by Daniela Garcia
Web Content Contributor
*KTSW consists of and respects varying opinions within its staff. Opinion articles do not reflect the opinion of KTSW as a whole.
You may have heard the word casually thrown around in some of your close friends’ conversations, or maybe even a family member has talked about veganism. Maybe you’ve heard the word vegetarian before and never gave it much thought. However, you’ve been met with the video stills of short documentaries exposing the cruelty of the meat-industry on facebook and your curiosity grows in terms of why people make these kind of life choices such as leaving meat off their plates. Maybe you think it’s crazy and they’ll never survive without protein! The truth is, there are a lot of misconceptions over the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle that gives meat-eaters a lot of leverage. Understandably so, people are allowed to make choices that make them happy. Some people choose to take a different route of happiness and maintain a meat-free diet as part of their life.
Veganism by definition is when people decide to stop consuming any animal by-product. A few examples of animal by-products are gelatin-consisting products such as gummy worms or gelatin itself. I know, I know, what kind of monster would stop eating gummy worms? Well, my after-thought was, what kind of person would prefer to allow companies to use charred animal bones to provide a mere delicacy? However, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are alternatives to these kind of products. Here is a list of animal by-products vegans try their best to omit from their everyday life.
Some of these may come as a shock, but companies have extended their usage of every bit of animal while dishearteningly discarding lives that will not benefit them in any way such as male baby chicks.
One may think, what a bland life would it be to not be able to eat a hamburger, a hot dog, pepperoni pizza, or scrambled eggs. The truth is, none of this is actually necessary to give up. I am pleased to inform you that yes, vegans have the option of making all of these dishes by meat-alternatives now more commonly provided at local convenience stores.
Here’s a list of meat-alternatives for vegans provided by Peta.org
This one provided by Buzzfeed (includes eggs for lacto-ovo vegetarians)
Now, there are several kinds of vegetarians and at least one other form of veganism (freegan) I know of, but here’s a short description to help you understand:
Why would people feel the need to leave meat off their plates?
People can incorporate this kind of diet based on moral beliefs (an ethical approach), or for health reasons (high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes…etc.). Whatever the case may be, it’s inevitable one may find ourselves with the truth of the way animals are abused, neglected, and eventually killed for the satisfaction of a human meal the longer you remain a vegetarian/vegan. You can learn more about the meat-industry with some of the links below at your convenience.
Take a look at 10 famous vegetarians you might have heard of already!
Having personally experienced veganism for about half a year as a college student, the financial odds were not in my favor in terms of splurging on all things organic and raw. However, I came to find that it truly wasn’t an expense I couldn’t afford. As it turns out, it is absolutely cheaper to buy a pound of broccoli than a pound of beef. Convenient, I’ll say! There will be moments when you will come across the slightly more costly options such as protein supplements (if you’re seeking that extra build), organic options without having gone under a refining process or chemical preservatives, or traditional meal with meat-alternatives such as tofu tamales. But when you find yourself wondering whether or not you should spend a little bit more, think about how costly it would be in the long-run to feed your body chemically-processed foods.
Incorporating your love for the animals or for this planet or both, you’ll find yourself making choices that you would have otherwise never considered beneficial. One thing I’ve had to incorporate even as a vegetarian (I transitioned from vegan to vegetarian on Jan. 1, 2015), was usage of certain kind of products, such as make-up. I’m the type of person to use my body as a canvas so I enjoy using cosmetics. It wasn’t until I realized that animal-testing must stem from somewhere. When I went vegan, I felt horrible for never having considered the fact that A.) I was putting chemicals on my face, my skin, the largest organ on my body! and B. ) these chemicals had to be tested on someone or something else. I then realized that people have gone through the extent of using animals as a means to perfect corporate cosmetic lines for women and men’s vanity reasons. Do I really want to make my cheeks seem perfectly rosy and my lashes long even if it means the pain and suffering of a small defenseless creature? I asked myself this and got rid of all of my products. Absolutely everything: shampoos, conditioners, body wash, hand soap, mascara, foundation, body lotion, cleaning products. I no longer wanted to contribute to companies that were involved in the act of harming millions of lives. Look for the bunny. Products that do not test on animals usually have a logo of a bunny, bunny ears, or a simple statement that declares it has not been tested on animals.
One thing I’ve learned as an anthropology student here at Texas State is that humans are animals. Our 2:1:2:3 (if memory serves correctly) dental formula provides as some evidence that perhaps we were not meant to eat meat. Although our teeth are strong enough, the mere fact that we have the option to eat meat does not require us to eat meat. Being an omnivore by classification does not mean we must incorporate both diets. In fact, there are several animals with sharp teeth that would make you think they can tear any animal to shred by preference. And they very much can but surprisingly turn out to be herbivores. Here are some good reasons why being able to eat meat doesn’t necessarily mean we should.
Drawing back to the anthropological position of the situation, we can think of ourselves as animals because that is what we are. Humans merely are bipedal which is a great transition of the foramen magnum (a hole in the back of your neck where your vertebrae connects to your brain). The fact that we are bipedal and have developed the ability to speak does not mean we have evolved across species. The ultimate goal of evolution is not to become human, therefore Homo sapiens establishing dominance over other animals seems to be somewhat unnecessary.
It seems to be a matter of coexistence. Our cranial capacity of approximately 1400cc and our placement in the Hominidae Family is a classification as a species and the relatedness of close species in terms of evolution (change). It is not a simple classification and it is an extensive order that may vary according to new finds but the point is, humans have perhaps taken advantage of developed traits that have possibly helped the race survive, but the situation seems to have spiraled out of control. Here’s one article to give you an idea of the environmental impact of the meat-industry.
It’s important to also keep in mind the effect of chemically-altered or genetically-modified foods we tend to consume on a daily basis, and how this has already affected us individually, as a whole, and as a planet.
Another important thing to note is how you can help contribute to local businesses over large corporations that will only bring harm aside from the temporary convenience of taste, location, or expense. Check out some reasons to shop locally!
But how will I eat when I’m out with friends?
I’ve been in the situation where my friends are concerned that they’ve chosen a restaurant that only seems to offer an endless array of meat options and they’ve brought me along with them. One must learn to really scan the menus on hand or prior to entering establishments. Usually, restaurants that offer vegetarian/vegan options label their dishes to make the options simpler to find. However, it’s good to have some knowledge of what kind of places may offer options for you and even some sort of mental list of what you could pick from the menu without vegetarian/vegan labels. Below is a list of popular restaurants with vegetarian/vegan-friendly options and accidental vegan foods you may already have in your pantry.
Accidental vegan foods list on Peta.org
Benefits? I’ll let you have you a look
Why I went vegan, and took a step back towards vegetarianism.
I had always considered what life would be like if I no longer ate meat every day. How would that ultimately affect me? I found myself posing this question constantly. It wasn’t until I reached a peak of my eating disorder that I realized there needed to be something done in order to live, to get better. The reason for which I took a step back and began a vegetarian lifestyle as of Jan. 1, 2015 was because my mind and spirit needed to adjust. It’s a process, but an especially difficult one for someone with an eating disorder.
There are so many ways you can contribute and incorporate either vegetarianism/veganism into your everyday life. It isn’t as difficult as you may think. Leaving meat off your plate as well as making choices that will allow you to break away from animal-cruelty or negative environmental impact can take it’s time. You may savor the flavor of a steak or fried chicken, but it is important to note that we have a choice to nourish our bodies with life instead of death. Picture your body as a garden or a morgue. I choose to be green.