Food for thought

Food+for+thought

At the age of 8, Livy Scott (’17) read a book that went into depth about the slaughtering processes used to kill animals for consumption. As a result, she gave up eating meat on the spot.

“It was one of those ‘what are you eating’ types of books, so I stopped eating everything,” she said.

However, she quickly became anemic – a condition involving a reduction in the number of functioning red blood cells – because she did not have enough iron in her diet.

Now, the only meat Scott consumes is chicken, making her a pollotarian. “I’ve chosen to just eat chicken because of ethics,” she said. Placing higher value in the lives of mammals, Scott cares “more about the way mammals are killed than I would care about the way a bird is killed.”

Seeing as they are not mammals, her ethical beliefs would allow her to eat fish, however she doesn’t like the taste.

Like Scott, Mariam Sousou (’18) attempted maintaining a vegetarian diet, however medical issues arose that inhibited her from doing so. “I stopped being vegetarian because my iron levels got so low, I was so tired that I wasn’t running as well or playing sports as well,” she said.

Sousou’s father, however, has chosen to follow a vegan diet. At home, Sousou and her family mainly eat vegan meals, and she is conscious of the meat she consumes out of the house.

Sousou adopted a diet of less meat due to influences from her father, whereas Quinn Link (’20) was influenced to go vegan by its growing popularity. “I looked into it because it’s been something more popular and more talked about,” he said.

After researching the effects of meat on the environment, Link was motivated to stop eating all animal products just over a year ago. “When you’re taking plants and feeding [them] to animals and then feeding it to humans there’s a lot of lost energy and water and resources,” he said. “I decided that if I went straight to the plants it would be more efficient, more environmentally-friendly.”

Since becoming vegan, Link has not felt huge shifts in his wellbeing. “It was pretty easy for me, but I know for a lot of people it would just be impossible because it’s a big part of their culture or their life,” he said.

Yet, Link encounters issues when eating out, as sometimes at restaurants, “you’ll be the person with the huge salad or the plate of french fries for every meal.” Regardless, Link is always able to find something to eat.

Scott believes her pollotarianism can present issues in social situations as well. “If I went out to dinner and a food had some kind of red meat in it I get very picky in social settings about what kind of food [I eat], and it’s kind of embarrassing,” she said.

Being picky is not an option for Link, as with an already heavily restricted diet, options – when available – are a luxury. In the cafeteria, Link feels that the vegan options are limited, but avaliable.

Although Scott’s diet is less restrictive than Link’s, she finds people struggle to understand her motivations. “It’s definitely well known that I eat weird and that I have interesting views on what kind of animals you should eat,” she said. “I would say it’s definitely a running joke among my family and friends.”

Aside from the jokes, Scott has felt backlash because of her diet. “I’ve gone on a couple school trips where teachers have been really annoyed by me refusing to eat things,” she said. “I’ve been told by a couple teachers I need to grow up, which I do not take kindly.”

Standing by her decision to only eat chicken, Scott believes that becoming a vegetarian is not the only way to make a positive change on nature. “It would be great if other people were more aware of that you can just eat one specific type of meat and that there’s a healthy way to do it,” she said.

Echoing Scott’s statement, Sousou believes that restrictive diets are not for everyone. “I would say don’t go completely vegetarian or vegan, but try to limit yourself on dairy products and meat products,” she said.

Veganism is personal for Link and centered around environmental consciousness. “Obviously there are some people who are vegan that are quite aggressive in how they promote it, but that’s not my goal in being vegan,” he said. “It’s a personal decision that I do for myself and I do for the environment.”