May 18, 2011

On Being a Vegetarian, Part 3: The Egg Question

Okay folks, it's time to talk veg again...I don't think I've thought as much about being a vegetarian in the past few years COMBINED as I have in the past two months.  I'm not sure what it is, but it's weighing on my mind lately, and I thought I'd share my thoughts with you lovely readers...

**NOTE: If you are a meat-lover and uninterested in animal ethics/vegetarianism, this post may not be for you.  As always, this is strictly MY opinions and a reflection of the thoughts running through MY mind.  I am NOT here to convince anyone to do or think anything.  I do not look down on anyone who chooses to eat meat. :)  If I did, I'd have a total of maybe 2 friends!!

In March I started giving some thought to the animal by-products I consume, reading more about cheese/rennet and gelatin...I started wondering if my lacto-ovo vegetarian diet was really doing enough...wondering if it's hypocritical to say I won't eat animals themselves, then going and eating foods made using substances taken from slaughtered animals.  I decided to limit rennet (enzymes taken from cow stomach and commonly used to make cheese) and gelatin (a substance from animal skin and bones) in my diet.  Soon after, I became completely overwhelmed by the rennet issue, partly because it's tough when some labels just say "enzymes" without specifying whether they are vegetarian enzymes or animal enzymes, and party because I just really really love cheese.  I did decide that I could handle giving up gelatin, even after my horrific discovery that it is in SO MANY THINGS.  It hasn't been that hard.  I miss gummy bears, but swedish fish have filled that void in my life. :)

This's eggs.  EGGS.  I love eggs.  I love omelets.  I love scrambled eggs.  I love french toast slathered in eggs.  I love baked goods that have eggs in them.  Eggs are delicious.  They are one of the few meals I can make.  They are an amazing source of protein.  Eggs rock.
Then I read this post on Healthy Tipping Point that kick-started my crazy brain...then the research started...

See I'd always kind of known that the mainstream process of raising chickens for eggs is just as cruel as raising chickens for meat...but as with most things, once you start looking for information about the food industry in the US, you tend to find out more than you ever wanted to learn.  I always kind of knew that hens lived in cages in factory farms, and that their conditions were pretty awful.  But I thought that the "cage free" eggs I try to buy come from humanely raised chickens.  It turns out that to earn the "cage-free" label, it is not required for the hens to have outdoor access.  Worse, beak cutting is still permitted under this label.  Well, gone is my little mental image of chickens happily roaming a farm and laying eggs at their leisure...

I know that I shouldn't get worked up about these things.  I know that there are terrible things going on all over the world, and that if you obsess about all of them suddenly you're not sleeping at night.  The truth is that I'm feeling really overwhelmed.  Which I rationally know is silly.  But I can't help it.  

I'm not sure what my next step is going to be...

I am not saying I'm going to be a vegan.  While I GREATLY admire vegans, and while I even think I could manage to resist the cravings for my favorite animal-based foods, it's more the social things that I think would be too much for me.  Like how hard dinner parties and restaurant meals would be.  And how it ends up kind of annoying friends and family. 

But I AM saying that it's getting harder and harder to justify to myself that being a vegetarian is enough.  And I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by this realization.... :-/

Anyways, that's the soul-search that's currently going on in my crazy head...


  1. Before I moved home, I used to pass semis filled with caged chickens every morning on the way to work. It would break my heart to see all those chickens- I've been considering going vegetarian as well. I hadn't thought about the eggs, though!

  2. I saw the chicken trucks too... on my way down to Florida. The cages were so small!

  3. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
    Liquid Rennet

  4. Hi! I accidentally found your blog when I was looking up ways to recycled "juice boxes" lol! Anyways, if you're still struggling with "eggs" and "wanting to be vegan", I thought that I would share my eating ethics with you, and a few tips about being vegan. It might help a lot!
    1. I've adopted an eating ethic where I only eat vegan at home. Everywhere else I am not strict, but I do try to be vegan if I can. So if I go to a pizza restaurant with friends, I know that all the pizza will have cheese and the pasta will have butter, etc. So I don't worry about it at all! I enjoy the food, the company, and the conversation. If I'm at someone's house, I'll eat what they eat. If meat is a side course and not the main course, I'll see if I can politely decline.
    2. Tips from a vegan! If you would like to go completely vegan, it is important that you understand what nutrients your body needs, health benefits of turning vegan, as well as possible deficiencies. Talk to a non-biased nutritionist. I was fortunate because I happened to have a friend who was a nutritionist. He helped me a lot! Second, it seems like you're a researching-gal like me, so go ahead, dive in, and find out what you can about vegan health! You will find a lot of sites that say different things. There will be days that you will feel OVERWHELMED by the information that you find. But you will achieve your quest! Many sites will claim that vegans cannot get enough protein, calcium, or vitamin B12. This is not the case! Iron is the only nutrient that I have found (so far) to be a problem. I am currently in the research stage for iron, but it seems that there are some plant sources that contain significant amounts of iron. I just haven't been eating them =/
    I hope that this information has helped! =)


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