Making The Switch Essay

653 words - 3 pages


The ambrosial aroma of cured ham mingled with the provocatively piquant scent of jerked chicken and conspired to undo my resolve. Enveloping my aunt’s kitchen with a hunger-inducing miasma that only I was immune to, dishes from Jamaica and America vied for my attention. I attempted to appease the cultures of both nations, settling with a plate of rice and peas, corn bread, and macaroni and cheese. Much to the surprise of my family, however, that was all that I ate. As usual, my family had no difficulty expressing their disappointment with me. The sideways looks coupled with muffled whispers branding me as a “rasta”(the cultural equivalent of a hippie) soon convicted me to a life of familiar banishment. It was not until this first thanksgiving of my high school career that the weight of my decision to adopt a life of vegetarianism dawned on me.
The culinary styles of a people are the by-product of their history, geography, religion, fears, hopes, and regrets. By renouncing meat, which was such a large part Jamaican food, I was renouncing a large part of my culture. Like many first generation Americans, my family readily assimilated with American culture. And so, just like many other first generation Americans, food was my only bridge to a culture that was supposedly my own. Being Jamaican was already difficult enough without being a vegetarian.
The unfortunate reality is that, regardless of race, most Americans do not differentiate between “black people”. Many Americans do not seem to realize that black people can come from other countries, aside from their own. As a young child, I was culturally confused. I knew that I was Jamaican-American, but little else. My hand guide to being Jamaican was the taste pallet that I had developed. By becoming a vegetarian I ripped a large chunk of pages out of that book- leaving only the foot notes and...

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