Missed Steak?

Missed+Steak%3F

By Lydia Stonerook

Mohandas Ghandi once said, ”Be the change you wish to see in the world.” But how is it possible for one person to save the lives of the starving, provide clean water to the thirsty, restore nutrients to the earth, slow global warming, purify the air, and save innocent animal’s lives? Only 3.2% of American adults have discovered the answer to all of these problems; by simply cutting meat out of their diets.

It all began in the days of the Ancient Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, when he and his adoring fans cut animal products out of their diets. Obviously, historians are not completely certain as to why he became a vegetarian, but after studying some of his literature, it is inferred that he believed in the ethical treatment of animals, according to the International Vegetarian Union. Since then, the likes of Ellen Degeneres, Christian Bale, Sir Paul McCartney, Nelly, and Carrie Underwood have joined the cause, as well as many ordinary folks.

Obviously when a group of people branch off of the norm, there is going to be another group of people there to ridicule them. Even though the Leesburg vegetarian duo, Loudoun County senior Colin Miller and University of Virginia freshman Hope Sikora, have never personally received such criticism, numerous articles have been written to inform readers of the never ending debate, ‘Omnivores or Herbivores’. Pro meat eaters believe that killing animals  for the benefit of humans is a “natural part of life” and that meat is the most convenient source of important nutrients; such as protein, fats, and the vitamin B12. Tuscarora High School junior, Logan Smith, added another reason as to why many Americans continue to consume animals: “I really like chicken. I like vegetables and everything else but I like meat too.”

On the other side of the debate, Colin Miller and Hope Sikora have the same reason for dropping meat out of their diets. They both watched videos of the inhumane conditions animals were held in before they were viciously slaughtered and immediately knew they had to do something. Miller has also discontinued his use of animal products in clothing stating, “I think the way those are made can be more disgusting than the way they are slaughtered to be eaten.” However, sometimes these videos are not enough to convince people. “When they show the documentaires at school about the cruelty and stuff like that; after those I wanted to stop eating meat.” said Smith.

Little do most people know, but a vegetarian diet saves the lives of the starving and the thirsty. According to the organization, Down to Earth, over ten pounds of plant protein is used to produce one pound of beef. If everyone became a vegetarian or vegan, countries would have enough plant protein to feed those without. Additionally, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.  The average person should drink at least 64 ounces a day. If one pound of beef wasn’t produced, 5,000 people could have adequate water for a day.

“At first, I was not eating enough and became weak often because I simply eliminated meat and didn’t add any other sources of protein in my diet. But now it has been almost three years, and I sometimes forget that I even have any dietary restraints. There are so many options for vegetarians!” said Sikora. The majority of non-vegetarians are not aware of the health benefits and opportunities vegetarians have. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegetarianism can meet all known nutrient needs as long as a variety of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are eaten. This diet has also been proven to reduce the risk of kidney stones and gallstones, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and create an overall healthier person. Hundreds of brands and restaurants have found huge success in the vegetarian and vegan sphere, providing options to those with dietary restrictions. Boca Burger, Morningstar Farms, and Quorn are just three brands that produce every kind of meat product imaginable, just without the meat. In most restaurants vegetarians can find a mediocre salad and the occasional veggie patty, but restaurants like The Chicago Dinner, Leaf, and Washington DC’s own Elizabeth’s Gone Raw have gone above and beyond by creating a completely non-meat eatery.

According to Sikora, she has made no mistake in joining the ever growing league of vegetarians. “I would never eat meat, even for a million dollars, because money and material possessions are not as valuable to me as my morals and support for animals. This dietary decision has been one of the best choices I have made in my life,” she said.