This fall, while I was at an ag industry meeting in San Antonio, a group of friends invited me to go to a steak house with them. As soon as they mentioned the idea, my body told me it wanted some red meat so I was definitely in! With that mindset, I was all a go for steak when we got to the restaurant. Everyone was discussing which cut of steak they wanted, where they had eaten the best steaks and how they like their steaks prepared. We were lovin’ Texas!
One of our folks joined us a bit late, coming straight to the restaurant. He sat down next to me, started looking at the menu and said he was becoming a vegetarian. Wow! What a turn in the conversation! This guy has always been an omnivore, never given any of us a hint he was considering a dietary shift so I quietly asked what led him to the choice. He said he had eaten lunch with a vegetarian earlier in the day. To me its a pretty radical reaction and I have to admit I’d likely say I need to eat more vegetables rather than become vegetarian but to each their own.
I ate a salad as he made his menu selections. When our meals came…. they certainly looked different. So different in fact, I took a photo. Finished with my salad, I had a t-bone and baked potato placed in front of me. His “vegetarian” meal was on several plates. I’m not sure you can see his plates too clearly — he has french fries, a baked potato, macaroni and cheese and steamed broccoli & carrots. I couldn’t help myself but say it looked like he was becoming far more of a “starchitarian” than a vegetarian. I should know, my family has always loved starches!
I thought I was making the word up and then I turn around and catch this piece that uses starchitarian to describe one of the stages as people make the move to vegetarianism or veganism:
While for some, the transition to the vegetarian lifestyle might take some getting adjusting to, it was a natural progression for Mrs Bridgewater.
“I was born in Jamaica,” she said. “The majority of our meals in Jamaica were vegetarian, so I learned how to cook from my grandfather and my mother. Switching to a vegan diet was just about changing certain ingredients. It was about adding a vegetarian or vegan substitute. I became a vegetarian about 14 years ago and a vegan about ten years ago.”
She said some vegetarians become “starchitarians” when they first give up meat, eating a lot of pasta, white rice and French fries, but she has always been a vegetable lover.
“I wasn’t into pasta,” she said. “I decided to become vegan when I became informed about the benefits of eating whole grains. I make sure I have more green leafy vegetables, that way there is less mucus in my system. I don’t consume cheese with milk. It has definitely changed my life for the better.”
Whole grains are cereal grains that contain the rough parts of the grain usually discarded when processing refined grains. Whole grains can often be sprouted while refined grains generally will not sprout. Eating whole grains instead of refined grains is thought to lower the risk of many diseases, including heart disease and type two diabetes. A diet rich in whole grains is also thought to reduce a person’s risk for stroke and allow them to better maintain their weight. Examples of whole grains include amaranth, barley, buckwheat and corn including whole cornmeal and popcorn millet and oats including oatmeal, quinoa and brown and coloured rice.
After I saw that, I had to Google starchitarian and found that the Urban Dictionary has included the word too defining it this way “Disgustingly fat vegetarian who avoids meat by ordering the vegetarian combo plate, but chooses all starch items.” And gives this example of its use in a sentence “Oh my god, that starchitarian just ordered a veggie platter with macaroni and cheese, french fries, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cobb!” via Urban Dictionary: Starchitarian. Yep, that dictionary always makes me laugh but more importantly, it seems that the word has entered the general vernacular.
I’m sure that this guy has returned to eating his regular omnivore diet and has long ago forgotten the whim that drove him to say he was going to be a vegetarian. If he has continued on the path to vegetarianism, I wish him all the best. I’ve found shifts in diet are most successful when well thought out. I can remember one December I decided to get off caffeine cold turkey, my boss came in after a few days and said he thought a stair step approach may let me feel better and be easier to be around! LOL! That’s why I’m really comfortable making the diet resolution I’ve got going on. Its not a knee jerk reaction but a thought out plan. I’ve looked at a lot of the factors that could help me be successful too. I’ll be posting about it tomorrow.
Hannah Holmes says
Love it! I am actually embarking on a virtually POLAR-OPPOSITE of a vegetarian … or STARCHitarian, rather … diet, myself, but it has come with a great deal of research and consideration, and everything I’m reading just makes SENSE to me about it. You’ve probably heard of it – the Primal lifestyle, which is based on the principle that NO grains are good for you, period. Neither whole grain, nor refined grains. I’m not one to make “cold turkey” lifestyle changes, myself, though, as I’ve learned that quick changes like that usually do not stick with me, so I’ve been gradually weaning myself from grains. I don’t foresee myself as a hardcore total primal lifestyle contender, but there are elements of it that I definitely want to put into practice to see if they have a positive impact on my health. For more info, Google Mark’s Daily Apple, or Primal Lifestyle, or Paleo-Diet. I also plan to check out Healthbent.com, as I’ve heard they have some good recipes.
Ryan Goodman says
Hannah, I share your desire to reduce starches in the diet, but skipping out on whole grains not only cuts the starches from your diet, but also many essential vitamins and micro/macro minerals. I may not be a human nutritionist, but I’ve done a lot of work with livestock feeds and nutrition of grains in the diet. Our bodies have a requirement for all of these, however small the amounts may be. The Whole Grains Council (http://t.co/cBzzktRi) does a good job of describing these and their importance in our diets.
Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON says
Hannah, I think you know that more than a few members of my family have had less than ideal diets (afterall, you were crazy enough to join us!) and I’d have to say that our genes have a particular weakness for starches having seen hot rolls passed at the holidays! I haven’t decided to do anything as radical as a primal diet but I am trying to put things into perspective and remember that the choices I make should help power my body through the things I want to do. Proteins are a part of that. Sure taste is important but it isn’t everything. So I’m doing WeightWatchers which rather than have me deny myself my favorite foods, helps me understand which ones should be limited. The simple things like I drank too much Coke and too little water (though for many its too many lattes or something else) and I’m seeing some results. Cheryl, Georgia & Corey have seen incredible results in the past year and Leslie and I have signed on more recently. I talk through some of the things I’m doing here http://jplovescotton.com/2011/12/31/making-a-meaningful-personal-new-years-resolution/
Hannah Holmes says
Ryan, I hear what you’re saying, and I’m certainly open to listening to other research. However, I would have never even heard of the Primal Lifestyle, if my own doctor hadn’t recommended it, to address a slew of digestive issues that I have. Issues that she feels may, in fact, be related to the philosophy behind the Primal Lifestyle, which is that no grains, including whole grains, were designed to be consumed by humans, and they actually cause disturbances in the digestive tract. Of course, like I said before, I’m not hard core, by ANY stretch, so I’m not going to even PRETEND to be totally educated on the matter, yet, but I do feel like I get my vitamins and nutrients from a well-balanced diet rich in raw vegetables, especially the colorful ones. Now, all this being said, I was running low on groceries and had a Pop Tart for breakfast just this week. So….LOL! In all honesty, I had a pretty substantial vitamin D deficiency (before venturing out on this diet), so they’ll be checking my blood work occasionally. We’ll see pretty quickly if the lifestyle change has an adverse effect on my blood levels. As far as I can tell, when I’m super careful about avoiding all manner of grains, I do tend to have a happier, more predictable digestive system. So, that’s about all the personal experience I can report, as of yet. Time … and discipline to stay the course … will tell 🙂
Ryan Goodman says
First, Haha, of all places to make such a rash statement, he picks a steak house. I usually pick on friends who even think about ordering anything but beef at a steak house.
Second, I like to go with a “balanced” mindset to my eating habits. Anything is bad when we eat too much of it, and skipping out on something isn’t necessarily good either. I usually go for a second plate of entrees if I’m still hungry at a meal instead of the dessert table.
Third, great post JP!
Cole Melville says
Ah c’mon quit knocking starches or I’ll throw a potato at you. http://www.Starchitarian.com
Janice Person says
LOL! My family loves ALL the starches!
Good post, however, you failed to mention or take into consideration the reason why this person went vegetarian. If it is only a health reason, then you are right, that meal was not a step in the right direction, but if he did it for moral reasons, I don’t think eating unhealthy every now and then is a big issue, if his concious is clean and he is acting on his beliefs.
I am a vegetarian, who tries hard not to be a starchitarian, but in some restaurants, that simply is not an option. When the options are meat or unhealthy vegetarian food, I always go with the latter, after all is not like only omnivorous people can eat crap every now and then.