By: Palika Kohli

 

I have been a vegetarian for the past five years of my life. Despite the increasing popularity of the vegetarian diet, I still constantly get hit with the question: why?

It’s possible I get asked a little less than some people. After all, the Indian-vegetarian-girl fits a certain stereotype, and for many, my religious background is sufficient explanation.

Except that it’s not. I may have been raised in a Hindu household, but growing up, there was nothing – no food, no pet, no person – that I loved more than chicken. It was only as I got older that I began to learn about the environmental consequences of eating meat products and by-products. This awareness eventually caught up with me, striking a particular chord. So I finally removed meat – that is, all products that I describe as being “once alive” – from my diet.

I learned afterwards that this personal choice and description had a name: ovo-lacto-vegeterian. There are many varieties of vegetarians to describe almost any combination of dietary restrictions. Here are some of the specific labels for various degrees of vegeterianism:

Semi-Vegetarians: basically these people don’t eat red meat, but eat just about everything else.

Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarians: people who consume both eggs and dairy products, but no fish, meat or poultry.

Ovo-Vegetarians: people who eat eggs, but no other meat or dairy products.

Lacto-Vegetarians: people who consume dairy products, but no other meat or egg products/by-products.

Vegans: people who don’t any animal products or by-products whatsoever. Instead, they opt for meat “alternatives” – food that is high in protein, like tofu, soy, lentils, peanut butter, etc.

Raw Vegans: raw vegans don’t eat any meat or meat-related products, nor do they eat food cooked over 480C (1180 Fahrenheit). They tend to limit themselves to fruits, vegetables, roots, fresh juices, nuts and the like.

When considering vegetarian diets, most people are concerned about a decrease in protein intake. No need to worry though – most vegetarian foods contain at least a little protein, from nuts (which are high in protein), to soy, wheat, and even dairy products. What vegetarians can also do is something known as ‘protein-complementing’. Protein complementing is when two different foods containing higher amounts of certain amino acids are paired up. This compensates for the other food’s lack of the amino acid and ensures that people are still obtaining their necessary amino acids.

While it is possible that for some people, becoming a vegetarian means that their choice in food is limited – it doesn’t have to be! Starting here at Mac, there is the wonderful Bridges café, which is great for those who are going to miss eating meat-like food. There is also Creation X within La Piazza at the Student Centre, where you can get the vegan version of all their wraps.

For off-campus, here’s a list of fantastic vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Hamilton.

August 8: 1 Wilson Street. Of the many local sushi places, this is definitely one of the best in Hamilton.

Bangkok Spoon: 57 King St. West, Dundas. This restaurant serves some of the most delicious Thai food in the area. You can order just about everything and ask for it to be made “without the meat”!

Basilique: 1065 King Street West. Right around the corner from campus in Westdale village, Basilique has amazing pizza and Mediterranean food options.

Earth to Table Bread Bar: 258 Locke St South. Lots of options and some of the best specialty pizza out there!

The Himalaya: 160 Centennial Parkway North. A small restaurant with a more specialized selection of vegetarian Indian food.

Mex-I-Can: 107 James Street North. Right on bustling James Street, this is a super cute Mexican restaurant that offers amazing vegan options (like cooked cactus!).

Vegetarian food isn’t just for vegetarians: a varied diet is important whether you eat meat or not. If you’re interested, want to know the names of more restaurants or cook yummy vegetarian recipes on your own, contact the Mac Veggie Club at macveggieclub@gmail.com.

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