The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Veering to Veg: Why Some Students Swear off Meat

Some high school students make the decision to not eat meat, for several different reasons.
Photo by Leila Siegel
Some high school students make the decision to not eat meat, for several different reasons.

Oct. 1 marks World Vegetarian Day and initiates Vegetarian Awareness Month.

The month-long celebration promotes the physical and emotional benefits of vegetarianism, according to the International Vegetarian Union. Reported by a recent Vegetarian Times study, approximately 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians, only about 3.2 percent of the American population.

Although some high school students may not find this month relevant, several students at WJ are vegetarians.

Senior Radhika Gupta is one of those students. Gupta has been a vegetarian for her whole life, citing her religion, Hinduism, as the main factor. However, this is not her only reason for being a vegetarian.

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“It’s a good decision to make, both for the environment and ethically,” said Gupta “I would encourage people to become vegetarian.”

She said people have tried to convert her to eating meat, but she knows how to handle them.

“I tell [people who try to get me to eat meat] why I’m a vegetarian, and I kind of ignore it,” said Gupta.

Getting an adequate amount of protein in their diets is another issue faced by vegetarians. Though not eating meat has health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease, not getting enough protein can lead to blood sugar imbalance, a weakened immune system, and many other health issues.

Protein intake is especially important to teenage vegetarians, who need proper nutrition because they are still growing.  Gupta says people can get protein through non-animal based sources.

“[People] believe you can get a lot of proteins from animals, I think there are a lot of other ways to get protein,” said Gupta.

In contrast, junior Sophia Fakri is not a vegetarian, though she briefly entertained the idea.

“I thought about being a vegetarian much within my early teenage years, but I decided that I love meat too much,” said Fakri. She also mentions her family’s diet as a reason of her eating meat.

“I grew up in a family where we do eat of lot of meat, so it would have been really sort of difficult [to be a vegetarian],” said Fakri. However, she is supportive of people who choose to be vegetarians.

Fakri said she understands how vegetarianism can be healthy, but also how the diet can be unhealthy.

“Scientifically, it is better to eat all your vegetables… but at the same time [being a vegetarian] can kind of take away from all the nutrition you can get from meat,” said Fakri.

Interestingly, Fakri cites vegetarianism as part of being part of a trend.

“I could see myself doing that whole New York, vegetarian, scarf-wearing type thing,” said Fakri.

Her image of a stylish vegetarian is understandable. The diet is gaining more recognition; more and more restaurants are expanding their vegetarian choices on their menus.

Celebrities such as Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway are vegetarian advocates and well-known supporters of PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a Virginia-based animal rights organization.

Nonetheless, many people think that not eating meat will make themselves feel better, physically and emotionally.

“[Vegetarianism] is a good option for people who are eating meat… it makes some people feel better,” said Gupta.

 

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Leila Siegel, Online Feature Editor
This is senior Leila Siegel’s second year on The Pitch Online as the Online Feature Editor. Besides writing articles, Leila participates in the school’s symphonic orchestra and WJ S*T*A*G*E’s pit orchestra. She is also involved in the Black Student Union, Amnesty International club and the Read, Grow, Live Club. In her spare time, Leila enjoys sleeping and watching Netflix. She is excited to see what this year will bring to The Pitch Online. [email protected]
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