People ask me all the time why I pass up the pork loin. Simply put: I don't want it. No iota of my palate wants a hot dog, having been denied them nine years and counting.
Why I stopped eating meat is more convoluted to answer. As post-industrial consumers, we are more removed from our food sources than earlier generations. I think to eat an animal, you should first know about and accept its life. Livestock that end up in TV dinners have short lives in overcrowded, diseased environments. Not only does this raise serious health concerns, including bacteria, but it holds ethical problems for me.
So what about free-range animals? After approving of the conditions in which animals are raised, I think an omnivore should be able to slaughter an animal and gratefully eat it, realizing the sacrifice made for his or her nourishment. I cannot slaughter animals, so I choose not to eat them.
Fish are another story. I eat no meat except occasional fish, therefore, I am a "pescatarian."
Beans, eggs and soy products are my dietary best friends. Nuts, seeds and whole grains are also vital as vegetarians can quickly encounter a protein deficiency unless they eat these protein-rich foods. Vegetarians who eat a well balanced diet high in protein, dark leafy greens and incorporating some dairy products can receive all the nutrients they need through their food. However, picky eaters and those avoiding all animal products—vegans—can accumulate iron, calcium and vitamin D, vitamin B12 and zinc deficiencies if they are not careful.
Because I eat fish, I consume omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient that helps the brain to function and aids normal growth and development. Traditional vegetarians and vegans should consider supplementing this and the other vitamins and minerals with a multivitamin. Red meat has high cholesterol and fat content, and eliminating it can result in health benefits, if people supplement for possible deficiencies.
Eating out can be difficult, though many restaurants have vegetarian options other than house salads. I frequently eat at High Noon Café (2807 Old Canton Road, 601-366-1513) and Cool Al's (4654 McWillie Drive, 601-713-3020) for its veggie burgers. Indian cuisine also has a plethora of delicious vegetarian dishes.
Here are a few more of my favorites: for Mediterranean vegetarian options, try Aladdin's (730 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6033; 163 Ridgeway, Suite E, Flowood, 601-992-7340), Petra Café (2741 Old Canton Road 601- 366-0161) and Keifer's (705 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825; 120 N. Congress St., 601-353-4976). For Asian food, try Thai House (1405 Old Square Road, 601-982-9991) and Spice Avenue (4711 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-0890). For pizza try Pizza Shack (1220 N. State St., 601-352-2001; 5046 Parkway Drive, Suite 6, 601-957-1975) and Sal & Mookie's (565 Taylor St., 601-368-1919) For Mexican, try Babalu Tacos and Tapas (622 Duling Avenue, 601-366-5757). Also, check out Beagle Bagel (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 145, 769-251-1892; 898 Avery Blvd. N. Ridgeland, 601-956-1773); Broad Street (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900) and BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 224, 601-982-8111). Visit http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/menus for even more local options.