In the past decade, it has become very apparent to the growing public that the way our meat is processed may not be the safest, or the best for us. In fact, many wonder if meat is even necessary for a healthy diet.
Vegetarianism, along with a few other dieting options, has become especially popular. A vegetarian is a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products such as fish or eggs.
“I was raised a vegetarian,” said senior Caroline Meisner. “My mom didn’t lecture or anything, it was just accepted as a young child. My whole family is vegetarian. My brother and sister tried meat and decided they liked it, so they were able to change their lifestyle. I’ve never tried it, and to me it looks gross.”
Although meat consumption is where most of an average person’s protein and iron come from, it has been shown that many people feel better after they stop eating it. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA) a vegetarian diet can meet protein requirements, provide all the essential amino-acids and improve health. It can also provide all the necessary vitamins, fats and minerals and can improve one’s health.
“I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over a year now,” said senior Chloe McKinley. “I love it, and I feel so much healthier.”
According to the ADA, vegetarians are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. This is because a healthy vegetarian diet is typically low in fat and high in fiber. However, even a vegetarian diet can be high in fat if it includes excessive amounts of fatty snack foods, fried foods, whole milk dairy products and eggs. Therefore, a vegetarian diet, like any healthy diet, must be well planned in order to help prevent and treat certain diseases.
Taking vegetarianism one step further, vegans don’t eat anything that is of animal origin.
“I was a vegetarian for a year and a half,” said junior Sam Mañe. “I’ve been a vegan since January. My body feels a lot lighter, and I have a lot more mental endurance; my thoughts are much clearer and focused.”
Although research studies on vegans are few in number, there are some things that have been clearly shown. It is observed that vegans are significantly thinner, their blood pressure levels are lower, and they have lower blood cholesterol and cholesterol levels than other vegetarians and much lower levels than those who eat meat. These factors all translate into a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The lower body weight is also associated with a lower risk of cancer and diabetes.
In the future, Mañe eventually hopes to transition to a raw food diet. A raw food diet is the consumption of unprocessed, whole plant-based, ideally organic foods. According to raw foodists, if you consume mainly uncooked foods you will achieve significant desirable weight loss. They also believe that a raw food diet enhances your body’s ability to prevent and fight diseases. Raw foodism says that raw and living foods contain essential food enzymes that are destroyed if the food is heated to above 116 Fahrenheit.
Whatever you choose to eat, appropriate food selections in vegetarianism, veganism and raw foodism can effectively eliminate some or all animal products from your diet and still have a nutritionally adequate diet. An unwise selection of foods can leave you short of certain nutrients and have adverse health effects.
BY: Sophie Bocksnick // Senior Staff Writer