This is a guest post from Isobel Araujo of Whitney Young High School and a member of the ACE Chicago Media.
Many of my friends want to know why I stopped eating meat. Two years ago, right before my gradual dietary change, I enjoyed eating meat just like the majority of my friends, however, after the influence of my freshman biology teacher, I began to think much more carefully about my life choices, not just dietary choices. We read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, watched Food Inc. discussed our daily meals, built a hydroponics system, did community service projects, and by the end of the first semester, I was completely involved in the eco-friendly community.
I learned that being a vegetarian is very eco-friendly. According to Forbes, “18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions were attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs and poultry”, and that number is actually now estimated to be at around 51% by International Finance Corporation. I decided to propose the idea of cutting back slightly on meat to my family. When that worked out well, I decided to try being a vegetarian for a week. After that, I have been a steady vegetarian for almost two years.
As a student athlete, my cross-country and track coaches are often very concerned with my diet. “How are you getting your nutrients and protein?” they ask. Well, I have found that since becoming a vegetarian, I have found that I am much more conscious about my food choices, and have been much healthier overall. I have recently started taking a daily vitamin supplement, at the request of my coaches, however, I was completely healthy before I started taking them.
I get my protein from a magic whole grain known as quinoa. Quinoa looks a bit like brown rice, and can be cooked in any combination with vegetables, spices, or any other foodstuffs. Peanut butter, nuts, beans, and tofu also provide protein.
Whenever I visit my boyfriend’s house, his little sister invariably asks me the same question over dinner: “…But…what do you eat?” As a vegetarian, I get this question all the time, and it can sometimes be difficult to answer, because there are so many foods and combinations of food that I like. I love making lists, so here list of my top five favorite vegetarian meals that anyone can try:
- Pasta with garlic, roasted brussel sprouts, walnuts, red chili flakes, and olive oil. Perfect, because you who doesn’t like pasta?
- Stuffed acorn squash filled with apples, walnuts, cheese, and raisins. A lovely autumnal meal, and using squash when it is in season is always better for the environment
- Crusty bread with a slice of fresh mozzarella, with tomato soup poured over it
- Frittata (omelet with rice and/or pasta mixed in) with kale or spinach, peppers, onions, and salsa. Good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
- Pita bread with spanakopita, tabouli salad, falafel, hummus, and tzatziki sauce (fresh yoghurt sauce with cucumbers)
This October, vegetarian month, anyone can try doing a fun experiment with vegetarianism!
Thanks, Isobel. Whether we’re going meat-free on Mondays or changing the way we eat overall, ideas like these keep our mouths watering.