The story, of which I have no recollection, goes something like this: When I was five, my mother served hamburgers one night for dinner. Always inquisitive, I posed a question to her: “Mommy, how does the cow make the hamburger?” My mother, not wanting to mislead me, replied, “Stacey, this is the cow.” I pushed my plate away.
While I did go on to eat meat again, fast forward about twelve years, and, fueled by burgeoning ideas about animal ethics, as well as a general unrest about chewing animal flesh, I became a full-fledged vegetarian.
A few months before beginning this book, I went on my first organized diet. I wasn’t really trying to lose weight (ok, maybe a few pounds), but was more interested in healthy eating and balancing protein and carbs, as the media told me I should be doing. As a vegetarian, I’m often asked, “Do you get enough protein?” Truth is, I’m not sure I do.
One of the Zone-Diet inspired plans had recently unveiled a vegetarian program, so I decided to give it a go. My go involved about eight servings of tofu a day. I had tofu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and tofu before bed. As I write this, I stand firm (though, not extra firm) in my belief that tofu is not a breakfast food, no matter how closely it resembles a sausage link.
During my trial, I’m really, really hungry and am not sure they figured in my active lifestyle when calculating my portion sizes. A couple of days into the program, I go to the gym and realize my effort is about 50%. I’m tired, and can’t run far. The next time I try to run, I’m even more exhausted. I barely make it home from the gym, dizzy, faint, and unsure of what to do. My normal blood pressure is 90/60, and I can tell I’m south of that. I consider going to the closest E.R. Meanwhile, I plant myself at the computer, and search the panacea for all things medical, the web, where I learn that such diets (particularly for the uninitiated) often create electrolyte imbalances and that salt ingestion is a quick and effective cure. I grab some crackers and slowly begin to feel better, more myself. I toss the remaining meals, feeling slightly rebellious, but healthy and liberated. About a week later, I get a call from a program rep, who asks me how the diet went. I explain how hungry and tired and sick I became, detailing my near emergency-room excursion. His response: “I’m sorry to hear that. We’re offering a discount for the monthly program, which would be only $36.95 a day. Would you like to enroll?”