This is a picture of a Thanksgiving table.


You see that big, glistening, juicy-looking bird? That yummy-looking gravy? I can’t eat that. You see that stuffing? I can’t eat that either. What about pumpkin pie? Nope. So, how does a gluten free vegetarian (technically pescatarian as I will eat seafood, but try to limit it) survive Thanksgiving then, you ask? It’s all about the side dishes and remembering why I did this to myself in the first place.

Complicated Eating 

organic-foodWhile I love food, my family and I are also very thoughtful about what we put in our bodies. We try to always eat all organic, sustainable, and non-GMO. On top of that, I can’t eat gluten (thanks Celiac). Also, we have an 11-year-old daughter. By most standards, she is an excellent eater. She’ll even eat brussel sprouts, hot peppers and Cholula Hot Sauce. But, she’s a kid, so she does have quirky things she doesn’t like (mushrooms and sweet peppers.) So, basically, our diet is, well, complicated. (I know what you might be thinking, no meat, no gluten, all organic? That’s pure insanity. You guys are crazy hippies.)

Adventurous Eating20160911_175722-v2

Maybe you’re right. But, other than feeling really good, trying to eat healthy and not eating meat can make food more creative and adventurous. For example, recently, we tried a faux hot dog made of carrot marinated in “magic sauce” at a farmer’s market in Reston, VA . It tasted like a real hotdog! Seriously, we couldn’t believe it. (Pigs and cows, depending on your hot dog choice, of the world rejoice!) If you want to give it a try, check out Pure Veg. It’s called a C-dog. (Awesome name, right?)

Influenced Eating

This change in eating habits happened slowly over the years, moving first to organic, then gluten free, then free range, then cutting out red meat, then cutting out all meat except for fish. All of this was influenced by research, studies, documentaries and, yes, books, which brings me to the book portion of today’s blog. Here are some books that influenced our transition from sausage-eating carnivores to healthy-leaning vegetarians that eat some fish still (pescatarians).

Kitchen Confidential 

Kitchen Confidential isn’t necessarily about healthy eating. It’s more about the restaurants world. However, it’s one of the first books I read about food. It made me look at food world differently. It sort of stared the journey of food discovery and knowledge. Made me look at food, eating, restaurants as more than just a way of sustaining life.

Fast Food Nation

I didn’t exactly eat “healthy” growing up by modern standards. As a young girl, I remember tuna melts serving as a complete meal and going to McDonald’s for lunch. (Admittedly, I loved the chicken nuggets.) In high school, I’m pretty sure I subsisted on frozen yogurt and pretzels.

“Twenty years ago, teenage boys in the United States drank twice as much milk as soda; now they drink twice as much soda as milk.”
Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

When I read fast food nation in my 20s, I’d already begun to care more about my health and food. At that point I hadn’t set foot in a McDonald’s in years. But, reading this book opened my eyes to the consequences of fast food beyond just an impact on health. The mass production and commercialization of food, the inhumane slaughtering practice, manipulation of the public, the soulless corporatization of something that should sustain us horrified me. I’d already begun my crusade against crappy food. This book definitely pushed me further into the battle for healthy eating.

The China Study

Now, in my house sayings like “meat is evil” are bantered around a lot (especially by me). (Watch out sugar, I’m coming for you next.) Like many other food changes, I’d already been on the road to cutting out meat (Fast Food Nation helped here also) when I read The China Study. Given that in addition to writing YA books, I also work as an editor in the medical field, I premise and information of the book intrigued me. But I also find some fault in some of the studies and how the writer compiled the information. That  said, I felt there was some “grain” (I just can’t help myself!) of truth in this book that is worth understanding and exploring. It’s highly provocative and might not convince you to give up meat. But, if even a fraction of its claims are true, you might consider cutting back.

Now, I don’t think everyone must eat like we do. But, books like this help people look at the world and food differently and help bring light to the food world and eating habits that plague our society. Now, go and enjoy your Thanksgiving or your Thanksgiving leftovers (depending on what time it is!)

And, because it’s fun, here’s a funny Thanksgiving meme. My dog wishes she was this tall and could even get this close to the turkey.