A Vegetarian Failure

18 days into the year and I have already failed.

No, this is not a repost of Monday’s posting about my failed blogging efforts. Regrettably, this is another failure of mine to commit myself to change in 2012.

As I explained in a post earlier this month, I decided to become a vegetarian. With many of my closest friends meat-free eaters and the fact that I ate very little meat to begin with, I resolved to make significant changes in my dieting lifestyle.

Since making the change shortly before the new year, avoiding meat products has not been particularly challenging. Although there were a few moments during my time at home that I regretted isolating myself from family dinners, the change has not left me feeling hungry or protein deprived. At school, the cafeteria’s vegetarian choices, salad and pasta bars have satisfied my growling stomach during lunch and dinner. When not eating in the dining hall, my stocked fridge and pantry provides me with plenty of options for meatless, satisfying options. Even more, by avoiding meat, I am not only being environmentally and animal-friendly, but also economically friendly to my college-strapped budget.

But despite the exclusion chicken salad, ham sandwiches or Bolognese from my plate, I realized that I have failed as a vegetarian all along because of simple ignorance.

For at least the last five years I have been a regular consumer of vitamins. Because of my small size, calcium supplements were the first vitamin added to my morning regimen. Then, after noticing that my high school diet lacked healthy well-roundedness, I added a multi-vitamin to the mix to ensure that I was getting at least some of the recommended daily values of nutrients. That vitamin came in the form of a fruit gummy. Rather than swallowing a huge pill, I chose the more kid-friendly route to health.

So when I made the decision to become a vegetarian, it only seemed essential that I continue to take my vitamins. Unfortunately, anyone who knows anything about the ethics of vegetarianism and its restrictions will recognize where I failed. Although at first I thought nothing about my vitamin intake, as I stood in the bathroom one morning, I froze in front of the mirror. Gummy vitamins, while delicious and candy-like, contain gelatin. Gelatin, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a virtually colorless and tasteless water-soluble protein prepared from collagen and used in food preparation as the basis of jellies, in photographic processes, and in glue.” The collagen protein comes from pigskins, cattle hides and bones; i.e. gelatin is an animal product. I.e. I have been consuming an animal product regularly for the past three weeks.

Each time I now walk into my apartment bathroom, the sight of my vitamin jar haunts me of ignorance. As I previously mentioned, I did not make the leap to veganism and forgo all animal products, such as cheese and eggs, but I was serious about my vegetarian commitment. Since making the switch to a meat-free lifestyle, I have been careful to read labels of prepackaged foods and avoid anything in the cafeteria that may have touched meat. Yet, it never occurred to me that the wholesale container of vitamins on my counter was keeping me from being completely loyal to my new cause.

My frustration is further intensified by the fact that I was well aware gelatin was a no-no. Despite my sadness about no longer being able to indulge in fireside s’mores and seasonal peeps, I accepted the absence of marshmallows and other gelatin products in my diet.

In spite of my failure, I am resolving (again) to do this thing right. I have accepted a new challenge of finding supplements for my daily nutrients that do not make a complete mockery of my newfound vegetarian lifestyle.

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6 thoughts on “A Vegetarian Failure

  1. Hmm I actually disagree, but that’s a discussion for in person. Remind me 🙂

  2. I think all vegetarians have been there, especially with gelatin. I’ve been veggie for over 20 years and I know I used to eat in the early days before packages had to be labeled and before I know how to recognize it. I relaxed about it after many years of repacking the contents of gel-caps (went through a period where I needed lots of antibiotics which were only available in gel-caps) in capsules made from agar.

    Be gentle with yourself. It sounds like you have done great so far with the shift. Progress does not need to be an all-or-none, and you have made great strides.

    And, if you’re interested, you can get vegetarian-friendly marshmallows and gummie vitamins at many health food stores or online.

  3. I did a really strict vegan diet for 21 days total but it wasn’t just all vegan, it included only fruits, veggies, legumes, water, herb tea without caffine, water, fruit juices, and soy products. I gotta say simple things such as sugar not being allowed or anything with meat because I am a chef and usually protein with every meal! So I ended up losing 15 lbs total in 21 days, super charged with energy because all the healthy food I was eating. Still congrats to you for doing it 18 days!!

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