Some think of vegetarians as animal rights activists, those who choose not to eat meat to be a silent protest against cruelty to animals.
Jackee Sadicario, a member of the animal rights group Protectors of Animal Welfare, said some people choose to be vegetarian for the “health aspects or the promotion of counter-cultural ideals and a sense of belonging.”
“I became a vegetarian when I was 14,” said Sadicario, a sophomore English and psychology major. “I was mostly influenced by the Gorilla Biscuits and its song ‘Ants and Dogs.’”
Sadicario said she is against cruelty to animals. She said the documentary Stop the Animal Holocaust had a strong impact on her life and her choice to become vegetarian.
Sadicario recently changed her vegetarianism to veganism, a tough but attainable move for those against animal cruelty.
Vegans are more restrictive about their diets than vegetarians because in addition to a restriction on meat, there is a restriction on all products made from animals, including eggs, cheese and butter. Even honey is off-limits for those who identify themselves as vegan. Also, vegans do not use any products that have been tested on animals.
“It’s unfortunate that people who choose to promote animal welfare unknowingly use products that were tested on animals,” biology major Laura Kielbasa said.
Kielbasa said another obstacle difficult for vegans to overcome is illness. Because most medicinal products contain gelatin, a substance made from animal bones, medicines like gel-coated Tylenol are off-limits.
Although North Philadelphia doesn’t provide many options for healthy eating, Center City is just a subway ride away, where there are plenty of restaurants and grocery stores that cater to a growing vegan population. Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s offer fresh produce and organic foods.
“Last time my friend had her car, we all drove down to Whole Foods together and stocked up on groceries,” said Manny Green, a freshman economics major and member of PAW.
Whole Foods Markets brand, 365 Organic, is vegan friendly, as it offers cheap organic food and body care products that are not tested on animals.
Whole Foods is not the only shopping option for vegans in Philadelphia. Most store brand products are vegan because manufacturers do not always include specific ingredients in certain foods.
For example, bakeries may leave out eggs when making bread because it costs less not to include them, causing products to be vegan accidentally.
Vegans must assume extra responsibility to investigate ingredients in their foods. The decision to eliminate eating products made from animals can also be costly.
“It’s definitely very hard to be a vegan while living at home,” Sadicario said. “It can definitely get to be pretty expensive.”
Mike Podlogar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.