Telling the tales of vegetarians


Photo by and used with the permission of Markus Spiske

Although most people assume being vegetarian is mostly eating vegetables, Eryss Bullock, sophmore, says that it’s easy for vegetarians to only eat junk food.

Meat is a common staple of the American diet. People eat turkey on Thanksgiving, hotdogs at baseball games, and chicken wings during the Superbowl. But nearly 3% of Americans, according to The Vegetarian Resource Group, are not accounted for in these traditions. This 3% are vegetarians.

For Aarya Patel, sophomore, her decision to become a vegetarian was fueled by ethical reasons. 

 “I [became a vegetarian] because it makes me feel good,” Patel said. “I just don’t want to eat animals, that’s just my personal choice. And I don’t want to contribute to the negative effects on the environment [caused by] the meat industry.” 

These negative effects, for example, include the 41% of all deforestation that the meat industry accounts for, according to Our World in Data. As global warming becomes more prevalent in the modern world, more people like Patel make these changes to their diet according to Sentient Media. 

However, according to Patel, as vegetarianism and veganism becomes more popular, restaurants do not always accommodate these kinds of diets.

“It’s just a hassle [to] check the menu of the restaurant every time before [going] and making sure they have something for you. But you can usually find a place,” Patel said.

For example, fast food chains such as Burger King and Chipotle are adding more vegetarian options to their menus. 

Eryss Bullock, sophomore, who has been vegetarian since she was born, says she appreciates the increase in representation and options for vegetarians. 

“I enjoy [the options] very much,” Bullock said. “It gives me that experience of being able to enjoy a meal with everybody and not be the one eating a side salad while everyone’s having an actual meal.”

Even as vegetarianism becomes more popular, Bullock says it does have its struggles. 

“I’ve had many encounters with people shaming me [for being a vegetarian],” Bullock said. “I remember a specific encounter with a student: I was sitting on the bus and he told me to ‘eat some meat, you skinny twig. Being vegetarian is stupid.’ I [don’t] feel personally hurt by it, but some people choose to be ignorant and not educate themselves.”

 Louisa Hagen, senior, has had obstacles of her own, and says she struggles to obtain protein without eating meat. 

“I usually just end up eating just a lot of carbs like fruits and vegetables, and I suddenly realize, ‘Wait, I didn’t actually eat much protein today.’ So I tried to just kind of make up for that through things like tofu, yogurt, and beans,” Hagen said. 

Although being vegetarian may have limited many of her food options, Hagen says she has also discovered new foods through this lifestyle.

“I really love tofu now, which I did not before,” Hagen said. “I used to never eat it and now I eat it a ton. I feel like now I’ve discovered a lot of recipes and foods that I wouldn’t have otherwise found.