Every year, my students find out I’m a vegetarian. They inevitably notice what I bring for lunch, or my gentle refusals to share in meat-based meals (read: pepperoni pizza parents bring for birthdays). They always ask me why. One student explained to another, “She won’t eat anything with a face!” It’s true – I don’t eat meat or anything made with meat, which includes foods which contain gelatin (made of animal hooves) or rennet (made of stomach lining). My students are so sweet every year. They gradually learn – without any prompting or preaching from me – which foods have meat, gelatin, rennet, and the like. Children are often more accepting of personal choices than others – although a colleague of mine recently brought a vegan chocolate cake to our staff potluck because she was worried I wouldn’t get any dessert! Basically, I don’t eat or use anything which came from suffering animals, including milk or eggs which haven’t come from small, local, open farms which don’t send their animals to slaughter when they can no longer lay or produce milk. My best friend, B, and I call them ‘pain-free’ products. One of us will pick up something in the grocery store, and the other will say, “Is it pain-free?” Or, “Have you got pain-free eggs on the grocery list?” This includes non-food items, too, like shampoo and make-up. I know it’s good for the earth. I know it’s good for me. But really, even if it wasn’t, I couldn’t stand being the cause, or the monetary support, of another being’s suffering. That’s what it comes down to. If it gets too expensive, I eat something else. If it gets too time consuming to check labels and websites (finding sugar that hasn’t been filtered with bone was a bit trying) then I eat something else, or I do without. I can’t face being part of a chain of suffering. And that’s about it.
Listed below are links to facts, recipes, articles, and BBC’s great “pitfalls” page, which lists slaughter by-products hidden in foods you might not be aware of.
- BBC Vegan: Find vegan recipes and resources.
- Vegetarian Society: Find facts about animal farming and vegetarian recipes.
- Farm Sanctuary: This group “works to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living.” Find facts, resources, and current campaigns.
- Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine: This group’s goal is to “promote compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion.” Find recipes, research, current news, and tips.
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Find recipes, articles, the Vegetarian Starter Kit, info on companies that do and don’t test on animals, and tips on grocery shopping and eating out for vegetarians.
- Veg for Life: This is a Farm Sanctuary campaign. Find a wealth of resources for beginning vegetarians, in addition to helpful links like a directory for cruelty-free clothing. I love the FAQs section.
- The Vegetarian Resource Group: Find TONS of resources and links.