Vegetarian lifestyle has more options

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    In today’s fashion-forward, weight-conscious market, there are countless diets available. But before South Beach was discovered and before Atkins put pen to paper, there was the vegetarian diet.Like any diet, there was a time when being a vegetarian was seen and used to get attention and a way for people to form their identities. Today, vegetarianism has evolved into an environmentally aware habit, and I think it’s safe to say, the “tree-hugging” perception has been put to rest.

    There are essentially two ways to cut meat out of your diet: as a vegetarian and as a vegan.

    For vegetarians, the only stipulation is that they not eat meat – no chicken, fish or beef. Vegans don’t eat any animal products – no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.

    I’ll refer to the two groups as vegetarians.

    People are vegetarian for many reasons. The most commonly cited reasons are for religion, animal rights, personal health and the environment.

    Certain religions are known for their meat-free habits. The majority of the world’s vegetarians are Hindu. Hinduism and Jainism, both predominantly South Asian faiths, teach vegetarianism as a moral behavior. Certain sects of Buddhism advocate full vegetarian diets, while others do not.

    The most obvious reason to become vegetarian is for the well-being of our furry friends. According to an article on About.com, “A vegetarian or vegan in the United States saves the lives of around 83 farm animals each year.”

    Also in the article, “According to the Surgeon General, nearly 70 percent of all disease in the United States is diet-related.” And with the American Dietetic Association having claimed that a vegetarian diet is “healthful (and) nutritionally adequate” and aids in “the prevention and treatment of certain diseases,” there’s no reason not to try it.

    Vegetarians try to slow down the meat industry as much as they can, while also working to protect the environment. According to About.com, the meat industry causes more water pollution than any other industry, and raising animals as food requires more than one-third of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the United States.

    It’s easier than ever to become a vegetarian with the information devoted to the subject in cookbooks and on TV shows. There are also specialty grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Natural Marketplace that carry vegetarian and vegan items to make it easier for vegetarians to shop with discretion.

    According to a New York Times article, Whole Foods Market is preparing to unveil a line of meats with an “animal compassionate” label to indicate the animals were not harmed while they were raised. The label declares the animals were treated in a humane manner – that is, of course, until they were slaughtered and packaged for your satisfaction.

    According to the article, “animal compassionate” foods prohibit the castration of sheep and the tail-docking of pigs. “Free farmed” allows castration of sheep in the first week and tail-docking in pigs. Under both labels, electric prods on beef cattle are permitted only in emergencies.

    How much of a difference do these labels make when animals are still being killed? What is the fight for animal welfare about – the process or the end result?

    At the very least, the new “animal compassionate” labels will give non-vegetarians a way to express support without changing their diets and the vegetarians a sign that their efforts are not in vain.

    Anahita Kalianivala is a freshman English and psychology major from Fort Worth. Her column appears every Wednesday.In today’s fashion-forward, weight-conscious market, there are countless diets available. But before South Beach was discovered and before Atkins put pen to paper, there was the vegetarian diet.

    Like any diet, there was a time when being a vegetarian was seen and used to get attention and a way for people to form their identities. Today, vegetarianism has evolved into an environmentally aware habit, and I think it’s safe to say, the “tree-hugging” perception has been put to rest.

    There are essentially two ways to cut meat out of your diet: as a vegetarian and as a vegan.

    For vegetarians, the only stipulation is that they not eat meat – no chicken, fish or beef. Vegans don’t eat any animal products – no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.

    I’ll refer to the two groups as vegetarians.

    People are vegetarian for many reasons. The most commonly cited reasons are for religion, animal rights, personal health and the environment.

    Certain religions are known for their meat-free habits. The majority of the world’s vegetarians are Hindu. Hinduism and Jainism, both predominantly South Asian faiths, teach vegetarianism as a moral behavior. Certain sects of Buddhism advocate full vegetarian diets, while others do not.

    The most obvious reason to become vegetarian is for the well-being of our furry friends. According to an article on About.com, “A vegetarian or vegan in the United States saves the lives of around 83 farm animals each year.”

    Also in the article, “According to the Surgeon General, nearly 70 percent of all disease in the United States is diet-related.” And with the American Dietetic Association having claimed that a vegetarian diet is “healthful (and) nutritionally adequate” and aids in “the prevention and treatment of certain diseases,” there’s no reason not to try it.

    Vegetarians try to slow down the meat industry as much as they can, while also working to protect the environment. According to About.com, the meat industry causes more water pollution than any other industry, and raising animals as food requires more than one-third of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the United States.

    It’s easier than ever to become a vegetarian with the information devoted to the subject in cookbooks and on TV shows. There are also specialty grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Natural Marketplace that carry vegetarian and vegan items to make it easier for vegetarians to shop with discretion.

    According to a New York Times article, Whole Foods Market is preparing to unveil a line of meats with an “animal compassionate” label to indicate the animals were not harmed while they were raised. The label declares the animals were treated in a humane manner – that is, of course, until they were slaughtered and packaged for your satisfaction.

    According to the article, “animal compassionate” foods prohibit the castration of sheep and the tail-docking of pigs. “Free farmed” allows castration of sheep in the first week and tail-docking in pigs. Under both labels, electric prods on beef cattle are permitted only in emergencies.

    How much of a difference do these labels make when animals are still being killed? What is the fight for animal welfare about – the process or the end result?

    At the very least, the new “animal compassionate” labels will give non-vegetarians a way to express support without changing their diets and the vegetarians a sign that their efforts are not in vain.

    Anahita Kalianivala is a freshman English and psychology major from Fort Worth. Her column appears every Wednesday.