“Meat” BSM vegetarians

Nate Muckley

The average Benilde-St. Margeret’s student may end up eating a sausage-and-cheese bagel, chicken balls, and beef tacos all in one day, but some students and teachers avoid these quintessential BSM foods for ethical or other reasons.

Of these students and teachers, some made the decision to become vegetarian on an ethical basis. Senior and five-year vegetarian Emily Beh decided to stop eating meat (with the exception of fish) because she has always loved animals. Freshman Lea Ale became a vegetarian for similar reasons. “I just don’t like supporting how some farm animals are treated,” said Ale.

Not every vegetarian chooses to live a meat-free lifestyle only because they are against the practices of the meat industry. Sophomore Paige Aanestad decided to become a vegetarian two years ago with inspiration from her mom and older sister. “It kinda runs in the family,” said Aanestad.

Making such a change should be made with caution, however. “My only advice to teenagers if they decide to eat a meatless diet is to make sure they either work with a nutritionist, dietitian or do a lot of research on eating a vegetarian diet. One should not try to live on Cheetos and peanut butter alone,” said Ms. Lisa Lenhart-Murphy, BSM service-learning coordinator.

The ages which people decide to stop eating meat can range widely: Ale decided to stop eating meat when she was eight or nine, while Ms. Lenhart-Murphy converted her junior year of high school. “I think it was dissecting a fetal pig that really got the ball rolling,” said Ms. Lenhart-Murphy.

A meat-free lifestyle can be difficult at times, as not all events have vegetarian options readily available. “At banquets and parties, I’m stuck eating bread and cookies,” said Beh, “it’s kind of a burden.”

Some students can find it difficult to find a suitable vegetarian lunch at school. “I bring my lunch to school a lot because sometimes there’s not a lot of choices for the entreés,” said Aanestad.

However, not every vegetarian member of the BSM community finds lunchtime so difficult. Ale said that she does not have any problems with finding food for lunch, and Ms. Lenhart-Murphy is easily satisfied by Taher. “[The cafeteria workers] know I love their veggie burgers, and sometimes they set one aside for me when they are afraid that they’re going to sell out,” said Ms. Lenhart-Murphy.

Living a vegetarian lifestyle has become easier over the years for Ms. Lenhart-Murphy. “When I first became a [vegetarian] it was really hard to grocery shop and eat out, but I would say over the last ten years it has become so much easier,” said Ms. Lenhart-Murphy. “Lots of soy products are now made that never existed in the grocery store before. And restaurants seem to be more aware of the need for meatless choices.”

While becoming a vegetarian can be a major lifestyle change, it’s health benefits are highly praised by the BSM students who avoid meat. “Well, I eat fish and my whole family eats more fish and is more healthy now,” said Beh.