This October marks an anniversary, of sorts. At that point, I'll have been a vegetarian for five years. There's a few different reasons to be a vegetarian: dietary concerns, large-scale environmental worries, animal cruelty issues, and, less nobly, following a trend. (My brother still insists that I'm a vegetarian to attract attention. Clearly, I don't need to be a vegetarian to get attention. I have a blog.) My basic reasoning went something like the following: there aren't very many black and white issues in life, in terms of morality. Eating meat falls into the grey area. Not eating meat, to me, doesn't have any of that ambiguity, and if you've identified something you think is right, you've got to do it. (By you, I mean me; I'm having enough trouble cultivating an audience without telling you (by which I mean you, the reader) how to live your life.)
On that basis, I'm... not so good a vegetarian.
I decided early on that I didn't want to make a huge deal out of the vegetarian thing (so much for that.) And to that end, I deliberately avoided learning about things like the minuscule amounts of meat in jelly beans (Lecithin), and, well, this. (Warning: potentially disturbing animal images). The difference between a chicken and a block of wood in terms of IQ may depend only on the number of splinters in the wood, but still, the idea that mass production of egg-laying fowl have created a situation where the viable alternatives are either beak-cutting or chicken cannibalism is, to use an understatement, not cool.
So to that end, in light of the upcoming anniversary, I'm shifting my eating habits once again. We'll try some soy products, switch jelly bean brands, and maybe even* try some free-ranged eggs.
* Sorry chickens, but I'm a low-paid grad student who dearly needs his pancakes.
And today, (hence the post), I tried some soy products, specifically, a soy milk and a soy yogurt. Results: not great. In my mind, any soy product that leaves a grain aftertaste has missed a key element in the product it's mimicking. Maybe I'll get used to the taste. Or maybe animals will start liking it when we eat them.
More on the progress of both these initiatives as they develop.