Vegetarianism: Why some UPA students follow a “no-meat” diet


Christopher Alvarez

Radish avocado toast contains gluten free bread with mashed avocado, radish slices, salt, and pepper. It is a vegetarian food option.

Around 16.4 million Americans identify as vegetarian. Vegetarianism is a nutritional lifestyle in which meat, fish and, in some cases, the consumption of animal products are not eaten. People become vegetarian for various reasons including religion, health benefits and environmental impact.  

Junior Ishita Patel has been a vegetarian her whole life because she was raised in a Hindu household. Hinduism encourages the practice of vegetarianism because animals are seen as sentient beings like humans. She has seen a lot of social stigma towards vegans that can extend to vegetarians if someone does not know the difference between the two, but she also believes people should become vegetarian only if they want to and not be forced to. She has experienced disrespect from people because she is a vegetarian but also noted that it is very rare.

Junior Sainirnay Mantrala is also vegetarian because he practices Hinduism. He appreciates the environmental benefits to going vegetarian. Vegetarian diets or meals have been shown to have lower CO2 emissions compared to meat diets.  

“Especially with science and technology coming out with alternatives to meat eating, I think it’s something we all could do,” Mantrala said. 

According to a BBC news article, vegetarianism has been on a steady rise in popularity because of the availability of vegetarian food products, concerns about animal and environment welfare and weight problems. Rohan Vashishat, a junior, has been a vegetarian for his whole life because of his Hinduism.

“My family practices Hinduism, and although it does not require a vegetarian diet, some Hindus avoid eating meat because of the impact it has on animals,” Vashishat said. 

Vashishat does not push for vegetarianism or have a problem with meat eating but instead sees it as a choice.

“During school lunches, I realized I was different, eating a mainly vegetable and fruit diet while my friends ate pepperoni pizza and sausage,” Vashishat said. 

He admits that it can be hard to balance his daily macronutrients, sometimes eating too many carbohydrates in a meal causing a burst of energy followed by tiredness. 

We do not really have a problem with other people eating meat and if someone offered us meat, we would respectfully decline,” Vashishat said. “If someone wanted to become vegetarian for any reason, then that is their choice.” 

Senior Jordyn Roberson is a pescetarian, which is like vegetarianism in that it is a diet that avoids the consumption of meat but allows for fish to be consumed. Roberson became a pescatarian because of health issues that run in the family. Her mom became a pescatarian after watching a documentary called “What the Health.” Roberson noted that it is still hard for her to stick to her diet since she has not been a pescatarian for long, so she will crave for snacks a lot and sometimes overeat. While she does not like the food industry, she is sympathetic toward meat eaters and also pushes her family members, especially her dad, to try a healthier diet.

Mantrala has experienced light jokes from his friends for many years now about being vegetarian but has gotten used to them. Mantrala’s friends would prank him, but they never seemed to realise what vegetarianism meant to him.

“[My friends] mess around like that because they don’t completely understand its significance and cultural value to me,” Mantrala said.

Vashishat has also encountered social hardships, but it does not stop him from being vegetarian.

“There are times where my friends would comment about how I never ate meat and jokingly make fun of me, but in the end, I am proud to be who I am and their comments won’t change my lifestyle,” Vashishat said.