Being Vegan/Vegetarian at KCHS

Yesenia Chavez, Reporter

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Students at King City High School have a variety of eating habits. Many people have their own preferred foods and diets, and one of these diets that has become more popular in recent years is vegetarianism and veganism. However, finding vegans and vegetarians in KCHS was like finding a needle in a haystack.

King City High Senior, Samuel Rivera, expressed he had become a pescatarian a little more than a year ago. Pescetarianism is the diet in which its followers eat no meat, except for fish. In about a month after deciding to cut out everything except fish from his diet, he converted and became a vegetarian, which eliminates all meats from what he consumed. I had asked Rivera, “Why did you convert to vegetarianism?” Rivera responded, “I wanted to be vegetarian because meat consumption has a major impact on the environment and I also don’t feel comfortable knowing how animals are treated before they’re slaughtered.” He then explained how it was a slow and difficult transition for his parents to remember he would not accept eating with meat and he had to exclude certain meals from his usual eating habit. In regards to how his lifestyle changed, he felt “good to give up something [he] didn’t believe was right, which was consuming meat.” Still, he does not look down upon anyone who does eat meat as “it’s their life.”

There are many reasons to why people cut meat from their eating habits. It could be for health reasons, religion, or their own personal ethics. In any case, there are very few students who had a strong stance in not consuming meat, and with a variety of reasons.

Laura Villagrana, Senior at KCHS, has been cutting red meat from her food intake since June of 2017. She had participated in raising a pig, whom she had named Bailey. She became closely attached to her new friend and her experience changed her life. I had asked Villagrana what made her do so and she noted, “I always had feelings for animals. It makes me very upset knowing that millions of animals go through a torturous process to be put down. I’ve seen the images and it’s heartbreaking.” Villagrana enjoys her new lifestyle and continues to advocate the end of animal cruelty.

Another senior at KCHS, Jesal Desai, is vegetarian as part of his religion. “I practice Hinduism, and we believe all life is sacred, so we take it a step further by not consuming any meat.” I had to ask, “Is it hard being vegetarian?” Desai replied, “It’s easy because I never have the urge to eat any meat, but it’s hard because it confuses people.”

Students who practice in either vegetarianism or veganism confirm that they are not ashamed of what they eat. Nevertheless, they sometimes run into problems in public when it comes to eating meals that others prepare. There are situations where there is little to nothing that is meatless available, but they do appreciate when they see a vegan or vegetarian option at a restaurant or friend’s house so they won’t feel excluded from meal time.

A sophomore at KCHS, Joshua Riley, has been vegan since his childhood after having a few severe cases of eczema. Riley revealed, “I was put through many diets, but then on my own I tried being vegan and it worked so I stuck with it and I’ve been vegan for about 7 and a half years now.” His family was understanding of his choice of veganism as his father was also
vegan. His mother sympathizes with him and helps make sure they all get the nutrition they need, food they all can eat, and food they all want. Riley has stuck with being vegan as it has eliminated his symptoms of eczema and it has “taught [him] responsibility about what [he] consume[s].” This total control of his health has given Riley the chance to strengthen his mindset.

Although a very small percentage of students at KCHS are vegan or vegetarian, they make a big impact by spreading their ideology to others who may be confused on why they do not consume meat or eat any animal-based product. Being vegan means you cut all sources of meat but also anything that has been made by an animal. Such examples are milk, honey, or egg to name a few. There are many alternatives for vegans such as using tofu instead of meat or using products strictly based for vegans. Vegetarians will cut meat from their diet, but may continue to indulge in dairy based products such as yogurt, milk, or cheese. Student should not be ashamed of what they eat because in the end, we all need food to survive. Stay healthy and open-minded fellow mustangs!