Going vegetarian requires serious dietary planning

Karen Pipek, Connect Editor

“Mooooooo.” Imagine hearing that every time you take a bite of your cheeseburger. These are the sounds senior Tori Perry was used to hearing from her dad before she made the choice to become a vegetarian.

“My dad always taught me that it’s cruel to eat something that once had a face,” Perry said. “He used to always make animal noises at me whenever I ate any type of meat.”

Teenagers are increasingly choosing to change their eating habits by avoiding meat and turning to vegetarianism.

I think the media has an effect on the rise of vegetarianism in teens, especially teenage girls,” said Melbourne dietician Kelly Aleman, who is a vegetarian herself. “They see it’s a growing trend, and they want to be a part of it. I think a lot of them don’t completely understand what it takes to be a vegetarian.”

Eighth-grader Sydnie Mc-Clary seems to disagree.
“Teens are becoming more aware of how the animals are killed, that’s why they’re becoming vegetarians,” McClary said. “It’s better for your health if you’re not eating animals, which is mean.”

Aleman agrees that teens are making strides to eat better through vegetarianism.
“Being a vegetarian has many positive effects on a person. It helps people to be healthier overall,” Aleman said. “More people need to incorporate vegetable-based meals into their lives and being a vegetarian is a good way to do it.”
Although Aleman sees the positive effects of becoming a vegetarian, she is aware of the potential negative effects as well.

“By following a strict vegetarian diet or vegan diet, it can result in vitamin deficiency, especially vitamin D, also in calcium deficiency,” Aleman said. “They can still get their nutrients through supplements though.”

Vegetarian Times magazine says that currently 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians.
“The best part about being a vegetarian, other than the awesome feeling knowing you’re saving fluffy animals, is that you always get to try something different,” Perry said. “Every ethnicity type has different vegetarian plates. Everyone thinks being a vegetarian is bland, but it isn’t.”

Aside from having a variety of foods to choose from, Aleman says vegetarianism has another healthy benefit.
“[Being a vegetarian] makes one feel better and gives you more energy,” Aleman said. “There really isn’t a way to describe it; it’s just something you feel.”