Grace Dickinson: Trendy dieting

Vegan and vegetarian diets have advantages over diets include meat, but only if the individual eats wisely. Ellen DeGeneres, the former United States president Bill Clinton and, the star of “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman are

Vegan and vegetarian diets have advantages over diets include meat, but only if the individual eats wisely.

Ellen DeGeneres, the former United States president Bill Clinton and, the star of “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman are doing it; Alicia Silverstone’s even promoting it.

Will you be next to hop on the meat-free, dairy-free vegan bandwagon? Veganism and vegetarianism aren’t only for peace-loving hippies who adore the slimy white stuff known as tofu.
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According to the authors of the best-selling book, “Skinny Bitches,” Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, the diet is also for macho athletes, such as Mike Tyson, suburban moms who care about their kids’ health and hipsters striving to keep their legs stick-like for their skinny jeans.

All types of people seem to be moving toward a meat-free lifestyle, with many attempting to also rid themselves of dairy. It’s for good reason too. People should embrace the new vegetarian/vegan trend if they want to live a longer, healthier life but also eat properly.

“I decided to become a vegetarian to have a healthier diet and to inspire me to experiment with new healthy options for cooking,” Grace Raffensberger, a junior advertising major, said. “Being vegetarian seems like a healthier option for both my budget and lifestyle as a college student.”

“It’s easier than going on a diet where you have to buy certain foods or tons of special books,” she added.

A vegetarian diet, full of fiber-stuffed plants and low-fat proteins, is a good option for anyone looking to slim down or boost his or her health.

According to the American Heart Association, vegetarian diets are usually lower in total fat than non-vegetarian diets.

However, as Dr. John Briffa points out in a Jan. 14 Epoch Times article, a meat-free diet doesn’t necessarily signify perfect health.

Some become vegetarians entirely for moral reasons and could care less about nutrition. These vegetarians live off  of pizza, chips and macaroni and cheese and consume far less nutritional value than many of their carnivorous peers.

Even vegans, who don’t consume fatty cheese or heavy creams, could essentially have a trashy diet if they gorged daily on French fries or other fried or convenience-based foods.

In general, vegetarians tend to be healthy and vegans even healthier, because a well-balanced, meat-free diet is far superior than one filled with meat.

Animal flesh, often full of artery-clogging fat and cholesterol, is inherently unhealthy. Numerous studies prove meat’s harmful effects on the body.

A September 2010 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed diets rich in animal-based proteins and fats are linked to higher mortality rates.

After studying more than 100,000 individuals over the course of 20-to-26 years, researchers found frequent consumption of animal protein is linked to higher mortality rates, including those caused by cardiovascular and cancer-related issues.

The study also found individuals whose diets were based off of plant-based fats and proteins had lower mortality rates.

For further proof, read the “China Study,” a book detailing a comprehensive, 20-year study on the detrimental effects of meat on health. One part of the book linked animal protein consumption with the activation of cancer cells in the body.

One might wonder, as vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more popular, why aren’t these types of studies more well-known? It boils down to politics.

Our nation is run largely by business and politics. Co-author of the “China Study” and Cornell University professor emeritus, T. Colin Campbell, told the New York Times in a Jan. 7 article it’s primarily the meat and dairy industries funding medical research and nutrition education in schools.

And  who  receives money for the surgeries and treatments required to fix the problems of these two food groups? Doctors, who during medical school, Campbell said, only receive an average of two measly credits in the field of nutrition.

However, while the health benefits of a meat-free diet have yet to fully go mainstream, vegetarianism and veganism is clearly on the rise; making the switch to a vegetarian diet easier.

Tofu’s no longer one of those UFOs (Unidentifiable Food Objects). It can be found pretty much anywhere. The Fresh Grocer sells packages for $2.69, alongside tempeh, another soybean-based, vegan staple.

You can even get some late night General Tso’s tofu at Temple Garden, or trek to Seventh and South streets for amazing dishes at Horizons, a vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurant.

According to the Washington Post, more than half the 1,500 chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association for its new “What’s Hot in 2011” list included vegan entrees.

And the vegetarian/veganism trend is likely to stay. For one, it’s spawned by so many different reasons. Not only is a well-balanced vegetarian diet nutritionally healthier, it’s also more humane for both animals and the environment.

Large-scale meat production presents a horror show in terms of ethical treatment of animals and is a leading source of greenhouse gases.

The evolution of tasty, meat-free food shows this movement won’t quickly fade.

Grace Dickinson can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. Hi Grace:

    Thanks so much for your informative and thought provoking article on the rise of veganism and vegetarinism in the modern society.

    Many years ago, my family used to consume huge quantities of beef and other meats that have now proven to be highly toxic, full of anti-biotics, and containing fats and protein that bring diseases, illness, and arteriosclorosis. Dairy products, too, are highly processed and laden with chemicals. They too contain bad fats and proteins that are toxic to the body. Ever since I largely eliminated meats and dairy products from my diet and incorporated more vegan and vegetarian foods, my overall health has greatly improved and I have seen a great increase in my level of energy and mental clarity. I too would strongly recommend the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle to anyone who is serious about good nutrition and health and who wants to live a long and happy life free of chronic disease and illness. Public opinion is slowly starting to change and even mainstream grocery stores are beginning to understand the importance of marketing healthy vegan and vegetarian alternatives that are also great for the environment.


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