My veggie pride

October 28, 2009 — by Arnav Dugar
arnav

Freshman Arnav Dugar

What do you eat for dinner when meat is off the menu? In most American households, dishes like roasted chicken and beef patty hamburgers are served daily, but not in my house. In our family, being a vegetarian is natural, and we have our own fancy dishes… wait, but don’t all vegetarians just eat salad all day long? OK, let’s back up. Believe it or not, there are actually more dietary options available to vegetarians than just salad.

In the morning I eat a healthy omelet with diced tomatoes and onions with a glass of milk, a mix of nuts or a banana at break. For lunch I have a large sandwich stuffed with lettuce and cucumber, dripping with olive oil. Not bad. What about waffles overflowing with maple syrup or pasta with vegetables and cheese, and some juicy fruits? These are all flavorful vegetarian options that provide nutrition without having to eat meat. All it takes is a little imagination to create a lavish vegetarian meal.

Most people think that being a vegetarian is hard. And sometimes it is. But most of the time it’s a blessing. By choosing a diet consisting of leafy greens, which are filled with health-promoting antioxidants, and by excluding some unhealthy red meats like beef, which have been shown to contribute to cancer and heart disease, I feel that I have gained a strong nutritional advantage because of my diet.

Because of the complexities used to classify dietary lifestyles, people often get confused about the different types of vegetarians. For example, some vegetarians do eat fish, while others refuse to eat dairy products. Once in a restaurant, the waiter served the dish without egg or cheese since he thought being vegetarian prohibited us from eating dairy products. My family does not eat any form of meat, but we do eat eggs and dairy products.

Many teens decide to convert to being vegetarian because of animal rights or other personal reasons, but my family has been vegetarian for generations. It started since my ancestors were Jains and in their religion eating meat was prohibited. My sister and I have grown up this way, and tradition dictates our children will be vegetarian as well, unless someone makes a decision to change.

For a non-vegetarian who loves to eat chicken nuggets for lunch, it may be hard to resist the allure of a smoking, medium-rare steak basted in tangy barbecue sauce. But hey, I can survive without it—maybe you can too.