If you think of a basic home cooked meal, what do you think of? Does your mind go straight to an all veggie course or do you imagine pork chops, corn, applesauce and mashed potatoes? When the typical Iowan thinks of food, they don’t immediately imagine a vegetarian meal.
The facts about people who eat meat are pretty straightforward and may be surprising to some people. According to npr.org, the average American eats 270.7 pounds of meat a year, and we are the leading country in meat consumption. If you think about that, it would be like eating about 1,083 quarter pound hamburgers every year. For some people, like junior Elsa Scheepers, this is why they chose to follow the vegetarian diet.
“The animal cruelty in the livestock industry made me want to stop eating meat,” said Scheepers. “The only difficulty I had with switching my diet was making sure I was getting enough protein.”
Vegetarianism can be broken down into different branches: vegan, lacto vegetarian, ovo vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pollotarian, and pescatarian. All of these categories are pretty similar to each other, but slight variations in food choices are what set them apart. Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from an animal (meat, eggs, milk, etc.). Lacto vegetarians don’t eat meat or consume eggs, but they consume dairy products. Ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat or consume dairy products, but they eat eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat, but they do consume eggs and dairy products, and they are the most common type of vegetarian. Pollotarians cut out red meat and fish but consume white meat. Pescatarians only consume fish as their meat.
“The biggest difficulty with my diet is finding things to eat,” said sophomore Lily Pumphrey, who is a vegetarian. “My mom is vegetarian and cooks vegetarian food, so it isn’t hard at home, but sometimes when I get school lunch or eat out, I have a hard time finding stuff. Another thing that I find difficult is when I go over to people’s houses and their parents have cooked non-vegetarian food. This sucks because they feel bad for not knowing, and I feel bad for not telling them. I don’t expect anyone to accommodate for me.”
Is a vegetarian diet a fad diet? The answer is no. Vegetarians can benefit from many health boosting things from this diet. According to pcrm.org, a physician committee, “Studies in England and Germany have shown that vegetarians are 40 percent less likely to develop cancer compared to meat-eaters.” Junior Claire Corbin, who is a vegan, has noticed the benefits of transferring to a plant-based diet and is having fun exploring her new diet.
“Becoming vegan has been one of the best decisions of my life! I feel so good and much better than before,” said Corbin. “This process of switching to a whole foods plant based diet has taught me to appreciate food more. When you take out all of the processed junk that our society is so used to eating, you taste the real and good stuff, the food we were meant to eat. It’s amazing!”