Sunday, September 14, 2008

So You're a Vegetarian

Well when I first took my adventure about 15-16 years ago I had no clue what I was doing. And at that time, meat analogs were up and coming but not what they are today. I panicked about what I could and should eat and did not see what I had been cooking for years.

So I lived on boxed macaroni and cheese for days until I figured things out. Now, you have to remember this was before the age of the Internet and looking up new recipes with Orzo, or Wheat Berries was out of the question. You had old cookbooks from your mother and grandmother and then you had to vegetize(I made that word up) them, substitute bacon with Bacos, or dare I say liquid smoke.

I mean think about all the main dishes that were now off limits to me because I was making a choice. OK, so I chose not to eat meatloaf, my choice, I completely get it. So, now I know I can survive on side dishes. I can live with that, or could I? I was born and raised in the South, by Southern women, so bacon drippings was considered a food group in our home. If the dish did not have bacon in it, why bother eating it.

I had my work cut out for me. Now, I was a good vegetarian, asking if there was any meat in dishes when we did go out for dinner. I knew to ask about what the base of the soup was and if those bacon bits were real, but what I did know was the hidden animal by-products. Oh yes, you heard right. There are tons of things that come from animals, and in order for it to get to said product that poor animal had to die.

My first encounter with this little scenario was with gelatin. I had no blessed clue it came from collagen inside animals connective tissue. Correct me if I am wrong, but that animal had to die to get that to us. So out the window Jello went. I had to educate a woman one time, for she told me that it was only an animal by-product. I then informed her that thee animal had to die in order for us to actually get gelatin. I think I made her her...or so I hope I did.

When my daughter was in the school system, she hing out with a little Muslim girl. And during Ramadan this little girl came to school with a list of food items she could not consume, due to the fact that these said items had gelatin in them, and they could not be certain that they did not come from pigs, and pigs being thee main animal that Muslims and Jewish people avoid gelatin. So this little girl avoided them all together just to be safe. My daughter found out that gelatin was in Skittles, one of her then favorites, it has since disappeared from the candies that she eats.

Now, some who are reading this blog find this a bit extreme. I used to feel that way about vegans and raw fooodists. But I am older and hopefully a bit wiser(That is up for debate as far as my children are concerned) and I hope I have become more understanding in my vegetarian community.

So my daughter has taken on the task to eliminate any hidden animal products in the food we eat and any items we may purchase. We gave up liquid fabric softener, due to the fact that it contains tallow, a rendered fat in soaps, candles, and lubricants. Let me just show you a list of things we get form animals that you may not know about, and are hidden in the foods you eat and the products you purchase. You make the choice.

Gelatin (made using meat byproducts)
Lanolin (made from wool)
Rennet (an enzyme found in the stomach of calves, young goats, and lambs that's used in cheese-making)
Honey and beeswax (made by bees) **To me this is still up for debate since no bees actually die in the process, it is what they do naturally**
Silk (made by silkworms)
Shellac (the resinous secretion of the tiny lac insect)
Cochineal (a red dye derived from the cochineal insect)

So there you have it folks... a list of things to look for, and there be more, but that is all I could find for the time being. As I find them, I will post updates and let you all know, thee unsuspecting public, of what is hidden in our food and products.


River said...

This post was fun to read! You really have no choice but to be a paranoid label reader these days!

Your relationship and connection with your daughter seems fascinating to me, you remind me of the Gilmore Girls! That's a compliment, I'm a big fan!

The Cooking Lady said...

Were we seperated at birth. Monk and Gilmore girls, I am impressed. Hey River, my daughter wants to invite you over for dinner. When are you free?

Thanks for the comment.

**And yes, we do see our relationship like theirs, but they talk waaaay faster than me and my daughter**

River said...

You like GG's too! That show was so different than anything else on TV, with all their witty dialogue and unique characters! Nobody talks as fast as the Gilmore Girls.. OK maybe Paris!

So, dinner at Cooking Ladies! I'll bring the brownies and my Gilmore Girls DVDs! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this up! Some people just do not know. I don't blame them because they eat meat, so they don't have to worry about this type of stuff. And you are not extreme at all! That's what being a vegetarian/vegan is about. I don't even eat food that has even touched meat. Some people think that's extreme, but I simply explain that once a food item touches meat it becomes meat also (just like in Jewish-Kosher diet).