Danielle Jenkins | Greenwise
Vegetarian is as vegetarian does
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 11:03
Halfway through freshmen year I became a “vegetarian.” Let’s be honest — I still eat fish on occasion, so I’m not really a full−blown vegetarian, but who likes labels, anyway? Now, don’t mistake this column for an ode to vegetarianism or an attempt to convert all of the meat−eaters in the world. I’m not into that. This is merely intended to enlighten all who may not have seen the meatless−meal light. Speaking of the light, it took a lot for me to make the transition from carnivore to herbivore. Before I fully committed to it, I watched my friend Karen enter the world of vegetarianism our freshmen year. She made the switch look effortless, not even realizing she was doing it until one day someone asked her about her vegetarianism, to which she replied, “I’m not — oh, I guess I haven’t eaten meat in a while.”
It had started with her not wanting to eat meat every day, and ended without her ever realizing that she was a “vegetarian.” The dining halls made the transition incredibly easy for her and then, later, for me. We could walk into Chez Dewick and the first food we would see was the line of grains, vegetables and sauces, all designed for a vegetarian diet. As if to solidify my decision to be a vegetarian, it did not hurt that I’m incredibly impatient and that the line for the hot, non−veg meals was always too long for me.
That said, let me explain why replacing a little meat with more vegetables is better for your health and your wallet, as well as for the environment. Diets higher in vegetables and lower in meats are linked to lower risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. The German Cancer Research Center did a longitudinal study on vegans, vegetarians and “moderate vegetarians” — people who still ate fish and meat occasionally — and found that all three groups lived longer than individuals observed with “normal” diets. Vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50 percent, while vegetarian women reduced their risk by 30 percent.
Cool. Now, the typical question people ask after they find out I’m a vegetarian is, “Where’s the meat?” Translation: “How do you get enough protein?” According to a study by Door to Door Organics, and contrary to popular belief, Americans actually consume nearly 50 percent more protein than is recommended for a healthy diet. So far, I’ve survived off of Greek yogurt, nuts, cheese and eggs: No problem. Like I said, I do occasionally consume fish, but it’s not for protein — it’s because my dad’s salmon is a work of art.
Now, for the cherry on top, let us not forget that eating less meat is cheaper. Go into a grocery store, pick out the amount of meat you consume in a week and see how much it costs. Now go to the vegetable section and pick out the number of vegetables you would need to replace that for one day. Calculate the cost, and you have substantial savings.
Now, I’m not saying you should completely change the way you look at food, but try having a meatless meal once a week. I promise it won’t kill you. Cook up some brown rice and stir−fry some vegetables, add a few cashews and sesame seeds to the mix and you’ll have a meal fit for a king.