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Making the Switch

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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...
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