taco hell.


I don’t even like Taco Bell.  I honestly have one memory of eating there when I was a kid.  I remember waiting in line, excited, and being incredibly disappointed walking out of the restaurant after my meal.  Processed cheese, Grade D meat, soggy tortillas; it’s as awful as it sounds.

Taco Bell actually publicly promotes their meat as “88% beef”.  The other 12% they openly say is a mix of a signature recipe [1].  And although that sounds awful, that wasn’t my Taco Hell.

I love tacos.  Or rather, I did love tacos, before I stopped eating meat.  I’m a recent vegetarian.  I recently took a class in university that critiqued the food production business, and specifically the treatment and health of animals within this realm.  The class was illuminating to say the least.  It completely changed my perception on the ethics behind eating meat.    I’m not particularly an animal lover.  I’ve never had a pet, I think cats are malicious and evil, horses are big and scare me, and so do big dogs.  I don’t have an emotional attachment to animals.

But seeing the way humans treat animals, even the ones that are meant for food, struck such an emotional cord with me.  After becoming so informed with the information, I couldn’t morally eat meat anymore.  The realm of food production literally tortures animals in order to become more efficient, and therefore gain greater profit.  The class goes in depth about how much we cause animal suffering, and we learn about it in all aspects of life – not just food, but for entertainment, and exploitation as well.

It was easier to put the plan in motion when I thought of the extraneous factors.  Repeatedly telling myself the human body wasn’t meant to digest meat anyway (myth or fact?  Either way it worked [2]), the cost-effectiveness, and not eating meat meant I would have to substitute things which would help maintain a balanced diet.  Sources of protein and iron would immediately come from alternative options like spinach, chick peas, and eggs.

I wasn’t a huge meat eater in the first place, just completely based on taste.  I’ve never liked steak, I don’t like pork, I’ll eat ham and turkey on Christmas and Thanksgiving, but that’s it for the most part.  Or so I thought.  I did actively recognize I ate a lot of chicken, but I hardly bought it when I was away at school anyway.

At first it seemed easy.  But then I went out to a few restaurants.  Gourmet pizza with brie cheese, pancetta, and arugula… Well, it would be pretty boring without pancetta.  Penne with garlic infused oil, chilli flakes, chicken breast, and asparagus…I guess I’ll just get the porcini mushroom flatbread.  And then I started to see difficulties at home.  Chicken noodle soup.  Pasta with MEAT sauce.  I couldn’t even eat my Italian wedding soup that’s been sitting in my cupboard.

And lasagna… Lasagna is probably my favourite dish in the world.  And I know there is “vegetable lasagna”, but no vegetable tastes like ground beef and that’s that.  Thank God I haven’t actually been faced with my mom’s lasagna since the transition.

The first time it really hit me, and it felt like I was genuinely missing out was when my roommate made tacos.  Just the decoration of the dinner sent me over the edge.  She laid out all the toppings in individual bowls: tomatoes, sour cream, shredded lettuce, grated cheese.  And the meat.  Smelling like a spicy Mexican fiesta.  I felt like I understood how those tortured animals felt in the slaughterhouse.  This was torture.  This was true suffering.  This was, in fact, a Taco HELL.

I was sitting with her and her boyfriend at the table when she said, “Kait, do you want some?  I warmed up some wraps for you too.”

I probably could have cried.  I really enjoy tacos.

I picked up a wrap.  Added the tomatoes, the sour cream, the shredded lettuce, and the grated cheese.  I looked over at the meat.

I seriously considered spooning all the meat oils just to add some spice to my taco, but I closed that puppy up and ate in silence.

I made my choice, and I don’t get to pick and choose when I’m a vegetarian and when I’m not based on when the meat’s dressed up and tastes good.  Although, I really wish I didn’t know how good meat can taste.

So “long live the bell”.  But more like the bell that’s still ringing around a cow’s neck, because I just saved their life.

That’s probably going too far, but me and those tacos is still a very sensitive topic.


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