I just came across the following article [free registration may be required] on the New York Times web site discussing how food nutritionalists are facing the realization that “low-fat” diets are not necessary very healthy diets, a message that has been preached for nearly 30 years. The Atkins diet, which has become increasing popular as of late, was described as early as the late 1960’s, and in which the types of foods were described as an ideal diet as early as 1825 by the French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.As a vegetarian for more than 2 years, I thought this was quite an interesting article. I chose to become vegetarian mainly because I noticed that eating red meat tended to upset my stomache. Granted, this was often after eating a fast food meal consisting of ground beef, but I stopped eating red meat entirely and felt better almost instantly. After eating chicken, turkey, and fish for a while and noticing some of my friends and family whom I regard highly were vegetarian, I decided I would try to see what it was like, too. It wasn’t really for “heart-healthy” or “animal-rights” reasons. I’ve found that you can learn a lot in life by going off the beaten track, so to speak. While some routes may be easier than others, often the most interesting and educational are the routes that are more difficult.One difficulty I have found has been in finding decent meal selections when going out to eat. Few restaurants offer more than a token meatless salad or pasta dish for their vegetarian clientel. I really wish more restaurants would find creative ways of preparing non-grain vegetable dishes, as they usually contain more fiber, vitamins, and protein than grain-based dishes do. Using more beans, legumes, mushrooms, and soy-based products would be an excellent starting point.Unfortunately, I haven’t done a very good job of maintaining a low-starch diet since I became a vegetarian. I do eat quite a bit of pasta at home for dinner. Crackers, tortia chips, and pretzels are standard snacks for me. I’ve gained approximately 20 pounds since moving to California, which is approximately 6 months before I choose to become vegetarian. It is unclear as to whether the weight gain is due to a change in my diet, a change in my metabolism from aging, a change in my excercise habits (playing Ultimate frisbee weekly to virtually no aerobic/anaerobic activity), or a combination of all of these factors.I’m considering eating meat again soon, though I’ll be a little more conscious of what I eat, both vegetable-wise and meat-wise. I have a feeling that there is such a thing as too much AND too little when it comes to protein, calories, fat, etc. The trick is finding the appropriate RANGE for each component, which probably varies for each person and lifestyle. After two years of not eating meat, I rarely crave it or even consider it as an option when looking over a menu or walking by the deli at the grociery store. It’ll take some time to warm up to the idea of going back.Also, the source of the food is important to me. After reading Fast Food Nation [which was an eye-opener and comes highly-recommended] as well as several articles on the effects and politics behind the genetic engineering of cash crops by corporations with few ethics, I’m trying to be more conscious of what I eat and where it may be coming from. I’ll have to save that for another post, but in the mean time, if and when I choose to start eating meat again, it will need to come from reliable and trusted sources.I used to think that foods labeled as “organic” were just a fad, meant for posh families who could and would fall for any old marketing trick. Now I realize that it is really the genetically modified foods that should be labeled [pdf]. The few mega–corporations that package the food on the shelves of the major groceries do their best to present their products in the best light as possible, but there are a number of myths that I’ve opened my eyes to. While “organic” foods cost more, I think it is well worth the few extra dollars to support a worthy cause.