It seems that these days more and more people are giving up meat and going for their veggies. Proof of this can be seen around Juniata’s College campus. Not only is our food service increasing the number of vegetarian options available to accommodate this growing population, but there is currently a new club on campus—the Vegetarian Alliance. Claire Holzner, the faculty sponsor for the club, gives her opinion on the benefits of cutting meat from our diet and advice on how to do so.
Why did you become a vegetarian?
I became a vegetarian because I do not want animals to suffer and die so I can eat, because eating meat is not necessary. Instead of adding to the level of misery in this world, I wanted to be able to add to the level of compassion. Factory farming is extremely cruel to animals. Although I initially became a vegetarian for animal reasons I discovered that there are so many other reasons that it is overwhelming. Environmentally, production of meat is very wasteful of land, water, and fossil fuel — and the meat industry is the number one emitter of global warming gases. Meat is inefficient: you must feed an animal 10-20 calories to get one calorie out for human consumption. If Americans cut back on their meat consumption by just 10 percent then there would be enough grain to feed all the people in the world who currently don’t get enough to eat.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to become a vegetarian or vegan?
I would advise one to conduct research and become educated. If you feel secure with your decision not to eat meat, it will make these situations easier. I would suggest bringing your own food to events like these, such as soy burgers. Don’t see being a vegetarian as limiting—there are so many great recipes available. One of my personal favorite cookbooks is “Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero. Try to cook for your friends and family, so that they can enjoy vegetarian food as well.
What foods do you eat to make sure you get all the right nutrients?
The key in any vegetarian diet should be lots of vegetables, grains, and beans or other protein sources. In my diet I try to eat a lot of dark green veggies because they are rich in vitamins, iron, calcium, and are a great source of fiber. I also suggest eating soy, tempeh, and tofu. Taking iron, calcium, and especially B12 supplements is probably a good idea.
What are common misconceptions associated with being a vegetarian or vegan?
Sometimes there is the misconception that vegans care for animals more than we care for people and that is not true. It’s about human suffering as well as animal suffering. Another misconception is that vegans have no fun and that they are very severe and puritan. That is not true as well; I know a lot of vegans who have a lot of fun. There are so many recipes out there that being a vegan can actually be adventurous.
-Liz Roberts ’10, Juniata Online Journalist