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Community reflects on health, environmental impacts of plant-based diets

Zoe Karibian
Students and faculty members reflect on the growing number of people adopting vegan and vegetarian diets. The rise of plant-based diets has shown a growing awareness on health and environmental impacts through our food choices.

Olivia Ford (’24), a member of the Sustainability Council said she has noticed a significant rise in the adoption of plant-based diets and attributes this change to concerns regarding the environment and animal welfare. 

Ford said she is pleased that the school can cater to various lifestyles but said there is room for improvement, particularly with food options including meat.

“I think that right now, the school is doing well with meatless Mondays,” Ford said. “But, I still think that we could incorporate it on more than just Monday…It’s also important, you know, to consider where we get our meat sourced because we want to make sure that it’s not inhumane meat.”

Health Teacher Mariam Mathew is the Sustainability Council advisor and said there are several reasons to justify the reduction of dietary animal products. 

“For some people, it is a health choice, they choose [plant-based diets] because it gives them more energy or makes them feel better,” Mathew said. “Other people choose it because they’ve learned a little more about the dairy industry, the meat industry and they want to have a smaller environmental impact.”

According to a study by the Vegetarian Society, roughly 4.5% of the U.K. population follows a vegan or vegetarian diet, translating to approximately 3 million people. Furthermore, there has been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the U.S. in the last three years, according to Forbes

Jack Albrecht (’26) is a vegetarian and said he adopted his plant-based diet as a result of a profound care for the planet.

“I initially started having a vegetarian diet four years ago,” Albrecht said. “It started both for environmental reasons and also because I wanted to protect the animals and livestock.”

Albrecht said he takes pride in helping the environment through his dietary choices. 

“It feels good to do something I care about,” Albrecht said. “Even though it’s a minor change, being able to make some positive impact on the planet is great.”

Carbon Footprint by zoe_karibian

Research further suggests that a plant-based diet can have significant health benefits. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found a lower risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

After conducting her own research, Mathew said she recently became partly vegetarian and has noticed several benefits to her health. 

“I’ve decided to only have vegetarian meals at ASL, and I’ve actually seen an impact,” Mathew said. “I don’t feel as tired in the afternoon, you know, that slouchy feeling after lunch.”  

Ford said as livestock production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and deforestation, the shift to a plant-based diet can help reduce environmental exploitation. 

Ford said it is important to strive for a food system that supports both the planet and human health, which adopting these diets plays a role in.

“Saving the planet, it’s about eating consciously,” Ford said. “I’m not saying don’t ever [eat meat] again, but it’s about making sure that we’re giving the money to the places that are sustainably taking care of their animals.”

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About the Contributor
Zoe Karibian, Media Team
Zoe Karibian ('26) is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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