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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

No meat—what do you eat?

Mike Nicholson | [email protected]

Walking through the cafeteria, students look for food and snacks to give them energy for the day.

Many order burgers, tacos or sandwiches, but then there are other students who head straight for the vegetarian options that the City College cafeteria offers.

According to a 2009 national poll by the Vegetarian Resource Group, there are approximately between 6 million to 8 million adult vegetarians in the United States, a number that includes many City College students.

“I always get this crazy look and the famous question ‘What do you eat?’” says 20-year-old DeLena Tovar, who has been a vegetarian for three years.

Tovar is a City College student who has been getting these types of questions every day since making the lifestyle change to vegetarianism.

As a public health and education major, Tovar says she wanted to become a vegetarian for health reasons.

“I have always had a lot of stomach problems growing up and decided to change my diet to a lot more wholesome, natural foods,” Tovar says.

Meat production was also a concern for Tovar, as well as 25-year-old biology major Michelle Briggs.

“I started doing a lot of research on how animals that are used for meat are treated and decided that I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore,” says Briggs, who has been a vegetarian for six years.

Though Tovar and Briggs changed their lifestyles because of nutritional and meat production concerns, 25-year-old psychology major Michael Armstrong says he became a vegetarian 20 years ago under different circumstances.

“I was a strange kid. I just told everyone I didn’t want to eat meat, and I pushed it away,” says Armstrong, detailing how his 5-year-old self started turning down meat.

For these vegetarians their lifestyle change was more than just turning down a piece of meat, but they learned how to live without it.

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On a few occasions these students opt for the vegetarian pizza or vegetarian sushi while at school, but both say they usually make their own meals.

“Before this I was a horrible cook, and since I am the only one in my household that is vegetarian, I had to learn how to cook for myself,” Tovar says. “I have tried so many different vegetables that I always assumed I didn’t like and I now enjoy trying new foods.”

Mike Nicholson | [email protected]

Being able to cook for themselves isn’t always an option, however, so at times they’ll run into challenges.

“Sometimes it is hard when I go to someone’s house for dinner or any kind of meal,” Briggs says. “Most people are fine with it and are very accommodating, but I do feel bad when they make one meal for me and a second for other people who want meat.”

Although some people are accommodating, not everyone understands, Briggs says.

Armstrong says he doesn’t know anything else besides being a vegetarian, but as a 6-foot-1-inch black man, he says people sometimes find that he is a vegetarian.

“I’ve never met a black vegetarian,” Armstrong says is the most common reaction people give him. “When I meet another vegetarian, we tell jokes and stuff about what people say.”

Both students say they agree that the benefi ts of their lifestyle are much greater.

“I feel healthier being a vegetarian than I did eating meat,” Briggs says. “I feel like my diet is way more varied now. I just try new vegetables and fruits whenever I can.”

These students say that eating meat again isn’t a desire of theirs anymore. They no longer miss it and enjoy their lifestyle as vegetarians.

“I stepped out of the norm from what I grew up knowing about diet and tried something new to benefit myself,” Tovar says. “I couldn’t be more happierwith my decision.”

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