Time to Eat Without Meat

Imagine a day without crunchy Bojangles chicken, greasy McDonald’s burgers or Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos Supremes. Countless people worldwide live like this everyday and couldn’t be happier.

These  men and women are vegetarians who abstain from the consumption of meat – red meat, poultry, seafood and the flesh of any animal. To substitute, they eat foods that come from plants; grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. There are many reasons for making the switch to the “green diet” which include moral, health and family or religious views.

“I became a vegetarian because I watched a video that some PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)  people were giving out at a concert that showed how animals are treated,” Rhiannon Rabon said.

These videos contain horrid images of animals being crammed into dirty, windowless sheds and confined to wire cages. There are scenes of pigs in metal enclosures for breeding, small empty lots with no grass, and other cruel confinement systems.

Companies shown in these films fight back by saying it is cost efficient even though it is wrong. PETA is an international nonprofit charitable organization who was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to establishing and defending the rights of all the affected animals. PETA’s principle is that animals are not to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.

“The [greatest] reward I have gotten from it is that I feel like a better person because I’m not contributing to the mistreatment of animals,” Rabon said.

Maya Stafford has been living her life meat free diet since birth. Her mom was 15 years old when she decided to become vegetarian and when she gave birth to her children, she raised them to do the same.

“…it does help me eat a little bit cleaner because it is mainly a vegetable and fruit oriented diet,” Stafford said.

Avoiding all foods containing meat can have obstacles. This includes being invited to social events and needing to search for the veggie trays. Stafford agrees, saying it particularly difficult finding vegetarian friendly in the 40/42 area.

Another challenge is ensuring one gets enough iron and other B vitamins.

“The hardest part [of being a vegetarian] is making sure that I get all my nutrients and protein in a day,” Rabon said.

Some vegetarians throw down protein shakes or take vitamins, while others have to add things to their diet. These additions include and are not limited to beans, tofu, eggs and grains.

There are numerous resources, such as the PETA website, that could assist with becoming a new vegetarian. Other sites provide recipes and tips to ensure all vegetarians are eating healthy and nutritious.

“You should try, you don’t know how it will affect you until you give it a shot,” Stafford said.