Friday, April 11, 2008

I am a Vegetarian--or am I?

There are so many different kinds of ways people classify vegetarianism.
Here are some of them:
I am a lacto-ovo veg, which means I eat eggs and do dairy products.
Some are lacto which means they do dairy but not eggs.
Some are ovo which means they do eggs but not dairy.
There are vegans which means they use nothing in their lives that has been derived from animal byproducts (i.e. honey, leather, foodstuffs, etc).

Then there are the ones I used to call the delusional ones, the ones who think they are vegetarian because they don't eat red meat, or they only eat fish. News flash: Fish are still animals--Fish is still a meat. Chicken is STILL a MEAT.

Not only are there several different classifications of vegetarianism, there are also many different reasons why people choose this lifestyle. There have been books written on all of the reasons why people become vegetarian or vegan so I wont really go into it in great depth.

Some are to be advocates for the animals (there are some gnarly practices going on in American/International slaughterhouses).
For some it is due to the health aspect: allergies, blood pressure, heart disease and so on.

I was one of those that did it for the animals. I read about everything that occurs in the slaughterhouses and none of it seemed right. It is my true and honest belief that animals are creatures of God meaning they have souls and feelings. Who are we to think we are so superior that it is ok to treat animals as if they are just there to feed us. Some may argue that God put animals on this earth to feed people, and that may be correct, but the way we have gone about persuing this right is unGodly.

Anyway the thing that prompted me to write this blog is my struggle with my ability to be a true to word vegetarian. I just really started to become more aware of some of the non-vegetarian processing practices and the instances of non-vegetarian food additives in products I would never have thought to look. Cheese and sugar for instance. I was always aware of gelatin and how it is made, but what about creating a more refined sugar by breaking it down with animal bones. Can it make me feel better to know that only 25% of sugar processors use this practice? No, because what about those times I am not at my home eating my 100% natural blah blah blah sugar, and I get some sort of food that has sugar in it and it happens to have been processed using this practice but I would never know and Lord knows my sweet 20yr old college student waitress wouldn't know either. So I eat it, doing my best pretending that there can be NO way this sugar was broken down and made that pretty white color by using animal bones.

So for someone like me who has chosen this lifestyle to be a spokes person for the animals what are we supposed to do. Do I hole myself up in my apartment for the rest of my life, going to work only to make money to spend at the whole-natural-organic (which also has several different classifications by the way)-food stores? In my current financial state it is almost like I cant really afford to be a true vegetarian, eating products bought at these stores just to ensure I am in no way contributing to slaughterhouse products or slaughterhouse by products. Here are some examples I found online:
  • gelatin (from animal bone)

    • avoid jello, starburst, skittles, sour cream, Extra Polar Ice gum, some gummy bears

      • Skittles from the Czech Republic and Starburst from England do not contain gelatin.

    • note: most camera film is made from gelatin.

  • lipase (from calves, lambs, or kids—a enzyme used in food processing)

  • A lot of wine and beer is not vegan - anyone know about hard alcohol?

    • almost all cheap and imported beers and wines are filtered with isinglass (derived from fish) or bone char.

  • White flour and white sugar- supposedly the calcium carbonate used to bleach these products can derive from animal bones. Can anyone provide a primary source to confirm or deny this claim?

  • Chocolate - yes its true. apparently the refined sugar in it is made using a process involving animal bone charcoal.

  • Sugar - some brands of refined cane sugar is made with a process using animal bone charcoal to "scrub" it clean of impurities, color, flavors, and minerals. C&H used to be vegan (as of 2001), but not Imperial. All sugar derived from sugar beets is vegan (not filtered with bone char). This is also true of common "Brown sugar" which is white sugar before the brown is added back in

And these are just a few. So the question is, is what I am doing or trying to stand for even worth it? Do I just give it all up and start eating meat, like in its solid form, almost as if the last 9 years don't even matter. The food industry is making it very hard for me to be solid in my belief and they way I choose to act on those beliefs.

I am having a vegetarian identity crisis.

1 comment:

aea said...

"Some may argue that God put animals on this earth to feed people, and that may be correct, but the way we have gone about perusing this right is unGodly."

Love that, because it's how I feel and why I don't condemn people who eat meat. But if I ever went back to eating meat, I would probably be very careful about the meat I eat, and it would probably not be very often that I eat it.

It is very frustrating that food products aren't labeled more clearly for those of us who want to know the origins of our food. I just heard on the news the other day that the FDA is trying to pass legislation banning labels that show that milk is hormone-free. How then will a milk-lover like me know that I'm not drinking milk from cows that are so drugged up on hormones and antibiotics that they are so heavy they can't stand up?

Katie brought me back "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and I'll send it your way when I'm done- you'll love it.

p.s. I almost had a heart attack at the mere mention of not all beer being vegetarian. That is the most horrendous thing I have ever heard. In my life.