A Vegetarian's View:

Noopur Joshi, UF Sophomore
Mechanical Engineering Major

Picture of Noopur Joshi

When did you become a vegetarian?

I've been a vegetarian my whole life.

How did you decide to become one?

It's one of those things where your parents are something, that you are too. But in our religion, Hinduism, we believe that we don't want to sacrifice animals for ourselves.

In college, do you find your options are limited when you go to dining halls?

Yes. Typically, I make my own food, even last year I never really went to dining halls. But yeah, there's not a lot of choices except for pizza or salad.

What about in restaurants?

As long as I go to certain types of restaurants, like obviously I'm not going to go to a seafood restaurant or a steakhouse or anything like that. But if I go to Italian restaurants, there's usually at least one item that's vegetarian.

When grocery shopping, do you think a vegetarian lifestyle is more expensive?

Definitely. Yeah 'cause I have to buy lots of salad, and tofu. Tofu is pretty expensive, and fruits and things like that.

So do you think that for a student it's not really affordable?

I think it's affordable. I mean, it's more expensive but I don't think it's that big of a deal, you can make it work. I have always eaten a lot of Indian food because it has a lot of protein in it, so it's not that big of a change from living at home to living here, expense wise.

Have you ever eaten meat?

Yeah I ate meat for a year when I was really little, about seven or eight. I ate chicken for about a year.

You don't feel like you're missing out on anything?

No, because I've never eaten those foods, so I don't even know what they taste like.

So you're definitely going to stick with being a vegetarian your whole life?

Yes, absolutely.

Are you ever tempted to cheat? Would seeing chicken in a restaurant be tempting at all?

No. [laughs]

Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe that you make at home?

It's an Indian dish called Mutter Paneer, it's basically a curry. It's a bunch of spices, and peas, and paneer which is kind of like a cheese but it's made a little differently.

So you don't have a problem eating animal byproducts like cheese or dairy?

No I don't.

Do you take any your vitamins or protein supplements?

No [laughs]. But I definitely make it a point to get enough protein, like I just had a tofu salad. And our lentils have a lot of protein so I make it a point to eat that as much as I can.

Would you recommend this lifestyle to others?

I would, I definitely would. I wouldn't push it on anyone, as it is my personal religious belief. I'm not sacrificing animals for my food so for me, I feel good about that.

Do you think it would be easy to make the transition?

Probably not "easy." I think it would be kind of a big change, to cut it out cold turkey. You would definitely have to do it gradually.

Thoughts From An Omnivore:

Alexa Stephen, UF Sophomore
Animal Science Major

Picture of Alexa Stephen

How do you feel about vegetarianism?

I feel like it's a good lifestyle for some people and I respect that they do that but I wouldn't necessarily want to do it myself.

So it's not something you would ever consider?

I would keep an open mind towards it but most likely I wouldn't adopt that lifestyle.

Have you ever seen any of the behind the scenes videos of extreme cattle farms?

Yes I took animal science last year and a majority of the class you learn about the packing industry and how they slaughter and package meat.

Did this disturb you?

Originally, it disturbed me. And then I realized all the precautions they go through to make it as humane as possible.

Precautions like what?

Like they have to have really strong regulations. Actually I think I still have my notes on it. [Reads] They have to be on a scoring system and they're audited all the time. And what they do is they knock out the cattle before they blood-let them. They render them unconscious so they don't feel pain. And the scoring, they have to have 90% or above. If they have to hit the cattle twice to knock the cattle out then they fail their audit, and the company can close down. The animals have to have access always to water and can only stand for a certain amount of time. So there's a lot of rules and regulations which I know makes the process as humane as possible. Yes, some farms don't abide by them, but when that does happen, the government shuts down the facility and those people have gone to jail for 25 years to life.

Would this influence your decision to keep eating meat?

The rare cases that those companies are being inhumane does make me second-guess being a meat eater but overall, the system works very well.

How much do you spend a week on groceries?

Me and my four roommates all chip in about $30 dollars each for our meals.

Do you feel that this is expensive?

No I do not.

Do you buy meat and produce regularly? Like what?

Yes, I do. We buy chicken, chicken sausages, steak. We buy produce like apples, pears, sweet potatoes, avocados.

Do you think it would be difficult to be a vegetarian on a college campus? Why?

Yes because I don't feel that a college campus is geared towards vegetarianism. Because most of the fast food places, their options are meat oriented. If they have vegetarian options, the supplements are mostly disgusting. So essentially you're only left with carbohydates and salads, which does not give you the correct nutrients.

What are some of your favorite foods? Would any of these meals be lacking if they didn't have meat in them?

Shellfish, chicken marsalla, grouper. Yes, they would only be rice if the meat was missing.

Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

Yeah, multivitamins and probiotics.

Do you think the vegetarian diet is a bad idea for college students?

I think that if you do it correctly, no, but there are a lot of things you have to keep in mind, like protein and certain B vitamins that you have to do with combinations in a lot of foods. and I feel like college students base it on carbohydrates because it's the cheapest, and that doesn't give them the nutrients that they need to be successful.

Would you consider replacing your meats with tofu or soy meats for a week?

Yes, I would do it for a week. Most likely not for the rest of my life, but I would try it.