October 1st was World Vegetarian Day, a great day to celebrate a meatless lifestyle and its benefits. The vegetarian diet and lifestyle are widely held worldwide with 8% of the world population identifying as vegetarian.
Historically, people have adopted vegetarianism for religious and cultural reasons. But today, many are embracing the lifestyle for health, environmental and ethical reasons. A vegetable-rich diet holds nutritional value as it’s high in fiber, magnesium, unsaturated fat.
Further, such a diet is more environmentally conscious due to the amount of fossil fuels it takes to produce meat. Many vegetarians who cite ethical reasons for going vegetarian dislike the inhumane practices of the meat industry.
Overall, vegetarianism has become more mainstream, with many restaurants and businesses developing meatless options for consumers. Recently, Burger King announced plans to phase in plant-based chicken nuggets, a successor to their popular impossible burger.
Mason Spiderman Wittmaier, a sophomore, is a vegetarian who adopted the lifestyle at the beginning of 2021. He cited ethical reasons for vegetarianism as he believes the industrial farming of animals is unethical and will be frowned upon in the future.
“I don’t need to eat animals to live,” Wittmaier said. “When I eat meat that is produced unethically I’m choosing personal taste over the quality of lives of animals and supporting unethical production.”
Mason’s favorite go-to vegetarian food may surprise some people: Taco Bell. He says that Taco Bell has many vegetarian options and his favorite is the spicy potato soft taco. He also substitutes black beans for meat as an alternate source of protein. Eating out at restaurants is not too challenging, he explains further, and he selects restaurants that have good veggie-based dishes such as many Asian restaurants. Mason also enjoys making vegetarian alternatives to traditionally meat-based dishes, such as chicken sandwiches with fake chicken patties.
The hardest part of vegetarianism for Mason is time, money and finding good protein sources. As a Jewell student, Mason says that more vegetarian and plant-based options in the Cafe would be appreciated since sometimes his only option is pasta or salad. For anyone who wants to go vegetarian, Mason suggests starting with reducing meat intake overall and gradually going meatless by exploring protein alternatives.