College students are notorious for having bad eating habits, but what about those who choose to eliminate an entire food group from their diet? With vegetarianism becoming a trending diet, many college students are more conscious of their eating habits.
Vegetarianism comes in several shapes and forms. Although some consider a vegetarian to be someone who simply eliminates red meat from their diet, others describe this diet as abstaining from consuming any animal that was once alive.
Many vegetarians also come in the form of pescetarians, someone whose only meat consumed is fish and other seafood products. The most extreme form that vegetarianism takes is a vegan, someone who eliminates all meat products and by-products of an animal, such as cheese, milk and other dairy foods.
There are many reasons people choose to become vegetarians. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can be “healthful, nutrionally adequate, and many provide benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
Brandon McClure, a freshman anthropology major who hasn’t eaten meat in over four years, became a vegetarian because he “didn’t want to be the cause of death to so many animals.” McClure also enjoys benefits such as weight loss and an overall feeling of increased healthiness. McClure does note, however, that there are a few setbacks to his humane diet choices.
“It’s difficult going to [non-vegetarian] restaurants or eating with friends who aren’t vegetarians,” McClure said.
McClure is also an active member of UTSA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (GLBTQ) Club. McClure supports the vegetarian caucus within GLTBTQ- a group for vegetarians that meets to discuss issues and eat meat-free meals together. Andy Collin Brown, an active member of the caucus, says it’s a great group for vegetarians to cook and eat together.
“Sometimes it’s a potluck, sometimes we just cook together. We share recipes and restaurants that are vegetarian friendly,” Brown said.
While it can be difficult to find healthy vegetarian options at restaurants, UTSA’s campus offers a few places to eat where a complete meal can be ordered without meat. Extreme Pita, Subway and Panda Express are some of the places where a meatless meal can be ordered.
For students with a meal plan, there is the option of eating at Roadrunner Express, the on-campus residents’ dining hall, which offers a limited selection for vegetarians. Hannah Beck, a freshman political science major who has recently made the choice to be a vegetarian, feels that living in Laurel Village presents a challenge with its lack of a full kitchen and limited nutritious options on campus.
“American meat consumption is really out of control and not sustainable… it’s a good move for political and environmental reasons,” Beck said.
Beck isn’t the only one who has changed her diet for environmental reasons. Green Society member Priscilla Villa, a senior anthropology major, became a vegetarian after taking a class that opened her eyes to the practice of factory farming. The mass slaughter of animals on factory farms is seen by many animal rights activists as immoral and, according to the National Resources Defense Council, contributes significantly to air and water pollution. Villa states that the main reason she stopped eating these farmed animals was “a form of protest to factory farms and their one and only goal: profit at the cost of others.”
Becoming a vegetarian can be a healthy and rewarding diet when properly planned. Vegetarian diets can lack nutrition when people don’t plan well-rounded meals, which is why many people choose to abandon vegetarianism. For students at UTSA, the recreation center offers the expertise of a nutritionist to help students with all their food-based questions. Students can meet with nutrition expert Annie Bell by making an appointment at [email protected] or may email their questions to [email protected]