Friday, July 23, 2010

To Fish or Not to Fish...........

I don't eat cow, deer, pig, or fowl but on occasion I will eat salmon or tuna (not tuna in the can- FRESH tuna!). I agonized over adding fish to my diet after not having it at all for years.  I became very ill a few years ago  and my doctor asked me if I would at least consider eating it a couple of times a month.  I had been burning the candle at both ends for many years and was suffering the effects from running on nothing but pure adrenaline for such a long time.  I needed slow down and heal or else!  I tried for many years to be a die-hard vegan but it just wasn't working with the lifestyle I was leading and the stressful work environment I was in.  I gave it my honest effort but there came a time I just needed to "give in!"  When I am extremely stressed, a nice piece of grilled salmon really does help me feel better. I made the painful decision to occasionally add it to my diet.

I am the only non-meat-eater in my family and circle of friends.  It's tough to exist in that environment.  Most people think I just don't eat red meat so when I go to their home for dinner or a BBQ, they want to feed me chicken.   I don't DO chicken! I always make sure I have a veggie burger wrapped in foil to toss on the BBQ or I try fill up on the vegetables and salad at the dinner table. I am very satisfied with a baked potato and a salad for dinner when everyone else is enjoying roast beef or baked ham. A couple of years ago I was invited to a friend's for dinner.  She assured me that she had warned her family that I was a vegetarian.  Her mom served a beautiful lasagna and as we sat down to dine, I learned that they were all making a great sacrifice on my behalf because the lasagna was prepared with ground turkey rather than the traditional chopmeat filling they usually enjoyed!  I swallowed hard, smiled, and tried to pick out the pieces of meat as inconspicously as I could and cover it all with my napkin. I don't think any one but my girlfriend actually noticed what I was doing.  We still laugh about it to this day!  
When I go out to a restaurant I usually order salmon or sushi-grade seared tuna. Tuna steaks are much too thick and the consistency is too "meaty" for me to enjoy or digest. Choosing fish as my entree is often much healthier than the so-called vegetarian options on the menu (usually some kind of pasta dish in a rich creamy sauce). Other times I will order pasta with fresh broccoli, garlic and oil but it is often prepared with chicken broth which I DON'T want! When you are a vegetarian for many years and are not accustomed to animal fat, your body is no longer able to digest it and the side-effects of anything cooked with meat or in beef or chicken broth are disasterous to say the least.  I do suffer a bit when I eat salmon or fresh tuna but not as badly. 
A great option for those of you who choose not to eat red meat or want a healthier alternative, is seared grilled tuna.  Always make sure it is sushi-grade fresh tuna. It should be bright red (it is only tossed on the grill for just a minute so you get that delicious grilled taste), sliced very thinly,  and often has a sesame seed crust. There is virtually no fat in this meal and usually served with a spicy wasabi sauce or some kind of soy ginger dressing to dip it in. Ciao Baby! (an italian chain restaurant) and The Outback serves it as an appetizer. I always order it as my entree with a big tossed salad when I go to either of those places.
Some people will argue with me that I am not a true vegetarian because once-in-a-blue-moon I will eat fish.  99.9% of the time my diet is a plant-based diet.  If a bean dish or tofu is offered on the menu at a restaurant, I will choose that instead, but honestly, how often is that going to occur?  Most of the time we end up at some kind of steak-house for dinner and it's tough to sit there munching on a dish of steamed brocolli when everyone else is enjoying filet mignon or prime rib. This is when I either opt for the fish (grilled or steamed- no sauce) or order a big salad and a baked potato.  It depends on the mood I am in.  I am done beating myself up emotionally over this or feeling like a "veggie failure". There is no Veggie God in the sky waiting to strike me the next time I eat a piece of fish!  It is what it is and I refuse to be in bondage to anything, including food. 
And this is my Daily Cyn...........

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