Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 662 (188) Old Dogs & New Tricks

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

This episode first ran 10 years ago. That is how long ago we converted. And that is how long our change in eating has remained. With only minor exceptions have we strayed from the path. You may find the process and the results interesting if not compelling. A few changes and updates have been added. 

So my daughter said, “We won’t have Turkey. I just want to let you know that we have become vegetarians.”

I never cared much for turkey anyway so telling me that Thanksgiving would be meatless was fine with me. There was always way too many other dishes to eat. I didn’t think turkey would be missed. “How come you became vegetarian?” I asked.

“I thought I should be a little more careful about what I’m putting in my kids’ bodies,” she replied. “After all, they don’t know what they should and shouldn’t eat. They eat whatever I put in front of them. And then I was reading about food we normally buy and I thought, “I can’t do that”. I’m responsible for them.” 

She went on to tell me that she had read this book entitled, “Eating Animals” and it was very convincing. We read the book within the next week and when we arrived at her place for Thanksgiving Dinner we had already gone over one week without meat. We never turned back.

I grew up on bacon and eggs. The delight of all dinners was a juicy steak. Hamburgers over the grill ruled on summer holidays. Hotdogs served as a simple meal that was quick and clean. Pot roasts, meatloaf, chicken and pork chops were regular fair. We were Americans and we were meat eaters. 

Of course in the old days our meat was raised on family farms and came to us from a short distance. The animals roamed over the grass pastures and came to us pretty much as nature provided.

Driving across America today one is often reminded that family farms are a thing of the past. Factory farms are the norm. Animals are not like they used to be. They are fed differently and they definitely have different medication. Drugs have come to be accepted as part of their normal growth and development. No wonder our daughter decided against it.

One memorable note from the book: “Each hamburger you eat required 1300 gallons of water to produce”. I can’t get that little fact out of my mind; 1300 gallons of water for one hamburger. That’s ridiculous. I don’t think the planet can support that type of water consumption. It just doesn’t seem right. 

My daughter’s decision brought me back around to thinking about what I was doing with my life in respect to the food I was consuming. It is hard to justify doing something that seems so very hard on the environment and certainly unfair to the less fortunate people on the planet.

On top of all of this, of course, were the health implications. I know that cutting meat out of my diet is something my doctor would approve of. He and all of the stuff I read in print are always advocating for more vegetables in the diet. I don’t run into much that tells me to eat more meat. Study after study keeps popping up that tells us to eat more vegetables. 

The last factor that entered my decision was my wife’s thoughts combined with her cooking skills. She also read the book. She agreed with the argument. And she is a chef of the first degree. She can cook and she loves to come up with new dishes. Vegetarian dishes add a certain challenge that she has been more than happy to meet.

Vegetarian meals of a wide variety have been placed on our table in the last ten years. I am always amazed at the color and taste. I think she enjoys the opportunity to look at food a bit differently and create something that is new to us and our family and friends.

Have I missed the meat? Not one bit. A friend came to a barbeque with some others at our place a few weeks ago and brought a tray of raw steak. It was no temptation. I do seem to avoid walking through the dead animal department in the grocery store. Have I lost weight? A couple of pounds.

What I especially like about being a vegetarian is eating out. Restaurants seem to only have two or three vegetarian dishes on the menu. It really simplifies choosing your dinner dish. And chefs seem to take great delight in creating some delicious entree.

One thing about retirement: it gives us time to slow down and try different ways of living than those that have dominated our life through custom, convenience and habit.

Over the past 10 years we have enjoyed our food as much as ever.  There have been rare exceptions. When that happens we call ourselves flexiterians. And I must add we do have fish fairly often. So we are not ridged in our practice at all. I guess most people would say we have evolved into pescatarians. But in general it proves false the old saying about old dogs and new tricks.

Think about it.

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