With health fads constantly changing, it can be hard to find the right meal plan. Kayla Nguyen and Briar Conrey, Urbandale seniors, have both settled on vegetarianism. Through interviews, Nguyen and Conrey detail just why they choose a meat free diet.
“I’ve been vegetarian for two months now. I became vegetarian when I started researching about the causes of climate change. After learning about how cows have a negative impact on the environment, I started reading about what I can do to help. I learned that having a vegetarian lifestyle (including not eating fish) could help because eating less meat equal less production,” says Nguyen. She holds similar views to other vegetarians whose reason for the diet center around climate change. Briar Conrey possesses the same view, “I don’t like eating meat because I like the planet and I don’t like being responsible for the slaughter of animals.” Both girls found their passion for helping the environment through vegetarianism, during their senior year of high school.
Regardless of how the opposition feels about climate change, one common argument is that vegetarians do not get enough protein. “There are definitely many alternatives. It’s better to get your protein from other products, such as nuts and tofu. Our body doesn’t need that much protein anyway,” explains Nguyen when asked about her protein intake. Nguyen also explains the vegetarian way of looking at B12, an essential vitamin, “There’s studies that show that taking supplements is much more beneficial and effective than getting it through meat.”
Another generalization made about vegetarians is that they are always pushing their diet onto others. When asked if she would try to convince others to become vegetarian, Briar Conrey explained, “Yes, because I don’t think people should eat meat. Animal agriculture is unsustainable and a waste of water and resources. Resources that could better be used elsewhere until we can figure out a more humane and ethical way to produce the meat people desire (as long as we are limiting our meat consumption at that point.) Much more than that, factory farming is wildly unethical and cruel.”
Between school work, extracurriculars, and socializing, high schoolers barely have time to eat, much less consider their diet. Still, students like Kayla Nguyen and Briar Conrey spend time researching the impact of their diets. Considering diets and a healthy lifestyle is not something that comes easy for high school students. From zero carb to entirely plant based, diets come in all different shapes and sizes.