Vegetarian seniors Ben Hernried and Jacob Frankel play around while demonstrating their love for broccoli and carrots. Of 127 high-school students polled, 14 said they live the vegetarian lifestyle, although their reasons for doing so vary. (Photo by Kelsi Thomas)

Religion, distaste for meat lead to vegetarianism’s new popularity


“I wish it was a fruit,” senior Ben Hernried said about the popular breakfast food. “I try to keep away from it because it’s so tantalizing.”

For many non-vegetarians, the struggle to repress the craving for meat might seem like an insurmountable challenge.

Senior Jianna Gudebski said that she can’t even imagine going meatless.

“I love meat too much,” she said. “I crave it daily.”

Hernried became a vegetarian because he was eating too much protein and because he was fed up with the meat industry.

“It has become such a corrupt, dirty process. I refuse to support an industry that treats the animals and people the way they do,” he said.

While Hernried does occasionally struggle with his desire for meat, there are many high-school vegetarians for whom this is no problem at all.

Senior Jacob Frankel said that if one wants to, being a vegetarian is not hard.

“It takes honestly no effort. I just eat veggies instead,” he said.

Junior Madeline Mahla stopped eating meat when she was 8 years old because she didn’t like it. “It just naturally fell out of my diet,” Mahla said.

Since she became a vegetarian, Mahla has eaten meat, but rarely.

“There was this one time that my friend paid me $10 to eat a piece of steak,” she said. “It was the easiest 10 bucks I’ve ever made.”

She will also occasionally eat small portions of meat when visiting a friend if the parents are insistent.

“Sometimes I feel like (other parents) are more worried about me getting protein than my parents,” Mahla said.

However, Mahla also said that she often encounters parents at the other extreme, who will take meat off the table for fear of offending her vegetarianism.

But she is quick to remind them that, for her, the only problem with meat is the taste.

Two other high schoolers have gone their whole lives without a bite of meat, and are perfectly content keeping it that way.

One is senior Marisa Kindsvater, whose mother stopped eating meat because it made her sick when she was pregnant.

After Kindsvater was born, her mother continued being a vegetarian and raised Kindsvater in the same way.

Kindsvater has never eaten meat, and while it started out as a habit, she continues to be a vegetarian to save animals.

Sophomore Aishwarya Nadgauda has also never tasted meat.

Her family practices Hinduism, and while it does not specifically forbid eating meat, it does say not to harm animals, so it is common  for people to choose to be vegetarians.

In Nadgauda’s case, both her parents and grandparents are vegetarians for this reason. Although Nadgauda is not a vegetarian because of religion, the lack of exposure to meat in her house has led her to have no desire for it.

Both Kindsvater and Nadgauda said that not only do they have no desire for meat but that they are not even at all curious about it.

“I haven’t eaten (meat) for 15 years. Why start now?” Nadgauda said.

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