Becoming A Vegetarian


Tiancheng Fan

This image, drawn by Tiancheng Fan, represents the eating of vegetables are the protection for cute animals.

Protein deficient or pallid weaklings might come to mind when talking about vegetarians.
The new United Nations report predicted that by 2050, well in our lifetimes, in fact, 30 from now, there will be 2 billion more people on this planet.
In the U.S., 36% of the corn crops and 70% of grains are used to feed livestock– not human beings. On acres and acres of land.

“I would say that climate change is my biggest motivator… I realize that I could cut my contribution [of methane production] by being a vegetarian.” Sofia Erlin said, a junior at CHS.
Persuaded by her friend; two years ago, Erlin became a vegetarian. During her freshman year, Erlin first heard about the negative effects of eating red meats on the climate. Along with 32.8% of the vegetarian staff and students in CHS, Erlin became vegetarians partially due to climate reasons. Producing methane, and nitrous oxide, livestock, responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emission, is on par with transportation, 14%. Greenhouse gas can determine the future of humanity, the rising of sea levels, the increasing acidity in oceans, the shifting of ecosystem characteristics. As Erlin started to research on this topic, the protection of animal rights kept her as a vegetarian. 37.7% of the vegetarian students and staff in CHS were persuaded to become a vegetarian partially due to the violation of animal rights consuming meat. Sarah Stemmler, a senior at CHS, was shocked by the cruel process of meat production as depicted in “Food Inc” she watched in A.P. From one side of the slaughterhouse, massive animals are going in while the other side is coming out small cuts of meat.
“Factory farms are truly awful for animal welfare and health, not to mention that we may be contributing to antibiotic resistance by adding antibiotics to animals’ diets in order to prevent the spread of disease on these tightly packed farms. [I] see factory farms and other abuses of mechanized animal raising as really concerning from my moral and emotional perspective,” Tucker Hall said, a CHS junior.
In seventh grade, Hall and his friends decided to be vegetarians all together, as their discussion about animal rights. With the encouragement from Hall’s mom, he kept being a vegetarian for six years now. Bordering with animal cruelty, the current food system isn’t something that Hall wanted to be part of any longer. The regular consumption of meat is not only associated with the sufferings of the animals, but also cancers and other diseases to humans as well.

“Many of the studies show that meat is consumed as the western diet is just not healthy for humans in any shape or form,”

— Adam Bergeron

“Many of the studies show that meat is consumed as the western diet is just not healthy for humans in any shape or form,” said Adam Bergeron, the Biology teacher, and a vegan before five, “there is no cholesterol in plant-based food… [however] your liver cells, in particular, make all the cholesterol that your body eats [and] animal proteins have cholesterol… cholesterol has all kinds of downstream effects within human bodies,” Bergeron said.
In rural China around the 1980s, on average, a 143-pound person consumes 2641 kcal every day, consisting of 14.5% of total fat, 33% of dietary fiber, 64% protein, 0.8% animal protein, and 34% iron; while, in the U.S, 1989 kcal is consumed, however, with the consumption of 19.5% ~ 23.5% more fat, 21% less dietary fiber, 27% more protein, 9.2 ~ 10.2 % more Animal protein and 16% less iron consumed. These data are according to The China study published in 2006, written by T. Colin Campbell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. He pointed out, in places like rural China, diets are significantly different from the western diet, consisting of more plant-based food. And research suggests this is the reason why cancer rates are lower in China. In rural areas in China, blood cholesterol levels were far lower, 100 points less than the American average (215 mg/dL)

With 17 times higher death rate from coronary heart disease among American men than rural Chinese men, 5 times higher death rate from breast cancer, lower blood cholesterol levels are linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and other Western diseases, even at levels far below those considered “safe” in the West. Still, the harms that eating meat brought are not limited to these. Bergeron also points out that here in St. Louis, we applaud for the smoking of meat.
“We tell you, folks, as very young people to not smoke and then we applaud here in St. Louis, the smoking of meat… Are you going to look me in the eye and say that the chemical compounds in burning tobacco aren’t also present in the burning of wood?” Bergeron said, “Cause they are. But no one talks about it. We just eat BBQ as if it’s like this untouchable food product that tastes so good that we can’t possibly question the molecules that are part of the meat.”
In front of the facts about the downside effects on meat consumption, research shows vegetarian diets should be where humans should be heading to, as they tend to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Containing high rates of vitamins, minerals, fiber, many people found many benefits in adopting this diet. Still, some CHS students ended this kind of diet restriction due to some health issues that occurred that differed with each body and the different vegetarians they are. In the lives of vegetarians, planning the meal plays a major role. Poorly planned vegetarian and vegan diets could result in low intakes of iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin D.

With the 17 times higher death rate from coronary heart disease among American men than rural Chinese men, 5 times higher death rate from breast cancer.

— The China Study

“I started to pay more attention to what I eat,” Erlin said.
Though not many vegetarians feel there is a danger to their health with the absence of animal protein. One nutrient, vitamin B12 is problematic when you are exclusively vegan. There is nothing in your body that makes it. Normally, vegans could take vitamin B12 supplements to make up for the absence of B12. Being a vegetarian, there is a need to be more intentional with your diet strategies. For example, making iron more accessible and easier to absorb, one could eat spinach leaves with acid; one could intentionally eat more dark-colored plant leaves, that enriches all kinds of vitamins. Besides vitamin B12 and iron, nothing nutritious is significantly lacking from the vegetarian or even a vegan diet, that can’t be easily adjusted for.
With serious climate changes, rapid population growth, there will be less and less food for each individual. The current food production system is not stable nor sustainable. If no changes are made, no water drops creating ripples on the placid water surface, humans would be facing huge starvation in the future.