I’ve learned a couple of things the hard way about vegetarianism, further evidence I should do more reading up on this stuff, but hey – that would take some of the fun out it.
Friday, I loaded up on gummy multivitamins, gummy vitamin D, then spent about a half-hour in the breakfast cereal aisle, trying to figure out fiber. Even though there was initial evidence I was getting enough, my body quickly reverted to its old, inefficient ways. About 20 years ago, my husband and I bought some Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran. He ate his with milk; I ate mine dry. We both liked the sweet taste, but spent the next 24 hours in misery, thanks to its unique combination of sky-high fiber and coconut oil. Since then, Kellogg’s changed the coconut oil to palm oil, but the cereal still has a high percentage of saturated fat, and remains the most expensive cereal per serving out there.
And yet, I bought a box, anyway. I also bought a box of Kellogg’s FiberPlus chewy bars because 1) it had the same claim of providing 35 percent of daily fiber as Fiber One bars, which I had originally intended to buy and 2) there was a yellow banner on it that said “Tastes Better than Fiber One!” Since I’d tasted neither before, I went with the FiberPlus. I bought dark chocolate almond bars, and they are dee-lish.
Hard Lesson No. 1: If you’re eating no meats at all, maybe you don’t need the full, U.S. recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fiber. While I am grateful my colon must now be cleaner than it’s been in forever, even a half cup of cereal and a chewy bar is far too much in a single day. Choose one or the other.
Friday, and a few times over the weekend, I experienced bouts of lightheadedness. Not the iron-deficiency kind, but the low-sugar, something’s-not-quite-right kind. I had to refill a prescription, anyway, so when the pharmacist asked if I had any questions, he looked completely shocked when I said that I did. I’m sure he doesn’t get as many as he’d like, which is a shame because pharmacists are an invaluable resource when it comes to questions about meds, drug interactions and everything in-between. Pharmacists rock – and this has nothing to do with the fact my father was a pharmacist. (OK; it totally does.) His response led to . . .
Hard Lesson No. 2: It’s important to know if any of your meds are fat-soluble, because if you’re no longer consuming animal fats – the primary source of all fat, natch – your doc may want to rethink your dosage. So this morning, I called and left a message with Dr. Bean’s office about my dietary changes. Without a doubt, I’ll get a return call later today, letting me know whether or not there’s anything to be concerned about. Likely not, but better safe, as they say.
True to form, I’ve yet to find the time to scour recipe books and find some interesting veg dishes to try. I’ve flipped through some cookbooks, but most call for ingredients I’ve never heard of. So far, I’m doing pretty good just bypassing meats, fish and poultry. I love nuts and beans, and my favorite snack of late is a mix of party peanuts and raisins – sort of a stripped-down trail mix. In addition to providing a tasty sweet-and-salty hit, it’s cheap and filling, and peanuts provide much-needed protein.
By the way, as I was typing this, Dr. Bean’s office called: Continue with the meds as prescribed, and if I stay with this vegetarian lifestyle, he wants to see me in three months.
Onward and upward.
Catwoman: Somebody say fish? I haven’t eaten all day!
Batman: Eat floor.
[throws Catwoman down]
Batman: High fiber.
~ from Batman Returns (1992)
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.