Students debate veggie-rich diets

Kristyn Soltis

Some say costly alternatives are worth the effort

Matthew Herald, senior visual communication design major, switched from vegetarianism to veganism last August.

“After my grandma had breast cancer, her doctor put her on a vegan diet,” Herald said. “Since I’d always wanted to go vegan but was always putting it off, I used my grandma as inspiration.” She went “from meat-eater to vegan almost overnight.”

A vegan diet excludes any animal products from food such as meat, eggs, dairy products and any other animal-derived ingredients, which could make grocery shopping more difficult and, some believe, more expensive.

“I think the whole cost thing is just an excuse for people not to do it,” Herald said. “It all depends on what you’re buying. A bag of lentils costs about a dollar, and you can make several meals out of one bag.

“You just have to be a more conscientious shopper and think more about what you’re purchasing.”

Brittany Meinert, junior family consumer science major, has been a vegetarian for about a year.

Meinert said she is only able to find some of her groceries at particular food stores, making them more expensive.

“I have to buy some of my food at specialty stores like Whole Foods,” Meinert said. “It’s hard to come by.”

Jason Parent, junior history major, started his vegetarian diet a little over a month ago.

“Your whole body feels so much cleaner,” he said. “It’s a challenge. You have to adjust your daily diet to see what you can and cannot eat. If you do it right you will lose a ton of weight.”

Of American adults, 2.3 percent follow vegetarian diets, meaning they never eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood, according to a 2006 report from the Vegetarian Resource Group.

Parent said he agrees the cost of food on a vegetarian diet is similar to meat-laden meals.

“Overall it might be a little more expensive but not much more,” Parent said. “If you’re dumb about it and buy all fake meats, it does get pricey. But if you’re smart about it, you will (buy) a lot of veggies, pasta and health foods.”

Parent said one downside to being a vegetarian is the limitations he feels at restaurants.

“Sometimes when you’re out with friends who do eat meat, it’s hard for you to eat at some places because not everywhere offers vegetarian options,” Parent said.

Some fast food restaurants offer vegetarian and vegan meals without any price variation. And some items directly off of the menu count as vegetarian or vegan.

For example, says Taco Bell offers vegetarian dishes such as the bean tostada, breakfast quesadilla and a Mexican pizza without meat. The gordita and chalupa shells contain milk products making them vegetarian, while the hard corn tortillas and refried beans are vegan foods.

Both Herald and Parent said they agree the only “costs” of vegetarianism are self-control and increased health benefits.

“Even doctors are beginning to recognize the benefits of veganism as my family has witnessed first hand,” Herald said. “The only downside is that you have to sacrifice some of the foods that you once enjoyed, but I think the payoff is much greater.”

Contact student finance reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].