by Pragya Goel
Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat, or the flesh of any animal. This practice can be adopted for many different reasons including health-related, personal preference, religious beliefs, and/or out of respect for the animals' lives.
The most simple reasons for why one might choose to participate in a vegetarian diet is because of their beliefs and the respect they have for the animals.
South Brunswick High School Student Assistance Counselor Mr. Aaron Millman said, "Some people [adopt the diet] for health reasons but others do it for more ethical reasons, and I really respect that."
Many people adopt the diet as an expression of their faith and believe that killing and eating these animals can have deleterious effects. Hindus, for example, have strong beliefs in the law of karma and the sacredness of life. Others simply don’t eat animals out of respect, believing that eating anything with a heartbeat is inhumane.
"My family has been vegetarian since birth so it was only natural that I became one too. They maintained the diet because of their religion, and because I was also following that religion, I became a vegetarian as well," said South Brunswick High School Sophomore Ms. Shayana Sunil.
Others may adopt the diet because of their personal preferences. Some people believe that "personal choice" is more of an excuse rather than a reason. It can be argued that someone, who has been asked why they are vegetarian, uses this excuse to make the, now public matter, personal. It is also believed that personal preference is a respectable reason for non-meat eaters.
"My family is vegetarian but always kept the option of meat-eating open for me. I have some deficiencies that could be solved by adopting a meat diet, but I choose to stay a vegetarian because of my beliefs and understanding of all life," said Sophomore Sriya Josyula.
The more un-debatable and crucial reasons for adopting a vegetarian diet are because of health-related issues. It has been proven that most meat-eaters have a higher risk of obtaining colon and rectal cancer. The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that "the iron and fat content in red meat, and/or the salt and nitrates/nitrites in processed meat" contribute to the increased risk. NIH claims that more research needs to be done to confirm what other meats can cause these cancerous issues. Because of these risks, meat eaters could be forced to give up these types of food and start maintaining a vegetarian diet.
Along with the negative side effects of meat-eating, there are also some nutritional disadvantages that come along with being a vegetarian. South Brunswick High School nurse Ms. Donna Moreen said, "Lots of vegetarians have a very low iron level."
Having an iron deficiency can put vegetarians at a higher risk of anemia. Having anemia means that someone lacks a strong red blood cell count or hemoglobin. This can result in fatigue, damaged hair and skin, and heart palpitations. Though this is commonly seen in vegetarians, they have the option to take iron supplements with foods that absorb iron, such as Vitamin C products.
Having a vegetarian diet can be both beneficial and disadvantageous. Many people discourage vegetarianism without fully understanding what it means to have a vegetarian diet and the good that can come out of it. Vegetarians actually have a lesser chance of obtaining colon cancer, and other cancerous diseases than meat-eaters. Though vitamin deficiencies might occur, there are easy solutions to earn those nutrients back again.