!

Nontechnical book(s): Finished book on qigong, which is much harder than it sounds (okay, you try standing still with your arms extended for 10 minutes and then tell me how you feel). I wish there was a qigong or tai chi cocurricular at Olin; I'm much more motivated to do something physical when other people are involved. Don't know if other people are interested in taichi/qigong, though. Anyone?

Technical book(s):
I can proudly announce that I have one centimeter left to read in Learning Python and a huge respect for good technical textbook writing. Need to learn how to do it fast, as that's supposed to be my AHS capstone.

Productivity: When you spend half the day in department stores (not by choice, mind you) it's hard to get much done. Please convince my mother that I do not need new clothes. I don't want to go back there!

Final grade for the day: F. Today's report should, however, be immensely better.


Kimble said...

Hi Mel-
you ask some good questions about being vegetarian, hopefully I can help somewhat. Parents will sometimes worry about your diet. The most reassuring thing to my parents was to take a multivitamin with a good percentage of iron (>30%) and B12 (100%, if possible). Calcium could also never hurt, especially if playing with being vegan, but read the labels of a couple to find one that's good for you. I also suggest cooking soy-based vegetarian foods for them to allay their fears. It works particularly well if you can take a recipe already in use in your household and just substitute soy in (I make "chickn" squares, chili, and tacos). This will hopefully convince them that you can still eat well, even if it is vegetarian. As for good resources on eating a healthy, low meat diet, I've had "Diet for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappe recommended, and subscribe to the Vegetarian Times. For the more social aspects of vegetarianism, it can be very difficult to convince one's parents it is normal and not rude. You could try using some of the arguments of philosopher Peter Singer found in "Utilitarianism and Vegetarianism" if your parents are swayed by such things. A more unique solution in my family has been convincing a sibling to become vegetarian as well, which made my parents more o.k. with things. Hope that helps and I would be happy to send you recipes. Happy very-little-meat eating.

Beth said...

Hey Mel,

First off, I'm not a vegetarian, but between no longer eating processed meats and not liking cooking meat just for myself, I've eaten all of about 1 kg of it in two months. (And I used to eat that much in a week or two.) So I suppose I'm in the same semi-vegitarian category as you are.

When I was at home and June and not much in the habit of eating meat, I found that it's easier to get meatless meals on the table when I'm the one doing the cooking. Usually my parents are happy enough that they don't have to cook that they don't notice the lack of dead animal. I also learned that I could keep them from fretting about me turning into a hippie by making sure that everything I made was just as tasty as the meat-full version. It's hard for my dad to object to anything on a full stomach...

As for proper nutrition, if you're still eating milk, eggs, and cheese, I wouldn't be too concerned. If I'm not mistaken, you're supposed to eat 1 gram of protein a day per kilo of body weight. Considering that a single glass of skim milk has 8 g, it's not too hard to reach the recommended amount.

One of my favorite sites is It has nutrition information for everything but the kitchen sink, and is overall quite a wonderful site.

Oh, and if you're looking for meat substitutes, try tempeh. I prefer the taste of it over tofu, though it needs to cook in a lot of liquid if you want the texture to not be chalky. I can find it here down here, in this godforsaken place that doesn't sell unsweeted chocolate or Jif peanut butter, so it should be lurking somewhere in your neighborhood grocery store.

Sarah said...

By the time I became a vegetarian, I wasn't living at home, and my younger sister had already been a vegetarian for several years, so my parents adjusted easily. However, when my sister stopped eating meat, my mom worried quite a bit, and got out one of her old nutrition textbook to see how much protein Beth could pick up elsewhere. She came up with a list of "exchange" foods that had protein in them (I don't remember the amounts, but it was things like two tablespoons of peanut butter, or a half cup of yogurt). As long as my sister ate one of these alternatives at every meal where we were eating meat, my mom was pretty satisfied. As far as convincing your parents that you can still eat well (taste and variety-wise), my best suggestion (other than cooking for them, as Kim suggests) is to take them to a *good* vegetarian restaurant. If there's not one around where you live, make them come visit you and go someplace in Boston. This is what convinced my grandfather, the steak-lover. After enjoying a delicious meal at a nice restaurant, he realized with a shock that he hadn't eaten any meat at all. Just about blew his mind ;-)

In social situations where meat is being served and the hosts didn't know ahead of time that you're vegetarian, you have a few choices if you're willing to bend the rules a bit. You can, like me, choose not to notice the bacon bits that have been mixed in with the mashed potatoes, and deliberately not ask whether the soup has chicken stock in it. Or, depending on your reasons for wanting to be vegetarian, you can possibly justify eating meat on special occasions or when visiting other countries, in order to not miss out on a cultural experience.

Sarah said...

Oh yeah, and I want to put in a plug for quinoa, which is a tasty grain that you cook pretty much as you would rice, and it's relatively high in *complete* protein.

Simone said...

I'm interested in tai chi.

Herbert Chang said...

lemme know how the idea develops =) I'm unsure of the time commitment for me for this upcoming semester, but I'm interested in possibly participating.

If I do recall correctly, you had mentioned that you found a TaiChi master in a previous post, but if you are still looking for someone else, I may have contact informations for this person. =)


Chris said...

My dad and brother are currently taking classes from a qigong master. They've told me some of the basic principles of this art and it sounds really interesting and I'd like to learn more. I'm not sure if there's a strong qigong community in the Boston area, but perhaps if enough people are interested, that could be something to look into for this spring.