Some students are getting into the trend of plant-based diets as people are changing their lifestyles to become healthier. The Setonian sought out vegans and vegetarians on campus to gauge their opinions on the trend and the journey of changing their diet.
Annabella Robb, a sophomore graphic design major, has been vegetarian for two years. Robb said that her diet changed during the summer when the plastic straw ban began gaining popularity.
“I am really into environmental issues,” Robb said. “When I was learning about all the straws and stuff, I did some more research and I learned that eating meat and dairy products is one of the worst factors for the environment.”
Robb’s original plan was to become vegetarian for seven days.
“If I didn’t like it, I would go back and I just never stopped,” she said. While her primary reason is to help the environment, Robb believes that research can bring forth additional reasons for following the diet.
She said, “When you start learning more about being a vegetarian, you do get more invested in doing it for animals.”
Robb, who considers herself a fairly new vegetarian, admits she does crave the flavor of meat at times. “I’m never tempted enough to actually eat it,” Robb said. “I know I can find other substitutions.”
She said she feels she can “eat more greens and vegetables and be full for longer” than when she consumed “greasier meat foods.”
She suggests substitutes, such as the dining hall’s vegetarian burger. “I think when you’re transitioning, it’s okay to rely on fake meats… It does help you wean off of them.” Anabelle Dunn, a sophomore philosophy major, does not believe “trendy” is the right word for the growing uptake of plant-based diets.
“Veganism is coming into the mainstream, and we see this with popular food chains introducing vegan options or entire vegan menus to their product lines,” Dunn said. She noted Disney World, The Cheesecake Factory and select KFC locations as places with vegan options.
“Over the next few years, the offerings will continue to appear,” Dunn said. “Veganism isn’t a trend. It’s very much here to stay, especially now that the public is more aware of the ethical and environmental issues that the lifestyle combats.”
Dunn started on a vegetarian diet but transitioned to vegan.
“My primary motivator was to stop contributing to animal abuse,” she said “But I quickly noticed health benefits and learned about how I was saving far more resources than I had been eating meat, eggs, and dairy… My only regret is not doing it sooner.”
She also has not experienced the urge to eat meat, a feeling she attributes to the meat industry’s waste of life.
“Think about it, killing an animal just to eat for a few minutes,” Dunn said. “It seemed very wasteful and unfortunate to me. A life isn’t worth a steak.”
Like Dunn, Muireann Carmody, a sophomore secondary special education major, first became vegetarian and transitioned to vegan. She first cut out meat, became a pescatarian and began to phase out dairy products.
“It wasn’t for ethical reasons because I didn’t know about the ethical reasons at the time,” Carmody said. “I was strictly doing it just for health reasons and as I became more engulfed in this lifestyle, I actually researched it and learned about the ethical, moral and environmental reasons as to why people go vegan.”
Carmody recommends using the SHU Veggie Society, an organization in which she is vice president, as a resource to learn more about dietary changes. She uses her position to lead a dining initiative with Gourmet Dining Services (GDS), which has brought vegan showcases for Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving.
“People love it,” Carmody said. “They love the vegan nuggets and the vegan mac and cheese… GDS wants people to like their food, so I think the promotional events not only help GDS but also our club as well.”
Catherine San can be reached at email@example.com.