Vegan: To BE or NOT to Be

Shalekiah Barton, Staff Writer

To be or not to be, that is the question.
I don’t think Shakespeare was referring to choosing veggies over meat when he wrote that quote, however it explains the struggle I am going through right now.
I have tried to be a vegan 2 times. I also found myself a vegetarian over 8 times and I still have not been able to commit to that choice. Being vegan and vegetarian are two different things. Vegans pride themselves on not eating or drinking any thing that derives from animals.Whereas vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish, but consume everything else.
I believe there is a vegan inside of me, waiting to be unleashed.
For years, whenever I eat meat, I can only consume it with either a lot of rice or bread. I can never eat meat by itself because I feel disgusted by the fact that the animal walked, breathed and existed like me. It is really sad to think of the treatment the animals have to endure, just to look pretty on my plate for a Instagram foodie picture. I haven’t eaten red meat in years, but I slip up every 5 months or so, when I wake up and crave some bacon, eggs, grits and sausages. How can I make it not smell so scrumptious and yummy? That is the only reason I crave it, the smell follows me until I have no choice but to satisfy my cravings. My vegetarian days were great, I felt different. Maybe it was a mental thing but I felt great after eating a bowl full of lettuce, carrots, raisins, croutons and ranch dressing, as opposed to chicken, pork or fish. Although I felt alive, I also felt like I was depriving myself.
I am grateful for all the amazing options that different supermarkets have. There are products made from soy beans, that looks and taste like meat and it has been my savior at times. Soy is a protein just like chicken, however it has nothing to do with animals being slaughtered or tortured. I haven’t drunk milk in 4 years, due to the incredible taste of soy milk. It is just something about drinking milk from an animal that makes me feel gross. I couldn’t imagine people packaging women’s breast milk and putting it in cereal and drinking it in cartons. Besides who’s to say that the cows milk isn’t for cows only, or maybe it does things to humans internally that scientists haven’t caught on to yet. The possibilities are endless and my mind wanders constantly about the cows who may be sick and who’s milk may be rotted, but are still pumped to sell to humans all over the world.
I watched a movie named “Cooties” starring Elijah Wood, who plays a junior high school teacher who’s students have been infected by a tainted chicken, which was made into a nugget and packaged for the student’s lunches. One little girl is in the schools cafeteria, eats the nugget and doesn’t notice it is infected and is oozing black goo. The girl becomes a cannibalistic killer with an appetite for her classmates and teachers. After seeing the film, I immediately started researching bad meat being sold and although they didn’t turn into flesh eating zombies, I am surprised that companies still sell the items.

I have learned through research that vegans cannot eat a lot of the foods, drinks and snacks I love. I was surprised to know that many favorited candies like M&M’s are made with bug larvae to give it, its shiny coat. Also I learned that jello, marshmallows, and gummy bears, are made with gelatin that comes from collagen produced animal by products. Also chips, especially barbecue flavor, contain chicken fat.

One major mind blower I found out was that orange juice is flavored with animals. Some orange juices are fortified with additional omega-3s that are derived from fish. The fact that everything either comes from or involves an animal makes me believe that maybe were meant to indulge. But the other side of me feels bad when ever I see PETA’s Instagram post about cows who actually shed tears or pigs that are pets like an important family dog or cat.

One other piece of information I learned from, is that breweries and wineries use a membrane that comes from the bladders of tropical fish to filter their beverages.

Being Vegan is a huge commitment, one that I admire but I know I am truly not ready for. Maybe when I turn 25 I can give up all the foods I love, but for now I will take it one step at a time and live my life filled with M&Ms, marshmallows and gummy bears.