Love – Hyori’s Column About Vegetarianism on Cine21
Hyori has been a regular columnist for Cine21 – a Korean movie review magazine, and she wrote a column about vegetarianism for last month’s issue. I enjoyed it very much, so I translated it so you can read it too! 😉
Written by Lee Hyori, 2012. 05. 18
I am eating Kim-bap [Korean sushi, or California rolls] again today. When I’m busy with my schedules and eating quickly, I don’t have much choice but to eat Kim-bap or Ddeokbokki [a spicy Korean rice cake dish]. When I go to a Kim-bap shop, I ask for the original kim-bap without the ham, egg and pickled radish. I eat a vegetarian diet, so I ask them to exclude the ham and egg, and I try not to eat too salty, so I ask them to take out the pickled radish. Then the shop owner always asks, “then why even bother eating kim-bap?” It’s too complicated and long of an answer, so I just replace my answer with a smile but eating kim-bap with just some carrot shreds in it does make you question if it is worth it.
Just one year ago, I was a meat maniac. Except for dog meat, I loved everything – beef, pork, chicken, duck meat, etc. I ate the head, skin, feet, intestines, everything. It really is amazing how much that person has changed – that I am now picking the little strip of ham out of my kim-bap. But I feel uncomfortable talking about animal rights on TV and then eating meat and wearing leather jackets. Ignoring the animals in the massive factory farm system while I treat my dogs and cats as my family members isn’t right either. And we don’t think about how going vegetarian is more helpful to the planet than buying a hybrid car. The biggest cause of global warming is the gas from factory farming.
Having those thoughts, I started being vegetarian, but it wasn’t easy. It was hard to make the decision that I don’t need the flavor of meat. Vegetarians eat soy meat. If you go on the internet, you’ll find vegetarian sites where you find soy meat, soy sausage, soy fish cakes, all sorts of things. They say that it tastes just like meat, so I tried it. But it just tastes like soy. I tried using bulgogi sauce and eating it with lettuce wraps, and I had it with fried chicken sauce and beer, or in army stew. And then one day I looked at myself and saw someone who decided not to eat meat, but was having soy meat with the bulgogi sauce, and I felt sad. I finally realized that there will not be anything that could really replace meat, and only then was I able to be free from the desire to replace meat with soy meat.
The most challenging thing after become vegetarian is answering people who ask “why vegetarian?” every time I go eat with anyone. In the beginning, I tried explaining everything, but now, I just say something that anyone can relate to, like “I don’t feel too well” or, “The high cholesterol is not so great”. But as time goes by, people are getting more considerate. These days, when I’m shooting commercials, some companies provide me with vegetarian catering. Every time something like that happens, I realize that I am one of the people who are working towards the Korean vegetarian movement. So I try to talk a bit more about vegetarianism at public events, and I find myself getting more strict with myself in my everyday life.
I still miss some things. Leather jackets still look cool. I sometimes miss the grilled meat that I used to eat with friends while drinking. But vegetarianism is beyond a habit, it has become a promise that I want to keep with myself. Because the most active way to show my love for myself, the animals, and the earth, is to be vegetarian. Vegetarianism is not a strict rule or inflexible, hard philosophy for me. Vegetarianism is love.