As Earth day approaches, a heavy focus will be placed on being environmentally friendly, but once the focus shifts away, it’s easy to fall back into an unhealthy routine. There are however measures that can be taken to promote and maintain a healthier lifestyle, one of which being the switch to a plant-based diet.
According to vegetarian student Olivia Frye ‘22, there can be many reasons for a person to go vegetarian or vegan, but regardless of their main focus, going plant based has an overwhelmingly positive impact.
“Firstly, [going vegetarian] was dietary,” Frye said. “But slowly I educated myself on the environmental aspects. It’s still mostly for health, but I’ve actually really enjoyed learning about how Earth is going to be affected in the future, so that kind of drives me.”
Many people feel overwhelmed when it comes to committing to a plant-based diet because they only know the stereotypes concerning its difficulty, and according to Dr. Laura Clark M.D., people often don’t realize how easy it is to maintain such a diet and receive the necessary protein one would otherwise get from meat.
“In substitute for different proteins, you can eat things like beans, tofu, lentils, nuts, and nut butters,” Dr. Clark said. “If they’re vegetarian, there’s eggs, yogurt, and cheese, and if they’re vegan and can’t have those things, there’s some different grains that are out there like quinoa or farro.”
According to Frye, there are many groups that can be found through social media that share everything from recipes to motivation. These groups can spread ideas and some even meet in person to have festivals celebrating their commitments.
“I’ve been to some festivals, like plant based events,” Frye said. “It’s really cool to see other people who have made the same life choices as you, and seeing other role models is great too.”
Making recipes that fit a vegan or vegetarian diet is fun and rewarding, according to vegan student Jai Dearing ‘23.
“When I first went vegan I watched a ton of YouTubers that were also vegan, and I learned a bunch of recipes,” Dearing said. “I also found cookbooks and stuff that thankfully helped me.”
There are some extra concerns for vegans regarding nutrient and vitamin intake, according to Dr. Clark, that can result in more dangerous issues when not kept in balance.
“With vegan diets it can be more difficult to get the adequate nutrition,” Dr. Clark said. “So I do get concerned about the vegan diet, particularly to make sure that kids are getting adequate vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, vitamin D and iron.”
According to Dearing there are plenty of supplements and multivitamins available on the market that make keeping a balance simple even when on a stricter diet.
“I am always making sure I’m getting enough magnesium, zinc, and B12 through multivitamins,” Dearing said. “I also know there’s a lot of vegetables that contain these vitamins, you just need to know which ones you’re looking for.”
A plant based diet isn’t impossible, and according to Frye, if you have the time and willingness to commit, the health and environmental benefits alone should be convincing enough to give it a try.
I think vegetarianism can be a very healthy way to eat and so can veganism. You just have to be much more aware of getting adequate and optimal nutritional intake and making sure you’re taking in everything in moderation.
“Always make sure to research a lot, and make sure it’s really what works best for you,” Frye said. “It’s ok if right now you’re too busy with highschool to stick to such a strict diet, but later in life you might choose this path and it’s definitely worth a shot.”