Restrictive diets, diets that limit foods to certain types whie eschewing others, seem to be on the rise. While vegentarianism is a classic example (along with various religion-associated diets that disallow certain meats), gluten-free diets (even for those without gluten sensitivity), sugar-free diet, and so-called “paleo” diets are on the rise.
My attitude toward food has traditionally been that I’ll try anything, not wanting to deprive myself of any cuisine. As with many things in life, it’s not so simple. For a meat-eater, it is easy for meat to become the centerpiece of the meal, and for vegetables to be relegated to the role of an afterthought accompaniment or side dish. In a real way, restricting your diet forces you to be more creative working within the constraints to avoid an overly narrow repertoire. I’ve debated about trying various diets for years, but ultimately was pushed to act by seeing my children limited in their vegetable tolerance and facing the mounting evidence of potential deleterious effects of high levels of meat intake, particularly over the long term (fortunately, the news about coffee seems to be all good).
Despite this, I knew a vegetarian diet would not be an easy thing to take on, particularly without annoying my family members. I had already moved toward an essentially meat-free breakfast and lunch, but dinner was a greater challenge. I decided a reasonable next step would be pescatarianism: I would try to stick to a mostly vegetarian diet, but seafood could be added in from time to time. So far, it’s worked. My family has played along (my wife has been quite supportive, and my kids seem happy as long as cheese is still on the menu). No one has complained about the uptick in our pizza consumption (perhaps not the best example of health food, but at least it’s homemade). It may be largely placebo effect, but I do feel healthier and less weighed down by meals.
A vegetarian-centric diet isn’t necessarily healthier. You can eat poorly on any diet, but it has helped me increase the amount and diversity of legumes, nuts, and various grains. Since we rarely eat out, the transition may be easier for me than it is for some, but I have not yet found it excessively trying to find interesting vegetable dishes, particularly when seafood is permitted.