09 June 2010

The Game-Changer

It occurs to me that I've never shared Part 2 of my "How I Became a Vegetarian -- and How I Fell" story.

[Here's a link to Part 1 in case you want to catch up where I left off]

Flash back to 1996.

My new food plan -- a plant-based diet heavily influenced by Mediterranean foods such as pastas, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil (coincidentally, less straining on a college-student's budget) -- quickly became a habit. Before I knew it, I was graduating from college, finding a "real job" and engaged to my boyfriend (the same vegetarian I'd been dating in college). 10 meatless years had flown by.

I scarcely thought of what I was missing, until the fall of 2005. During a visit from my aunt and uncle, my mom grilled a salmon -- a tradition in the Pacific Northwest and a longstanding weakness of mine. I was already feeling fragile, as my stepdad had recently been through unexpected open-heart surgery. My guard was down. As we sat at the table, my aunt and I locked eyes as I picked at the fish. “Shh!” I whispered. She smiled. I stole another bite. And another. And another. I probably ate half of that 3-lb salmon myself that night.

That salmon satiated me until a trip to Kauai the next year. Sitting in the open breezeway of a small steak and fish house near Poipu, my husband, Nate, and I made a plan: Today we would try fish.

Why now? We’d been to the islands multiple times, always coming home to long faces as we told friends and family that we didn't enjoy the delicate mahi mahi or ono they found so integral to the Hawaiian vacation experience. But it wasn't the peer pressure that got us. Fact is, we'd both been feeling lethargic and plateauing in terms of our physical shape. It was time to shake things up, and Hawaii -- a vacation from reality -- was an idyllic place to start.

I ordered mahi mahi, Nate tuna. Our voices wavered as we placed our order. As the waitress retreated to put our ticket in the kitchen, we exchanged nervous looks. There was no going back. This food would arrive. We’d be paying for it, no matter what. Could we go through with eating it?

As the plates arrived, we each took a tentative first bite. Then, beaming, we raised our eyes, clinked our glasses, and devoured those fish.

There’s been no looking back -- both of us proudly pescatarian (or vegaquarian, as my friend Dana dubbed it) -- for the past few years.

The taste is one thing (divine). The health benefits another: After a few short weeks on fish, both of us noticed a measurable jaunt in our step and surge of energy as our protein levels rose above sea level.

No comments:

Post a Comment