Mind and gut fight each other and decide “We’ll have the asparagus.”

It’s Saturday night. I’ve just feasted on asparagus sauteed with bacon, topped with kale steamed in that juicy mess, and let us have lots of Asiago!

I’ve been intermittently yet determinedly exploring vegetarianism for three or four years now. The issue is never desire or a random craving for meat. It’s just that my digestive system, beset with IBS, is happier with an old skool “meat and taters” diet.

To the voices in my tum, veggies require extra effort whereas meat is so digestible, and please Gawd, no legumes!

I told a doctor recently that my heart wanted to be a vegetarian but my body demanded meat. He laughed. He was more concerned with my intestines than my morals.

Because yes, eating has become moral.

When did food become so guilty? So significant? When did it become hard, walking the aisles of the grocery store, to justify putting any of those bags, boxes or cartons into your cart? When did we become these creatures surrounded by grocerial plenty (it’s a word now) and yet hesitant to buy any of it?

Because the minute you watch the documentaries or read the books you discover most of it is killing someone or something. Painfully. Whether it’s the pesticides sprayed on the produce migrant workers are picking and getting sick from, or the animals tortured in order to increase their meat yield, the way this country produces most of its food is fucked up.

I’m also intuitive, empathetic, and inclined to anxiety, so I feel a lot of emotion in my gut, and have since I was a kid. Combine gut angst with grocery guilt, season with the angst every American woman feels about eating, and saute with fifteen years of pain with no medical explanation for it. You get someone whose relationship with food and eating is deeply conflicted.

But whatever the cause(s), every meal for me is basically a choice of what negative experience I want: low blood sugar or bloating? Guilt or satisfaction? Cramping or diarrhea? Tasty or “healthy”?

And this thought process doesn’t contribute to the syndrome itself?

Someday they’ll figure out what causes IBS. Or they’ll figure out it was half a dozen things. In the meantime, some folks suffer a lot more than I do, and the conclusion I keep coming to is…

If it’s all going to cause me pain – or guilt – or give someone cancer – or cost a fortune because it’s organic…

As long as food is a source of such stress…

I want to eat the way I’ve wanted to eat since I was fifteen years old. No pain. No sad chickens, no hospitalized fruit-pickers, no fatal allergic reactions. A vegcentric plate. Meat raised ethically, and eaten occasionally. A hearty dash of family time as everyone passes plates and enjoys themselves around the dinner table.

Let’s work for food that doesn’t make the pain worse.

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