I am eating more plant-based food these days. Not because I’m taking a stand against consuming that with a face. And not to save the planet. Those are both semi-decent reasons, but no … I’m eating vegetation for a different reason. I like the way I feel when I do.

Let me ‘splain.

I’m from The South. We take meat very seriously. When planning a meal, we pick the meat first. We might even pick a secondary meat to complement the main offering. Bread comes next … and yes, bread is required with every meal. Preferably with margarine. And last comes the vegetables. Almost as an afterthought. Usually cooked with fat-back, so at least it has some protein as well. That’s what I learned to eat.

As I started cooking, I followed the tried and true …. French. Lots of butter. Lots of meats. Lots of sauces. Heavy, heavy, heavy … because I was combining Southern Cooking with a French flair. Taking the worst of both worlds, so to speak. And that’s what I’ve been doing for 50-some years.

But a few months ago, I started cooking more vegetables. Without the fat-back. I tried to use whatever cooking skills I had and apply them to things from the ground. And if you asked me on a Monday if I felt better than the Friday before, I would have said … meh. But! Ask me how I felt in June compared to February? The difference was beyond noticeable.

Now I still have cravings. Who doesn’t love a Boston Creme from Dunkin Donut? Or a bag of salted chips … the American size? But strangely now, when I do partake, I feel almost ill. For starters, no amount of consumption satisfies. Whatever pre-process and ultra-process they do, it’s designed to keep you hungry. And never sated. So you keep eating, trying to find peace. You never do. It tastes great, sure, but you will only feel full, never content. And two hours later, no matter how much you exclaimed that you were bloated, you will be back in the kitchen seeking something to eat.

I didn’t notice it when I started. I notice it now. I feel better. I don’t snack as much when I cook right. And perhaps this is a rare blessing from covid … no more restaurants. No more triple-sized portions. No more inclusion of all manner of shit-ingredients meant to keep me coming back for more at the pig trough. But it’s also a pain, because cooking and eating in this country … at least doing it healthy … is nigh impossible.

But … I want to try. I’m still eating meat. But when I plan a meal, it’s the vegetation I select first. And its preparation. Only then will I figure out a protein to accompany it. And it’s working. I’m losing weight. Indigestion and heartburn are gone. And I’m satisfied. I don’t go snacking at night as much when I’m eating right.

So … will I become a vegetarian? Or a (gasp) vegan. Nope. Because I do enjoy meat. And eggs and fish and chicken. Because I’ve evolved to be an omnivore. But putting plants first in the menu? Absolutely! Skipping fast food completely? Hell yea. I feel so much better without the American diet clogging my system. It’s like when I was living in Spain … there is something to keeping healthy through food. We lost our way somewhere over here in this country. I’m not going to be lost anymore.

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