Vegetarianism is quite far from a missed steak: A firsthand perspective on living a meat-free, vegetable-filled lifestyle

Danielle Tawfik, Assistant Features Editor

Being a dedicated vegetarian, I know the predisposed notions people have about this diet.

I have dealt with eye rolls, countless questions, annoyed reactions while out to dinner with my friends, and the pitying concerns when with my parents.

However, I have learned that a lot of these unpleasant attitudes towards vegetarianism have to do with myths that people believe.

People don’t understand that this diet has more advantages than it does disadvantages, given proper eating.  People also don’t seem to understand what a diet like this means to the people who decide to follow it.

Vegetarianism is defined as a diet that excludes meat.  Contrary to popular  belief, vegetarians can eat dairy and meat products.

Many vegetarians do choose to include cheese, butter, eggs, or other animal products in their diet.

There are many different reasons why people choose a vegetarian diet, including moral, religious, or health-related reasons.

I personally choose to abstain from meat for moral reasons.  Since meat is not necessary for a proper diet, I do not think it is reasonable to kill and consume animals for human satisfaction.

However, many people have their own different and unique reasons for participating in this diet. Junior Catalina Salvatierra chooses to do it for health benefits.

“I’ve always aimed to be as ‘green’ as possible and I finally decided to commit to it this year by finding fruit and vegetable alternatives to meat, “ said Salvatierra.

There are many health benefits associated with the vegetarian diet of which people are unaware.

It has been proven that vegetarians are at a lower risk of developing heart disease, some forms of cancers, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

Additionally, with the meat industry under so much scrutiny, it’s good to know where your food is really coming from.

Even so, animals are fed antibiotics, hormones, and other things that are harmful to humans, and those who consume these meats are at a higher risk of acquiring illnesses from their food.

Another reason to go vegetarian is that there are many links between vegetarianism and longer lifespans. Multiple studies have shown that vegetarians actually do tend to outlive meat eaters.

Although this sounds a bit strange, it makes sense because vegetarian diets are likely to be rich in fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These all help strengthen your immune system, and therefore help to slow down the aging process.

The most common misconception about being vegetarian is that you cannot get all the nutrients needed to sustain a proper diet.

I constantly have to remind people that this is purely a myth.

Organizations such as the American Dietetic Association and The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations have stated that a vegetarian diet can cooperate with all of the food requirements that we need, and that meat is not a crucial part of a healthy diet.

As long as you find ways to get the nutrients that many people receive from meat, being a vegetarian is a great and healthy way to lead your life.

There are various forms of vegetarianism. One popular subgroup includes veganism.  Veganism is the exclusion of meat as well as any animal products from one’s diet.

While a vegan diet is definitely more difficult to maintain, people who choose to have this diet seem to be very committed to it.

“A lot of people question why I am vegan and usually tell me that what I’m doing is dumb because not eating meat won’t make people stop killing animals, ” said junior Dani Levitsky.

“I know this, but I feel like I’m taking a small step in the right direction against the murder of animals for human pleasure.  Although it’s tough sometimes, I love being vegan because I love animals and would never want to participate in something that is hurting them.

“It has also introduced me to so many new foods that I love. I have also been aware of all of the health benefits of being vegan for a few years. But I finally decided to take up veganism this past summer as my full time diet. I feel so much better at all time of the day.  I have a lot more energy, even when I don’t get a lot of sleep.

“Also, healthy eating habits are so much easier to keep up now. For instance, I now eat more vegetables and fruits than I had ever eaten before on a regular basis,” added Levitsky.

A less extreme subgroup of vegetarianism is pescetarianism. This diet  is the same as being a vegeterianism, except you are allowed to eat fish and other seafood.

This is definitely an easier diet to maintain than veganism or vegetarianism since fish is an easy soure of protein. Starting off with a pescetrian diet is a good way to gradually switch to a completely vegetarian diet.

If you have ever thought about possibly choosing a vegetarian diet, why not try it out?

Although the diet is likely not for everyone, some people may be pleasantly surprised by how much they like it.  If you want to live a healthy lifestyle and help save the animals, go vegetarian!