As a vegetarian you might think I have spent the past few weeks feeling very smug. Horsemeat in your burgers? Not going to cause me any issues thanks. But no, me being me, I’ve actually spent most of it expecting something to come out about veggy food being contaminated. ‘Guinea Pig DNA found in nut roast’ or something similar. The chances of that actually happening are slim of course. To be classed as vegetarian, food is subjected to rigorous checks. (I know someone who used to work for a food company and the guidelines are very detailed.)
However it did get me thinking about what goes into our food and what we know about it. A few weeks ago I found out that some bread has an additive which is actually derived from human hair. Most companies don’t use it and apparently its banned in a lot of countries but it’s still lurking out there!
I can remember when I became vegetarian I thought it was just a case of giving up meat. So for the first year that’s what I did. I didn’t replace it with anything else (this was way before Quorn or Linda McCartney meals) and it took quite a while for me to realise that even though it isn’t meat it doesn’t mean it’s veggy.
Muller Light yoghurt, most brands of chocolate mousse, marshmallows, Haribo and other jelly sweets – all of these are non veggy as they contain pork or beef gelatine. The first time I realised that if I wanted to be a proper vegetarian these were out of bounds was a profoundly sad day! Fortunately a lot of places now do meat-free versions so I can now get my sugar fix. (Veggy Percy Pigs are a delight to behold.)
I can understand why meat eaters would be cross that their food has been mislabelled, but if I’m honest I can’t really see what the difference is between eating cow and horse if you are a carnivore? In some ways horse might be preferable to the ‘other parts’ of a cow that are no doubt in cheap processed meat meals. It’s all very well for people to complain but does anyone actually know what goes into most food? And do you want to?!
I’m sure this won’t be the end of the story. There are bound to be other products found to contain things they shouldn’t. I’m just hoping veggy products are left well alone!