Veggin’ out, the healthy way

Carrie Circosta

Students choose the vegetarian lifestyle for a variety of reasons

Ashley Brna, sophomore accounting major, makes phyllo with walnuts and brown sugar, a Hungarian vegetarian dish. Brna learned her cooking skills from her mother and grandmother, who are also vegetarians. LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Kristen Binggeli, senior family and consumer studies major, was hanging with her friends and having a good time, when hunger hit her and sent her looking for food. There were hamburgers, hot-dogs and pepperoni pizzas from Hungry Howie’s.

After complaining about how hungry she was, she then had to explain why she couldn’t eat anything.

She had to explain that she is a vegetarian.

“This happens all the time,” Binggeli said. “Many people don’t think about vegetarians. At that point I just sit around and watch everyone eat, which sucks. But I have learned that when I go to a get-together … I should eat before I go, so I don’t expect to be fed there.”

Binggeli has been a vegetarian for about a year, but the whole process started when she was in eighth grade. She said she first stopped eating pork, then in high school she stopped eating beef and finally last year she stopped eating chicken.”

“I don’t like the animal cruelty that goes on in slaughterhouses and on the farms the animals are raised on,” Binggeli said. “If the whole process were done in a more humane way, it would be a lot different.

“But when the animals are constantly kept in pain, that’s not right,” she said. “I tell people all the time I don’t have a problem with people who hunt, kill the animal fast and use it for what they need. It’s just the animal cruelty that gets me.”

According to a 2003 Vegetarian Resource Group Harris Interactive survey, about three percent surveyed said they were vegetarian, saying they don’t eat meat or seafood.

Binggeli said she is a lacto-ovo vegetarian, meaning along with vegetables, carbs, fruits, soy and tofu, she eats dairy products and occasionally shellfish.

But there are different types of vegetarians, and there are other reasons people decide to become vegetarian.

Ashley Brna, sophomore pre-accounting major, said she has been a vegetarian for five years because it’s healthier. She said it’s even easier because when she cooks, she doesn’t have to deal with raw meat.

“My diet consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and proteins such as cheese, peanut butter and yogurt,” Brna said. “My family has a lot of vegetarians including my mom, sister, grandma, grandpa, aunt and uncle.”

Brna said there are two other types of vegetarians beside lacto-ovo. There is lacto, which consists of avoiding all animal products except for dairy. And there are vegans, who avoid all meat products including dairy products like milk and eggs.

“It’s hard to find healthy, filling foods,” she said. “There are plenty of things like ice cream and bagels. Sandwiches are easy to find, but no one wants to eat a sandwich for every meal. I don’t ever want to inconvenience someone with my dietary choice. So, I usually eat something substantial before I go because there are always plenty of snacks and drinks. I also don’t want the host to feel uncomfortable with me being a vegetarian.”

Just because different vegetarians eat certain things, it’s really not that hard to accommodate for those herbivores.

“A lot of recipes can be made vegetarian just by taking out the meat, like a pasta dish or cheese pizza,” said Roseanne Chiurazzi, a nutritionist from the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. “Health organizations encourage everyone to eat some vegetable dishes in your weekly diet. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, it’s a healthy way to eat.”

Even during the holidays, Brna said it was possible to have a great meal while being a vegetarian.

“It is still possible to have a delicious Thanksgiving dinner as a vegetarian,” she said. “Instead of the turkey, we have the usual mashed potatoes, dressing, one or two vegetarian casseroles and pumpkin pie. Plus, no one has to get up early in the morning to prepare the turkey!”

For more information about vegetarians, recipes and guides, visit

Contact features correspondent Carrie Circosta at [email protected].


• Vegetarian lasagna

-1 bag cheese-filled ravioli

-1 bag Morningstar Grillers Crumbles (in frozen food section)

-1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place ravioli into boiling water and boil until ravioli floats to the top of the water. In oiled casserole dish, alternate layers of ravioli, vegetarian ground beef and spaghetti sauce. Top with grated cheese of your choice. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

• Easy, healthy cake

-1 box cake mix of choice

-3/4 cup whole wheat flour

-2 cups soda water or pop of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix above ingredients together with spoon and pour into 12″ by 9″ lightly oiled cake pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Ashley Brna