Teens love their steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, junk food and flavored bottles of soda. Few teens love vegetables and fruit, and even fewer eat only vegetables and fruit for their diet. Being a vegetarian or vegan has become more and more popular in recent years. A vegetarian is a person who doesn’t eat any meat. That includes beef, pork, poultry and fish. Some teens use the word loosely and do eat chicken and fish.
Some vegetarians will eat other animal products such as honey, cheese, eggs, and milk. Others will not eat eggs, but will use dairy products. Vegans eat absolutely no animal products at all. Most teens who go vegetarian or vegan won’t eat or drink dairy products because even though cows aren’t killed during milk production, they won’t support any business or industry that confines animals for human use. Vegetarians, vegans, or teens who go dairy- free will use milk substitutes such as soymilk, rice milk, and almond milk.
Most teens who become vegetarians or vegans are concerned about the well-being of animals. Others care about the environment because meat production uses a lot of land, water, grains, and energy resources that produces pollution. A vegetarian diet will save energy, and a vegan diet is the most efficient in saving energy. Some vegetarians change their diet for their health. The American Dietetic Association has said that a vegetarian diet can be a nutritious way to eat, even for teens and children. For teens who are also gluten free, eating on a vegan and vegetarian diet will be harder. Many health food stores have options for bread, crackers, and other products that usually have gluten.
“As long as you understand that you get all the amino acids from the lack of protein. You need to understand exactly what you are doing and teens need to be fully informed before they start a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Teens should take supplements if they need them. The benefits of being vegan or vegetarian as a teen is that you will have a much lower cholesterol, which when you are an adult will help immensely” says Mrs. Mary Plath-Rice, Heritage’s librarian who used to work at a health foods store.
Vegetarians and vegans have quite a few options in what they eat, what lunches they take to school, and snacks to munch on. Fresh vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, and celery are fresh, healthy snacks. Crackers, rice cakes, dried fruit and nuts, popcorn, and applesauce are also quick and good snacks. Vegetarians don’t eat just vegetables. Rice, noodles, beans and tofu are frequently in their diet. The vegetarian and vegan lifestyle is not for everyone, but the teens who do spend time researching and making healthy and environmental wise choices, have found that it is fulfilling.
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