Vegitarianism considered

Created: 11/29/2009 02:30:39 AM PST

A week without meat wasn’t all that challenging; however, the cultural aspects of vegetarianism made the task trying at times.

The health benefits of a well-balanced vegetarian diet are obvious, and can aid in staving off hypertension, diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. Regardless, we are nation of meat lovers that gladly contribute to the $832 billion meat and poultry industry each year.

A meatless week isn’t much to ask and the process was pretty cut and dry for Melody and Erin. We both conquered our animal instincts, even when Erin accompanied friends to In-n-Out Burger and Melody was struck by a sushi craving.

But go to any standard-fair franchise and the choices are, more often than not, limited. If you’re lucky you may have a meager choice in entrees, rather than defaulting to the lone vegetarian plate, or combining salad and side orders.

The fact is, most menus cater to carnivores, and a selective personal diet can leave the herbivore a bit isolated.

Erin’s brother has been a long-time vegetarian, and fellow diners often feel the need to identify the flesh free food for him. Of course people are only trying to be accommodating, but it’s humorous that they want to help an adult with his “special diet needs.”

A diet once considered faddish is becoming more popular as people reject the traditional meat and potatoes in favor of a healthier alternative. A Vegetarian Times study shows 7.3 million Americans consider themselves vegetarians.

This has created a niche industry responsible for customized cookbooks and the advent of vegetarian restaurants.

Strangely, during our week of meat sobriety we could not find one vegetarian restaurant in either Woodland or Davis. There are a few in Sacramento, including the family-owned, Noble Vegetarian.

Tuan Lee helps run the restaurant that serves family-style Asian-inspired vegetarian cuisine at a moderate price. In this setting, not only does the vegetarian diner have a menu that caters to his/her needs, but strictly vegetarian fare eliminates the risk of cross contamination with meat products.

Lee said very few conventional restaurants take precautions to discriminate when cooking every food group in the pyramid. Further, if you order fried vegetables, don’t count on the cooks changing the oil after the chicken has been greased to perfection. Lee recalled one occasion of ordering deep fried tofu that came garnished with scraps of chicken.

Vegetarian restaurants are far more common now than when Lee stopped eating meat in 1990. But a night out with friends with this diet still proves to inconvenient at times.

Many are inclined sacrifice health for convenience, and meat is often at the core of that convenience.

Both Melody and Erin celebrated the end of a week of meat abstinence with fish. We know the health benefits of vegetarianism and keep our meat consumption minimal. However, we both rely on meat as a source of protein and can’t imagine permanently substituting it with tofu, nuts and legumes.

Next week’s fast: Spending money.


A week without money

So we’re doing ok. I’ve yet to exchange money for goods or services. Erin broke fast a little when she went to visit friends in the city.

My husband informed me we’re out of toilet paper, so I’ll swipe some from the ladies room at work on my way out the door today.

Erin and I have secured a manicure in exchange for internet marketing.

And here’s a very interesting article about a women in Germany who lived without money for 13 years.

Stay tuned for more Quick Fast news and check the for our weekly column.

A new week, a new fast

Yesterday Erin and I drove to Nugget Market in search of food free of Trans or saturated fats. Finding nothing, we did a QuickFast change-up and decided to try vegetarianism for a week.

We discussed giving up milk and eggs as well, but in the end decided to save that for when we eventually go vegan (we’re working our way up to that).

So far nothing’s  changed for me. I had pistachio nuts for lunch, and chips and salsa for dinner and this morning I had  a hard boiled egg and a scone.

Fish cravings have set in,  now  I know  I can’t have it, but it’s nothing I can’t fight off for a week.

In addition to watching what we eat we’re going to be tracking how much we spend. Next week we’re fasting spending money in honor of Buy Nothing Day (Nov. 27). So in order to see if we save money by stock piling our food for a week we need to know how much we normally shell out in a given week.

I will be traveling to Humboldt County for the Holidays so my husband will purchase our gas, since I won’t be purchasing anything. It’s not a cop-out because my husband and I have different bank accounts – don’t question the way we choose to manage our money – our  marriage is fine thank you very much.

Erin is staying here so hopefully one tank of gas will last  her the whole week.

Please feel free to participate in Buy Nothing Day or fast along the whole week.



Also – does anyone have any good vegetarian recipes or tips?

Caffeine withdrawls are no fun

Jittery over a lack of good old joe

Created: 11/15/2009 02:30:54 AM PST
With minutes remaining before our caffeine fast commenced, we chugged the last of our coffee and swore off the stimulant for a week.Turns out bingeing to cold turkey is a bad idea. Yolo County Deputy Director of Public Health Cheryl Boney said weaning off the drug is the best course of action.

We both enjoy caffeine and have come to rely on it as a morning pick-me-up or use it to cope during long nights at work.

It is a part of our daily lives, and while neither of us is excessive in our use, we both suffered the physical side effects of caffeine withdrawal.

Two days of headaches, irritability, and lethargy was the sum of our detox period. Our behavior may have been a bit melodramatic, but the body’s dependency on the substance is real.

Boney said caffeine consumption causes the blood vessels in our head to expand and contract. Eliminating the variable increases cerebral blood flow, an affect that may account for commonly reported withdrawal headaches.

To make matters worse, our goal to obtain absolute caffeine abstinence, prevented us from taking most over-the-counter pain killers, the majority of which contain caffeine.

The physical and psychological element of caffeine, as well of the social implications of caffeine at a Cafe, all play into our desire to keep consuming. But of course, with or without caffeine, our day went on and we were able to function without spending $3 on a latte.

In fact, researchers from the University of Vermont College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine determined the placebo effect most definitely applies to caffeine. The study showed no difference between participants maintained on chronic placebo and participants stabilized on chronic caffeine administration.

So that daily cup of joe may be far more about routine than the body’s need for caffination.

Regardless, some situations just beg for additional stimulation.

Erin almost made it the whole week, but a full day of work, followed by a six-hour drive to visit friends in Humboldt County, proved too difficult without the caffeine crutch.

Melody persevered, remaining caffeine free the entire week. She was however sick for half of it, and the thought of an Americano made her stomach turn.

We are both off the caffeine wagon now, and so long as we practice moderation, we find no need to deprive ourselves in the future.

Quickfast: A week without profanities

A column in the Daily Democrat – 11.08.2009

By Melody Stone and Erin Tracy

Curse words have become common place, no longer strictly associated with the unrefined or uneducated. Even high-ranking politicians have recently been caught on camera uttering expletive. But the seven dirty words and their close companions are considered taboo in some settings.

From nouns to adjectives, punctuating pleasure or pain; abstaining from curse words made us realize how often they infiltrate daily conversation.

Melody managed to keep her language clean for about three days out of the week, while Erin broke fast nearly every day.

Our general rule of thumb was; if a doctor wouldn’t use it, or if we wouldn’t want a child to use it, we couldn’t either.

To get better perspective on our fast we spoke with proponents on opposite ends of the obscenity spectrum

Eric Russel, a professor in the linguistic department at UC Davis, teaches a class on profanity.

“I love bad language, it’s very effective, Arguably more effective than other language,” he said.

Russel said there are several variants of naughty language; expletives, profanity, blasphemy, obscenity and vulgarity, and insults.

Expletives are words uttered, for example, when a toe is inadvertently struck against a coffee table. Studies have shown cursing when injured actually alleviate pain, more so than using other words.

Profanity is anything not divine, and blasphemy is profanity against the divine. Vulgarity is anything culturally taboo related to sex, and other bodilyQuantcast functions. Insults are meant to hurt and tear someone down.

Some people use these words without second thought, while others sensor censor themselves around children, grandmas and priests.

Melody never got in the habit of blasphemy, finding it distasteful because of her beliefs, however a good expletive to alleviate pain or a strong dirty word to make a point is something she enjoys.

Erin found her language mirrors that of her company. When she’s around people who curse, dirty words slip out. She often uses profanity to augment a point of view.

There are still people in this world who strive for clean language and dream of a world free of profanities. McKay Hatch, a 16-year-old in Southern California, is one of those people.

In seventh grade McKay asked his friends to refrain from cursing in his presence. They obliged and McKay learned the power of positive peer pressure. This sent him on a quest to encourage clean language and positive speech.

“I think cussing is something that really offends people. It makes people feel bad, it never makes someone feel good when you say the ‘f’ word at someone one, it doesn’t get them pumped,” McKay said.

McKay’s “No Cussing Club” started with a few friends at school and is now 20,000 members strong. McKay wrote a book about kicking the cussing habit and appeared on the Jay Leno Show to promote his crusade.

But the road to a curse free world isn’t an easy one. McKay became a target for Internet bullies who claimed his quest infringed on people’s right to free speech.

Disgruntled bullies went so far as to send thousands of dollars worth of pizzas, taxis and prostitutes to his house.

But McKay persevered. The FBI got involved and the attacks subsided.

“We’re just bringing awareness, we’re not forcing anyone to stop cussing,” McKay said.

We won’t be joining McKay’s club anytime soon, but we learned cussing can be a cop out for mindful articulation

QuickFast column – Sugar fast

Quickfast: A rush to abstain from sugar

Created: 11/01/2009 02:30:34 AM PST

As children recover from Halloween candy binges, we reflect on the highs and lows of a week without added sugar.

Abstaining from the sugar not intrinsic in the food we eat isn’t as obvious as one might think. Take a closer look at your food labels, and you will learn sugar is added to just about everything.

Yolo County’s Deputy Director of Public Health, Cheryl Boney, said that when examining ingredients, keep an eye out for additives ending in “ose.” Those are the refined sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, that need to be avoided.

Also, pay attention to where the sugar falls in the ingredient lineup. They are listed in order of weight, and those at the bottom carry the least.

Denying ourselves a morning cup of coffee and scones proved to be the first major hurdle.

Melody’s favorite scones and cream had to be replaced with an insipid crumpet.

Erin switched to a sugar-free vanilla latte, and had a sore throat several hours later that developed into a cold. She still blames the artificial sweetener for her ailment.

A transition to tea with a spoonful of honey provided a natural alternative as a sweetener, but in the end was its nutritional equivalent. Boney said you still get the same number of calories, regardless of whether a sweetener is natural of factory made.

These were obvious dilemmas, but we were discouraged to learn that sugar is also prevalent in savory foods, from salad dressing to marinara sauce.

Melody’s much neededsushi fix was thwarted when she learned sushi rice has a substantial amount of added sugar.

In the interest of the sugar fast’s authenticity, we did our best to avoid it all, but Boney said on a regular basis its a matter of moderation.

A lone venti mocha for breakfast will be absorbed quickly without complex carbohydrates and proteins to neutralize blood sugar, and a sugar crash will follow.

“A balanced intake of food will counter sugar in terms of the crash feeling,” Boney said.

Boney also recommends using a discerning eye when choosing a beverage to accompany your meal. You may think juice and vitamin water are a healthy choice, but many are loaded with empty sugar calories.

“If you eat a slice of cake at least you will be full, which likely won’t happen if you are drinking sugary liquids,” Boney said.

And Melody did eat cake, just one day after the sugar fast ended. Erin managed to suppress the urge, but still has a special place in her heart for vanilla lattes.

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Caffeine, sickness and a fast break

Sorry for the delay between posting, Melody came down with H1N1 and Erin doesn’t like blogging.

The reporters broke the caffeine fast on Wednesday at noon. Melody has avoided drinking coffee since the break fast but did enjoy some caffeinated tea, she feels the caffeine with-drawls were unpleasant and doesn’t want to become dependent on the substance again so soon.

Erin on the other hand had coffee on hand at the strike of noon.

The girls tried to fast from interrupting however Erin found interviewing people without interrupting them for clarification can be dangerous journalism.

So the girls are taking a week off, and will begin a new fast next Wednesday at noon.