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Steakhouse and Korean BBQ crisis!

Posted by: jennchen115 | October 30, 2011 | 1 Comment |

Yesterday was my friend’s 21st birthday. She held the event at a Korean BBQ (all you can eat buffet) restaurant. Spend $30 watching everyone BBQ-ing meat on the grill in the middle of our table, while I was eating salad, corn, and korean cold noodles, “japchae.” I don’t know if any of you have even experienced Korean BBQ, apparently, it’s really delicious. You can select the meat you wish to bbq, and then experience the actually process of “cooking” the meat yourself. Plus each grill is planted in the middle of a large table with vents on top, easily accessible and no worries of bugs attacking you in the woods since it’s indoors.

I was surprised I was even able to FIND food that I can eat. Sigh… another day I found being a vegetarian a nuisance.

I remember during my Atlantic city trip in the past summer, my friends wanted to eat at the famous Steakhouse there. (I’ve forgotten the name) And me, being not wanted to be left out, went along. Well, the experience was sure interesting. Watching everyone spend $50-100 on their steaks while I ordered a $15 dollar salad. That was literally the only thing I can eat, besides the bread with butter. How sad. But can’t complain, what’s a vegetarian doing in a steakhouse in the first place? Haha, this is why people call me a “Cheap Date.”

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To be continued…

tune in for voices from friends who have turned into vegetarians. the struggles and blessings they’ve went through. how their parents reacted when they went home one day and told them they no longer wish to eat meat. It’ll be fun.

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In 2008, my mom came home with a slaughterhouse video. The video had a huge impact in my life. Before she played it, she did ask for my permission. “Jennifer, as my daughter, I wish to give you your freedom to choose what kind of food you wish to eat. But before you do, you should watch this. I warn you that it will contain things you’ve never seen before and may never ever want to see again. Do you wish to continue? ”

Now, I’ve heard rumors of what goes behind those “houses” but never have I witnessed it on screen. I was curious; my mind was fresh at the moment. Kids are often sheltered from the true cruelty outside their protection. Curiosity caught the better of me and I played the video.

It was… tragic, disgusting, heartbreaking, and horrifying. A mixture of all those emotions all at once had me stopped eating meat once and for all. I couldn’t help turning my head the other way when I heard the man slice the throats of those cows half way and then let them die slowing from loss of blood in a den. I can still remember the screams of those cows. The image was still fresh in my mind. I couldn’t help but feel repulsed at how “deformed” those chickens were in their cage or how sick and dirty those pigs were and the food they fed them and how they killed them. And I couldn’t help running a few tears down as I saw those poor chicks jumping on top of each other trying to run away as their comrades were being grinder-ed live into the machine.

There were plenty of other scenes but I couldn’t bear to watch them all. It should be a crime! The way animals were treated there. It was… too much for me to handle. I’m now glad my parents raised me as a vegetarian. I’m glad that although I can’t change what goes behind a slaughter house, I can still make a small difference by not supporting their actions and eating meat. Human beings have emotions, they have attachments and bonds. If you bond with an animal for a long enough of time, you will be repulsed when you see the animal you once played with, sliced up into pieces and served on your plate. If you think you can just not eat the animals you’ve bonded with and just eat the ones that you don’t know and never seen killed, then I’m sorry, but you’re just a hypocrite. It’s like saying, I can’t kill my friends or family but if they’re strangers it’s okay.

I’ll have to admit, I’m a hypocrite too. Even as a vegetarian, I’m often criticized when I say I don’t eat meat because of the animals. I really do feel bad for them. Honestly, killing animals is 90% of why I couldn’t bring myself to meat in the first place. “Yeah, what about your leather boots? Or leather bags? And the make-ups you’ve use? Leather comes from cafe skin, and those makeup and medicines are all tested on animals before they’re put on display.” It’s true. I own a few leather boots and bags. And I’m not really sure how half of my makeup or lotions were tested before they were brought by me. I’m not perfect. No human is. The idea of a vegetarian diet on behalf of saving animals isn’t perfectly developed yet. It’s just too broad to make the argument flawless. But it’s better than nothing. At least I can make a small difference by not eating meat. If more restaurants were veggie friendly, and more products can be produced without testing it on animals then it would be easier for people to turn or staying a vegetarian. As for medicine, I guess if it’s inevitable, then we have no choice. There are many experts who are still searching for ways to make things possible.

As for me, being a vegetarian, didn’t just turned me into a non meat eater, it turned me into a “genuinely compassionate human being,” like it did to Phillip Wollen.

I believe that any difference will work. There are also a lot of improved slaughter houses recently. They’ve found ways to kill animals in a painless method and that’s great. The ideal world would be if everyone turned vegan. But that’s why it’s called an “ideal” world. Even I don’t have faith in giving up eggs and milk. However small changes are the first step to a bigger change. The term vegetarian is already a lot more popular than it was a century ago. I’m sure in the future the term will spread even more. “You should be grateful,” my mother always say.  “Back in my days, there really was nothing to eat for vegetarians. Now, you guys have it easier.” And it’s true. It not really as hard as you think, replacing a burger with a veggie burger or taking out the meat in pasta and replacing them with vegetables. As long as one makes an effort, it’s really not that hard at all.

I guess it’s easier for me since I was raised as a Vegetarian, but I have close friends that i’ve grew up with who eventually became a pescetarian and are slowing climbing their way up to a vegetarian. And trust me when I say, I wasn’t the one that “bit them on the neck” and converted them. They had their own experiences with slaughterhouses and brochures. I didn’t do anything. Honestly! =)

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Growing up as a vegetarian… I must say, wasn’t easy. Everywhere I go, I was limited in food choices. People around me would stare blankly when they find out I don’t eat meat. Not every restaurant were veggie friendly, therefore it was hard to fill my stomach when I’m out at dinner events. What’s even harder, was explaining why I am the way I am to every person that I come across who finds my “eating habits” odd. “YOU’RE VEGETARIAN???” “Why don’t you eat meat?” “Eww… so what? You eat rabbit food all day long?”

No, I don’t eat rabbit food all day long. I don’t even like carrots.

The funny thing is that, it doesn’t matter what answer I give them I still become the center of their jokes. “Save a cow! Eat a vegetarian!” -right…

People usually joke around saying I’m a cheap date. There’s no need to bring me to fancy French restaurants since I can’t eat 90% of the food there. “There’s grass everywhere, just bring her outside” they said. “A vegetarian? Good luck in finding a boyfriend then. And a husband! Ha! I don’t think I can deal dating a non meat eater,” those were some of the other few words my so called “friends” would throw out.

So exactly… Why AM I a vegetarian?

Well, my parents were vegetarians before I was even born. That was the diet of our households. It was the diet my two older sisters grew up with and it was the diet I was born into.  So basically, I didn’t have much of a choice when I was young. Having to never tasted meat before, my body automatically rejects the idea of consuming a once living animal into my stomach. Just the thought of it grosses me out. Although my parents never physically “forced” me to NOT eat meat, since I grew up eating vegetarian food, psychologically, I would puke by certain textures of meat.

Textures? Now how would I, a vegetarian all my life, know what meat textures taste like? – Alright, you’ve caught me. I wasn’t ALWAYS a vegetarian. Back in elementary, I liked to consider myself as a HALF vegetarian. I actually did not know that such term even existed until I did research for this blog. I always thought I was special, and made up the term on my own. “Half vegetarian? There’s no such thing as half vegetarians. It’s either you eat meat or you don’t,” my best friend would often say. Turns out there are actually a scientific term for half vegetarians.  Flexitarian or Semi-vegetarians are people who mostly eat a vegetarian diet but once in awhile would eat meat.

School, as I was growing up, did not have much veggie options. All they had was pizza, fries, and bread. Now that’s not really a healthy meal, especially if consumed every single day. Shortage of food was a big issue for me back then. I was a growing child who needs her nutrients and if there’s no food at school for me to eat, I can’t just starve, I had no choice but to begin experimenting meat.

I believe the very first meat I ate was chicken. It was one of those crispy fried chicken patties they give out at lunch in elementary. I didn’t really like the actual white meat texture, but I loved the crispy corners of the meat where it’s fried with breadcrumbs.

Then it was Kentucky Fried Chicken. Oh boy, those were good. The crispy skin fried with… whatever they fried them with… was delicious. I usually just eat the outside then give the inside to my friends. I had a weakness for crispy fried food, what can I say? When my mom found out, although she didn’t really like me eating meat, she didn’t really oppose the idea either. Although she DID find her own way to make me change my mind. “You love the crispy fried part? That’s the skin of the chicken. Imagine someone frying your skin and them ripping them apart to eat it.” Okay, that image really grossed me out. Thanks mom, you totally nailed it.

Next was bacon. Bacon… omg, I cannot stretch out how much in love I was with bacon. Bacon egg and cheese are to die for. Anything with bacon on it was magnificent.

My grandmother from my mother’s side was not as understanding in a vegetarian diet as my father was in the beginning when my mom first turned. “It’s the cycle of life” my grandmother would often argue. “Animals eat animals to survive. It’s the survival of fittest.” My grandmother and my mom would often get into an argument when my grandmother would sneak meat into my plate. “Let her be the one to choose,” my grandmother says out loud. “She has the right to try them at least once.” My mother would often respond with, “You shouldn’t force it into her plate either. If she doesn’t feel comfortable in eating it then just let her be.”

My mother first began her vegetarian diet shortly before she was pregnant with me. My grandmother would often sneak meat into her plate without tell her or cook soup with meat and say it’s vegetarian. Although, my mom would always know, and would dump out the food, she knows that my grandmother was only looking out for her. After all, she was pregnant, how else would she get her nutrition from if she doesn’t eat meat.  I guess it’s hard for parents to accept when their son or daughter all of the sudden comes home a vegetarian when they’ve been eating meat all their life.

My father was a bit more understanding although he was not about to give up meat himself. But eventually he too became a vegetarian after the 1st or 2nd year I was born. Whenever I asked my father, how did he end up changing his mind, he would respond with, “you’re mother has her ways.”

During my high school years, although I was mostly only eating a vegetarian diet, once in awhile I would eat meat outside the household. At the time, I found it unavoidable. It was hard not to meat when there was rarely anything else to eat. Other times, it was for my own self satisfactions.  Although I eat certain kinds of meat, there are also other kinds of meat that I was unable to consume. Even the smell of the dish made my stomach turn. I can’t really explain this old behavior, but let’s just leave it as physiological reasoning. I remember there was once; I was over at a friend’s house. Her Aunt made a whole table of really nice Chinese food but I couldn’t bring myself to eat them.  Feeling bad, her Aunt would ask me what would I like to eat, and she’ll order them. My answer was, “Chicken Nuggets!” I’m sorry, I was only used to eating fried chicken and bacon. Any other meat, I was not used to. Well needless to say, my friend’s Aunt didn’t like that answer very much.

It was hard, explaining to everyone my strange behaviors. How some meat I can consume while others would like me run to the bathroom. They didn’t really understand it. Some even thought I was being rude to their cooking. (For example, my friend’s Aunt)

Not trying to be depressing but, a child growing her in a world surrounded by meat eaters, has its physiological side effects. Sometimes I found myself resenting my parents for raising me “differently.” I wanted to be able to eat meat. I wanted to be able to blend in with the crowd and have multiple choices on the menu. I wanted to not to cause trouble for my friends whenever we can’t eat at places they want to eat at since it wasn’t veggie friendly. I wanted to not have any more trouble with the waitresses when my order goes wrong and meat appears on my dish. When I was a teen, I wanted to be like everyone else, Carnivores.

So how did I stop eating meat once and for all? Well… like my father said, my mother had “her ways.”

She came home one day, with a video of the slaughter house.

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Pescetarian, Vegetarian, Vegan, what does it all mean?

Posted by: jennchen115 | September 15, 2011 | 3 Comments |

One of the most common questions I get as a Vegetarian is people asking me, what’s the difference between a Vegetarian and a Vegan? And what in the world is a Pescetarian?

You’ll be surprised that there are people in certain parts of United States who has never even heard of the term Vegetarian. Those parts are usually located in the Southern States, where many restaurants there aren’t veggie friendly. Here in New York, we are blessed with a large percentage of diversity therefore Vegetarians aren’t uncommon to be found.

Now what exactly is the difference between these three types?

Pescetarian, like vegetarians and vegans, does not eat any type of animal meat or flesh. They DO however, eat fish. Some consider life in the sea, not as meat because they are cold blooded. But traditional vegetarians *Me me me* considers ALL living animals, to be meat. The term isn’t very commonly used *I probably can’t even pronounce it correctly* but the method is very commonly practiced. Most people consider this method as a stepping stone to become a true vegetarian.

Vegetarians does not eat any type of living animals INCLUDING fish. However, unlike vegans, they DO eat eggs and dairy products. That’s where the term lacto-ovo-vegetarians come from. “Lacto” in Latin means milk and “Ovo” means eggs.

Vegans, does not eat/wear anything that comes from animals. They DO NOT eat eggs, diary products, meat, shellfish, fish, or anything with gelatin in the ingredients.
What’s gelatin? Gelatin is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless substance extracted from collagen inside the skins and bones of animals. Most often found in gummy like candies, jello, marshmallows, and some drugs.
I’ve actually never knew of this term until 2 years ago when my Muslim friend brought it to my attention. I offered her some jelly and she had to scan through the ingredients before she can eat it. I was wondering what she was searching for, and even now, a part of me wished I’ve never asked. Because from that day on, I had to cross out Jelly and gummy from my list of favorite foods.
There are also other types of vegetarians out there that I have not mentioned. Such as, raw vegan or raw food diet and macrobiotics. But I’m not going to go over them since I have very little knowledge about them.
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History of Vegetarianism… how did it all start?

Posted by: jennchen115 | September 15, 2011 | No Comment |

For an introduction to my theme, I’ve decided to do a bit of research on how, where, and when, vegetarians first originated in history.  Considering I’m a vegetarian almost all my life, I’m ashamed I’ve never done this research earlier since there were so much I’ve never knew till this day.

The practice of Vegetarians has been dated back thousands of years ago since Ancient India, Greece, and Southern Italy. It is usually promoted through religious beliefs and philosophers but mostly carried out due to the support of anti-animal cruelty.

Speaking of famous philosophers…Did you know Plato was a vegetarian? I found that extremely funny. Not just Plato, but Pythagoras, Buddha, and even Plutarch were all vegetarians. They were all great minds of history so for them to go vegetarian, it must mean something. I am now proud to be eating the same food as Plato!

Anyway, the practice decreased dramatically in Europe after the “Christianization of the Roman Empire.”  It wasn’t until the 19th to 20th century did the practice begun to resurface again. In 1847, England founded the Vegetarian Society that had around 800 members. The members believe that the term vegetarian, came from the Latin word Vegetus which means whole, sound, fresh and lively. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term came from the word vegetable.

So how did a vegetarian diet start in my family? Well, my parents are Buddhist.  There are many philosophical teachings in Buddhism but the core of them surrounds the idea that one must not harm another living thing. Of course there are many critics who challenge such belief since after all; every life is considered a “living thing.”  Plants, flowers, animals, and etc. Then how did vegetarians drew the line between what can be eaten and what not? I remember asking my mom this very same question when I was an early teen.

“Mom, how come we can eat plants but not animals? Isn’t plants part of life too? Some even say water is part of life. Aren’t we killing the plant’s life when we eat them?”

“My dearest, yes plants are part of life. But it does not contain a soul. And we Buddhist do not harm nor consume anything… that has a soul.”

Souls? I’m guessing a lot of you are a bit confused by what she meant. Buddhism believes in the reincarnation of souls. I’m not exactly a Buddhist expert *shh, don’t let my parents know*, but I believe it goes somewhat like this. Our bodies are disposable, it will eventually decay. But what do last forever are the souls within our bodies. Once a lifetime is over, our souls goes “somewhere” for judgment and depending on our sins, our souls may be reincarnated into animals. Right, you heard me, animals. Of course not every soul reincarnates into animals, some reincarnates into another human being (that’s where the idea of past lives comes from) and others, I guess they go to heaven. However, Buddhists believes that by killing an animal, you may be killing a mother, a father, or a brother and sister in your past life. Buddhists are also heavy believers of karma. By torturing and killing an animal, you may be reincarnated into an animal in your next life to be killed by others. “Then do insects have souls too?” Yes, Buddhists say that insects are reincarnated by those with extreme heavy sins. “So each insect has a soul?” Yes, but not a complete soul. A soul can be shattered into millions of pieces and those pieces become insects.

Now, do I believe in this? Somewhat, but that’s another story. I don’t see anything wrong with it though. It kept me away from harming animals or even flowers. Yes, flowers too. I remember at the age of 7 or 8, I went around the garden picking out colorful flowers. “Look mommy, aren’t they pretty?” “Yes, baby, they are. But why do you pick them out from their roots? By picking them, you are ending its life. It will die faster and other people who pass the same garden you passed won’t be able to share such wonderful joy in its beauty like you did.” – Wow, deep. You go mom. Yes, that’s the life of a Buddhist.

Although there are many vegetarians that are Buddhist, but that doesn’t mean all Buddhists are vegetarians. Some believe in nonviolence of animals but still eat meat. They just follow the three rules that Buddhism teachings provide. 1) One must not eat what they killed. 2) One must not eat what was killed for them. (For example, back in the days, when a family has friends or important visitors over for dinner, they would often kill a cow or a chicken as an offering for their guests) 3) One must not eat what they saw or heard killed. (My older sisters who are a decade apart from me, although they were raised as a vegetarian ever since I was born, they eventually grew to love meat. However they are heavy followers of these three rules. It’s kind of funny in a way. I remember my 2nd elder sister would make her bf go into another room to kill a lobster. “His eye must not see mine” she says.

There are also other religions that practice a vegetarian diet, such as Hinduism. According to Wikipedia, “Indian vegetarians, primarily lacto-vegetarians, are estimated to make up more than 70 percent of the world’s vegetarians. They make up 20–42 percent of the population in India, while less than 30 percent are regular meat-eaters.”

There are also many Jewish and Christian believers who follow a vegetarian diet as well. They believe that the “original diet of the Bible was vegetarian.”

“Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.” Genesis 1:29 “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden” Genesis 2:16 “…you will eat of its {the earth’s} grains.” Genesis 3:18

Of course not all vegetarians are associated with a religion. Although back in the early days, it usually was. Now, there are many vegetarians or vegans who are just simple believers of nonviolence towards animals. As for me, I’m just a huge animal lover, with the exception of insects.  I usually just scream and have my dad come in and take care of them. What we do, is we wrap them up in a tissue and throw them out the window. -Insane aren’t we? Since they can just crawl back in anyway. But hey, what I can’t see won’t hurt me.




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My Life as a Vegetarian

Posted by: jennchen115 | September 15, 2011 | 1 Comment |

Hello there, my name is Jennifer Chen, but a simple Jenn will do. I was born and raised in United States, or New York to be exact, but I come from a Chinese heritage. Currently a student at Queens College, I am double majoring in English and Political Science. Should be at a senior level, but who knows, I lost track with the “upper” or “lower” standards in our school system. GPA? Well, school isn’t really my strongest point but I am definitely a people’s person and can be quite interested to be around with… or maybe not. Actually I’ve been told many times that I can pull off the elegant look as long as I keep my mouth shut, heh.  I live at home with my parents and three dogs. Yes, three dogs. I remember praying everyday for a dog when I was young, but now, sometimes i just want to throw them out the window.

I love reading books, I do, but like many other students, I am cursed with procrastination and laziness. It will take me forever to pick up a book, but once I do, I almost never put it back down until it’s finished. I am also cursed with curiosity, where I often find myself skipping to the last few pages of a book just to see the outcome of the story and then end up being disappointed when I’ve ruined my surprise. It’s a terrible curse and I have not yet been able to conquer it.

The theme I wish to focus on is My life as a vegetarian. The obstacles I had to go through as well as the mentality I had to face growing up in a vegetarian household, among  the world of carnivores. It wasn’t easy and not everyone understood my diet. I once found myself resenting my parents for raising me this way. From my blogs I will walk you through the steps I had to take and my first experience when consuming meat and how I went from a child with no choice to an adult who made her final choice in staying a vegetarian.

My purpose is to clear the misunderstandings people have for vegetarians and to explain the methods how one can survive not eating meat. Perhaps I can even inspire those to hear our voices and see things the way we see, if not, at least understand and respect our choices.

It’ll be fun to walk down my memory lane, now shall we?

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