I was standing in line at Chicken Joe's and guiltily considering my order- the beloved High School Special. More specifically, this popular bag of crispy potato cones and French fries comes with deep fried chicken nuggets. For about 3 years, I have followed a vegetarian diet. I was in 8th grade when I noticed an increase in vegetarianism. All around me, friends and celebrities seemed to be part of this organization. Intrigued, I looked into vegetarianism and decided to follow it as a gateway to healthy living.
According to Lisa O'Neill Hill, a freelance writer for CNN, a vegetarian diet is associated with “a lower risk of death from diabetes and heart diseases.” It also lowers cancer rates and blood pressure. Humans are prone to be leaner when following a vegetarian diet.
It took a while to convince mom. She was worried whether I would receive adequate nutrition for my growing body. After advice from the internet and much consideration, she deemed it appropriate. At the beginning, I doubled up on eggs and dairy, and took vitamin and mineral supplements to aid iron and essential intake. Things started to get easier when I discovered the benefits of tofu, grains, and leafy greens, which I stocked up on. Over time, my food choices also influenced my meat-loving family: my mother is now a vegetarian and my father has cut down on meat.
Hence, this was the shameful conscience I felt waiting in line at Chicken Joe's. Vegetarianism was something my younger self pleaded my parents to follow. I researched article after article about benefits and how to perfect the art of going meatless. Was I really about to give up 3 years of all that hard work, determination, and refusal of meat?
Luckily, in my defense, there were also disadvantages. Health drawbacks are major cons on going vegetarian, specifically, lack of protein and amino acids lead to slower healing wounds, duller looking skin, and struggle to develop muscle tissue. In this sense, vegetarians are weaker, and our digestion and cognitive functions suffer. Vegetarians naturally eat more carbs to compensate for the lost protein, which will likely lead to weight gain. But, protein isn't the entire problem: while it’s wise to avoid fats and oils, a small amount is crucial. It is important for our hair, skin, and joints. Research has also shown that deficiency from B12, a crucal substance found in meat, can cause serious problems such as nerve damage and low energy.
So the question is, to be or not to be? While one should live a vegetarian lifestyle and reap the health benefits, I have come to a decision that it is certainly acceptable to indulge meat every once in a while and catch up on those missed nutrients. What do you think?