A year ago this weekend, I became a vegetarian. Based on the research that’s currently out there, many illnesses, including Type II diabetes, can be reversed in most patients when they switch to a this type of diet.
Just because the experts tout the benefits of something doesn’t make it easy. I wasn’t convinced, mainly because I didn’t want to give up something that I really enjoy. I decided that I would pray about it while I was on my annual silent retreat. Before heading out to the retreat center, I went to Mass at my church. As it turned out, the celebrant was Fr. Hector. Prior to becoming a priest, he had been a world-class chef, even landing the job as the personal chef to the President of Columbia! This man knows food.
In his homily, it just so happened that the topic of food was woven in several times. A sign maybe? Well, the clincher to me was the way he ended, saying “eat well.” Yes, those were the last words out of his mouth before he walked away from the pulpit. I knew I was on to something. Yes, my decision to give up meat was quickly moving to the top of my prayer intentions.
When I had my first meeting with my spiritual director, he gave me a Scripture passage to pray over. I hadn’t yet had the chance to tell him what I was discerning. When I got back to my room and began reading the scripture he chose for me, Matthew 6:23-34, it kind of took my breath away.
Although I was familiar with this passage, I must have never really paid attention to the opening verses,
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more than food and the body not more than clothing?
At that moment, I realized how much we over-emphasize food in our lives. Instead of satisfying our basic needs, we’ve turned it in to much, much more. Our present obesity problem and many health issues validates this fact.
Throughout last year’s retreat, I felt more and more comfortable with this choice of giving up meat. Now, a year later, with my medical tests in hand, I know it was the right decision.
Not only has my health been transformed, but so has my spiritual life. Following God is not always easy. Giving something up that you love so that a greater good can be accomplished is really hard. I would have never guessed the fruit that would be born throughout this past year due to this decision.
Of course, my decision was just that, mine. I’m doing what I feel is right for me, but I know it may not be for everyone. You have to do what you feel best for you. That being said, the data is certainly out there that decreasing meat, dairy and processed food can have very positive effects on your long-term health and well-being. Talk it over with your doctor and see what he/she thinks.
Nearly all the health experts agree that we need to: eat more plant foods-fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds; avoid processed foods, refined sugars and carbohydrates, additives and preservatives; cut back on fats, especially trans fats and saturated fats. Many essential vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients are found abundantly sometimes exclusively in the plant world, and most people will be healthier longer if they pack their diets with plant foods.
I know this is a long post. Sorry:) I’m going to be hitting some other points related to this topic in the next few days, and I hope you’ll find some ways how you might be able some small/big changes that can improve your health.
2 replies on “Bon Appetit”
This is really good stuff Paul. I’ve been trying to get away from meat and processed foods, and I can tell so clearly when I’ve been eating well and when I haven’t.
When I eat vegetarian I have more energy, and I just feel better…like I’m actually nourishing my body rather than just filling it.
Could you put up more easy recipes for those of us who aren’t so skilled in the kitchen? Maybe a section for easy/cheap recipes? I love the black bean chili recipe…maybe some more like that?
Thanks John. I’m working on my new blog, http://www.sacredfeasts.com, which you should find helpful. As I’m laying it out, I’m being mindful, not only of people’s health, but also those with limited funds and/or who are making meals just for themselves. In an earlier post, I talked about getting produce needed for a recipe from a salad bar, vs. buying much more than you need from the produce dept. A case in point would be a recipe calling for “one celery stalk, cleaned and diced.” You could get this, already chopped, from the salad bar for about 15 cents. Or you would have to buy a bunch for about $3 in our area, and if you went this route, you would more than likely throw the bulk of it away. Sacred Feasts should be up and running later next week.