Janci: Motives behind meatless

Janci discusses becoming vegetarian and eating healthy.

Jenelle Janci

Jenelle JanciI went vegetarian to impress a boy when I was 15 years old.

OK, so maybe I watched a PETA video or two and read some scary statistics in the process. But when it came down to it, I just wanted someone in skinny jeans to love me.

Whether my reasons for swearing off shawarma are justified or not, somehow here I am, nearly six years later, still playing on Team Veggie. Having been overweight for most of my life, the lifestyle’s weight loss benefits and added energy are what have deterred me from going back.

Assuming that not every vegetarian in the world had a misguided agenda and an emo boy to impress, I asked Sodexo nutritionist Julie Rhule why she thinks some people ban meat from their fridge.

“I feel like there’s a wide gamut of reasons why someone adopts a vegetarian lifestyle,” Rhule said. “Some people are doing it strictly for health reasons, other people are doing it for religious beliefs and purposes and some do it for a political stance.”

Besides those main three reasons and of course a concern for animals, Rhule said that sometimes vegetarianism is rooted in less of a reason and more in personal tastes.

“You might just meet someone who just generally doesn’t like to eat meat – who isn’t doing it for religious, political, health supportive aspects – that’s just the type of food they prefer.”

Although Rhule herself is not a vegetarian, she said she tries to make sure the majority of her meals are meatless – a skill she honed while earning a degree from the National Culinary Institute in New York City. NCI is dedicated strictly to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, Rhule said.

Like Rhule, I suppose I’m not a 100 percent bona-fide vegetarian. I should clarify that I often was technically a pescatarian for most of those six years, meaning I occasionally ate seafood.

However, recently I’ve been challenging myself to leave Nemo off of my plate.

Besides reasons of ideology and personal taste, there are a lot of other factors as to why people make the switch. Fitwatch.com noted food safety and diseases as a reason, because although it has been found in produce, E. Coli is most prevalently found in meat. I do have to say, it’s nice to breathe a sigh of relief when mad cow makes its strike, because I really only need to worry when the tofu gets angry.

Fitwatch also noted food additives as a reason to avoid meat, which is explainable for anyone who has seen the chicken nugget scene in “Supersize Me.”

While there are no doubt a variety of reasons why people go vegetarian, Rhule said it’s a diet that must be constructed with care – a challenge that many of the students she consults face.

“I do get a lot of questions regarding vegetarian lifestyles,” Rhule said. “I think because maybe someone has a lot of questions on how to make sure they’re eating in a balanced way.”

Although I work out, meeting my protein needs has been pretty simple since I’ve found a rhythm to the diet. However, Rhule said some bodies have a greater need for protein than others.

“I also will deal with a lot of athletes who are vegetarian that are really concerned [about] getting enough protein to support the extra demands their body is put under, and for muscle growth and development.”

No matter what your reason for dedicating more of your plate to veggies may be, Rhule said it’s a sound choice, even if you still sneak some meat into your diet.

“I think it’s extremely important for the environment as well as your own temple – your own personal being.”

While Rhule eats primarily vegetarian, she said she still allows herself to enjoy a steak from time to time. She said that for people who are afraid to swear off meat completely, simply adding a few vegetarian meals to your weekly diet will help diversify the nutrients your body receives.

And for such a benefit, you don’t particularly need an excuse.

Jenelle Janci can be reached at jenelle.janci@temple.edu.

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