My Name is Linds and I’m a Pescetarian
My name is Linds and I’m a pescetarian. I have been for seven and a half years as of 2017. When the idea first occurred to me, I wondered could I do it? Am I strong enough? Will it bring on health problems? I’m already low in iron levels. Most of these questions, I had answers to. The real question was when?
When would I stop putting it off because the hard core Italian in me loved her specialty cold cuts? When would I stop putting it off because I loved the scent of bacon wafting from my kitchen on Saturday mornings? When would “I make really good carbonara” become a poor excuse to continue eating animals?
I got my answer one fateful April afternoon in 2009. I was laid off from my full time job several months prior, so I was unemployed with tons of free time. What better way to spend that free time than to travel? I was literally getting ready to book a solo, round trip flight to Rome, as in no exaggeration, “book now,” was one click and forty-five seconds away when my cell phone rang. Visions of meeting relatives for the first time and sipping Italian wine were dancing in my head when I answered it. It was my mother.
“Your dad is in the hospital. He has cancer,” She blurted out. Falling to my knees the way a boxer might if he’d been punched in the gut by Muhammad Ali, the tears fell simultaneously.
“Your dad is in the hospital. He has cancer.”
Instead of flying to Italy to eat pasta and gelato and marvel at ancient architecture, I found myself flying to the Midwest to transport my father to and from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I learned far more about cancer than I ever wanted to. Pamphlets and brochures at the Kansas City Cancer Center spurred further Internet research, and I became an expert in the terminal illness that was killing my father.
Sitting in the waiting room one morning while my father received radiation to the brain where a tumor was growing on his cerebellum, I discreetly watched the patients come in and out. I will never forget the handsome gentleman who was no older than I. I was twenty-four at the time. With an athletic build, he hobbled in on crutches. His looks were enough to take my breath away but that wasn’t what was tugging at my heartstrings. I gravely wondered, a deep heaviness weighing on me, if he was going to beat it. As I write this, I wonder if he’s still alive today to share his story of survival? I hope so.
High Alkaline Diets
In my many hours of research, I came across an intriguing article about a biochemist who discovered a diet high in alkaline could benefit cancer patients. This particular article focused on a man with brain cancer who ate a tablespoon of pureed asparagus twice a day. He eventually became cancer-free. Was the article legitimate? I don’t know but I didn’t see the hurt in trying. If nothing else, it was healthy. There was plenty of substantial evidence to support the benefits of high alkaline diets. I began pureeing large amounts of asparagus in a blender for my dad, adding a pinch of salt and pepper for taste. He hated it. It was a struggle to get him to follow the regimen and basically didn’t pan out.
Homeward Bound and Lifestyle Choices
After three and a half months of living in Kansas City, I returned to my home in Los Angeles. A few months after that, I secretly stopped eating meat though I chose to continue eating seafood. I say secretly because I felt like it would be more difficult if others knew of my intentions and I messed up one day. I’d watched a handful of friends attempt the same only to be diving into a bucket of chicken a couple of years later. I’m unforgiving of myself at times and wanted to avoid the self-ridicule I would assume through others’ eyes. The self-loathing would be bad enough. Eventually, once I knew I was all in, I shared my new diet with others.
It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I rather liked my new diet. The difficult part came in forgetting in that first month that I was no longer eating land animals. A week in, I was at an Italian deli ordering a pastrami sandwich. I had a couple of bites as the recollection set in. My friend, whom had no idea of my chosen, new lifestyle, ended up eating the rest of my sandwich under the pretense that I was full.
In all of my cancer research, I learned about all of the, for lack of better terms, crap we put into our bodies. I learned about the mass production the United States is guilty of and what it’s done to the produce. From GMOs to toxins to the high fructose corn syrup sometimes labeled as only corn syrup to the large amounts of preservatives, especially in our frozen foods to the artificial sweeteners to even the dirty side of the dairy industry!
Why Did You Stop Eating Meat?
I am often asked, “Why did you stop eating meat?” First and foremost, it was my dad being diagnosed with cancer. I already wanted to take better care of my self. Even if it won’t prevent me from getting cancer one day, at least my choices are healthier.
As the years have passed and my knowledge of vegetarianism, pescetarianism, and veganism grows, my reasons have also broadened. I’m an animal lover by nature. I’ve chosen to be more conscious about where my food is coming from. Are the fish I’m buying farm raised or wild caught? Was this cheese tamale fried in lard or oil? Are these chickens kept in dark, tiny cages, expected to lay their eggs in physical agony? Is there rennet in this jarred store bought pesto?
I never impose my lifestyle upon others or make a big deal about my diet, especially if I know I’m going to be somewhere where I am the lone non meat-eater. I’ve been to weddings where the only thing I eat is iceberg lettuce. My mussels have arrived in a white wine sauce with bacon bits at restaurants and I’ve given them to my dining companion. I’ve arrived at family barbecue functions with a big piece of fish to grill while everyone else enjoys hot dogs and hamburgers. I still find pleasure in the aroma of some meat, especially chicken, but I don’t have cravings. I don’t feel like I’m missing out or depriving myself.
I do not foresee eating meat ever again. Becoming a pescetarian in January of 2010 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel better about my self, my body, my conscience, and my carbon footprint. It’s all in our perspective, I suppose. Being pescetarian has resulted in having to be quite creative at times with meals – more adventurous with trying new flavors. It’s quite fun, actually! While the motivation behind this lifestyle choice may be one of tragedy, positivity can be drawn from it and for that, I am grateful.