Kristen Anderson, Contributor, 7th grade

Have you ever considered being a vegetarian? If so, you’re not alone. 7.3 million Americans are vegetarian. To be vegetarian means to be a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons. The vegetarian industry has steadily grown in the last decade. The call for vegetarian and vegan food rose by 987% in 2017. There’s even a world vegetarian day on October 1st. If someone wantss to decide whether or not to be vegetarian, though, there are three main things they must know.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Vegetarianism

Becoming vegetarian has many health benefits including lower cholesterol, minimal weight gain, and a lesser probability of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. However, it’s important to consider the drawbacks. Vegetarians have a lack of many vital proteins and nutrients leading to depression, slower muscle repair, and hair loss. For many, though, it’s not just about health. Some vegetarians switch to protest the cruel treatment of animals. Just the same, some argue there’s particular brands of meat that focus on humanely treating animals they could buy instead. Certain people convert for environmental purposes. Large farm animals like cows release methane and require a considerable amount of grazing land. Be that as it may, one might contend it takes up land to plant vegetables too, and fertilizers may poison the soil. Plus, it can be hard to be a vegetarian. There’s less options, it’s hard to dine with friends and family, and eating out can be difficult.

Types of Vegetarians and Alternatives

Not all vegetarian diets are strictly confined to vegetables. Vegans avoid all animal related products, but there are different types of vegetarians called lacto-vegetarians, octo-vegetarians, lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy, but not meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but forgo dairy, meat, fish and poultry. Lacto-ovo vegetarians may have both dairy and eggs but abstain from meat, fish and poultry in their diets. However, there are alternatives to being vegetarian. Pescatarians only use seafood for a source of meat. Some people are entomophagous, or insectivores. Locavores only eat what is grown or raised near them.

A Healthy Vegan Diet

Like mentioned before, a vegetarian diets can lack healthy proteins and nutrients. Lacto-ovo, lacto, and ovo-vegetarianism help solve that issue. Not everyone wants to do that, though. The main vitamins lacked are  B-12 and D. Vitamin B-12 is required to produce red blood cells. Since it is mostly found in animals in order for vegetarians to get B-12 they must contemplate eating vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products. Vitamin D strengthens bones. It can be found in mushrooms, tofu, orange juice, and sunshine. Vegans are also known to have deficiencies in protein. Plants rich in protein include lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, quinoa, beans, potatoes, and many others. Another failing is calcium. That’s easily solved with almond milk, oranges, broccoli, black beans, tofu, and a few more different foods. Omega 3 fatty acids doses are often too small. Ground flaxseed, canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, and soybeans are all good sources. The last few are iron, zinc, and iodine. Iron and zinc are needed for red blood cells. They come in whole grains, legumes and soy products,  beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs. Iodine is in iodine salt.

Works Cited

“Vegetarianism in America.” Vegetarian Times. Vegetarian Times, Accessed 8
Oct. 2019.

“Vegetarian Diet: How to Get the Best Nutrition.” Mayo Clinic,
vegetarian-diet/art-20046446. Accessed 8 Oct. 2019.

“Animal Rights and Vegetarianism- Why Be a Vegetarianism.” Happy Cow. Happy Cow, Accessed 8 Oct. 2019.