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October 1, World Vegetarian Day, marks the beginning of vegetarian awareness month. This month sheds light on the benefits of becoming a vegetarian and celebrates the choice of leading a meatless life. With a wide variety of vegetables available seasonally or all year round and many restaurants offering vegetarian options, becoming a vegetarian has never been easier.
People often ask why vegetarians choose to stop eating meat. There are various reasons including religious convictions, personal health, animal welfare, and the environment. Sophomore Neisa Yin stopped eating meat because she “wants to reduce animal suffering as much as possible. There is no such thing as ‘humane-killing’ if it is for human consumption.”
Junior Annagha Surendra, a vegetarian since birth, was heavily influenced by her parents, who are also vegetarian. She also believes that killing animals for food is unethical.
She mentioned, “I became a vegetarian because it was ingrained in me as a child and also I really hate the way animals are slaughtered.”
While cutting meat completely out of one’s diet is difficult for many, junior Prity Sen switched to a vegetarian diet immediately after seeing pictures of animals being beaten in a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) pamphlet. “I started sobbing and feeling sick about eating them. So I made the decision then and there. It was super impulsive, and I got in trouble with my parents for it. But I would refuse to eat until they agreed. While trying to find food is difficult, it’s even harder to dispel the belief that vegetarians are a bunch of ‘pretentious hipsters,’” says Prity. “I get weird looks when people hear me say, ‘Oh, I’m a vegetarian’. They immediately roll their eyes.”
Prity and many other vegetarians agree that one of the hardest parts about being vegetarian is finding things to eat when with your carnivorous friends. Neisa stated, “If something sounds mostly vegetarian I’ll tell the waiter to take out the meat part, or I’ll just order a salad at worst.” For her, it’s difficult at home since she’s the only vegetarian in the family.
She added, “When we eat at home, I sometimes cook. The meals are separated and usually quite different. I would eat noodles on most nights while my siblings ate hamburgers.”
However, vegetarians are not only limited to salads and noodles. In fact, there are numerous plant-based meals that one could eat, especially since cultures with plant-based diets influence other restaurants. There are many international food options that are meatless. Dishes like pad-thai, curry, and pasta mean that while restricted, vegetarians have a lot of options.