I Started Drinking Almond Milk Because It Was 'Trendy'

I Started Drinking Almond Milk Because It Was 'Trendy,' But Now I Can't Stand Dairy Milk

I've come to that point in my life where I'm writing an Ode to Almond Milk.

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I'm not going to lie and say I didn't start drinking almond milk because I saw so many influencers and "healthy" Instagrammers drink it. Before, it was just an alternative for those who were lactose intolerant and couldn't drink dairy milk, but now it's turned into a trend, with it being vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

It is low in calories and has a lot of health benefits and doesn't contain the fats that dairy milk does. So when I picked up a carton of vanilla almond milk, I really just wanted to see what all of the hype was about.

And I found that it was damn good.

First off, it tastes so much better than dairy milk. Especially when using it for cereal or Oreos. Some sort of chocolate cereal with vanilla almond milk? Delicious. They even sell chocolate almond milk, which is also amazing.

Eventually, I drank almond milk so regularly that my tastes became turned off by drinking dairy milk. I still use it for cooking and baking, but otherwise, it tastes gross to me. I even pay the extra 60¢ at Starbucks to substitute for regular milk, and since doing so, my coffee has tasted so much better. Except for Pink Drinks, which get coconut milk.


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Now I'm obsessed with almond milk and I even started buying dairy-alternatives to whipped cream. Reddi Whip now carries almond milk whipped cream. And it tastes just as delicious as vanilla almond milk! I mean, regular whipped cream is still great.

Long story short, here I am, a twenty-year-old college student, with nothing better to do than to write 300 words dedicated to my love of almond milk. It's a very simple alternative to make to be healthier and more conscious of the environment and its animals.

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The Unspoken Dangers of 'Mukbang' Culture

Ever wondered why you can't stop clicking on these addictive, self-made eating shows?

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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past five years, you've probably heard of the internet trend commonly referred to as a mukbang, or "eating show." These self-produced video clips typically involve one hungry individual, their filming device, and an obscene amount of delicious foods.

Though these broadcasts originated all the way from South Korea (hence the foreign vocabulary), the growing popularity of eating videos has taken the internet by storm. Nowadays as you scroll through YouTube, you'll find an outrageous amount of uploads with titles like "10,000 CALORIE PASTA MUKBANG," "EATING EVERYTHING ON THE MCDONALD'S MENU," or "THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CHALLENGE."

Popular 'mukbangers' such as Peggie Neo, Megan McCullom, and Steven Sushi have made a sizable profit off of their viral eating shows, some collecting tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

So, what's the big deal you say? You order a large quantity of food, indulge in said food, film yourself completing this menial task, and upload to the internet for money and fame. On the outside, this may seem like a luxurious lifestyle, but behind the camera lens sits an individual battling their own demons and influencing the world of social media to partake in their harmful behaviors.

Mukbanger Livia Adams ("Alwayshungry" on YouTube) has opened up about her unhealthy relationship with food in the past, praising herself for fasting several hours in order to justify her over-indulgence on camera.

Similarly, internet sensation Trisha Paytas claims to diet and starve herself for weeks just to be able to satisfy her subscribers with epic mukbangs, which are essentially binges.

In all actuality, these social media celebrities are negatively impacting (and possibly triggering) vulnerable viewers.

Many fans only see the highlight reel of YouTubers shoveling bowls of cereal or boxes of doughnuts into their mouths, yet remain completely unaware of what truly goes on behind-the-scenes. Messages saying:

"I'm on a diet... watching this is giving me some sort of satisfaction, like as tho I ate, you know?"
"I watch these videos because I know I physically can't afford to eat like this because I gain weight too easily."
"When having an eating disorder, watching Trisha's mukbangs is sorta comforting in a way omg"

flood the comments sections of Paytas' videos. Quite obviously, fans young and old are heavily influenced by this content and continue to support these creators to fulfill a self-destructive need.

Additionally, famous mukbang accounts never seem to include the painful after-effects of their ginormous feasts in videos. Fitness model Stephanie Buttermore flaunts her slim physique just days after consuming over 10,000 calories for a challenge, giving the impression that her previous overindulgence had no repercussions on her health whatsoever. Because Buttermore is a trained, athletic young woman, she was able to quickly bounce back after a series of workouts and low-calorie meals.

On the contrary, if a sedentary woman of about the same age were to attempt this challenge, she would most likely feel sluggish, irritable, bloated, stomach discomfort, and even vomitous post challenge. Eating regularly like this could lead to bigger issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, because topics like these aren't glamorous and attractive to subscribers, mukbangers often edit them out.

Now don't get me wrong. Though not everyone who uploads a mukbang to the internet has an eating disorder or an evil agenda, they have to realize the kind of audience they're appealing to. This generation is more susceptible than ever to emulate the actions and words of their favorite celebrities. Young boys and girls look up to successful adults, and influencers should be remembered for the change they inspired, not the disease they encouraged.

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I'm A Meat-Eater Who Thinks That Vegetarianism Is The Way Forward

The philosophy of vegetarianism is not about animals, it's about humans.

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I'm a bad person, and I love my steak, and yes, I hate PETA, too.

Let me tell you that PETA kills animals and not for their own justified humane reasons. According to one man, they've kidnapped a dog. And their brand of promoting vegetarianism simply isn't the right way to go about it, for reasons I feel are unnecessary to explain.

But, they do have a point. I think they just do a terrible job of explaining those points. Arguments for vegetarianism are really not just "eating meat is evil," or "think about the mothers of the cows you're eating." No, going vegan or vegetarian is really a conversation about our deeply held social norms and the inconsistencies of the answers regarding the treatment of animals, humans included.

Back in 2014, an Indiana man murdered his ex-girlfriend and proceeded to cook her brain, heart, and lung. While the man was held in police custody, PETA sent acting Clark County Sheriff Meyer, a peculiar letter: provide him exclusively vegan meals. For some, this would be a punishment, "don't you dare take away my meat." But for others like the Sheriff, the letter "[was] an insult" — as if to equate animal meat-eating with human meat eating — and this is exactly the point that PETA makes. Eating human-meat is equivalent to eating non-human-animal-meat.

One instinctively would think that is a crazy proposal. Why? Well, it is just wrong to eat humans, no doubt about it. Why is it wrong to eat humans, though? I'm just as good as a source of protein and nutrients as you are. If we remove all constructed norms aside, you are fair game, like the cows on the fields are.

A little sidetrack: humans have eaten other humans in the past—and there was nothing wrong about it. Humans throughout society would eat other prisoners of war and the Aztecs systematically slaughtered humans to be sacrificed to the gods and eaten. What changed? Well, we developed a system where we could grow an abundance of food, a system where humans would be significantly less valuable as food and significantly more valuable as producers of food.

Agriculture gave us a choice other than eating humans, and we chose the better option, not eating humans. Still, that doesn't tell us why it's wrong to eat humans. It's wrong to eat other humans because you are my equal. All humans are equal. Whether you're a male or female, gay or straight, immigrant or citizen, tall or short, old or young, and the list goes on. There's no difference, no one is more superior or less inferior.

But, let me make a distinction here. Equality doesn't mean everyone should be treated the same way, that would be absurd. Have you ever heard about a movement campaigning for the right of a man to get an abortion? No, but maybe you would want to campaign for a man's right to additional paternity leave. Equality means equal consideration, meaning that women should have the right to choose what they want to do with their bodies, as this gives consideration to the fact that women have a womb, while men don't.

So, why shouldn't I eat you? Because eating you means that I think that you have some feature that allows me to slaughter, cook, and consume you. This certain feature means that you are less deserving of not being eaten and cooked and consumed. This feature might be your skin color, or hair texture, or your accent. And if you think that no rational human would consider those features as contenders of being eaten and cooked and consumed, think again.

White slaveholder Americans never ate their slaves, not on a widespread reported basis at least. But the white slaveholder did think the slaves had a certain feature that justified their enslavement and brutal punishment. Here are the features to be a slave: you must have dark skin, curly hair, and a non-settler accent. These features are the qualifications to be a slave, and the definition of being a slave means that I do not have to treat you like a human. And when it did come to life-or-death situations, these features did lead white slaveholders to eat their slaves, first.

The Civil Rights and Feminist movements showed the world why being an African-American or an American woman why they are just as human as the white American male. You cannot pick features x, y, and z and have those features explain why those disqualify one from being treated equally.

Why don't we choose intelligence as a feature for superiority? That means the world would be enslaved to Neil deGrasse Tyson. But why Neil deGrasse Tyson as a standard, specifically? Couldn't we choose another standard of intelligence, say the IQ of Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking? We cannot decisively draw a line to say, "this is superior" and "this is not". When the white slaveholder was trying to decide what made a slave, it was rather difficult to draw the line saying "you must be this dark to qualify as a slave." Indeed, "colored" and "not-colored" proved to be a difficult distinction. Some states passed one-drop of African blood laws... meaning of course, that every single living human on earth qualifies to be a slave.

Which is why it is questionable when we tell ourselves that we are "superior" to non-human animals. The reason we can eat non-human animals is apparently because we have features x, y, and z which non-human animals do not. We tell ourselves that we're more intelligent and that we can think rationally. Well, dolphins got echolocation, and we don't. I think they're more superior since we've only developed sonar technologies in the last century, while they've had that for 40 million years. Bats aren't blind, but they can see better in the dark, and some species can even detect ultraviolet light — while we can't. For whatever single feature we try to come up with to make the argument why we are superior, there will be another feature telling us we aren't.

If we can't find any feature that makes us objectively more superior, then non-human animals are equal to human animals, a case made by Australian philosopher Peter Singer's "All Animals Are Equal." What is that uniting factor, that all animals share, that can render all animals (including humans) equal? All animals feel pain. It doesn't matter to what degree they feel pain, but all animals feel pain, and would not want to feel pain. If we have a duty to spare an African-American from the brutality of slavery, then we have a duty to spare the chicken from a life of incarceration and torture.

I still eat meat, and yes, I have tried to stop eating meat. But it is so hard. We have the option to abandon meat because we have the 21st-century resources to abandon meat unlike the days of Aztec cannibalism. That is why I say, "I'm a bad person," and it is alright to say that. And I mean that, not in the sinister "I ate my mom for breakfast" kind of way, but rather as a type of acknowledgment. It is an acknowledgment that I eat meat because culture and norms say that meat tastes good, just like the culture and norms of the past said that slavery was alright because they are not humans, or that women can't vote because their place is in the kitchen.

We probably won't stop eating meat in this century. But the conversations about vegetarianism are conversations about the way our society treats its animals — as where George Orwell's pigs modify the features, "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

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