September 27, 2010

Becoming Pescatarian

There’s something fishy about the way I’ve been eating, and it has nothing to do with dubious food.

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It would appear that I’ve become a pescatarian over the past year or so. (Previously, I would have called myself a flexitarian, if anything.)

It’s a curious thing, this dietary evolution of mine. My reasons for becoming pescatarian are certainly not ethically motivated—if that were the case, I would be a vegan. To be honest, I feel as though this “-ism” landed on me, rather than the other way around. Or perhaps I should say, “beached itself,” if we’re going with the ocean theme here.

No? Ok have a picture instead.

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Along with the arrival of this label has come a conscious effort to expand my fish recipe repertoire. I may be a (recent) fan of seafood, but up until now I’ve left its preparation to the professionals. I have some magazine recipes to thank for breaking that streak. These photos are from the August issue of Fitness Magazine. It’s their Shrimp-and-Avocado Rice Bowl. Easy enough, especially when Trader Joe’s freezer aisle does the cleaning and shelling of the shrimp for you. :)

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This recipe includes brown rice, edamame and a small omelette as well, all infused with Asian flavors like sesame oil and ground ginger. I spooned it over arugula for a little extra volume and veg-factor.

So, what happened to turn me pescatarian? I’m not sure, as there was no decisive moment in which I pronounced myself as such. Instead, I can see in hindsight that meat and poultry have been gradually dropping out of rotation for some time now, replaced by a preference for vegetarian fare. Naturally, I can’t help but be affected by things like Food Inc. and The Omnivore’s Dilemma—both are compelling examples of the dangers of factory farmed food, and if I were to choose to eat a steak these days, I sure would want to know where it came from first.

But this kind of knowledge (factory farming, government influence, hormones and chemicals in food, etc.) is a relatively recent development, exposed to me not only by the mass media, but by this here glorious blog community! I’m up to my eyeballs in bountiful e-produce, and it’s hard not to want to get in on that, especially when, for me, it all boils down to a long-standing love of vegetables. That pre-dates my involvement in the healthy living blog world, so with support from the wealth of health I read about every day on the internet, maybe I should have seen this coming.

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Ok, maybe not that in particular. There was a time when you could not have paid me to eat a sardine, let alone cook them with my own hands. Turns out they’re mighty tasty, though! Not to mention a formidable source of heart-healthy Omega-3s.

This dish is from Shape Magazine: whole wheat Pasta with Peppers, Mushrooms and Roasted Sardines.

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Simple, healthy and Mediterranean, it’s not something I would have thought to make a year ago. I’ve been too busy combining odd partners in casserole dishes and sauce pans, using every spice in my arsenal. There is a time and a place for that. I’m not sure when or where, but once upon a time I thought I knew!

Once upon another time, I was horrified by all things seafood. The day I agreed to taste Dad’s tuna noodle casserole was a milestone indeed. Now I can’t imagine life without it! Perhaps more significant was a dinner on vacation in Hawaii some 10 years ago, when in a bold move I ordered the coconut-macadamia encrusted mahi-mahi—my first time ordering a fish entree all for myself (as opposed to tasting from someone else’s plate). Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly torture getting that dish down my throat.

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Since that fateful evening, I have experienced precious few meat/poultry dishes as exquisite as that mahi-mahi. I am not ignorant of the poor fish-farming practices out there, but as with meat, we can make sustainable, ethical choices when well informed. Having been so informed, I find that a vegetarian diet with the occasional bit of seafood suits me best, both mentally and physically. So it was that “pescatarian” branded itself across my hiney. Maybe it will change one day. In the meantime, I am not going to go around introducing myself as “Hi, my name is Diana and I’m pescatarian.” I happen to fit under that label’s umbrella right now, and since I often think about how that might have happened, I figured I might as well have a good public think on it at the appropriate venue: my food blog.

So now the thinks have been thunk, for better or for worse, whether or not they make sense. How did you arrive at your dietary preferences, standard-American or otherwise?

6 comments:

Kelsey said...

Diana these meals look so good!! i used to be vegan for 3 years and slowly added back animal foods..im mainly in the vegetarian category most days but i flex back and forth. it was hard for me to get over the whole mind games and thoughts i told myself from the anxiety of not being a vegan anymore, but when i found peace in knowing that i was feeling better and able to be my healthy self i was able to come to a place where i could let go of labels and live in the moment..or at least day to day hehe.

xo

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

Diana love that you have come to this place on your journey and that you are owning it loud and proud, awesome!

Ironically i am pre writing a post that will be published on wed about sushi! That we went to a sushi restaurant over the weekend and that it wasnt the vegan label that prevented me from sampling a few rolls but more a food allergy situation. I have SUCH a horrible anaphalactic shock rxn to shellfish that it wasnt worth tempting fate to try some sushi. Shellfish is different than fish, yes, but I was scared.

I have arrived at my label bc of food allergies. I dont like the label, I dont like the food allergies, but it is what it is.

:)

Shannon said...

ooh, labels. i don't like 'em ;) it's amazing how much my eating habits (or philosophies) have changed the past few years. i doubt they're done evolving, either! i guess i've come to it b/c of knowledge and exploration....

Gena said...

As someone who has been very close to you throughout the last year of your foodie journey, I am really proud of how elegantly and constructively you've come to find an eating identity that suits you as a whole person -- body, mind, lifestyle. Bravo, my D!

Fayinagirl (means Free One) said...

Diana, I love your honesty. Food choices can be (and I think should be) ever-changing. It's a good thing. If we are aware of our bodies and ourselves we end up eating what we need. Being healthy is our goal. You go gurl!

Salah@myhealthiestlifestyle said...

THose dishes look amazing! I'm the same as you! I eat as though I'm a pescatarian, but its more just b/c I dont enjoy the taste of meat...plus I only want to eat the organic grass fed meat which is super expensive for my limited college budget so I choose to eat beans and tofu instead :-)