Six Vegetarian Problem Scenarios
Does One Fit You?
by Ward Nicholson
Copyright © 1997, 1999 by Ward Nicholson. All rights reserved.
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- The fading hippie. You've been a committed and conscientious vegetarian ever since the first Earth Day (or so it seems), and now after all this time, you find that as knowledgeable as you may be about the ins and outs of vegetarian nutrition, for some reason you can't quite figure out, your health is not as good as it once was. How can that be when the diet seemed to work as beautifully as that waist-length hair of yours did for so many of those years? Is there something you weren't told about? Did you make a big mistake continuing to follow Samson's example after bell bottoms went out? What happened?
- The boomerang effect. (a.k.a. "freshly wilted lettuce" syndrome) You began your experiment with pure veganism enthusiastically not that long ago, and were thrilled to find that most or all of your previous high-profile health problems melted away like slurpy mango juice running down your chinny-chin-chin. Headaches, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, digestive ailments, respiratory problems, allergies, overweight: All gone. But now you're suddenly confused because all the highs have become lows: You're becoming tired and listless, hungry all the time, your sex drive has evaporated, you have difficulty maintaining weight, and you're no longer emotionally "buoyant" like the "you" you used to know and others used to like. You're wilted lettuce. What happened?
- Riddled by righteous rhetoric. You are eating the standard American diet (SAD) out of habit or loyalty to what good ol' mom and apple pie instilled in you, but consider yourself open-minded, and in the interest of preventive self-care have become motivated to cut the apron strings and clean up your dietary act. Vegetarianism sounds like it may have the answers you are looking for, especially since many modern nutritional studies seem to support the diet on paper. But with the self-righteous, nauseatingly "politically correct" tone of the vegetarian books by former heirs to 31-flavor fortunes, how can you separate fact from fiction and know if you are doing the best thing for yourself? Meanwhile your current diet is doing your health no favors at all, and you know you must do something. (Decisions, decisions...)
- Bessie or me--which will it be? You are or were a vegetarian primarily for ethical reasons, but found after reluctantly agreeing to humor your doctor's or nutritionist's orders that in spite of what you had hoped, you have to admit you do feel better when you include a few slabs of poor ol' dead Bessie or murdered fishies on your sacrificial plate several times a week. Should you feel bad about that? Should you feel compelled to sacrifice your own well-being for the lives of other animals anyway? Or for what you perceive to be the well-being of the planet? And hey, what about them buffalo-hunting Indians we all respect so much?
- Yo-yo man. You really enjoy the lightness and purity of a mostly raw-food vegan diet and believe in the superiority of foods eaten in their natural state without cooking. But after patting yourself on the back for a full three consecutive weeks of pigging out on plant food far above the madding, SAD-eating crowd, your magic carpet bites the dust as you succumb to yet another "one-time-only indulgence" in certain prepared food items contrary to your good intentions. Later you dust your magic carpet off and rededicate yourself, only to yo-yo again when those tempting foods you used to eat in the past beckon: breads, pasta, baked potatoes; and my gosh, even despicable animal products like yogurt or the occasional pizza or omelet or other items with cheese or eggs in them. Or God forbid--if you are an athlete--even Power Bars! Are you an undisciplined failure? Are your old "addictions" coming back to haunt you? Or is something else going on?
- The obedient suffering disciple. ("What's WRONG with me?") You are doing exactly what the vegan or raw-food gurus say to do, but aren't getting the results they say you should. Doubts about yourself are creeping in, or maybe you're berating yourself for your lack of self-discipline because the diet is not nearly as easy as you had been told to expect. What are you doing wrong? It's all beginning to seem more involved and complicated than the gurus made it sound at first. Geez, is something wrong with you? Or is something wrong with their program? How do you know? How can you tell? What's a dutiful disciple to do?
(Why "Failure to Thrive" on Vegetarian Diets is Rarely Talked About)
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