Vegetarians at Brookhaven
Going meatless more than a choice, it's a lifestyle
By: Glenn Sovian, Contributing Writer
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, it would be unimaginable to most Americans to spend the holiday without turkeys on their tables. For some vegetarians at Brookhaven College, it's the way of life and for good reasons.
A growing number of people are choosing to eliminate animal products from their diets. According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, 2.8 percent of Americans may be considered vegetarians, but many more follow some form of vegetarian diets.
At Brookhaven, those who follow or try to adopt vegetarian lifestyles do so for different reasons, but the overwhelming majority seem to associate it with health issues.
"Personally, I am a vegetarian primarily for health reasons," Brookhaven philosophy instructor Dr. Jerrod Scott said he has been a vegetarian for almost four years. "The consumption of meat is directly linked to different forms of health conditions."
Since becoming a vegetarian, while combined with a daily exercise regimen, Dr. Scott has lost 70 pounds and no longer suffers from other common health conditions.
The same reason drove Brookhaven science sophomore Sairi Moreno to choose a vegetarian lifestyle.
"After becoming a vegetarian, I have lost a lot of weight," Moreno said, "I feel calmer and have no anxiety."
Often there is more than one reason for becoming vegetarian. A follower of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Moreno also attributes her vegetarian lifestyle to her religious belief.
A vegetarian diet is also an integral part of some Eastern religions. A student from India, Dada Shubhacetanananda, has observed vegetarian diets for his whole life as an expression of his faith. Shubhacetanananda said, "Being a vegetarian is good for health, mind and spiritual practice."
While vegetables are generally considered healthier food alternatives to animal products, the decision to become vegetarians could be for ethical and moral reasons as well.
English professor and Amnesty International sponsor, Dr. Patricia Dodd has been trying to cross over to a vegetarian lifestyle as she champions human rights and compassion for animals.
"Since I've been working with human rights, I have developed more compassion. This compassion is for all living beings and no living beings should suffer," Dodd said. "When you eat meat, you're eating the fear and pain of the animals."
Like Dodd, English professor Haven Abedin is not a complete vegetarian. The gradual change in her eating habits stems from family reasons.
Her husband is a vegetarian and over time she has developed a dislike of animal-based food. She said it has worked out well because vegetarian dishes tend to have lower cholesterol.
Regardless of the motivation behind the reasons for becoming vegetarians, they sometimes are vastly misunderstood and accused of being fussy eaters.
Most vegetarians find dining out a challenge. Not only are the variety of vegetarian dishes at restaurants either very limited or non-existent, but the costs can also be prohibitive.
"When I was at a restaurant I had nothing I could eat," professor for the senior adult education program Ed Adams said. He is an ardent vegetarian for 29 years.
For this reason, both Adams and Scott have discovered many tasty home-cooked alternatives and have no need to dine out.
But to budget-conscious students like Moreno, the veggie burger at the Brookhaven cafeteria has now become her favorite meal on campus although she said she wishes there could be more choices.
Brookhaven cafeteria manager Nestor Nieto said the cafeteria has increased the menu selection from 25 items to 38, including more vegetarian dishes. However, no Thanksgiving vegetarian alternative is currently on the menu.
Now, as the government is gearing up to confront the possible worldwide bird flu threats that affect poultry, vegetarians just find another good reason to adhere to their way of life at this Thanksgiving holiday: a feast without turkey.
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