At the beginning of this year, I officially decided to become a vegetarian. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the transition was. Having sticks of biltong shoved under my nose posed as no temptation, not even a little bit. If anything, it was more about curbing mindless habits. When people ask me “but what do you eat?”, I want to laugh out loud. I have actually enjoyed food a lot more now that meat is not the priority in my plate.
What I did not know was that I would be giving up jelly sweets and marshmallows. I was perhaps two weeks into my new lifestyle when I found out the heart-breaking news that these treats were not vegetarian. I struggled to imagine my grocery basket without wine gums or mini marshmallows.
I didn’t know is that gelatine is made from the off-cuts of slaughtered animals. I thought it came from the hooves – in hindsight, I am not sure how I validated this for successful vegetarian diet.
Recently, I saw a video about how gelatine is made. I thought hearing about the process was disgusting, but I was in for a shock. Seeing it was literally nauseating.
Look, I am not here to preach about how superior my vegetarian diet is. I feel that my choice is right, but ultimately what other people eat is not really of interest to me. Additionally, as a side note, I think it is super effective to just decrease the amount of meat and animal products you consume.
After I watched the ‘Gelatin – the real story’, it dawned on me how little we are informed about what we eat. I didn’t start off being vegetarian. In fact, it is quite unheard of in my family and I am aware that I am going to have a lot of room left for dessert at the Christmas family feast.
I actively sought out information about the practices that occur at livestock farms. I had to take it upon myself to research the impact on the environment meat consumption has, it did not just appear on my Facebook timeline. This information is not readily available because it will complete disrupt the way we think about the food we have at home.
Food companies are incredibly skilled at marketing animal products in such a way that the consumers are completely moved from the process of killing the animal. Cow is packaged and sold as ‘beef’, pig as ‘pork’, baby cows as ‘veal’ and animal off-cuts as ‘bovine’.
In fact, they are skilled at marketing all foods that directly benefits them. ‘Free-range’ and ‘organic’ are examples of buzzwords that companies use to manipulate customers, especially when the buyers are not particularly educated about what they imply. Even words like ‘superfoods’, ‘antioxidants’ or ‘gluten-free’ – which may not even relate to animal products – are tossed around without any clarification about what exactly they imply.
What I find particularly interesting is that when I mention the videos I have seen to have shaken my perspective, the responses are “Really? I didn’t even know that!” or “I don’t want to know”. It appears that we know just enough to know that it is more convenient not knowing. We want to feel – not know – that we are doing the right thing.
I think it is important to understand the processes that happened to get your food to its end product. If you find out that gelatine is ground up pig bits and you genuinely do not have a problem with that, that is a completely different story. But I think knowledge and education on the matter is important. People have the right to be well-informed, so that they have full control over what they eat.
(Source of header image: huffingtonpost.com)