Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strict Vegetarian Makes Exception for Jell-O Brand Gelatin

Oakland, CA

Jennifer Rilke of Oakland, California is a strict vegetarian.  In fact, she is part of a small minority of vegetarians, known as vegans, who consume no animal products at all.  Today, Jennifer has publicly admitted to surreptitiously consuming Jell-O brand gelatin for at least two years.  Gelatin is a known meat by-product.

“It’s my only weakness,” she said in her defense.  “I’m from the Midwest.  We had six jello molds in our house--all different shapes.  It’s the quintessential comfort food, cool and fruity.”

At first, Jennifer’s vegan friends were naturally appalled by her confession.  “It’s not like there aren’t gelatin substitutes out there.  Jennifer is a complete sell-out,” said her friend Carla Zinn.  Others wonder how she could have hid this dirty little secret from her vegan housemates.  “I’ve been living with her for two years,” says housemate Elaine Harris.  “I have never once seen Jell-O in our refrigerator.  Pretty mysterious since it takes a few hours to set.”  

Jennifer maintains that the alternative, vegetarian jellos, such as Kojel, are too expensive.  As for how she covered her tracks at home, Jennifer is tight-lipped.  “Let’s just say I’m not proud of the lengths I had to go to in order to hide from the people who love me.” 

How does she feel about all the sneaking around?  “Well, at first there was a lot of excitement about doing something on the sly.  The thrill of almost being caught became kind of addictive.  Eventually I was buying a box every day and eating way more Jell-O than I even wanted. I gained 15 lbs.  I even got to the point where I’d see my reflection  in the Jell-O and feel disgusted with myself.  That’s when I knew I had to turn myself in.”

After the initial shock and betrayal wore off, Jennifer’s friends now fully support her recovery.  “It’s not Jennifer’s fault.  We vegans are an oppressed, segregated minority.  We have our own separate dinner parties, our own separate restaurants …Let’s face it.  We’re second-class citizens.  I think the poor thing just cracked under the pressure,” says activist friend Jordan Rose.  Carla Zinn, Jennifer’s oldest friend and most militant critic, has also softened her perspective.  “We all just want to see Jennifer get the help she needs.  This morning, I drove her out to a rehabilitation center in the Napa Valley.  She had this far away look in her eyes and just kept repeating, ‘watch it wiggle, see it jiggle.’ I’m really worried about her.”

Clinical director Nan Perry, Ph.D, of Fragrant Springs Rehabilitation Center, declined to comment on Jennifer’s prognosis, for reasons of confidentiality.  “I will say this, however.  We’ve been seeing an increase in the numbers of vegetarians at our center with serious psychological symptoms—guilt, shame, remorse, issues of identity and yes, compulsive acting out behaviors.”  Do they accommodate their vegetarian patients’ food needs?  “We do provide vegetarian options at all meals, except we only have Jell-O for dessert. We can’t afford Kojel.”  

Written by Diana Shapiro


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