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No. 4: Vegetarians

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Vegetarians

First | Previous | 2015-01-29 | Next | Latest

Strip by: David Morgan-Mar

T-Rex: Get this: vegetarians can't eat jelly!
T-Rex: It's got gelatin in it!
T-Rex: Which is bits of dead cows! Yummy yummy cows.
Utahraptor: Not all vegetarians are that strict.
T-Rex: Well then they're hypocrites.
Utahraptor: People can eat whatever they want. They don't need to justify to you.
T-Rex: Hey, Linda! Hands off my trifle!

The author writes:

By "jelly" I mean gelatin desserts. Which are one of the ingredients in a good old trifle, of course.

I'm bemused when I see people in online forums trying define what it means to be "vegetarian". Or if someone says, "I'm vegetarian, am I allowed to eat jelly/cheese/wine/beer/whatever?" and people answer, with quite the air of authority, "No! You can't!!!"

The correct answer should (in my opinion) be: "Here are what the ingredients are made from. You decide for yourself if you want to eat them."

Jelly contains gelatin, made from "collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish." Cheese may contain rennet, extracted from the stomach lining of calves. Wine and beer may have been fined (clarified) using isinglass, extracted from the swim bladders of fish.

If you want to avoid eating all products that were once the flesh of animals, you may want to avoid these foods. If you just don't want a slab of red meat on your plate, then you may be perfectly okay with eating jelly or drinking wine. For the former to call the latter "not a real vegetarian" smacks of No True Scotsman.

The thing is there are many shades along the continuum of vegan to carnivore. Trying to cram them all into two or three descriptive words is a bit limiting. Make your own decisions and don't be pigeonholed anywhere you don't want to be.