“How’s her overall health?” the dental assistant had asked, after giving rave reviews on my fourteen year old daughter’s teeth.
“Well, she exercises fairly regularly and has recently become a pescatarian,” I replied.
With a straight face.
“A what?” The confusion sent furrows across her already rippled forehead.
“A pescatarian. Not quite a vegetarian, because she includes fish in her diet.” I explained.
I secretly harbored a delight at the opportunity to say the word out loud.
C’mon, say it with me: pescatarian.
It’s such a fun word.
In fact, I found myself giggling about it over Sunday lunch a few days ago. “It sounds like a religion.” One of my daughters repeated the word with a grin.
“I know. The only thing better would be if I could say I was a reformed pescatarian.” I grinned back. I was joining my daughter in this new eating adventure.
So what would compel a bacon and steak lover like myself to give up meat and become a pescatarian? (Besides the sheer fun of saying the word out loud, of course.)
It was not for ethical reasons. Although I am against cruelty in all forms, I’ve never jumped on any “save the animals” bandwagons. In fact, as I was researching vegetarian and pescatarian diets, I thought it a bit ironic that “pure” vegetarians can get very hateful towards those who use the word vegetarian but (gasp!) include fish in their diet. The very people fighting against cruelty to animals sure can be verbally brutal to fellow humans! This is the reason why around 1993 the neologism pescatarian/pescetarian appeared.
It was not for health reasons. I really don’t need to lose weight (though what woman would complain about it?) and am in pretty good health for a forty-something mother of six. And, well, I love bacon.
So why give it up?
My motivation for choosing a pescatarian lifestyle was, quite simply, love. Love for my daughter. There’s not much else that could persuade this girl to give up bacon, which I’ve always thought deserved its own place on the food pyramid.
See, a year of vegetarian eating was on my teenage daughter’s bucket list. She mentioned this to me. The second time, I realized she was serious. She was also sure I would discourage her. Perhaps because as a Christian parent, I find myself using the forbidden n-word. No. There are so many things in the world today that are harmful to young people. While it would be much easier to give in to all of my children’s wants, it certainly wouldn’t be loving. Sometimes I simply have to say no. Other times – especially as they mature – I have to let them make their own decisions even when I disagree. And sometimes I can actually encourage their desires; I can be a cheerleader of sorts. Vegetarian/pescetarian eating was one of those times. And while I knew pescatarian eating was a desire of my daughter, I also knew the temptations would be strong – at least initially – to give up. You know what the Scripture says – two are better than one and a three-fold cord is not easily broken. I prayed that I would be an encouragement as I committed to join her. And sure enough, a few days into our adventure, the family decided to pack a picnic lunch and head to Echo Lake. Fried chicken was the picnic item of choice…and my daughter might have given in to the persuasive pull of that crispy, deep fried skin…except I was there to remind her of our commitment. The temptation passed and she’s been doing great! So have I.
It’s only been ten days, but I am already seeing benefits from my “sacrifice.” I’ve lost a few pounds and my blood pressure is lower than it has been for decades. It’s created a special bond between my teen and me. And I am loving the foods I have been eating. I think the commitment has snapped me out of the eat-whatever-is-handiest funk that I have been in for the last few years. I love beans and soups and salads and grains and fish, but I’m also admittedly lazy when it comes to cooking. (After more than a decade of cooking for an average of nine people a day, I found myself choosing convenience over the healthier, from scratch choices. I think this might have happened about the time I started scrapbooking…) It’s certainly not a low-fat way of eating – there has been plenty of butter, and olive oil, and nuts and avocado. And Bryer’s mint chocolate chip ice cream. It’s also not a count-calories way of eating…we eat when we are hungry – no measuring or counting. I can easily see this stretching well beyond a year!
Anyway, here are three of my favorite meals from this week: grilled salmon, cilantro/lime rice and beans tortilla, and black bean and pan roasted corn salad.