Very vegetarian

The Webster’s definition for vegetarian is, “A herbivore.” But being vegetarian doesn’t just mean that people refrain from red meat; it’s a whole-new way of eating, according to Sara Zamikoff, who was a vegan for 5 years.

“I was a vegan vegetarian. That means that I didn’t eat anything that came from an animal. Vegans also do not use any animal products. There are many different things out there that vegans are unable to use or eat because of the strict diet. You cannot have any animal byproducts,” Zamikoff said. “Some vegans go to the extreme and they do not even wear leather or carry leather purses.”

Denise Peterlin, a UCF student, has been a vegetarian for years. She claimed she lost 17 pounds during the first three months of her no-meat diet, which she said was not difficult to follow.

“I eat fake meat in the freezer section at the grocery store,” said Peterlin. “It’s great and not too expensive.”

So what makes a person turn vegetarian?

“I started becoming a vegetarian because of my love towards animals,” Zamikoff said.

In high school, Zamikoff was in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) club, where she grew attached to a cow she helped raise. But later it was sent to the fair to get slaughtered, which left Zamikoff devastated.

“I couldn’t eat hamburger ever again because I was so scared that I would actually eat him,” Zamikoff said. “Then I found out that cows are used in other meats and I soon became a vegetarian after that experience.”

Being a vegetarian is the complete opposite of the Atkins crave, Zamikoff explained, because it also helps the environment.

According to , turning grain into flesh is extremely wasteful. Twenty vegetarians can be fed on the amount of land needed to feed one person on a meat-based diet.

Although there are positives to vegetarianism, there are also negatives. Meat is a good source of iron and without it, there could be some problems.

“I felt weird (being a vegetarian),” Peterlin said. “My body was off track without the source of iron, the amount I needed.”

“My nurse practitioner said that I have an under-active thyroid,” Zamikoff said. “She believes the reason that I developed that is because I was so dependent on soy products for protein. I ate an overabundance of it.”

According to , tofu, often used in imitation meat, is the most popular soy food because it helps with the protein-process of eating. There are various kinds of tofu and ways to use it in a meal.

Although tofu is made from soy, Zamikoff relied too heavily on it.

“Every source that is non-meat is soy-based. That is why it’s important not to have too much of one thing; it isn’t good for you,” Zamikoff said. “I now have to take a prescription the rest of my life.”

Although there are some downfalls to this way of living, millions of people are following a vegetarian diet without trouble. It all depends on the person you are and how your body reacts to different meats and vegetables.