A vegetarian can eat all types of food except meat. Many people choose to adopt the vegetarian lifestyle because of animal rights or environmental concerns over the increase in pollution created from factory farms and the use of resources such as fossil fuels, water and land. Despite the lack of meat, vegetarians can obtain protein through a variety of ways. Vegetables, tofu and protein supplements can be eaten to make up for it. Branches of vegetarian include pescatarian, ovo vegetarian, fruitarian and veganism.
Real World Example:
Senior Utsa Ramaswami has never eaten meat in her entire life. Ramaswami was just a picky eater who didn’t like eating meat. But after a while, Ramaswami decided to formally become a vegetarian.
“I was young, but I kind of just decided that I didn’t like the idea of [eating] animals because I thought it was sad,” Ramaswami said. “And then that developed into a little more of an animal rights thing. But when I was little, I was just kind of opposed because I thought it was weird that you would eat something that was alive.”
However, not all vegetarians choose their lifestyle for the same reasons. Junior Carolyn Wassmer had read her mom’s book, “Skinny Bitch” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, that contained information about the processing of meat. Wassmer decided to become a pescetarian 7th grade. A pescetarian is the same as a vegetarian except that they eat seafood.
“I can’t imagine how people are vegetarian after eating meat because it just seems like you would crave it all the time,” Ramaswami said. “I don’t think I could do it if I had eaten meat before.”
A vegan diet is one that completely cuts out any animal products or by-products such as meat, dairy, eggs or anything made with any of those ingredients. Dietitian Paula Antinocci says that the most common reason she sees for choosing a vegan diet is for ethical reasons, like wanting to protect the environment or animals. A vegan diet also promotes health by being made up of mostly simple foods that come from the earth.
However, one of the dangers of a vegan diet is not fulfilling one’s daily nutritional needs with things like protein and calcium that are rich in meat and milk. Due to the rise in popularity of this diet, today there are more vegan-friendly meat and dairy alternatives, like tofu and almond milk. These make it easy for a vegan to still keep a balanced diet.
Real World Example:
At the age of seven, senior Ayana Curran-Howes had already stopped eating red meat. By age 12 she wasn’t eating meat at all. In February of her freshmen year, she decided to take on a vegan lifestyle, something she claims she always knew she would eventually do from an early age. Curran-Howes cites her innate love of animals and concern for the environment as the reason for her transition. For her, the benefits of a vegan diet outweigh having to pass up on a cookie from time to time.
“You feel great, have clear skin, it helps the environment immensely and [it helps] my conscience because I am such an animal lover,” said Curran-Howes.
Kosher is a set of dietary rules of Judaism, while Halah is the set of dietary rules followed by Muslims. Kosher and Halah are very similar, but Kosher food is more accessible in the United States. Followers of Kosher cannot eat animals that do not regurgitate after eating such as pork. They also abstain from eating animals that do not have cloven hooves, water animals that do not have fins and scales, insects, gelatin and birds of prey among others. The animals that followers can eat must be killed in a specific way that is as humane as possible.
Senior Danya Issawi loves gummy worms, gummy bears, gummy everything. But before she can have a colorful, squishy worm, she has to flip over the package to make sure the gummies were made without gelatin. Although it might seem like a nuisance to others, Issawi just sees it as part of following her religion.
Issawi doesn’t find it hard to follow since she grew up following Kosher as part of her Muslim religion. Sometimes the lifestyle becomes a little hard, like when Issawi had to bring her own marshmallows to her Girl Scouts campfire because of the gelatin in them.
“When you’re little and you learn to do something a certain way, it stays with you through your whole life,” Issawi said. “It’s not like I feel like I’m missing out because I’m not eating that slice of pepperoni pizza.”
A gluten-free diet is exactly what is sounds like: a diet devoid of gluten. Gluten is a two-protein substance most commonly found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. However, gluten can be in anything from breads and pastas to certain ice creams and soups, so it is very important for those on the diet to read ingredient labels. For many, a gluten free diet isn’t one they would have chosen willingly. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, one in every 133 Americans has celiac disease, which means their bodies cannot process gluten because it leads to damage of their intestines. Some follow this diet as a choice, claiming it gives them increased energy levels. According to Antinocci, a gluten-free diet is not missing any key nutrients, however those following the diet should not rely on pre-packaged gluten-free options for every meal.
Real World Example:
Junior Max Danner had never heard of celiac disease when he was diagnosed with it in the fourth grade.
“When you’re a kid you want to eat like every other kid,” said Danner. “I couldn’t eat a lot of stuff like birthday cake.”
Since then, though, Danner has found it relatively easy to carry out a gluten-free diet. At restaurants he’ll order a steak with a side of mashed potatoes, and at home he’ll eat sandwiches made on rice bread.
“I found out there are a lot of [gluten] alternatives and it’s gotten better each year,” Danner said.
Sugar, spice and all that is nice doesn’t sound so nice to people who live a sugar-free lifestyle. The diet abstains from foods with added sugar. Sugary foods such as cookies, ice cream and cake are not eaten. Practitioners of this diet must be careful because there are many foods that aren’t associated with having added sugar such as peanut butter, crackers and granola bars. However, sugar-free dieters will eat natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables and dairy.
Real World Example:
To senior Ada Throckmorton, a doughnut smells like one of the most amazing things in the world; she would love to have a bite. But when Throckmorton remembers all the added sugars in the doughnut, that urge goes away.
Throckmorton won’t eat it because she has been raised to not eat foods with added sugars. Poor health habits of her mother that eventually led to health problems cause Throckmorton’s mother to limit sugar in her children’s diets.
“When [people] hear [that I’m sugar-free], they’ll ask me, ‘Where’s your childhood?’” Throckmorton said. “I don’t have a taste to miss. So I don’t actively enjoy it, but it doesn’t hamper me in any way.”
Because her body isn’t accustomed added sugars, if Throckmorton eats a cupcake on a special occasion, she will get headaches after eating the highly-concentrated sugary food. However, she often makes sugar-free brownies and sugar-free cupcakes with the organic sweeteners.
“At this point, I’ve done it long enough and it doesn’t bother me,” Throckmorton said. “I don’t feel inclined to change it.”
Sometimes referred to as the “caveman diet”, the paleolithic diet (often shortened to paleo) cuts out any foods that weren’t consumed by our most primitive ancestors. This means no processed foods, dairy products, refined sugars or salt. According to dietician Paula Antinocci, the guidelines of the diet stem from the belief that there is nutritional harm in eating carbohydrates. While carbohydrates provide energy for the body, the wrong kinds have also been linked to weight gain. Because of this, weight-loss programs like CrossFit, Kosama and Title Boxing have promoted the diet, causing it gain popularity. Antinocci says that the paleo diet allows for mainly meats and seafood, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Some claim that benefits of the diet are increased amount of energy and weight-loss.
Real World Example:
Senior Kevin Cole first heard about the paleo diet from a presentation put on by Sky’s Limit CrossFit. The idea that the paleo diet allows you to stay in shape without working out constantly because of the lack of carbohydrates was enough for Cole to give it a shot the summer after his sophomore year. Cole says the transition to a paleo diet wasn’t that difficult for him because he was a picky eater to begin with. He follows a strict paleo diet throughout the week consisting of meats that include turkey, vegetables like carrots, nuts and minimal amounts of fruit. At the end of the school week he is more lenient though.
“I go [to Chik-Fil-A] at least once a weekend,” Cole said.