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Vegetarian Journal 2002 Issue 1

Vegetarian Journal's 2001 Essay Winners


By Sage Newell, 8 yrs
Eugene, OR
(Youngest Category Winner)

Hi, my name is Sage. I am a vegetarian because we think it is better to eat something that can't get you sick: Example: do carrots get colds? No. Do cows? Yes. Do you want to get sick? No. Then don't eat cows, the same with the other animals. And red meat is really hard for your body to process! It's true it's harder to digest than your basic veggies and fruit! They are your main energy source believe it or not so think again before biting on a spoonful of tuna! Oh, and that reminds me, fish is meat and anything with a face is meat and that is a sure fact. If you want to be a veggie eater like me and my family just stop eating meat! But it feels kind of weird with all these people asking you all these questions. What is a vegetarian? Am I one? Can you eat fish? Ham? Beef? But it also feels good being one because I know that I won't get anything like Mad Cow disease or anything like that. But sometimes I want to know what it's like eating meat. It's just cool! And speaking of vegetarians, my friend Mrs. Byczek is also another vegetarian that I know. I don't know how long she has been one but I know she is one. I have been a vegetarian all my life, so has my family. And it feels very healthy being one because you can't get any illness that the animals had. I think I've mentioned that before. My brother has allergies and asthma! But all these veggies help him from getting too many asthma attacks and allergy problems and besides it isn't too nice hurting someone your size? Well, huh? No, and anyway we are all connected to each other so if you eat animals you are really eating a fellow friend! So I think it's better to be a vegetarian. Besides I don't like the sound of blood being shed! I like the sound of vegetarianism-because you don't really have to watch a bundle of cabbage really, like, die, no blood is in it so none will be shed. And veggies have lots and lots and LOTS of vitamins and minerals! (in case you never noticed).

My point is: vegetarians should be everywhere so our fellow animals can live in peace like we can! And because of all the vegetarians in the world, there are more animals to be spared! Can we kind of change the subject? Thanks. My family eats some different things that you don't eat like falafels, tofu sprout burgers, tofu sticks, and once I tried steamed bananas, but that's another story. Anyway there's a lot to vegetarianism but I got to go so. . . bye!

I'm a Vegetarian and Proud of it

By Nicole Guenther, 10 yrs
Vancouver, WA
(Middle Category Winner)

"Ew. That person's eating meat." My brother is too little to have a real opinion about vegetarianism, but he looks grossed out when he sees someone eating meat, and usually whispers that.

I don't think it's nice to kill and eat poor, innocent animals just because some people happen to prefer meat to fruits and vegetables. How would you like it if a cow came and ate you? I have been a vegetarian my whole life, and I plan to remain one.

We were at a restaurant and I was eating a big plate of slippery, shiny, Jell-O, and I saw that my father had a funny look on his face. He asked me, "Do you know what you are eating?" I answered, "Jell-O."

"That's just what you think you're eating."

"What is it?"

"Oh, I don't think you want to know."

"No, tell me!"

"All right. Jell-O has gelatin in it."

"What's gelatin?"

"Something made out of horses' hooves."

"Yuck!" I haven't eaten Jell-O since then. (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of English Language defines gelatin as, "A brittle, nearly transparent, faintly yellow, odorless, and almost tasteless glutinous substance obtained by boiling in water the ligaments, bones, skins, etc., of animals, and forming the basis of jellies, glues and the like.") We have found out that (disgusting!) all marshmallows have gelatin in them, too. Marshmallow cream doesn't have gelatin, though, so we use that in our cocoa. The yogurt we had been eating contained gelatin, as did our vitamins. We found different brands.

We live next to a field. Cows live there, and I know them by name. I know which ones will take an apple out of my hand, and which ones are shy. I think a lot of people don't realize where their beef comes from. It is very different to go to the store and buy beef than to see two of the cows that you have fed apples to for two years being loaded onto a truck in big bags. (We named one of them "Rocket" because the school we live next to was sending off little rockets the day he was born. The other we had named Daisy.) They were hanging in big bags and there was a pile of cow guts on the ground. If I was a meat-eater, and I saw what we saw, I wouldn't be a meat-eater very much longer.

Our cats and dogs are different from us. Being a carnivore is natural to them, and it would be very unnatural for a cat or a dog to be vegetarian. Some people make their cats and dogs be vegetarian, just because that's their belief. I don't think that it's fair to the dogs and cats. People are different because we can choose.

In a lot of places in Europe, there is a disease that affects hoofed animals, like pigs, cows, goats, and sheep, called hoof-and-mouth disease. It's a viral disease that can be caught through dust in the air. Hooves and mouths become blistered, causing lameness, more saliva, and loss of appetite. The animals lose weight and give less milk. In the places that are affected they are going to have to kill all the infected animals. People won't be able to eat them, even though humans don't catch it. If they send the meat to different parts of the world, the animals there will catch the disease. All that makes me glad I'm a vegetarian.

It's sometimes difficult to be a vegetarian. One day we were at a quilting group, and we were eating something said to be "veggie." We had eaten about four bites when we were told that it had chicken broth in it. All we had to eat after that was bread.

I probably won't ever be a vegan. Being a vegan means that you are a vegetarian, but you also don't eat eggs, dairy products, and honey. We don't eat honey, because they have to kill bees to get the honey. Plus, it's kind of disgusting to eat it. It's bee barf! Most vegans don't use silk, leather, and wool, because they all come from animals. It would be hard. So many things have eggs and milk in them, like ice cream, cookies, cake, and fresh, warm brownies!

There was an article in the Atlantic Monthly that claims McDonald's makes their French fries with animal products. (I don't eat McDonald's French fries anymore.) It says, "Beef is a probable source, although other meats cannot be ruled out. In France, for example, fries are sometimes cooked in duck fat or horse tallow." Animal products might be in a lot of things. They could be either in artificial or natural flavors. The people working at McDonald's wouldn't know what is in the flavorings.

I think that vegetarians are more likely to have a little more respect for animals. I don't like it when people see a little spider and scream, "Ew! Yuck! A spider! Get it away from me!" A lot of the time they will squish it or stamp on it. The spider is probably more scared of them than they are of it.

It would have been hard to be a vegetarian in the past, since fruits and vegetables weren't available all year round, there were no organic stores, no tofu-based products, and one of their main sources of food would have been meat. Some people didn't eat meat because they were too poor.

In India the cow is worshipped. Probably they would be horribly shocked if they knew how many people in the United States ate beef. "YUCK!"

What's For Dinner?

Rainey Sokol, 17 yrs
Norfolk, VA
(High School category winner)

Meat. It is present at every traditional American meal. Filling every oven, freezer, supermarket, and table, meat is a staple in American cuisine. Served up for dinner, for lunch, even for breakfast, meat finds its way into every home and into the mouths of us all. Who would ever imagine just eating vegetables for dinner? What a horrid thought. I, however, began pondering that idea almost five years ago. No, I did not suddenly jump out of bed one morning with the realization that I wished to become a vegetarian; it was a slower change encompassing much thinking and contemplation.

I have always loved animals, and my childhood dream was to become a veterinarian (of course, that was before I knew of any other animal occupations). Caring for animals just seemed to be in my nature, and as I got older, it showed and became more prevalent. As I neared the end of middle school the idea of the food on my plate being more than just a hamburger or a barbecue began to bother me. I found myself constantly looking at my food and thinking, "This was a cow," or "That was a pig." Slowly I stopped eating red meats and pork, unable to overcome the fact that what I was eating used to be a living, breathing animal. I began doing research on vegetarianism, more specifically animal rights. Sitting, reading articles and books about the cruel treatment of these slaughterhouse animals brought me to tears and also to a comfort, a comfort in the understanding that I was not causing pain to these animals any longer. Moreover, I came to know that it was not just red meat that was once alive; it was the chickens and fish also. Now, as PETA-ish as that may sound, I made a decision based on my own beliefs and in no way created a guilt trip for others. With apprehension, fear, excitement, I officially declared myself a vegetarian in the summer before my freshman year in high school.

Then it hit me. The teasing, the comments, the jokes, the lack of understanding, even the "What am I going to eat for dinner?" My mom complained about making extra foods for my meals, and my dad was concerned with my health. Everyone seemed to be against my idea. Suddenly I felt all alone, buried deep into my own meatless doom. I was constantly joked and questioned. People found it absurd that I didn't miss cheeseburgers and spare ribs, hounding me with "How can you do it? Don't you miss meat?" No, I did not miss meat at all; that wasn't the problem. What I missed was being normal, fitting in, being a part of the mold I was supposed to fit during high school.

Filled with that torment, that lack of understanding, and that ridicule, my past four years of being a vegetarian in high school have been wonderful. I know, strange adjective, right? Wrong, the change in my eating habits has only made me better and stronger. I feel so much healthier; the change is incomparable. Before, I was so focused on what others thought that I failed to enjoy my endeavor. In carrying out my decision to become a vegetarian and sticking with it, I am happier than I have ever been. Fitting a set mold-eating hamburgers, grilling steaks, marinating chicken-only inhibited my growth. By being a vegetarian I learned that it is okay to be different, that not fitting that set mold is in fact a good thing. Nowadays, all my close friends respect my decision. They have come to realize that I am one of the few who have made a stand, not for the trendy aspect of a meatless life, but for my own happiness. I know I am different from the majority of people out there, but I have learned that there is nothing wrong with that. I know that I may never alter any of my friends' eating habits, but before every barbecue I always pack a few extra veggie burgers-just in case they change their minds.

Excerpts from the 2002 Issue 1:

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.

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