Students discuss vegetarianism

By Kaitlyn Mattiace
Staff Writer

“I was uncomfortable with the thought of eating something that used to be living. It just made me feel gross,” said senior Julia Sloane, vegetarian of six years.
While eliminating meat from their plates is a moral choice for some vegetarians, others just don’t like the taste of flesh.
“I just don’t like the taste of meat. [I’ve] never liked it… it’s just disgusting,” said science teacher Cari Christopherson, vegetarian of 13 years.
Science teacher Aaron Freeman is conflicted by her knowledge of the meat industry as an environmental science teacher, along with the fact that she prepares meals for her husband, a devout carnivore, and her child. While her child is quite fond of beans, her husband uses meat as a main source of protein, so Freeman strives to find a perfect balance between the two food groups.
“It’s a protein thing…protein-deficient diets lead to a variety of health issues,” said Freeman.
While meat is the most prominent source of protein, vegetarians have found other protein alternatives in order to completely avoid eating animals. New ex-meat eaters are joining the world of vegetarianism every day for different reasons.
Graphic videos that display cruel treatment of livestock and hazardous meat handling from organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have had an effect on some students.
“I saw a video and it was really graphic and gross, so I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the deciding factor,’” said sophomore Lauren Merrill, vegetarian since the fifth grade.
Becoming a vegetarian comes with many challenges, from where to eat, to what to eat, to whom to eat with.
“My dad is a pescatarian, so he eats fish. We eat vegetarian at home, but my mom will eat meat outside [the home],” said Sloane.
Although some vegetarians have the support of their family and access to vegetarian meals at home, others’ choices differ from their family member’s choices.
“My dad and my brothers are straight up carnivores and they still are struggling with the fact that I don’t eat meat,” said Christopherson.
Another struggle that vegetarians face is ordering off of meat-oriented menus.
“[It is challenging to find vegetarian options] when my friends and I go out to eat and they choose somewhere like Arby’s that has meat in everything, including salads,” said senior Melissa House, vegetarian of nine years.
While some vegetarians eat no form of meat whatsoever, others, called pescatarians, eat seafood.
“I eat fish, so I’m a poser in that aspect,” said Christopherson.
Some vegetarians quickly realized that becoming a vegetarian entails much more effort than eating a large amount of vegetables, a common stereotype for vegetarians.
“When I fist stopped eating meat, I was a very unhealthy vegetarian…I remember being fatigued and feeling tired, so I started to pay a little bit more attention to my diet and started to eat a lot healthier, got some protein supplements in there,” said Christopherson.
Regardless of their initial reason for converting to vegetarianism, most vegetarians agree that they have become much healthier.
“[Since becoming a vegetarian,] I feel healthier and better about my impact on the world,” said Sloane.