I have been a vegetarian all my life. Even when I migrated to New Zealand I managed the continuation with my Vegetarianism happily without any second thoughts. Everyone used to ask me a bunch of various questions like:
“How do you survive?
Don’t you suffer from mal-nutrition?
Isn’t it boring eating vegetables all the 365 days?
Are all Indians Vegetarians?
Oh, Is it a religious thing? That you ‘Have To’ follow Vegetarianism and can’t eat meat even if you want to.”
You know what? I am okay with all these questions as far as they don’t come with an offensive or shaming undertone. I understand the curiosity and the fact that the world has a gamut of diverse cultures, food habits and lifestyles. Well, my answer has always been…“I’ve been a vegetarian since my birth; I am pretty healthy; in fact, perfect BMI (Body Mass Index), There is a plethora of vegetarian dishes I can cook and create. (More than 387 dishes to be precise). Not all Indians are vegetarians. Many of us are omnivores. And as far as I am concerned being vegetarian has nothing to do with my religion; its an ethical choice. I am an ardent animal lover. I am extra sensitive about them and can’t think of taking their lives in order to fill my tummy.” Also, I personally perceive that when we humans used to be Neanderthals we used to prey animals and consume them because there was no other option, we were ignorant of our agricultural capabilities. If I still choose to eat meat then doesn’t it mean that I haven’t evolved at all since then? By no means I intend to call people who like to consume meat insensitive or unethical but as I said, its more of a personal ethical preference for me. Also, Non-vegetarianism has affected the environment we all live in.
Check out my another reason: How eating meat is harmful for the environment here by 👉 PETA
Here are 8 health related and other various Reasons elaborated with facts and figures to Why Not to Eat Meat by 👉 Bustle.com
At the end of the day, Vegetarianism is a debatable issue. But one thing that can make it simpler is ‘Choice’. If a person likes to eat meat; its his or her choice and if not like me, then again its a personal choice.
Anyways, coming to the point; my objective after this Blog Post Title, “So, you think you’re Vegetarian?” is to throw some light on some of the food objects which you might have been consuming considering they’re vegetarian-friendly but they are not to be blatant; especially if you are passionate about your vegetarianism and super sensitive about the animal cruelty like I am.
Evidelntly, I love heaps of cheese on my veggie sandwich..Who doesn’t? But what if I break it to you that your Vegetarian Sandwich is not that vegetarian due to exactly the same part of sandwich you love it the most: CHEESE 🧀 Most cheeses aren’t so much vegetarian after all. They contain an ingredient/culture called Rennet/Enzyme
💡What is Rennet?
It’s an enzyme or coagulant that helps to separate the milk into solid curds and liquid whey during the cheese-making process.
Rennet is extracted from the inner liner of the fourth stomach chamber of slaughtered young, unweaned calves. Its also called Animal Rennet or Calf Rennet.
I am sorry for this shocking revelation. I know, your next question would be, “Then what should we do?, Should we stop consuming cheese at all?” – No you don’t. You will be more conscious while you shop now onward. You will read the labels and ingredients of the products. Fortunately, there are some types of Rennet/Enzyme that we Vegetarians can have without any doubt like..
💡Citric Acid Or Vinegar Usage: Some cheeses like Ricotta are coagulated using simple lemon juice or vinegar. These coagulants are decidedly vegetarian.
💡Vegetarian Rennet/ Non Animal Rennet: (duh 🙃) True vegetable rennet comes from plants which produce certain enzymes that have coagulating properties e.g fig tree bark, nettles. The Vegetarian rennet term is often used interchangeably with 👇
💡Microbial Rennet: Microbial rennet is produced by a specific type of mold, fungus or yeast organism grown and fermented in a lab setting. This coagulant is considered vegetarian friendly as the enzyme produced by the organism is not derived from an animal.
But on the contrary there is a version of Microbial rennet that is some where in between Vegetarian and Animal derived rennet. e.g 👇
👉 FPC-Fermentation Produced Chymosin/ Rennet: This version of microbial rennet is made by taking the rennin producing gene out of the animal cell’s DNA string and then inserting into the a bacteria, yeast or mold host cell’s DNA string. It means that its kind of a GMO – (Genetically Modified Organisms) product which is kind of vegetarian friendly but still animal originated.
If it seems mind-boggling at first sight. Let me simplify it for you by providing you lists of Green Tick ✅ and Red Flag 🚩 lists of words to look out for on the product labels while you shop.
Apart from cheese there are some more food objects which have another 🚩 Red Flag ingredient to look out for: Gelatine!
💡What is Gelatine?
Gelatine is a yellowish, odourless and tasteless protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water for a long time. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs.
I am sorry to say this but your favourite Gummy Bears contain Gelatine! From marshmallows, yoghurts (non-organic and flavoured ones), packaged soups, jams, jellies to your yummy Gelato (Duh!) They all contain Gelatine and even your medicinal capsules are coated with it! Well, the good news is.. there are some vegan alternatives to some of these food objects available now! For e.g. Vegan Friendly Marshmallows, Organic Yoghurt/Indian Yoghurt and Vegetarian Meds!
And I hope that it will make you happier that Gelatine does have a vegetarian substitute called Agar Agar Or Kanten. Its a white and semi- translucent gelatinous substance, obtained from algae aka red edible seaweed!
I believe whatever goes in your body; affects you now or at a longer run. Several of the most common cancers have to do with your gastrointestinal system. (The function of the body that processes the food you eat). So, why not get imbibe the invaluable life as long as we can even at the stake of being called different names such as: ‘Picky’, çhoosey’, ‘the show-off’, ‘snob’, ‘vegan-drama’! Its our life and we have its steering in our hands till we are alive! So, Happy Vegetarianism and welcome to Well-being!
( Link Sources: How eating meat is harmful for environment – Peta.org and Why Not to Eat Meat – Bustle.com)