By KELSEY HEELEY
In today’s world, the majority of people eat a meat-based diet, which provides a decent source of protein and other nutrients that humans need to survive. Yet, the minority has turned to vegetarian or vegan diets and feel great about it.
Reasons for going vegan or vegetarian vary. It could be to improve one’s health, to save money, to be more environmentally friendly or because they feel causing innocent animals pain is cruel.
According to www.vegetariantime.com, going on a vegetarian or vegan diet is healthier and helps ward off disease. It can help treat and reverse heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer. It is also an effective way to stop the progression of coronary artery disease and it can also help control and keep weight down. Often, a standard diet is high in saturated fats, processed food and carbohydrates, but by switching to a vegetable-based diet, you can live longer.
Here’s the proof: in Okinawa, Japan, residents have the longest life expectancy in the world because they have a lower calorie diet of fruits and vegetables rich with fiber, soy and raw, complex carbohydrates along with regular exercise and a low-stress lifestyle.
The site also said by going vegan or vegetarian one can help reduce pollution. The meat industry has a huge devastating impact on the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), animal waste and chemical waste from factory farms are responsible for more than 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams and is one of the worst threats to water quality.
Not eating meat also saves animals from painful deaths. About 10 billion animals are put to slaughter each year for human consumption. Nowadays, most animals are crammed into cages where there is limited space and are fed food tainted with pesticides and antibiotics.
Holly Charter, a barista at Starbucks in Uptown Waterloo, said she originally went vegan for the sake of trying it. But, after eating a vegan diet, her reasons for being vegan changed. “It’s better for the animals, the environment and my body.”
She said while being vegan can be inconvenient, it’s a lifestyle worth living and after eight years, she can’t see herself not being a vegan.
The vegan diet may seem like it would be restrictive, but it’s not according to Charter. She said getting protein isn’t difficult to do, but getting B12 is. B12 is an important nutrient that can easily be missed. A lack of B12 can cause nerve or brain damage. “B12 can be found in fortified cereals, mock meat products or other fortified products like soy milk,” said Charter.
Not only is a vegan diet not restrictive, it doesn’t have to be expensive. In season vegetables, rice, grains and legumes are reasonably priced and cooking from scratch is frugal.
Charter said Veganomicon is a great cookbook for beginners that includes basic cooking information and tons of recipes.
Although Ashley Gradi has been vegetarian for six years, she still enjoys vegan recipes.
“I don’t use a recipe book when I make vegan meals. I just go on the Post Punk Kitchen (PPK) website and find recipes I want to try to make. I print out the page for the recipes and put them in my binder so I don’t lose them,”Gradi said.
She said she is a sucker for cookies so she often ends up making those recipes more than any other ones. “I love the peanut butter chocolate pillows the most, but the oatmeal peanut butter cookies are really good too.”
“One reason I decided to become a vegetarian is because I think it’s unfair to animals to kill and eat them. They don’t get a say in whether or not we take their lives, we just do. Humans aren’t superior, animals deserve their lives too,” Gradi said.
Another reason she went vegetarian was because her body deserved better. She reminisced about reading an article on the National Geographic website in 2005 about how meat has affected us over the generations. Our jaws have gotten smaller she said and our teeth are too big for our downsized jaws, which is why so many people need dental work.
“I felt great after I went vegetarian. I had more energy and actually lost some weight after about six months,” Gradi said.
Both Charter and Grady agree that Cafe Pyrus, located at 16 Charles St. W. in Kitchener, is a great vegan restaurant to go to. Gradi also said Thrive Juice Bar, located at 105-191 King St. in Waterloo, is a good vegan cafe.
For more information go to http://brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/nutrition_&_eating_concerns/being_a_vegetarian.php
By KELSEY HEELEY