The golden arches of McDonalds, a symbol almost anyone, anywhere will recognize. It brings up images of happy families, playing children, people laughing and enjoying their food. It brings back memories of childhood birthday celebrations, and the excitement of opening your Happy Meal toy. When we dig a little deeper however, most of us will get that uncomfortable feeling in our stomach. We know their food isn’t good for us. We know this, and yet we eat it, because there’s just something about all those images and memories that have been carefully installed in our brains, that makes eating at McDonalds seem like a good idea.
I am no saint, I am not some enlightened being, I fall for it just as much as the next person. Bas and I have being eating there on occasion, and every single time I would regret it before I was even done eating. Yet every single time, I went back there. Like a zombie, like a sheep, like an addict.
I’ve seen the documentary Supersize Me, and still I kept going there. If you are unfamiliar with it, it’s about a man who decides to have three McDonalds meals a day, for a whole month. When they ask him if he would like to supersize it, he has to say yes. He does this just to see what it will do to him. Not surprising, he gains a lot of weight. More surprising, he starts to become physically addicted to the food. His liver eventually reaches a state where it’s similar to that of an alcoholic.
The documentary proves what we already knew; McDonalds food is really not healthy. Yet, our brains tells us: “Well… we’ll just not eat it three times a day then! Too much of anything is bad for you. The occasional meal won’t kill me.” And no, it probably won’t kill you. However, it won’t do you any good either. Shouldn’t eating be about nourishing your body? Don’t you deserve better than this?
I think I do deserve better than that. I will not have an other meal at McDonalds, ever again. You may wonder what makes me so sure. After all, I’ve thought about never going there again many times before. I’ve thought it even while I was still in there. So what makes this time so different? Well, I read an article the other day. An article about the 14 (!) ingredients in McDonalds french fries. I’ll give you the short version here:
1. Potatoes, nothing wrong with that.
2. Dimethylpolysiloxane, a form of silicone, yumm.
3. Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petrol based chemical.
4. Canola oil.
5. Soybean oil.
6. Corn oil.
7. Hydrongenated soybean oil.
8. Natural beef flavor.
9. Hydrolyzed wheat.
10. Hydrolyzed milk.
11. Citric acid.
12. Dextrose, (sugar).
13. Sodium acid pyrophosphate, (phosphoric salt).
What you might assume is a small piece of potato, fried in oil and sprinkled with salt, turns out to be something that would seem more in place in a chemical lab than on your plate. Of course McDonalds isn’t breaking any health codes, and obviously eating a couple of fries won’t kill you. However, I hardly think this qualifies as food anymore.
Most surprising to me was ingredient number 8, which is why I highlighted it. Natural beef flavor. Beef, there is actual beef in McDonalds fries. I’ve been eating beef! As you may know, I’ve been a vegetarian for about 15 years now, and all this time I was eating beef without even knowing it.
Am I slightly disgusted? Yes!
Is this news upsetting to me? A bit, yeah!
Am I going to cry about it? No.
Am I actually incredibly happy I read this article? Hell yes!
This might confuse you, but I realize all to well, that I am not perfect. A long time ago, I decided I didn’t want to eat meat, because it didn’t sit well with me. I decided I didn’t want to be a part of the meat industry and to just be a vegetarian from then on. I had no idea there was beef in the McDonalds fries, and so I didn’t do anything wrong by my own beliefs (Really, anybody else’s beliefs are none of my concern, I’m doing this for me and no one else). There’s no point in feeling guilty, the past is in the past.
Ok, so I’ve accepted the past and I’m not going to be kicking myself for this, but why am I happy? I’m happy, so incredibly happy, because now that I know this, I can no longer eat at McDonalds. I found out there is not a single items on the menu I can eat as a vegetarian. Of course this has always been the case, but you can’t act on information you don’t have. Now that I know I can’t eat anything they serve, there is absolutely no reason for me to go there anymore, ever again!
I won’t be bringing my children there, not on rare occasions, not ever! They won’t be influenced like I was, they won’t have those conflicted feeling about those golden arches. They’ll be free from memories of Happy Meals, and they’ll (hopefully) be able to make the right choices about whether or not to eat there, when they grow up. They’ll be free. I am free. That’s why I’m so happy. I read the article, and it set me free.
So honestly, sincerely, thank you McDonalds! Thank you, for not serving anything suitable for vegetarians. Thank you, for giving me the best reason I could possibly have for never stepping through your doors again. Thank you McDonalds, for finally letting me go.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.