Students embrace vegetarian diets and animal lives

“Meat is nasty” says Whitaker

Anna Pohl, Opinion Editor

A study published in Vegetarian Times found that 7.3 million United States citizens follow a vegetarian diet. Last year, freshman Jackie Gantz joined these numbers.

“I really liked animals a lot,” Gantz said, and could not justify eating them at the cost of their deaths.

Reasons behind lifestyle

Prior to abstaining from meat, “I had done a little research,” Gantz said. When she ate meat she had not been including many fruits or vegetables in her diet and found that vegetarianism was healthier.

However, the major factor in her decision to become vegetarian was due to videos documenting food production.

Senior Sarah Whitaker was sickened by the treatment of animals in the food industry. “Eventually, I was like, wow, meat is nasty,” she said.

Whitaker has a job taking care of animals at a veterinary clinic and hopes to become a veterinarian. “It felt hypocritical to love animals and eat them,” she said, especially since her goal is to save animals, she said.

“Some people have misperceptions sometimes of how animals are treated or they personally don’t believe in killing animals,” which is why they become vegetarian, sophomore Ike Richey said. Rickey is a hunter and has been around hunters his entire life. “It helps you learn responsibility and proper care (of animals),” he said.

If Richey caused an animal to suffer, he would feel guilty. “I try to make it as quick and painless as possible,” he said. He does not support groups that treat animals inhumanely.

Although Richey avoids inflicting unnecessary pain upon the animals he hunts, Whitaker dislikes the concept of killing animals for sport. “To me, hunting is murder,” she said.

“Even when I ate meat, I didn’t like hunting,” Gantz said.

When the topic of hunting is mentioned in a conversation, Whitaker leaves. “I don’t like to start arguments with people,” she said. If pressed, though, Whitaker will “hit them with the facts,” she said.

Nutritious diet

“People used to look at it as vegetarians might not get all the nutrients that they need,” said biology teacher Dr. Aarti Brooks. “With more and more studies being done (it has been found that) vegetarians are able to get the same nutrition as others,” she said.

Mrs. Sue Mills, human anatomy and physiology teacher, teaches several vegetarian students. “I was just concerned that they were getting the proper nutrients,” she said.

“A lot of nutrients that the body needs you can’t find only in plants,” Mills said. “That’s why humans have been eating meat for centuries.”

Mills said without the proper supplements and attention, a vegetarian diet would cause one to become malnourished. “It’s possible, you just have to be mindful,” she said.

When certain nutrients cannot be obtained through plant based sources, “I’ll take vitamins, like B12,” Whitaker said.

Gantz also takes a daily vitamin. “(I) try to put extra things like nuts and beans in my diet,” she said. Both Whitaker and Gantz eat protein bars every day as well.

“Vegetarians are able to get the same type of nutrition as others.” Brooks said. In fact, studies suggest that a vegetarian diet can decrease the risk for diabetes, cancers, and heart disease, according to Brooks.

“Biologically, we do not need meat,” Brooks said. She said a vegetarian diet is not harmful and can be beneficial.

Whitaker said she feels much better now than she did while eating meat. “I think anyone should definitely go for it because it’s healthy,” she said. Whitaker also feels more confident since becoming vegetarian.

“I respect everyone for how the choose to live,” said Gantz. But “I think it’s good to try it at least one in their life.”