When I started this blog a couple of months ago, one of the areas I said I would be exploring, was healthy eating and living. I do not think I have written one single post about it. Not because it does not interest me. It’s just that this topic has been on my mind for a good while without materializing into anything. I am not interested in fad diets or strict menus. What I am looking for is a wholesome approach – nutritious, healthy, and not overly complicated.
In the recent years, I have been poking and prodding at the ideas of vegetarianism, veganism, raw food, low GI… Some of them I am more acquainted with than others. However, I have not committed to any single one of them. I don’t even know if I want to. But I would certainly love a more defined approach for myself rather than reading about this or that, sampling a bit of the other, but mostly just sticking with my old routine ways.
I do not suppose anyone is going to define it for me. I will have to do it myself. The following are a few things I know by now.
I DO NOT WANT:
- to eat abused and mistreated animals
I am not an ideological vegetarian. I do not have a problem with eating meat if the animal has been given a quality life. What troubles me deeply, though, is how the meat gets to our tables. Unpopular as it may be, my heart does ache to think of those innocent creatures born into the life of restraint, torture, and depravity. Do I want to be a part of this – the ultimate destination and thus the cause of this suffering? That’s the ethical question. There is also the one of nutrition. Is the meat of an animal, filled with stress hormones, needlessly administered antibiotics and growth inducers at all beneficial to me? What does it do to my body?
- to pay ridiculous prices
There is an alternative – ethically conscious organic farmers. How do I find them? How do I trust them? Can I afford and do I want to pay the significantly increased price they are asking? On the one hand, I realise that high quality product will always have a higher price. On the other, I am always weary whether it is the quality I am paying for, or just the label of organic/natural/pure to satisfy my vanity. Boy, do I not want to pay three times as much for the chicken as the next shopper while a producer laughs at my naivety while selling me the exact same chicken with a prettier label.
- far-flung food from distant corners of the planet
Meat or plant food, it most often suffers in quality if it has to travel for long to reach its consumer. Can I really feel good about eating fresh berries if they have to come to me from South America? Fruit is often collected before ripening and achieving the full nutritious potential. Sprays and gas are used to extend shelf life. That is certainly not on my wish list. But how close is local? One would be surprised how hard it can be to find Irish apples in Irish supermarkets. Is French food, in that case, more local than the one from Brasil?
- highly processed foods
I know this is a very low-effort stereotypical solution, but, at the hospital where I work, vegetarian option is usually pasta or pizza. How is this better for you than a piece of steak? Animal or plant-based, much of our food is so processed that there is hardly any nutritional value left. To make it worse, so much ugly stuff is added that the food ends up being harmful rather than beneficial and sustaining. I certainly do not want to feed my family on that. If I ever become a vegetarian, that will definitely not be for the appeal of vegetarian equivalents for animal produce – vegetarian sausages, vegetarian ham, and etc. I am not even sure I want to know what goes into that, let alone eat it.
What DO I WANT then? Not much, really. Only three things: flavour, nutritious benefits, and variety. Well, maybe four – I would like the preparation process to be as uncomplicated as possible. It is not unreasonable to expect your food to provide your taste buds with pleasure as well as your body with vital elements to sustain and keep it healthy, is it? I am looking for an approach that utilizes simple and affordable ingredients to make uncomplicated, yet pleasant and healthy meals. I am able to (with variable success) grow some salads and herbs myself, but the rest 98% of the menu has to be bought. Ideally, I would only purchase from the local producers who I know and whose farms I have visited. That is not going to happen, though. Thus, I need to find a sensible middle ground, where I do not eat plastic fruit that has done more travelling than I ever will in my entire lifetime nor do I have to spend weeks online to locate and verify that best Irish dairy producer or pay a fortune for the staple foods, as much as I would like to support local growers.
Thus is the current state of my relationship with food. As for the next step… I was thinking to tackle the issue of variety. I think I need to educate myself in possibilities. It is so easy to fall into the routine of more or less the same meals. I would like to jump out of it a little and try my hand at vegetarian/vegan recipes more often. I have started this somewhat, but a larger list of recipes would be very handy. That’s where I turn to you, the few people who come over here now and again and read my ramblings. Can you recommend any books or other resources for simple and healthy food? I can google myself, surely. But I was actually hoping for some recommendations of books or websites that have been tried and tested and approved. Have you got a book on healthy (vegetarian?) meals that you have loved and used so much that the pages are creased and stained with sauces/love? Is there a foodie blog you regularly visit not only for inspiration and eye candy, but for practical recipes that you actually end up making? Was there something that opened your eyes or helped you shift your thinking about food, made you take action? I would love if you could share your secrets, please 🙂